Nuclear fusion, the source of the Sun’s energy, is desirable because it is carbon-free and does not leave a lot of long-lasting radioactive waste (that is compared to the byproduct waste of conventional fission reactors).

New Energy and Fuel has a technical report on a Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) colloquium that was held last week in Europe. The discussion was held at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which hosts the Large Hadron Collider. According to this post, there was no big news, but there is interesting news out of Japan. (You can download information from the discussions here.)

For many, LENR also refers to cold fusion.

What we did learn was that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan is looking at using elements beyond palladium, platinum and nickel.  These are the metals most often associated with LENR experiments.  This leads the authors to comment:

That begs the question – “What is it they already know?” They seem to have an answer that stimulates a far-reaching implication – there may well be Low Energy Nuclear Transmutations or “LENT” across a much larger part of the element table that any of us have been thinking so far.

…Enrico Fermi famously said, “Give me enough neutrons and I shall give you the Entire Periodic Table.”  Evidently the huge Japanese conglomerates are taking the Fermi dictum seriously with encouraging results.

One wonders if, as a result of this colloquium, CERN will begin to undertake its own LENR research.

Live Science says that nuclear fusion is a real possibility. Computer simulations at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico revealed a fusion reactor that surpasses the “break-even” point of energy input versus energy output, indicating a self-sustaining fusion reaction. Modelling traditional hot fusion using magnetic fields, the energy output was 100 times that of a 60 million amperes put into the system. The output rose as the current went up: 1,000 times the input power was reached from an incoming pulse of 70 million amps. So far, though, there isn’t a machine that can generate such a huge pulse of energy. And it is still uncertain whether the nuclear reaction will work the way the researchers hope. Instabilities that appear in the magnetic fields that contain the plasma, for instance, have been an obstacle to working fusion power plants. Those instabilities allow the plasma to escape, so it doesn’t fuse.

Greener Ideas asks: How Far Away Are We From Nuclear Fusion?  Why is it taking so long and how far away are we?  The article summarizes the hot fusion process and concludes “the first and biggest obstacle is the amount of heat that is required to get fusion going – we do not currently have the materials do withstand these temperatures over time.” The author believes it is going to take a few decades to overcome these obstacles.

Some of you are wondering what happened to Andrea Rossi and his E-Cat machine which has supposedly achieved cold fusion and is in the process of being commercialized. (For background see our The Latest on Cold Fusion.) OILPRICE has an interview with Rossi: The Limitless Potential of the E-Cat: An Interview with Andrea Rossi. Rossi says he is currently working with Siemens to create a system to turn the E-Cat’s heat energy into electricity. Estimates have been made that the combined energy (both thermal and electric) will cost about $10/megawatt hour. He is also looking at a production line capable of producing 1 million E-Cats per year.

Rossi claims that one E-Cat has been made so far (in the US) and 13 are under construction. They are designed for heating only, and not for producing electricity. It will be used to provide the central heating for a house, however a traditional boiler will still be needed to heat the water, this is due to the fact that the E-Cat needs about an hour to warm-up and cannot therefore respond quickly enough to heat water on demand like a boiler can.

He says the first plant will soon be open to the public. He is looking at two sizes of units: a 10 kW domestic unit and a 1 MW industrial unit. The domestic 10 kW unit will cost around $900, the 1 MW plant $1.5m. He also asserts that the units will be very easy to install by any plumber or electrical contractor. “The payback period could span from anywhere between a few months to three years, but after that the
customer should save at least 66% of his normal energy bill.”

As to increasing the size of the larger units, Rossi says:

We are already developing 1 MW plants, and it will be easy to link these plants together to make larger power plants. Due to the compact scale, and efficient energy production process, an E-Cat power plant will be much smaller than its fossil fuel or nuclear equivalent.

The 1 MW units can be assembled at a reduced size of 10 ft x 8 ft x 8 ft, and can then be stacked in series or parallel to produce the necessary power. It will cost $1000/MW.

Rossi sees his device as delivering stationary power and not capable of powering transportation.  He believes it will be a good couple of decades before that is possible.

Interestingly, he says his units will need to be serviced after every 180 days of usage, when the fuel will need to be replaced. The fuel is a refill cartridge that will contain all the nickel (or copper, depending on whether it is the new or used cartridge) and the catalyser.

Rossi says that anyone interested in purchasing an E-Cat can send an email to info@leonardocorp1996.com.

To the credit of OILPRICE, it asked Rossi about claims he was a fraud and that he had been involved in nefarious dealings in the past. Rossi, however, was reluctant to answer any of these questions.

Steven Krivit, editor of the New Energy Times, is quite skeptical of Rossi’s claims to have discovered cold fusion. See also Pure Energy Systems: Rossi Tells Florida Bureau He Has No U.S. Factory, No Nuclear Reactions and Critics Attempt to Damage Rossi’s E-Cat with Unfounded Complaints at OILPRICE.

Clearly the jury is still out on Rossi until he can adequately explain to the scientific community how and why his E-Cat works with a public showing of the inner workings.  Presumably he will be prepared to do this once he has obtained his patent(s) and demonstrated its commercial viability.

 

 

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