Why should one believe that Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) devices and the E-Cat in particular are real and not a scam, hoax, delusion, mistake or some other manifestation of malevolence or ignorance? To best answer that question one must explore it in multiple dimensions: science, engineering, business and social. There will be points and counterpoints and you must weigh the evidence yourself. But let’s start off with a few key definitions.
COP (or coefficient of performance) - simply means energy out divided by energy in. Conventional hot fusion research has struggled to achieve a COP of 1.0 despite decades of work and hundreds of billions of dollars. The idea is that when you get a COP of more than one you have an endless supply of energy (ignoring engineering limitations and conversion losses). The term is overloaded a bit; it is also used in the heating/cooling industry to describe devices that can extract or transfer energy from their environment like heat pumps, which can have a COP of over 3. But when talking about fundamental energy release from nuclear reactions, COP > 1.0 is the holy grail.
Many who observe this field make a distinction between LENR and LENR+, where the plus signifies massive energy gains. LENR is garden variety anomalous energy, tricky to measure and often hard to reliably reproduce (think COP some small percentage over 1). LENR+ describes healthy multiples of energy out over energy in (e.g., COP = 6).
E-Cat: the device created by Andrea Rossi of Leonardo Corp. that is purported to have a COP of at least 6. We are told it works with nickel powder, some hydrogen, an undisclosed catalyst and an electrical waveform input to drive the reaction and help control its stability.
It makes sense to start with the science dimension because that will be the bottom line for many. However, while LENR can be best understood as a scientific endeavor, LENR+ cannot. The reason for this is that the organizations and individuals claiming to be achieving LENR+ are not scientists or academics and are not mainly concerned with scientific proof. So if the bottom line for you is repeatable scientific proof of LENR+ phenomena with precise data, we are not there yet due to protection of intellectual property (IP). We must settle instead for its poor cousin: 3rd party black box validation under controlled conditions. If that settles the issue for you for now and you are content to wait for such undeniable scientific validation you can stop reading here. That is a respectable and understandable approach. It is a conservative, “prove it” approach that is warranted when evaluating such extraordinary claims that, if true, will have extraordinary consequences. However, we appear to be in a situation where products are likely to precede detailed scientific replication and understanding, so taking such a wait and see approach may be prudent, but you might also be missing the story of the century. Your choice whether to read on or not.
The scientific case for LENR is actually quite strong. There are hundreds of scientific, peer-reviewed papers from reputable organizations and individuals that document anomalous heat -- and some even report transmutation. Starting with Pons and Fleischmann (P&F) in 1989, two highly respected scientists at the time, and continuing past the maelstrom of accusations and under the radar, thousands of “cold fusion” type experiments have been going on that you likely knew nothing about. Because P&F raised hopes so high and the science turned out to be hard (note, not impossible) to repeat, the whole field of “cold fusion” was discredited... termed “pseudoscience.” But some curious scientists and companies, many outside the United States, kept at it. Due to the pseudoscience stigma of the field, all of these researchers were exposing themselves to ridicule and jeopardizing their careers. The best resource for these papers is lenr-canr.org. To drive the point home that we may all have been under a rock about this issue, here is a blurb from a 2009 report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency:
The scientific evidence for anomalous heat generated in metal-hydrogen systems is already overwhelming and continues to strengthen. At an important event on June 3, 2013, four major research institutions concluded definitively that the large amounts of excess heat they witnessed in numerous experiments were not the result of instrument artifacts and could not be explained by known chemistry. This latest confirmation of LENR begs the question: "How many confirmations are needed before something is considered confirmed?"
So it needs to be said that if LENR is real then LENR+ gains credibility. In the online community that follows LENR and LENR+, LENR is considered a given and seldom debated. If that is the case, LENR+ doesn’t need to be something entirely new it just has to be something optimized. Can LENR still be debated? Sure. Some people dismiss it out of hand because a solid theoretical explanation for it is missing, or because they distrust all of the people and organizations involved, or as a case study in pathological science or a way for fringe scientists to get money and notoriety. There are several truths worth keeping in mind though: observation trumps theory; conspiracies, scams and hoaxes become less likely as the number of participants and observers rises; and pathological skepticism is not the same as healthy skepticism.
Point: With solid scientific evidence for LENR, claims of LENR+ gain credibility as a matter of magnitude of a known phenomenon.
Counterpoint: Fraudulent, sloppy and/or pathological science cannot be dismissed as the underlying causes for the many papers supporting anomalous heat and transmutation. If evidence for LENR is suspect then LENR+ gains no credibility.
On the other hand we have no peer-reviewed scientific papers on LENR+ and probably won’t anytime soon. Why? Because the few organizations claiming to have prototype products based on LENR+ want to protect their Intellectual Property (IP). They do not wish to submit their devices to unfettered scrutiny nor disclose the exact engineering techniques or reactants that make the things work. Such information, as you might imagine, is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Once the technologies are patented, the industrial secrecy might disappear quickly, but the USPTO has had, until recently, a de facto policy against issuing any patents related to cold fusion claims since the 1989 stigmatization. These organizations were caught in a Catch-22 where they cannot simultaneously protect their investment and submit to the rigors of scientific proof. Their solution to this dilemma has been to proceed to market directly, hoping to achieve a massive first mover advantage, knowing that their technology is likely to be reverse engineered and deep-pocketed competitors quickly emerge.
But we have been thrown some scientific-type bones in the form of four significant semi-independent certifications/validations since late 2011.
The Ragone plot, in case you’re wondering, shows the specific energy (energy per mass) and specific power (power per mass) of various energy sources. The reason LENR+ has everyone so excited is that it blows chemical energy sources away in terms of specific energy, rivaling “conventional” nuclear sources while being much less expensive or problematic.
See Comparing Energy Sources for details on the content of this chart.
The three E-Cat tests and one Hyperion test are increasingly convincing. There are shortcomings in all of them to be sure, especially when viewed through the lens of ironclad science or preventing any type of conceivable fraud. All of the tests were conducted at facilities of the device creator, with some level of owner participation ranging from running the show to just having a representative present for assistance and IP security. Measuring heat and electrical energy can be complicated too so there is never any shortage of criticism about the calorimetry and other energy measuring devices in any given test. Often the “independent” testers have been involved one way or another leading up to the tests, raising doubts about their impartiality. Importantly, the devices were offered up as black boxes only in order to protect IP, so there was no disassembly down to the nuts and bolts to search for any hidden tricks.
Still, the tests are compelling -- not absolute proof, but convincing if one discounts elaborate fraud. None of the four tests involve the same people, who are clearly putting their reputations on the line publishing results “in violation of accepted science.” Moreover, there are two companies involved, not just Rossi’s Leonardo Corp.
The independent tests of the E-Cats performed between November 2012 and March 2013 are the most convincing of all. They involved scientists from several different respected European Universities who persuaded Rossi to let them test the devices (not the other way around) and who were given complete freedom to perform any measurements they wanted. One of the scientists signing his name to the results is Dr. Hanno Essen of Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology and recently Chairman of the Swedish Skeptics Society, which ate scammers for lunch. Their measurements were thorough, their energy analysis was conservative, there was little opportunity to game the tests and they found massive excess heat. They intend to follow up those tests with a much longer six month test in an effort to better understand what’s happening and eliminate any possible fraud. Their official position is that the extraordinary results warrant further investigation and they have not proven anything yet. Skeptics have pointed out some potentially feasible ways of smuggling extra energy through hidden electrical wires or frequencies. These need to be checked out even though Rossi would have had to be prescient to know what measuring devices the testers would use or what exactly they would look at.
Conversely, the possible alternative explanations for the positive test results are not compelling at all:
Additional tests of the E-Cat over longer durations were rumored to be taking place in 2013, one by Rossi's industrial partner as part of routine testing on the road to commercialization and another by academic organizations. The latter might help address lingering concerns about the independence and comprehensiveness of the testing so far. According to Rossi, the results of those independent tests are expected around March 2014.
Point: Published results from multiple tests from about a dozen semi-independent reputable authors do not offer conclusive scientific proof of LENR+ but do provide compelling evidence for it.
Counterpoint: The “Free Energy” space has no shortage of scammers. Rossi and Defkalion are just better than most and have figured out some tricks that have so far escaped detection, but they will eventually be discredited. Until every possible trick and every possible measurement error has been accounted for by truly independent scientists worldwide, the fact that LENR+ contradicts well-established science suggests that fraud, hoax, scam, incompetence or simple measurement errors are a much more likely explanation than new physics.
Transmutation is the conversion of one element into another element, for example nickel (having 28 protons) into copper (having 29). If your first thoughts regarding transmutation are to laugh out loud and about alchemists turning lead into gold then the joke is on you. Transmutation happens and is accepted science by all nuclear physicists. The mechanisms by which the number of protons in a nucleus changes include fission, fusion, electron capture, and decay. To simplify things just think of it this way: an atomic nucleus is a collection of protons and neutrons, but protons and neutrons can come and go and on top of that both protons and neutrons can spontaneously turn into the other by absorbing or emitting electrons (or positrons). So, under the right conditions, a nucleus can be a dynamic thing with its number of protons and neutrons changing as a result of known nuclear reactions. Of course, the rules for nuclear particles coming and going and spontaneous proton-neutron flips depend on the energy available and the laws of quantum physics.
Some LENR experimental observations include apparent transmutation of elements. This really annoys conventional nuclear physicists who are convinced that the rules for those nuclear reactions that could produce those transmutations are not even close to being satisfied in those experiments. But in October 2013 an 800 pound peer-reviewed gorilla walked into the room and sat down next to the skeptical nuclear physicists and dared them not to notice him. The gorilla is the publication of a Toyota Central Research and Development Lab paper in the Japanese Journal of Applied Physics that essentially confirms the observations of a 2002 paper published in the same journal by the Advanced Research Center of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The two papers claim that by forcing absorption of deuterium gas into a layered palladium/calcium oxide structure and then depositing cesium ions on top of it, a portion of the cesium atoms are converted to praseodymium. Stunning. Cesium has 55 protons and praseodymium has 59, an increase of 4 protons. Deuterium has 1 proton and 1 neutron (heavy hydrogen). So, on the face of it, some small fraction of the cesium atoms are snatching up a couple of deuterium atoms without much prompting at all. No high temperatures or electromagnetic inputs are used to drive the reactions. The 2002 paper certainly raised eyebrows but with the Toyota confirmation, using very sophisticated equipment, alarms should be going off that there seems to be a hole in our understanding of nuclear physics. Pumping in hydrogen instead of deuterium had no effect, so the availability and role of neutrons seems to be the key complicating factor. Diligent science requires widespread replication so there's still work to be done on this front. But Toyota and Mitsubishi cannot be dismissed as amateur lightweights.
Point: Peer reviewed papers detailing apparent nuclear reactions involving atoms on the surface of metals loaded with deuterium indirectly support the premise that LENR's heat generating nuclear processes in hydrogen loaded metal lattices are real.
Counterpoint: Two papers on complicated experiments, that by the way disagree on the overall magnitude of the effect, may call for more investigation but they don't allow for firm conclusions.
Some skeptics go straight to disbelief and ridicule because the results do not comport with established scientific laws and theories. There is also a strong “too good to be true” reflex many people have. In their minds, having an open mind does not include allowing information that contradicts well known and studied physics or smells like pure BS. They say “where are the neutrons?!” or more colorfully “where are the dead grad students?” But science is fundamentally about observations and deducing laws and theories from those observations and testing them with new observations, not the other way around. It’s usually when we make unexpected observations that science moves forward. Well the switchboard is lighting up with unexpected observations of anomalous heat in metal-hydrogen systems under various stimuli since 1989. Just read through the scientific papers to see that is true.
If real, how to explain this mysterious phenomenon? The answer likely lies in highly energetic local conditions at the nanoscale with specific geometrical constraints, plus the Weak Force, plus perhaps some quantum effects. We know that the Electromagnetic Force keeps protons well separated except under Sun-like temperatures and pressures. But we also know that nature is always seeking lower, more stable energy states and that neutrons have an easier go of getting into a nucleus because they lack charge. In these LENR systems we have a metal lattice, vibrating at higher frequencies as they are heated, lots of free roaming surface electrons, nano- or micro-scale nickel powders and hydrogen saturating any surface defects in the metal lattice, coupled with electromagnetic pulses. We know that transmutation and resulting energy release can be triggered by the introduction of sufficiently energetic neutrons. That’s established science. Perhaps LENR+ involves the spontaneous creation of a sufficiently energetic neutron, or “effective neutron” (an electron and hydrogen with quantum states that make them look like a neutron to nearly a nearby nucleus) for long enough to trigger its absorption. This new isotope of the absorbing element may be unstable and subsequently release an electron, causing both energy release and transmutation of the absorbing element to next one up on the periodic table (thus matching some observed results). With so many particles and their quantum states overlapping and rapidly changing in such a confined space, the LENR reaction may be exploiting a complex quantum pathway to a lower energy state.
Of course, nobody knows exactly what’s happening yet and the above are only educated guesses. Diligent scientific experiments will be needed to figure out what’s really happening. With LENR though we assert that we might have the ingredients and environment to create extreme nanoscale conditions that make some particle interactions possible that usually aren’t. So LENR may involve new physics, but it also may not. It may just be a set of conditions we haven’t thought of or didn't understand all the subtleties of.
There is a Wikiversity page that contains summaries of many of the theories that LENR scientists have proposed as possible explanations, the most widely cited of which is probably Widom-Larsen.
Point: While no commonly-accepted scientific theory exists to explain LENR phenomena there are some worth considering, and the nature of the ingredients feels right for generating localized energy hot spots that could conceivably trigger complex nuclear interactions.
Counterpoint: Nuclear physics and quantum physics have been thoroughly studied and are well understood, established science. LENR observations contradict this known body of nuclear and quantum physics and therefore must be false.
Nuclear physicists or those familiar with nuclear science often assert that unless there is detectable gamma radiation or high-energy neutrons then what is happening cannot possibly be nuclear in origin. Given that the observations show more energy than explicable by known chemical reactions, their confident assertion that nuclear reactions are also not possible, leaves LENR nowhere to go. This explains a large part of the scientific establishment’s hostility to LENR and LENR+ claims.
You may be interested to know then that although neutrons have never been detected there is some ambiguity around gammas. Two things:
Point: Detection of gammas radiation is a definite hint that something very energetic, maybe nuclear, might be taking place in the E-Cat reactor.
Counterpoint: Hearsay and more “Rossi says” don’t amount to science. Moreover, the energies of the alleged gammas still don’t match nuclear theory, so there can be nothing to this.
Engineering sits on the foundation of science but must deal with the realities of designing complex systems, applying control theory and the inevitability of the prototype-test-revise spiral. Viewing the E-Cat and LENR+ in the engineering dimension is instructive.
We are fortunate that this technology drama is occurring in the age of the Internet and we have a window into Rossi’s activities. Almost daily he answers questions in his online “journal”. Now, the journal itself is pure wild west... although it has a modicum of peer review, just about anything goes... it accepts papers from anywhere and just says that the authors are responsible for their content. But the most important aspect of the journal to date is that he accepts questions in the associated forums and routinely answers them, as well as interjects sometimes with important announcements. So we have had unique access to the ongoing activities of Andrea Rossi and the development of his E-Cats.
These communications have been enlightening, exciting, confusing, frustrating and sometimes maddening. Rossi is an Italian with a functional but far from perfect command of English. As a result virtually every comment he makes is subject to interpretation. People try to nail him down with specific questions and sometimes that works, but other times the imprecision or vagueness never gets settled completely. Sometimes his remarks seem intentionally misleading and promised timelines aren't realized. Sometimes he shuts a thread down with a terse “confidential.” He won’t talk about what’s happening inside the reactor and some avenues of inquiry run into claims of non-disclosure agreements with entities he can’t even name. You can go through and read all of his comments. They birthed a new Internet phenomenon termed “Rossi Says,” because following the E-Cat story meant most of the debate was about things Rossi had said in his journal that were not verifiable (at least not immediately).
But take a step back from the minutiae and you see a man who follows through on his word about the big things and is tremendously excited by his work. He promised a product acceptance test in October 2011. It happened. He promised independent validation in 2012. We got validation, but independent was an overstatement. He said more independent testing was happening in late 2012 and early 2013 by university professors. That report, which many skeptics felt would never see the light of day, was published in May 2013 and that report is clearly not a “Rossi Says.” He claimed in late 2012 that he had joined forces with a partner in the U.S.; after a frustrating 2013 without confirmation, Industrial Heat finally revealed itself in January 2014.
The reason Rossi’s journal communications are interesting is because they also offer a window into the continued engineering and evolution of these E-Cat prototypes. Whenever an exciting advance was made he shared it with his journal readers. Readers have been privy to details about Warm Cats, valve malfunctions, frustrations with demands for endless demonstrations that never convinced the skeptics anyway, heat transfer and energy conversion technologies, Hot Cats, Mouse activators, COP and myriad other details. We shared his nervousness during the latest independent testing. We heard his anger when somebody leaked unauthorized pictures of Hot Cat testing. We have heard a lot about control issues. He can be more reserved about these control issues and other problems, but it was clear he was confronted by a slew of them and happy as a clam whenever he overcame one of them.
Sure, it’s possible that for years and years Rossi has performed an improv to end all improvs and nailed the role of eccentric engineer with a major discovery. But more likely, he is what he seems to be: an engineer struggling with setbacks and complexity as he builds prototypes of a new kind of device.
Point: Rossi’s engineering activities over the years fit expectations of what real world prototype/product development looks like.
Counterpoint: Plausibility and realism are hallmarks of the long con. Just because he acts and communicates like a real engineer doesn't mean he is one.
Another point to be made from the engineering angle is about the initial discovery of the “catalyst” that turns LENR into LENR+. Rossi is not a scientist in the classic sense, he is more of an engineer or inventor. He had previously worked in the energy industry and was familiar with published LENR findings (specifically those of Italian scientists Piantelli and Focardi). Rather than leave it to the scientists to figure out exactly what was happening he decided to see if he could build a better mousetrap by systematically testing different materials and configurations. He claims to have tried over a thousand different materials to increase the heat generation over a number of years, and one lucky day had success.
This is different than claiming that he and he alone knows what the science is. He is more modestly claiming that he tried a bunch of stuff, hit on something that worked and has since been refining the device for better output, better control and better safety in a race to get it to market as fast as possible.
Rossi’s approach mirrors that of Thomas Edison who tried many different materials before he hit on a carbon filament for electric light bulbs that lasted long enough to be practical, and later a carbonated bamboo filament that lasted very long. He didn't invent the light bulb, he just invented the one that worked well enough to actually commercialize by trying a bunch of materials for the key light-producing component. Rossi didn't invent LENR devices but he may have discovered a way to make LENR commercially viable.
It’s quite a stretch to think Rossi spent such an amount of time and effort just to lay the foundation for a future scam.
Point: The discovery of LENR+ through brute force trial and error over a number of years on top of a foundation of existing LENR results, despite limited knowledge of the underlying scientific processes, is completely plausible.
Counterpoint: Rossi needed to make his long con look believable, so he started out by crafting a plausible creation story. This would be step 1 in generating a cadre of true believers that he could leverage into investments and eventually walk away rich and laughing.
Another factor lending credence to LENR+ and the E-Cat in particular is the business activities that we can discern of the players in the field. Money talks and... you know the rest. We are either witnessing the birth of an industry with many startups jockeying for position or witnessing an insane explosion of companies that sell nothing and never will sell anything.
Rossi has, probably rightly, concluded that given the scientific uncertainty and the hostile environment to anything cold-fusion related in terms of patents, the scientific establishment, journals and media that the only way his discovery and device could succeed is to bring it to market. Paying customers and working power generators will be the only thing to convince anyone he repeatedly wrote, dismissing calls for more demonstrations or to license the IP. In that sense it matters very little who believes in the E-Cat and who doesn’t. Within a few years at the most, and probably much sooner, Rossi will have either delivered LENR+ generators to public customers or he will have failed. We are just in an awkward stage right now where Rossi is concerned that he does not have a U.S. patent and is restricting sales to those he can trust not to steal the IP and all involvement of outside organizations that would be able to verify that the technology is real is hidden behind non-disclosure agreements. We recently got the independent 3rd party report but we haven’t yet had the big reveal.
Rossi has been open about this aspect of his business strategy. A scammer would likely not have pursued this strategy; if there are no actual products soon his credibility will be seriously diminished. Instead, a scammer could be expected to “stall” in the R&D phase, trying to perpetually raise money on the promise of making a viable product. Rossi claims to be on the verge of commercialization, now Chief Scientist of Industrial Heat, a company founded for that very purpose and funded at least in the 7 figures to date. Working devices verified by customers and independent third parties. Products for sale. Rossi is promising real verifiable stuff in the real world and soon.
Point: A focus on getting working products to market is a realistic strategy to disperse this technology given the prevailing anti-cold-fusion bias. It is also not a strategy a scammer would likely have pursued.
Counterpoint: One would expect a master scammer to make developments sound and even look real; the more exciting the better to draw in more victims. But the bottom line is that products delivered to mystery partners do not qualify as verifiable evidence of fledgling industrial commercialization.
Most would agree that the participation of military and government organizations for extended periods of time would lend credibility to a research effort. Well that’s exactly what we have here -- as best we can make out anyway. We don’t know who the early military partner is that said put up or shut up and when he put up they bought one (or perhaps more) and subsequently helped him improve on the design. Likely suspects are SPAWAR, the Naval Research Lab and ARPA-E. Really, aside from numerous “Rossi says” statements the only tangible proof of military involvement is the consultant, an engineer associated with NATO, used for the first acceptance test in 2011. His identity is known: Domenico Fioravanti. We still don’t know definitively who hired him. It is believed he subsequently went on to post a lot of interesting insider info, to Rossi’s apparent chagrin, on various forums under the name “Cures” if you want to do some Googling.
NASA has shown steady interest in LENR in general and E-Cats in particular. More accurately, some NASA officials have expressed a keen interest in LENR+ as a way to make travel into space much less expensive, and oh yeah solving that global warming thing as expressed in this article on their web site. They sure act like it’s something real and we know they have sent representatives to some of Rossi’s tests.
The military and government of course have unique energy needs. A decided energy advantage could have national security implications. The Navy would love quiet, practically unlimited energy generators for their warships and submarines. NASA would love a safe new energy source with high specific energy and low cost. It makes sense that they would be all over this technology at an early stage and unfortunately it also makes sense that their involvement would be classified.
Point: Apparent military involvement both as an early customer and research partner as well as LENR evangelists sprinkled throughout government would be expected due to their unique requirements and access.
Counterpoint: Until the military customer can be identified or makes a statement about the technology all we know is that some military organization may have poked around a bit to see what was happening, if anything. NASA is interested in a lot of potential technologies and it’s easy to see why they would want LENR+ to be true. But they have offered up nothing besides a couple of articles and videos by “believers” in their organization, which gives their employees wide latitude.
Eventually Rossi concluded that his go it alone approach was no longer practical and it was time to make a move. When he reached the point where he had working prototypes potentially suitable for commercialization, he looked for an industrial partner for Leonardo Corp. that could help finalize and manufacture his E-Cats. In October 2012 he apparently made a deal with the environmentally-minded Cherokee Fund of North Carolina to finance a new entity named Industrial Heat LLC. Rossi is believed to have provided a working prototype 1 MW plant in the Spring of 2013 to this new entity and since that time Cherokee has been able to raise more than $11M for Industrial Heat. Strong confirmation of this arrangement emerged in January 2014 with reports out of China of E-Cat related marketing efforts by Cherokee.
Industrial Heat publicly confirmed the earlier purchase of Rossi's IP and licensing rights on 24 Jan 2014. The identities of many of the investors in Industrial Heat are not yet known and neither are the parameters of Cherokee's initial deal with Leonardo Corp. Important details like whether Industrial Heat is backed by larger companies (like nearby Siemens?) or just Angel investors are also unknown. It appears that Industrial Heat is now the primary vehicle for continued E-Cat R&D and is employing teams of scientific and engineering specialists. It's not immediately clear where these people came from, whether they were hired directly or are being provided by another entity. Here’s what we thought we knew about the partner based on Rossi’s communications before the relationship with Cherokee and Industrial Heat came to light:
When LENR+ and a future of abundant energy finally makes it on to your nightly news, it’ll be on the day that Industrial Heat, Cherokee and any as yet unseen major players want it to be and probably part of a big rollout, complete with press conference, working plant open to the media for tours, a full PR blitz and maybe even the President and/or other heads of state involved, because it would be, you know, kind of a big deal to solve the world’s energy problems. The clock is ticking now that Industrial Heat has gone public with its acquisition of the E-Cat prototypes and technology. It would not be a huge surprise if it happened soon and Rossi has indicated that preparations with the partner for the rollout have been underway for quite some time.
Plus, it’s a simple point, but one worth stating directly: the Cherokee Fund and Industrial Heat have invested in Rossi’s company and technology, own the IP and licensing rights, and have created a new business to commercialize it for which they have raised millions of dollars. They did not undertake these activities without carefully verifying that the technology is real, stating in the press release that "performance validation tests were conducted in the presence of IH personnel and an independent expert." Quite simply, this is definitive confirmation that E-Cat and LENR+ technology are real.
Point: Seriously? Millions of dollars are changing hands, Industrial Heat has gone public, marketing efforts are underway and all of Rossi's communications about finding the ideal partner have been validated. This constitutes nearly incontrovertible evidence that the technology is real.
Counterpoint: Cherokee and the Industrial Heat company they created are now the proud owners of a non-existent technology and have been duped by Rossi. Why doesn't Industrial Heat publish any data about this supposed game-changing technology, enable widespread scientific replication or sell any products?
But wait there’s more! If you thought that Rossi’s Leonardo Corp. and their industrial partner were the only game in LENR-town you’d be mistaken. There is a Greek company called Defkalion Green Technologies that also claims to have working LENR+ devices. Rossi and Defkalion were partners for awhile, but that partnership dissolved in 2011 under unclear circumstances (Rossi failed to demo something in time or Defkalion didn’t pay Rossi per their contract). Defkalion though went on to claim that they had independently developed prototype LENR devices with very high COPs. Some suspect Defkalion stole Rossi’s technology and then stiff armed him. Drama!
In any case Defkalion claims to have the goods and, while keeping a lower profile than Rossi seem to be just as advanced, maybe even more so. They have even published detailed specs of their prototype LENR+ device called Hyperion.
They claim to have a minimum COP of 25. Let that number sink in. They dipped their toes in the 3rd party verification waters with that one test described earlier, but since then have switched to a strategy of partnering/licensing their technology to companies in vertical markets, with the idea that they’ll customize their reactors for that industry’s particular needs. They have publicly invited companies to come into their labs to test the reactors. If this is actually happening the public is not in the loop. Defkalion had been openly communicating with the public like Rossi up until a little after they published their prototype specs but then closed their public forum and replaced it with a vanilla web site. They also apparently struggled with the Greek financial meltdown and decided to move their headquarters to Vancouver late in 2012, a bump in the road that messed with their schedule.
Defkalion presented a live demonstration of their "R5" reactor to the ICCF-18 conference in July 2013 and Dr. Yeong Kim of Purdue, who had previously observed Defkalion's reactors, presented a supporting paper detailing his theory on how they work. The demonstration included live data readings and an independent observer (Mats Lewan of NyTeknik) who was able to check power and energy measurements and found no evidence of energy smuggled into the device. The demo showed a conservatively calculated COP of over 2, a disappointing result for Defkalion which wanted it up around 4 or 5. Apparently the device wasn't degassed thoroughly enough between the control run and the reactive run, limiting the energy the device could generate. Still the COP calculations were quite conservative (their gift to the skeptics they said), assuming water instead of steam at the device's exit -- however, only ~150 degree Celsius steam was observed. Assuming dry steam in the calculations instead puts the COP closer to 20 than 2, which is well outside any possible measurement error. Defkalion personnel were in charge of the data display and measuring devices so this demonstration falls far short of proof, but it does rule out anything but bold and elaborate fraud, this time by a company in public and involving multiple people.
On January 16, 2014 Defkalion posted an announcement on their web site indicating that they were finishing up their sixth generation "R6" pre-industrial prototype and expected commercialization by September, preceded by multiple independent test reports by international organizations and universities.
So here’s another company making big claims in public and seemingly willing to back them up. On the face of it, this does not appear to be how a scam would operate: accepting increasingly greater risks of exposure with only limited increases in potential return stretches the limits of credulity.
Point: Another business in the LENR+ field, making equally significant claims about prototype devices with high COP and delivering demonstrations at conferences, indicates a new energy era is imminent.
Counterpoint: Defkalion is just riding the gravy train. They either saw enough to think Rossi might have something real so are preparing their own products that would run off his reactors once available, or they are perhaps co-conspirators in Rossi’s scam. Their conference demonstrations and presentations have not provided anything provable or scientific. We await truly independent testing and verification.
Brillouin was founded in 2009 by Robert Godes out of the ashes of Profusion Energy, which ran from 2005-2008 but ultimately failed to provide the finances needed to move forward. Godes has been working for more than 20 years with LENR science with some success and his latest attempt to build a business around his prototype reactors has blossomed into a $5M effort with a similar amount of additional investment expected in 2014. They claim COP of about 4 out of their "wet" reactors where they use electrolysis to get hydrogen from water and then feed that hydrogen into the reactor; this requires a fair amount of power and limits the reactor's performance. They plan to build next generation "dry" reactors (similar to Rossi and Defkalion) with much better performance and thermal output, according to Godes up to 30 kW, and will attempt to commercialize those.
One reason to take Brillouin Energy very seriously is their relationship with SRI International, a nonprofit research and innovation center that essentially serves as a place where industry and government can validate their experimental results and help bridge the gap from R&D to commercialization. Specifically, SRI's Director of Energy Research, Dr. Michael McKubre, has personally validated Brillouin's experimental data and now helps direct the company. SRI takes its science seriously and McKubre has been active publishing peer-reviewed LENR-related results.
Unlike most other players in the fledgling LENR market, Brillouin has demonstrated a willingness to share its progress, its facilities and its finances. For example, PESN shared some videos of their visits to Brillouin and SRI in California in January 2014 in which Brillouin's financing is discussed in detail as is the state of their reactors and which includes live tests of the wet reactors. The videos leave little doubt that Brillouin is a real engineering company working to understand and optimize a new technology. They appear to be trailing the other companies that have been working with solid state/powder fuels for years. They are starting down that path as well but it will be difficult for them to catch up.
In early 2014 Brillouin announced a multi-million dollar licensing deal with a mid-cap South Korean company which they cannot name due to confidentiality agreements. The deal involves using Brillouin's reactors to retrofit a stranded-asset power plant and is part of a broader strategy to start licensing their reactor technology to companies in vertical markets around the end of 2014. However, all things considered they seem to be significantly behind both Rossi and Defkalion in their commercialization efforts.
Point: A second tier LENR company has verified their LENR reactors with a trusted scientific nonprofit research organization. They have shown beyond reasonable doubt that they are a legitimate engineering company with plans to license their reactor technology.
Counterpoint: Yeah, legitimately able to get $5M from people who believe in "reactors" with lots of wires and pipes that defy all known physics. McKubre is on their Board of Directors... conflict of interest anyone? And why doesn't SRI, an organization with more than $500M annual revenue and supposedly aware of this new groundbreaking energy technology, take care of the money problems?
In March 2012, Dr. George Miley of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, formed LENUCO for the specific purpose of commercializing the promising results he had seen in experiments involving pressurizing metal alloy nanoparticles with deuterium gas. In July of 2013, Dr. Miley claimed that LENUCO was working on developing LENR devices with output energy of tens of kilowatts, placing these devices squarely in the LENR+ domain and squarely in competition with the E-Cat and Hyperion reactors. Nothing in Dr. Miley's history suggests that he is anything but an accomplished scientist -- any theory of massive fraud would now have to include a sudden turn to the dark side of this respected man as well.
The business strategy of LENUCO visible to the public so far is underwhelming. LENUCO attempted to win venture capital from the Ultra Light Startups program but failed twice to be voted into the top two (for automatic selection to pitch their idea). They seem to have a relationship with NASA and are working to replace radioactive power sources in future space probes with LENR devices. Beyond that they don't seem to be pursuing any industrial partnerships to speed commercialization. If they truly could build working prototype reactors they should be able to conclude that LENR+ is a reality and that both Rossi and Defkalion are way ahead of them in terms of engineering and commercialization. However, they appear content with filing patents and trying to get more money for continued research and development. Of course much more than that could be happening behind the scenes, but based on public information LENUCO looks like an also-ran or niche player even if its existence bolsters the overall case for LENR+ reactors.
Clarification of LENUCO's strategy emerged in an interview of Dr. Miley published in the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of Infinite Energy. Dr. Miley asserted that LENUCO is close to being able to create a prototype LENR reactor but is first trying to extend the run time of the gas loaded particles. He also provided interesting details on LENUCO's patent holdings and funding. He claimed that LENUCO holds two LENR-related patents and has two more in process. In light of the basic research regarding the gas loading that he felt must be conducted before moving on to the prototype reactor stage, he directed money that could have gone to LENUCO directly to the University of Illinois instead to help fund that basic research. The focus on patents and basic research seems to be Dr. Miley's comfort zone and is similar to his much older and more general commercial venture (NPL Associates) that has been happy to accumulate patents of potential value and provide a funding channel for research. It's possible that LENUCO has a key patent or has figured out something about the science behind LENR the others haven't, but they look like the Tortoise in this race and the Rabbits are not stopping for any naps.
Point: The emergence of another company spearheaded by a widely-published and respected scientist, apparently unconnected to Defkalion or Rossi's Leonardo Corp., but making similar claims of both energy gains and techniques, is important corroborating evidence.
Counterpoint: If LENUCO had what they say they have they would have no trouble getting funding or partnering with big business. Clearly Dr. Miley is just trying to leverage interesting but unverified experimental results and the hype around LENR into a pot of money for his lab and himself.
One of the premier researchers in the LENR field, Italian Professor Francesco Piantelli of the University of Siena, has kept a lower profile than many of his colleagues. His company Nichenergy, formed with associates in 2011, has reportedly focused on methodical and thorough investigation of the LENR phenomenon. There have been no independent validations or public demonstrations nor does the company have a significant Internet presence. For these reasons it has been difficult to discern his progress relative to the others but that may be changing. Piantelli scored a significant European patent early in 2013 and made a business splash in November of the same year by spearheading the formation of Protium srl for the specific purpose of raising funds for commercialization of LENR reactors (reportedly up to 7 kW). In a somewhat convoluted deal, shares of Protium (but not Nichenergy) would be made available to investors and Protium would take 20% of Nichenergy's revenue from the European market. Nichenergy would take the investment revenue generated from selling Protium shares and use it for commercialization efforts and further R&D. It's an interesting setup and one that could be quite profitable if Nichenergy sales blow up in Europe. They admit though that they do not yet have a product for sale so this would be a very speculative investment. However investors desperate to get in on the ground floor of LENR finally have an option.
Along with being in the lead on the public investment front, some of the Nichenergy's assertions are sure to raise a few eyebrows. They hint that while others may be louder they are the ones that deserve attention. They claim complete understanding of the LENR phenomenon and the ability to scale it at will after years of systematic scientific comparison of various materials, fuel composition and other factors. This can't be easily dismissed because Piantelli does in fact have decades of experience with Nickel-Hydrogen systems. The implication is that, while others have managed to engineer working devices, Nichenergy will soon be running circles around them because they have a better understanding of the underlying science. For example, there were rumors as early as Feb 2012 that Piantelli had a zero-input, self-sustaining reactor running at 200 W for months. That would indeed indicate a very advanced capability. Nichenergy also asserts that it has been working closely with an undisclosed corporation that is helping it develop the technology and will share equally in the revenue.
So, to the field of LENR business competitors add dark-horse Nichenergy/Protium. Its odds are long, its scam-meter is flashing due to its public solicitation for investment funds and it hasn't shown us much of anything yet, but it has a good pedigree, may be backed by deep pockets and the whispers of insiders suggest it's champing at the bit.
Point: When virtually all of the leading scientists and inventors working in a field independently move toward commercialization nearly simultaneously it stands to reason that the technology is both real and powerful and they are legitimately motivated by expectations of significant revenue.
Counterpoint: Just another scientist cashing in on the gold rush to advance his lab's R&D. If he really had a self-sustaining energy device in 2012 the world would be knocking down his doors by now. This is a classic scam calling for investments in an amazing product that will never be more than the vapor it is today. The simultaneous movement is explained by unethical collusion and opportunism.
Clean Planet is a Japanese company born out of the human and scientific tragedy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. They are dedicated to promoting clean, safe and abundant sources of energy. While they were created with that wide focus, they now tout the commercialization of LENR as their primary project. At the March 2014 Cold Fusion Conference held at MIT, Clean Planet capped off their interesting and potentially very important presentation of scientific results by announcing plans for prototype 1 kW and 10 kW LENR reactors, nicknamed Scarlett and Catherine, respectively. They showed pictures of both; Scarlett looked ready for action, while Catherine was still being constructed.
Clean Planet provides something of a Japanese mirror to America's Industrial Heat. They both are recently formed companies started by environmentally-minded people that have stepped in to provide the necessary investment and organization to take promising research and prototypes through to commercialization. Like Industrial Heat leveraging the efforts of Andrea Rossi, Clean Planet has partnered with Dr. Tadahiko Mizuno, whose work is well known and respected in the LENR community.
They appear well funded, scientifically rigorous, highly motivated, relatively open and commercially aggressive. They are likely behind Industrial Heat by a year or more, but if Industrial Heat falters or stalls Clean Planet looks well positioned, at the very least, to gain market share in Japan once commercial products are realized.
Point: The Japanese are in and they're not fooling around.
Counterpoint: There's an idea for a Godzilla movie in here somewhere. The Fukushima tragedy has the Japanese grasping desperately for better energy solutions, even illusory ones.
ELFORSK is a Swedish-based utility, manufacturing and public agency cooperative -- spearheaded by one of Europe’s leading energy companies, Vattenfall -- that set aside funds (including about $300k in 2013) to research LENR and LENR+ devices from 2012-2015. ELFORSK funded the 3rd party test of the E-Cat published in May of 2013. ELFORSK has termed the results “very remarkable” and may fund a follow-on test to erase any remaining doubts that the device works and to try and understand the science. A handful of Swedish scientists have been communicating with Rossi since his earliest demonstrations and were apparently successful in convincing ELFORSK to investigate.
In November 2013 ELFORSK published a 30+ page paper on LENR, subtitled an "Information Statement on a Controversial Phenomenon." ELFORSK, in a unique position as the only entity to date to publicly fund an independent test of a LENR+ reactor and -- dramatically -- receive apparent confirmation of the existence of a new energy source, takes a decidely non-commital approach to the technology their own researchers seemingly confirmed. The paper provides a good and useful overview of LENR research and activity and trumpets its potential to disrupt energy markets. However, while the paper recommends acceptance of the reality of LENR phenomena, it advises a position of constructive skepticism and fails to make any statements or conclusions with the volume or gravity that such acceptance warrants. Perhaps this weak position is understandable from the perspective of an organization that doesn't want to get too far ahead of its members and seeks to gently introduce a skeptical bunch to a new reality. That they would go to the effort to research and publish such a paper at all is an indication that they feel the need to educate their members and the broader public about LENR.
Point: A number of Swedish scientists and a large European energy cooperative were convinced enough that the device was potentially real to put significant money behind testing and scientific investigation. They were rewarded with confirmation, with near certainty -- the only significant remaining doubt being undetected fraud -- that the E-Cat produces copious excess heat.
Counterpoint: This could simply be Swedish scammers riffing on Rossi’s scam or perhaps working in concert. ELFORSK is just another victim and lends no credibility due to its involvement.
When Rossi hit upon LENR+ one of the first things he did was seek the council of Dr. Sergio Focardi, Professor Emeritus of the University of Bologna (insert joke here), a highly respected nuclear physicist and a man who had worked on nickel hydrogen exothermal systems in the 1990’s. In other words Rossi went directly to one of the premier experts in the field, someone who could tell him if he was imagining things or making bad mistakes. Dr. Focardi examined the device, confirmed the results and collaborated with Rossi from 2007 until his passing in June 2013.
This can only be considered a highly significant endorsement of both Rossi and the E-Cat LENR+ technology. A man of Dr. Focardi’s stature would not throw his hat in with a scammer, hoaxer or delusional crackpot. You can hear this endorsement in his own words (with English subtitles) in a video taken of a talk at a 2011 TedX event.
Point: Dr. Focardi’s endorsement of and collaboration with Rossi and LENR+ should be enough by itself to convince most people that E-Cat development is real.
Counterpoint: Though Dr. Focardi had a solid career and was an impressive individual, one must also consider that he was old, battling serious illness, perhaps not as sharp as he once was, and spent a significant part of his career studying nickel-hydrogen reactors. He could have been basking in a kind of false vindication without realizing he’d been tricked by Rossi.
Rossi is known to be working with Siemens regarding generators to convert the copious excess heat to electricity. Siemens has turbines that can do this and they have been working toward a smooth integration together.
Rossi also worked with National Instruments (NI) for a significant period of time, a largish company that has taken a particular interest in LENR. NI seems more involved now with Defkalion and Rossi and his partner have turned to other suppliers for measurement equipment.
It’s unlikely that both Siemens and NI could be fooled for long periods of time if LENR+ devices didn’t really produce excess heat. The fact that they remain involved in the field is an indication that they believe they are not dealing with hucksters.
Point: The involvement of large companies Siemens and National Instruments in LENR+ lends credibility to the field and both Rossi and Defkalion.
Counterpoint: Like any company, Siemens and National Instruments are happy to sell their technology and services to anybody, even people who believe they have magical heaters. Their involvement as providers lends no credibility to the field and they have made no public endorsement of the technology or devices.
Leonardo Corp has established licensees in a number of international countries and territories. One in particular, Aldo Proia of Promoteon in Italy seems to have detailed knowledge of the E-Cats and Rossi’s business strategy and is very bullish. Businesses don’t put their resources on the table unless they feel they can get a good return on investment. If this is all a scam or a hoax then businesses with skin in the game have been fooled.
Point: A pool of international licensees reduces the likelihood of a scam or hoax because that many more people would have to be fooled. It also makes business sense to establish sales channels worldwide so this is consistent with a real business strategy.
Counterpoint: Perhaps this is the scam: get licensees excited about non-existent technology so they fork over serious money to grab their shovel for the gold rush.
None of the information in this section about the behavior of individuals and organizations could ever constitute proof one way or the other. Assuming motivations for actions is more art than science and information is only as good as the source from which it comes. Nevertheless, behavior of individuals involved in a crime is often used as supporting evidence in court. Some “social” aspects of the players in LENR+ are offered here in that spirit.
Analyzing Andrea Rossi is challenging. His history, actions and communications have been used by E-Cat proponents and detractors alike to help prove their points. He supplies both sides with ample ammunition (and some even wonder if that’s intentional, the better to stay under the radar of those who could cripple his efforts). You can support any point of view you want by cherry-picking or creatively interpreting one nugget of information or another. It’s probably best to review the range of information and let it provide context for the more verifiable elements of the LENR story.
Point: His actions are consistent with an alternative energy hero who bounced back from underhanded sabotage some 20 years ago and is devoting his every resource and waking moment to make his E-Cats a reality.
Counterpoint: He’s a criminal from the beginning, getting dirty money from oil while producing toxic waste and is now involved in some overly elaborate revenge scam on those that burned him so badly. He plays the part well, but it is just a part. He is the star of his own show, a megalomaniac.
It is informative to observe how people and organizations with knowledge about LENR+ -- and something to gain or lose -- behave.
Point: Taken as a whole all this paints a convincing picture of people and organizations with more knowledge than us behaving as if LENR+ and E-Cats are just as advertised; Occam’s Razor applies.
Counterpoint: The list overstates the case because some items are only “Rossi says” and others only mean that the scope of the scam is impressive. One cannot draw conclusions from the behavior of scammers and victims. Scammers know how to gain confidence and trust; victims would be expected to behave as if the technology were real.
If LENR+ is real, its deployment would be a black swan event for the world’s economy. Everybody would win big in a sense, but there would also be huge losers in specific areas. Organizations and people that could be expected to fight back hard and dirty against the introduction of LENR+ might include:
How does this factor in to evaluating the veracity of the E-Cat and LENR+? Having enemies matters because we are all familiar with trolls, shills and other disinformation specialists in areas like politics. They are readily apparent in the LENR+ field too. Any positive news about the E-Cat is immediately pounced on by the same group of people who seemingly stand guard 24/7 to spread disinformation on the topic. Some of these people must be getting paid by someone. Look for comments on any LENR-related web site or article and get ready to read numerous negative posts from the same people over and over like it’s their full time job to stifle any reasoned discussion of the evidence. There is already a small army ready to make sure that any information you get about LENR is accompanied by comments telling you that you are a fool if you believe this crazy stuff. It’s only going to get worse as those who feel increasingly threatened become more motivated to do something about it.
There have also been pitched battles over the contents of the E-Cat and Rossi pages on Wikipedia, with those who control the pages putting forth a distinctly pessimistic view of the device’s validity on the one page and slandering Rossi with false information on the other. Everyone probably knows that Wikipedia is not a 100% reliable source of information but everybody uses it anyway, often as an introduction to a topic or a sanity check. Clearly some entities are abusing their power to impose their views and negatively influence those curious enough to research LENR.
Point: LENR+, a.k.a. “cold fusion,” is an easy target for disinformation because it was, rightly or wrongly, widely discredited in 1989. That it has won over so many “believers” given this hostile information landscape may be an indication that there is actually something there.
Counterpoint: while some skeptics cross the line from healthy to pathological, LENR “believers” are just as guilty of cherry picking information to back their arguments and too easily dismissing valid concerns. In any case, questions about scientific validity cannot be solved on Internet web sites and forums. Only solid scientific evidence matters in this debate and engineering, business and social observations are interesting but they are moot until the science is settled.
Claims of a conspiracy among so many respected scientists are laughable, starting with Dr. Focardi and ending with the latest independent testers. Claims of delusion and incompetence rely on assertions that skilled, experienced scientists and engineers have botched energy measurements by a factor of three or more, over and over, using different techniques. Claims of fraud or scam are reduced to assertions of almost unfathomable trickery and coordination that has fooled hundreds over many occasions and requires prescience on the part of and contradicts the actual behavior of a multitude of supposed scammers.
The LENR phenomenon is supported by many observations reported in peer-reviewed scientific papers. LENR+ is supported by some less conclusive science but also by compelling engineering, business and social evidence. The claims of Rossi and Defkalion in the LENR+ field are extraordinary and would have dramatic impact on quality of life and the world’s economy and politics. The May 2013 publication of independent 3rd party tests of the E-Cat LENR+ technology and the January 2014 confirmation of Cherokee Fund's relationship with Leonardo Corp and financing of Industrial Heat LLC are dramatic and nearly definitive blows in favor of the veracity of these remarkable claims about the E-Cat and LENR+; they simultaneously confirmed the extraordinary assertions about the technology and that Rossi was telling the truth all along about independent tests and partnerships.
The situation brings to mind the famous Sherlock Holmes quote: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” The crux of the matter here is that we have been left with two very improbable possibilities: that LENR+, the E-Cat and the Hyperion work despite what we thought was settled physics, or Rossi et. al. are in the midst of performing a scam of a scope never before observed. Those who “believe” in LENR+ have concluded that the scam hypothesis has become a virtual impossibility, and therefore we are on the verge of a new energy era. Skeptics believe the opposite, rejecting any “unknown” physics and seeing enough indications of a scam to conclude that it is LENR+ that is impossible and the improbable scam is the real explanation.
You must, of course, weigh the points and counterpoints yourself. Decide which you think more likely, blend them together and form an opinion. Please treat with respect those who follow the same thoughtful approach even if they reach a different conclusion. Reserve your contempt for those who refuse to carefully weigh all the evidence -- especially that evidence which argues against their chosen position. It is better to have a strong mind than strong beliefs.