The E-Cat and Unemployment

Andrea Rossi has made some remarks lately which indicate his hope that introducing his E-Cat technology could have a positive impact on the employment situation, especially in the United States. When asked by a reader how he thought his invention might impact the unemployment situation in America and globally, Rossi replied:

“Yes, the creation of jobs is one of the main goals of our work. We really hope to generate thousands of jobs in the short term, millions in the long term. But we will have to fight hardly [hard] for this.”

In response to another comment he responded, “we have to work hard and fast: our Country needs jobs.”

Rossi is evidently anticipating that his technology will be in such great demand that it will take thousands and even millions of workers to provide the manpower to build, distribute, install and maintain his E-Cats. But perhaps there are other factors to consider, assuming that the E-Cat works as Rossi predicts. While a much better energy technology would certainly generate economic activity, it could also be disruptive to the point of causing unemployment — for example in the coal mining industry, which could take a hit if nickel, not coal became the primary source of energy for generating electricity.

There’s also the current nuclear industry to consider. E-Cat technology, which apparently uses no radioactive material, and produces no radioactive waste would be a much more attractive proposition than the current fission technology and so we could see unemployment in the nuclear industry.

Rossi insists that his technology will be integrated with all others — he seems to think that it can peacefully coexist with existing energy sources, but with such a disruptive technology as the E-Cat promises to be, I don’t think one can be so sure that we can sure that this would be the case. Market forces will put a huge amount of pressure on more expensive and dirtier energy technologies, and over time some energy industries could fade away.

There is another way to look at the picture, however. If the E-Cat is wildly successful, it will bring down energy costs significantly — probably enough to provide major cost savings to businesses who may feel confident enough to start hiring new workers. We also should think about spin-off industries. The E-Cat could lead to the development or expansion of new industries.

With cheap and abundant energy we could start doing things that have been prohibitively expensive due to high energy costs. One example would be desalination, which is technically feasible, but very energy intensive. With very cheap energy it becomes an attractive proposition, and among other things it could lead to the expansion of agriculture in new areas of the world where water has been scarce.

So it is a complicated picture — there are many variables at play and as with any breakthrough technology, there are things we simply cannot predict. Who would have thought at the dawn of the Internet age that the Internet would have affected the world in the way that it has? These are interesting and exciting times, and in just a few years time we could be looking at a very different world — one where many people could be doing very different work than they are doing today.


  • http://www.nickelpower.org Bruce Fast

    “Wow. It seems so clear to me, but apparently (I am theorizing) generally people don’t realize what LENR Ni-H means to our economy.”

    Of this you are correct. However, I think the much bigger issue is that people are not convinced that Dr. Rossi’s technology is for real. Just yesterday I watched some online video of some Japanese people who have a working H2O car. However, I know that there are about two ways to crack H2O into hydrogen and oxygen as they claim that they are doing. You can stuff energy in, about 10 times the energy that you get out, or you can find a chemical (such as powdered aluminum) that you can react with the oxygen, releasing hydrogen. The latter is better seen as running off of the chemical (such as the aluminum). This chemical adds a significant cost to the reaction, so saying you are running the car on water is no longer accurate.

    I suspect that we will hear nothing about this technology until the scientific world is convinced. It will then be featured on the cover of every mainstream magazine. It will be the feature story on every news website. Then the world will begin to consider what the technology really means.

    Check out http://www.nickelpower.org to get a sense of what this technology will do when/if it becomes proven.

  • Rick Gresham

    Mr. Stick in the Mud here,

    I found some interesting information on a couple of sector’s energy use:

    The motor vehicle industry in the U.S. spends about $3.6 billion on energy annually. In this report, we focus on auto assembly plants. In the U.S., over 70 assembly plants currently produce 13 million cars and trucks each year. In assembly plants, energy expenditures is a relatively small cost factor in the total production process.

    The main energy types used on-site are electricity, steam, gas and compressed air.

    About two-thirds of the budget for assembly plants is spent on electricity, while fuels are used to generate hot water and steam (mainly for paint booths), as well as heat in curing ovens.

    Total energy costs are equivalent to approximately 1% of the production output by the vehicle assembly plants, making it a relatively small cost factor in the total production process. The energy costs for the assembly of a car have declined from about $70/car in 1990 to about $60/car in 1995.

    http://www.energystar.gov/ia/business/industry/LBNL-50939.pdf

    This report only speaks to assembly, not life cycle costs, but in poking around it looks like life cycle energy costs for automobile manufacturing is between 2% and 10%.

    Another sector, microprocessors, is even more distored. If I read it right, energy cost for manfacturing a processor is around 2.8 kWh or about thirty cents or so.. The highest priced processor on their July price list sells for $999.00

    http://www.cs.ucsb.edu/~chong/papers/computer07.pdf

    On the other hand, the energy cost of a loaf of bread on the store shelf is probably a much higher percentage of retail cost.

    For what it’s worth ….

  • Francesco CH

    Steven Krivit interviews David Bianchini:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46EVV0di3Zw

  • Brad Arnold

    I just realized the disconnect: people don’t understand the economics of LENR Ni-H.

    Wow. It seems so clear to me, but apparently (I am theorizing) generally people don’t realize what LENR Ni-H means to our economy. If you knew the amount of time I’ve spend trying to contact my legislators about this new clean and very cheap energy technology.

    Sure, they simply don’t understand what it means to us. You would think that they’d notice what happens when oil prices go up – the economy slows down, but I guess they’ve become accustom to the status quo so can’t guess the effect lower energy prices and not importing fuel will have on our economy. It also doesn’t help that people generally have trouble envisioning positive feedback loops (i.e. exponential rather than linear). Wow.

    That is a valuable insight. Now I know the fulcrum. Thanks E-Cat World.

  • Brad Arnold

    I agree Mr Gresham, change will be difficult both economically and sociologically. The good part is that at about 1/10th the cost, the invisible hand of the free economy will force the rapid switch (competition – if your competitor produces goods for much less because their energy costs are so much lower, you must switch to stay competitive).

    By the way, an overlooked but VERY POWERFUL dynamic is the positive feedback loop. In this situation, there is a gigantic market for LENR Ni-H which will spur tremendous economic growth. BUT, that is just the first of it, because once energy costs lower, the costs for goods will lower, and employment will shoot up (the opposite of what happens when the price of oil goes up). NOW, add on the new frontier of space opening up, and you get almost unlimited growth potential.

    Before you object, that simplistic LENR Ni-H positive feedback loop becomes even more powerful when you consider the psychology of a booming economy. All of a sudden businesses are stocking their shelves and hiring people because they expect a booming economy. Man, the future is so bright we’ll have to wear shades!!

  • Rick Gresham

    Brad, I don’t mean to sound like a naysayer. I believe Rossi will deliver the 1 MW box in October and launch an incredible amount of R&D world wide and eventually LENR will be refined to produce very low cost energy.

    I don’t believe it will lead to the total destruction of public utilties but I expect it will drive change and reduce the retail price of power in time though not nearly the 90% some seem to believe.

    I’m only suggesting we temper our enthusiasm and don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen as quickly as we think it should.

    The implications of ending dependency on fossil fuels go far beyond what we’ll be paying for electricty and other goods someday. The whole geopoltical structure of the world today is based largely on the ambition to control resources, energy chief among them and primarily oil. If oil and coal are relegated to mere raw materials in the production of goods, less than 8% of consumption today, and water ceases to be a reason to practice genocide, I really don’t know what to expect of the world’s poltical systems. it would be nice to believe that we’ll all suddenly start pulling together for the betterment of humanity and the spread of our genetic material throughout the universe, but frankly, I’m a bit pessimistic on that front.

  • Rick Gresham

    Bruce, you’re right, I missed the e-cat to electricity to H2. That might be useful but with ongoing develpments (antimony doped gallium nitride for example)

    http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/207079/20110901/producing-hydrogen-backyard-possible-earth-energy-sources-water-sunlight-oxygen-antimony-gallium-nit.htm

    there may be less expensive ways to produce hydrogen not too far down the road.

    I was told about twenty some odd years ago that a local utility was willing to sell power to metal casting company here at two cents/a kWhe, their cost, so 2.5 cents/kWhe today for coal seems reasonable.

    Keep in mind, however, that usually when Rossi talks about kW, he’s talking thermal (kWth) not electrical (kWe). At the low temperatures the e-cat is producing, conversion efficiencies will likely on the order of 10% to 20% at best.

  • http://www.nickelpower.org Bruce Fast

    1 – If you read the first “rocket fuel” post, by Brad Arnold, he says, “right now LENR can furnish the cheap clean energy to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water, then liquify it, thus producing rocket fuel that current technology can use in rocket engines.”

    2 – Electricity costs about 10c/kwh at the house. By your calculation it costs $2.5c/kwh at the coal plant. To cost 1/10 of coal, the e-cat must produce power at $0.25c. While I know that Dr. Rossi has discussed selling energy at 1c, he has a whopping profit margin built into that. His 5kw e-cat produces 5kw/h per hour for 6 months on 50mg of nickel! The only costs hare is the equipment to harvest the heat — the steam or sterling engine. I see no reason whatsoever that the e-cat can’t achieve $0.25c/kwh. Further, because the e-cat will be so cheap, we should be able to eliminate the grid too — a significant savings.

    • Brad Arnold

      I don’t know where you get your “2.5 c/kwh” for coal, but the actual figure is a little above 5 cents generally (it makes a difference if the emissions are scrubbed or not). By the way, I know hydroelectric can generate electricity for less, but the scale and investment is such that I am only considering coal. Also, coal sucks because of the pollution involved in all aspects of it (mining, transportation, emissions from burning, and ash residual), so their is those addition “hidden” costs.

  • Rick Gresham

    Can anyone explain how a device that heats water to a couple of hundred degrees C is going to power a rocket? Math is wonderful but it can’t explain why nine women can’t get together and have a baby in one month.

    Have you considered the weight of the 1 MWth device? It is very, very heavy for the amount of energy it produces. Not something that you’d try to lift into orbit I’m guessing. .

    Can anyone explain why someone would sell for a dime something they could sell for a dollar and sell as much as they could produce at that one dollar price?

    According to Wikipedia, coal is less than 1/4 of the “levelized cost of electricity” So, why would the cost of electricity drop by 90% if you eliminate less than 25% of the cost of producing it? And that assumes the e-cat could actually produce power at that level which we know it can’t and won’t for quite some time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source

    And when it does, who will be buying them and why? My guess is it will be people in the power generation business which are either investor owned utilities or investor owned independent power producers. Investor owned companies are not generally in the business of making as little money as possible for their investors. Would you hold a stock if the CEO of the company announced, “well, you could have made a dollar a share, but we chose to only make a dime a share”.

    Yes, small e-cats powering residential scale CHP units could change the energy landscape, but as we know, they, too, will be a long time coming and even longer being adopted in numbers large enough to matter.

    Temper your enthusiasm lest you rush headlong into disappointment and disillusionment when reality comes knocking on your door. .

    • Brad Arnold

      Mr Gresham,

      While no doubt when the LENR Ni-H exothermic reaction is better understood more energy will be able to be harvested from one reaction, what is much more important is how energy dense the fuel is. Nickel used by the LENR Ni-H reaction is over 10,000 times more energy dense as coal or oil. Furthermore, there is much much more nickel than oil, coal, and natural gas.

      Frankly, if you are bothered that one E-Cat kernel doesn’t deliver that much heat, just build a lot of them. I really don’t understand your objection.

  • guido

    decentralization:
    - when the first personal computer was developed
    - when the first electric engine was developed

    no one could predict all future developments and the implications that this would be.

    I think that e-cat is something like this.
    the giant plants do not need anymore, but everyone will have access to the amount of heat and energy it needs.

    Guido

  • Daniel Maris

    Brad Arnold –

    Rocketry is a good example of why we shouldn’t get carried about the possibilities. Rocket fuel is actually a very small part of the costs of space travel. Much more important are the costs of ground crew, training, research and development, tracking, launch centres, administration and so on.

    However, if it worked, then the LENR might provide possibilities on Mars as it might well be an efficient way – using a relatively small amount of mass – of producing rocket fuels on Mars, which then don’t have to be transported all the way from Earth.

    • Brad Arnold

      While human resources is a big part of the expense of “rocketry,” every other component will be much cheaper because the cost of energy will be much lower. Also, since predictably our subsistence economy will be booming, there will be additional resources to spend on space exploration and settlement. Remember, the biggest source of natural resources exist outside of Earth, and with energy abundant and cheap, raw materials will be in great demand here. Besides, water and nickel will be a ready source of extraterrestrial energy (as you say). Also, it is very important sociologically to offer humanity a pressure valve of a new frontier to settle. Let me add that at 7 million calories per pound of mass lifted into space, one ought not minimize this new source of clean cheap and abundant energy – I mean imagine if we had to expend fossil fuel to get that lift – it would be impractical on the scale I am projecting.

      • daniel maris

        This isn’t abundant energy. Best estimates are electricity at 3 cents per watt compared with 7 or 8 for the cheapest alternatives. So if energy is 15% of your national economy’s overall costs, then you might be 7.5% better off (these are very rough figures of course). If you earn $50,000 you’ll have an extra $3750 per annum. Useful but not riches beyond the dreams of avarice. I think you’d get the same sort of effect with rocketry.

        I’m all in favour of space exploration and Mars settlement so I am not really arguing against you. Just suggesting that establishing a space economy is more important than Rossi’s invention (if proved).

        • Brad Arnold

          I don’t know where you are getting your “best estimates,” but according to Rossi it will be less than one cent per kilowatt hour. Yes, there is an initial investment for the device, but after that the fuel costs next to nothing (nickel is about 8 $/pound, and hydrogen from water will come way down in price as energy costs shrink).

          As far as comparing LENR Ni-H to oil, coal, or natural gas, you ought to also factor in energy self-sufficiency (i.e. not importing energy, thus draining the national economy of capital), and fuel density (i.e. not transporting large amounts of fuel, nor processing it, nor mining it, since using LENR Ni-H nickel is over 10,000 times as energy dense as oil or coal).

  • Brad Arnold

    Energy is everything to an economy. Look at the economic effect that higher energy prices have on the US economy, and then judge what a drop of 9/10th in energy price would mean. Besides, we wouldn’t be buying the energy from abroad, so the money can stay within our own nation’s economy. The future is so bright, we’ll have to wear shades.

    Using LENR, a gram of nickel yields an amazing 1.7 billion calories (meaning it is more than 10,000 times more energy dense as coal or oil – but 100 times less energy dense as uranium 235). It only takes 7 million calories to boost a pound of mass out of the Earth’s gravity well. Furthermore, nickel is 3% of the mass of the Earth – much more than all the coal, oil, and natural gas.

    A new frontier is going to open up – cosmopolitan space travel. For instance, right now LENR can furnish the cheap clean energy to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water, then liquify it, thus producing rocket fuel that current technology can use in rocket engines. We are predictably going to be boosting a tremendous amount of mass into outer space in the near future.

    Do you understand the implications of this??

  • Jay

    There’s no mistaking that the e-Cat would be an economic boon worldwide. Think of it this way: If the cost of energy doubled would you be richer or poorer? That’s easy. We’d all be poorer because energy costs are embedded in nearly all things that we buy. Now, if energy costs halved would we be richer or poorer? Richer, obviously. Sure the coal, gas, oil and fission industries may suffer, but the money we’re not spending on them can buy other things, spurring the economy.

  • Wes

    Advances in technology do not automatically create advances for humanity. Techology has facilitated the rapid transfer of power to corporations at a rate far beyond society’s ability to ajust to the changes.

    Automation allows 2 % of the population in the U.S. to produce the food, while in India it is over 70%. Food production automation in India will “free-up” 700 million people. That is, they will be competing for the remaining jobs.

    Human addiction to technology is everywhere. Intelligent machines, on the other hand, have little need for humans. Becareful what you wish for.

  • Dow Daytrader

    The e-cat will cause the disintegration of inefficient, state controlled/monopolistic cost centers. Individual power plants in homes that can sell excess electricity to the central grid will increase the standard of living for the individuals (similar to the invention of the Model T), lower the cost of energy production, thus immediately lowering the cost of goods produced by said energy.

    Inefficient systems will collapse or be forced to be more efficient. Coal industry may disappear in many regions; their laid off workers can be better utilized elsewhere with all the new industries, plants and machines driven by the e-cat and it’s descendents.

    No doubt there was welfare for buggy whip manufacturers after the auto was mass produced. I’m sure there will be the socialists screaming for welfare after the e-cat becomes viable. Let the socialists screams fall on deaf ears. We’ve already learned from the defunct buggy whip welfare programs.

  • Rick Gresham

    I’ve pondered at length the development and introduction of a new energy source such as Rossi’s. I claim no particular insight and my crystal ball has never worked as advertised. But I think I would disagree with parts of what you postulate.

    At this point, e-cat is a thing that makes heat. Eventually, its decedents will likely be much more than it is today, just as the space shuttle is (was) so much more than the Wright brother’s first attempt at powered flight. But for the immediate future it is simply a thing that makes heat and not a great deal of it in relative terms.

    This is not to berate Rossi’s remarkable achievement, merely to accept reality. A typical coal fired power plant of 500 MWe capacity (of which there are over 600 in the US alone) operating at 40% efficiency would require about 1,250 of Rossi’s 1 MWth devices (each comprised of 125 individual e-cats best I can tell). And that’s only if the device could heat water to close to 600C. Again, from what I can tell, Rossi has achieved considerably less than half of that reliably.

    I don’t doubt that Rossi, Piantelli or another inventor will eventually achieve that level of power out, but it seems likely not to happen in the short term. For now, as Rossi has stated, the best that can be hoped for is that the e-cat will be used to preheat boiler feed water thus saving some coal but certainly not replacing it entirely. The Gen IV nuclear reactor developers will not be throwing up their hands in surrender to the e-cat anytime soon.

    The e-cat will be useful in other applications for which it is more suited; space and water heating, commercial laundries, drying wood products, industrial food preparation and possibly even desalination as you suggest.

    As the e-cat becomes more widely adopted in suited niches and produces indications that it will be useful for generating power, we may see reduced investment in other alternatives – wind, wave and solar. Coupled with improved battery technologies we may see a decline in investment in renewable transportation fuels as well.

    The big plays, however, will wait for the e-cat’s maturation. When it can produce hundreds of MWth at 500C or hotter, then we’ll see a meaningful decline in coal and gas consumption for power generation.

    Keep in mind also the nature of regulated monopolies doesn’t necessarily drive them toward lower cost energy. Were it not for the break up of AT&T, we’d have continued using 53kbps dial up modems to access the internet far longer than we did. The closest anyone has suggested for the power industry is separation of generation, transmission and distribution. Given the fiasco in California a few years ago, even those suggestions fail to recieve much attention these days.

    The greatest boost to employment I can imagine would be for the e-cat to be integrated into a residential/small commercial scale CHP system. This appears to a goal of Rossi’s and others and, coupled with an innovative financing program, would likely drive expansion of employment in the construction trades.

    Simply reducing the space heating bill for a manufacturing plant isn’t likely to boost demand for their products. Saving a cent or two on the cost of a can of green beans isn’t going to drive expansion of consumption of green beans. Expansion in consumption is the only thing that will drive expansion in employment.

    This is all simply to counsel moderation of expectations. Over promising and underachieving is a sure recipe for disappointment and disillusionment.

    • http://www.nickelpower.org Bruce Fast

      Rick, either you or I do not have a good grasp on the scope of this technology.

      First, let me address the issue of 500C. It is true that modern steam turbines are tuned to operate at 500C. However, this is so only because that temperature is the highest that is easy to contain and control. With heat from coal, gas, oil and nuclear, obtaining this, and higher temperatures is easy. Rossi’s e-cat, however, as far as I can tell works in the 300C range. This isn’t by any means an insurmountable problem, however. Just because modern steam turbines are tuned for 500C that doesn’t mean that an efficient engine cannot be tuned for 200C, or any other temperature for that matter. (There’s even a sterling engine that operates from the heat of your hand.)

      It is my belief that when truck, train and ship companies realize that they can run their equipment without using any fuel (close enough,) they will be painfully itchy to do the R&D necessary to get there. After all, a large portion of their costs is fuel. And when transport company B down the road has the potential for doing it, you can bet that transport company A will do what is necessary to compete.

      When the first car company comes out with a “refuel once a year” car, anyone who isn’t an idiot is going to want one. I strongly suspect that GM, Ford and Toyota are all smart enough to know that. They will be spending their wad on R&D to be that first company.

      The same will go for home heating systems, electric companies, industrial energy and every other form of energy consuming technology.

      Will Dr. Rossi be able to keep up with all of the e-cats that are needed? No. However, once he convinces the scientific world that his technology actually works, he will get his international patent. When he gets his patent, all he needs to do is license the technology and get out of the way. E-cats will be mass produced, under license, as rapidly as they are needed.

      How fast will the money flow? I believe that the money will already be flowing like crazy as soon as companies realize that there is R&D to do.

      I may be wrong, you may be right. Only time will tell — if the Rossi is for real at all, of course. Here’s hopin’.

    • Brad Arnold

      Rossi’s greatest contribution will be to have pointed the way toward commercializing over unity LENR Ni-H. Once it is successfully commercialized, innovation will rapidly increase. Right now, it is a chore just to get reasonable people to entertain the notion that Ni+H+KCO3(heated under pressure)=Cu+lots of heat.

      Last night I talked with a couple of engineers I was checking into my hotel. They laughed at me and one said that his kid can turn nickel into copper too – when he got change for a nickel:)

      I handed them DIA-08-0911-003 Technological Forecast: Worldwide Research on Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions Increasing and Gaining Acceptance (you know, a report with the US Defense Intelligence Agency’s symbol embossed on the front), and they became more respectful and curious. They still haven’t returned it to me…

      By the way, here is a successful experiment similar to Rossi’s over unity LENR Ni-H: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=230087767008023

      I’ve got a couple more if anyone is interested. Frankly, it is Greek to most people (ha-ha).

    • H. Hansson

      Rick, .. You are trapped in large-scale operational thinking. During a transition period, it will be convenient for various reasons to concentrate on upgrading existing, large-scale facilities. Mainly those that are obsolete. They may get new life with E-cat technology and offer new clean efficient energy production.

      However, the big change comes when you in a few years can scrap the fragile infrastructure that is based on power lines in wide power-line-corridors that cut through the landscape. Replaced by locally produced energy .. in each house, villa or apartment block

      In addition to free up huge areas for other activities, the (average) 7.2% energy loss that can be attributed to the transport of electricity over long distances, be a relic from the good old days.

      And, to day Saudi Arabia tunnel about 5-10 Billion dollars every year of the oil money back to USA and EU via radical Muslim organizations. That would be brought to a abrupt halt.

    • http://mfh2o.blogspot.com Paul D. Kendall

      Date: 9-7-11
      To: Mr. Rossi and Associates
      From: Paul D. Kendall
      Ref: Thank You All for your well intended invention and contribution to mankind and all creatures planet wide.

      Dear Mr. Rossi and all,

      Please consider allowing us mankind memebers of the planet to give to you, your family / loved ones and associates a sum of money to make you happy and a place in the history of the World….
      AND thereby,,, in return,
      You could then, make public planet wide all of your research and formulas for the Residential and Commercial E-CAT designs and devices and this way the whole planet could begin to innovate quickly across all sectors of potential applications; ( I am concerned that we need to move quickly asap on a new and viable energy infrastructure in order to accomodate our need to replace carbon based energy paradigms )
      AND as each person invented applications we/they could give you some kind of idea recognition fee/royalty.
      Thank You ALL for your contribution to a more ” In Harmony World ” invention.

      Paul D. Kendall ( Energy in Harmony activist, researcher, commentator and consultant )
      [email protected] 907-222-7882
      http://mfh2o.blogspot.com FINAL_DRAFT_23.pdf

      PS.. Would it be alright to begin to get people signed up as first come, first to buy your Residential and Commercial E-CAT products…This way some of us could begin to prepare the public to be educated and pre-qualified to buy..

      Naturally, We or I would not assume any obligation on your parts… just accept the list of interested parties for your sales teams and investors…