The E-Cat Story: An Unusual Tale

Reflecting on the story of Andrea Rossi and the E-Cat that has been developing over the course of the year I cannot help but think about how unusual it has been (and continues to be). It really is an affair that seems to be without precedent in the modern technological age; here are some of the unusual aspects of the story that occur to me.

1. The Inventor claims he has found a new and much improved way to create energy, but will not submit his research in any scientific journal, choosing to let the marketplace validate the reality of his invention rather than the scientific community.

2. In January, Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi hold a press conference in which the E-Cat is demonstrated. Over time qualified, respected scientists such as Guiseppe Levi, Christos Stremmenos, Hanno Essen and Sven Kullander state that Rossi has discovered a new form of nuclear reaction. The mainstream media and scientific press pay almost no attention at all.

3. The E-Cat inventor, Andrea Rossi, carries out an almost daily dialogue with interested followers on his web site which is entitled The Journal of Nuclear Physics. Rossi answers questions about many things connected with the E-Cat, but will not discuss anything related to the nuclear reaction itself. Rossi solicits advice from his readers on how to improve his technology.

4. Rossi issues a press release in which he announces a severance of ties with Defkalion Green Technologies, who were to be the first customer to demonstrate an E-Cat power plant. Rossi says he will take Defkalion to court. Defkalion issues public statements praising Andrea Rossi.

5. Andrea Rossi states he spends 16 hours per day working on his E-Cats, explaining that he has to do this in person because he is the only person who knows what goes on inside the E-Cat reactor.

6. Rossi announces that he has met with people in the highest echelons within NASA, and that they will be working together in the future. NASA says nothing.

7. Rossi announces that his first E-Cat power plant will be launched at the premises of an unnamed American partner in the last week of October. The venue of the demo will be announced the day before it starts because, according to Rossi, if the location was revealed, everyone would immediately know who the partner was.

This is not your typical product roll-out. Apart from anything else, the claims that Rossi is making about his E-Cat technology are incredibly bold. He says he has discovered a way to make clean energy from a abundant materials (nickel and hydrogen) which, if true, could completely transform the energy industry. The whereabouts of the factory where he has been making his E-Cats is a secret, and it is not clear if he has many, or even any employees helping him in the manufacturing process. Despite his openness about some things, Rossi is very secretive about other things — perhaps for good reason. He has mentioned numerous times that he is concerned about people trying to steal his industrial secrets.

In some ways the whole affair is quite entertaining — there is suspense, mystery and even some amusement to keep people interested in the latest developments. On the other hand, there is something very serious and important going on here. If Rossi has indeed discovered a far better way to produce energy the stakes here are extremely high, because energy issues lie at the heart of many of the economic and social problems we face worldwide.

In some ways it is difficult to understand why there is so little attention being paid to this story from the press, governments and scientific community. It would seem that a claim as extraordinary as Rossi’s which has been backed up by respectable scientists would garner some attention from those who are so concerned about energy issues. On the other hand, it is understandable that people are skeptical. What Rossi claims is happening is considered impossible by all currently accepted science. Perhaps people think Rossi is either mad, fraudulent or simply mistaken, and not worth taking seriously.

Whatever the reasons, it does not sound like Rossi is going to change course. From everything he has said, the late October launch is on the calendar, and once that is complete, the commercialization processes will begin — and it is in the commercial realm that Rossi plans to confirm to the world the usefulness of his discovery.

  • John W. Ratcliff

    I don’t think it’s that unique. It’s just another side-show like Orbo. The world is filled with ‘inventors’ who claim they have created something which, in fact, doesn’t actually work.

    He has never done a single demonstration which showed more energy output, in the form of steam converted to *electricity*, than is input.

    And, he’s following a familiar path of making promises and then going back on them as well as changing his story along the way.

    This will all end with a whimper, just like the Orbo affair did.

    John

  • wim

    Hi Frank, Rossi’s story is anything else than unusual. I surely hope that we are facing a breakthrough in energy production but in case of a fraud, the pattern so far is completely stereotype. We have seen it over and over again in the past decades. Tom Bearden’s MEG, Bedini, Perendev and many many more. All of them followed exactly the same pattern of communication. Indeed, the next step we will see is a delay for the end october deadline. Furthermore we will be thrown arguments why the delay occurred. (like insufficient recourses, patent issues ed). Next we will see stories coming up of threats (most likely being the argumented reasons for the delay). Than it will carry on for a couple of months, maybe a year throwing mud.

    Again, I hope this time it is for real, if so Rossi should be nominated for the Nobel price right away; we just sit and wait.

  • http://extropolitca.blogspot.com Mirco Romanato

    If Rossi show the e-cat is a working technology, his secret will be rediscovered.
    To discover a novelty is difficult, because you don’t know if it is there or not.
    But if you have a positive proof that it is there, it is only a question of time, resources and commitment.

  • Mark S. Coffman

    As I have stated repeatedly I think A. Rossi is only partially knowledgeable about
    scientific instrumentation and computer control, but that he may be a genius
    in the study of catalytic chemical processes. There is nothing inherently wrong
    with him being a specialist. But I suspect that he thinks his discovery is so
    important that he doesn’t want to “contaminate” it with non-novel product
    oriented technologies. Most of us think he has a right to keep his discoveries
    proprietary and not to disclose the construction details of his reactor, but some
    kind of disclosure will logically be required for us technical savvy people to be
    convinced that he actually has something, because we know our scientific
    positions are not based in the human emotion of hope. In general this disclosure
    can be device behavioral information derived from data taken by non-proprietary
    scientific instrumentation attached to his device even if the device construction
    remains proprietary.

    I general, in society, discoveries are often done under the auspices of
    organizations and their management forces the top technical people to
    compromise and let their discoveries be “contaminated” by technical processes
    known to be required for building successful products. So products are innovation
    plus existing technologies designed to produce profit. We thought we had
    this in Rossi with Defkalion Inc. but now it turns out not to be the case.

    If the above text described the scenario accurately and Rossi can’t be convinced
    to allow technical people to augment his instrumentation and control knowledge
    and supply behavioral information, and can’t be convinced to describe the
    construction of his reactor in detail, Rossi may very well take his information
    to the grave with him. To some extent it depends on Rossi’s ability to build what
    he considers a product, without instrumentation or behavioral information he
    needs for to do this successfully himself. I am not convinced Rossi view is going
    to be changeable. So I think we need to use information he already has supplied
    about the construction of his reactor. But I don’t think important future LENR
    disclosures are necessarily going to come from him. So Rossi’s technical
    behavior is not necessarily that different from his inventor predecessors.
    I continue to believe that inventors tend to be their own worst enemies.

    :S:MarkSCoffman

  • Raimundo

    I agree with Carlos. When the last week of October arrives, Andrea Rossi will say: “Unfortunately, the start of operations of the 1 MW plant will have to be postponed. Keep waiting and believing me without any proof.” I have no doubt this is what will happen.

  • Carlos

    Anybody want to bet a $100 that the october plant date is postponed? What a crock of b.s. I do agree about the entertaining part, but now its getting old.

  • Alexander

    That was a good summary.
    I’m actually quite glad that, Rossi is side stepping the normal scientific route.
    Prove it in working demonstrations first, then let scientist ego’s bicker about it afterwards.

    I think the idea of peer review has become a serious hinderance to progress.
    I’m not quite sure what you mean about Rossi soliciting advice from the people on the website, i’ve been keeping up with what people are saying there and it seems to me that it is more a case of excited people offering their opinions to, Rossi, and him being kind enough and humble enough to really consider what people are suggesting.

    Who knows how this will turn out, in my opinion, nothing is impossible, so the only thing I feel skeptical about is the ability of people to get the necessary research and development done, with this and future technologies, under the very restrictive, unhelpful, and well out of date structure of society, that for some unknown reason we all keep tolerating.
    But, one way or another, we will, all of us as a planet, become something much greater and more harmonic, when we stop allowing limits to be placed on our imagination.

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

      Alexander, you are sooo right! The peer review process would take these guys years! Peer reviewed journals are so quick to get rid of anything that may be controversial, or that could put egg on their precious white-washed faces.

  • http://RossiColdFusion Sterling D Allan
  • AR

    Dear Frank (admin)
    Thank you very much for your brilliantly excellent illumination of the greatest ever achievement of the mankind. I am sure some eyes “… those mysteries have not moved…” are now wide open. Cheers.
    A.R.

  • jcragris

    clarification on the e-cat production on the Rossi Web site:

    Andrea Rossi
    September 8th, 2011 at 6:37 AM
    Dear Jason Le Leivre:
    We have industrialized the system.
    Warm regards,
    A.R.

    Jason Le Leivre
    September 8th, 2011 at 6:17 AM
    Dear Andrea Rossi,

    In the past you have indicated that your Ni fuel charge is prepared by a single elderly gentleman in his 90′s. Has he been responsible for the fuel for all 300 reactors in your 1MW device or do you have a new preparation system better suited to mass production?

    Best Wishes

  • jcragris

    clarification on the e-cat production:

    Andrea Rossi
    September 8th, 2011 at 6:37 AM
    Dear Jason Le Leivre:
    We have industrialized the system.
    Warm regards,
    A.R.

    Jason Le Leivre
    September 8th, 2011 at 6:17 AM
    Dear Andrea Rossi,

    In the past you have indicated that your Ni fuel charge is prepared by a single elderly gentleman in his 90′s. Has he been responsible for the fuel for all 300 reactors in your 1MW device or do you have a new preparation system better suited to mass production?

    Best Wishes

  • Jay

    1. The Inventor claims he has found a new and much improved way to create energy, but will not submit his research in any scientific journal, choosing to let the marketplace validate the reality of his invention rather than the scientific community.

    Actually this is not unusual at all. Most science is done by private companies and the findings are proprietary. Does a printer company submit detailed papers to some science journal about their latest printer engine technology? What about a tire manufacturer about their latest rubber compound or ply technology?

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

    Thanks, Frank, for an excellent summary of this situation. I must admit that the unusualness of this tale raises significant doubt in me. It is countered, however, by the qualified scientists that have had a close look at the technology, and have produced glowingly positive reports.

    I, as most people, hate ambiguity. I hate not knowing if this technology is for real or not. I know that many have avoided the ambiguity by declaring loudly that the technology either does, or does not, work. The vast majority have avoided the ambiguity by simply ignoring the issue altogether — and I think this especially goes for science news sources, and the scientific community.

    Alas, I have responded to the ambiguity by buying finger bandages. (Nail biting is really frustrating when you are at it for months on end.) Life will be better for me when I can escape this ambiguity, and know that there is a new option to rescue the world economy from itself, or know that the world economy will not get this hail mary rescue.

    Here’s hopin’.

  • daniel maris

    Excellent post. I think that sums it up very nicely. Those reputable scientists working most closely with Rossi seem the most convinced of the veracity of this claims. And yet Rossi does much that provokes scepticism.

    We are certainly on course for something in October…but what? Is it simply going to be a bigger version of the tests earlier this year, with a few scientists being invited to witness the demonstration but not pull it apart after which the “1 MW plant” to an undisclosed location in the USA for “onsite testing”. I sure hope not.

    I think if we get something like that, many of us will simply become bored with Rossi’s claims. What we are looking for a definite move forward to the next stage, not more of the same.