While it is too early to pronounce the E-Cat project accomplished, I believe we are looking at a technology that before long could solve the energy crisis in terms of offering a far cheaper and cleaner alternative to most of the current forms of energy being used now.
The first generation of E-Cat 1 MW plants which from all accounts are now on the market (see Aldo Proia’s recent interview) have the capacity to provide inexpensive heat up to 120C in abundance, which could go a long way towards cutting heating and hot bills for factories, commercial buildings, perhaps apartment buildings in many parts of the world. At a retail cost of around 1 cent per kW/h (Rossi’s estimate), many businesses would find this very attractive, and will likely be eager to switch from current sources of heat.
Despite these attractive features, it is not necessarily the case that as revolutionary as the thermal E-Cat is, that initially it will be cost effective for users to migrate from current heating sources. Natural gas is currently at low prices, and could still be more effective in many parts of the world. You also have to consider the purchase price of the 1-MW plants and the price of electricity that is required for the E-Cat’s drive.
All this changes, however, when we consider the high temperature E-Cat which allows for the production of electricity. Heat is good — but without electricity production the E-Cat provides only a partial solution to many pressing energy problems.
Maximum temperatures of over 1000C (Rossi confirms) mean that not only is heat available for industrial level jobs, but it is more than enough heat to provide the high temperature steam that is needed to create electricity efficiently. And this is key — because if you can create electricity efficiently, you are in a position where E-Cat units can be used to provide the drive that is needed to power other E-Cats. A COP of 6, which Rossi maintains is still the standard, means one E-Cat can produce enough electricity to drive another E-Cat, and there would be electricity left over.
This means that it will be feasible to create E-Cat power power plants that would require no excess fuel other than the minimal amounts of nickel, hydrogen, and secret catalyst (whatever that might be). You could also retrofit existing power stations — take out the current boiler systems (coal, gas, oil, nuclear) and replace it with a configuration of E-Cat units. Of course there will be engineering problems involved, and there would also many safety authorizations to secure — but in principle, the task is doable.
There would be lots of engineering involved, and multiple ways to approach the issue of making stand alone E-Cat generators. In time I am sure that efficiency and power density would be improved. But the most important breakthrough seems to have been made — very high temperatures, and it appears to me that Andrea Rossi has come up with a way to solve to a great extent many of the pressing energy problems that face our world.