I am very pleased that Aldo Proia, CEO of Prometeon s.r.l, E-Cat licensee for Italy, has been willing to conduct an interview with E-Cat World. Below are my questions and his responses.
Can you tell me something about your background, and how you came to be involved in selling E-Cat systems?
I have not a technical background. At the beginning of my career, I was responsible for relations with the customers in the various companies I’ve worked for. In the last years, I worked exclusively in the energy sector. I’ve created, in Bologna, a company specialized in obtaining permits for 1 MW or larger photovoltaic systems and also in their construction. I had heard from friends about the E-Cat and the fact it had been presented in my hometown. After some months, when the PV sector had been strongly affected from the cuts to the incentives, I decided to contact Eng. Rossi and to present him some big investors that were my customers. So, we began to know each other and, later, I decided to run for a licensee.
What kind of assistance have you had in checking to make sure that the E-Cat is indeed the revolutionary technology that Andrea Rossi claims?
We have used, since the beginning, qualified consultants, including engineers and physicists. Moreover, we had access to essential information through confidential channels, and we made very careful assessments before investing our money. We knew that the maximum COP of the apparatus – when led to extreme conditions which cannot be proposed commercially because unstable – was about 200, a tremendous value. This means that even if Rossi had missed a measure of energy in input or in output by a factor of 2, there would be no particular problems to ensure the customer the guaranteed COP 6.
Which E-Cat systems have you personally witnessed in operation? What is your personal assessment of the technology?
I often see the E-Cat running when I go to meet Rossi in his R&D laboratory. Usually, I saw the small version of the E-Cat unit working in self-sustained mode for hours or days, depending on the type of research they performed. On the computer screen it was possible to see the performance, looking at the temperature, the absorbed energy, and so on. Now, in the new laboratories of Rossi, I have seen more times the Hot Cat, which in the old labs worked in self-sustaining mode for several months without interruption. I find this type of running simply surprising, for its obvious implications on the COP.
What kind of demand do you see at the moment for E-Cat products in Italy? Do you see the demand changing over time?
In this first stage we try to keep the demand for this product at a low level to manage it in the best way. However, there are already several requests for information coming from industry, especially by large – and often well-known – companies and industrial groups or entrepreneurs used to invest in renewable energy or operating in the energy field. With the thermal E-Cat, industries can significantly cut down their energy bills, so in the future the demand will grow speeding up the process, already begun with renewables, of a distributed energy production at the expense of the old centralized model.
What kind of potential customers are showing interest in E-Cat products?
The customers interested in purchasing the “classical” E-Cat are especially companies using thermal energy, in the form of hot water or steam at low temperature (up to 120°C), for industrial applications h24 and for the major part of the year. The Hot Cat, which will provide an output up to 600°C at minimum, is very interesting for industries using high temperatures in their productions. The Hot Cat can also be used to produce electric power, so it is useful – potentially – for all big consumers of electricity. Thus, we have some companies interested in the thermal E-Cat for making an upgrade, later, to the Hot Cat.
How will you be able to meet the demand for products if there are a large amount of orders?
This is a problem of the producer, i.e. Leonardo Corporation, which have to plan the production strategies according to the market demand and also to the R&D and certification stage of its various products. It is obvious that, at a certain point, he will start a series production. However, I expect that the demand will grow rapidly after the first plants have been installed, even if they could not be public at first. A satisfied customer of a 1 MW thermal plant can easily order 10 MW or 100 MW some months later, saturating for a while the production capacity, so the first customers will have a decisive advantage.
How long does it currently take to build a 1 MW E-Cat plant?
We must distinguish the construction time from the delivery time. The first depends on the manufacturer and of course on the volume of orders, so you have to address this question to Rossi. Delivery time, instead, is also our responsibility and can be up to 4 months for a 1 MW plant. However, for Italy, this time may be even much shorter: it depends on the type of product ordered and its quantity. Obviously, the products which are still in the stage of research and development – like the Hot Cat and the electric E-Cat – can be only pre-ordered, so the customer cannot know since now their delivery time.
What is your assessment of the capabilities of Leonardo Corporation?
Rossi is working on the E-Cat with two groups of R&D. One is located in the USA, where Leonardo Corporation is based, but I do not know it directly. However, according to Rossi now there are about 63 people working on the E-Cat for Leonardo Corporation. The other group works here in Italy and I personally know some of the researchers involved in the development of this technology. People working on E-Cat are engineers, physicists, technicians, all making an extraordinary effort in developing commercial products in the shortest possible time: I see new exciting results almost every 2-3 month!
Has a 1 MW plant yet been shipped to one of your customers? If yes, when did that take place, If no, when do you estimate that will happen?
Although we have not yet online our web site, there are various negotiations with prominent Italian companies. Here, indeed, there is considerable interest from large companies listed on the stock exchange. Some of them are highly motivated to purchase a 1 MW plant to start a collaboration, but generally have decision times rather long. We are trying to select the most suitable company for the installation of the first plant, which of course will have the advantage of priority in the case of future orders. So, I think that in the course of next year we will have the first E-Cat shipped to a non military customer.
What are the biggest challenges you face in bringing the E-Cat into the marketplace?
The challenges are many and typical of a new technology that is also a potential game changer in the global energy landscape. Therefore, there is a resistance from some energy lobbies, although some of them are trying intelligently agreements or partnerships with us. The other challenge is to provide clear information assembling together the pieces of a puzzle very fascinating but otherwise complex for the layman. A big challenge is also the high minimum size of an industrial E-Cat – 1 MW – so not all companies can easily afford to buy a test facility before making major investments in this technology. But the biggest challenge in the short term, perhaps, is to have patience: a technological revolution requires time.
On your web site you have a countdown clock — what should we be expecting at 0:00 ?
The countdown you mentioned expires around the end of this month. At that time, we hope to have our full website online and officially begin operations. The site, indeed, will show all the information necessary for a potential customer to evaluate the technology, the product and the seller: from the updated datasheet to all the frequently asked questions on various general, technical and economic issues. We had hoped to complete the site already last month, but more than 2400 emails received, the not planned extra work and the many news provided by Rossi in recent weeks have shifted the appointment.