An ECW reader brought my attention this week to somthing I had missed: a well-done English translation of a 2011 interview with Sergio Focardi by the Bologna station Radio Città del Capo. The transcript which was posted in full on the 22Passi.blogspot.com website provides provides some interesting insights into Focardi’s involvement with cold fusion, first with Piantelli and later Rossi.
Here are some excerpts — click here for the full document.
Two or three years after [Fleischmann's] discovery, I was at a conference in Trento, in the company of two friends, one from Cagliari, Habel, and one from Siena, Piantelli. Piantelli told us he had seen similar phenomena with hydrogen; we talked and decided to check out these effects again. The three of us all worked in Siena, as Piantelli had a lot of support there (At the time, the President of the University was [Luigi] Berlinguer, who is now an MP in the European Parliament, and he had given him a lot of help and support). We carried out the first experiments and saw the first effects . . .
So there were two parallel lines of research: on one side, the deuterium and palladium people, who never got anything: there’s a quite a few of them, and they believe they are the guys with results. [On the other side] we, using hydrogen and nickel, did get, at a certain point, some small effects … not important ones . . .
I was running the risk of dying of a tumor. I was lucky, I found a good doctor who saved my life, and so I retired, I stopped working (as a professor, obviously), but kept on … then I did quit for a while … until Rossi looked me up . . .
So Rossi calls me and tells me he’s interested in the subject. We met, talked things over, and I could see that he had some innovative ideas; for instance, he immediately thought of using powder. Powder increases the surfaces involved and thereby increases the hydrogen which gets into the metal . . .
I immediately told him: “We must watch out for neutrons, neutrons are dangerous! Buy a neutron detector immediately, never work without one, because if neutrons escape, you’re done for, you’re dead”. And he took my advice on this.
There are no neutrons. This a fortunate fact; as this is a nuclear phenomenon, you would expect them. Luckily, there are none, because the nickel nucleus has a “pretty deep hole”: if it weren’t so deep, there would be neutrons as well . . .
After this, we began to build our first devices, extremely simple ones: a container, with a small cylinder inside, a tray for the nickel, which is the component we were using (we experimented with other metals too, we did all sorts of things), hydrogen — obviously, you can get it out of a gas bottle or produce it with electrolysis, depending on the application. You heat the system with a resistor, an (electric) current; at a certain point the system begins to produce energy . . .
We came to perform experiments in which the energy produced was in the order of two hundred times the input energy — and that’s quite a factor. The only weak point is that this is thermal energy. If you want to convert it into electrical, you must divide it by two; on the other hand, well, you still have a factor of one hundred! . . .
In this paper [on the JONP] we also give an explanation of the phenomenon. Here’s what’s going on: there, in the container, we have nickel and hydrogen, then we heat up the system. Then, let’s say, the hydrogen nuclei, which are protons, move inside the system and these protons are able to come into contact with the nickel, with the atom, penetrate into the atom and even into its nucleus. This is where things get difficult. How can they penetrate the nucleus? Because the opposing force is huge. I don’t have an answer for this. All the same, it happens . . .
At some point in the past, as the device kept working on and on, I started thinking of a hammer. “Let’s hit it with a hammer!” (Laughs). Well, what you do is you shut off … the latest application has nickel inside it, then the hydrogen is supplied by electrolysis, so that … because you cannot keep a hydrogen tank at home, of course, it’s dangerous. Instead we generated it from water by electrolysis . . .
So, the device kept on working, and I thought to myself: “I guess I’m going to have to use a hammer to stop it”. Until one day Rossi told me “I stopped it!”. “And how did you do that?”. He said: “I cut the power to the electrolysis, obviously”. Right! All you have to do is run the electrolysis from a separate power source. You cut the power off there, and once the hydrogen is used up, the device stops by itself.
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The complete interview is well worth reading as it gives insight the development and discovery of the E-Cat, and provides another witness to the things Rossi has been talking about for the past years. In fact, Sergio Focardi is one of the main reasons that I think we can take Andrea Rossi seriously.