The Discovery Channel’s web site has come out with an article by Jesse Emspak (which features a large picture of Andrea Rossi at at its head) titled “5 Reasons Cold Fusion is Bunk”.
The five reasons listed in the article for being skeptical about Rossi and the E-Cat are :
1. The Coulombe barrier — only possible with super high temperatures and massive brute force, such as in the stars)
2. Gamma Rays — two inches of lead shielding would be needed to stop 96 percent of gamma rays from a fusion reaction, and Rossi would be very sick if even only four percent of gamma rays escaped from his device. There didn’t seem to be any shielding in his reactor.
3. Transmutation — there would need to be new elements coming out of the machine if cold fusion was occurring. Rossi said initially that nickel is being transmutated to copper — not even supernovas can do that)
4. Testing — during the test the reactor was never disconnected from the mains power even when their equipment measured no power was being consumed. The team did not test for a hidden DC wire.
5. Catalyst — Rossi has not disclosed the catalyst he is using claiming it is a trade secret and this is a red flag.
My initial response to this article is that Rossi isn’t claiming that what is going on in his reactor is cold fusion as is often described — a desktop version of the sun. He says he prefers the term low energy nuclear reaction, but that is a rather vague term. We really have no idea about his theory. He does say that gamma rays are being produced, but are somehow thermalized in the reactor and produced no dangerous radiation. Transmutation, Rossi now says, is a minimal side-effect of the reaction, and not the main cause of the energy production. As for the testing issue, that has been discussed at length. Torbjorn Hartman said he did thorough checks for hidden sources of energy, but found none. Hanno Essen said he didn’t think of doing so. We know the catalyst is secret, and yes, it’s a problem for people who want to understand and replicate the E-Cat — but keeping a part of the technology secret does not have a bearing on whether it works or not.
My own position is that Rossi has a technology that works as he says, but we know very little about how or why it does. The recent tests go a long way to bear out his claims and only can be called into question on the assumption that deep fraud is involved — and personally, I don’t see evidence to make me believe that it is.