Controlling the 1 MW E-Cat Plant

It’s been interesting hearing Andrea Rossi talking about the problems that he and his team are having to deal with as they try and get the E-Cat 1 MW plant at the customer site. We might consider that since Rossi has been working with E-Cats for such a long time that this should not be a major issue, but as he said in his interview with John Maguire earlier this week, this is the first time they have run a plant with a load on it.

My understanding from reading the Journal of Nuclear Physics and from communications with Rossi is that the plant Rossi is installing is to be used in some kind of factory working on a production line, and will be delivering thermal energy in the form of steam. Rossi says it needs to work 24/7 for 350 days per year. If this is the case then there will be issues to deal with in terms of using heat exchangers, plumbing, water flow, etc. Then there is the added complexity of a 1 MW plant which is made up of multiple E-Cats, all of which need to be controlled.. Below are a couple of comments today on this subject which I thought were particularly interesting and perceptive.

First is from Jimr

My opinion, a single ecat can be made to operate ,however it takes constant readjustment ( triac voltage and possible freq.) per the latest test, under computer control. Since there is such a variance between devices it would require separate sensor inputs and multiple outputs to each 10kw ecat which would require an exotic multiplexer to control each of the 100 ecats individually, therefore the problems they are having when they try to ship a 1mw unit. This may end up to be not cost effective. We may have to wait until 100kw, 1mw , etc. individual units are developed. The bright side may be that a reliable 10kw unit could be ideal for the a singe home unit at some point in the future.

Next is from Omega Z responding to Jimr

I agree that controlling 100 reactors could be daunting as it’s a new technology, but it’s a matter of time & engineering. It is doable.

This kind of control is done on a daily bases. The fact few people are aware shows it can be done silently in the background. Might I mention the Internet, The flying Wing, Drones, Space X reusable rockets, Etc..

They all manage 10’s of thousands of inputs & deal with it quite easily. The computer board to control a 1Mw plant will eventually be quite small & inexpensive, The human interface on the other hand will be larger with it’s LCD screens & manual control switches & higher price tag.

No doubt, these are the major issue’s Rossi is dealing with in the 1Mw pilot plant. Initially with multiple problems & gradually working it down to a near zero event over long periods of time.
Note, This scenario will repeat when IH/Rossi start the 1st Plant to produce Electricity. However, experience with just providing process heat will be of high value.

As to home units, They will be used for base load heating initially supplemented by conventional heating for peek demand periods. The E-cat has great potential for many uses, but, it has certain inherent issue’s to be overcome before it becomes truly practical for all things in the home. The Biggest issue is, required 24/7 operation, because it takes hours to start up. It has a similar shut down period, but that’s not of much concern.

The test report shows it is well suited to ramp up as comparable to conventional heating purposes, however, there is the question if the economics suffer. It’s most efficient at peek power. What happens if that peek is only needed for short spells & most of the time it operates at half power.

Note: This will vary by your geographic location, but in Illinois, you will need 1- 10Kw e-cat for every 500 sq. ft. of floor space for winter heating. Many variables here depending on temp & whether this is peek or base load. Base load would be about 1 per 1K sq. ft.

PS, 100Kw or bigger E-cats are many years of R&D away.

  • Albert D. Kallal

    This news from Rossi is VERY encouraging.

    Why?

    Well, because it means they are solving REAL world
    problems!

    There is little doubt that such a system is computer controlled.
    This is standard fair and solvable at rather low cost with computer control
    devices.

    We know electricity is supplied to the e-cat. As the
    reaction starts then MORE output heat occurs. As the heat starts to rise (and we
    need to keep in under the melting point of nickel), then you back off on the electricity
    going in. In fact we saw this effect of the computer control system during the
    test (the control system dropped input by about 20 (30?) watts). As noted, they
    did NOT use the available self sustain mode.

    As the heat starts to rise in the reactor, then you do
    NOT necessary have to back off on the electricity to prevent a melt down. You
    simply INCREASE the flow of fluid that is removing the “valuable” heat from
    that system and that will prevent the temperature rise!

    So the FLOW of fluid to remove heat becomes a VERY important
    part of reactor operation. In fact this issue and “balance” is rather important
    for ANY reactor (coal, nuclear etc.).

    Do I back off on electricity going in?

    OR

    Do I increase flow of the fluid over the heat element to
    pull MORE heat out of the system?

    We have a “choice” now. Testing on a lab bench watching
    heat might be fun. Now we WANT to USE and grab that valuable heat.

    We are NOW taking away heat. Our “heat” is mother load of
    gold up in the hills! Where is a cowboy yeling ya-hoo! When you need one?

    Producing heat is the VERY reason for the existence of
    the reactor!

    Likely the result of this “cool” little dilemma is a quadratic
    equation (in fact it is likely more then two competing variables such a more/less
    flow vs more/less electricity we have in a typical quadratic equation).

    So the goal here is maximize heat output. As reactor
    output increases then you likely increase fluid flow to get more energy out.

    Colder fluids at too high of a rate likely would cause the
    whole reactor to shut down. (you cannot pull heat out faster then the heating elements
    that required to keeping the reaction above operational temapturs).

    Even during those small “self sustain” modes, you have to
    keep an eye on temperatures as they drop and be “ready” to punch that power on boast
    button to keep temperatures above the point to sustain the reaction.

    The “term” robot used by Rossi is thus VERY encouraging.
    They clearly are tweaking the software and control system to “maximize” the
    output of this plant in a REAL WORLD industrial environment.

    The fact that Rossi admits they are doing this is perhaps
    MORE encouraging then even the recent report!

    Regards,
    Albert D. Kallal

  • Omega Z

    I would be shocked if it cost $1.5 million.
    Everything has changed since Rossi touted that number.
    Note home heaters will be cheaper to manufacture verses Industrial units. Probably around $1K per reactor(Package system) plus installation & additional materials.

    .
    There are other issues to deal with for home heating. Due to the long start up time, It pretty much requires operation of 24/7. Because of this, it is best suited for base heating. Then using the conventional system(?A N-gas furnace?) to supplement it when needed.

    Trying to cover all heating needs would result in dumping large amounts of excess heat when it isn’t needed. Energy isn’t cheap when you have to throw a large portion of it out.

    Note: I would expect the cost of E-cats to cost more then the system it replaces. You’ll be buying a system. Not just a reactor. I also suspect, a COP>=10 to be truly beneficial. N-Gas is much cheaper in the U.S. verses electric.

  • Jimr

    What I should have added, but trying to be brief. What if each Ecat requires different voltage (ex. 110-440) during various phases of operation, it would require a 100 variacs. Also what if frequency requirements vary through operation (ex. 50-400 cycles) we are now talking real complexity That is why controlling a single 100kw or 1 kW may be no more difficult than a single 10kw unit.

    • Omega Z

      Rossi has said that increased size increases control issues substantially.
      So it is likely many years of R&D before those are available, But I expect they will happen eventually as they gain a better understanding of the technology.

      • Fortyniner

        Low thermal mass may be key here. The relatively small thermal mass of the unit tested (alumina is very light, there wasn’t much of it, and heat dissipation was optimised by the shape) was probably a way of making the thing ultra-responsive to varying input, and so stable under PLC or computer control. There are almost certainly scaling difficulties with the pilot plant that the engineers are trying to address.

        Larger reactor cores will probably need active cooling by means of a number of coolant tubes penetrating the reactor body, with flow rates controlled by modulating valves. All this in addition to the sensing and feedback arrangements for the heater/induction coils, and the two systems interdependent across a whole bank of reactors. You can understand Rossi’s comments about complexity.

  • Christopher Calder

    PS

    I forgot to mention that several days ago I talked to a top level employee of Brillouin Energy Corporation, which has functioning LENR technology similar to Rossi and Defkalion. He said that they had licensed their technology to a South Korean company which plans to make products with it. I had heard of this before, but only as an unconfirmed rumor. Now it is confirmed. Will the products they make be consumer or industrial? He did not say, but he did say he thought LENR would lower the price of oil. Is it easier to get consumer product safety certification in South Korea? If that unnamed South Korean company starts selling LENR reactor products in Asia, South America, etc, will the US television news media cover the story? Will it make certification for all LENR products easier in the USA? I believe that whoever is first to mass market LENR technology will help all the LENR players across the board. So the big wait for Industrial Heat is not the only show in town. The man from Brillouin said they could turn their reactors on and off rapidly at will. I wish them all the best of luck.

    • LCD

      Their issue is cop is not that great on a good day.

      • Christopher Calder

        I asked the man from Brillouin about any news, details, which would obviously include the latest COP numbers. No answer. One would hope COP numbers from them will improve over time. Their low cost water heaters are very simple and may be economical to build now for home water heating use.

        • Fortyniner

          By now, they may have enough clues from Rossi to allow them to improve their COP considerably.

          • Christopher Calder

            I would like Defkalion to use the Rossi fuel formula combined with their spark activation method to break the H2 into H1. That way they can get rid of the hydrogen bottles. Defkalion would have to find a way to shield their own electromagnetic, sonic, and/or other stimulation methods so they can bring temperatures up to 1400 degrees C without frying the works. The only weakness of the Defkalion design was lower operating temperatures. I expect their COP of their latest design will be over 20. If they can get high heat, they have low cost electricity production in the bag. I believe the recent criticisms of Defkalion have been unjustified.

            • Fortyniner

              DGT seem to have missed an important trick when they failed to utilise lithium hydride to replace their H2 tank. LiH thermally decomposes into monoatomic hydrogen and lithium, and if the nickel can be maintained a little hotter than the general environment, for example by 50/60Hz EM induction, these ions would be delivered directly to where they are needed – the surface of the nickel particles.

              • Christopher Calder

                It is not too late. Rossi did not try to patent the lithium hydride trick. Defkalions old fuel formulas use to have to be oxygen free. Rossi’s does not. A Rossi-Defkalion hybrid seems like a way to solve all problems and get a very high COP and high temperatures.

    • Andreas Moraitis

      Christopher, are you aware of the fact that you have been cited by NASA?

      http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20140010088

      See #22 of the references in the PDF. Congratulations!

  • Christopher Calder

    Berko makes 10 kilowatt portable industrial space heaters. They are located in South Carolina, just a short drive from Industrial Heat, LLC.

    See their 10 kilowatt portable heating unit –

    http://www.globalindustrial.com/p/hvac/heaters/electric-unit/berko-plenum-rated-unit-heater-bph1107124-277v-10000-watts-10-kw-3793-amps?infoParam.campaignId=T9F&gclid=CMuY752ftMECFQsKaQodaVwACQ&gclsrc=aw.ds

    See Berko web page – http://www.marleymep.com/en/berko/

    I suggested to Mr. Rossi that they first produce a 10 kilowatt industrial heater that would be certified for industrial customers only. Would that work legally? Anyway, Rossi said no, but I am not 100% sure that he understood that the unit would only be sold to industrial users. My idea would be that Industrial Heat could partner with Berko or some other producer that already has factories and designs in place, and just convert existing designs to 10 kilowatt E-Cat heating elements. They would be just heating air, not water, and it should be very easy to do with simple fan and reflector technology. Imagine all the cold and damp factories and military installations that would love to have a portable heating device for area heating that would save them lots of money on their electricity bills. How about installing then at the United States weather and research station in Antarctica? That would give Industrial Heat an income flow, prove the technology beyond doubt, and pave the way for consumer heater certification.

    Would they certify a portable 10 kilowatt industrial heater? Is that different legally somehow than a 1 megawatt industrial water heater?

    • Fortyniner

      Unlikely. It’s difficult to find any jobsworth who will take a risk these days – safer to just bounce the issue around in a circle going nowhere.

      Re. distribution of reactors as and when they can get some kind of paperwork in place, I would think that it’s most unlikely that IH will sell them outright. A leasing model with operating personnel supplied by IH seems far more likely initially, and could remain their preferred way of doing business for a very long time. That way IH get to keep a close eye on their kit for IP purposes, and complete control over usage and maintenance.

  • Ophelia Rump

    A single multiplexor would allow a single controller to sense and adjust a few hundred devices hundreds of times a second. This is a non issue.

    • Donk970

      Arduino 🙂

      • Ophelia Rump

        Easily!

  • Donk970

    The first e-cat reactor core will cost millions but you can bet that every one thereafter will cost a couple bucks. Even with all the control and other supporting technology these things will be really cheap to build. In fact I would just about bet money that once the mass production issues have been resolved these things will be much cheaper per watt than a solar cell.

  • Private Citizen

    First product should be a few kilowatt, single-eCat water heater, rather than going for an exotic multi-eCat unit with inconsistent load requirements.

    There is ample commercial need for water heaters, as a starting point.

    It is as though the Wright Bros decided their first product should be a multi-engine trans-Atlantic airliner.

    More importantly, the responsibility of the CEO is corporate profits. Allowing multiple outside verifications could easily be done in such a way as to protect the IP. Publicly accepted validation would generate massive investment, thus maximum profit, both short and long-term. Darden is not behaving like a good capitalist or good CEO by dragging this along while perhaps a competitor will jump in and usurp the investment capital & market share.

    Yes, perhaps he’s just somehow more saintly than those other evil profit seeking CEO’s. Or maybe he’s trying to shoehorn eCat into the only market he knows, heat co-generation.

    • Donk970

      I think you are right. I’ve seen a number of promising projects fail because the developer couldn’t stick to a simple first design. Your example of the Wright Bros was spot on.

    • http://www.libertynewspost.com/ Liberty Newspost

      You have to have safety certificates to sell to individual households which are harder to obtain for a new technology. Once the technology is proven on the industrial scale the commercial scale safety certifications will be easier to obtain. Also think of liability insurance.

      • US_Citizen71

        A swimming pool heater for a university or such would fulfill the industrial aspect and provide an easy low hanging fruit type of application.

        The ideal first product would have been as a heating element in a portable oil filled radiator styled heater if it wasn’t for the safety certification problems.

        • Omega Z

          I don’t think a heated pool would pass muster.
          However, the University where I live uses an Industrial heat plant & pipe the heat to their buildings & dorms. It’s very likely they could slip by with heating the pool as it is probably already a part of the system.

          And tho it’s never come up in conversation, I think it’s likely they use heat absorption chillers & pipe that through a similar system.

          Nope. Never happen. That’s tax payer supported. They have contracts with politically connected firms that may lose money. Never do anything that saves the tax payer money. Tax payer money is meant to be squandered.

    • Omega Z

      The industrial path is the best option for all concerned.
      1st, There is no certification for residential. IH can spend 100’s of million$ building & operating a couple 100 thousand reactors for several years totally at their expense or build & sell them to industry & accumulate the necessary data for consumer heater certification.

      New technology has huge costs associated with it. First adapters, Industry in this case, will pay premium prices. IH can sell a single 1Mw plant(100 reactors) & make more profit then if they sold 5000 individual reactors thru Box stores. These huge profits will pay for start up & development cost.

      New technology always has problems. Industry will suffer the teething pains. When the E-cat finally makes it to the consumer, most of these issues will have been fixed. Many improvements will have been incorporated into them. The result will be Cheaper & Better products to the consumer.

      From what Rossi posted a couple weeks ago, Their pilot plant must have been operating pretty well. His approximate words. It chose a “Sunday Night” to suddenly develop issues. He got called out to go work on it. Had this been you having bought from a box store, They would set you up with tech support. We’ll try to get to you sometime during the week. It’s a new unproven technology you know. We’re very busy with warranty work. Take a number.

  • http://www.libertynewspost.com/ Liberty Newspost

    Rossi may be using the number of E-cat’s as a control mechanism since it may take some time to turn them on and/or ramp them down. Running them in phase to maintain a level of efficiency. If he had complete control over the reaction he could make a few big E-cats. Lots of study and work needs to be done to develop work history so that they can find the best way to utilize the E-cat in its current state. This is not easy, I work with boilers sometimes and even when we know what the heat source is going to do there are other issues with plumbing, run lengths, flow rates, temperature changes, insulation… etc. that need to be monitored and accounted for. Everything Rossi has been saying speaks to the reality of the system he is working to develop. The availability of heat (energy) is only half of the equation, scale and control is the other half.

    • ecatworld

      I was thinking today that maybe IH is starting off by doing thing the hard way. If steam is the desired output, there would probably need to preheating of water. It might be easier to have the E-Cat do the pre-heating where the need for precision is less, and use a conventional heating system (natgas, coal) finish the job off.

  • Donk970

    I’ve thought for quite a while now that the E-Cat undoubtably works but making it work predictably may involve a lot of voodoo. I’ve seen things like this before where you know how it works and even why it works but the outcome can change drastically with very small changes in the inputs which makes it hard to control.

  • Gene Quong

    I mostly interest in the home e-cat which is simpler and would save money.

    Cost / Benefit Analysis of replacing Natural Gas Furnace with eCat

    Assumption: the cost of installation for both eCat are equal

    Billing Information from Fortis, British Columbia, Canada

    Bill From Date Bill To Date # Days in Bill Period Billed GJ Average Temperature
    25/01/2011 22/02/2011 29 18.70 5
    23/02/2011 23/03/2011 29 16.90 5
    24/03/2011 21/04/2011 29 15.30 7
    22/04/2011 24/05/2011 33 11.10 10
    25/05/2011 22/06/2011 29 5.30 15
    23/06/2011 22/07/2011 30 3.00 17
    23/07/2011 24/08/2011 33 2.40 18
    25/08/2011 22/09/2011 29 2.90 17
    23/09/2011 24/10/2011 32 7.90 12
    25/10/2011 23/11/2011 30 16.90 5
    24/11/2011 21/12/2011 28 18.20 4

    Peak Energy Monthly Usage = 18.7 GJ , which is equivalent fo 7 kwh of continuous heat

    Total Energy Requirement in GigaJoules 118.60

    Cost of Natural Gas

    Delivery 3.21
    Midstream 1.35
    Cost of Gas 4.01
    Carbon Tax 1.24
    HST 0.49
    Variable Cost per GJ $9.80

    Total Yearly Variable Cost 1162.58
    Basic charge (fixed administration cost) 142.08
    HST (value added cost) 7.10

    Total Yearly Natural Gas + $1,311.76
    Carbon Tax + HST

    Energy In GJ to run e-cat 19.77
    Convert to kilowatt hours 5491.67
    e-cat COP 6 to 1
    Electrical rate 0.10

    Cost of electricity to run e-cat 528.30
    For One Year

    Two Reactors changed by user (2 * 20) 40.00

    Total Cost $568.30

    Total Savings $743.46

    Payback Period 0.67
    in Years

    • Gene Quong

      http://www.e-catworld.com/2012/07/13/rossi-on-domestic-e-cats-home-depot-still-involved/

      “The discussion touches on a few points regarding the domestic units. Once again, Rossi brings up the name of Home Depot as a distributor for the units in the USA. Previously, Rossi said that they had some preliminary discussions with Home Depot, now he goes a little further:

      Our goal is to bring it to Home Depot in the United States. We already have contacts, and they are waiting for the certification to be done. But, we will sell it through the Home Depot chain.

      He also explains that the units will need to be installed by approved contractors who will also provide the servicing of the units that will be required every six months. At one time, Rossi said that the customer themselves could replace the fuel cartridge, and return the old one for recycling. Now, it sounds like this would need to be done by the contractor. He also mentions that there will be seals on the reactor, and if the seal is broken, all guarantees are void. He says the seals are in place for consumer safety (nickel powder is toxic), but he acknowledges that reverse engineers will not be worried about safety and will go ahead and open up the reactors anyway.”

      In 2012 Andrea Rossi started discussing home e-cat’s to be sold in Home Depot. I believe he was discussing prices of under $1,000. A gas furnace could be purchased for about $1,500. So, it could be economically feasible to supplement or replace gas furnaces. In BC our electricity and gas is cheap and plentiful. So a e-cat must quite economical to replace our current energy sources.

  • LCD

    I don’t think a full control algorithm has been found because without a known theory for the process you don’t know how deep the rabbit hole is. And apparently it’s deep or we’d have seen many sales by now.

    • Omega Z

      I was going to say, You have it all wrong. It’s a Cat’s A-, But I decided that would be inappropriate, Thus I desist. Anyway, we know it’s about 8″ deep. Kidding 🙂

      I agree, It is probably a combination of Engineering & Software algorithms. We have several ECW residents here that could provide their insights and speculations on this. Although their exact usage would be very helpful.

    • Donk970

      There’s a difference between knowing how something works and being able to predict how it will behave. Controlling something depends on being able to predict how it will behave.

      • LCD

        I’m sorry but did you have a problem with my statement? Or are you just expounding.

  • Mats002

    I see no problem controlling even thousand of devices in symphony, given that the knowledge of how to control one is known. Just think about all your pixels on the screen, each one of them is indiviually controlled at a high frequency.

    • Andreas Moraitis

      The pixels do not influence each other. Many reactors squeezed like sardines in a tin would presumably do. I guess that there will be effects which cannot be foreseen solely on the basis of the knowledge about single reactors.

      • US_Citizen71

        Actually the pixels do influence each other very much. The interactions of 3 different colored sub-pixels produce the millions of possible color combinations you can view. The rectangular full pixel can influence how the color of the next full pixel is viewed and perceived. Then when you consider the rectangular shape of most pixels outside of the expensive design quality monitors that have square pixels the shapes on the screen are influenced as well. A shape that appears to be a perfect circle is actually an oval. And some shapes that appear to be an oval are actually perfect circles.

        • Andreas Moraitis

          Sorry, but you are mixing up the psychological and the physical aspect. It is true that the color which we choose for individual pixels will depend on the question how we would perceive them in context. But the physical state of one pixel does not influence the physical state of another pixel. In contrast to that, the reactors in Rossi’s plant could influence each other by heat transfer or other effects. Besides, the psychological aspect (the question how we would ‘feel’ the heat) is completely irrelevant in this case.

          • US_Citizen71

            But they do physically influence each other. A black pixel no light, causes the pixels next to it to be darker because light doesn’t bleed over from it. On cheap monitors (most) a bright area can dim others due to current limiting issues. High end monitors compensate for these problems to deliver a perfect picture at speeds upwards of 240Hz. These are things that the average person that doesn’t work in graphic design or in photography would never notice. But they do happen.

            • Andreas Moraitis

              Yes, there might be a slight influence for the reasons you mention. However, that influence is not essential for the function of the device. The display will not be destroyed if you ignore it. Compensating the effect requires certainly a sophisticated control system. If you take this as a basis, the analogy might fit better – but it would lead, nonetheless, to opposite conclusions.

    • Freethinker

      I agree.

      If you can convincingly control one ECAT by applying a target temperature, and you thoroughly understand the response function of the ECAT, then controlling an array would not differ from any other similar engineering problem.

      Our speculations are in that context somewhat futile, as we have no inkling of what the setup will be, how many units or how powerful, the design of the individual ECAT, partitioning, grouping, series, parallell, heat transfer medium, pipe dimensions, heat exchanging etc etc.

      My gut feeling is that the power plant will be quite different, even though it turn out be housed in a similar transport container as the first one who he showed of in Bologna.

    • Donk970

      I suspect the the output response of an E-Cat is very slow so you could probably control a single E-Cat with a fifty dollar Arduino board. You just give each individual E-Cat an arduino that controls it’s individual behavior and then you control the arduinos with a single computer to coordinate them.

  • Christopher Calder

    What happened to the 100 kilowatt Tiger E-Cat?

    http://www.e-catworld.com/2013/05/10/enter-the-tiger/

    Hooking up 10 of those to make a 1 megawatt power plant sounds like an easier engineering job.

    • Omega Z

      Chris
      I think that all went on hold when the Rossi/IH deal went thru.
      I do recall on several occasions that Rossi said that would be a long term R&D as when you increase the kilowattage of the E-cats, control becomes very difficult.