The Impact of Oil Prices on LENR

It’s almost impossible not to notice the currently ongoing precipitous drop in oil prices. Headlines daily are talk about the effect of oil’s drop on consumer spending, the stock market, Russia, North American oil production, OPEC countries, etc. Even if you don’t watch the news, the signs we see at our local filling stations tell us that something dramatic is going on.

Whether the potential of LENR has anything to do with the has been debated here and elsewhere before — but that is not my focus here. I am wondering if the emergence of LENR as an alternative energy technology could be hindered if fossil fuel prices are low.

Andrea Rossi was asked on the Journal of Nuclear Physics about this today:

Dear Andrea,
How do you think, if the oil prices will continue to fall as fast as they do, will your technology still be competitive when it is finally released, considering the much cheaper oil, gas, and electricity and the high price of 1MW plant 1.5M USD?


Andrea Rossi
December 16th, 2014 at 7:24 AM
Dima Redko:
The history of oil prices is a roller coaster…I have not the cristal ball.
The price of the E-Cat will be adjusted to the market mas mass production, in due time.
Warm Regards,

A very important question is going to be — how much does an E-Cat plant cost? As mentioned by Dima Redko the price tag Andrea Rossi has attached to an old-style 1 MW E-Cat plant is $1.5 million. But we have to remember that this was for a basically hand-made plant, before Industrial Heat took the reins of the E-Cat. And I am not sure if Rossi ever sold a plant at that price. In any case, in his reply above, it seems that Rossi expects that price of an E-Cat to be adjusted downwards when IH starts to mass produce these plants.

But even if the cost of an E-Cat plant is cut in half, or even a fourth — could an E-Cat industrial heating plant be competitive with a natural gas, or oil heating system if fossil fuel prices remain low? How much flexibility will Industrial Heat in pricing their plants in order to compete with established manufacturers?

In terms of the cost of fuel, I don’t think there is any likelihood that oil or gas will be cheaper than a small charge of nickel powder with some other additives that lasts for six months or more. But there is more to an E-Cat plant than the fuel and the reactors. Rossi has said that the bulk of the E-Cat plant is made up of heat exchange systems along with the computerized control systems.

At this point, there is a great deal we don’t know about the E-Cat and Industrial Heat’s business plans — so we can only speculate about a lot of this. But I do think that in general terms, when energy prices have fallen so far there will be a diminished incentive for most businesses to start shopping around for alternative energy systems; there would have to be a clear financial advantage for making the switch.

Of course, as Rossi mentions above, the energy markets have been tremendously volatile over the years, so we may not be in for a prolonged era of cheap fossil fuels, but the current trends do set up a headwind that LENR and other alternative energy sources will need to fight against in their efforts to be competitive.

  • bkrharold

    I had not heard of Meher Baba. The Wikipedia article describes his life works and be!iefs. I was wondering who it is in the picture you use for your avatar. The ego is fun, until it is not. It can become more than tiresome. I have reached the conclusion, that the ego is an essential part of our journey here on earth. Rather than an obstacle, it can be a tool for self awareness. Yes you are certainly right about those treats that are so bad for us, but taste so good. I have been warned by my doctor, but sometimes yield to temptation.

  • bkrharold

    As I was reading your response, it occurred to me that my Hebrew name is Zvi which means Ram. But you are right, it is a waste of energy and accomplishes nothing, fighting over AGW. I read a book called The power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. He believes that our egos are the cause of much of the violence in the world. He thinks the ego is a fragile thing constructed from our mental energy. It pretends to be who we are. It is comprised of our beliefs and prejudices. It must protect itself at all costs, and will argue and fight to be right, and make the other person wrong. This is how it gets its energy.

  • bkrharold

    You are right, it is a waste of energy squabbling over AGW. Happy and prosperous New Year to you.

  • bkrharold

    Happy holidays to you

  • bkrharold

    They have not studied cold fusion and published scientific papers in journals for peer review, to support the claim that cold fusion is bunk. Climate scientists have done the research and published their results, which support AGW.

  • bkrharold

    If that is not enough here is a link to a graph published on the NASA website. It has two graphs going back 800,000 years comparing average global temperature variation vs carbon dioxide levels.

    Here is their conclusion:-

    Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when people first started burning fossil fuels, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have risen from about 280 parts per million to 387 parts per million, a 39 percent increase. This means that for every million molecules in the atmosphere, 387 of them are now carbon dioxide—the highest concentration in two million years. Methane concentrations have risen from 715 parts per billion in 1750 to 1,774 parts per billion in 2005, the highest concentration in at least 650,000 years.

  • bkrharold

    Climate Scientists follow the evidence wherever it leads. Consensus is reached after a majority reach the same conclusion. This is a process, accomplished by studying the available evidence, observing trends and making predictions, based on current understanding of the factors governing the climate. They publish their results in peer reviewed journals, which are analyzed, and either accepted or rejected. When the vast majority of scientific studies published in peer reviewed journals support the same hypothesis, it constitutes a consensus.
    Scientists have no opinions, and believe in nothing. That is true of all true scientists. They reach logical conclusions based on objective measurements, and current scientific knowledge.

  • more than that, IPCC itself have explained that AGW could only have starte about 1950… rest is ad-hoc.

    I started by trusting IPCC then I have seen their methods, and strangely they look like the one of fraudsters. Some skeptics are not bette than warmist however. I advise to read Judith Curry, and those she trust. She was in the IPCC.

    note that like in LENR, the 97% consensus is mostly based
    1- on evaporation of the dissenters who are fired, rejected, pushed to resign, not rehired…
    2- on terror against those who may think about dissenting (you need a job : follow the line). When you hear a retired skeptic who says, I cannot ask interns to help me or their career will be ruined, you know what is real academic “openness”.
    3- on passive conformism and confidence (my best friend told me, the boss said, the Nobel said)

    today the way the hiatus is managed is worse than the worse than the skeptic accuse use to do, and even worse of what they do.
    they produce papers to justify, which is debunked few month after, then find another excuse…

    the data are even more tweaked than MIT LENr experiments, with past cooling down every year, with bias of temperature increasing every year.
    There is huge cherrypicking on what can be still questionable, but for which they hide all the questions…

    I don’t even know if it is erroneous, it is simply corrupted science, science of groupthink.

    the Benabou theory of groupthink match exactly the process we observe with global warming story…
    terror agins dissenters, huge investments, denial of evidences, cherrypicking, delusion trickle down from elite to bottom…

    this is LENR denial in worse.

    anyway it is solved.

    however after discussing about similar groupthink and group delusion like Jihadist , a specialist in politics and sociology explained me that once brains are filled with so much delusion, it is very hard to make them change with evidence. The victims will imagine that any opposed evidence is a conspiracy of the Evil …

    see how some imagine LENR will make the planet awful, will pollute with waste heat, or destroy oxygen, or make the planet melt down… just because they want to believe.

    lost generation.

    • bkrharold

      Not that I have any reason to doubt the IPCC, but there are many more worldwide scientific organizations that hold the opinion that climate change has been caused by human action.

      Here is a list of 200:-

      There are several global warming skeptic organizations. none of them are scientific, They are all right funded “think tanks”
      Here is a link to a page describing these organizations:-

      American Enterprise Institute

      The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has routinely tried to undermine the credibility of climate science, despite at times affirming that the “weight of the evidence” justifies “prudent action” on climate change. [1]

      AEI received $3,615,000 from ExxonMobil from 1998-2012 [5], and more than $1 million in funding from Koch foundations from 2004-2011. [6]

      Americans for Prosperity

      Americans for Prosperity (AFP) frequently provides a platform for climate contrarian statements, such as “How much information refutes carbon dioxide-caused global warming? Let me count the ways.” [7]

      While claiming to be a grassroots organization, AFP has bolstered its list of “activists” by hosting “$1.84 Gas” events, where consumers who receive discounts on gasoline are asked to provide their name and email address on a “petition” form. [8] These events are billed as raising awareness about “failing energy policies” and high gasoline prices, but consumers are not told about AFP’s ties to oil interests, namely Koch Industries.

      AFP has its origins in a group founded in 1984 by fossil fuel billionaires Charles and David Koch [9], and the latter Koch still serves on AFP Foundation’s board of directors [10]. Richard Fink, executive vice president of Koch Industries, also serves as a director for both AFP and AFP Foundation. [11]

      Koch foundations donated $3,609,281 to AFP Foundation from 2007-2011. [12]

      American Legislative Exchange Council

      The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) maintains that “global climate change is inevitable” [13] and since the 1990s has pushed various forms of model legislation aimed at obstructing policies intended to reduce global warming emissions.

      ALEC received more than $1.6 million from ExxonMobil from 1998-2012 [18], and more than $850,000 from Koch foundations from 1997-2011. [19]

      Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University

      From its position as the research arm of the Department of Economics at Suffolk University, the Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) has published misleading analyses of clean energy and climate change policies in more than three dozen states.

      BHI has publicly acknowledged its Koch funding [21], which likely includes at least some of the approximately $725,000 the Charles G. Koch foundation contributed to Suffolk University from 2008-2011. [22]

      Cato Institute

      Cato acknowledges that “Global warming is indeed real…” But when it comes to the causes of global warming, Cato has sent mixed messages over the years. Cato’s website, for instance, reports that “… human activity has been a contributor [to global warming] since 1975.” [23] Yet, on the same topic of whether human activity is responsible for global warming, Cato’s vice president has written: “We don’t know.” [24]

      Charles Koch co-founded Cato in 1977. Both Charles and David Koch were among the four “shareholders” who “owned” Cato until 2011 [27], and the latter Koch remains a member of Cato’s Board of Directors. [28] Koch foundations contributed more than $5 million to Cato from 1997-2011. [29]

      Competitive Enterprise Institute

      The Competitive Enterprise Institute has at times acknowledged that “Global warming is a reality.” [30] But CEI has also routinely disputed that global warming is a problem, contending that “There is no ‘scientific consensus’ that global warming will cause damaging climate change.” [31]

      CEI received around $2 million in funding from ExxonMobil from 1995-2005 [35], though ExxonMobil made a public break with CEI in 2007 after coming under scrutiny from UCS and other groups for its funding of climate contrarian organizations. CEI has also received funding from Koch foundations, dating back to the 1980s. [36]

      Heartland Institute

      While claiming to stand up for “sound science,” the Heartland Institute has routinely spread misinformation about climate science, including deliberate attacks on climate scientists. [37]

      Popular outcry forced the Heartland Institute to pull down a controversial billboard that compared supporters of global warming facts to Unabomber Ted Kaczynski [38], bringing an early end to a planned campaign first announced in an essay by Heartland President Joseph Bast, which claimed “… the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.” [39]

      Heartland received more than $675,000 from ExxonMobil from 1997-2006 [41]. Heartland also raked in millions from the Koch-funded organization Donors Trust through 2011. [42, 43]

      Heritage Foundation

      While maintaining that “Science should be used as one tool to guide climate policy,” the Heritage Foundation often uses rhetoric such as “far from settled” to sow doubt about climate science. [44, 45, 46, 47] One Heritage report even claimed that “The only consensus over the threat of climate change that seems to exist these days is that there is no consensus.” [48]

      Heritage received more than $4.5 million from Koch foundations from 1997-2011. [50] ExxonMobil contributed $780,000 to the Heritage Foundation from 2001-2012. ExxonMobil continues to provide annual contributions to the Heritage Foundation, despite making a public pledge in 2007 to stop funding climate contrarian groups. [51, 52]

      Institute for Energy Research

      The term “alarmism” is defined by Mirriam-Webster as “the often unwarranted exciting of fears or warning of danger.” So when Robert Bradley, CEO and founder of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), and others at his organization routinely evoke the term “climate alarmism” they do so to sow doubt about the urgency of global warming.

      IER has received funding from both ExxonMobil [54] and the Koch brothers [55].

      Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

      The Manhattan Institute has acknowledged that the “scientific consensus is that the planet is warming,” while at the same time maintaining that “… accounts of climate change convey a sense of certitude that is probably unjustified.” [56]

      The Manhattan Institute has received $635,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998 [59], with annual contributions continuing as of 2012, and nearly $2 million from Koch foundations from 1997-2011. [60]

  • bkrharold

    I have believed in LENR since I heard of the first press meeting by Pons and Fleischman. I refused to believe these two professional scientists, experts in their field, were incapable of doing simple heat measurements accurately.
    In the same way, I am absolutely convinced by the majority of climate scientists support of AGW. The evidence is in, there is no longer any doubt.

  • bkrharold

    I find that encouraging. Even though we do not agree about AGW we can at least agree about LENR.

  • psi2u2

    I believe that it has many applications in which it can competitively produce superior products, including clothing, paper, and building products.

  • psi2u2

    Hi Bachole, sorry I don’t think I have anything better on that particular topic than what you can find using google yourself. There is a real resurgence in interest in it, largely due to the delayed response to Jack Herer’s *The Emperor has No Clothes,* original written in the 1980s or so.

    Although the book contains some errors, I think the basic thesis is solid – to wit, that the primary reason why cannabis was made illegal originally was to cut hemp out of production, since it competed very favorably with both nylon and wood pulp. Some people like to reject this idea as a “conspiracy theory,” which, given the evidence, strikes me as a bit affected.

    It seems that, fortunately, the country has started to see the light both on reform of psychoactive cannabis and hemp. Its the same plant, but grows in many varied ways, and the hemp strains have very little active ingredient and put their energy into producing very large quantities of highly versatile pulp. The plant has been grown, both for its psychoactive and its practical uses, for well over 5,000 years. It would be a great boon to the country to bring it back as an industrial commodity, which seems to be happening.

  • psi2u2

    I think the performance standards are unmatched in the industry. That is not from careful comparison, but it is my impression from what I have read. Farmers in many traditional hemp states like Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee are agitating for legal hemp and when that happens I think we will see a whole re-energization of our rural economies as a result. It is separate but obviously related to the larger question of cannabis – the very fact that the industrial (no THC) varieties were also made illegal in 1937 suggests that hemp itself, drug aside, was the actual enemy – its continued production threatened to derail the widespread use of nylon (and probably other plastics) and paper pulp. It is cheaper than and in some respects superior to these modern industrial products.

  • psi2u2

    Krivit may be correct. 😉

  • Albert D. Kallal

    As I stated several times, the issue really centers on COP. As the COP rises above the 10 range, then it unlikely any kind of fuel source can compete with the e-cat.
    And with higher COP’s comes the ability to easy generate electricity. However such a heat engine needs to be VERY reliable, and that quite much rules out a steam engine (they are too complex with all the water systems and corrosion issues).

    As pointed out several times (and by Bob n this thread), that a sterling engine with ultra low maintains is really the ticket here.

    Recall that most nuclear reactors built in the USA occurred quite long ago during DIRT cheap oil/energy prices. If the relative COP’s are in the 10+ range for LENR systems, then generating electricity on-site with this heat source is practical. So I don’t see why “on-site” generating of electricity will not occur, especially with COP’s over 10.

    A “magic” combo will be combining something like Dean Kamens’s sterling system (Beacon 10) + a small ecat. Such a setup will provide all your hot water, all your home heating and your electricity. As a result, you not need an external supply of electricity – only an enough battery to start the system – much like staring your car.

    So the REAL issue is what COP’s we can expect from these LENR systems – as they climb above the 10+ range, then I don’t see much of a challenge or problem, even with low oil prices.

    I wonder if Rossi is aware or has considered something like Kamen’s Becon 10 co-generator?

    Albert D. Kallal
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada