Neutron Detection and the E-Cat

The recently published theory from Swedish scientists Lidgren and Lundin deals with the production of ‘loose neutrons’ in LENR. They claim that they have experimentally verified that neutron production and capture can explain the energy production in LENR reactions.

Andrea Rossi has commented that the Lidgren and Lundin article “Nuclear Spallation and Neutron Capture Induced by Ponderomotive Wave Forcing” is an ‘extremely important’ contribution to the field. Yesterday when asked on the Journal of Nuclear Physics if the article related to E-Cat technology, Rossi responded: “Obviously it relates. Read it with attention and remember that deuterium is hydrogen.”

The whole issue of neutron capture has reminded me of a couple of times where neutron detection have been mentioned in connection with Rossi’s work on the E-Cat. The first instance comes from Mats Lewan’s book An Impossible Invention where Lewan describes some early experimentation that Rossi did when putting the E-Cat through some high stress testing:

“Rossi continued to experiment with his reactors in Bondeno, among other things to test the reactor’s limits. One way was to push it harder, to where it was self-sustaining, without assistance from the electric heating cartridges. He knew it was dangerous because the reaction could become unstable. He later described an incident one night in June 2010, when he was, as usual, working alone in the laboratory and the temperature inside the reactor began to rise uncontrollably.”

“In the balmy summer night Rossi followed the temperature development in the device that was set up in the spartan hangar with its gray concrete floor and gray walls. None of his measures to suppress the reaction helped yet he stayed stubbornly to see what he could learn. It exploded finally and loudly while a couple of parts flew across the hangar. This time Rossi was scared. Unlike earlier explosions, this time he was wearing the radiation detectors Focardi had taught him to use and they were full of bubbles—a sure sign of dangerous neutron radiation. How strong the radiation dose was he did not know but it probably decayed quickly. He knew that the reactor materials were not radioactive and had now learned that the weak radioactivity during the reaction should subside within 20 minutes after the reactor was stopped. No harm done, he noted, but he also thought that he must establish greater safety margins and keep the reaction running with support from the electric heaters in the future.”

Mats Lewan. An Impossible Invention (Kindle Locations 1436-1441). Mats Lewan.

Another time Rossi mentioned the production of neutrons was at a meeting held in Zurich, Switzerland in September of 2012. In a question and answer session, Rossi was asked why he was limiting his reactors at the time to a COP of 6, when it had been reported that in early testing of the E-Cat it had been able to reach COPs of around 200. This was his response:

“You have correctly said that when we made the first experiments we had a COP: 200; we were working with powers of some hundreds of watts. We were working at an absolutely experimental situation. Now we are making products that have to be sold to industries at the moment (because the domestic have not been certified for safety).

“It is right to make a Forumula 1 car to race, and to push to the extreme an engine, to learn how to make normal engines, and to make a car that has to be driven by normal people like me. To go to a COP 200 is extremely dangerous, and when I worked at those powers it happened that we had some escape of neutrons, in some situation. For obvious reasons this is very dangerous. This is why we had to reduce to 6, and this is why we have to limit the self-sustain mode . . . we must stay within the absolutely sure safety limits, this is very important.

Both these quotes indicate that under certain conditions, neutrons can escape from the E-Cat, if it is pushed to certain limits, and much of Rossi’s work has been to make sure that production models of the E-Cat are never allowed to reach that point. The control systems that Rossi and his team have developed are therefore of great importance for ensuring the E-Cats operate in a completely safe manner.

When Lidgren and Lundin talk about being able achieve COPs of 1000 with a refined method of having reactions take place within the resonant frequency of certain reactions, this might mean that high levels of neutron production would occur at high COP levels, which could bring up safety issues.

So while Rossi might know how to operate the E-Cat like a Formula 1 vehicle, it makes perfect sense that he would throttle the reaction down in the interests of making it like a car that the average driver can operate safely.

  • Zephir

    We must admit the hypothetical possibility, that the cold fusion could trigger the fission or even hot nuclear fusion with avalanche of slow neutrons. It would open the way into cheap construction of nuclear weapons accessible for poor terrorist groups or even individuals. Even the dirty bomb producing burst of neutrons only could become the unpleasant obstacle for proliferation of cold fusion, if it could be manufactured with mixture of common chemicals.

    • Ophelia Rump

      That is quite a hypothesis you have there, if you had any evidence it would be a theory.

      Must admit? . . .

      • Zephir

        Well, all relevant experiments which we have by now were done with Rossi. If he claims, he observed the escaping of large amount of neutrons during brief moment of cold fusion, we should consider it seriously – or to make our own experiments.

        Other than that, half of nuclear weapons secret is the generation of large amount of neutrons, which triggers the reaction. The more neutrons we produce in a single moment, the lower critical amount of fissionable material we need. This is the reality of nuclear fission, which is known for many years and which has lead into miniaturization of nuclear weapons, as we know it.

  • Alain Samoun

    This is in relation with the work of Alberto Carpinteri and co-authors with their experiments of piezonuclear fusion:

    A series of fracture experiments on natural rocks demonstrates that the TeraHertz vibrations are able to induce fission reactions on medium weight elements accompanied by neutron emissions.
    See this pdf:
    His latest book:

    It is interesting to see that Alberto Carpinteri, a renowned material structure professor, has been attacked for his work on piezonuclear fusion by the same type of “so-called scientists” in Italy as were F&P in the US.

  • Axil Axil

    I don’t believe that ultra low energy neutron theories such as the one proposed in the Lundin-Ligren paper and L&W theory are true. This is why…

    In the Lugano test, each nickel atom comprising the 100 micro nickel particle swapped either 1, 2, 3 or 4 neutrons from multiple lithium 7 atoms to get to pure Ni62 from Ni58, Ni60 and Ni61 and this swap happened to all billion atoms of the that particle in one operation. This is what this latest neutron theory cannot explain. This is called cluster transformation.

    All these neutron theories such as this one and L&W are unitary theories where neutrons are moved one neutron at a time. This one neutron transfer method cannot leave a pure isotope in large amounts(a billion atoms).

    Furthermore, consider how neutrons would move from lithium 7 covering the surface of the nickel particle, to the atoms deep inside the 100 micron nickel particle. Being ultra low energy, each low energy neutron is highly reactive and will combine with the first nickel atom that it encounters. This implies that the nickel atoms on the surface of the particle would have more neutrons added to the nickel nucleus. We would expect to see at least Ni64 or even zinc near the surface of the particle. This atoms near the surface would all be heavier than the atoms at the center of the particle. But the nickel in that particle is pure through and through with Ni62 at the surface and at the center.

    It looks like that particle was treated as a single atom,,,all billion atoms.

    And where did all that carbon in that particle go?

    • Oystein Lande

      Please note that the analysed Lugano Ash sample where only 0,2% of the total. I don’t think it was representative. One should not make any final conclusions on a 0,2% sample. Probably some isotopic separation also occured during the 30 days run.

      • Axil Axil

        The cause produces the effect 100% of the time, not 99.8 % of the time. A cause is without exception. If there is an exception, then the cause is a false one.

    • Gerard McEk

      I agree with you Axil, that is a very valid argument. I also have strong doubts that Rossi is able to generate Terahertz frequencies with the heating coil that are required to trigger these neutron releasing vibrations. I believe your SPP or the Discrete Breavers theories are more likely. The latter does not provide and mechanism to explain the Ni62 enrichment. Yours however requires an explanation how these SPP come into existance (what triggers their birth?) and what mechanism is available to control them.

      • Axil Axil

        See L&W theory up untill they produce neutrons. It all in there.

  • Axil Axil

    There is a distiction to be made here detween a cause and an effect, The production of neutrons is an effect of the cause of LENR. This cause has in its nature the power to suppress the production of neutrons as well as gamma rays. A cold reactor will produce these neutrons and gamma rays because the mechanism that suppresses them has not be established. When the reactor gets hot enough, everything is just fine.

  • Observer

    Possible error in this ExtremeTech article:

    In the article they mention Darden and Industrial Heat, then say that Tri Alpha Energy has aquired Rossi’s technology:

    “… PalPal cofounder Peter Thiel has backed Washington’s Helion Energy for an unspecified amount, while the just-slightly-rich Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has poured money into Tri Alpha Energy in Irvine, California. The investment firm of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is betting on Vancouver’s General Fusion. Others have started their own competitor, such investor Tom Darden’s startup Industrial Heat. …”

    “… There’s no way to know if they’re right. Small tech companies like this, which will almost by definition deliver either the world or nothing at all, have to dream — and pitch — big. General Fusion’s claims are no more astute or seemingly impressive than those of Tri Alpha Energy, which recently acquired a purported “cold fusion” tech from controversial Italian inventor Andrea Rossi. …”

    As far as I can tell Tri Alpha Energy’s technology has nothing in common with Rossi’s E-Cat.

    • Eyedoc

      Probably just sloppy edit, mixing IH with TAE info

  • Mike Henderson

    More pieces to an interesting puzzle? We are back to square one on the ‘Ni is just a catalyst’ versus ‘Ni is fuel’ debate. 2MWh of energy release in the Lugano demonstration would require a LOT of neutrons. I cannot get the stoichiometry to balance without there being quite a bit of lithium delivering neutrons as Li7 -> Li6 + N. More lithium, in fact, than the reported 10% LiAlH4 could provide.

    • Zephir

      IMO the neutrons can be still involved – they’re just absorbed back thanks to extremely low-dimensional character of lattice collisions. This is the main trick here – the neutron must be absorbed with single line of atoms, which are sharing their momentum like the balls inside the Newton cradle. This system of atoms may serve as a both good accelerator (Astroblaster toy) as well as a decelerator and absorber of neutrons.

  • Alan DeAngelis

    Neutrons could be generated by the following consecutive reactions.

    H(1) + Li(7) > 2He(4) 17.3 MeV

    8.7 MeV alphas, He(4) from the above known reaction would have enough energy to initiate the following known endothermic neutron forming reaction.

    He(4) + Al(27) > P(30) + n -2.6 MeV

  • clovis ray

    Great article Frank..

  • Stephen Taylor

    Someday this LENR mystery will be solved and the entire class of mechanisms will be understood in some depth. Probably this will come after commercially relevant products are undeniable and the main stream physics community is forced to get involved. Really, I hope those who have suffered their scorn for all these years will be the ones to enlighten us on the correct mechanisms involved and the late comers will be left with nothing to do but wish they had been more open minded.