E-Cat stands for “energy catalyzer” and is a device in which hydrogen gas, powdered nickel metal, and undisclosed proprietary catalysts are combined to produce a large amount of heat through a little understood low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) process inside a specially designed chamber. The inner workings of the reactor are covered by a trade secret which Rossi consistently refuses to discuss.
In this process, when an external heat source is applied (Electric or fossil) to the reaction chamber, large amounts of thermal energy (heat) are produced, much more than could be accounted for from chemical reactions. From reports of tests, it appears that the reaction begins when the reactor is heated to around 60 degrees Celsius, and once the reaction is stable, the external heat can be turned off and the reaction can continue for a considerable length of time. In an October 6th test in Bologna, Italy, the E-Cat ran without external heat (referred to as ‘self-sustain mode) for almost four hours, maintaining a constant temperature and boiling water continuously.
Initially, Rossi and Focardi believed, and stated that the heat was generated because the nucleus of a hydrogen atom, a proton, penetrated a nickel nucleus and in doing so a nickel atom became a copper atom. Now Rossi states that while transmutation does take place, it is more of a side effect, and the core effect is caused by some undisclosed mechanism. Rossi says he has a firm understanding of what is taking place, but will not disclose his theory until he has patent protection.
How long the E-Cat can run in self sustain mode without external heat being applied is unknown, but Andrea Rossi has said that for safe and stable operations it is necessary that the external heat source be cycled on and off.
The energy produced by the nuclear reactions is used to heat water, and the output of the E-Cat is hot water or steam. Lead and Boron are used as a shield to prevent the release of gamma rays during the reactions, and when the reactions are complete (The hydrogen input is turned off) there is no radioactive waste.
The significance of the E-Cat as an energy source is that it can produce energy at a much cheaper rate and much more cleanly than other sources on the market. The major ingredients, nickel and hydrogen are common elements and readily available at low cost and are consumed in very small quantities. There is no release of CO2 or other greenhouse gases from the E-Cat. Unlike traditional nuclear fission power, no radioactive materials are involved, and no radioactive waste is produced.
Rossi has been awarded a patent for the E-Cat by the Italian Patent Office and is seeking further patent protection.
Andrea Rossi launched the first commercial E-Cat plant, a 1 MW thermal power plant in Bologna, Italy on October 28th, 2011 which was tested and certified as being acceptable by an agent for an unknown customer. Rossi has stated that the customer is a military entity that does not want to be identified.
Rossi’s Leonardo Corporation is planning to move into the domestic market within between a year and eighteen months, and has already started production of parts for one million small 10-20 kW E-Cat units that can provide heat and air conditioning to homes. Rossi has said that his target price for these first units is going to be around $1000 each.
Rossi has said that while electrical generation is possible with this device, there is still work to do in order for E-Cats to produce electricity efficiently. The first generation of small E-Cats will not come with electrical generation capacity, but these units will be able to be retrofitted with electricity generating modules once that technology has been perfected. Second generation E-Cats will be able to produce heat, cooling and electricity.
According to Rossi, the cost of energy produced by these E-Cats will be at least one sixth of the cost of conventional sources. Every six months, E-Cat units will need to have their reaction chambers which contain processed nickel and the catalyst replaced by licensed agents of Leonardo Corporation.
Rossi has reported the development of a high temperature E-Cat reactor that can reach peak temperatures of ‘well over’ 1000 C, and are stable at around 350 C. These reactors, he says, will be capable of producing steam at temperatures that will be able to produce electricity efficiently. These high temperature reactors are only going to be available (for the time being at least) in industrial level E-Cat plants — not for home use.
Below is a leaked photograph of one of these high temperature E-Cat units (sometimes referred to as ‘hot cats). Andrea Rossi recently provided the dimension of this reactor: “the diameter of the internal cylinder is 30 mm, the diameter of the external cylinder is 90 mm, the length of both is 330 mm.”
In May 2013, Italian blogger Daniele Passerini released a photograph (without Andrea Rossi’s approval) of a hot cat that was being tested to its maximum performance. Andrea Rossi explained in an interview on May 7, 2013 that this picture, although unauthorized, showed a Hot Cat reactor in self-sustain mode being allowed to run away — i.e. the reaction was uncontrolled.
On May 16th, 2013 a report was published by a group of European academics who were given access to a hot cat reactor over a period of about five months to test. The conclusion of the group was that the E-Cat provided energy in amounts far greater than would be possible from any chemical reaction. The report can be read here. More tests are scheduled to be done, including a 180 day test which will apparently be started this summer.
So far, Rossi has maintained that the only validation that really matters is from satisfied customers who own working E-Cats. Only when E-Cats are readily available will the forgoing information be able to be fully confirmed.