Archives for November 2011

McKubre lecture at SRI’s Cafe Scientifique Silicon Valley on YouTube

On October 11, 2011, Mike McKubre of SRI gave a lecture titled “What Happened to Cold Fusion?” at SRI’s Cafe Scientifique Silicon Valley.

This is an up-to-date look at McKubre’s own work and at some of the major trends in the field, especially the gas-loading approach pioneered by Arata and Piantelli, which and now the focus of the field, especially with Rossi. It is available as an 8-part video on YouTube:

  1. Introduction
  2. Major Segments
  3. Department of Energy Reference
  4. Necessary but Not Sufficient Conditions
  5. Gas-Loading Experiments
  6. Experiments by Italian Scientists
  7. Recap
  8. Q&A Discussion

The slides from this presentation are here.

Rossi device again demonstrated in self-sustaining mode. Large reactor demonstrated

by Jed Rothwell

On October 7, 2011, Andrea Rossi performed another test of one of the reactors units he intends to use in a large 1 MW reactor. The test lasted nine hours. For nearly 4 hours there was no power input; the device was running in self-sustaining mode. (In the cold fusion literature, this mode is sometimes called “heat after death.” It was first described by Fleischmann and Pons in 1993.)

Although some experts question these results, most believe that the reactor must have produced large amounts of anomalous heat, for the following reasons:

The reactor vessel holds 30 L of water. This was first brought to boil with electric power. Anomalous heat production began. Two hours later, electric power was turned off. The anomalous heat continued in self-sustaining mode for nearly four hours after that. During this self-sustaining event, roughly 60 L of tap water flowed into the vessel, replacing twice the original volume. The surface of the reactor remained hot, at 60 to 80°C, which means it was poorly insulated and it radiated a lot of heat. Three hours into the event, a video shows that one of the observers accidentally touched an exposed metal surface. The metal was hot enough to make a person jump back in pain.

At the beginning of the self-sustaining event, the anomalous power was nominally 3 kW. An hour later it rose to 8 kW. It fluctuated, rising three times in all. At the end of the event, power was increasing again. Observers wanted to look inside the reactor, so Rossi quenched the reaction by venting gas from the cell and increasing the flow of cooling water. There is no way to know how much longer the reaction might have continued if it had not been deliberately stopped.

When a poorly insulated metal vessel is filled with 30 L of boiling water, it begins to cool immediately. It can only grow cooler; it cannot remain hot or grow hotter; that would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. When 60 L of cold tap water is poured into the vessel, replacing the original water in stages, this also cools it down. After one hour the vessel must cool down close to room temperature. It is physically impossible for the vessel to remain at boiling temperature for 4 hours unless something inside it is producing heat. There were no chemical or electrical sources of power inside this reactor so the heat must have come from an anomalous reaction.

Unfortunately, this test was marred by problems that made it impossible to accurately determine how much energy was produced. Peak power was nominally 8 kW but the instruments were so imprecise it might have been lower or much higher, perhaps 10 kW. Problems included: poorly placed instruments; the arrangement of the outlet hose that prevented accurate independent verification of temperature and flow rates; critical parameters such as flow rates not instrumented or recorded; and an instrument that was not set to record electronically, even though it would have taken only a moment to insert an SD card and begin recording. Critical temperature and flow data that should have been electronically recorded every minute had to be manually written down by Lewan. He was only able to read the instruments every 10 or 15 minutes, which left large gaps in the data.

These problems could have been fixed at in a few hours, at minimal expense. The test could easily have been arranged to answer most skeptical objections. All of these problems were anticipated because they were present in previous tests. Experts advised Rossi how to fix them in the weeks leading up to the test, but he ignored this advice.

Experts from Motorola and elsewhere have analyzed the data. Most of them have concluded that the excess heat was real, and anomalous.

An analysis by Horace Heffner is here.

On October 28, 2011 Rossi ran the entire array of 52 units. It apparently produced 470 kW, again with no input power. The test was described in NyTeknik.