Thursday, May 23, 2013

Big news, maybe very big, in alternative energy sources

I have taken to calling my beliefs on the future of energy sources "weird energy." Why? Because the sources I am most interested in seem to violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Notice: this is so inviolable, we capitalize it. But they don't.

Why am I so interested in other energy sources? The obvious reason is a quest for zero carbon intensity, so getting rid of the big greenhouse gas. The other one is that the correlation between energy consumption and economic output, no matter how you measure it, and probably no matter when in history you look, is so tight that you could hang wallpaper by it. Some folks think I am weird because of this but, ya' know, data are data when used wisely. And this is really important.

Why think about "weird" sources? Minimally, because none of the current clean alternatives are cheap enough to really matter. They may get there, but if there are cheaper sources that work, why not go for them, even if they seem to violate physical laws. Beyond that, the energy potentials for these sources are difficult to logically digest, they are enormous, and should have enormous effects on economic systems.

With that, this week an independent group of physicists published the results of three series of tests starting in September last year and concluding in March this year on the so-called E-Cat of Andrea Rossi, an Italian entrepreneur.

The big news from the report, found here, is with the most conservative assumptions, the device produces over extended periods a minimum of an order-of-magnitude more energy output than is input or can be explained by any known chemical process. This is very conservative.

How conservative? The most eye-opening story is the first test in September 2012. The independent scientists did not have any participation from Rossi or his people; on their own they (accidentally) drove the device to failure in a fairly spectacular manner: the inner steel container of the device melted; the melting point of steel is ~ 1470 C. An outer ceramic container also melted. Ceramics have a melting point of ~ 2000 C. The active component producing this energy is a card-deck size core with powdered nickel, hydrogen, and some unspecified catalyst. No conceivable set of chemicals can produce such a chemical reaction, so something else is going on.

I won't go into theory here, as there are many and none which are yet sufficient. I will say this report has caught the attention of a wide group of skeptics who are properly evaluating the result.

Here is an image of the device about to destruct:

I believe the image on the left is from a thermal camera.

If this result holds, and Rossi successfully commercializes the device, the world will change dramatically. Possibly soon.

I will continue to use this space for updates that are significant.

1 comment:

  1. The Google gave me this:


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