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Power Science

Italian Scientists Demonstrate Cold Fusion? 815

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the believe-it-when-it-powers-my-toaster dept.
Haffner quotes physorg which says "Italian scientists Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi of the University of Bologna announced that they developed a cold fusion device capable of producing 12,400 W of heat power with an input of just 400 W....when the atomic nuclei of nickel and hydrogen are fused in their reactor, the reaction produces copper and a large amount of energy. The reactor uses less than 1 gram of hydrogen and starts with about 1,000 W of electricity, which is reduced to 400 W after a few minutes. Every minute, the reaction can convert 292 grams of 20C water into dry steam at about 101C. Since raising the temperature of water by 80C and converting it to steam requires about 12,400 W of power, the experiment provides a power gain of 12,400/400 = 31."
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Italian Scientists Demonstrate Cold Fusion?

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  • Nickel and Hydrogen? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jpmorgan (517966) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:04AM (#34981772) Homepage

    It could just be bad reporting, but nickel and hydrogen?

    Maybe it's possible with some extreme isotopes of the two, but as far as I can tell, the fusion of nickel and hydrogen is not exothermic.

  • Might not be fusion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:10AM (#34981870)

    They could have accidentally made a Nickel-Hydrogen battery. A remarkably efficient battery, which itself is pretty useful, but until they provide some concrete evidence that fusion is producing the majority of the power output here (e.g. a high fast-neutron flux), other methods of power production are more likely.

    Assuming the device actually works, of course.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:13AM (#34981920) Journal

    I remember (vaguely) some similar claim being made in Utah back in the 1980's (or was 1990s? I forget).

    Anyrate, it was hailed with a big amount of hoopla... until no one else could replicate the results. Then the questions came, and the original scientists couldn't provide a single answer.

    Last I checked, Mr. Newton still has the last laugh. There was a bit of 'cold fusion' research awhile back that involved chasing bubble cavitation as a source of energy, but otherwise no one seriously (or rather, no serious scientist) chases that particular dream anymore.

    Now if a third party can replicate the results, then maybe it's worth looking into, but until then, I think it can be safely filed under "yeah, right - now pull the other one".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:30AM (#34982210)

    There is precedent. The "Father of Radio", Lee De Forrest, did not have a CLUE on how his creation of the audion (a device that allowed for what we think of as modern radio) worked. He would just pour over patents and mix up combinations of components. It took Edwin Armstrong, who came along and improved the device to explain how it actually worked.

  • by ebuck (585470) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:36AM (#34982300)

    And the really stupid thing is that there will be tons of "sceptics" that have no fucking clue about science that will eat up their claims just because they are "anti-established science". Wankers.

    You can only estimate the number of times I've wished that anti-established science wankers could be sent to an environment where they didn't reap the benefits of established science. Established science has self-correcting methods such that even if some understanding was incredibly wrong, it eventually drifts into correctness. That's how we replace the Earth at the center of the Solar System with the Sun, and how we replace Eculid's elements with Atoms.

  • Re:Uh, no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by leonardluen (211265) on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:41AM (#34982386)

    but if they are getting more power out than they are putting in, does it really matter if it is truly a fusion reaction or just a complex chemical one? especially if the byproducts of the reaction are not hazardous.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @11:45AM (#34982462)

    I looked at their "paper" at http://www.journal-of-nuclear-physics.com/files/Rossi-Focardi_paper.pdf [journal-of...hysics.com] and it has no information on the device itself, but does include some theory of how it works, but with no experiments supporting why they think it works this way.

    Their only experimental result is their input/output energies. No measurements of copper, gamma rays, or anything else. It was reported elsewhere that when one of the people attending their demo tried to measure the spectrum of the gamma rays,he was stopped by the scientist.

    So their papers have no supporting evidence for their theory and are not reproducible in any way since they don't describe their device. I call bullshit.

    Supposedly this device is being patented. Can someone find the patent application to see if they include anything concrete about the device?

    Personally, I expect they included something that reacts with water in the device (or some argolic fuel, termite, etc), heating it up for long enough to handle this demo. Longer demos require more fuel. Add something to produce intermittent gamma rays and you're done.

    Either way, there's no point wondering whether this is true or not just yet (unless you invest in energy companies). Just wait a year. If their technology takes over the world then it was true. If they're still looking for investors next year, coming up with press releases and demos, then it wasn't.

    Also worth mentioning that it's not exactly a fusion device. Supposedly the copper exist only briefly, decaying to a heavier nickel plus energy plus positron, (which annihilates with an electron producing gamma rays).

  • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:00PM (#34982690)

    Bologna invented universities before sausages.

    From WP:
    "The word university is derived from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium, roughly meaning "community of teachers and scholars" in Latin countries such as France. The term was coined by the Italian University of Bologna, which, with a traditional founding date of 1088, is considered the first university."

  • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Toy G (533867) <toyg&libero,it> on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:01PM (#34982700) Homepage Journal

    The University of Bologna is the oldest university in the world, founded in 1088, and one of the few good universities left in Italy, specializing in engineering, history and medicine.

    However, from what I understand these people are not part of any research group at the University; one of them, Focardi, is just a (now often absent) professor of physics there. He was also a member of a research group in Siena which also claimed they had had a "breakthrough" 15 years ago; and they claimed then that commercial exploitation was 6 months away...

    The other "businessman" involved was previously convicted for (unrelated) fraud. To me, it sounds like yet another scam.

  • Re:Riiight (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:23PM (#34983050) Homepage Journal

    They claim that they've had a reactor providing heat to a factory for two years and that they'll be shipping commercial reactors within three months. Still in the 'I'll believe it when I see it' category, but it's a much stronger claim than any other cold fusion announcements.

    Yeah, it's a pretty ballsy pair of claims to make if you don't think you can produce. Three months isn't enough time to bilk investors on a scam either. They're setting up several items which could be readily falsified. Perhaps they will be, but there's either something here or it's the most bold fraud to date.

  • Re:free copper! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:30PM (#34983144) Journal
    You joke, but it's actually a serious problem. If this device is real, then at the rate it consumes fuel any house can easily have a constant supply of 10kW with the current model, maybe 100kW in the near future. That's a lot of waste heat to dispose of. Writers like Clarke and Niven have pointed out that this is a problem that any advanced society encounters.
  • Re:Riiight (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eepok (545733) on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:43PM (#34983360) Homepage

    Call me (call me) on the line
    Call me, call me any, anytime
    Call me (call me) oh my love
    When you're ready we can share the wine
    Call me

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:43PM (#34983370) Journal

    Here's a hint: Nickel-Hydride, chemical. Something elemental and heavier than nickel, fusion. Something elemental and lighter than nickel, fission. A nickel-hydrogen reaction that results in less of both nickel and hydrogen is definitely some sort of fusion; if it results in something lighter than copper, it's probably fission (of nickel) and fusion (of hydrogen with whatever else).

    Sometimes I'm surprised scientists are so stupid, really. They have that whole mass-energy conservation bullshit, but both fission and fusion apparently produce tons of energy. So if you can get the energy to cause the reaction in one direction, it's exothermic; if you can do it in the other direction, it's also exothermic. If you can make it oscillate, it produces a run-away exothermic process that self-feeds and turns the universe into a ball of molten liquefied thermal radiation expanding at the speed of light.

    Do you see it?

  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:58PM (#34983608) Homepage Journal
    There are no protons available as a fuel in the core, so it is alpha particle fusion that sets the iron limit. You can keep on going for a bit with protons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_burning_process [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:Riiight (Score:4, Interesting)

    by whiteboy86 (1930018) on Monday January 24, 2011 @01:14PM (#34983854)
    Quick "red flag" checklist:

    1) 'inventors' run their own journal site
    2) it is a .com website
    3) the site has ads plastered all over
    4) upon visiting you browser stalls and you notice huge background activity

    (somebody please verify this -- if you dare)
  • by suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) on Monday January 24, 2011 @01:18PM (#34983914)

    Actually, Einstein figured it out. It is the warping of space caused by an object.

    Great. What's space?

    We use it to mean a coordinating medium (everything is within "space" and so, all being contained in the same area, they interact instead of passing through each other). Why is that warpable? Does the space have an equivalent of mass or energy (volume perhaps) that would have to be conserved, and if so, where is it going? If it doesn't have any such inertial equivalent, why does space only warp in the presence of mass--if physically speaking, there is no incentive not to warp?

    He gave us an idea, but it's not an explanation until certain key questions are answered.

  • Re:Riiight (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday January 24, 2011 @01:39PM (#34984220) Journal

    If it's working, then it's probably got more in common with a radiothermal generator than a fusion reaction. My guess (as someone whose particle physics only goes up to undergrad level, and is therefore probably wrong) is that they've got a combination of neutron capture and decay.

    This would mean that it's really working by encouraging nuclear decay, rather than by true fusion or even fission. There's no theoretical reason why this kind of reaction couldn't happen at the energy levels that they're discussing, but the exact mechanism could be quite interesting.

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