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Power NASA Science

Can NASA Warm Cold Fusion? 556

TomOfAmalfi writes "Andrea Rossi says he can provide domestic energy sources (about 10 kW) based on his E-Cat system (a Low Energy Nuclear Reaction or Cold Fusion energy source) for between 100 and 150 US$/kW and begin shipping this year. Many people are skeptical about Rossi's claims because he has not explained how his 'reactors' work (apparently the reactors contain ingenious security devices to prevent reverse engineering), there is no theoretical basis to support his process, and no one has supplied independent measurements to support the specs on his black boxes. However, buried at the bottom of a NASA web page there is a comment about progress in 'cold fusion' research and a link to the slides used in a September 2011 presentation (PDF) which talks about LENR research. NASA has also released a video describing the great benefits we will get from NASA LENR research. Could Rossi be on to something?"
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Can NASA Warm Cold Fusion?

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  • Answer, in brief: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dudeman2 ( 88399 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @09:23AM (#38705096) Homepage


  • Electric vehicles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @09:27AM (#38705120) Homepage Journal

    Whether this is a hoax or not, it's the right direction. Nuclear and hopeful thermonuclear for use in homes and in vehicles - heavy machinery and private cars, trains, boats, planes and spacecraft.

  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @09:27AM (#38705124)

    No. Rossi us a fraudster, this will be proven to be a scam too. Did you not notice him give a price before giving the science?

  • Of course he could (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @09:27AM (#38705126) Homepage Journal

    There's always the possibility a snake-oil salesman is on to something.

    But without independent verification and independent PROOF that it works, everyone will continue to think it's just snake oil. There have been too many claims by "inventors" of cold fusion devices, perpetual motion machines, "free energy" theories, etc. for people to take anyone at their word.

    I wouldn't give Rossi a DIME until there was independent verification.

  • Let me guess (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @09:28AM (#38705132)
    People can "get in at the start" on this miracle by investing small fortunes and they'll receive continuous updates over the next 10 to 20 years how the device is close to manufacturing, and how nefarious powers are trying to "suppress" the device, and how Mr Rossi's eventual prosecution for fraud is all part of this conspiracy to silence him.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @09:32AM (#38705166)
    Hell, no.
  • by newcastlejon ( 1483695 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @09:33AM (#38705172)

    At one time called "cold fusion," now called "low-energy nuclear reactions" (LENR), such effects are now published in peer-reviewed journals and are gaining attention and mainstream respectability. The instrumentation expertise of NASA GRC is applied to improve the diagnostics for investigating the anomalous heat in LENR.

    A herring by any other name would smell as fishy... in any event if LENR, as you put it, were a practicable possibility I'd expect to be hearing announcements from someone more reputable than this Rossi character. He claims to have invented not one but two cold fusion technologies*. Now this may be a terrible, terrible bit of prejudice against someone who may end up in the history books, but I tend towards a more cynical or pragmatic attitude when it comes to parting with my or the public's money.

    *"The 1 MW plants have a totally different technology and engineering." [e-catworld.com]

  • Not this again... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @09:33AM (#38705174)

    There was no independent test of his device yet, so I consider it highly unlikely to work.

    Rossi claims he's heating a factory in italy with one of his devices. I wonder how the authorities would react if they learn that an unauthorized nuclear device is being used there, considering that italy has laws that prohibit nuclear facilities.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @10:13AM (#38705334)

    Every thing you said is crap.

  • Re:No way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) <(saintium) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Sunday January 15, 2012 @10:15AM (#38705342)

    If he produced observable energy last October, when he was going to reveal the greatness to the world, we would have heard about it. Nobody has said shit; so, I doubt his faud can even be called sophisticated.

  • Science that works cannot be kept secret. Observe that over centuries, every single real invention has been independently discovered by multiple scientists in such close succession that it might as well be simultaneous. That is not a coincidence. New discoveries build upon existing discoveries and technologies, and when their time has come, they will appear.
    If this invention were based on a theory that actually had some basis in reality, other physicists would have grasped it by now, at the very least by knowing what to look for. This scam is targeted at the gullibility of people who don't understand how scientific advances are made.
    "No one else has figured it out, so there must be something to it" is the wrong argument. If it's a magic box, we should be treating it as a magician's sideshow: Not to be believed until proved fake, but to consider it fake until all its workings are fully and extensively public and shown to be sound by other scientists.

    Five hundred years ago, self-styled alchemists and sorcerers parted investors with their money by claiming to have some secret apparatus to turn lead into gold. It's depressing to see that now, after the periodic table, the theory of relativity and the discovery of the atom, we're falling for the same trick. We shouldn't even be debating whether it's real, just like we don't debate whether the world will end this December. It should be dismissed out of hand until the inventor decides to either cough up how it is done or shuts up and goes away.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Sunday January 15, 2012 @10:53AM (#38705536) Homepage Journal

    I'm not sure if you are kidding or not, but safety aside small reactors are not very efficient or cheap. It makes much more sense to have large scale generation and pump it out to individual devices as we do now, just with better batteries in the case of cars, boats and aircraft.

    Plus we already have a massive fusion reactor supplying enough energy to power the entire world, so might as well make use of that.

  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @11:12AM (#38705650)

    I don't think Pons and Fleischmann were fraudsters. In fact they don't deserve the derision they still suffer today. They saw and reported the results. Part of science is being wrong yet these guys were lynched for it.

      LENR experiments seem to have a modicum of truth in that many times there is excess heat. It's just not easily reproduced or explained. Hell, if NASA is looking into it, no matter how down low they try to keep it, unless you feel NASA employees cranks and nuts, then there is evidently enough there to keep them poking and prodding it.

    If you think about it, all this secrecy and mystery does make sense. Today, Energy is what gold was in the past. Anyone who can find a way to generate it cheaply (which $150 Kw is not), without the expense and mess of fossil fuels or the potential risk of fission, will become so fucking rich they would make the so-called 1% look like hamburger flippers. I wouldn't be real surprised if there were many well respected folks working on this, but just keeping it under their hats.

    That all being said, wake me when I can buy it at Home Depot.

  • by rally2xs ( 1093023 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @11:46AM (#38705834)

    The problem with that approach is that after you have released all your plans for free, you get to go back to your job and try to stay ahead of inflation, cope with dumbass bosses and backstabbing co-workers, and probably have your job shipped to China anyway. OTOH, if you retain control of it, you get to sell it, retire, live in a nice house, use your time exactly how you see fit, and don't have to please anyone else that's not also a loved one.

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @11:52AM (#38705880) Journal
    IMO the "cold fusion" was worth looking into because even if it wasn't really fusion, it might have led to a different type of "battery" technology. At worst it might be some interesting phenomena.

    So I was a bit disappointed when the whole thing became a polarized mess, rather than a good start into proper scientific research. Almost any scientist who investigated cold-fusion was considered a quack immediately.
  • Yeah right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @02:14PM (#38706770) Journal

    Except that Einstein and astronomers don't hide their stuff, they publish and answer questions and invite scrutiny of their claims.

    That is the difference between conmen and real scientists, real scientist want you to look behind the screen, in fact, there is no screen.

  • by Courageous ( 228506 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @02:16PM (#38706782)

    Well; the reasons to be skeptical are manifold. However, Argumentum ad Maximus is probably not a good argument to make here. :-P

  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @02:19PM (#38706808)

    The problem with that approach is that after you have released all your plans for free, you get to go back to your job and try to stay ahead of inflation, cope with dumbass bosses and backstabbing co-workers, and probably have your job shipped to China anyway.

    Buds, if you discovered a viable method of cold fusion, I can guarantee you wouldn't go back to your cubicle to wallow in obscurity. The million-dollar Nobel Prize alone would keep you humming along trouble-free for a few years. You'd be getting honorary doctorates shoved at you from every side, along with requests for appearances, book deals, job offers, etc, et al. You couldn't go back to your old life if you wanted to.

  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @02:31PM (#38706882)

    There is vastly more published evidence *for* those reactions happening than against them, no matter what the theories might say.

    Nonsense. After 20 years of research, they still only have measurements that are barely statistically significant, occurring irregularly, primarily amongst "researchers" who already believe there's an effect. If you're going to call that evidence, then you have to conclude that "psychic powers" are real, also, because we've been getting the same kind of "evidence" from the "psi-researchers" for a couple decades now. It's nonsense. It's a perversion of the scientific method - sifting through noise until you find something that looks like a pattern, then using publication bias to reinforce your presuppositions, and sticking them in your conclusion. It's a waste of time and money, and it's a shame that so many people can't see that kind of "research" for the scam it is.

  • by Peter Harris ( 98662 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @03:03PM (#38707070) Homepage

    The most ingenious device used to prevent reverse engineering is that it doesn't fucking work.

    Remember, Rossi was going to have a 1MW fusion plant working in October last year. My lack of surprise about that not happening is so overwhelming I can't even bother to

  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @04:06PM (#38707468)

    It's best not to patent it and not to tell anybody how it's done but instead to keep it a trade secret and protect technologically and build the generators, but not sell them yet in the beginning, but instead rent them out to companies.

    If your goal is world-domination, sure. In that case you'll need a moon-base and a giant freakin' laser to go with it.

    On the other hand, if you're looking to help the human race improve it's condition, while at the same time making yourself ridiculously rich, it's best to patent it and just license the technology to whoever want to use it. There's only so much you as an individual can do at any one time. If you're keeping it a secret, it'll be decades before you manage to develop and market all the products which you've just described. Whereas if you license it, you'll be an overnight billionaire, you'll be seen as a hero to billions of people, and you'll have a revenue stream that makes Bill Gates look like a pauper in comparison. There's absolutely no advantage to keeping it a secret, unless you're a control freak and/or a sociopath.

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Monday January 16, 2012 @11:04AM (#38713438) Homepage Journal

    The problem is that you still aren't going to be saving that much petroleum with this device if the costs to operate it not to mention the materials used to make it need to have petroleum based fuels (or other fossil fuels like coal and natural gas) being used to extract the Nickle or other materials being used to build the device.

    If you are living "off the grid" and far from a more traditional power source, there still is solar cells and perhaps even a Diesel or gasoline generator to work with that are competing in theory with this device. Perhaps the e-cat could be competitive in price, and I'll admit that the price per kWh with those "off grid" generation methods can be as much as $1/kWh. No, the cost wouldn't shock me at all.

    From the way you have written your post, I presume you care about the environmental consequences of energy production, and that is one thing that the e-Cat promoter are completely glossing over. Even if all of the fantastic claims about this device work out for the best and we can create electricity at $0.00001/kWh, I fear that it will lead to genuine global warming in a way that would put to shame anything being done with petroleum based energy production. With energy this cheap, you will see swimming pools being operated year round even in cold climates, people installing devices to thaw sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots for big box stores that keep melting snow, and in general a heat bubble coming out of larger cities the likes of which we have never seen before if for no other reason than energy will be cheap. Home will stop being insulated, and the very notion of energy efficiency will go completely out the window.

    I have my current doubts about "global warming" and in particular "anthroprogenic global warming" as a significant factor around the globe right now, but e-Cats would completely clinch the argument for me and convince me that mankind is destroying this planet for once and for all. Energy that cheap would allow some Siberian cities to keep their rivers thawed out year-round and even deliberately deploying them to melt part of the Arctic Ocean. Yeah, that does real wonders for global climate change.

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