Last week saw another flurry of attention about the Rossi Focardi Cold Fusion apparatus with a new demonstration in Italy. This time the eminent observers came from Sweden’s Skeptics Society (This link is to the English translated page and is a worthwhile read).
First, this demonstration was much more forthcoming than the one back in January. The demonstration was performed on a much smaller version of the reactor. The previous reactor had an internal volume of about one liter. The latest system has a reactor volume of only one twentieth of a liter. Four reactors were shown with one tested. The other three apparatuses had the shielding and insulation removed allowing for the interior construction to be seen.
This new reactor consists of a stainless steel reactor vessel, which is placed inside of copper tubing. Water flows between the copper pipe and the steel reactor vessel. There are provisions for inlets for of the water and hydrogen gas. The reactor is activated by current flowing through a resistor that is wrapped around the outside of the copper pipe. When a certain temperature is reached the reaction begins.
The Swedish Skeptics or Vetenskap och Folkbildning (VoF) is an organization set up as a Swedish non-for-profit. The group is set upon promoting popular education about the methods of science and its results. By engaging in open debate, the organization particularly sets its task to discredit false ideas about matters that can be resolved scientifically.
An important part of this educational process is to make clear what questions can and cannot, respectively, be resolved through scientific means. The organization tries to investigate what science-based arguments there are for – or against – controversial phenomena such as astrology, healing, homeopathy, dowsing, telepathy, UFOs and so forth. The organization is open to anyone who supports its purpose. All work is conducted on a voluntary basis.
To get to the facts in defining science and pseudoscience VoF uses the following definition: “Science is the systematic search for such knowledge that is independent from any single individual, but that anyone could rediscover or verify. Pseudoscience is statements not based in science but presented in such a way that gives them the impression of being so.” The target it seems, is to get to the facts by the scientific method. All well and very good.
No counter commentary to the Rossi Focardi Reactor is to be seen as of April 10, 2011. That absence may signify some bit of credibility. Let’s hope so.
What happened was Mr. Rossi and Professor Focardi with Dr. David Bianchini, and Dr. Giuseppe Levi of Bologna University had two guest observers. One guest observers was Hanno Essen, associate professor of theoretical physics at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, who is the chairman of the Swedish Skeptics Society and the other guest observer was Professor Sven Kullander of Uppsala University, who is also chairman of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Energy Committee. One will think the Swedes take the Rossi Focardi Cold Fusion reactor seriously, now.
Kullander and Essen were permitted to examine the setup, check for hidden power supplies, and then fill the reactor with hydrogen, calibrate the volume of water flow, monitor the temperature of the water flow in and out of the system, and observe the entire experiment.
The reactor contained 50 grams of nickel powder and .11 grams of hydrogen. In their report (a pdf file) they state, “We had free access to the heater electric supply, to the inlet water hose, to the outlet steam valve and water hose, and to the hydrogen gas feed pipe. The total weight of the device was estimated to be around 4 kg.”
The experiment’s results are an averaged constant production of 4.69 kW (4690 watts or about 47-100 watt light bubs) of power for almost six hours. The input was on average 330 watts, of which 30 watts was used by the electronics controlling the setup. This calculates to about fifteen times the energy produced by the device in comparison to the energy input.
As for scale, at 1/20th the size the output seems to be 1/3rd of the January demonstration, while the consumption of energy is at about 75%. It seems the development continues raising the question if increasing reactor size is also improving. Or perhaps Mr. Rossi has already learned the optimum size is what was seen in January.
Kullander and Essen have also ruled out that the energy could be coming from a chemical source. They stated, “Any chemical process for producing 25 kWh from any fuel in a 50 cm3 container can be ruled out. The only alternative explanation is that there is some kind of a nuclear process that gives rise to the measured energy production.” This is a noteworthy statement coming from a report written not only by professional scientists, but also by the Chairman of Sweden’s VoF.
To cap it all, Rossi provided Kullander and Essen a sample of his fresh nickel powder and a sample of nickel powder that had been in an active reactor for two and a half months. Elemental and isotopic analysis has been performed on the samples utilizing both X-ray Fluorescence and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry. The reported result shows that the fresh nickel powder was almost totally pure nickel and the reactor used nickel powder contained 10% copper and 11% iron. The two copper isotopes detected were Cu63 and Cu65. Kullander has stated his understanding this qualifies as proof of nuclear reactions is taking place in the reactor.
Things are moving along. What’s new is the iron found. The missing is still the catalyst. What isn’t finished and of perhaps the greatest interest to experienced inventors and developers is the progress on the patent application. Let’s hope this sort of demonstration wins the co-operation of the patent examiners – that’s the next big step.
The Rossi Focardi Cold Fusion reactor isn’t making much mainstream news. Which as a practical matter might be a good thing. In the Internet age mainstream attention is less likely to help, and may be a terrible publicity and public relations problem. The time of both Mr. Rossi and Professor Focardi are really better spent on the development and demonstrations to qualified professionals than coping with the press. But we’re sure happy to get the news we are seeing.