Andrea Rossi might hold the world Internet energy followers in thrall, and justifiably so, out there might be a challenge to the lead for “cold fusion” or LENR (low energy cold fusion).
From out of the Ukraine in Eastern Europe comes Professor Boris Bolotov and his engineer Waldemar Mordkovitch with a very different approach to fusion. Its still table top in size, runs at low, for fusion standards to date, quite cool temperatures and is reported to make electricity directly skipping over the heat step for power generation. The new fusion candidate uses the transmutation of zirconium, in zirconium oxide form on to other elements to produce energy.
A demonstration of this technology was held on March 25, 2011 witnessed by Poland’s Professor Pawlak Halina-Kruczek of the University of Technology and Dr. Hanna Bartoszewicz-Grumbles of the Institute of Power Engineering, Warsaw.
For the demonstration the table top sized cold fusion reactor was pulsed with a nanosecond pulse generator. The pulses of electricity went into the cell filled with a “liquid metal.” This produced a kind of electrical arc in the liquid metal. During the demonstration reports have it that one hundred watts of power input produced three hundred watts of pure electrical output plus excess heat.
The inventor claims it seemed both observers were satisfied. No negative word is to be found from Halina-Kruczek or Bartoszewicz-Grumbles so far.
The lack of a separate generator to produce electricity might make this zirconium-based technology more commercially appealing. The ratio of input energy to output energy of this technology is reported to also be high. Mordkovitch is asserting a system could have an input of 5 kW and an output of 200 kW, 40:1, from a system that only costs €10,000 euro to build.
Observers see a connection that Professor Bolotov might be building upon the work of a group of Russian scientists who own a patent entitled “Silicon Extraction Method.” In the patent they document a method of producing transmutations of various elements.
The waste materials are quite valuable. The products from the fusion are said to be large quantities of rare palladium and iridium. Both elements of cost over a thousand dollars an ounce, about 28 grams.
More tantalizing is the report that the Ukraine team is working with a Korean group for ways to quench the radiation. The tantalizing has dual meaning; both that some kind of atomic activity is taking place and that the zirconium path might not be so inherently safe as the nickel based Rossi Reactor.
Mordkovitch is so confident about the technology, he has announced it is ready for licensing. He has set the price for a license at €15 million euro.
Here’s one to offset the hoax claims. The team is making clear the system does produce gases containing heavy metals. That’s one to set a chemist on edge at least until which heavy metals are known – those might be cause for concern, particularly if radioactive.
The Ukrainian team might be in possession of a Ukrainian patent (The translations don’t seem clear on this.), a step on the way to more acknowledgement. But they are in the Ukraine, a wonderful if politically rootless and Russian influenced place. It’s a country with little in the way of resources to lift an idea whether valid or not up to commercial scale.
On the other hand, should the reports on Korean involvement be true, the research progressed far enough that working units can be produced such that labs like the Koreans can take the research further perhaps the Zirconium based cold fusion can get a foothold.
But catching Rossi is going to be hard work. Those advantages like producing iridium and palladium are going to help, producing heavy metal laden gases isn’t. What type radiation production and the radiation levels aren’t known yet, either. There is a long way to go.
Your humble writer hasn’t a clear idea whether or not the Ukrainian cold fusion is real, but it’s a glint, and a gleaming one at that. Yet being in the Ukraine, a not very lawful place, not endowed with investor spirit, or experienced leadership from universities with background in bringing ideas closer to commercial use and it seems a dearth of capital an little help would benefit greatly. Maybe what is needed will make its way there. We’ll watch and wonder, with many questions. Good luck guys. Please add us to your press release list.