(Phys.org) —Italian company Energy Catalyzer (shortened to ECAT) has announced that it is right now taking preorders for its ECAT 1MW portable cold fusion plant. Founded by Italian scientist Andrea Rossi, the plant has the scientific community shaking its collective head—it's never been peer reviewed and neither Rossi nor anyone else at ECAT has ever published a single paper regarding cold fusion or describing how the plant works.
Cold fusion, is of course, a theoretical means of harnessing enormous amounts of energy by fusing atoms together. Normal fusion is what powers the sun, but it of course, is very hot. Scientists have been working for years to come up with a way to cause fusion to come about in a way that doesn't require a huge amount of heat—thus the name cold fusion. Unfortunately, to date, no one has been able to figure out a way to do it—no one but Rossi, that is, if his claims turn out to be true.
Rumors of how ECAT's plant works suggest it's little more than a simple tube that utilizes an unknown nano-sized nickel type catalyst. When hydrogen is added, heat and perhaps copper, is produced. According to ECAT, the plant does nothing more than produce heated water and/or steam. Those that purchase the plant are free to attach it to a turbine to create electricity. The plant is small—just 20x20x1 centimeters, but each unit can be stacked. The company has put 106 of the units in a shipping container and all together they make up the ECAT 1MW Plant, selling for a cost of $1.5 million to anyone that wants and can afford one.
- Controversial energy-generating system lacking credibility: phys.org/news/2011-08-controversial-energy-generating-lacking-credibility-video.html
- Rossi's E-Cat gets first customers, but questions remain: phys.org/news/2011-11-rossi-e-cat-customers.html
- Tests find Rossi's E-Cat has an energy density at least 10 times higher than any conventional energy source: phys.org/news/2013-05-rossi-e-cat-energy-density-higher.html
There have been various sightings of ECAT's technology, in 2011 for example, a select group of scientists was invited to witness a prototype in action. Reports from the demonstration suggest the prototype was able to generate 470 kw before a system fault caused the test to be stopped. That was enough apparently, for DARPA, which has reportedly already preordered one of the plants.
The portable plants are expected to be ready for delivery in approximately four months, which should end the mystery. If Rossi has succeeded where so many others have failed, he and his colleagues will be cheered and likely awarded a Nobel Prize. If the debut is a flop, however, it will be more than just an embarrassment to him and his company, it will be a very sad day for science and perhaps another indication that cold fusion, simply cannot be done.
Explore further: Rossi's E-Cat gets first customers, but questions remain