The Peak Oil Crisis: A Stealth Revolution!

May 22, 2013 12:10 PM12 comments

It is nearly a quarter of a century now since two electro-chemists at the University of Utah held a press conference to announce that they had discovered a new way of extracting energy from the nucleus of an atom. For a few weeks the announcement of what was then termed “cold fusion” made headlines as scientists rushed to reproduce the experiment and explain the new phenomenon. Unfortunately it turned out that reproducing the experiment was very difficult so that most attempts at reproducing the effect failed – especially those at the bell weather scientific institutions of MIT and Cal Tech. A good dose of scientific jealousy also got involved in the situation.

Anyway, a panel of scientists (who of course knew nothing about the heretofore unknown science) was formed and peremptorily pronounced “cold fusion” a scientific fraud. The U.S. government then ruled the topic unworthy of federal funding and the U.S.patent office refused to grant patents on anything as obviously absurd as a new method of extracting energy from the atom.

The scientists who announced the discovery were sent off in disgrace and the whole field of inquiry was forced to the fringes, spurned by big science, the government and the mainstream media.

Around the world, however, a handful of scientists, some of whom were actually able to reproduce anomalous heat seen in the original experiments and who appreciated the impact that a new source of cheap clean energy would have on civilization, continued to work in the field, write reports and even convene annual conferences to exchange findings. As the years went by progress came slowly. A handful of U.S. government scientific organizations, notably the Navy, NASA, and possibly DARPA, became interested and began to provide limited funding.

Although the physics behind the phenomenon was not, and still is not, satisfactorily understood, a few experimenters reached the point where they could reliably produce small amounts of anomalous heat which seemed to be coming from nuclear reactions.

However, with rare exceptions the media paid almost no attention to what the government and mainstream physics still considered to be fringe science rather than the glimmerings of a new age. So long as the experiments were only small, producing tiny amounts of heat, critics could talk about experimental errors and no real proof the phenomenon was real.

A major change in the story took place about three years ago when an Italian engineer, Andrea Rossi, announced that based on the work of Italian physicists, he had developed a method of producing heat, presumably from nuclear reactions, by loading hydrogen into powdered nickel and adding a still secret catalyst.

Although Rossi held several demonstrations of his heat-generating device for invited scientists and members of the press, the announcement continued to be met with widespread skepticism that the “invention” was nothing but an elaborate scam. This opinion was supported by Rossi’s refusal to release the technical details of what was taking place inside his “reactor” until he could obtain patent protection.

It should be noted that Rossi is not alone in the pursuit of this technology, for dozens of other scientists around the world, many of impeccable stature, are reporting that the phenomenon is real. In the last few years at least three other companies have reported progress and announced their intention of building commercial scale heat-producing devices similar to the ones that have been demonstrated by Rossi.

For many, the lack of any independent verification of the claims of Rossi and others was a show stopper. Rossi took the position that if his devices worked, and produced the claimed amounts of heat, he would be vindicated.

About six months ago Rossi started talking about a panel of independent physicists from European universities that had been given access to his prototypes to conduct tests and verify that the device indeed produced heat and there was no trickery involved.

Earlier this week, the independent scientists, from Italy and Sweden, issued a report concluding that the three devices they tested not only worked but emitted heat at least an order of magnitude more than could come from any known chemical reaction.

The report did not delve into the issue of whether the reaction was of nuclear or some unknown origin. Moreover, the scientists investigating the device were not given access to the details of how the reactor works. They simply reported that it does produce unprecedented amounts of heat and excluded the possibility that this heat was produced by fraud or trickery. More extensive tests will be carried out this summer.

This report is only a beginning for it leaves many questions unanswered. It should, however, eliminate concerns that some sort of mega-fraud is being perpetrated, and confirm that it is indeed possible to produce commercial quantities of heat safely from small, inexpensive devices.

The next step in this saga is for widespread recognition to develop that mankind may not be trapped into burning ever increasing quantities of fossil fuels. How soon this will happen is hard to say for recognition that there is a new technology out there with the potential to solve many problems is close to zero.

Rossi says he has already shipped two working units that produce heat to customers and that they are expected to be installed shortly with some sort of public announcement. Ross, of course, is not the only game in town. Other announcements of commercial devices, which could well be more advanced than those shown by Rossi, are expected soon.

If all goes well, the real question becomes one of how soon this technology can begin to reduce the use of fossil fuels. This is tough to say for there will be numerous factors hindering its use. There are disruptive technology issues for the technology has the potential of replacing the fossil fuel industry, the electric power industry, and others too numerous to mention. There will of course be resistance.

On the other side, virtually unlimited quantities of extremely cheap, pollution free energy is very hard to resist. If the U.S. won’t go for it, I am sure some of our friends in Asia who are already strangling on their own pollution will.

 

  • A.B.

    Good article, telling the story as it is.

  • Freethinker Lenr

    There have been numerous web-articles and blog pieces as reaction on the report on the ecat device. I find this very straight forward and clear, devoid of inflammatory remarks and innuendo, simply stating the facts as they are. Bravo. And kudos to FCNP.

  • bitplayer

    Nice job of laying out the facts. Admirable courage by the writer and paper.

  • mytakeis

    Super article.

    wish the whole MSM would pick it up and let the people know what’s comeing.
    many thanks

  • skeptickle

    Very even-handed overview of the new status of E-Cat. Thank you Tom for following this story. Do you have any thoughts on why it is very few other newspapers dare print this story??

  • Bernie Koppenhofer

    Good job of reporting, thanks.

  • mjonesx

    Even if it’s true the “lead time” to get cold fusion online to produce significant energy for the world economy will be too little too late to alter events.
    Sorry to bum everyone out.
    Even if it does, just imagine what “unlimited, cheap” energy will have on the planet.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565865133 Iggy Dalrymple

      Inside every “silver lining” dwells a “dark cloud”. Woe is us!

  • T Mc

    I too thought that the article was balanced for a minute until I looked up both ECat and Andrea Rossi on Wikipedia. I disagree that Rossi has “eliminated concerns that some sort of mega-fraud is being perpetrated.” Andrea Rossi served time in prison and was fined for his first venture. In that venture, Rossi had claimed that he could turn organic waste into oil. Later he moved to the United States and formed a company which claimed it could generate electricity from thermonuclear reactions. Now he claims he can generate heat but he can’t divulge the ingredients until he is granted a patent. He applied for a patent for this but it was rejected. True, the establishment might fight against cheap energy. The author laments both “mainstream media” and “mainstream physics,” but does physics have a mainstream? Andrea Rossi has a degree in philosophy from the University of Milan. If Rossi could have turned organic waste into oil, wouldn’t that have delayed peak oil? Then there would have been no need for him to generate heat from nickel. I realize that “Peak Oil” is a blog and not factual, but how about injecting some good old-fashioned research into it?

    • AlainCo

      Rossi is not a holy man, but the petrol dragon affair ihave been judged as retroactive laws.

      He was imprisoned before the judgement, and only punished for gold smuggling… Maybe to escape some money from the bankruptcy induced by government changing laws, under pressure of environmentalists and probably more of the waste mafia active in italy… Not legal, but I can understand that if a gang of mafia bankrupt me, I may try to save some of my money from the catastrophe.

      Rossi is very loose, unclear and tricky, however that affair is not a clear fraud, but a clear government injustice, that justice have traited so.

      anyway, about his work on e-cat, there is clear evidence something real, but hard to engineer, do exist.

      his past demo were loose, but so loose , so clearly loose that it looks more like loose job, than fraud… and even some data let the clear impression of anomalous heat, yet lack of control…

      If rossi was rational and moderate , he would have run a bank.

  • David Linebarger

    Nice balance unbiased article. Keep it up.

  • AlainCo

    What is happening around LENR/cold Fusion is not new. This report in only the 3rd from a 3rd company by a 3rd tester…

    This is the most formal papers, but all 3 test let the testers play as he like with the reactor…fraud would be too risky for the companies,

    because tester can test what they want…

    It works, choose occam razor.

    There is a group of various companies on the ramp, big, startup, inventors… I have made an executive summary for the newcommer:

    http://www.lenrnews.eu/lenr-summary-for-policy-makers/

    there is another article on scientific evidences linked inside.

    The article is few month ago… meanwhile defkalion announces they will make a demo at national Instruments NIWeek2013 in austin… and publish a

    paper at ICCF18 in Uni Missouri. LENR-Cities, LENR-Invest, Kresenn prepare an ecosystem to help small companies and industrialists to participate

    and accelerate the revolution…

    About why “normal science” reject it, one should read Thomas Kuhn.

    http://fr.slideshare.net/sandhyajohnson/the-structure-of-scientific-revolutions-thomas-kuhn-book-summary#

    and then my article on evidences (cited in the summary)

    — AlainCo the techwatcher of lenr-forum.

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