When first introduced to the world, Andrea Rossi's E-Cat required a flow of water to remain stable, even at low temperatures. Now, he has developed a new "solid state" high temperature model that is stable at temperatures even higher than 600C -- with no cooling needed!
The E-Cat technology has been rapidly evolving since January of 2011, when it was introduced to the world. At first, the E-Cat technology could only remain stable at relatively low temperatures (around 100-110C) when a flow of coolant was present. Without the flow of coolant, the reactor would overheat and the nickel powder would melt resulting in a dead reactor. Now, only a year and a half later, a new model of E-Cat has been developed. It is a model that can remain stable at very high temperatures without the need for coolant. In fact, it could be considered a solid state E-Cat. This is not the official name of the new model, but it seems an appropriate description.
For those who are not aware, an extended test of around twenty high-temperature solid-state E-Cat modules is currently taking place. Each module has one reactor core producing approximately ten kilowatts of output. The units have been operating for around two months now and will continue operating for a few more weeks. It has been stated that after the test is complete, a full report and photos will be shared with PESN, and posted to the Journal of Nuclear Physics.
Previously, Rossi's statements about the high temperature E-Cat seemed to strongly indicate that he was producing 600C steam during the current extended test. His statements made it seem like this was obvious. However, now he has made it clear that steam is not being produced. Instead, the units are operating (my words, not his) in a solid state mode. They are operating at very high temperatures without a flow of coolant. This is very significant news, because it means he now has total control over the nuclear reactions in his system. Instead of having to constantly cool his reactors with a flow of liquid to keep them stable, he can just throttle up or down the nuclear reactions taking place inside the reactor core. When there is not a "load" (such as water to turn into steam) he can throttle down the nuclear reactions, and when there is a load he can throttle up the nuclear reactions.
Here is a question I asked Andrea Rossi, and the answer I received.
Question: Dear Andrea, How are you providing cooling for the reactor core during the extended test that is taking place? I had assumed you were using a primary loop (perhaps some kind of molten salt or other high heat capacity substance) that transferred the heat to a flow of water, which resulted in the production of high temperature steam. However, some of your recent comments make it seem possible you are not producing steam at all during this test. It seems like you might have found a way to produce more of a "solid state" E-Cat that does not require active cooling. This, if correct, would be a major breakthrough. I think it would mean that you now have a way to precisely control the nuclear reactions taking place (being able to precisely throttle them up and down) to prevent overheating of the reactor core WITHOUT the use of a cooling liquid. I'm guessing that when the only cooling is passive (infrared heat escaping the surface of the plates), the E-Cat is throttled down significantly, and when a load is placed upon it (cooling water to be turned into steam) the nuclear reactions are throttled up. Of course I could be totally wrong. Thank you for any clarification you can provide. Sincerely, Hank Mills
Answer: Correct, A.
I think "solid state" is a good term to describe the above E-Cat design. I call it "solid state" because it can operate without any moving parts (no pump to provide a flow of water), the temperature can be precisely modulated, and the unit could, in theory, operate as a stand alone device providing a heat source. If combined with a thermal photovoltaic device -- a technology that can convert infrared radiation directly into electricity -- it could become a solid state electric generator.
However, with total stability at temperatures above 600C, these units could also produce the very high temperature steam that many of us thought he was producing during this test. In a modern boiler that produces super critical steam for turbines, the walls or tubes of the boiler have to reach temperatures slightly higher than the temperature of the steam that is needed. So if, for example, the outer walls of the E-Cat are producing 650 degree temperatures, the solid state E-Cat could produce 600C steam.
Here are a couple comments Rossi recently made on the topic...
http://www.journal-of-nuclear-physics.com/?p=629&cpage=5#comment-262821 Dear Dr Joseph Fine: They will go in parallel, because the temp. they reach is very high. When I say above 600 Celsius I mean exactly this: the temperature of the wall is well above, as you will see from the report we will publish soon (matter of weeks). The temperature is constant, within a reasonable variation integral. Warm Regards, A.R. http://www.journal-of-nuclear-physics.com/?p=629&cpage=5#comment-262858 Dear Steven N. Karels: We do not produce steam boilers, so this issue will be assessed by the boiler manufacturer. We will not manufacture or engineer heat exchangers of any kind. What we have to do is to obtain the primary walls at a temperature above the temperature demanded for the steam, with the due power. We do not put these reactors in series, since they reach singularly the demanded temperature. Warm Regards, A.R.
The fact he can produce temperatures above 600C WITHOUT using a coolant is even BETTER news than if he had been producing high temperature steam. Since the very beginning, high temperatures have led to instability in the E-Cat. The high temperatures would make the E-Cat want to "run away" and get hotter, which could melt the nickel powder. Now, even without a flow of water to provide cooling, it seems he has a totally stable system. Of course, this needs to be confirmed by the upcoming test data, but I do not think Andrea Rossi has any reason to be dishonest with us about this issue.
In my opinion, this is the best news about the E-Cat we have had all year long. With a solid state E-Cat that can be precisely controlled, many different applications are made easier. For example, the "hot plate" of a solid state E-Cat could be applied to a Stirling engine, a thermal photovoltaic panel, or even a frying pan!
Yes, that's right. This technology could even replace the electric or gas stove. The burners could be replaced with E-Cats!
I bet some fried chicken cooked over such a stove would be very delicious!
No, I'm not kidding. I'm from the south, and we are serious about our fried foods!
The Possible Goal of 1000C
In addition to Rossi stating that he has produced temperatures above 600C, an individual by the name Francesco CH (who has given accurate information about the E-Cat in the past) has hinted on the E-Cat World website that higher temperatures may be produced. I asked Rossi about the possibility, and he emailed me the following...
Question: Dear Andrea, By the way, I have read an interesting comment from an individual who has shared accurate information about your work in the past. He seems to be hinting that your goal for the high temperature E-Cat is to be able to produce a stable output of 1,000C steam. Is there any truth to this? He calls it, "the revolution inside the revolution." If this is the goal, what is the highest stable steam temperature you have been able to produce so far (even if only for a matter of hours)? Thank you. Sincerely, Hank Mills
Answer: Dear Hank, All I can say is that you will be surprised from the report. Warmest Regards, p.s. The guy you cited is not stupid.
I think the above can be considered possible confirmation that temperatures higher than 600C are being produced. If this is the case, it makes the solid state E-Cat even more exciting! The fact is that 600C temperatures would be enough to produce high temperature steam that could be used in cutting edge turbines, but 1,000C temperatures would open up even more possibilities. It makes the use of a Stirling Engine or thermal photovoltaic panel that much easier!
I'm excited about the prospects of the solid state E-Cat, and cannot wait to read the test report. Although I was wrong about the E-Cat producing 600 degree steam during this test, I'm glad that I was incorrect. The truth was even more amazing -- that the E-Cat has now became a solid state device.