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Is the “Weak Force” the Key to LENR?

By David Niebauer

In the early part of the 20th Century physicists theorized that a mysterious force held the nucleus of an atom together.  When it was demonstrated that this force could be tapped, releasing tremendous amounts of energy, a wave of excitement swept the scientific world.  It took only a few short years before atomic energy theories were experimentally validated in the first nuclear weapon detonations.  Hiroshima and Nagasaki followed.  Most of us alive today were born under the mushroom cloud that has loomed over humanity ever since.  Accessing the power of the strong nuclear force has been a mixed blessing:  it has brought the possibility of energy beyond our wildest dreams but with nightmarish consequences that were literally unimaginable a generation ago.

That physicists would become enamored of the strong nuclear force is understandable:  the energy locked in the nucleus of the atom is potent, it is real, and the challenge of harnessing it for useful purposes has become the “holy grail” of scientific endeavor.

But could another, more subtle, “fundamental force” hold the key to our energy future?

The Fundamental Forces of Nature and the Weak Force

Of the four fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force), the “weak force” is the most enigmatic. Whereas the other three forces act through attraction/repulsion mechanisms, the weak force is responsible for transmutations – changing one element into another – and incremental shifts between mass and energy at the nuclear level.

Simply put, the weak force is the way Nature seeks stability.  Stability at the nuclear level permits elements to form, which make up all of the familiar stuff of our world.  Without the stabilizing action of the weak force, the material world, including our physical bodies, would not exist.  The weak force is responsible for the radioactive decay of heavy (radioactive) elements into their lighter, more stable forms.  But the weak force is also at work in the formation of the lightest of elements, hydrogen and helium, and all the elements in between.

A good way to understand the weak force is in comparison with the actions of the other forces at work in the center of the Sun.  The Sun, although extraordinarily hot (10 million degrees), is cool enough for the constituent parts of matter, quarks, to clump together to form protons.  A proton is necessary to form an element, which occurs when it attracts an electron – the simplest case being hydrogen, which is composed of a single proton and a single electron.  By the force of gravity, protons are pulled together until two of them touch – but because of the electrostatic repulsion of their two positive charges, their total energy becomes unstable and one of the protons undergoes a form of radioactive decay, turning it into a neutron and emitting a positron (the antiparticle of an electron) and a neutrino.  This action forms a deuteron (one proton and one neutron), which is more stable than the two repelling protons.  This transmutation of proton into neutron plus beta particles is mediated by the weak force.

A neutron is slightly heavier, and therefore less stable, than a proton.  So the normal action of the weak force causes a neutron to decay into a proton, an electron and a neutrino.  At any rate, at the center of the Sun, once a deuteron is formed, it will fuse with another free proton to form helium-3 (one neutron and two protons), releasing tremendous amounts of energy.  These helium-3 atoms then fuse to form helium-4 and releasing two more protons and more energy.  The release of energy in these fusion reactions from the strong force is what powers the Sun.  But the entire process is set in motion by the weak force.

Enter “Cold Fusion”

When in 1989 Pons and Fleishman stunned the world by reporting nuclear reaction signatures at room temperatures, physicists were understandably baffled and skeptical.  Given that virtually all nuclear physicists at the time were trained in the powerful energies of the strong force, table top fusion made no sense.  The fact that the phenomenon was dubbed “cold fusion” was unfortunate and likely contributed to almost universal rejection by the scientific community.  Standard theoretical models were not able to explain how cold fusion might even be possible and unless it could be understood it was pointless and a waste of time.  A comment attributed to Wolfgang Pauli describes the reaction of most physicists at the time: “its not right; its not even wrong”.  Without a coherent theory to explain it, it wasn’t even science at all.

This all changed in 2006 with the publication of a paper in the peer-reviewed The European Physical Journal by Allan Widom and Louis Larsen titled “Ultra low momentum neutron catalyzed nuclear reactions on metallic hydride surfaces”.

In this paper for the first time a theoretical basis was put forth that explained many of the anomalous results being reported by experimentalists in the new field of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) – and the common explanatory action was the weak force.

As explained by Dennis Bushnell, Chief Scientist at NASA Langley Research Center in his article “Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, the Realism and the Outlook”:

“The Strong Force Particle physicists have evidently been correct all along. “Cold Fusion” is not possible. However, via collective effects/ condensed matter quantum nuclear physics, LENR is allowable without any “miracles.” The theory states that once some energy is added to surfaces loaded with hydrogen/protons, if the surface morphology enables high localized voltage gradients, then heavy electrons leading to ultra low energy neutrons will form– neutrons that never leave the surface. The neutrons set up isotope cascades which result in beta decay, heat and transmutations with the heavy electrons converting the beta decay gamma into heat.”

Brief Description of Widom-Larsen Theory

Not everyone agrees that the Widom-Larsen Theory (“WLT”) accurately explains all, or even most, of the observed phenomenon in LENR experiments.  But it is worth a brief look at what WLT proposes.

In the first step of WLT, a proton captures a charged lepton (an electron) and produces a neutron and a neutrino.  No Coulomb barrier inhibits the reaction.  In fact, a strong Coulomb attraction that can exist between an electron and a nucleus helps the nuclear transmutation proceed.

This process is well known to occur with muons, a type of lepton that can be thought of as very heavy electrons – the increased mass is what pulls the lepton into the nucleus.  For this to occur with electrons in a condensed matter hydrogen system, local electromagnetic field fluctuations are induced to increase the mass of the electron.  Thus, a “mass modified” hydrogen atom can decay into a neutron and a neutrino.  These neutrons are born with ultra low momentum and, because of their long wavelength, get caught in the cavity formed by oscillating protons in the metal lattice.

These ultra low momentum neutrons, which do not escape the immediate vicinity of the cavity and are therefore difficult to detect, yield interesting reaction sequences.  For example, helium-3 and helium-4 are produced often yielding large quantities of heat.  WLT refers to these as neutron catalyzed nuclear reactions.  As Dennis Bushnell explains:  “the neutrons set up isotope cascades which result in beta decay, heat and transmutations.”  Nuclear fusion does not occur and therefore there is no Coulomb barrier obstruction to the resulting neutron catalyzed nuclear reaction.

Brief Description of Brillouin Theory

Robert Godes of Brillouin Energy Corp., claims that WLT explains some, but not all, of the observed LENR phenomena.  As Godes understands the process, metal hydrides stimulated with precise, narrow, high voltage, bipolar pulse frequencies (“Q-pulse”) cause protons or deuterons to undergo electron capture.  The metal lattice stimulation by the Q-pulse reverses the natural decay of neutrons to protons, plus beta particles, catalyzing an electron capture in a first endothermic step.  When the initial proton (or deuteron) is confined in the metal lattice and the total Hamiltonian (total energy of the system) reaches a certain threshold level by means of the Q-pulse stimulation, an ultra cold neutron is formed.  This ultra cold neutron occupies a position in the lattice where dissolved hydrogen tunnels and undergoes transmutation, forming a cascade of transmutations – deuteron, triton, quadrium – by capturing the cold neutron and releasing binding energy.  Such a cascading reaction will result in a beta decay transmutation to helium-4, plus heat.

The Q pulse causes a dramatic increase of the phonon activity, driving the system far out of equilibrium.  When this energy reaches a threshold level, neutron production via electron capture becomes a natural path to bring the system back to stability.

Theory and Experiment

Other well-known LENR theorists have implicated the weak force, including Peter Hagelstein, Tadahiko Mizuno, Yasuhiro Iwamura and Mitchell Swartz.  The project now, as with all scientific endeavor, is to match experimental evidence to theory.  The hope is that the electron capture/weak force theories will help guide new, even more successful experiments.  This process will also allow theorists to add refinement and new thinking to their models.  I am reminded of the two “laws” of physicists proposed by an early weak force pioneer:

1. Without experimentalists, theorists tend to drift.

2. Without theorists, experimentalists tend to falter.

(T.D. Lee, as quoted in “The Weak Force: From Fermi to Feynman” by A. Lesov).

Experimentalists have been reporting anomalous heat from metal hydrides since before Pons and Fleischmann.  But without a cogent theory, they have had to rely on ad hoc, trial and error methods.  Given this state of affairs, the progress made in the LENR field in the last twenty years is remarkable.  Perhaps we are now at the beginning of a new era in which theoretical models will guide a rapid transformation of the science.

Conclusion

Scientists have focused on the strong nuclear force due to the immense power that can be released from breaking the nuclear bond.  Less attention has been paid to the weak force, which causes transmutations and the release of energy in more subtle ways.  Recent theories that explain many of the phenomena observed in low energy nuclear reactions (LENR) implicate the weak force.  We are now at the stage where theory and experiment begin to complement each other to allow for the rapid transformation of the new science of LENR.

Journalistic disclosure:  David Niebauer is general legal counsel to Brillouin Energy Corp.

Seducing the Coulomb Barrier

by David Niebauer

“In contrast to conventional experience based on using high energy to overcome the Coulomb barrier by brute force, the CANR [Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reaction] environment apparently uses a mechanism that can neutralize the barrier. This more subtle method apparently is obscured when high energy is applied, this situation being like the difference between a rape and a seduction.”

— Dr. Edmund Storms

The Future of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is the simplest, lightest and most abundant element in the known Universe.  In addition, it is the most potent carrier of energy known to Mankind.  It has a propensity to combine with other elements, such as oxygen to form water (H2O) and carbon to form the familiar hydrocarbon fuels that we have been using for our energy needs for eons.

Burning hydrocarbons is easy, effective and relatively efficient.  Unfortunately, it also has its drawbacks.  The end products include nasty carbon and other residues that pollute the environment.  But even more fundamentally, there is only so much petroleum, coal and natural gas on the planet.  Eventually we will run out of the stuff, and at our increasing rate of consumption, this tipping point will come at an accelerating pace.

But burning compounds of hydrogen is not the only way to release the energy of hydrogen. In 1920, Arthur Stanley Eddington speculated that if the Sun generated its heat and warmth from burning hydrogen, or from some form of gravitational contraction, it would exhaust itself of the fuel in something like 20-30 million years.  But accurate calculations at the time put the age of the Earth considerably older – and the Sun had to be older than the Earth.  Something else had to be happening on the Sun.

That something else is nuclear fusion.

Hydrogen in its simplest form, called protium, consists of a single proton and a single electron.  It will also absorb neutrons into its nucleus:  one proton and one neutron gives us deuterium, one proton and two neutrons give us tritium.  The number of neutrons is important because when two hydrogen nuclei fuse, as they do in the center of the Sun, they form a new element with a nucleus of larger mass.  For example, when the nucleus of one deuterium atom fuses with that of a tritium atom, the result is helium-4, a new element with a nucleus containing two protons and two neutrons. A free neutron is also released in the process.  The mass of the nucleus of the helium-4 atom (plus neutron) is slightly less than the mass of the two hydrogen nuclei. The difference in mass is released as energy in the reaction, in accord with Einstein’s famous formula E=mc2, where E (energy) is equal to mass times the speed of light squared.

Mass and energy are interchangeable at the nuclear level in truly amazing ways.  And the amount of energy released boggles the imagination.  The nuclear fusion reaction is millions of times more energetic than the chemical reaction of burning.

A Brief History of Brute Force – Storming the Coulomb Barrier

But of course, fusing hydrogen nuclei is easier said than done.  It became apparent that the strong nuclear force pulling protons and neutrons together to form an atom’s nucleus is counterbalanced by the electrostatic force of the positively charged protons in the nucleus.  This electrostatic force was first described by Charles-Augustin de Coulomb in 1784, and today is commonly referred to as the Coulomb barrier.  If the barrier can be overcome, as it is through the tremendous gravitational pressure and heat at the center of the Sun, nuclei will fuse and energy will be released.

The theoretical basis for the fusion reaction was worked out in the early years of the 20th Century.  The result was the first thermonuclear weapon developed at the Los Alamos National Lab in Albequerque, New Mexico.  It did not take long for these scientists to speculate that the tremendous power of the nuclear reaction might be harnessed for productive use.  The first model envisioned was a magnetically confined fusion device in which powerful magnets could be used to hold a plasma in place while it is heated to high temperatures.  In 1946, a patent was filed for a contained fusion reactor following just this approach.

At the present time the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is being built in the south of France for the purpose of harnessing the thermonuclear process for useful energy.  The ITER Reactor is not expected to be completed until well after 2025 at a cost that will exceed $20 billion (15 billion euros).

A competing program, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory uses the focusing power of lasers to concentrate a tremendous amount of energy on a very small hydrogen fuel pellet in an attempt to stimulate the nuclear reaction.

The bottom line on hot fusion: despite more than 50 years of effort, today’s nuclear-fusion reactors still require more power to run than they can produce.  Success at producing useful amounts of energy is estimated by those working in the field to be at least 15 – 20 years away.  The cost of the programs is astronomical.

New Energy Technologies and Theories

Interestingly, however, there are other, more subtle ways around the Coulomb barrier that have not received as much attention (or funding), but which I believe hold the promise of our hydrogen future.  A recent paper by Talbot A. Chubb (www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/ChubbTAthreetypes.pdf) describes three types of dd fusion.  One is the familiar “hot” fusion described above.  The other two are catalytic processes that can occur at much lower temperatures.  Catalysis is generally understood as a chemical process.  However, Chubb is talking about nuclear reactions (not chemical) when he states that “catalytic processes usually use surface and interface science to reduce the temperature at which exothermic reactions can take place.”

One well-accepted method of catalyzing fusion is muon-catalyzed fusion.  First discovered in the 1950’s, the process has been demonstrated to produce excess heat on numerous occasions.  As I understand the theory, a muon, which is some 200 times the mass of an electron, takes the place of an electron in deuterium and tritium atoms, thereby pulling the nuclei close enough together to overcome the Coulomb barrier and cause fusion, releasing energy as heat.  Most observers believe it unlikely that the process will ever achieve commercially useful heat, although a company in Australia is working on it.

Robert Godes of Brillouin Energy Corp. proposes a different catalyzed fusion process that he calls “Quantum Fusion”.  In Quantum Fusion, it is not the protons of the hydrogen nuclei that fuse, but rather neutron accumulation in a metal lattice of the right geometry. Godes applies an electronic pulse to certain metals (palladium or nickel) loaded with hydrogen, which act as the catalyst of the reaction.  The electronic pulse creates stress points in the metal where the applied energy is focused into very small spaces.  This concentrated energy allows some of the protons in the hydrogen to capture an electron, and thus become a neutron. This step converts a small amount of energy into mass in the neutron. Further pulses both create more neutrons and allow neutrons to combine with some of the hydrogen to form deuterium (hydrogen with both a proton and a neutron in the nucleus).  This ‘combination’ step releases energy.  The process continues, again, with some neutrons combining with deuterium to form tritium (hydrogen with one proton and two neutrons).  This step actually releases still more energy.  The process continues with some neutrons combining with the tritium to form quadrium (hydrogen with one proton and three neutrons).  Since quadrium is not stable, it quickly turns into helium in a process that releases more energy than it took to create all the preceding steps. (2.4 units of energy go in and 24 units come out).  The released energy is initially absorbed by the metal element, and then made available as heat.

Another leading theory suggests that the Coulomb barrier is not overcome, but rather suppressed or cancelled out.  The generalized theory of Bose-Einstein condensation nuclear fusion has been proposed to explain the processes involved in Andrea Rossi’s Energy Catalyzer.  The nuclei of hydrogen and nickel are proposed to fuse through the creation of Bose-Einstein condensation of two species of Bosons.  I will not attempt to summarize the physics here, but readers are directed to the paper “Generalized Theory of Bose-Einstein Condensation Nuclear Fusion for Hydrogen-Metal System” by Yeong E. Kim of Purdue University.

My point is not to convince you that any one of these theories is correct, but to suggest that something very interesting is going on.  The reactions described in the theories are variously called Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR), Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reactions (CANR), Controlled Electron Capture Reactions (CECR) or Cold Fusion.

Rather than focusing on any particular reaction or theory, Dr. Edmund Storms, a leading researcher in the field of New Energy Technologies, likes to talk about the “nuclear-active state” or “nuclear-active environment” and to focus on the similarities of all reported experiments and theories.  In the following quote, which was the inspiration for this blog, Dr. Storms explains his approach:

“The large number of nuclear reactions being reported and the types of required environments give a particular challenge to theoreticians. In contrast to conventional experience based on using high energy to overcome the Coulomb barrier by brute force, the CANR environment apparently uses a mechanism that can neutralize the barrier. This more subtle method apparently is obscured when high energy is applied, this situation being like the difference between a rape and a seduction. The problem is to identify the nature of these environments. Up to now, almost all effort has been focused on explaining how the nuclear reactions can take place once the environment is created. While this insight is important, it has not been much help in finding the best environments. This approach needs to change if commercial applications are to be achieved and if the skeptical attitude is to change.” (emphasis supplied)

Conclusion

One of the primary skeptical arguments in the face of experimental evidence of “cold fusion” or low energy nuclear reactions (LENR) is that it can’t work because tremendous amounts of energy are needed to overcome the Coulomb barrier.  Yet after more than 50 years and an exorbitant amount of money, “hot” fusion reactors that attempt to overcome the barrier by brute force still require more power to run than they produce – and commercially useful energy is not predicted for 15 – 20 years.  Perhaps its time to find other ways around this barrier.  Hydrogen is the key because of its simplicity and abundance.  Work in the field of New Energy Technologies has produced some intriguing theories on new ways to coax energy from hydrogen by working around the Coulomb barrier.  Its time that more attention – and funding – is directed at this promising new field.

(Journalistic disclosure:  David Niebauer is general legal counsel for Brillouin Energy Corp.)

© Copyright David Niebauer.  All rights reserved.

New Year’s Resolution: Commercialize Free Energy Technology

by David Niebauer

In the tradition of starting off the New Year with a resolution, I have decided to go large this year.  I predict that 2012 will be the year that low energy nuclear reaction technology (LENR), also known as “cold fusion,” breaks out of the lab and into the commercial market. I hereby resolve to commit my energy and resources to advance the commercialization of any device that generates clean, inexpensive, safe, abundant energy.

I recently co-founded Fusion Catalyst, Inc., a public benefit 501(c)(3) corporation with Bastiaan Bergman for just that purpose.  While we wait for a working reactor, we intend to support cold fusion research in any way we can.  Our “Open Catalyst” project is one step in this direction.  As it states on our website (www.fusioncatalyst.org), Open Catalyst is

“a crowd science project where many scientists globally can contribute to the search for the catalyzing material that enables low energy nuclear reactions. We plan to design and build a simple calorimeter reactor vessel that is automated and connected to the web. Scientists all over the world are invited to use this calorimeter and scan through potentially LENR-active materials. In this process, data is uploaded and shared in a completely open database. Every scientist in the world can slice and dice the data anyway he wishes. We envision that the power of the crowd can speed up the daunting task of searching for the secret catalyst.”

As the New Year commences, I thought I would try to articulate my view of the future of LENR – the reason we formed Fusion Catalyst in the first place.

First, I believe there are a number of inventors in the world who are on the verge of commercializing LENR technology.  Granted, many of these inventors do not come from established universities or government research programs.  What they do offer, however, is the promise of commercially useful reactors.  Give us access to a working reactor and we will put it to use.

The likely path for commercial introduction of this technology is through industrial and utility applications.  The reason for this is primarily economic.  It is reasonable for inventors who are not primarily concerned with academic research to seek out the largest markets and customers with the deepest pockets.  In addition, safety and permitting issues will be more rapidly resolved in the industrial application environment.

However, it is important that this technology not be concentrated in too few hands.  Ultimately, we believe that cold fusion will be an ideal distributed energy generation technology.  The materials — hydrogen and nickel — are not scarce; in fact, they are some of the most abundant elements on the planet.  The only thing of value therefore, and the thing to be controlled and “made scarce”, is the technology and application know-how.  Our goal is to have the technology and know-how distributed and made available on the largest scale possible.  This requires many scientists and inventors working and sharing their research and experience openly.

I do not believe that anyone will emerge with a fundamental “uber-patent” in this field.  I believe there will be many different approaches using different catalysts and perhaps no catalysts at all.  Let those who have filed patents show the world how their device works.  We will be happy to pay a reasonable royalty for its use. We have considered a patent pool or some other open source approach, but this will depend upon the available intellectual property and contributors to the project.  At this stage, there is still much research to be done.

Assuming that a working device becomes available under a scenario where the “scarce technology” does not make it cost-prohibitive, the first thing a reasonable man will do is explore how much useful work he can get out of it.  Even if the first devices are unstable and/or unpredictable, if it is useful we will put it to work.

The first distributed applications will likely be “off-the-grid” heating and cooling, as well as irrigation and other farming applications.  There is a wide range of applications for steam at sufficient temperatures.  And if electricity can be generated, whole communities can be formed outside of the metropolitan power centers of the world.

Another obvious application is desalination of water.  A working, inexpensive device used to produce clean, potable water would not only aid the most poverty stricken areas of the world, it would end the so-called “water wars” in a single stroke.

Other distributed applications would directly address hunger and poverty.  With cheap irrigation, new crops can be successfully grown, manual labor can be reduced and, eventually, hunger can be eliminated on the planet.

I anticipate an objection that, if we eliminate poverty in the world, we will be faced with a global crisis of overpopulation.  Even ignoring the Hobbsian cynicism underlying this objection (i.e., that we need war, poverty and infant mortality to keep human population in check), I believe that overpopulation will resolve itself in a world of abundance.  For one thing, people will not need to crowd into metropolitan power centers.  People will be free to spread out and live in what are now inhospitable areas of the planet.  Some will choose to remain in cities, but it will be a choice and not an existential imperative, as it is for many today.

Conflict is conditioned upon scarcity.  We don’t know what an “economics of abundance” would even look like.  I’m not saying that this new technology won’t bring new problems of its own – it will not transform human nature overnight.  But I am saying that, before we scare ourselves with unfounded nightmares, we should be open to the positive impact that such a technology can have on the world.

If the devices can eventually generate electricity without noxious emissions, without dangerous radiation, and without significant capital expenditures, we are freed from toil for the sake of survival.  Farming is difficult in most parts of the world.  With unlimited, free power, even if only in the form of steam, most of the work can be done mechanically.  Work will take on a totally different meaning.  New ways of living and associating will be invented.  We may actually start to thrive as a species on this planet.

Is this all a utopian dream? I don’t think so.  I am talking about what is possible for the human being. No one knows how things will turn out in the future.  I am dedicated to the global propagation of clean, limitless, free energy.  Reactors that employ nickel and hydrogen appear to be close to achieving these difficult-to-imagine goals. Don’t let it be suppressed, demonized, denigrated or over-protected.  The best way to accomplish this is through many different approaches to fundamental technology and applications.

We don’t know what an economics of abundance looks like.  Give us a working reactor capable of generating useful heat and we will begin exploring that question.  We believe that when this device is finally manifested, it will advance the human spirit in beneficial ways.  Fusion Catalyst was formed for the purpose of forwarding the work necessary to realize this goal.  We seek others who are like-minded to join us.

David Niebauer is a corporate and transaction attorney, located in San Francisco, whose practice is focused on financing transactions, M&A and cleantech.  www.davidniebauer.com

Rossi Energy Catalyzer: The “New Fire”?

by David Niebauer

I recently listened to an astounding podcast of an interview with Dennis Bushnell, Chief Scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center, talking about low energy nuclear reactions (LENR) and devices that are apparently generating significant energy in the form of heat, with very little input of raw material and no radioactive waste.

Bushnell credits Andrea Rossi, an Italian inventor, for the breakthrough. Rossi claims to have discovered a previously unknown source of energy, by extensive experimentation, using the early work of Pons and Fleischman as inspiration. Rossi has filed for international patent protection, but he is guarding the precise mechanism as a trade secret until the patent issues.

I first heard of Andrea Rossi in January of this year on the site Next Big Future where it was reported that Rossi had demonstrated his Energy Catalyzer (or E-Cat, for short) in Bologna, monitored by independent scientific representatives of Bologna University.  Ny Teknik, a Swedish technology magazine, reported that, “For about an hour it produced approximately 10 kilowatts of net power, loaded with one gram of nickel powder pressurized with hydrogen.” See Wikipedia entry for background.

Since that time Rossi has repeatedly demonstrated the device and it has received validation from the Swedish Skeptics Society, among others.  Demonstration devices have now been delivered to the University of Bologna, the University of Uppsala and the University of Stockholm for extended testing. Rossi has also entered into agreement with Defkalion Green Technologies, which anticipates having a 1 MW plant completed and operational at its facility in Greece by October 2011.

According to Bushnell, what is occurring in the Rossi device is a nuclear reaction, but it’s not cold fusion.  He claims it is a reaction of the Weak Nuclear Force.  Bushnell believes that heat is generated from beta decay of subatomic particles and that, applying quantum theory, physicists will soon explain the mechanism.  The physics is not well understood, which is fueling a certain amount of skepticism.

I recently met with Andrea Rossi and find him to be genuine and credible.  Rossi told me that he would like to have a 1MW plant operating in the United States by October of this year, in parallel with efforts in Greece with Defkalion.  Rossi is intent on moving his Energy Catalyzer from the testing lab into the field.  He recently entered into an agreement with a US company, Ampenergo, whose partners have links to the U.S. Department of Energy .

According to Rossi, Bushnell is on the wrong track, at least from a theoretical perspective.  “If beta decay explained the reactions in my device, I would have been killed already [by the radiation] and we would have found different isotopes,” Rossi told me.  He claims that he has a good handle on the theory, but he won’t disclose it until his patent is granted.

I don’t pretend to understand the physics, or to be in a position to know for certain whether the Rossi Energy Catalyzer is the breakthrough we have been waiting for.  Dennis Bushnell seems to think so. Here is how he summed up his interview with EVWorld: “I think we are almost over the “we do not understand it” problem. I think we are almost over the “this does not produce anything useful” problem. I think this will go forward fairly rapidly now. If it does, this is capable of, by itself, completely changing geo-economics, geo-politics, and solving climate issues.”

I want Andrea Rossi to succeed. Is his Energy Catalyzer the “New Fire”, as Rossi calls it? We don’t yet know for sure. But it is important that we forward a shared vision of a world with an abundant, inexpensive supply of clean energy.  Our future depends upon it.

Rossi

David Niebauer is a corporate and transaction attorney, located in San Francisco, whose practice is focused on financing transactions, M&A and cleantech.  www.davidniebauer.com