There are many alternative energy technologies being developed. Many of them are very well known - such as solar, geo-thermal, wind, hydroelectric, and bio-fuels. Others are not so well known - such as those that utilize magnetic interactions to gain energy, tap energy from electromagnetic waves all around us, manipulate electric circuits, or produce reactions between atoms that are not understood. Until recently, none of these technologies (mundane or exotic) seemed ready to make a major impact on the energy crisis our civilization is facing. But one technology is emerging that seems to have the potential to rapidly change how we produce and utilize energy. It has the potential to impact all aspects of our civilization. This is Andrea Rossi's Cold Fusion Energy Catalyzer technology.
Andrea Rossi is an Italian inventor that claims to have produced the world's first commercial ready "cold fusion" or "LENR" (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions) reactor. Cold Fusion and LENR are terms used to describe nuclear fusion and other nuclear reactions at low temperatures. For 20 years or longer scientists have been producing nuclear reactions at low temperatures in small reactors that cost a fraction of what is used to produce "hot fusion." There have been thousands of successful cold fusion experiments in which nuclear reactions have occurred. But none of these experiments come close to the robustness of Rossi's device. Many cold fusion devices only worked intermittently or produced low levels of output. Andrea Rossi's device seems to work on demand and produces extremely high outputs. As an example, in a recent experiment over an 18 hour period with an average input of 80 watts it produced at least 15 kilowatts continuous, and sometimes as high as 20 kW.
Another interesting aspect of Andrea Rossi's technology is the materials it uses. Some cold fusion experiments have used expensive materials. For example, instead of ordinary hydrogen, deuterium has been used. Also, more expensive metals such as palladium and platinum have been utilized. Rossi's device simply uses ordinary nickel powder (but in nano-sized particles), ordinary hydrogen, and undisclosed (due to proprietary reasons) catalysts that are claimed to be inexpensive.
The device is also claimed to use very little of this nickel and hydrogen fuel. It is claimed that one gram of nickel powder in the device can produce as much energy as 500 barrels of oil. At 100 dollars a barrel 500 barrels of oil would cost 50,000 dollars. I have seen 150 grams of nano nickel powder on EBay for $150. In bulk I'm sure it would be even cheaper. Also, it is claimed it uses even less hydrogen than it does nickel. Basically, the fuel for this system is almost free.
The Laws of Thermodynamics are Obeyed
Please note that no one is claiming this device produces "free energy." The reason the fuel for this system is almost free is that nickel and hydrogen are cheap and that huge amounts of energy are released from nuclear reactions. A nuclear reaction can release a million times the energy of a chemical one.
A Note on Safety
Andrea Rossi constantly repeats this technology is safe. He claims he knows exactly how to control his reactors so no radiation escapes. However, the fact that radiation is produced at all might be scary to some people. In fact, the main issue holding up the construction of a one megawatt thermal energy plant in Greece using this technology is due to obtaining "authorizations." Basically, they have to prove the technology is completely safe. In many ways, this technology is inherently safe. No radioactive materials are put in and there is no nuclear waste when the reactor is opened. One concern though is that the reaction could increase beyond safe limits. This could have happened in a recent experiment in which a reactor had to be throttled down from producing 130KW to 15KW. Rossi has warned that in previous experiments with high levels of output there have been explosions.
More Positive Aspects
There are even more positive aspects of this technology. It is claimed that even though nuclear fusion occurs in the device there is no radioactive waste. Rossi has stated that no residual radiation is detected just minutes after turning off the reactor and opening it.
Perhaps what makes this technology seem even more amazing is the potential power density. Rossi has been working exclusively with a reactor that has a volume of one liter. Even at a very low power level it can output 15KW of constant thermal energy with very little electrical input. However, during a recent experiment for a period of time the reactor was producing 130KW of thermal energy. There are 1000 cubic centimeters in a liter. That would mean the power density was 130 watts per cubic centimeter. If you could scale up the size of the reactor and maintain that power density a device that could fit inside of your closet could produce megawatts of thermal energy.
Basically, if this technology works as it is claimed to, and as recent testing by outside scientists indicates, it is a game-changing technology. It is revolutionary in the highest sense of that word Never before has there been a technology that could instantly address such a huge problem. The solution for the energy crisis could be here -- cheap, simple, and non-polluting.
Global Uses of Cold Fusion
What would this mean to the world? Well, it could potentially solve lots of problems and open up many new possibilities.
First of all, the energy crisis (once enough of these reactors were built and utilized) would be over. Energy would be cheap and clean. We would never run out of fuel. The fuels would be found everywhere so no nation would have an advantage over another. Over a period of time we could phase out fossil fuels all together. Oil could be saved to be used to produce fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, and plastics instead of being burnt.
Secondly, our environment could get a boost. Greenhouse gas emissions could go down significantly. Also, with less exhaust coming from power plants there would be a higher air quality in many areas. If we can get this technology into the poor areas of the world perhaps it could help prevent deforestation. With an unlimited source of energy, water desalinization would become much cheaper. Instead of using freshwater reserves for irrigation and industrial purposes, sea water could be used.
Third, there are many industries that could benefit from a source of cheap energy. For example, the recycling industry uses a huge amount of energy. If energy was "free" these industries could expand. Perhaps landfills could be dug up and the metals recycled. This would reduce the amount of land needed for mining.
SCIFI becomes reality
There are also some exotic possibilities with cold fusion. For example, it sounds like a good power source for a Mars rover, a lunar outpost, or a space craft. Perhaps the energy from cold fusion could be harnessed for propulsion. If this is the case perhaps space travel could become more practical. [Editor's note: Most of the "UFO" craft flying around are probably of human origin, so obviously some subset of humans, probably black-op, have already figured it out and are keeping it from the rest of us. Cold fusion and other such breakthroughs could help us play catch up.]
This technology could also spark a new scientific age. If Cold Fusion turns out to be a reality then what else might turn out to be possible? Cold Fusion has been demonized by overly cynical skeptics for years. These same skeptics have been bashing other topics too. A few of these are the possibility of faster than light travel, superluminal communications, "free" energy from magnetic interactions, and other exotic energy technologies. To mainstream scientists, thinking cold fusion is real is almost as bad as believing in the Easter Bunny. If Cold Fusion turns out to be real then almost anything is possible! It could open the minds of a whole new generation, who wonder "What else that we've been told by scientists is 'impossible,' might also actually be possible after all?".
Remember the quote, "Science progresses one funeral at a time." This is the idea that due to excessive skepticism new ideas and possibilities are not allowed into "mainstream" science until an older generation dies off. I hope that with this new technology enough minds might be opened, so that science can progress decades before the present, controlling generation is in the grave.