October 25, 2012

Popular Science has an overall negative feature of Andrea Rossi but Hopeful on LENR

Popular Science has a length feature on Andrea Rossi and his energy catalyzer.

After a lot of Rossi background with some new reportage, conclusion is not favorable

I removed all identifying information and sent the report to an expert at NASA experienced in conducting third-party validation tests. While the NASA expert didn’t entirely refute the report’s findings, the test protocols and conclusions didn’t meet the standards of a credible third-party evaluation. The outcome wasn’t surprising, but I was disappointed nonetheless. Some small part of me wanted Rossi to prove my suspicions wrong.

The director of the Hot Cat test, a retired colonel and friend of Rossi’s, leaked the test results on the Web a week after Rossi sent them to me. The enthusiastic colonel “could not help to talk about this event and the remarkable results,” Rossi said on his blog. Rossi used the occasion to make another big announcement: The University of Bologna would conduct a new independent test of the Hot Cat and publish the results in October. When I contacted Dario Braga, vice rector for research at the University of Bologna, he unequivocally denied any official relationship between the university and Rossi. “I’m not aware of any work being done by our scientists with Mr. Rossi in a formally correct way,” Braga said. “I don’t know how Mr. Rossi can say this.”

If history is any guide, no such report would be issued. Rossi will reset the goalposts—the only thing he does with any consistency—and forestall his day of reckoning for another few months, and then another few months after that, until finally he disappears from the stage in a puff of smoke, taking his black box with him.

Favorable Impression of Celani

Celani would soon be taking his special reactor to Austin, Texas, where he would demonstrate it at an annual developers conference hosted by National Instruments (NI), a billion-dollar manufacturer of virtual instrument controls and monitoring equipment found in almost every major research lab in the world. NI had invited Celani and a handful of other LENR researchers to present at the event. They had also invited a few LENR firms; Rossi’s is no longer the only company racing toward commercialization. The Greek technology firm Defkalion, for example, which started out as Rossi’s first big licensee before splitting off, would be in Austin to discuss its own LENR device based on Rossi’s nickel-hydrogen E-Cat reactor. The meeting was the biggest news in the LENR community since Rossi arrived on the scene. Many were treating it as a coming-out party. At last they were getting the respect they felt they deserved, and they owed some of that to Rossi. While Rossi wasn’t invited, his talent for self-promotion got the attention of NI’s CEO, James Truchard, who decided to give LENR a closer look.

When I spoke to Truchard in August, he said that he was impressed by the “absolutely precise and well-described” experiments conducted by Celani and others in the field. “I think we are just on the edge,” Truchard added, stopping short of an endorsement of LENR. “And this could happen tomorrow or 10 years from now, because I don’t know when the spark will come. But we are, I believe, close.”

I asked Celani why he thought NI had invited him to the conference. He stopped what he was doing and looked around the chaos of his lab, as if searching for the answer among all the defunct LENR cells he’d built to replicate various experiments dating back to the early days of cold fusion, experiments that helped push the field, watt by watt, closer to legitimacy. “I don’t know,” Celani said, and burst into laughter.

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