Original article on Atom-Ecology here.

Cold fusion is a technology that has arrived in practical form, and that practical form is simple district heat.

Chilly Stockholm Uses District Heating

Chilly Stockholm Uses District Heating

It’s strange that so many people think of energy only as electricity to power devices or petrol to fuel a vehicle. Anything short of those most convenient energy sources is treated as if it’s all but useless, certainly not interesting.

This attitude reveals a common human failing that equates manly power with all forms of power. If you can’t fuel a testosterone mutant power machine you are nothing. Fast cars and faster computer video games is what a preponderance of internet ruled media and chat room discussions are all about.

But our human society runs on simple heat. And where it comes to the economics of heat it matters not what the source of the ΔT (extra degrees of temperature) comes from it matters what each degree of ΔT costs!

Dr. Stanley Pons and Dr. Martin Fleischmann

Dr. Stanley Pons and Dr. Martin Fleischmann

Martin Fleischmann knew this very well and his design of his “boiling cell” was just that, a constantly boiling cold fusion cell. Had Martin stacked hundreds of his boiling cells into a common container and done the engineering to manage the heat we’d likely be using his branded cold fusion as a simple boiling water and steam heat source today.

But Martin was a professor and bench chemist and he was more keenly interested in understanding the mysteries of his discovery than engineering practicalities.
glowing hotcat

Recently our friend Andrea Rossi in Italy has shocked the world with his start of delivery of megawatt cold fusion heat machines. Some of his designs produce very high temperatures as evidenced by the glowing red/orange Hot-CAT devices witnessed by many.

Hot cat at 600-800C.

Hot cat at 600-800C.

But equally if not more interesting are his lower temperature devices which operate with high efficiency, producing 6 times the energy output in hot water as the energy input to run the devices.

At a design output temperature of 120° C many gadflys and pundits trolling the Internet chat rooms and media eschew this “low temperature” output and worse they bemoan it isn’t even electricity. But Rossi and his team have ignored what Rossi calls “the snakes of the internet” and moved ahead in a pragmatic and practical energy engineering and product delivery process.

Heat is heat and if you have a system that needs a million joules of heat at 120° C then Rossi’s machine is the “cats meow.” If you need 1.5 million joules and Rossi’s machine can give you 2/3′s of that energy on the cheap and you have to burn some conventional fuel to get the last 0.5 megajoules then you are still saving an enormous amount of money on your total fuel bill.

1MW thermal E-Cat on its way to Customer

1MW thermal E-Cat on its way to Customer

So now there is an offer to install one of Rossi’s E-CAT cold fusion thermal units in Sweden as a demonstration. A Swedish group is backing the installation, as a proof of commercial principal, in cooperation with some Swedish energy company. They are inviting applications from one and all.

Why Sweden? The answer is very clear. Sweden is one of the many countries that has district heat.

District heat is generated in a centralized location for residential and commercial heating requirements such as space heating and water heating. The heat is often obtained from a cogeneration plant burning fossil fuels but increasingly biomass. Although heat-only boiler stations, utilizing geothermal heating and central solar heating are also used, as well as nuclear power.

District heating plants provide higher efficiencies and better pollution control than localized boilers. According to some research, district heating with combined heat and power (CHPDH) is the cheapest method of cutting carbon emissions, and has one of the lowest carbon footprints of all fossil generation plants.

Insulated steam pipes

Insulated steam pipes

District heating system is a vital part of the total energy supply of Stockholm. Almost 60 percent of the customers of the city’s total heat market have chosen district heat.

Throughout Europe many cities choose district heat as a major part of their energy grid. It’s not electrical, it’s hot water and steam heat moved through the city in insulated pipelines much like natural gas but with many advantages.

District heating and cooling plays an important role in the supply of low-carbon heating and cooling in Europe. While having just an average market share of 10 percent in all of Europe, it is much more widespread in North, Central and Eastern Europe, where market shares often reach 50 percent and more. On average, over 80 per cent of heat supplied by district heating originates from renewable energy sources or heat recovery (i.e. from electricity production or industrial processes).

A European Commission confirms the possibility of saving an extra 400 million tonnes of CO2 yearly (corresponding to 9.3% CO2 reduction – thus more than the whole Kyoto target!) with more District Heating and Cooling across 32 European countries. These CO2 savings are projected just from switching to “district heating” using conventional fuels. With cold fusion the CO2 savings might approach 2 billion tonnes of CO2 saved.

As cold fusion heat is added to the expansion of district heating Europe may have a very energy efficient and clean energy future. The time required to implement this cold fusion energy source is incredibly fast, years not decades.