The Experimental Investigation of the E-Cat HT, and Heuristics

Heuristic: relating to the general strategies or methods for solving problems

Recently an experimental investigation of possible anomalous heat production in a special type of reactor tube named E-Cat HT was carried out and published (“Indication of anomalous heat production in a reactor device containing hydrogen loaded nickel powder,” ).

Data was collected in two experimental runs lasting 96 and 116 hours respectively, and anomalous heat production was indicated in both experiments. Computed volumetric and gravimetric energy densities were found to be far above those of known any chemical source. Even by the most conservative assumptions as to the errors in the measurements, the result is still one order of magnitude greater than conventional energy sources.

Pretty strong words, this “sanity test” seems to have pretty conclusively proven that the E-Cat HT is everything Rossi has claimed. On the other hand, looking at the comments on various web articles on the subject, it hasn’t seemed to convince the “skeptics.” Why?

Apparently, the strongest criticism is that the tests were not independent, that the reactor was built by, controlled, and was ran in Rossi’s lab. Furthermore, since Rossi has told lies in the past, according to some critics, he can’t be trusted now. Finally, big claims need overwhelming evidence, which this investigation didn’t provide.

Hot Cat reactor coreIn the first of the two runs, a energy density of around 5 orders of magnitude was calculated, as well as a COP of nearly 6, which would make this tested device revolutionary. Many well respected scientists participated in this investigation. The methodology was straightforward, and even the second run demonstrated results far above those of any chemical reaction. Again, why aren’t the “skeptics” convinced?

A heuristic is a mental shortcut that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently. These rule-of-thumb strategies shorten decision-making time and allow people to function without constantly stopping to think about the next course of action. While heuristics are helpful in many situations, they can also lead to biases.

Examples of faulty heuristics are “mental filter” (focusing on the negative detail and ignoring the big picture), “confirmation bias” (accepting only information that agrees with our conclusion), “emotional reasoning” (believing something because it feels true, ignoring contradictory evidence),“disqualifying the positive” (looking at only the negative information we have), “over-generalization” (drawing huge conclusions that don’t fit the evidence), “all-or-nothing” (seeing only the extremes in a situation), and “tunnel vision” (failing to see any positives in a situation).

Distorted thinking is recognized by its characteristics: narrow, resistant to change, biased toward negativity, and often irrational.

It is my premise that those “skeptics” that continue to believe that Rossi is a fraud, and discount the above investigative report, suffer from distorted thinking caused by faulty heuristics. I referred earlier to the investigative report as a “sanity test.” What I mean is that the experimental investigation was aimed at only confirming or denying if anomalous heat was produced by the E-Cat HT.

When “skeptics” claim that the tests weren’t independent, I believe they were using the mental filter faulty heuristic by focusing on the negative detail, and ignoring the big picture. No doubt the experimental investigation could have been more independent, but short of outright blatant fraud, the results prove that anomalous heat could not be explained by simply a chemical exothermic reaction.

Furthermore, if the “skeptics” are claiming outright fraud, especially given the credibility of the scientists participating in the experimental investigation, then I believe they are using the confirmation bias, and emotional reasoning faulty heuristics of accepting only information that agrees with their conclusion, and believing something is false because it feels false and ignoring the contradictory evidence.

When some “skeptics” say that Rossi has told lies in the past and therefore can’t be trusted now, so we ought not trust the experimental investigation, I believe they are using the disqualifying the positive, and over generalization faulty heuristics of looking only at the negative information that we have, and drawing huge conclusions that aren’t justified by the evidence.

Finally, when some “skeptics” say that big claims need overwhelming evidence which this investigation didn’t provide, I believe that they are using the all-or-nothing, and tunnel vision faulty heuristics of seeing only the extremes, and failing to see any positives in the situation.

In other words, I see those “skeptics” as having distorted thinking. In other words, their demonstrated skepticism is irrational. That is not to say that skepticism in general is irrational, quite the contrary. Skepticism is healthy, but is often cited to justify undue skepticism, which is distorted, narrow, and biased toward negativity.

To summarize, the recent experimental investigation of the E-Cat HT pretty conclusively proved that anomalous heat was produced that can’t be explained by any conventional energy source. Furthermore, this report didn’t satisfy the “skeptics.” My belief is that the reason those “skeptics” were swayed is that they are using faulty heuristics resulting in bias against the clearly logical conclusion that the E-Cat HT is everything that Rossi said it was. It is certainly true that those “skeptics” will view my paper as indulging in name calling, and my criticism of their heuristics as faulty. We’ll just have to agree to disagree. As Rossi has said, the time for talk is over, and the market will be the final arbitrator.

That is why this experimental investigation is so significant: it wasn’t conducted on some experimental device, it was validating a product that Leonardo Corporation will be selling in the very near future.

Rossi E-Cat HT energy density “off-the-chart”

A third-party report on tests performed by European scientists has confirmed anomalous excess heat from Andrea Rossi‘s E-Cat HT, a thermal energy generator based on nickel-hydrogen exothermic reactions developed by Leonardo Technologies.

The Energy Catalyzer first came to public attention in January 2011 when the unit was demonstrated at the University of Bologna in Italy. Since then, in a drive for control, stability and certification, the E-Cat has gone through multiple design changes with the latest version, the E-Cat HT operating at high-temperature.

The tests were performed by scientists from Italy and Sweden who had access to the unit and conducted their investigation independently. The team included:

Giuseppe Levi, Bologna University, Bologna, Italy
Evelyn Foschi, Bologna, Italy
Torbjorn Hartman, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Bo Hoistad, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Roland Pettersson, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Lars Tegner, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Hanno Essen, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

Data was gathered over two four-day tests, one in December 2012 and another in March of this year. For each test, the E-Cat HTs performed continuously while measurements were taken.

The E-Cat HT operates from an “as yet unknown reaction” in a chamber of hydrogen-infused nickel powder containing some additional catalyst. The nickel powder is enclosed by a hermetically-sealed steel cylinder 3 centimeters in diameter and 33 centimeters long. Surrounding this inner cylinder are resistor coils that heat up the core, initiating the reaction.

nov-test-tempAll of this is housed in an outer cylinder made of steel and ceramic that varies depending on the experiment. A thermal camera imaged the surface of the reactor over time, determining the temperature of the outer steel casing.

A first test occurred in November 2012, but that unit overheated, melting the stainless-steel inner chamber. While the data was incomplete, it was clear the reactor made significant heat beyond any chemical reaction. After re-designing the experiments for the second and third tests, computations of Coefficient of Performance (COP) and thermal energy density were strong and impressive.

“The procedures followed in order to obtain these results were extremely conservative, in all phases…. it is therefore reasonable to assume that the thermal power released by the device during the trial was higher than the values given by our calculations”, the report states.

December test gives COP of ~5.6

For the December test, the E-Cat HT ran for 96 hours.

Input power to the heating coils was modulated “with an industrial trade secret waveform”, with the average hourly power consumption used by the heating coils at 360 Watts.

The average thermal Output Power of ~ 2034 +/- 203 Watts assumed a 10% error.

E-Cat HT on support frame from December test
E-Cat HT on support frame from December
A simple ratio of thermal output power/ input power gives a COP of

= 2034 Watts / 360 Watts
~ 5.6 +/- 0.8.

Power density, defined as watts per kilogram of fuel, is the ratio of thermal excess power generated in watts to the mass of nickel powder fuel in kilograms.

Excess power is the thermal output power minus the input power. The amount of fuel used for the calculation was 0.236 kilograms, an overweight value that included the mass of the caps of the inner chamber. This over-value for fuel gives a lower limit for power density, so we can assume that the power produced by the E-Cat HT was even greater than that computed in the report.

Thermal Power Density
= (2034 – 360) / 0.236
= 7093 +/- 709 Watts/kilogram, again assuming a 10% error.

Thus, power density is about 7 kilowatts per kilogram of nickel powder fuel.

To get the thermal energy density, the power density is multiplied by the total number of hours the E-Cat HT ran, giving:

Thermal Energy Density
=7093 * 96
~ 681,000 Watt-hours/kilogram
= 681 kilowatt-hours/kilogram

After 96 hours, this unit was shut down to end the experiment.

E-Cat HT2 is self-sustaining

A new generator was employed in the March test, one with a slightly different design called the E-Cat HT2.

The inner reactor core was the same size as the previous one, but an added control system for the E-Cat HT2 allowed this experiment to run in self-sustained mode, whereby the input power is turned off, while the reaction continues to provide output power.

This unusual feature commences with an ON/OFF phase, as described in the report “where the resistor coils were powered up and powered down by the control system at regular intervals of about two minutes for the ON state and four minutes for the OFF state.”

Most of the four-day March test was conducted in this mode where it was shown that the reactor continued to increase heat output “for a limited amount of time” when switched OFF.

Input power to the resistor coils was increased steadily over the first two hours of the test until the ON/OFF mode was reached. After that, input power to the coils then averaged within a range of 910-930 Watts when ON. Subsequent data analysis showed that the resistor coils were on approximately 35% of the time, and off 65% of time over the duration of the test.

Since the control box was estimated to consume 110 Watts, the Instantaneous Power Consumption, the power input when ON, was computed as

Instantaneous Power Consumption
= 920 Watts – 110 Watts
= 810 Watts

But since the input power to the coils was only on 35% of the time, an Effective Power Consumption is computed by

Effective Power Consumption
= 0.35 * 810
= 283.5 Watts

where the authors again assume a 10% error, to take into consideration any unknown uncertainties.

For this experiment, the average thermal output power was approximately 816 +/- 16 Watts, using a computed 2% error.

Thus, total energy produced over the 116-hours March test is then

Produced Energy
= (816 -283.5) * 116
~ 62,000 Watt-hours
= 62 kilowatt-hours

Energy density is off-the-chart

In this experiment the amount of nickel powder fuel mixture was determined by first weighing the inner reactor core cylinder loaded with fuel. Then, the proprietary nickel mixture was extracted from the inner reactor core “by the manufacturer”, and the empty cylinder returned and weighed. From the difference, the fuel amount was computed as 0.3 grams. To compensate for any uncertainties, the authors of the report used a value of 1 gram to compute the power and energy density.

Fig. 15 Ragone Plot showing energy densities for various sources; E-Cat HT2 is off-the-scale here.
Ragone Plot of energy densities for various sources; E-Cat HT2 is off-the-scale here.
Thermal Power Density
= (816 -283.5) Watts / 0.001 kilograms
= 532,500 W/kg
~ 532 kilowatts/kilogram

Over the full 116-hours March test, the thermal energy density is then computed as

Thermal Energy Density
= (532,500 W/kg)(116 hrs.)
= 61,770,000 Watt-hours/kg
~ 62,000 kilowatt-hours/kg

The energy density of the E-Cat HT2 places it
“about three orders of magnitude beyond any other conventional chemical energy source.”

This thermal energy density for the HT2 is larger than that computed for the December HT test by a factor of three. According to the authors, this this is due to the overestimation of the amount of fuel in the December test, where the steel cylinder caps were included. Still, both E-Cats performed off-the-chart.

For this experiment, the COP is computed as

= 816 Watts / 283 Watts
= 2.9 +/- 0.3 again assuming a generous 10% error

This COP is noticeably different from the COP of the E-Cat HT in the December test of 5.6. This difference is attributed to the fact that the COP tends to increase as the temperature increases.

The average temperature of the E-Cat HT was 438 C while the average temperature of the E-Cat HT2 was 302 C, leading the HT to have a higher COP.

But the authors note that as they did not inspect the nickel powder fuel in either case, so perhaps the disparity in COP may be the result of differences in the two samples.

After 116 hours, the March HT2 test was shut-down and the experiment ended. It is made clear in the report that the fuel was not exhausted, and the tests could have gone on longer, increasing the value of thermal energy production and density.

To quote the report, “… energy densities were found to be far above those of any known chemical source. Even by the most conservative assumptions as to the errors in the measurements, the result is still one order of magnitude greater than conventional energy sources.

In addition, both tests were monitored for radiation by David Bianchini, and no dangerous emissions were found. Again, from the report:

The measurements performed did not detect any significant differences in exposure and CPM (Counts per Minute), with respect to instrument and ambient background, which may be imputed to the operation of the E-Cat prototypes”.

This summer, a new test will be conducted for a six-month period. Together with this report, a data set is emerging that proves without a doubt the E-Cat is leading the race for ultra-clean energy-dense power for the people. When global energy policy will catch up with the reality of new energy, no one knows. Congratulations to Mr. Rossi for bringing us one step closer to that free, green, technological future we imagine.