Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kowalski, "Rossi's reactors—fiction or reality?"

L. Kowalski,  "Rossi's reactors—fiction or reality?," March 18, 2011 (draft note, to be submitted to a publication).

Summary: The levels of isotopes reported in connection with in Rossi's 12 kW E-Cat do not agree with those that would be expected to occur from the fusion of hydrogen and nickel.


Kowalski comments on the reported results of two demonstrations of the 12 kW E-Cat device that took place, one on January 14, 2001, at the University of Bologna, and another on February 10-11 (also at Bologna?).  He raises these issues:
  1. The energy of the protons is too low to fuse with nickel.
  2. In a thought experiment where there was no Coulomb repulsion, the reactions that would occur between protons and nickel would result in unstable isotopes of copper, and after six months they would have decayed into two isotopes of nickel.  There would be no abundance of copper.
  3. Also, the isotopic composition of nickel would change drastically in order to generate 12 kW over six months (and presumably it has not in Rossi's device).
  4. There was no radiation above the cosmic background levels, but it would be expected for the types of fusion reaction considered.
Kowalski sees a path to stable copper isotopes via intermediate decays but finds it inconsistent with the natural ratios of the relevant nickel isotopes.

Kowalski's reasoning is largely from theory to empirical evidence rather than being about the specific procedures that were used to obtain the evidence.  His note essentially says, "Rossi's device is not doing what we would expect it to do."  The reader is left to conclude that some huge error is taking place in the report on the isotopes, or possibly worse, although Kowalski does not offer this suggestion.  Kowalski allows in an addendum that only independently performed experiments can confirm or refute the question of whether Rossi has built a new kind of reactor.

I like Kowalski's analysis because, even though I'm not yet able to form an opinion on some of critical assumptions he is making, such as the precise reactions that would need to be taking place in Rossi's device, Kowalski is dealing with concrete numbers concerning nickel and copper isotopes.  He also raises some interesting questions in the first part of his note.

Additional details that were mentioned:  The energy of the protons in Rossi's demonstrations are thought to be at around 0.04 eV (how was this number derived, and what assumptions go into it?).  Others who have studied fusion of protons with nickel were working with protons at much higher levels, such as 14.3 MeV.

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