I'd like to have a conversation with you about the theoretical but also technical and practical aspects of successfully replicating the "Rossi Effect." To begin, my definition of the Rossi Effect is a very high powered form of LENR with power densities exceeding one thousand watts per gram of fuel. This very high level of output is what makes Andrea Rossi's E-Cat stand out among all other LENR technologies, including palladium-deuterium based devices. In my opinion, this high performance has been confirmed by multiple third parties including Parkhomov, Songsheng, Stepanov, another Russian team (their name escapes me at the moment), Me356, and multiple parties who have not publicly disclosed their work.
Unfortunately, achieving high output which allows for undeniable and non-arguable results doesn't seem to be a simple task for most replicators; moreover, some replicators who achieved high rates of output (such as Parkhomov) have found difficulty matching his initial results. My opinion is that in his case and others, the lower output is due to changes in the parameters of the system (old oxidized fuels contaminated by atmosphere, different brands of materials, adjustments to reactor designs) and not a sign that the initial heat production was unreal. Additionally, although multiple successful tests have taken place, the majority of attempts fail. After a great deal of armchair research and oral discussions, I feel that I may understand some of the plausible reasons for these failures. However, I'd sincerely appreciate your thoughts on these topics. Despite all the thoughts you have shared on this forum, you've never touched on replication -- a topic that is now more important than ever considering the legal battle taking place.
My current understanding is that almost all of Andrea Rossi's design considerations, especially concerning fuel composition and preparation, have been based on optimizing the absorption of hydrogen into the nickel powder. This has been the primary objective of every change he's made, with secondary objectives being the removal of the hydrogen tank for safety purposes and improving the endurance of E-Cat's at ultra high temperatures (the hot cat).
Simply put, if an adequate quantity of hydrogen does not enter into the lattice, excess heat production will not occur. This is because I think the central mechanism (which he indicated early on) is creating enormous pressures of potentially hundreds of atmospheres (or higher) in tiny pockets inside the lattice. These spaces are called by a number of different names including micro-voids, lattice defects, and internal microcavities. Additionally, the migration of hydrogen into the lattice can also be hastened by the texture of the nickel surface (an isotropic surface seems to be optimal), the optimization of grain boundries (an increased quantity of smaller, finer boundries seems to be better), and the micro-fractures and lattice deformations that occur due to the absorption of hydrogen.
Mainstream literature explains how repeated cycles of annealing, forced hydrogenation/desorption cycles under extremely high pressures, cryogenic cooling, ball milling, ultrasonic irradiation, and other processes can improve hydrogen uptake and release. However, I don't think that having the most activated, extremely damaged nickel is optimal. In this case the hydrogen can quickly adsorb (without necessarily absorbing) and desorb with relative ease, without creating tremendous pressures in ISOLATED pockets of TRAPPED hydrogen. Basically, in this case, you get what you pay for and there is no free lunch. If it is too easy to get the hydrogen into the nickel you really aren't getting the hydrogen where you need it to go; mostly it is simply adsorbing and desorbing from an enhanced surface area. But if you put in enough effort to get an adequate quantity of hydrogen into these cavities, the result will be LENR reactions due to the ultra high pressures during "thermal shocking."
I think there are many processes that can be used to try and maximize hydrogen absorption into the sites where you want it to be located during "triggering." But many of these come with trade offs that must be weighed against each other. Here are a few to think about.
-- The passivating oxide layer on the surface of the nickel blocks hydrogen absorption. This needs to be removed or adsorption, the phase before absorption into the lattice, won't take place. I don't think there is much downside to performing this, overall, it is a big win. A few methods are reduction with hydrogen (but this can promote sintering), ultrasonic irradiation in an ice bath cooled hydrocarbon slurry, and chemical etching with acids.
-- Trapped gases in the nickel powder need to be eliminated, because they are taking up space in the pockets deep in the nickel where you want the hydrogen to be. Vacuuming this out is a very good idea. Although it may not be absolutely critical for a successful test, not doing so could reduce your chances at producing excess heat -- probably very significantly. There are a few issues to consider here. First, you need a pretty darn good vacuum pump that can operate for several hours to days at a time without burning out. Such a pump isn't exactly cheap for researchers on a tight budget. Secondly, to optimize the removal of trapped gases, the nickel should be heated to maximize gas diffusion out of the powder. But such high temperatures (say 600-700C) can cause sintering which can reduce the catalytic potential of the fuel. There are ways around this (such as mixing in inert powder such as aluminum oxide) or using a lower temperature (which will require a longer vacuum time for the same level of gas removal).
-- The use of a high surface area nickel powder (for example carbonyl nickel powder manufactured via the mond process) can yield greater surface area on which hydrogen can adsorb and then absorb. This could be a win in some cases. But carbonyl nickel may not always be of high purity and ultrasonic irradiation would destroy the fine structures that increase the surface area. Thus, the removal of a passivating oxide layer would have to be achieved by reduction by hydrogen or perhaps chemical etching. But then again, a high surface area material probably isn't required. Rossi's original systems used fairly coarse, crude nickel powder. And a few replicators, like Me356, have achieved good results with nickel wire.
-- The use of electropositive promoters such as lithium or potassium could be used to enhance hydrogen absorption. Moreover, catalytic poisons such as sulphur and chlorine should be avoided.
-- Although I don't think they were utilized in later generations of "hot cats" copper and/or palladium powder could be used as reverse spillover catalysts, as long as a hydrogen tank was available to provide sufficient hydrogen to both the nickel and the elemental lithium (which would be competing with the nickel for hydrogen). Probably, it is best not even to mess around with palladium, because a technology requiring this expensive, rare metal would not be economically viable if widely implemented. Also, we know it is not needed for very high output due to the success of certain "pure" nickel systems.
So, when it comes to the pre-treatment of nickel, all of these different variables need to be tested out. My thinking is that vacuuming of the fuel and removal of the surface oxide layer are probably the most critical.
Next, of course, comes the hydrogen source. Utilizing a tank provides some benefits at the cost of a safety risk. Another option is a hydrogen generator that can produce hydrogen at fairly high pressures (many can produce from five bar or so). They give the advantage of being able to provide supplemental hydrogen in a stair step like manner, continually replenishing the pressure to the original value after absorption takes place. But for most replicators using a metal hydride such as LiAlH4 is a simpler option. This is a potentially *lethal* substance if utilized carelessly without regards to safety (a single breath of the powder can kill), but it can provide in-situ hydrogen at high pressures when the interior volume of the reactor is small. Another downside is that unless you have a sophisticated reactor design, you cannot simply add additional hydrogen from an external source. What is possible, however, is cycling the pressure up and down by modulating temperature significantly above and below 700C, the break down temperature of LiH. This may allow the nickel to breath (adsorb/absorb and then desorb hydrogen) leading to enhanced hydrogen content in the voids and microcavities. Addition of supplemental LiH at the start (another pyrophoric chemical that should be handled only be experts with extreme caution) may allow for even greater pressure swings and a supplemental boost of hydrogen pressure at 700C.
The type of purity of the LiAlH is also important in addition to the rate of heating.
1) Alfa Aesar 97% pure LiAlH4 seems to have a small particle size and releases a great deal of hydrogen compared to other brands. Even better would be for professionals to make nearly 100% pure LiAlH4 by dissolving the chemical in a proper solvent and performing the required precipitation procedures. Using pure high quality LiAlH4 such as this brand is important, because we need all the hydrogen we can get and we need the lowest level of catalytic poisons (such as chlorine which is commonly found in commercial LiAlH4) possible.
2) A very low rate of heating prevents the LiAlH4 from melting, lowers the temperature at which it releases hydrogen, and can make multiple decomposition steps happen at far lower temperatures than normal. This may be important because if lithium melts on the surface of the nickel further hydrogen adsorption may not take place.
3) Hydrogen will absorb into the nickel at higher temperatures and pressures. However, Piantelli noted a "sweet spot" of around 176C in which maximum hydrogen absorption occurred when utilizing less than one atmosphere of hydrogen pressure. Since when using LiAlH4 the pressure will be MUCH higher, there may be a far different sweet spot. However, a very slow increase of temperature through the range of 100C-225C may help maximize absorption during this possibly critical temperature range.
4) There is speculation that absorption of hydrogen at a low temperature will make more of an impact during later thermal shocking at higher temperatures. This is because hydrogen absorbed at low temperatures will be denser and create much greater pressures when heated. Basically, in simple terms, a nice slurp of dense hydrogen at 176C might be far superior (in producing the high pressure that triggers LENR) than a slurp at 500C.
When it comes to triggering or thermal shocking the hydrogen loaded nickel powder, a very high rate of heating can be useful. Looking at the graphs of Songsheng and others, it seems like once the nickel is "active" a small increase or "bump" in power can have a disproportionate impact on output power. And a sudden reduction in temperature followed by a powerful, fast increase can even lead to pressures high enough in the microcavities to induce self sustaining heat generation if the input power is then cut off. Such repeated triggering events may, after repeated application hundreds of times, damage the structure of the nickel so that the pressure instantly escapes, no LENR processes are generated, and no excess heat is produced. Thus, using a form of electromagnetic stimulation as well (for example dirty three phase AC at high voltage of 300-400 volts or higher) may keep the hydrogen pressure varying and the excess heat production constant with far less -- or any -- long term damage to the lattice. This may be why excess heat can be repeatedly triggered with loaded nickel powder, rather than when using loaded aluminum. Due to the reduced tensile strength of the aluminum, damage occurs at lower temperatures and with fewer cycles. This is why the nickel cannot be allowed to fully melt: the cavities that contain the high pressure hydrogen gas would be destroyed.
Another cool feature of the E-Cat tech is the interaction between the nickel and lithium. Somehow, protons or other particles are emitted from the nickel, interact with the lithium, and produce a secondary reaction that may produce more excess heat (via the production of alpha particles) than the primary process. However, without the primary process taking place at a certain level, the secondary process P + Li may cease along with excess heat production.
Now, after all of this, I'm very interested in your thoughts on how replicators can improve their chances of producing excess heat. Here are a few specific questions.
1) What processes do you think are most critical to be performed on the nickel?
2) What are your thoughts on maximizing hydrogen absorption and what levels of loading may be required?
3) What are your thoughts on surface OR interior morphology of optimized nickel powder? I'm thinking surface cavities may increase hydrogen pressures leading to localized areas of greater absorption. But it is the dislocations and micro-voids in the interior of the nickel lattice that are where hydrogen pressure can actually build up. Hydrogen on the surface probably de-adsorbs fairly rapidly during thermal shocking.
4) What are your thoughts for pressure related issues inside of reactors utilizing LiAlH4 as a fuel source?
5) In your own replications of Rossi's work, if you have undertaken any, what have you found to be the most critical issues for guaranteeing success?
6) In your own replications, what are your most common reasons for failures, in your opinion?
7) Overall, do think the bread crumb trail left behind by Me356 on this forum has been accurate and provide good guidelines for replicators?
Please feel free to share all your thoughts on the issue of successful replication of the Rossi Effect. I've been re-tripling my study of this issue for the past month, and I'm eager to discuss it with you. One of your talents seems to be pointing out errors and flaws in other people's thinking and reasoning, and I'd really appreciate for you to straighten out any issues you see in mine. By comparing our thoughts and talking through all of these issues, we can hopefully come up with some conclusions that can aid the replicators that are eager to provide additional verification of Andrea Rossi's technology. With all the hostility, harsh remarks, and accusations being tossed about on this forum and elsewhere (you are well aware of the cynicism) a string of successful replications would be like a fresh cool breeze for those who are eager to see EVERYONE recognize Rossi's technology as real.
I'm eager to read your thoughts, ideas, comments, suggestions, remarks, and corrections to my assumptions.
Mr. Self Sustain