Wednesday, May 25, 2011


A more comprehensive SWOT analysis of the Rossi Ni-H energy generator. 1. The SW part.

Remembering the good old times, “I giorni della gloria” when I was working for start-up of plants and for developing new products in pilot plants and for commercialization- I feel a vivid empathy for the two organizations that have the mission to open the world markets for a new source of energy: Defkalion (Greece) and Ampenergo (US) and Andrea Rossi’s  Ni-H based generator, better known as e-Cat. I try to anticipate some problems and even to outline some solutions.

I have initiated a SWOT analysis of the E-cat

SWOT is like marriage (full of problems but nothing better was invented yet) see: Actually any good and active engineer and/or manager and/or entrepreneur rediscover SWOT. It is a natural way to look what is good and what is bad inside and outside and how can improvements be made.

I am, trying to do an objective and correct, even intelligent (?)  analysis, if possible, and that means:
- to not mix the points of view i.e. the real strengths and weaknesses of the devices with the virtues and sins of it’s inventor and of his team. Nothing and nobody is perfect, but fast prerfectibility is a must.

A good SWOT analysis needs the processing of data, information and knowledge that are =in the same time incomplete, abundant, scarce, redundant, overwhelming and underwhelming partially false, contradictory, not always well defined, inconstant- in other words- an informational mess. Actually it is not so relevant what I do NOT know, but it is essential what Rossi and his Partners do NOT know. I bet that my problem solving rule No. 5. .”NOT what we know, but what we do NOT know is more important for solving the problems”.is perfectly valid in this case too. The success of this action is threatened by an unknown amount of unknown unknowns.

The analysis has to start with determining the measure in which the
E-cat cab fulfill the elementary requirements of a commercial energy source.

Unfortunately, these problems were not met by the Cold Fusion community in practice- only in the predictions-for- the-future-chapters of some books.

It is about the maximum power attained and energy delivery of the generator. In the case of the E-cat   20kW seems to be a limit for the power,
but during the start-up period of the February experiment, a power peak has appeared and it could be as high as 120 kW. In the following experiments
smaller E-cats were used from safety and//or stability reasons. Actually intensity has to be expressed as a net value, the input of electrical energy
used for control  has to be subtracted from the output. In any case, the values measured and claimed are impressive- but only for the pre-commercial stage.
A problem that has to be discussed is what is limiting the power of the E-cat? It seems to be the heat transfer- from a working hot core of say 400 deg. C to a stainless tube and to the cooling media (water) .
Plants of 1MW are promised for this autumn however this power will be attained by combining many E-cats (initially 100 of 10kW, now 330 of 3.5 kW) Obviously the E-cat is only in an embrionary stage of development- for the start it will be probably a niche type source furnishing thermal energy for homes and small plants. I have to confess that I am not able to understand the reason for this 1 MW plant via a great clutter of E-cats. What will it demonstrate for the future customers? The energy infrastructure of the world is based mainly on tens of MW to thousands of MW plants, 1 MW is a dwarf.
What intend to sell Defkalion and Ampenergo- in the initial stage and later? E-kittens, E- cats? Alternative solutions were not discussed- yet.


Reproducibility was the obsession and curse of Cold Fusion- but actually it is only a pre-condition of a usable system. A sequence of 3 just- positive results is not real reproducibility, only incipient repeatability. Reproducibility has not meaning when you don’t know what to reproduce, quantitatively – in reasonable limits. You buy a 4.7kW E-cat – it has to furnish any time 4.7 +/- 0.3 KW- just to give an example. I hope all the units involved in the manufacture of the generators are a gathering such data and working on improvement. But  we have to attain Controllability too – what to do if the Ecat delivers too much or too few Kwatts? How to eliminate the really disturbing power peaks?
And, even more- ADJUSTABILITY is an other factor. Can the E-cat work
at say 50 or 25% of its nominal capacity when we need less energy? Then CONSTANCY is also needed –all the performances of the generator must be kept at good values during its lifetime, minimum of degradation or weakening.
In a way REPRODUCIBILITY is growing up to practical RELIABILITY.  

CONTINUITY – it seems that for the time given, the E-cat has a working period guarantee of 6 months. After that the active core has to be replaced with a new one. Does this period include interruptions, idle periods, adjustments if any? Does it refer to the working time, or even the inactive E-cats lose slowly their power -as batteries, for example?.

SAFETY and CLEANNESS – lack of data, measurements on generators not protected by a layer of lead, for virgin and young E-cats compared with those before replacement, the influence of size, the effects of adjustments and of undesired (short!) runaway episodes. Solid statistical data required.

SCALE-UP- the problem was already shown at the first virtue; modular scale-up is not genuine scale up., IMHO. It has to be more than addition of many small units. Question- why it was made a scale down after the first two experiments?

INDEPENDENCE-at least after start-up, the energy source has to work
without the aid of any other energy source. That means- zero input, self- sustaining mode. We were said it is possible, but not for safety and control Before the experiments input/output factors as high as 200 were claimed, than this value has decreased with an order of magnitude.
Recently at his site Rossi said that a factor of 6 will be guaranteed to the customers. Why such an involution?

HARD CURRENCY ENERGY- how the thermal energy of the active core can be converted in electric energy in an economical way?    

CHEAPNESS: - an obvious condition. Just o mention that if the E-cat works with isotopically enriched  nickel or the catalyst (?) is some noble metal- than there will be serious problems with the price.

MAINTENANCE- must be minimal, let’s see how it looks in practice.

KNOWABILITY- Now the heat gem=nerating is largely unknown or gets unplausible and undefined explanations.The reactions on which the energy release is based must be determined and described making them accessible even to laymen. If there is a catalyzer what does it catalyze? What are the secondary reactions?

SHORT SUMMARY- the E-cats should generate energy, NOT problems, NOT troubles ,NOT surprises, NOT costs, NOT mysteries!

A special problem DESIGN In its actual form the E-cat seems much more an object to be exposed at the Tyrnavos Festival than a nice new device that will make your home a better place.  I am convinced that a creative design will help to improve all the other technical problems sketched here.

There is a huge area for development in the E-cat land.

This part was about SW- internal factors. I am waiting for the critics and suggestions of improvement. I prefer to discuss directly about the external factors OT, including strategy, meta-advertising, competition, reversible errors and irreversible blunders etc.. If somebody is willing to collaborate
with me- please write to:  Thank you!

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