NASA confirms research in LENR

2012-01-13 09:55 Mats Lewan  

UPDATED: In a recent video, NASA confirms its research in LENR – akin to cold fusion – and states that it works. At the same time Andrea Rossi and the Greek company Defkalion intensify their activities.

(Swedish version here)

In the video published on Technology Gateway, official website for the NASA Langley Research Center, Dr. Joseph Zawodny, Senior Research Scientist at NASA, states that the new type of nuclear reactions ‘has the demonstrated ability to produce excess amounts of energy, cleanly, without hazardous ionizing radiation, without producing nasty waste’.

NASA explains in the video that ‘this form of energy is also powerful, able to support everything from transportation systems to infrastructure’.

“The easiest implementation for this would be for the home. You would have a unit that would replace your water heater,” Dr. Zawodny explains in the video.

He describes that electricity could be derived through some sort of cycle, and that the waste heat would be used for other things.

This is precisely what the Italian inventor Andrea Rossi plans to do with his “E-cat”, and also Greek Defkalion – which previously had an agreement with Rossi – with its product Hyperion.

The video mentions the same elements as Rossi and Defkalion say they use – nickel and hydrogen – and apart from those also carbon.

Rossi has been in contact with NASA on several occasions. Among other things, he visited NASA in Huntsville on July 14, 2011 to talk about his technology.

According to, Rossi then offered NASA to test the technology, after which NASA reportedly begun drafting an agreement. No final agreement was made, however.

Ny Teknik contacted NASA’s chief scientist, Dr. Dennis Bushnell, who previously has expressed support for LENR, but he declined to give any official comments on the video or to NASA’s research in LENR – Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, a more general term for the phenomenon that used to be called cold fusion.

Dr. Bushnell’s only comment was:

“The video pertains to the potential tech transfer aspects of the Zawodny LENR Patent.”

He referred to a patent application by Dr. Zawodny from 24 March 2011 which is based on the Widom-Larsen theory, a theory launched in 2006 by researchers Allan Widom and Lewis Larsen, which tries to give a possible physical explanation for the excess energy from LENR.

Updated: In February 2011, Widom and Larsen received a patent based on their theory, and Zawodny's application refers to that patent.

Most physicists Ny Teknik has talked to believe that if devices such as Rossi’s E-cat work, it is too early to form a definite opinion about the physics behind the reactions, because there are still too few experimental data.

But organizations such as NASA reasonably need to rely on a theory in order to conduct research in an area which otherwise is considered to be impossible.

And it is obvious that NASA officially is basing its research on the Widom-Larsen theory that has the advantage to circumvent the controversial concept of fusion. The theory is mentioned in the patent application, and key concepts from it are included in the video – such as Surface Plasmon Polaritons.

Documents from NASA shows that Zawodny had interest in the theory already in 2009.

NASA’s interest in functioning LENR is obvious – as it would be a nuclear reaction, the energy density is so high that it can be used for everything from Space Access to In Space Propulsion and On Planet Power. In addition, NASA could avoid so-called RTGs – generators based on heat from decaying plutonium-238 which is dangerous to handle and, moreover, is getting scarce.

For how long NASA has done research on LENR is unclear, also how far it has reached. But the video gives a hint that NASA believes it has a working technology within reach.

This means that another player is now participating in the race of who will first convince the world of having a working commercial product built on LENR.

Claims are not missing.

Rossi stated at the end of December 2011 that he had passed 10,000 pre-orders for a consumer version of his E-cat and that he is now aiming for production of one million units to be sold so cheaply that it will kill all competition – 50 USD per kilowatt power, or 500 USD for a 10 kW home unit.

It will supposedly be possible for customers themselves to do refilling of fuel, which would be needed every six months.

He also claims to be close to a solution for electricity production and states that he is working intensively with the anonymous military customer who supposedly bought his plant of one megawatt in October 2011 and then placed an order for a further twelve such units, in collaboration with Texas-based National Instruments which would be developing the control electronics.

Defkalion on the other hand seems to be progressing towards a product launch. Multiple sources told Ny Teknik that several independent tests of Defkalion’s technology are scheduled to take place early this year. Other sources doubt that Defkalion really have its own core technology.

Still, independent tests have not yet been made of either Rossi’s nor Defkalion’s technologies and many critics are still very skeptical.

In addition to Rossi, Defkalion and NASA a number of independent researchers continue to do research within LENR, among them Italians Francesco Celani and Francesco Piantelli who both participated as speakers at the World Sustainable Energy Conference 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland this week (Celani's abstract here, complete presentation here), organized by UN-backed International Sustainable Energy Organization, ISEO (Updated: Piantelli did not participate – his research would have been discussed).

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Updated 1. In his own blog, NASA scientist Dr. Zawodny gives his own views on the published video. He repeats, among other things, that he personally believes that the production of excess heat has been demonstrated in a wide range of experiments with LENR, but that a "clear demonstration of reliable, useful, and controllable production of excess power", is still lacking. Among the requirements of a clear demonstration is that it be independent.

Updated 2. In an interview lasting nearly two hours, Rossi on January 14, 2012 presented a number of new claims about his technology, including that the upcoming consumer product has no hydrogen canister but instead uses a material that can absorb and release hydrogen. The interview was made by Sterling Allan who runs the website Pure Energy Systems. Here's a summary and a transcription.

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READ MORE: Our complete coverage on Rossi's E-cat can be found here.

Rossi's E-cat

Andrea Rossi's 'energy catalyzer' is loaded with nickel powder and a number of secret catalysts and is pressurized with hydrogen gas. Excess heat is possibly produced via an unknown nuclear reaction, involving nickel and hydrogen.

Several semipublic tests have been made to demonstrate the release of net energy but no independent tests have yet been done.

On October 28, 2011, a heat plant composed by 107 Ecat modules was tested by an anonymous customer. In a report the customer claimed a released net power of 479 kW in self sustained mode.

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READ MORE: Our complete coverage on Rossi's E-cat can be found here.

Mats Lewan


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