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…And Another Thing!

June 30, 2011

I started eCatNews, dismayed by the mud clouding the subject of Rossi’s eCat. Much of that is down to the nature of the beast, the extraordinary claim and the reality of business vs science. With no seat at the table, I could remain impartial, posting the good and bad without favour. In preparing for the task, I waded through an avalanche of material. I thought Steven Krivit’s ballsy approach to the subject was admirable and – except in his tendency to pick unnecessary fights – worth watching. That part was correct, but I’m no longer confident when I read what he has written.

Part 2 of Krivit’s report is here.

If you have not already read it, I encourage you to do so now – to make up your own mind before reading the rest of this post.

The previous (preliminary) report set the scene so Part 2 should not have been a surprise, but it was. To me, it seems like a jumble of everything Krivit could think of to assassinate Rossi’s character and claims. In the first instalment, he warns us not to draw premature conclusions and yet the tone hardly called for anything else. Is this a sign of a preconceived agenda or the result of seeing and hearing what he did in Bologna?

There is so much in the second report to comment on that I’ve had to restrict myself to a few examples. It is a shame because he has some valid observations that will be lost among the poison.

…………………

Trivia:

Peppered by trivia and gossip mixed with questionable science, Krivit’s attack damages itself by protesting too much. We are assaulted, as though by a bully in the playground, by ‘fact’ after ‘fact’ painting Rossi as a man not to be trusted. While I do not know if his ultimate conclusion is right or wrong, I do trust the collective Rossi has gathered more than the ‘evidence’ Krivit pits against them. At one moment he complains that Rossi and Focardi’s 2010 paper was not published in peer-reviewed journals and the next that they lied when saying that it had been rejected by those journals (because they had submitted it to only one – the non-refereed, arXiv – where the paper was indeed rejected).

Such irrelevant detail clouds the issue instead of shining a light on it. He ‘accuses’ Levi of writing the University of Bologna’s press release (regarding the Jan demonstration) instead of the university press office and that Levi said it was more of a demonstration than a scientific test. So what?

Here is another piece of trivia, implying – What Exactly?

…For example, Lewan quoted Rossi March 10 in Ny Teknik: “The 500,000 Euros I am paying to the University of Bologna is my last money, but when I deliver the one-megawatt plant to Defkalion, I get cash back. From then on, 50% will be used for expansion and 50% to treat children with cancer. I will personally look for the children whose families cannot afford their care,” Rossi said. However, the university had not signed a contract with Rossi at that time, and Rossi has yet to pay anything to the university, as Paolo Capiluppi, the head of the Department of Physics at the University of Bologna, told me in a phone call on June 24…

………….

Let’s not forget Rossi’s Engineering Degree. The following is from the article he linked to.

Kensington was forced out of business by officials in California and Hawaii. Another Kensington alum, Florida State Rep. Jennifer Carroll, just stepped down from the National Commission on Presidential Scholars. Both Carroll and Drouin say they worked hard and thought their degrees were legitimate. The offending University was taken to court and the filing is online. (Hawaii, but same institution).

While KU was declared guilty, its students were the victims, not the cheats. The plaintiff was the Consumer Protection Group, charging the ‘university’ on behalf of students. This from the judgement:

BE AND IS HEREBY ORDERED to implement a restitution program as follows. Defendant Kensington University, Inc. be and is hereby ordered to immediately compile a list of those students who enrolled in or graduated from Kensington University subsequent to July 1, 1999 and to send a written offer of restitution to each such individual in the appropriate form attached as Exhibits I or 2. Defendant Kensington University, Inc. BE AND IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED to make restitution to anyone requesting it within twenty days of the receipt of such a request


Dear Graduate :

We are writing to inform you that during your course of studies, Kensington University, Inc. was operating in violation of Hawaii’s laws relating to unaccredited degree granting institutions. By law, such violations are automatically considered unfair or deceptive business practices. As a result of a court order, we are offering all graduates a full refund of the tuition paid conditioned only on return of the diploma. If you would like to accept this offer, please simply indicate that fact on the duplicate original and return it to us with the diploma. Your refund will be processed within twenty days from its receipt. If you choose to accept this offer, you will be barred from seeking any other damages against the university. You should know that under Hawaii law, you have the right to bring your own lawsuit for damages and, in the event you prevail, you would be awarded not less than $1,000 or threefold the damages, whichever is greater. You would also, in that event, be awarded your attorneys fees. If you have any questions about this offer, you may call the State of Hawaii’s Consumer Resource Center at (808)586-2653.

Very truly yours,

Alfred Calabro,

President Kensington University, Inc.

I have no idea if Rossi was subject to any such remedy beyond Hawaii or if the timescales pan out and I have no intention of trying to find out. I simply wish to warn against jumping to conclusions when the rumour and poison machine is engaged

……………..

We see a similar brush here:

…In the early 1990s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expected Rossi to produce thermoelectric devices with breakthrough levels of performance, of 800 to 1,000 Watts each, according to the Army report…

I read the Army Report Krivit linked to and there is little in it to raise alarm bells. Rossi’s invention worked on a small scale as tested by the UofNH (you know, the type of independent testing scientists call for). There was great hope that it could be scaled up but when they tried to do it, manufacturing problems crippled them. Anyone who has worked on developing new technologies will find this unsurprising. There is no criticism of LTI in the Army report. Indeed there is evidence that the relationship with LTI continued (at least with the DOE).

The Army story set off a distant memory. Rossi talked about that technology in a May comment on his blog:

• • Andrea Rossi

May 23rd, 2011 at 11:19 PM

Dear David G:

Very interesting. By the way, I know very well the thermoelectric issue, because I made a patent exactly for high temperature T.E. I worked for years, from 1996 through 2000 in this field, and applied them to engines, power generators, boilers, I worked for DOE and DOD in this field, through LTI. But there is an enormous problem of reliability when from high quality manufacturing of few grams you go to bulk quantities. I made with my hands thermocouples with a very particular directional fusion I had invented, obtaining a 100 watts set very, very good, tested in the University of New Hampshire in 1998, but to do it I worked 3 months full time: thermocouples are very refined metallurgy applied to electronics. If few atoms get a wrong position, a semiconductor becomes a resistance. When we tried to manufacture t.e. for Seebeck Effect in bulk quantities, to have acceptable costs, we got big problems and the figure of merit is fallen drom an efficiency of 20% to a 1-2%. Still interesting in power diesel generators, but not that much. Now: it appears the Caltech team has resolved the problems. I am delighted to know this, sure I will immediately test their application to the E-Cats as soon as the product will be in the market. Thank you for this very interesting information,

Warm regards,

A.R.

Rather than painting Rossi a fraud, these episodes and others could just as easily indicate a clever man constantly pushing at the boundaries of what is possible.

………

Krivit makes a great deal of the fact that Rossi does not obey the rules of the scientific game and by an extraordinary leap of logic questions the inventor’s ethics because of it. He attacks him for not being a scientist, not being a ‘real’ engineer and then attacks him for not obeying their ‘rules’.

… Rossi has circumvented customary scientific communication protocols. He has influenced other members of his team and consultants to circumvent protocol, as well….

…Science by Proxy: Since January, Rossi, who is not a scientist, has used third-party scientists in Sweden and Italy to make his fundamental claims for him. He used their reports and news quotes to attract further attention and bolster the credibility of his claims….

This is simply preposterous. Is Krivit really saying that involving qualified scientists in your work by showing it to them is a bad thing? What they subsequently say is not puppetry unless you think that they are liars or fools.

………….

Finally, we come to the question of steam.

There is no doubt that Krivit’s video showing the hose removed from the sink was unimpressive, but to jump from that to accusations of incompetence and/or fraud is a big leap. Having boiled kettles a thousand times, most of us have an intuitive feel for the behaviour of steam but most of us are wrong. Take a look at this video:

Superheated Steam – Cool Science Experiment

Notice the amount of heat going into the experiment. Since the tube is open to the atmosphere, the pressure is (obviously) low. When it is superheated, the gas disappears from sight. Since the eCat chimney and hose are at atmospheric pressure and the steam only a little above 100 Deg C, it is not too outrageous to think that what Krivit saw was not what he thought he saw. More importantly, since we cannot trust our eyes, it is arrogant to use casual observation to point a finger at so many people more qualified to pass judgement than you or I.

As a counter to the above situation, it can be instructive to look at the other extreme. The following video shows what high pressure dry steam looks like. In this case, a large tank of water is preheated, pressurised and then released through a restricted nozzle. It’s fun to watch and cautions us to avoid extrapolating our tea-making skills into this very specialised and surprising area.

High Pressure Dry Steam

 

……….

Conclusion:

I remain unconvinced by Rossi’s demo to Krivit, but that was not Rossi’s intention and I’m fine with that. I give more credence to all the qualified people directly involved and to the mountain of circumstantial evidence than Krivit does and that’s OK, too. However, I do not think that gossip and personal attacks are appropriate weapons to use in such a debate, especially when that argument is dressed in the very pseudoscience that many claim to defend us against.

Steven Krivit is a champion of LENR and so I am reluctant to guess the motive behind his visit and subsequent posts. Some people say he is angry at how he was treated but it could be just that he believes what he is saying; worried that Rossi’s scam (because surely that is what he is accusing him of) will damage the nascent industry before it is born. It could be that or it could be lots of things but it is ironic that this report reminds me of the attack on Pons and Fleischman all those years ago.

Thankfully, Rossi – if on the level – has chosen to ignore the rules. At this moment in time, I have not made my mind up about the eCat except to say that – on the surface – it looks promising. Before Defkalion is able to sell Hyperion in Greece, those authorities have to grant a licence. Testing for this will start soon. Perhaps we will not have to wait until October for credible third party ‘proof’ or otherwise. These factors, combined with the possible ramifications of Andrea Rossi’s eCat being real, makes this one of the most exciting intellectual shows on Earth.

Posted by on June 30, 2011. Filed under Bologna,Drama,Hands-On,Krivit,Media & Blogs,Rossi. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

8 Responses to …And Another Thing!

  1. John Dlouhy

    July 2, 2011 at 1:43 am

    An excellent article that needed to be written. Thank you. I ,too, was quite surprised after reading Krivit’s tome. Let me just add something I posted elsewhere. The crux of his discontent seems to be not receiving a sheet of paper with a scientist’s data printed on it. I’m not sure why he would preferentially accept that as proof in place of his own first hand observation of a functioning E-Cat. Verifiable observation is the basis of science. I imagine that Rossi restricted what he was allowed to do although not much mention was made of that. Still, I’m sure his cohort of pseudo-skeptics is well pleased by his ample rant. A shame though, if the E-Cat is confirmed, to have dealt himself out of the most important technology story in human history.

    • admin

      July 2, 2011 at 8:03 am

      Thanks, John. I agree. There does seem to be a high degree of selectivity when dealing out what he thinks important and what is not worth mentioning. He had such an opportunity to shine a light for us and then squandered it. Shame, indeed.

      Paul

  2. Henk

    July 2, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Good article, and very instructive videos.

    Krivitt seems heavily disappointed that a major LENR breakthrough could be realised by someone outside the scientific community.
    To make it worse, Rossi, this Italian lone-wolf inventor, does not care about scientific rules or methods and claims that his invention will be judged by the market, not by the scientists.

    Krivitt seems stuck in his own scientifically correct little world. He is unable to think out of this box and focusses on proving that the process is terribly un-scientific and thus the result must be wrong.

    The fact that he now starts discrediting Rossi, Levi (and subtly also the Swedish scientists) tells a lot about his character and how frustrated he must be.
    Henk

    • admin

      July 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      Thanks, Henk…

      Rossi answered a question on his blog today that (I think) shines a light on his approach to the eCat launch. Assuming he is on the level, it explains a little of his mindset:

      http://ecatnews.com/?p=406

      We will soon know.

  3. Luca

    July 2, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    John I find it a bit ironic that you blame Krivit for reporting facts that needed to be reported, that are relevant to the case at hand, but you yourself remain unconvinced, yet give little to indicate why. Krivit at least has the guts to state why.

    Krivit is clearly reserving a technical critique for his next report yet you treat this report as the technical one.

    Ignoring Rossi’s past for a claim of this magnitude is simply foolish. In his last stint which did not work he also managed to convince scientists that it would work. Yet when samples of his product were tested by independent third parties in his own country the results were lacking. Now how is that irrelevant.

    The thermoelectric generator story by itself is questionable but when packaged with the petroldragon & the kensington univ deal it becomes an embarrasment of coincidences. It would be against ethical standards to not bring it up.

    I could go on citing example after example of companies that have promised and not delivered the promise of cold fusion but that is probably not.considered relevant by you either.

    Sincerely
    Luca

  4. Allan Kiik

    July 4, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Krivit did not say a word about the steam, just posted the video and let others make their judgement. This is not about wet/dry steam issue but about the flowrate of the steam at the end of the hose – it’s obviously too slow for 5kW heater. Volume of the water vapour at atmospheric pressure and 100°C is ~1.69 m³/kg, so it’s easy to calculate that the steam flowrate must be over 11 m/s, if 1.9 grams of water is really vaporized every second. So, we must conclude that for observed steam flowrate, there was more than enough power taken from the grid and at least at this particular moment eCat did not produce any energy at all.

    It’s really easy job to make reliable calorimetric measurements, either with still water bath or flow calorimeter (like MULTICAL), but until today there’s no good evidence that Rossi has any effect at all. I still hope he is right and we will see convincing evidence soon.

    • admin

      July 5, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      Hi Allan,
      I agree that the main issue appears to be about the flow-rate. There is no doubt that you may be correct – it is possible that it was too slow for a 5KW heater. My contention, however, is that we cannot be certain just by looking at the hose outlet. Why we should give more credence to looking at a video of an invisible phenomena than to an expert who specifically addressed the issue is beyond me. It is perfectly reasonable for people to remain cautious and to defer judgement until Andrea Rossi or others release real proof. The reasons for not doing so too early are sound, no matter which side of the fence you stand.
      For this to be a fraud or the result of an embarrassing error we would have to believe that Rossi has surrounded himself with fools or scammers. That is a greater leap than believing that a scientist might be better placed to measure the energy output of an eCat than a journalist with a video camera. Neither is real proof, which is why a true sceptic should be willing to wait before launching into attack mode.

      Paul

      • Allan Kiik

        July 5, 2011 at 2:24 pm

        I definitely do not think about Rossi as fraud, it’s not likely at all. I have been reading his blog since january and at least in the beginning it was all plausible and coherent. My (unqualified) guess is that he has real effect indeed, but he is in trouble controlling it reliably at high power rates and so has decided to exploit only lowest possible reaction rate, where heat can be used as controlling factor. There were reported power bursts with old, larger eCat, so Rossi has made it smaller, but this has reduced the reliability (reaction stops unexpectedly).
        It’s pure speculation, of course, but I think it’s more plausible than pure fraud.