On January 14, 2011, a 61-year-old Italian inventor named Andrea Rossi staged a spectacular demonstration.
In a warehouse in Bologna, he switched on a strange contraption that looked like a leg of lamb wrapped in aluminum foil. He called it the “E-Cat,” short for “energy catalyzer.” It contained a pinch of powdered nickel, a puff of hydrogen gas, and a dash of a secret catalyst. When the mixture was heated with an electrical current, a mysterious reaction occurred, generating large amounts of excess heat—far more than any known chemical reaction could produce. The heat boiled water into steam. The steam could be used to spin a turbine to make electricity.
Here, Rossi claimed, was a machine that harnessed a previously unknown type of nuclear reaction—a machine that could produce nearly infinite energy cheaply and with no radioactive by-products. It would put the oil companies out of business. It would enable humanity to explore space on the cheap. It would change the world overnight.
According to Rossi, the nuclear reactions occurring inside the E-Cat emit low-level gamma rays. Lead shielding surrounding the reactor chambers converts these gamma rays into thermal energy, which heats up the water.
After testing, this device was a bust.
Here’s a list of previous stories we’ve done on Rossi and his e-cat machine.
For a great listen, check out the Skeptic Zone episode where they report on the test of the e-cat.
Tip: Matt Crowley