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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptical Inquirer > January/February 2019 > Why E-Cat Is a Hoax

Why E-Cat Is a Hoax

Energy Catalysis, or E-Cat, claims to generate nuclear energies on a tabletop—a scientifically impossible feat. Nonetheless, its inventor, Andrea Rossi, has fooled companies into investing in it.

Calling something energy catalysis (E-Cat), low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR), or condensed matter nuclear science (CMNS) cannot hide the fact that the idea is simply the same cold fusion announced to the press in March 1989. As cold fusion was notoriously debunked by the scientific community in the 1990s (Close 1991; Huizenga 1994; Taubes 1993; see also David W. Ball’s article in this issue), new names such as these popped up to conceal the true identity of the idea. The underlying physics on which all these processes are based is nuclear fusion. (To grasp the absurdity of the claims, it helps to have a nodding familiarity with the basics of nuclear interactions; I discuss those in the box on page 38.)

How E-Cat Is Alleged to Work

E-Cat is the brainchild of Andrea Rossi, a self-proclaimed inventor with a master’s degree in philosophy and a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Kensington in California, which was subsequently identified as a diploma mill and shut down (Holguin 2004). He has demonstrated his E-Cat generators to audiences around the world but has not revealed how all the black boxes composing his machine work (Krivit 2011). The only thing we know about the E-Cat generator is that it is a cell consisting of nickel and hydrogen. This was not directly revealed by Rossi but became known after he challenged his competitor’s patent (E-Cat World 2015; see https://patents.google.com/patent/EP2702593B1/en). The details of how the patent allegedly accomplishes cold fusion is given in blog posts—as is the entire literature on cold fusion and LENR (see https://e-catworld.com/, http://news.newenergytimes.net/, https://animpossibleinvention.com/, and http://www.quantumheat.org/index.php/en/).

Andrea Rossi

Journalist Steve Krivit maintains a blog containing the most comprehensive information about LENR (of which he is an advocate) and cold fusion (of which he is an adversary). No credible physics or chemistry journal is cited there, because no such journal is willing to publish articles that are not based on science. The fight between LENR believers and cold fusion advocates is not unlike that between two factions of a religion with opposing views. While members of the cold fusion community believe they achieve fusion by orbital capture (as in the process of muon capture by hydrogen discussed in the box on p. 38), the LENR community invoke weak nuclear interaction.1

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About Skeptical Inquirer

THE MYTHS OF ENDLESS ENERGY Cold Fusion: Thirty Years Later Why E-Cat Is a Hoax The Sputtering Engine of Creator Belief and much more