First and Last Word on Metals and Mining

Finally the throwaway, “to go” culture that uniquely defines America has actually come up with something environmentally friendly (well at least in terms of carbon emissions)! Yesterday, New Mexico-based Hyperion Power announced that it is aggressively moving forward with the development of its nuclear power modules that the company says are smaller than an automobile yet can power 20,000 homes:

The HPM is a safe, self-contained, simple-to-operate nuclear power reactor, which is small enough to be manufactured en masse and transported in its entirety via ship, truck, or rail. Euphemistically referred to as a “fission battery,” the HPM will deliver 70 megawatts of thermal energy, or approximately 25 megawatts of electricity. This amount of energy is enough to supply electricity to 20,000+ average American-style homes or the industrial/commercial equivalent. “In response to market demand for the HPM, we have decided on a uranium nitride-fueled, lead bismuth-cooled, fast reactor for our ‘launch’ design,” said John R. Grizz Deal, Hyperion Power’s CEO. “For those who like to categorize nuclear technologies, we suppose this advanced reactor could be called a Gen IV++ design.”

The design that Hyperion Power intends to have licensed and manufactured first will include all of the company’s original design criteria, but is expected to take less time for regulators to review and certify than the initial concept created by Dr. Otis “Pete” Peterson during his tenure at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “We have every intention of producing Dr. Peterson’s uranium hydride-fueled reactor; it is an important breakthrough technology for the nuclear power industry,” noted Deal. “However, in our research of the global market for small, modular nuclear power reactors – aka SMRs – we have found a great need for the technology. Our clients do not want to wait for regulatory systems around the globe, to learn about and be able to approve a uranium hydride system. A true SMR design, that delivers a safe, simple and small source of clean, emission-free, robust and reliable power is needed today – not years from now. As we construct and deploy this launch design, we will continue to work towards licensing Dr. Peterson’s design.”

Kept quiet until today, this initial design for the company’s small, modular, nuclear power reactor (SMR) is the first of several that have been under co-development with staff from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Hyperion Power’s market goals include the distribution of at least 4,000 of its transportable, sealed, self-contained, simple-to-operate fission-generated power units. Offering a cost-efficient source of clean, emission-free, baseload energy, the HPM will provide crucial independent power for military installations; heat, steam and electricity for mining operations; and electricity for local infrastructure and clean water processes in communities around the globe.

A slideshow presentation about the Hyperion Power Module can be found here.

This news is interesting for several reasons. One, it demonstrates what we’ve been talking about in the comments section with respect to new technologies to supplant foreign oil imports in the United States and other developed economies. Indeed, if Hyperion can produce 4,000 of its units over the next decade and they perform as expected, these units would supply enough energy to power all the homes in the United States. Now clearly many of the units will be sold for targeted uses and not residential power generation but the point is that crude oil does not have a secure future as the dominant source of energy in the world.

The news is also interesting from an investment standpoint. Hyperion Power itself is a private company at this point and not open to retail investment, but the implementation of its technology may have significant impact on the uranium market during the next decade. In response to a question about the amount of uranium demand the Hyperion technology could create, I wrote this:

This won’t be very precise but the LEU used in conventional reactors requires approximately a 10:1 enrichment from the U238/235 ratio found in yellowcake (the exact enrichment factor depends on the U3O8 content of the concentrate which might be anywhere from 70-90%). Let’s assume that conventional reactor LEU is about 5% U235. So basically 19% LEU is about 4 times typical LEU content and thus 1kg of U for the Hyperion reactor would need about 40kg of U3O8.

The problem comes with determining the U content of the alloy used in the fuel pins as well as the total weight of the fuel core. It looks like 300kg is probably too light for the weight of all the pins (I calculate roughly 600-800kg by visual estimation) and so 300kg may be closer to the U% in the alloy. Assuming 300kg LEU alloy then and a 40x enrichment factor, we come up with 26,400 lbs U3O8 per Hyperion unit. At that pace 4,000 units need 105 million lbs. U3O8. If we assume the lowest estimate of fuel core lifetime at 5 years, we get about 20 million lbs. U3O8 per year.

Interestingly the U3O8 required for each reactor is only $1.7 million per unit according to the above calculation, demonstrating the huge leverage on fuel input cost that nuclear reactors are able to provide, and clearly allowing for quite a bit of U price appreciation without cutting into profit margins too much (the units are being priced between $25 – $50 million).

Finally, it isn’t likely these units will replace conventional “mega” reactors anytime soon as their initial deployment will be in tactical situations and it will take a long while to manufacture 4000 units. Nonetheless, if this works it would indeed be an impressive thing for the energy economy and create quite a bit of U demand to boot.

I’ll add that annual mine supply of uranium is about 100 million pounds so this one technology could generate a meaningful increase in demand. And there are several competing technologies in various stages of development as well. To be clear, the new demand will not happen for a while and when it shows up the demand will be gradual, but the trend should be pretty clear for those who are willing to think about it: long-term uranium fundamentals are very strong. This is important because right now uranium miners and explorers are among the most beaten up and unappreciated companies in the natural resources sector, providing an excellent opportunity for long-term positioning and accumulation in advance of a speculative bull market that could mature in the 2012-2014 timeframe. This next bull market is likely to make the last one in uranium look like a community theater rehearsal and if we play our cards right it should be possible to roll our (hopefully massive) gains in gold, silver and “hot metals du jour” over into the uranium sector at the perfect time. Just in case the bull market arrives early, however, we’ll be maintaining healthy exposure to uranium in our portfolios via EveryInvestor picks like Hathor and Terra Ventures (with more to come soon) as well as ultra-speculative gambits like Abitex Resources.

About silverax

Tom has been told he is arrogant. Unfortunately only very strong medication will apparently chill him out, but he doesn't like to put things in his body that might dull his sharp mind. Which is like an ax. And no, he is not a Scientologist. He can, however, turn lead into silver by concentrating very hard. See picture for proof.
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50 Responses to Hyperion Power: Nuclear Reactor to GoComment RSS Feed

  1. Dave

    Bill Gates and Toshiba discuss nuclear power venture
    Bill Gates is investing in new ways to address energy needs

    A company backed by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is in talks with Japan’s Toshiba to develop a new generation of nuclear reactors.

    Mr Gates’ TerraPower and Toshiba are investigating technology for mini-reactors, which are more cost-efficient than conventional units.

  2. The future is nuclear regardless of what the tree huggers want, there is simply not enough time for solar, wind, geothermal, clean coal, etc. If we get much warmer temperatures over the next decade as I expect, the global warming deniers will be exposed for the scientific ignoramuses that they are and this will force everybody’s hand.

  3. forwill

    Do you see mankind’s activities as a major cause/contributor of the warming? Can you give any links to information on the subject where you feel the source is impeccable? I’m not trying to set you up…I don’t have an informed opinion.

    It’d be very nice to be early in a hot market sector even if the upswing comes a few years later than estimated. I see above your guess is 2012-2014. I’m looking forward to your future research in this sector.

  4. @forwill
    I’ve done exhaustive research on the subject because it is one of the critical investment and business themes of the 21st century. One thing that I am very good at is integrating information. And climate science is basically the integration of many different scientific disciplines. In any case, there is no question in my mind that global warming is real and that it is caused primarily by man-made carbon dioxide. I give it a 99% probability. Peer-reviewed scientific journals are “impeccable” sources assuming you understand the limitations of science. If you were to look at the scientific journals you would find that the evidence for global warming is overwhelming. Of course if your perspective of the world is that just about everything involves a conspiracy, then you can’t be helped. For a layman review of the subject matter, I highly recommend the Youtube series “Climate Science Crock of the Week” by Peter Sinclair, which is a very aggressive, in your face rebuttal of the climate change denial camp.

  5. Giuseppe

    Climate change or not, every one can agree uranium fundamentals look good and uranium plays probably are an intelligent long term investment, so maybe the time is right to begin an accumulation strategy in the sector. Hathor is in the top of our portfolios, but quite alone as an uranium play (ok, there is a couple of uranium speculations, but I wouldn’t define them uranium plays).

    Recently I’ve been watching at 5 years charts of the uranium companies who were the blue chips during 2007, and it is quite astonishing how far from their absolute maximums many of them appear now. For example:

    Energy Resources of Australia: -34%
    Cameco Corp: -55%
    Forsys Metals: -55%
    Paladin Energy: -64%
    Uranium Energy Corp: -64%
    Ur-Energy: -84%
    Uranium One: -85%
    Strathmore Minerals: -89%
    First Uranium: -91%
    UEX Corp.: -91%
    Denison Mines: -92%
    Powertech Uranium: -94%
    Tournigan Energy: -95%
    Uranium Resources Inc.: -95%
    Xemplar Energy: -98%

    Uranium companies are still in their winter, spring has yet to begin!
    Since there are very few uranium producers I suggest they could be compared in the M.A. model after the gold and silver companies.

  6. @Giuseppe
    Thanks G! I like the list and we’ll take the suggestion under advisement. I still think we are quite early on the uraniums but I would hate to be caught with our pants down as we were with the rare earths.

  7. Dave

    more U, from Canacord…
    Lawrence Roulston’s latest issue of Resource Opportunities begins with, “Uranium stands out from the other metals, having barely budged from the post-melt-down low. Over the last year, nearly all of the metals have recovered from the lows following the financial crisis. The uranium price has been held back by a number of factors, which are poised to change over the coming weeks. As the uranium price finally begins to track the other metals higher, the companies in the sector will also come alive.” Roulston added, “The fundamentals of the uranium market are exceptionally strong,” and, “It is important to note that the long term contract price has been consistently above the spot price since the collapse of the spot market in 2007. This shows that operators of nuclear power plants are prepared to pay substantially more for uranium supplies than indicated by the spot price.” Like we have highlighted many times – investors pay attention and trade stocks based on the spot (for the most part), while most (80%) of the business itself (in the uranium sector) is done under long-term contracts. Roulston states that, “Inevitably, the spot price will get back into alignment with the long term price. That thinly traded spot market could rebound quickly with any signal that interest is returning to the uranium market.”
    Also over the weekend, Bloomberg noted that China has reportedly approved the construction of 28 new commercial reactors under a revised target for 2020 to meet growing demand for clean energy and accelerate development within ….

  8. bart

    I would buy Hathor. If the stock dips to 1.80, I’ll be backing the truck up as they say.

  9. Giuseppe

    I would like to understand how much the landmark treaty Russia and the United States have agreed, to reduce their nuclear arsenals, could negatively impact the uranium price.

    Actually a stock I’m intrigued most nowadays relies more on other factors than not just the uranium price.

    Virginia Energy Resources has got 22% (increasable up to 30%) of the VA Uranium Holdings that owns Coles Creek and its 119 M lb of U3O8 at 0.06% average grade (at 0.025% cut-off, the 7th largest undeveloped deposit in the world), close to roads, rail, gas pipeline, electricity
    and skilled labor in Virginia (a country that consumes 1.6 M lbs of uranium per year to fuel its nuclear power plants with foreign U3O8). The company has got other projects in Quebec Otish Mountains and a JV with Denison in the Athabasca Basin (inherited from Santoy Res.), is well cashed up and still commands a very tiny market cap of only 15 M cad (compare this with $43 million in expenditures that have been spent until 1982 to bring the project to feasibility stage).
    Of course this comes together with the huge issues of the moratorium on uranium development and the environmentalist opposition that are not minor tasks!
    I’m trying to understand how much this company would be worth if the Virginia mine were permitted and what the probability of this permit is. At a shallow glance the company EV** still seems cheap to me, and I think the market could be giving zero value to Coles Hill right now.

    ** I wasn’t able to know what the “fully cashed up” meant but I read that the company also owns 37% of BPU.V (worth >2M cad) and a 3.75 M$ loan to Golden Band Minerals, so the EV must be really small. the pres is here:


    postscript: I do NOT own any VAE shares.

  10. That company Virginia Energy is cheap, but nobody is going to be mining uranium in Virginia for a very long time, and the value of that project is probably close to zero at this point without better information about the political willpower to lift the ban on uranium mining.

    Regarding uranium in general, it actually looks like the tide might be turning on the sector so we might want to hurry up and pick a few names while prices are still so cheap. I would note that other than Hathor we also have Terra Ventures as well as Abitex and Delta Uranium (this last one has been beaten up even worse since we first talked about it but we still feel it has speculative potential). Still think the sector will see the brightest sun starting in 2012 but the climb will have to start at some point and it could be sooner than later.

  11. bart

    Let’s not forget one of the best U deposits is ironically owned by a gold company –> FRG.TO which by the way, should also be high on your cash king list.

  12. Dave

    Otto, cynical? Never
    “Nary a week seems to pass without uranium getting pumped as “just about to rocket”. This week the baton passed to Amir Adnani, CEO of Uranium Energy Corp (UEC) that, COINCIDENTALLY, has seen its chart go all flat and boring and low-volumey recently….”

    Who has a list of actual resources with likely-hood of permitting and economics?

  13. forwill

    In Wyoming there’s Uranerz Energy Corporation (TSX: URZ)(Amex: URZ)(FRANKFURT: U9E) Apparently pretty far along in permitting.
    The South Doughstick portion looks good (average grade .121), but when compared to Hathor not so good.

    What do you guys think of this Beryllium story? Used in nuclear fuel pellets, its supposed to greatly increase “burn” efficiency and longevity. I was looking at IBC Advanced Alloys Corp(TSX VENTURE:IB) as a possible speculative buy at .13 on the pinksheets(IAALF).

  14. forwill
  15. @forwill
    I’m not a big fan of beryllium plays (the two or so), this is not a big market, a few mines basically supply most of the world’s demand, and separation of beryllium from the ore is difficult and probably the biggest contributor to the high cost of the metal, not its geological rarity. IBC is cheap but I’d personally stay away from it other than to perhaps trade.

    It is actually somewhat impressive to see FIS steadily increase the footprint of the discovery small step by small step. They are probably up to 3-5 million pounds U3O8 at this point, nowhere near what Hathor has but we can now probably call this a deposit. Hathor in the meantime continues to hint at having made a world-class discovery at Hole 170 yet the market is acting bored. Regardless, my “sekrit” Hathor target for this year remains $5/share based solely on advancing the Roughrider deposits.

  16. forwill

    Mickey Fulp’s second installment of uranium market status……the Athabasca Basin repeatedly mentioned as one of a few places worldwide where there is no political or permitting risk.

  17. @forwill
    He’s wrong about that, there certainly is permitting risk.

  18. Giuseppe

    Has anybody any idea about this other Hyperion (Low Energy) Nuclear Reactor, also known as E-Cat?
    Has it been dibated on MA before? I wasn’t able to find any discussion with the search engine…
    If this one works it could even change the price of some commodities! But there is so little discussion to think it could be a serious revolution.

  19. Dave


    Hey G, amazingly interesting find, I love the headlines, “Italy Discovers Cold fusion – Economy fixed” … “Greece sells enough energy to rest of world to pay off deficeit”

    The video FAQ is worth watching (there is also a transcript) and they recommend the Swedish NyTeknik site. There is some reason to believe this actually works. However the presenter’s home page shows his interest in the likes of “Mind-Matter unification”.
    See also

    It does seem more credible than the previous cold fusion attempts. They are claiming to be making the thing.

    None of the licensees are tradable I think?

    Better keep my NI shares then! Short solar?

  20. Ras

    silverax :Still think the sector will see the brightest sun starting in 2012 but the climb will have to start at some point and it could be sooner than later.

    Looking at the weekly chart of Cameco, it looks like the bottom is in and might be a good time to develop a short list and start building some positions

  21. Dave

    re LENR.
    Given the implications for resource use (Uranium, Nickel at the very least, plus oil and the renewables), this has to be checked out, but I’ve spent too long…

    Some Swedish sceptics reviewed this,, as described here and say it has to be nuclear (of some form). Their write-up doesn’t really seem to be water-tight in terms of unambiguous measurements of steam (thus energy) produced, but it does seem that more energy came out than went in.

    Also there seems to be a surprising lack of radiation from the decay of the unstable Cu isotopes that might be expected to be produced with the stable ones, but since no one seems to know how (if) it works that is a moot point. There is some body of work here that precedes them though,

    Some 20% of the Nickel apparently gets converted to Cu and Fe. Somewhat contradictorily claims that the 62 and 64 isotopes are the converted ones (these isotopes need fewer neutrons to get to the resultant Cu), but shows that those isotopes are too small in % terms.
    Another source of endless time-absorbing is on and around this page and etc, I have avoided it, but this is where Rossi posts comments. There is an active Twitter #LNER tag. You really do get the impression this works.

    The claims for commercialisation are quite advanced though,

    Rossi also says that they have had one reactor that has run continually for two years, providing heat for a factory. It reduced the electric bill by 90%. Also, the reactors can self sustain by turning off the input, but they prefer to have an input. The device will be scheduled for maintenance every six months. You control it “just as you turn on and off your television set.”

    More than two thousand prototypes were built and destroyed in refining the design and learning how to control and scale up the reaction. [4]

    Convinced they have already adequately proven this to the necessary parties, they are not in a hurry to give demonstrations to curious scientists. On January 21, 2011, Rossi wrote: “Yes there will be a Scientist talking about us, no demo anyway: no more demos before the start up of the 1 MW plant.”

    Which is a bit at odds with the crude setups shown when the thing was evaluated. I just can’t believe this is all happening and we haven’t heard anything. See for the non-US commercialisation

    Anyway, how much Nickel? They suggest that 20gm of Nickel (10+11% of 100gm) produced 18MWh, thus we get 100MWh/Kg heat, ie 3.6E11 J/Kg.

    Wiki says world electricity consumption was 2000TWhr in 2008 and world energy consumption was 474 exajoules (nothing like consistency). I make that 7.2E19 and 4.7E20 J respectively (but am surprised that the electricity is such a high proportion given generation efficiency).

    Anyway, that amount of electricity, at say 20% efficiency (there is an issue here that he produces low-temp heat perhaps,,, not good for conversion I seem to remember), would need 1 million tonnes of Nickel annually, which is not far off the current 1m+ annual production rate, There’s no shrtage of Nickel around, just an issue of economics of extraction.

    A big 150MW power station would use 65 tonnes.

    Room for some price appreciation though, and there is a point about it being “powdered”, someone has to do that too.

    All the likes of Wind, Solar, Nuclear are going to need re-evaluating if this works. I mean, who would build a nuclear reactor with this as an alternative?

    I also tried to get some info from NASA (as they apparently looked at this recently), but my contact didn’t even mention it, or much else, in a brief reply so nothing gleaned there.

    The site G. mentioned might be the “easiest” to try to keep roughly abreast of what is happening.

  22. Dave

    Why is my comment re LENR “awaiting moderation”

  23. Dave

    LENR – some more
    [There is a lengthy post, #21, from this am that is still awaiting moderation, it has a few potted details about the process etc. This next post will seem a little out-of-context until that post appears.]
    A specific issue was the measurement of the steam produced [the energy calc relies on knowing the ratio of steam to water to get the correct enthalpy (boiling) energy (vs the "simple" energy of heating up to boiling point].
    This gets coverage in (at least) these four adjacent blog posts
    and on Rossi’s blog

    There is a big argument over mass vs volume measurement, but there is also comment about how good the measuring device is for this situation.

    It is odd that rather than leave this more complex measurement and ambiguity the resultant steam/water isn’t dumped in a large cold water container which can absorb the energy and from its temp change an unambiguous energy output figure could be obtained.
    Also if you look at at 11:30 in you see very little evidence of much steam.

    Points that I did find answers to were:
    Nickel isotope query – they claim to modify it to favour the more easily converted ones, see comments on But no details as to how, so I’d say that is another query. And that suggests you may need more nickel to get the required isotopes. Or it could just be that they can use the same technique as used to change the Nickel to Cu (to get the power) to alter the Nickel I guess.

    As for the radiation, it appears that “The low energy gamma rays are thermalised inside the reactor and for that reason we have an energy production” [14th June demo, 7mins in, same video as previous link]

    So, although it seems unlikely this whole thing is a fudge, I want to see a cast-iron demo of the output energy, pls let me know if anyone finds one.

    Meanwhile there is a surprising amount of stuff published along the lines of “something like this might work, but not to produce this amount of energy”, eg

    Guess I’ll hold off looking for Nickel juniors, esp given

    Nickel production should increase in the second half of the year as producers such as BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) and Vale SA (VALE3) ramp up production following disruptions earlier this year, Lennon said.

    Inventories monitored by the LME fell to 101,418 tons on July 22, the lowest level in more than two years. They are down 24 percent this year.

    “You just had a lot of existing producers fall well short of their production plans and they’ve had to go into the market to take the material off the LME to meet their customer delivery requirements,” Lennon said. “That should start to turn.”

  24. Dave

    Well, for anyone still interested, and hoping this third post as well as previous two actually get past moderation eventually, I have found a power measurement that did not rely on arguments over incomplete water vaporisation. This does make it more believable.

    First though a couple of useful background links: Kirvit criticism: Certainly an odd past! Rossi background summary on ecatnews And others, former Rossi colleagues, who think they own a patent and want to sell something!

    And now for a water-only power measurement…. “Cold Fusion: 18 hour test excludes combustion” – 2011-02-23 quoting Levi directly

    In the morning of February 10, the inventor and engineer Andrea Rossi initiated a new controlled experiment in Bologna, Italy, with the heat producing ‘energy catalyzer’ that could possibly be based on cold fusion.

    With him was the physicist and researcher Giuseppe Levi from the University of Bologna, who also supervised the public demonstration in January.

    Together they ran the unit for 18 hours.

    “Minimum power was 15 kilowatts, and that’s a conservative value. I calculated it several times. At night we did a measurement and the device then worked very stable and produced 20 kilowatts.”

    “Now that I have seen the device work for so many hours, in my view all chemical energy sources are excluded,” said Giuseppe Levi.

    He explained that this time he chose to heat the water without boiling it, to avoid errors.

    Initially, the temperature of the inflowing water was seven degrees Celsius and for a while the outlet temperature was 40 degrees Celsius. A flow rate of about one liter per second, equates to a peak power of 130 kilowatts. The power output was later stabilized at 15 to 20 kilowatts.


    For the maths behind this, 2nd hand though, a link to where this experiment was first advised (Italian) see

    There was also an demonstration on Jan 14th, with vapouor though, but in front of 50 scientists,, see 14th by Levi (and Dec 10th) 3 videos 14th This describes both Jan 14 and Feb 10.

    So, from an MA point of view, question “How does this affect resources like uranium and nickel?” seems to be valid.

  25. @Ras
    We actually did enter a spread trade on Cameco. Not sure if it was discussed elsewhere, but we simply bought the January 2013 $30 Call and sold the January 2013 $40 Call for net cost of about $2 each (i.e. $200). Max return of $10 per spread. Looks like the spread is currently trading for about $2.35.

    Silverax wrote about Hyperion a while back:

    We put in a filter that any comment containing 10 or more external links is automatically flagged as spam, thinking that this would be a plenty high enough number. Apparently not because you left two flagged messages in one day! We’ll be rejiggering the comment entry system for the new website so that we’re able to better monitor spam and still avoid flagging existing subscribers.

  26. Giuseppe

    Dave and I are speaking about another Hyperion reactor, which doesn’t use uranium but nickel, isn’t based in New Mexico but in Italy, and is possibly more revolutionary … if it should work (last time cold fusion was announced it did NOT work).
    If E-Cat brings to the world low-cost energy the implications on oil, nickel, and even gold and silver (think to low-grade PM deposits which need much energy to produce) prices could be meaningful. So I understand that Dave is particularly sensible with this topic.

  27. Ras

    Zurbo, is Fission’s recent discovery of high uranium boulders on their Patterson Lake South property something to get excited about?

  28. @Giuseppe
    I looked at it and I am 99.99% convinced that it is 100% bullshit. We can discuss later as there are probably at least 10 major problems pointing to scam.

    It is a better machine but the physics behind this are actually more INcredible compared to most cold fusion claims where they are not really talking about overcoming the Coulomb barrior of a molecule like Ni that has several electron shells but instead just hydrogen ions (no electrons). It gets crazy from there…

    I think still too early…

    Those weren’t Swedish “skeptics”, they are actually quite favorable to the technology and did not dare ask tough questions at the demonstration since they felt “special” for being invited. Rossi, with a career in scammery, would know how to play this situation. Regarding product ratios, it is pointless to get that far because simple testing would determine if the machine actually works and that hasn’t been done. For the record, I think what is going on here is a confluence of measurement errors and visual tricks — for example, if the output is dry steam then the energy factor in Watts is about 6 times higher but if it is mist, vapor or whatever then the machine is barely adding energy beyond the 300W supply. Also, lacking precise measurements of water in and out by volume it is not possible to actually calculate energy at all but even if those measurements were done it would still be possible to employ a number of tricks to make it look like net energy was being produced. Another thing — no ammeter on the heater supply means that it could be modulated without detection. And the list goes on and on. The beauty of a black box like this is that the guy can claim all this fame and investor money and later when it doesn’t scale and produces no net energy he can make up any of 100′s of excuses because nobody ever saw that the device was just a hollow tube or whatever. Finally, consider the conversion efficient of steam to electricity — I think it tops out around 25% so the device would actually have to lever at 4:1 in order to just break even. Otherwise, it is just a fancy heat pump and they already have heat pumps with COP efficiencies of 5:1 or even better when coupled to the ground. In other words, even if somehow there is something wild going on nuclear wise in that metal tube, I’ll make a prediction right here and now that this e-CAT will die a slow death as a heat pump system that is proven less effective than heat pumps already out there.

    It is preposterous that the violent reactions that would result from fusion of Ni including neutron bombardment and massive gamma ray excursions could be controlled by a lead shielding and some common pipe insulation much less keep the thing from potentially running away. If this were real, they’d need a moderator and several backup systems. I haven’t seen anybody discuss the geometry either — consider that in nuclear reactions something as simple as heat-induced distortion of the fuel can cause criticality accidents, how is the Ni suspended inside the fusion chamber? If it is just “nano-powder” sitting there, the shape of the thing and something like clumping vs. accidental aerosolization would be major threats to the lives of people standing around the thing. I call total bullshit for just this one reason alone, which of course Rossi never has to deal with or address since what he has after all is a black box (or rather black pipe).

    You realize this is not an independent test but private so it is not appropriate to rely on a single word of it. 130Kw from a single device achieved by gamma rays heating water flowing past at a rate of 1L/second without radiation risk??? Maybe in universe X but not this one. I think this is actually where they made a mistake because the proper method if this were to work is to have a gamma ray absorber that is optimized to eject energy in the form of heat/infrared. In other words, the Rossi black pipe appears to have no design elements to optimize the actual heating effect produced by the alleged fusion! Moreover, the sheer energy, pressure and force created by the rapid boiling of water in such a small space at the stated energy levels would easily blow those weld seams and mechanical connections…apparently nobody has looked at surface area — you need a lot of it to make something like this safe yet all we see is a simple pipe shape (a circular tube always minimizes surface area for a given volume of material flowing through it).

    Interesting and not that unusual, certainly not the basis of speculating at this point…

  29. Dave

    Sounds like you wouldn’t have flown with the Wright brothers (no one understood laminar, let alone turbulent, flow) or believed in the ice or electric motor (so much energy in such a small space without blowing up! which of course I’m sure they did). But no doubt you would have avoided a lot of scams too.

    My point is that it might be real and that it is worth thinking about the consequences.

    In terms of fraud, what I find odd is that it seems no one with inside knowledge has jumped ship, I have a little anecdote to relate re that I’ll post later.

  30. Observations, such as a bird gliding, made it at least conceivable that the Wright brothers’ jumble of canvas and sticks could get off the ground! Based on the magnetic force generated by a given coil, it is possible to estimate the current produced/required by an electric motor. Moreover, the physics of both were established in advance: Bernoulli published his principles in 1738 and Ohm compiled his “law” that unified existing knowledge about electricity in 1827. Here we are asked to believe that a device has been built to not only prove an area of physics that is not even at an experimental stage — where even the hypothesis is non-existent much less the theory (one that would revolutionize the entire field of nuclear physics). And it looks like something I can build in a garage!

    My point is that everybody seems to focus on the type of fusion/nuclear reaction that might be happening but first they should be looking at the suitability of the apparatus itself for the purpose being alleged. I mean, if the Wright Brothers build a plane that was a solid body with a beak but no wings, because birds have a solid body and a beak and they can fly, I would say it was a scam. And if Ritchie showed me his latest electric motor consisting of twine wrapped around a nail, I would balk at that too. Do you catch my drift?

    In this case the “E-Cat” is presumably for electricity generation. So I would ask, can the steam from the unit power a turbine? Certainly doesn’t look like the units in the filmed experiments could come anywhere even close. If I was to design my own cold fusion black box, I would certainly make sure to take advantage of pressure differentials and never allow the output steam to actually be put, you know, to mechanical work. I hear you, what about a Stirling engine or direct heat to electricity conversion such as a Te thermocouple? Those would not generate a positive COP unless the device is at least creating a 10:1 energy boost, which is the observed experiments it was not.

    Then I would ask things like, where are they putting the valve for the hydrogen? We know that it will be under extreme pressure and temperature with reactions that are purportedly absorbing the hydrogen nucleus into a nickel molecule with all the energy presumably the result of gamma radiation absorbed into the metal components of the device as well as the water flowing through it. So I would think the hydrogen valve needs to be located very close to the reaction chamber itself. But no, the valve is on the stem of the thing, outside the protective wrapping that supposedly shields observers from the gamma radiation. Nuclear engineers should perk up at this point. Then there is the output hose, which is always several meters long and contains a low point large enough to collect sufficient water to create the sputtering effect we associate with boiling not to mention some nice looking “steam”. Of course the thing is that true steam itself is not visible — the white gas you see is water vapor (tiny particles of water and not H2O gas) and plenty of it gets produced as a result hot water getting passed through the long black rubber hose. There is really no conceivable reason why the setup should be this way other than to produce maximum visual effect.

    I repeat, it is 99.99% certain to be a 100% scam and deserves no further impacts study in respect of commodities.

  31. Apparently they are working on a “self-destruct” feature for this “E-Cat” due to fear that somebody reverse engineering the device could finding out how it works and steals technology: That boosts the scam quotient to five 9′s fine.

  32. Dave

    Well I know it looks a bit dodgy and you should read his past too. I still think you use the wrong starting points to argue the technicalities of how LENR might work, but I can see I need to drop this here so won’t engage the points you raise. But as I mentioned the anecdote part earlier here follows just that as I think it relates to the aspect of “why hasn’t someone on the inside blown the whistle”…

    Some, many, blue moons ago I found myself contracting for a conman and had to spill the beans to his unfortunate financial backers. This was back in the old days of DRI’s CP/M and MP/M, that’s operating systems from before MSDOS for you kids out there :-), and S100 buses and banked memory and when debugging even meant resoldering the bought-in banked memory boards (16bit address bus) because they hadn’t been designed properly (logic errors) and had never actually worked!
    His main ruse was to be Danish (well, foreign) and to have a remarkable ability to not understand English when the difficult questions were asked (somewhat like Rossi is with Kirvit you could argue of course). As well as claiming he was making a system so powerful that NATO would only need one box to monitor all Russian subs in the Baltic he also managed to employ Maxwell’s demon in his business case, a document I have unfortunately never managed to refind!
    To look busy he simply employed people to type code in from the then just appearing code cookbooks. As time went on he got more desperate and after I’d put his big computer box together he made the mistake of asking me to change the copyright notices in MP/M. At the time PC Plod had no idea what to do with computer-related fraud so he got away with it.

    The point is that you can maybe fool some of the people all of the time but you can’t fool all the people all of the time, and here we only need one or two to post, with some authenticity, on a blog to out him but I don’t see one. So I am a sceptic and do know people working closely with someone can be taken in when they haven’t got any understanding of the way things work. But I just don’t see how it is practical at this scale (eg process engineers in Greece, hm well maybe related to their central bank’s Deficeit (sic, pun) Department Figures employees, so maybe a bad example). Also I don’t see what he has to gain, there are no up-front payments as I understand it and he has financed it. And If I had invented this thing I’d be telling quite a few red herrings by now while I waited for my patent app to be accepted.

  33. Dave

    Kirvit’s latest (#3) review of the evidence
    The one power measurement that was water (not vapour) based and that I took most comfort from he dishes, but without really saying why, so things are looking a bit more gloomy here from my point of view. But really this comment is posted just to keep anyone interested abreast of the published info, so I won’t get into details..

    • He doesn’t go into the details of the water measurements out of “respect”. This Kirvit character is still a believer in “cold fusion” even if he doubts Rossi and so he doesn’t want to burn any unnecessary bridges. He is a believer to the point that he actually still thinks that the device could be providing “low energy nuclear reaction”. Why he would think that is beyond me, but it is not at all objective or scientific. Bottom line, this is a scam with the device purposefully built to trick observers into thinking that all the water is being turned into steam. Even if it worked, it simply could not generate in a safe manner the energy being claimed. To see this, just think about the energy produced by a hot plate (which literally raises a metal surface to red hot) and now increase that by an order of magnitude while also reducing the hot surface area by 90%. If a device was doing this inside a welded pipe jig near hydrogen and water, it would not be very safe to stand next to it. Simply put, the “E-Cat” is a plane with a beak but no wings. It simply can’t work, and even for those who cannot understand the “steam issues” or other mechanics, the only clue really needed is that the device requires a constant external heat source. Why has nobody on the inside blown the whistle? Because only Rossi knows how the device “works” exactly. Conspiracies of one are the strongest kind.

  34. Dave

    Although you may be right I’m not convinced by your technical arguments.

    The water and the hydrogen are not mixed as might be inferred, We have hot hydrogen in a sealed container (with the nano (or whatever) nickel) and we have water in another.

    Can’t say I know what happens to hydrogen when you heat it but without an oxidiser is it dangerous?

    Presumably the LENR reaction self-regulates at high temps – that could be the one of the critical discoveries for all we know.

    What we are left with is whether there is a heat-exchange method which can dump the heat into the water using available materials (you imply a flat surface, not a lot of vanes would be needed to open that up a lot, look at your CPU heatsink). Is that impossible for sure?

    I really don’t think it a good idea to speculate or compare the process to current technologies and safety considerations, all that counts is heat out vs heat in, and unfortunately that’s where the evidence is less strong than it was.

    Not sure how well the conspiracy of one works f there really are some interested investors and employees in this Greek factory that makes them and the US licensee. Sounds like a conspiracy of many?

    • I didn’t say the water and hydrogen mix, clearly they do not. What both do is expand and pressurize with heat and one or the other may blow a superhot stream of gas past a regular valve without proper safety precautions. I don’t see any preparation of the Rossi device to deal with this and there is no built-in provision made for monitoring operating pressures.

      Presumably the LENR reaction self-regulates? Then there is no need for the heaters to stay on constantly but in either case the conditions of “self-regulation” must have an operating range. If so, once again the device has no apparent means of monitoring such range.

      The heat exchange takes place in a small pipe that looks to be about 2.5 inches diameter and 3 inches long. There is only so much surface available in there considering it also contains the reaction chamber itself. A constrained area like this makes the fluid dynamics highly complicated — steam pressure would be the greatest right at the surface of the fins of any presumed heat “exchanger” and that would make the introduction of additional water into the system as well as the expelling of gas on the output side quite violent and unpredictable, not to mention inefficient given the space constrains vs. the alleged heat being generated on the order of kilowatts.

      This is not about “technologies”, it is basic material engineering and laws of physics. You’ll note Kirvit talked about pressure a bit but he used the related concept of gas velocity to point out the inconsistencies of gas volume being generated assuming it is dry steam. He points out that, at the stated energy output, 3.4 liters of steam would be created PER SECOND by Rossi’s device. Yet the space in which all this steam is supposedly being generated is no more than 0.2 liters including the reaction chamber itself. The math just doesn’t work. Once again, fluid dynamics and other factors come into play. For it to potentially work according to basic physics, the entire Rossi device would probably need to rise in temperature to several hundred degrees. That would be clearly observed by anybody who witnessed it in operation. It’s a scam, five 9′s fine.

      Employees in a Greek factory or elsewhere do not have all the pieces of the “puzzle”, they are simply making something to specifications. I worked in a machine shop starting at age 12, lathing, drilling and assembling things that I had no idea what they were or what they did. Later I found out some were stabilizer plates for early disk drives and others were jet engine parts (hope I drilled all the holes in the right places for you frequent flyers — just kidding, I was a precocious 6th grader so no worries). In any case, it is claimed that the catalyst and the material preparation are the keys to the net energy generation, not the design of the device itself. So in fact it is a conspiracy of one thus far.

  35. Dave

    Re LENR and Rossi specifically, For anyone still interested and who wants to be kept abreast, in a relatively impartial manner, as to what is happening, I suggest signing up to the low-volume email list on eCatNews, see for their “mission statement”. Here’s hoping the implicit assumption of possibility (of Rossi LENR) within this post is not too contentious, apologies if so.

  36. Dave

    LENR important day today, see (although in the process of moving to better-connected web site)!/22passi in Italian, Chrome does the translate fine.
    Either more magic, seriously applied infrnt of quite a few experts, or reaction has been self-sustaining for several hours, no info about net output. Actually there is meant to be a news “black-out” pending official write-up tomorrow, but some info is escaping.

    • @Dave

      Yeah, one thing leaking out for example is they are apparently using a HEAT EXCHANGER to supposedly create a closed loop system in this latest test!!! Baloney! Just dump the steam in a bucket and measure the heat rise already! And then we see the steam outlet for the supposed 1MW system here:

      Are they friggin’ crazy??? At least make the damn thing look like it could safely conduct 1MW/h of thermal heat in the form of steam!!! And where are the evacuation fans in this “plant” to make sure dangerous levels of hydrogen cannot accumulate? What a joke!

    • @silverax

      Not to beat a horse to death but that 2.5 inch outlet pipe for the 1MW plant would have steam passing through it at 666 meters per second at 1 atmosphere pressure, or 1,500 miles per hour. Weeeeee, that will be a fun test!

  37. More funnies! The thing runs “self-sustained” at an assumed 3.5kW (baloney on that rate) AFTER 90 minutes of electric resistance heat of 2.5kW being added to a “device” that weighs 80kg!!! Hahaha…

  38. To be more specific, I am referring to the “test” done in Sept for Nyteknik:

    The device is clearly storing massive amounts of heat under pressure (water within the unit) as well as in the metallic components. Although water has a much higher heat capacity than metal, the internal temperature of the device could be as high as 500 Celsius (vs. max 130 Celsius for the water) — and since it is 80kg of mostly metal that still translates to a lot of stored heat that can be transferred back into the water during the “self-sustaining mode”. Therefore it is simply not enough to run for 30 minutes, during which time the temperature does drop by the way (why, if it is supposedly self-sustaining???)

    And the steam being generated is very likely flash steam which means the internal temperature is the water and not steam temperature. The clear sign that it is flash steam is that there is ALWAYS condensate accompanying it. And yup, there it is in the video.

    The worst part is that THEY DON’T MEASURE THE WATER OUTPUT BUT ESTIMATE IT AT THE POINT OF MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE AND THEREBY DERIVE THE FRACTION SUPPOSEDLY “EVAPORATED”. The thing is, the energy required for a phase change to steam is 8 times higher than the energy required to raise water temp form 30 to 100 Celsius, so you can’t just estimate because if the numbers are off by 30% (easily possible) it means there is no excess heat being generated.

    Finally, the 10kg of steam they calculate over 2 hours would be exiting at 22 m/s which is within the operating range of commercial closed steam systems … and you definitely would not want to have your hands near that! Yet look at the video, they have their hands right next to the exit pipe. Steam velocity shown is no greater than 5-7 m/s and that would translate to 75% less steam, amounting to under 2kW of output. That is less than the input energy but makes sense if a portion of the heat input is going into raising the temperature of the 80kg device itself.

  39. Dave

    Well there is a difference between Rossi being able to fully deliver what he thinks / claims he can, and LENR being shown to work in a useful way and thus offering a potential game-changer whose implications I had wanted to discuss here. [What is the effect on commodities production of cheap energy etc]
    Previously I’ve said that Rossi’s LENR has not been proved, only that your previous arguments just don’t prove it doesn’t work, and that the experiments to date had not been thorough enough either, hence better science required.

    This time I can’t work out what some of the arguments in the comments just posted actually are (as you seem to just state things as if that makes them inherently impossible or stupid), and you harp back to earlier experiments that are generally agreed to have deficiencies (ie the steam measurement) and thus are not clear proof of anything, hence what everyone else thinks is a good idea, the heat-exchanger. Quite what you have against that “baloney” I don’t know because you don’t say, but instead seem to think a bucket is better (even though it would have a finite energy capacity of course and thus couldn’t be used in a long-term experiment, doesn’t have steady-state measurement potential, not to mention looking less scientific than everything else you criticise).
    Anyway, I still agree there is still much confusion and oddity, we know the guy is odd, though no odder than Newton being a bit of an occultist/alchemist perhaps and I assume there are many scientists who have produced a mix of good and bad work. But we do know that there are other scientists out there who think that there is substance to the whole general field of LENR (and why shouldn’t there be, the sub-atomic particle world is just so odd I sometimes wonder if particles only exist after someone proves they have to).

    But don’t worry in the face of this tirade I won’t post any more, especially as I don’t want you spending time that could otherwise be used constructively for all our mutual benefit being wasted on this criticism.

    • @Dave

      Actually given the potential impact if this was real, there is a reason to spend time on it.

      Who thinks the heat exchanger is a good idea? Note that they attached the thermocouple that measures the exit heat against the metal of the piping attached to the heat exchanger. Thus the entire measurement is completely invalid.

      My other points didn’t harp back to earlier experiments but to a specific prior experiment that used this VERY SAME DEVICE being demonstrated.

      Regarding the velocity of steam, this also refers to new information — pictures of the new supposed 1MW plant with a 2.5 inch cast iron pipe and ball valve for “control”.

      The reason to dump the heat output of the device in a bucket is that would prove beyond any reasonable doubt what the actual heat output IS. That still wouldn’t prevent messing with some other measurements like input water temperature or a secondary hidden heating device but it would at least establish the heat output. That has not been done so far AT ALL, and did not get accomplished in this latest test.

      Either Rossi has completely deluded himself or this is an outright fraud. Frankly I don’t give a rat’s ass if you don’t believe me.

      And by the way, criticism actually requires one to look at the substance of what is being stated instead of making generic and wrong observations about it. If you don’t understand something that is being said, you should first ask what it means before criticizing (I make this mistake myself so not a big deal, just pointing out the obvious).

  40. Dave

    Giuseppe :Climate change or not, every one can agree uranium fundamentals look good and uranium plays probably are an intelligent long term investment, so maybe the time is right to begin an accumulation strategy in the sector. …. .Recently I’ve been watching at 5 years charts of the uranium companies who were the blue chips during 2007, and it is quite astonishing how far from their absolute maximums many of them appear now. For example:….. Powertech Uranium: -94% Tournigan Energy: -95% Uranium Resources Inc.: -95% Xemplar Energy: -98%Uranium companies are still in their winter, spring has yet to begin! …

    I wasn’t intending to buy any U stocks, but the TVC chart attracted me as a possible bottom developing. I’ve not looked at it much, but, without much checking, I think they have a resource, an old PEA, are due a new PEA in early 2012, will (apparently) finish the year with $7m cash and the os-based cap is $17m-ish at 8.5c. Pinetree just bought another chunk. So it looks cheap. I’m wondering if it is cheap because if this was a high-cost operation and U prices are not favourable or maybe potentail permitting issues. But Pinetree would know that too. Or maybe a large fd count. Anyone happen to know to save me checking?

  41. I think it is still early as the sentiment remains too negative. This doesn’t help: For now my guess remains that things will start to turn around at some point in 2012. Our exposure remains quite limited with our position hold in Macusani Yellowcake purely as an exploration play (that doesn’t look overly positive at the moment) and the Cameco 30/40 Jan 2013 call spread predicated on the big producer getting initial love before the juniors, as well as perhaps a positive development at Cigar Lake. Beyond that I would be looking for only relatively easy projects or situations — there aren’t many but something like Uranium Resources (URRE on Nasdaq) with its ISR projects and most permits already in hand would come close to what “relatively easy” looks like. Anything requiring a mill (other than a high grade deposit near existing mills like Roughrider) — forget it right now.

    • Dave

      OK, thanks, didn’t really want to buy a U, but that volume looked interesting.
      Re “relatively easy … most permits”, how does EFR fit in there, they just got their last main mill permit I think and added some more resource via TUE acquisition. Not that I’m interested in buying, still have this skeleton to sell.

    • @Dave

      This is a significant achievement for sure by Energy Fuels — according to the company the first uranium mill approved in the U.S. during the past 30 years — but a significant number of concessions (some that could impact project economics) were required for approval and it still took a number of years to get there. Plus the final permits aren’t all in hand although the remaining ones aren’t as critical. A company in the middle of permitting would, according to the Energy Fuels timeline at Pinon Ridge, certainly not be celebrating although they should be “encouraged”. In any case, the near-term resource base and production profile, as well as project economics, don’t really make Energy Fuels a very compelling opportunity at this moment. It could be one we look at later though because if production can come online in 2013-2014 that might be right in the sweet spot of the next U boom.

    • Dave


      Thanks, my annualised return is not looking good here. I just didn’t take the window of opportunity earlier in the year.

  42. Giuseppe

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