The translated Nikkei article described the transmutation experiment in the following manner: “The researchers put the source material that they want to convert on top of the multi-layer film, which consists of alternately laminated thin films of calcium oxide and palladium. The thin metal layers have a thickness of several tens of nanometers. Elements are changed in atomic number in increments of 2, 4 and 6 over a hundred hours while deuterium gas is allowed to pass through the film.
“The transmutations of cesium into praseodymium, strontium into molybdenum, calcium into titanium, tungsten into platinum have been confirmed.”
Mitsubishi’s patent was originally issued in Japan but it was extended in 2013 into a European patent, and protects the company’s proprietary thin-film transmutation technology. The Japanese newspaper also reported that a research and development company of the Toyota Group (TM-NYSE), Toyota Central Research and Development Labs, has also replicated the elemental conversion research with results similar to Mitsubishi’s experiment.
While the Mitsubishi and Toyota research efforts have focused on material transformation rather than the generation of energy, the process is similar. High profile work on LENR as an energy source has been conducted by Andrea Rossi, an Italian engineer, inventor and entrepreneur. He has invented the Energy Catalyzer (E-Cat) and completed two tests, one of which produced 900o C (1,650o F) of heat that could be used to generate steam to power a generator to produce electricity. In early 2013, a group of independent scientists ran tests on two versions of the “Hot Cat,” a one megawatt LENR unit. Their coefficient of performance (COP) was measured, determining the ratio of energy out versus energy in. The COPs in the two tests were 5.6 and 2.2, respectively. Another group that is not affiliated with nor has it worked with Mr. Rossi, has been using an E-Cat and conducting longer term tests, the results of which may be released soon. This could be a monumental development, although it will not end skepticism of the technology.
Here is a link to the full report.
In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster Japan has a vested interest in figuring out how to deal with the problems associated with nuclear power. In the near term that has meant building tsunami walls around nuclear plants and reinforcing structures to protect them from earthquakes. The challenges represented by nuclear waste have been intractable for a long time but the transmutation methods detailed above hold out hope that these will eventually be solved.
Following some additional reading on the E-Cat system designed by Andrea Rossi it appears unlikely that he will receive a global patent for his product because he has been unwilling to discuss just what catalyst he is using. Nevertheless, since the process does not produce radiation and apparently produces much more energy than it requires, the story is worth monitoring.
The oldest adage from the commodity market is that “the cure for high prices is high prices”. We have lived through a decade of high priced energy and some despair that this situation will persist indefinitely. However the fact is that high prices represent an incentive for entrepreneurs to devise cheaper power generation technologies and for consumers to devise more efficient ways to use energy. It is too early to conclude that the latest iteration of cold fusion will prove marketable. However, with the innovation currently ongoing in solar technology, IV generation nuclear, batteries and in other sectors we can conclude that potential for a disruptive technology evolving is increasing. In the meantime the increased supply of unconventional oil and gas represent a beneficial bridging development before more efficient energy sources are discovered.Back to top