Dick Smith Skeptical Of Alleged Cold Fusion Device

In December 2011, Dick Smith was asked to invest $200,000 in the licence to bring Italian inventor Andrea Rossi's free energy-producing "Energy Catalytiser", or E-CAT to Australia. Some 15 scientists, including a few from NASA, have so far given the E-CAT the thumbs-up, after running their own tests (or watching a sufficiently-convincing demo) to prove its validity. Confronted with this information, did Australia's most outspoken philanthropist become believer #16... and an investor?

Fortunately, Smith wasn't about to unload $200k into the project without giving it the once-over. He's a patron of Australian Skeptics, after all. He approached aeronautics engineer and fellow Australian Skeptics buddy Ian Bryce to check out device. Bryce has some experience in this area, having debunked the magical qualities of Lutec's free energy machine.

Update: Looks like the contact was made by a possible Australian distributor as Rossi says he "never approached Dick Smith, I do not even know who he is." And as you'd expect has he different feelings on the promise of the E-CAT. (-Thanks William!)

Bryce soon discovered some issues he felt the E-CAT had. A technical paper in PDF form provides the following details:

Bryce firstly examined all six published tests of Rossi's E-CAT from December 2010 to July 2011 ... In all the tests after July of E-CATs known as the 27kW and the Megawatt models, there was no valid output power measurement due to poorly-placed thermometers, and hence no proven extra power. Thus, Bryce believes all results of E-CAT tests are accounted for without involving LENR [Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions, another name for cold fusion].

According to Bryce's analysis, the E-CAT did not produce extra energy -- Rossi just failed to adequately measure all input sources. The paper also alleges Rossi, during his tests, started a nuclear reaction without proper coolant levels. All you have to do is read up on Fukushima to know that heat dissipation and nuclear power go hand-in-hand.

So, Smith hasn't given Rossi much of anything, except a press release and report stating the guy is full of it. Smith and Bryce are unwilling to give the E-CAT another look until "the chance of this accidental misconnection (an easy thing to happen) is ruled out by a further test". In the meantime, their recommendation is for investors and the public to stay the hell away.

Claims and counter-claims aside, it would be great if the E-CAT were indeed the real deal. Time will tell. [Australian Skeptics, via MSNBC]

Images: E-CAT / Wikipedia.

Note: This story's original headline read "Did Dick Smith Invest $200,000 Into An Alleged Cold Fusion Device?". We appreciate that this headine could have be made clearer and an adjustment was made.

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    What a horrid headline/leading picture combo to an interesting report. Gizmodo is becoming the (australian) "daily telegraph" of tech reporting. I'm out.

      Sorry you feel that way Brendan. I've always considered claims of magical free energy devices to be a source of humour -- inevitably they're shot down by experts, as is the case here. I just wanted to highlight how ludicrous these claims often are. Again, sorry it missed the mark for you.

        The headline poses the question (and describes the story you're going to read)... and the story answers it. Perfectly acceptable headline by any measurement. Sorry you both feel otherwise.

          They're right though. It sets up the expectation in the mind of anyone reading it that the story will be about DS investing in a crazy scheme. Seems pretty "bait and switch".

            The headline certainly seems to suggest that it might be the case that Dick Smith did invest in such a scheme and then the story says that he didn't.

            News Ltd. style journalism shouldn't be something to aspire to.

            "Bait and switch", though, would be "Dick Smith's Crazy Fusion Scheme" (or words of that style) when the story was about nothing of the sort. Instead, it's about an approach that was made to him, which he rebuffed. Heck, his own employees could pose the headline as a question, and he could answer it!

          It's a a technically acceptable headline but a misleading one none the less.

          In the same way factual statements can be taken to be misleading and deceptive under Australian Consumer Law, this is a misleading headline, because it's posed in a rhetorical style - ie, the presumption made is Dick Smith HAS invested in a cold fusion scheme and the question is one of incredulity, not one that is seeking to answer a legitimate question.

          It would have been better stated as 'Dick Smith refuses to invest in cold fusion scheme' or 'Alleged cold-fusion creator approaches Dick Smith for investment cash'.

        NASA explains why it works in the recent Jan. 12 video. There are numerous links to that in thoe comments on this stiory.

        Logan Booker, I suggest you inform yourself first before making such claims.
        Rossi sold his house to finance his research and He kept refusing investments and financing from others.
        About Ian Bryce, there isn't much I'll say about him!


      Logan, don't apologise. Brendan, you honestly found the headline and picture SO UTTERLY OFFENSIVE to your journalistic tastes that it has DRIVEN you from Giz for the rest of your days? Why would you feel the need to broadcast it? Who DOES that? Brendan does: http://cache.ohinternet.com/images/0/02/Im_kind_of_a_big_deal.jpg

        Perfectly acceptable if you're looking for hits on a story that is old. I'd already read the truth of this matter weeks ago through more reputable channels and was suprised by to see this headline suggesting he had invested when everything I'd read had said the opposite, of course i clicked to discover it was indeed link bait, dont pretend for a second it wasn't.

          I have to agree with others. There's nothing wrong with the story, but the headline is extreme link bait and sets up a very misleading premise in the reader's mind before clicking through to read it. Why do that?

          If you think the headline is fine, why not ask Dick himself what he thinks of it?

    One day maybe, one day they will actually build something that works. Until then Honda and some other high end manufacturers are fast developing Hydrogen fuel cell power supplies for homes. They already have solar crackers that can break water (any water) into O2 and Hydrogen. Wont be long before you can buy maybe a five or ten thousand dollar power supply and ditch the grid. I already have 2.5kw solar on the roof!

      Solar panels are very low output right now though. I'm somewhat curious...how do you use battery-stored electricity (it would be charged by DC as per solar cell, and then discharged DC as per electric cell), if all your transformers are AC or convert AC to DC? I know a charger that requires a 5V AC input can't be supplied with a 5V DC input.

        No idea how it hooks up to the home, although I can only surmise that it does not hook up to the grid at all, in otherwords you switch off the grid and switch on the power supply. The fact that they are being made is what I'm curious about, and it can not get here soon enough for me! :)

          Well I'm assuming it would be similar to running a diesel generator, except this one you fill with water.... and energy is converted by a different mechanism to combustion.... obviously.

          @Tits - when such setups are commonplace, you don't want to be off the grid because any surplus power you generate will be bought from you by way of the grid. Imagine getting a cheque rather than a bill if you're energy smart! Co-generation is the future.

          @telex - all you need to get DC to AC is an inverter, they're well estabished tech and cheap as chips.

            I already have solar, I don't get a cheque, I get credit. Once the cost of buying power gets too high we are all on our own, so I think hooking it up to the grid will somewhat pointless.

              *sigh* alright, if you're done splitting hairs and making ill-informed predictions I'll explain it to you. Right now your solar provides power only sometimes- you have to buy your baseline supply from the grid because there's no sun at night or on cloudy days. Thus, you currently get your surplus solar credited against your usage at these times. If/when you have a base load power supply in your home, you will generate all your own power - and you'll use less at night or when you're away from home. It's woefully inefficient to vary the output of a power generator, so the best thing to do with the excess energy is sell it - otherwise you have to dump it as heat. As a bonus, you get paid. And you get paid more as the cost of energy increases - you WANT the grid to stick around.

    My admiration for Dick Smith grows with these sorts of stories. He took the time to have someone he trusted verify the project findings. In this case it was a fake.... but for the day someone discovers a way to harness energy without destroying our environment I give thanks for those like Dick Smith who take the time to investigate further.

    Thank you Gizmodo I enjoy your stories and up to date information on what is happening out in tech land.

    I want Rossi's device to function and until it is dead will remain hopeful. One eye on his "story". Call me an optimist.

    I will suffer the fate of all optimists and be disappointed from time to time. Stiff shit.

    Dick Smith is being sold, along with all of Woolworths (which itself might be sold to China very soon). They might be trying to make it look accidental. Trust me, they're downsizing and remodelling themselves to become appealing to investors again.


    Have I just read an articular from the outback TRUTH magazine ?

    Interesting how NASA seems to back up Rossi in this video (hosted by Nasa), indicating that it is possible and they are working on it ...


      NASA do no such thing. Claiming that LENR is possible and that Rossi's claimed LENR device works are two totally different things.

        True, they don't directly say it. You are correct in that Rossi's device may not work. They seem to be similar in some ways though. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

    Sydney Kimmel, founder of the Jones Group fashion empire (Anne Klein, Nine West, Gloria Vanderbilt) has just given $5.5 million for LENR research to the University of Missouri! See the Columbia (Mo.) Tribune.

    If you bypass the transformer and rectifier of TV's, computer's, stereo's etc, you'll find most will run happily on 12 volts DC.

    In the past, you put two kind of metal together and they'll make a lot of heat, and electricity but you had to use water to keep it cool. It illegal to do of course.

    In the end who cares about the title, the article is what you want to read? right?...

    Cold fusion, or other such emergent (mythical) techs have to be massively (or overly) efficient and super cheap in order to compete with developments in traditional and renewable sources of power. They should work out a way to harness the power of comments.

    It's quite pathetic... nothing may stop LENR if it is for real. Ongoing massive attacks (even this stupid one) indicates that it is indeed for real and LENR-tech is needed to be delayed for apparent reasons; you should do a better job then this one...

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