The following thorough review of published information on (in particular) the pretreatment of Nickel in the many forms in which it has been used by LENR researchers has been submitted to Lookingforheat by Hank Mills, to whom we must accord the (very small) distinction of being the first ‘outside’ contributor to our ‘Research Notes’ section.
HYDROGENATION OF NICKEL AS A FACTOR IN LENR / EXCESS HEAT
To increase the probability of exothermic nuclear reactions taking place in nickelhydrogen based LENR or “Cold Fusion” systems, such Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat (Energy Catalyzer), it is likely a number of fuel preparation steps may need to be undertaken. Although some or all of these processes may take place in an active reactor, preprocessing, de-oxidizing, and hydrogenating the nickel beforehand may ensure the “fuel” or “catalyst” (depending on the definition you wish to use) is ready to be “triggered” into producing excess heat. Due to the large number of variables involved in these processes and the huge characteristic differences in different samples of nickel, replicators will need to experiment until they find the protocols that produce results for them.
Nickel bar, rod, wire, plate, and powder have all been used with hydrogen in cold fusion experiments — resulting in excess heat being detected. Using nickel in the form of a powder seems to be ideal. The massively increased surface area and highly textured surface features of micron-sized carbonyl nickel powder allows for a faster and greater overall quantity of hydrogenation.
The first step in preparing the nickel is removal of water inherently trapped inside of the particles and the “reduction” or elimination of oxides that have formed. The papers of Sergio Focardi, the patents of Brillouin, and other references indicate an initial heating of the nickel sample to a temperature of 625C as a starting point in the process of removal of impurities from the nickel surface. To further clean the nickel and reduce oxides, or if a vacuum pump is not available for the first step, the nickel in the heated vessel may be flushed with hydrogen at a temperature range between 300 and 425C at 1 bar of pressure. Three cycles at this temperature and pressure may remove approximately 90% of oxides. These thermal processes may also change the surface features of the nickel powder. Andrea Rossi’s “Fluid Heater” patent states that by baking the nickel steam explosions may produce micro-cavities on the surface and create additional particles of even smaller size. He claims these micro-cavities (tubules in previous statements) are where the nuclear reactions take place and where resulting emissions (gamma or alpha particles) may be thermalized into heat.
The second step in preparing the nickel is the hydrogenation of the fuel material. This can happen in one or both of two different processes — adsorption or absorption. When hydrogen has only entered or bonded with the very top surface layer(s) of nickel atoms, adsorption has taken place. If hydrogen has penetrated deeper into the lattice of the nickel, absorption has taken place: allowing a greater degree of hydrogenation to take place. This is a simplification of these two concepts. The result of either of these processes is that molecular hydrogen H2 is disassociated into atomic hydrogen (single hydrogen atoms) and take positions inside of the nickel lattice.
To start the hydrogenation process, the nickel powder should be placed in a heated pressurized vessel filled with hydrogen gas. The pressures and temperatures that can be used for hydrogenation are varied and far ranging. A study of multiple papers seems to show that a starting pressure of 1 bar of hydrogen and a temperature of between 150C and 300C may be suitable for preparing nickel for exothermic reactions. However, in non-LENR studies of the dynamics of nickel hydrides, very high levels of hydrogen loading have taken place at temperatures of around 100C or less. A study of the literature will help you select a starting temperature and pressure that you are comfortable with.
Multiple cycles of loading are required to adequately hydrogenate nickel powder. Ed Storms, a well-known LENR researcher, has explained that the surface of untextured nickel (for example thermally or chemically unprocessed bar or rod) resists the penetration of hydrogen, so only a low level of surface adsorption takes places. He indicates repeated cycles may create cracks, fractures, and other openings that allow for the migration of hydrogen deeper into the lattice (absorption). Sergio Focardi, in his tests with nickel rod and wire, utilized multiple cycles. He would allow hydrogen to enter the heated vessel, watch the pressure drop over a period of hours, and then add hydrogen to restore the initial pressure. Eventually, after several cycles, the pressure would no longer drop significantly — indicating the fuel was ready for “triggering” by a sudden drop and increase of heat and/or pressure.
Once this level of hydrogenation is achieved, the concentration of hydrogen in the nickel can be driven up even further if even higher hydrogen pressures are applied. This is because there are two different phases of nickel hydride that may be formed: a-phase and b-phase. At the beginning stages of hydrogen absorption into the lattice, primarily a-phase nickel hydride is formed. Later on, after absorption has passed beyond a certain point, the existing a-phase nickel hydride is converted to b-phase. Phase diagrams are available that show how b-phase loading of hydrogen can then increase dramatically under certain conditions. This b-phase loading of the nickel is driven primarily by hydrogen pressure regardless of the temperature utilized in the vessel. The a-phase and b-phase nickel hydride have different properties. There is speculation and conjecture that the hydrogen atoms in b-phase nickel hydride may be more energetic and susceptible to influence by external stimulation (perhaps heat, electromagnetics, or acoustics).
Andrea Rossi describes very high pressures inside microcavities being used to “hammer” hydrogen into the nickel to produce nuclear reactions. If such high pressures exist inside the microcavities, they might be locations where a greater ratio of b-phase nickel hydride has formed. Inside of an active E-Cat fuelled with LiAlH4 and possibly some quantity of elemental lithium, the nickel may undergo cleaning, hydrogenation, and surface modification at various temperatures and pressures. But by cleaning and loading the fuel ourselves, before it’s placed inside of the reactor for a run, much more of the loading and micro-cavity forming process might be controlled. Also, with lithium and aluminium present in the reactor, there are far more variables and chemical processes to be considered. For example, the creation of lithium hydride, which has the potential to transport hydrogen into microcavities, and the binding of free oxygen and reduction of nickel oxide by aluminium at high temperatures.
A primary focus must be to design, engineer, build, and test systems until massive excess heat can be produced. Precise control of these processes may not be required to prove and validate the “Rossi Effect.” But if someone is properly “tooled up” with precise measurement equipment they may consider carefully and precisely preprocessing their fuel before use — making sure proper cleaning and hydrogenation protocols have been followed.
Thermodynamics of Metal Hydrides: Tailoring Reaction Enthalpies of Hydrogen
Storage Materials http://cdn.intechweb.org/pdfs/21876.pdf
Fluid Heater http://www.google.com/patents/US9115913
Control of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions in Hydrides, and Autonomously Controlled Heat Generation Module
https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US154011431&recNum=2&m axRec=7&office=&prevFilter=&sortOption=Pub+Date+Desc&queryString=FP%3A%28b rillouin+and+robert+godes%29&tab=PCTDescription
Overview of H-Ni Systems: Old Experiments and New Setup http://newenergytimes.com/v2/library/2004/2004CampariEGoverviewOfHNiSystems.pdf
Cold Fusion Chain Reactions of L-Shell-Trapped Hydrogen http://www.cfcr.de/chain_reaction_dec_2012.pdf
NICKEL HYDROGENATION – THE NEED FOR CAUTION WITH LITHIUM
If we assume that hydrogen loading of the nickel is important for the Rossi Effect, and are using just nickel and pure lithium without pre-hydrogenation of the nickel alone, we need to consider the experimental protocol carefully.
- Nickel powder mixed with lithium powder is heated under high pressure at low temperature — below the melting point of lithium (180.5C). Hydrogen absorption by nickel can take place at temperatures of below this. So experimenters should keep the mixture temperature at approximately 150C maximum.
- If the lithium melts, the nickel will become coated with lithium and hydrogen will then have a barrier to overcome before entering the nickel. So during the hydrogen loading of the nickel do NOT go beyond the temperature of 150C until sufficient time has elapsed to ensure that adequate hydrogen adsorption has taken place. The process of loading nickel in hydrogen can take several hours and cannot be rushed! As mentioned before, to hydrogenate the nickel adequately we should add hydrogen, let the pressure drop as the hydrogen is adsorbed, add more hydrogen, repeating the process until the absence of any pressure drop shows no more hydrogen is being adsorbed.
- During this process, lithium hydride (LiH) will be formed. But this will not stop nickel hydrogenation because the lithium and lithium hydride are both present as mixed powder and not creating a barrier to nickel hydrogenation. However, when we are finished hydrogenating the nickel and we move past 180.5C, the lithium that has not been converted into lithium hydride will melt. It will wet and cover the nickel and migrate into the micro-cavities of the nickel. This will prevent further nickel hydrogenation. As we go up in temperature the melted lithium will continue to absorb hydrogen and turn into a solid.
- The lithium hydride will remain solid until 688.7C. At this point, most or all of the lithium will be in the form of lithium hydride. Interestingly, this is the temperature at which excess heat starts to develop in some E-Cat experiments.
- At 900C to 1000C, the lithium hydride will boil releasing hydrogen and pure liquid lithium will coat the nickel particles.
My hypothesis: in some E-Cat tests that are not successful, the fuel has not been cleaned of oxides (heating to 625C in vacuum and being allowed to cool for one or more cycles and repeated flushes of hydrogen at 300-425C) and proper hydrogenation has NOT taken place. The fuel needs to be hydrogenated, either before it is mixed with the other fuel elements or outside of the reactor, before it is covered in liquid lithium!
In one of Songsheng Jiang’s successful tests that produced high levels of excess heat and self-sustained operation (infinite COP) he allowed the nickel to hydrogenate at 100C at 1 bar of hydrogen pressure for TEN HOURS! This would allow significant hydrogenation. The proof may be in the massive excess heat he produced.
Some might then say what is the purpose of the hydrogen then produced by the breakdown of the LiAlH4?
I propose that the ultra high pressure hydrogen produced by LiAlH4 or provided by a high pressure tank (like in Rossi’s early experiments) may not be necessary in all situations. However, I think the ultra-high pressure (far above one bar) hydrogen may act like a hammer to jam the hydrogen that already exists in the nickel deeper. The “triggering” mechanism of higher temperatures and higher pressures (especially when applying them suddenly) may trigger exothermic nuclear reactions. The high pressure may be amplified many fold in the microcavities and hence the loading of nickel (perhaps even far into the beta phase) may be highest there. When the nickel hydrogen reactions take place the products (perhaps protons being expelled) may then impact liquid lithium present in the micro-cavities. This could produce additional excess heat.
For those who plan to use LiAlH4 as a hydrogen source WITHOUT an external tank to provide hydrogen for loading BELOW the breakdown temperature of LiAlH4, I suggest they utilize TWO different reactors, interconnected by a tube through which hydrogen can travel. The first reactor (with nickel and elemental lithium powder) should be kept at 150C. The second reactor is NOT to produce LENR reactions, but to heat to a higher temperature to release hydrogen from the LiAlH4. If using two tubes is considered completely unacceptable, I would suggest an extremely slow ramp up from 100C upwards — allowing hydrogen to be released from the LiAlH4 but trying to avoid it’s melting temperature of 150C. Once the nickel is considered to be fully hydrogenated, the temperature can be increased beyond the melting point of LiAlH4.
In conclusion, replicators should make sure their nickel is as clean as possible and make sure that their nickel is hydrogenated before being coated with any form of liquid lithium. The longer the duration of the hydrogenation process, at temperatures below the melting point of lithium, the better.