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A THERMODYNAMIC ANALYSIS OF THE LUGANO E-CAT


(A Handy Guide for Replicators, Inventors, Nay-Sayers and Theorists)
By Slad CEng MIMechE MRSL

This report was originally written to present a realistic model of inside the (Lugano) E-Cat, in order to
correct some oft-repeated misapprehensions regarding the feasibility of heat transfer inside the E-Cat.
Two further sections were added to examine the possibility of liquid lithium being in contact with the
nickel particles.
It should be noted that if the external temperatures published in the Lugano report are correct, the nickel
particles would in my opinion definitely have melted, this behaviour is likely undesirable, as nearly all
theories of LENR assume a solid lattice substrate. (It may be possible if the alumina is very thin).
The model below is based on the GSVIT/MFMP Bob Higgins emissivity data, and their re-calculated
external temperature and power data. That is to say:
COP = 2.36
Touter = 1100 oC
Qin = 910 W
Qfuel = 1240 W
Qout = 2150 W

http://www.e-catworld.com/2015/03/08/alumina-emissivity-and-the-lugano-e-cat-test-bob-higgins/

And the parameters of the Lugano E-Cat are:


L = 200 mm
External Diameter = 20 mm
Internal Diameter = 8 mm (assumed)
Heating Coil Diameter = 14 mm (assumed)
ka (Thermal Conductivity of Alumina @ 1100 oC) = 6 W/m2K
And my calculations of the bulk characteristics of the fuel are:
Density of 5 m Nickel Powder = 2.5 g/cm3
Volume of 0.9 g Nickel Powder = 360 mm3
Density of solid Nickel = 8.9 g/cm3
Porosity of 5 m Nickel Powder = 72%
Pore Volume of 0.9 g Nickel powder = 259 mm3
Volume of molten Aluminium produced from 0.1g of LiAlH4 = 27 mm3
Volume of molten Lithium produced from 0.1g of LiAlH4 = 33 mm3
Degree of Saturation = 24%
Actual Porosity of fuel = 55%
Total Volume of hot fuel = 360 mm3
k (Coefficient of Thermal Conductivity) of Nickel = 90 W/mK
k (Coefficient of Thermal Conductivity) of liquid Lithium = 64.7 W/mK
k (Coefficient of Thermal Conductivity) of liquid Aluminium = 90 W/mK
k (Coefficient of Thermal Conductivity) of Air = 0.02 W/mK

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WHY USE THE GSVIT / MFMP BOB HIGGINS DATA?

There was a recent attempt to prove mathematically that the E-Cats COP=1. Whilst the chosen model
made this possible, the lack of a full compounded error analysis means the upper and lower boundaries of
this result are not defined, and are likely to be much greater than the already large estimated error.
The models result can also possibly be explained by a misuse a different OPTRIS cameras datasheet.
In contrast, the GSVIT group performed a similar calculation. They however, confirmed their results by
actually measuring the emissivity of hot alumina with an IR camera.
It should be clear to most readers that a laboratory measurement will always be superior to a mathematical
model. (As demonstrated by GSVITs better fit to data provided by the Lugano calibration run). A clever
author can twist sources in order to make a point. With that disclaimer in mind, read on

WHATS THE TEMPERATURE OF THE INSIDE FACE OF THE ALUMINA TUBE?

Heat transfer through a long hollow cylinder:


Qout = 2 L ka (Tinner Touter) / ln(router / rinner)
Gives:
Tcoil = 1202 oC
Therefore:
Tinner = 1294 oC

WHATS GOING ON AT THE ALUMINA-NICKEL FLUID INTERFACE?

Where any two surfaces are in good contact, they conduct heat across a limited number of points, with a
working fluid (often air) filling the gaps in between. This generally creates a high resistance to the flow of
heat (i.e. a large temperature difference is required for a given power transmission Q).
5 m particles ensure a tight fit to the aluminas asperities, equivalent to high pressure (100 atm) polished
thermal contact.
In this case, the temperature of the inner surface of the tube is above the melting points, but below the
boiling points of lithium and aluminium. Hence we have a highly efficient (compared to air) liquid metal
working fluid at the interface.
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If we assume the fuel lies along the full length of the 200 mm alumina tube, it must form a circular
Segment with cross-sectional area = 1.8 mm2. This Segment subtends an angle of 65o, has Arc Length =
4.52 mm, and maximum Depth = 0.62 mm
The working area of the fluid interface is:
A = Tube Length . Arc Length
Therefore:
A = 0.000904 m2
Also:
Qfuel = q A
Therefore:
q (Heat Flux) = 1.37 MW/m2
The Convection Heat Transfer Coefficient (h) of a fluid equals Heat Flux divided by temperature drop:
h = q / Thot Tcold
Worst case is Thot = 1455 oC (the melting point of nickel) and Tcold = 1294 oC (alumina surface)
Therefore:
hmax = 18944 W/m2K
Which is well inside the normal range for a interfacial fluid, assuming good contact between surfaces (e.g.
hsilicon oil = 13889 W/m2K and hglycerin = 37735 W/m2K). However, the average working fluid temperature
between the surfaces is (in this worst case) slightly above the boiling point of lithium.* Tmean = 1375 oC,
compared to an accepted boiling point of 1342 oC. The Aluminium would remain below its boiling point.
* For a flat surface at 1 atm. See final sections.
Indeed, the degree of boiling can also be estimated from The Critical Heat Flux (which marks the
transition from a nucleate boiling regime to a film boiling regime), which for alkali metals is empirically:
(from UCSD-ENG-107 one of many, many different models of this process)
qcritical / vapour hfg = Kc ( g (liquid vapour) / vapour2) + KNL
where:

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vapour = 0.0116 kg/m3
liquid = 411 kg/m3
hfg (latent heat of evaporation) = 19.6 MJ/kg
(surface tension) = 0.24 N/m
Kc = 0.16
KNL = 1 MW/m2
So, the estimated critical heat flux (qcritical) = 2.15 MW/m2
As (in this worst case) qmax = 0.64 qcritical this puts the (lithium) fluid interface in the nucleate boiling
regime of its pool boiling curve. Normal heat transfer practice involves keeping qmax below qcritical, as in
this case. Lithium is used in this example as its thermofluid properties are more commonly studied.
As pool boiling curves are mostly linear in the nucleate boiling regime, the true T, (i.e. nickel
temperature minus inside face of alumina temperature) is 0.64 T of the T required to maintain the
critical heat flux. These values could be read from a pool boiling curve, the problem being metal boiling
curves are not widely researched, and suitable experimental data (i.e. an empirical pool boiling curve) is
hard to come by. In theory, most light metals should share a roughly similar curve when plotted on a
single graph.
It should also be noted that the radiative portion of energy transfer from fuel to alumina is ignored.
(Very rough calculations suggest it would be somewhere around 130 W). The effect of this would be to
lower the Heat Flux (qmax) required to be transmitted in the manner described above.
A third mode of heat transport is not considered: The boiling point of lithium could sit between the
temperatures of the nickel and alumina internal wall. This allows a phase-transition heat transport
mechanism to occur, not dissimilar to a heat pipe, which can transfer a heat flux of up to 70W/cm2, from a
sintered metal matrix. http://www.1-act.com/heat-pipe-solar-receiver-for-oxygen-production-of-lunar-regolith/

SO WHATS THE TEMPERATURE OF THE NICKEL? WILL IT MELT?

Well, in the example above it is 1455 oC (the melting point of nickel), measured at the nickel interface, in
order to quantize the worst case convective transfer. In reality, temperature of the nickel interface would
be lower, as explained by the 0.64 T term above.
It should be noted however, that the porosity of the fuel could reduce the available heat transfer area,
limiting this effect, although this itself would be cancelled to some degree by the two alternative heat
transfer mechanisms mentioned above.
One could also expect the temperature of the powder to increase, as the distance from the Alumina
interface increases. However, the furthest possible distance a nickel particle can be from the working
fluid is 0.62 mm (Segment depth), and the Coefficient of Thermal Conductivity for the fuel can be
estimated based on a volume weighted ratio (including air and assuming molten lithium is present) giving
kfuel = 38.3 W/mK, meaning the thermal gradient across the fuel depth will be almost negligible.
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I FINALLY MANAGED TO FINISH MY PhD, SO I WAS STARING GORMLESSLY AT A RAGONE
PLOT, AND THE E-CAT HAS 100x THE POWER DENSITY OF TRADITIONAL NUCLEAR FUEL!
OF COURSE THE NICKEL WOULD MELT ITS INSANE TO EVEN THINK OTHERWISE!
DONT YOU KNOW I TAUGHT PHYSICS & SCIENTISM, IN A COLLEGE, FOR TWO YEARS!
(NB: edited for length)

Not really, that mountain air must be getting to you. MOX fuel is a ceramic, meaning it has a low
Coefficient of Thermal Conductivity, of around 4 W/mK at a working temperature of 1500 oC. Also, a
fuel rod typically has a radius (maximum length of conduction) of 5 mm.
Compare that to the E-Cat fuel, (assuming 38.3 W/mK and 0.62 mm) and we can see the values are
different by a factor of 9.5x and 8x respectively. That explains ~50%* of the 100x difference. Add the
fact that there is a (relatively large) gas filled gap** between a MOX fuel pellet and its cladding, versus a
liquid metal interface in the E-Cat, and, that industry regulators mandate safety margins for heat transfer
design, limiting MOX power output, the 100x difference shouldnt seem so strange.
NB: The values of Specific Heat Capacity and Melting Point for MOX and nickel cancel each other out
almost exactly.
* Because the fuel rod has a circular cross section, its effective conduction length is >5mm
** A recipe for inefficiency. The nuclear industry wants to play at metallic fuel liquid interface too
https://www.iaea.org/NuclearPower/Downloadable/Meetings/2013/2013-03-04-03-07-CF-NPTD/T5.3/T5.3.murtaza.pdf
l

WELL, THE CoP IS STILL A LITTLE BIT DISAPPOINTING, RIGHT?

The E-Cat as tested cant self sustain because the heat assumed to be required to sustain the reaction is too
easily transferred away by the alumina. If the alumina pipe was better insulated, this would not happen.
The heat provided by the coil balances the energy loss from the fuel (raising its temperature for a given
power output); it is just more easily controllable that way than constantly wrapping and unwrapping
insulation from the pipe. Whilst the same could be achieved by using a metered cooling system, it is
surely a better scenario to burn out a heating element, than suffer a breakdown of your cooling pump.
This is a basic passive safety strategy for nuclear reactor design (cf. Fukushima).
Looking at the Heat Transfer Through A Hollow Cylinder equations above, it can be seen that the heat
input required is directly proportional to ln(router / rinner). In other words; thicker tube = higher CoP: Its
just an engineering problem.
A thicker pipe would not reduce the amount of power transmitted to the surface (Qfuel), it would only
reduce the external temperature (and Qin) for a given fuel temperature.

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AND, ABOUT SELF-SUSTAIN MODE?

Assuming the reaction is temperature dependent, my best guess is:


When the temperature of the coil increases, the temperature of the fuel increases instantaneously. (Water
can flow through a pipe at 5 m/s, but if you turn off the tap at the exit end, the consequent pressure wave
travels back up the pipe at the speed of sound).
The hotter fuel generates more power, raising the temperature of the inside face of the alumina pipe even
more. The heating coil turns off.
The extra heat pulse generated by the fuel cannot travel through the alumina instantaneously, it must
diffuse through it. Until this begins to happen, the fuel temperature rises even further.
Because the insulation value of the alumina is low enough, once the heat transfer has returned to a steady
state (i.e. the transient heat pulse has conducted through to the surface), the fuel will be cooling down
(thats why the heating coil is required see above), and at some point, the heat coil fires again, repeating
the process.
By changing the reactor casing material and thickness, one could achieve a more appropriate Thermal
Diffusivity than that exhibited by an alumina tube. This would allow a much finer control of the SSM.
Is the Lugano Hot-Cat just an E-Cat with its fur jacket removed?
More recently Rossi has said that two E-Cats are required for self-sustain mode. This does not rule out the
above theory: The increased lag of a paired system could potentially offer an enhanced benefit.

WHAT HAS UNSATURATED SOIL MECHANICS GOT TO DO WITH ALL THIS?

A liquid rises up a capillary tube because of meniscus angle and surface tension. The smaller the radius of
the meniscus, the higher it rises. This has to be balanced by the weight of the liquid in the capillary tube
below, leading to a negative pressure inside the liquid, and consequently a lower vapour pressure (at the
meniscus) for a given fluid temperature.
The same thing happens in any wet porous medium when the Degree of Saturation drops below a critical
value that is proportional to the atmospheric pressure and fluid viscosity. For water at 1 atmosphere this
value is 85%. This leads to a continuous fluid phase, held by its menisci throughout the pore structure.
The forces and huge negative pressures involved have implications for soil mechanics, which normally
only considers completely wet or dry soils. (It binds the soil particles, giving more strength but also
attempts to suck more water (and water vapour) into the soil, potentially causing soil expansion).

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Basically, the smaller the pores (which are typically a range of sizes), the smaller the menisci, and the
harder it is to remove a liquid from them. For two 5 m particles that are touching, the largest possible
menisci radius is 2.5 m.
The following equations are used when analysing Matric Suction (m) in unsaturated soil mechanics.
m = 2 / R
m = ((Ru T li) / v) ln(uv / uvo)
m = ua uli
Where:
(surface tension of liquid Lithium) = 0.24 N/m
R = radius of meniscus = 2.5 m
Ru = universal gas constant
T = absolute temperature
li (density of liquid Lithium) = 411 kg/m3
v = molecular mass of Lithium vapour
uv = partial vapour pressure of Lithium
uvo = saturation pressure of liquid Lithium over a flat surface (at the same temperature as uv)
uv / uvo = Relative Humidity
ua = atmospheric pressure inside reactor
uli = liquid Lithium pressure
Two short references to explain the concept better:
Soil Suction:
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fT5OVnSu2IC&lpg=PA10&ots=dwC6jnJeeB&dq=soil%20suction%20vapour%20pressure&pg=PA10#v=onepage&q&f=false

How Negative Can Pore-Water Pressures Get?


http://www.soilvision.com/subdomains/unsaturatedsoil.com/Docs/Research%20Papers/1991/Conference%20Papers/How%20Negative%20Pore-Water....pdf

The answer is interesting


The three main conclusions that can be drawn from this are:
If the temperature of the nickel is lower than the boiling point of lithium and aluminium, Matric Suction of
the nickel will prevent complete evaporation of the liquid metals, even in an open vessel.
If localised heating occurs in the nickel matrix, any liquid lithium and aluminium evaporated from nearby
pores will be immediately replenished by a flow of similar liquid, driven by huge negative liquid pressures
inside the continuous fluid phase.
The liquid lithium/aluminium will preferentially wet the nickel-alumina interface, as the contact angle (i.e.
pore size) between a flat surface and a spherical particle will always be less than the contact angle
between two spherical particles, leading to smaller menisci on average, which drives replenishment
through a negative-pressure gradient.

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SO WHAT TEMPERATURE DOES LITHIUM BOIL AT?

A liquid boils when its vapour pressure reaches atmospheric pressure. For lithium at sea level this
normally happens at 1342 oC, but only if the surface of the molten lithium is flat.
The Matric Suction equations above cannot be solved using T as the boiling point, as Relative Humidity
cannot tend towards 1.
A similar equation derived from the same principles does however, allow this:
(TNi T*Li ) / T*Li = 2Vm(l) lv / Hvap R
From Eqn. [14]

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=LFkryuW-doMC&pg=PA129&lpg=PA129&dq=GIBBS+THOMSON+%22BOILING+POINT%22&source=bl&ots=94x1OaDV4&sig=K1lo3Dkq-pPylljLHJMaY_--fe8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=YLk2VZqgDYKrPIrBgPgE&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=GIBBS%20THOMSON%20%22BOILING%20POINT%22&f=false

Where:
TNi = temperature of Nickel
T*Li = boiling point of flat surface Lithium at pressure P http://www.powerstream.com/vapor-pressure.htm
P = atmospheric pressure inside reactor
Vm(l) (molar volume of liquid Lithium) = 0.00001297 m3/mol
lv (surface tension of liquid Lithium) = 0.24 N/m
Hvap (molar latent heat of evaporation, Lithium) = 147000 j/mol
R = minimum meniscus radius (in metres) that allows stable liquid Lithium at TNi
If there are surface features of the nickel particles that have an internal corners with radius of less than R,
or a crack or crevice of width <2R, stable liquid lithium can be present, even at 1455 oC (the melting point
of nickel). And, as shown in the section above, evaporation is also halted.
Without exact pressure and temperature figures, it is hard to estimate the exact R that will prevent boiling
and evaporation, however a rough anaylsis shows R can be commensurate with surface features shown on
SEM photography of Rossis nickel particles (See final photo). It should be noted that the crevices are
actually the grain boundaries of a five-fold symmetric twinned macro-crystal structure, and as such, the
radius of the crevices tip could be infinitesimal.
There is certainly lithium vapour inside the E-Cat, but also molten lithium in intimate contact with the
nickel particles (cf. Ikegami), and likely at any possible temperature, up to the melting point of nickel.

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WELL SLAD, GOT ANY ADVICE?

Add more aluminium and lithium to increase the Degree of Saturation; they are the working fluids that
allow good heat transfer. The nickel would be at a lower temperature for a given power output.
Alumina thickness is critical to a good COP, although probably at a trade-off with controllability.
Hydrogen absorption desorption cycles may cause the nickel particles to crack, holding more liquid
lithium to its surface.
Increasing reactor pressure P would increase meniscus limiting radius R, allowing a higher amount of
stable liquid lithium.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
La madre dei cretini sempre incinta. The mother of imbeciles is always pregnant.

Fur jacket, white.

http://www.e-catworld.com/2014/10/06/e-cat-report-watch-thread/

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How tight is your crevice?

http://pesn.com/2014/10/13/9602545_Leaked-Second-Paper_With_High-Magnification_of_Rossis-Nickel-Particles_Brings_Replication_Closer/

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