I found extremely intriguing – because it could open a completely new area of research in Physics if it will be confirmed by other researchers – the effect of spontaneous generation of a potential difference, or voltage, found in Constantan wires by Francesco Celani (Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics, INFN), Giorgio Vassallo (University of Palermo, Italy) and their many collaborators.
The experiments performed by the professional Italian group are very original and instructive for many aspects and have been well described in the poster presented at ICCF-19, and that you can find here.
Since the end of 2011 Celani et al. introduced, in the LENR research field, a new (low
cost) material, Copper-Nickel alloy, named “Costantan” (ISOTAN 44, Isabellenhutte – Germany, composition: Cu 55% Ni 44% Mn 1%), and demonstrated that it, at nano/micrometric dimension and at high enough temperatures (>120°C), catalyzes the dissociation of H2 to 2H and absorb/adsorb protons in the lattice.
In a typical setup, they have a Platinum wire (diameter = 100 Micrometers) used mainly for calibration purposes (“reference”) and two Constantan wires (the “active”) with different diameters (100 and 200 Micrometers, respectively) and/or surface treatments. Each wire is inserted inside a Boro-Silicate Glass fiber sheet (the 3 sheaths are closely braided each other).
Photo of the small, dissipation type, transparent reactor operating at INFN-LNF. The
volume is about 250cc. The 2 wires, reference and active, are rounded on a mica support. The thermocouples are Type K, SS screened (diameter 1.5 millimeter).
Some of the results obtained using these wires in a simple dissipation reactor (see the picture above) made of a thick-walled boro-silicate glass tube, were quite reproducible and the Anomalous Heat Effect (AHE) detected (at Constantan wire surface temperatures of 160 – 400°C) was about 5-10W with 50W of electric input power.
Periodically, the resistance of one constantan wire was measured by a general-purpose multimeter to evaluate the presence of absorbed Hydrogen. They observed that the wire resistance decreases (up to values as low as 70% of initial one, the so-called R/Ro ratio), when the Constantan wire is heated in presence of Hydrogen.
Details of first loading by H2-Ar mixture. The “trigger” temperature, to get the large resistance decrease of sub-micrometric Constantan wire, was about 125°C. Temperature measured by a type K thermocouple (SS sealed) inside the gas cell.
On June 25, 2014, the group noted, almost by chance, that Constantan wire generates by itself a macroscopic voltage (>>100 Microvolts), that is function of many parameters (temperature, gas type, pressure, value of R/Ro). Maximum values (not stable over time, only few hours) were of the order of 1400 Microvolts and current of 120 Microampere. Stable values were about half.
What is more interesting is that the effect is not the usual Seebeck effect, because they use only one wire, NOT a junction of 2 different materials, like in thermocouples. According to Celani et al., the new spontaneous voltage (and the low excess heat) are related to some of the following parameters and conditions:
- absolute value of temperature (as large as possible, avoiding material sintering);
- enough amount of Hydrogen absorbed/adsorbed by the catalytic material, i.e. to the use of a proper nanomaterial;
- flux (as large and fast as possible) of Hydrogen from a region of high concentration to a lower one;
- the addition of elements that have Hydrogen concentration increasing with temperature (like Fe);
- the wires that have good performances from the point of view of excess heat values show values of spontaneous voltages quite remarkable;
- the non-equilibrium conditions, as large as possible, look the most important condition to get any type of thermal or electrical anomalies.
So, it is clear that more work is necessary to better understand the complex phenomenology and to increase further useful “anomalies”. There are also clear “connections” with the results obtained by Andrea Rossi and Brian Ahern – which are a first indirect confirmation of this excellent work – but Celani’s apparatus seems more suited to a further experimental study of the parameters and physics involved, hopefully under the umbrella of the INFN.
ALESSANDRO CAVALIERI is a physicist who teaches Mathematics and Physics in a secondary school, in Northern Italy. His cultural interests goes from Chaos Theory to the Mind-Matter connections. He loves to read books on the history of Physics.