Australia’s most famous businessman, Dick Smith, offered $1,000,000, with no strings attached, to an Italian inventor if he could prove his cold fusion invention works.
But despite being given a week to think it over, the inventor, Bologna-based Andrea Rossi, rejected the offer immediately, and in no uncertain terms.
Rossi publicly described the offer as “clownerie”.
“If this guy wants to test a 1 MW plant and has 1 million to spend he can buy a 1 MW plant, with a regular contract, that gives him all the necessary guarantees and to us the logic financial guarantees. Our plants Are tested by Our Customers and the Consultants they choose. I have not time at all for this clownery. Besides: when Our E-Cats will be in the market, this ‘millionaire’ will have the chance to buy for few hundred dollars an E-Cat and test it as he wants, so why waste money? I do not need his money.” [Quoted verbatim]
In direct correspondence with Smith, he said: “I am totally not interested to your proposal, and Mr Sol Millin is not authorized to make any proposal on our behalf.
“As for the testing of our E-Cats, when they will be in the market (I suppose within next Winter) you will be free to buy one and make all the tests you want. For free.”
Sol Millin is the founder of Byron New Energy Charitable Trust, based on the NSW North Coast, who had previously approached Smith for $200,000 to help secure a local distributorship for E-Cat (energy catalyser) products.
Millin enthusiastically endorsed Smith’s million dollar offer in an email: “Good on you. It looks to me that you have already emailed this offer to dear Andrea? Is this the fact? As you see, I have cc’d this email to dear Andrea. Let’s hope dear Andrea Rossi takes you up and all is made crystal clear.”
Writing directly to Millin, Rossi said: “As I repeatedly told you, I want not to have any kind of contact with this person, and you are not allowed to deal with anybody regarding our activity.”
Rossi’s views have certainly been made crystal clear.
In his offer, Smith told Rossi that “I do not want to know how the unit operates, nor to have a share in the profits from any sales. My satisfaction will come from knowing that if the unit is successful, some of the world’s greatest problems – especially in relation to climate change – will be solved.”
Cold fusion technology (now described as low energy nuclear reaction) promises unlimited, clean, cheap, safe, and waste-free energy, but to date no-one has been able to develop a properly working system.
Smith says that Rossi’s E-Cat technology had been through a number of tests, some of which had been endorsed by international scientists but others which proved unsuccessful or inconclusive, raising doubts that the technology works as described.
His criterion for the proposed test was to repeat a demonstration from March 29, 2011 at which two Swedish scientists were present, and who endorsed the technology.
These were Sven Kullander, Professor Emeritus at Uppsala University, and Hanno Essen, Associate Professor of theoretical physics and a lecturer at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology and former chairman of the Swedish Skeptics Association(!).
In an interview prior to their visit to Rossi’s facility for tests, Kullander said that correspondence with Rossi “has reinforced my impression that he is serious. I find that he is an interesting person to talk to, and I find it hard to imagine that he has indeed created a scam.”
The report on their tests can be found here.
Prior to Smith’s offer, Ian Bryce, chief investigator for Australian Skeptics (Smith is patron of the group) suggested there may be an alternative to how the technology seemed to work.
Bryce said that a mis-wiring of the E-Cat could have provided the same energy that the scientists thought came via a cold fusion reaction.
Smith asked that Kullander and Essen be present for the re-test, if available, as well as a third person to assist with the measuring equipment used to test output and ensure its accuracy “so that there are no doubts that the scientific community will accept the results”.
However, Smith says Rossi’s refusal to be re-tested casts serious doubts on Kullander and Essen’s findings. Considering that their observations were under restricted conditions, Smith describes their endorsement as “irresponsible”.
Essen has recently accepted that Bryce’s alternative suggested method of operation might have merit.
Rossi has touted the technology for some time, and has sought licensees to distribute the finished product internationally.
While Rossi has said he expects to have E-Cat units for sale by the end of this year, Smith told him that he was not concerned if the technology took some time to finalise development, just that it is proved to work in the first instance.
Smith said that the advantage of his offer is that Rossi “can show the sceptics (I am presently one of them) that the unit actually works as you have claimed”.
“You will receive attention from around the world and a well-deserved Nobel prize. I will consider I have had value for my money as the person who actually proves that your unit works (or doesn’t) – an issue that will be resolved for all time.”
Rossi’s unequivocal rejection of Smith’s offer – despite being such a large sum – indicates that he is not keen to put his technology through a properly run test prior to selling his ‘technology’ to the public, should that ever occur. His rejection might, however, ensure him worldwide attention, though perhaps for the wrong reasons. It might also throw into doubt his chances of winning a Nobel Prize.