Early Life and Education
Sergio Focardi was born in Florence, Italy in 1932. Little information is publicly available about his early life. He earned his first science degree in Florence, then in 1950 continued his studies at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. He graduated cum laude with a physics degree in 1954, and stayed on as an assistant there for two years. In 1956 he accepted a position at the University of Bologna where he spent the remainder of his academic career, teaching courses in general and experimental physics. Focardi spent a brief time in 1977 as a guest lecturer at the University of Messina. He became an emeritus professor at Bologna in 2004.
Professional and Administrative Activities
Professor Focardi was active in professional associations including the Italian Physics Society (SIF) and the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN). He served on the board of the SIF for twelve terms and for three years directed the Bologna branch of the INFN. He served as president of COASSI, the Coordination Committee of Italian Scientific Societies, for two years from 1988 to 1990.
At the University of Bologna he held two administrative posts in addition to his teaching and research. During the 1980s he served as dean of faculty for the Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences. From 1992 to 2000 he chaired the information science program at Cesena and founded the information science program at Bologna and the environmental science program at Ravenna.
Research and Scholarly Activities
Focardi's primary research interest has been cold fusion, a controversial area of physics that seeks to produce highly exothermic reactions from simple materials. An exothermic reaction is one that produces a surplus of energy beyond the amount needed to initiate and sustain itself. Many physicists worldwide believe that cold fusion simply is not possible. Previous attempts to produce cold fusion have been unsuccessful. In 1989 two American chemists, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, announced that they had achieved cold fusion using deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen) and palladium, but no other team was able to replicate their results and it was eventually discovered that they had made serious errors.
The Nickel-Hydrogen Reaction leading up to the E-Cat
Professor Focardi's work focused on a nickel-hydrogen reaction to produce cold fusion, and he collaborated in the early 1990s with Francesco Piantelli of the University of Siena and Roberto Habel of the University of Cagliari. In 1994 they announced, in a press conference at the University of Siena, that they had created a low energy nuclear reactor (LENR) using nickel and hydrogen. An unsuccessful attempt was made at CERN by Antonino Zichichi, also of the University of Bologna, to replicate the Focardi-Piantelli results in 1996. Another unsuccessful replication attempt was made by Louis Nosenzo and Luigi Cattaneo at the University of Pavia in 1988/1999. So far no one has successfully replicated the results reported by Focardi and Piantelli in 1994.
Focardi, Rossi and The Energy Catalyzer
Since 2008 Focardi has collaborated with inventor Andrea Rossi on the development of a device they call an Energy Catalyzer or E-Cat, which uses the nickel-hydrogen reaction that was the focus of Focardi's earlier work. They announced and demonstrated such a device at a press conference in January of 2011. Rossi has formed a company that plans to produce and sell the E-Cat, and another demonstration is planned for October of 2011.