No country for cold fusion

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"No country for cold fusion"

So 60 Minutes had a serious piece on cold fusion, which has been long ignored and rightfully so.  As a physicist, the story was intriguing because there might be some interesting tabletop nuclear physics going on, although nobody really knows what that might be.

As an energy technologist, however, I didn’t see anything that would suggest we’re going to see some big game changer anytime soon — and the featured scientist/advocate was guilty of some particularly unconvincing and counterproductive hype.  I’d say cold fusion may have moved from junk science to the realm of hydrogen or fusion — decades away, at best, but possibly never very useful.

Wikipedia has a good entry if you want some unhyped background on cold fusion, which came to public attention “on March 23, 1989 when Fleischmann and Pons reported producing nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment involving electrolysis of heavy water on a palladium (Pd) electrode. They reported anomalous heat production (“excess heat”) of a magnitude they asserted would defy explanation except in terms of nuclear processes.”  Needless to say, this was a shock, since until then physicists thought you needed multi-million degree temperatures to fuse nuclei and generate energy.

Many major physics laboratories failed to reproduce the results and scientific theories explaining how it might be possible were lacking (as they pretty much are still today).

In 1989, the majority of a review panel organized by the US Department of Energy (DOE) had found that the evidence for the discovery of a new nuclear process was not persuasive. A second DOE review, convened in 2004 to look at new research, reached conclusions that were similar to those of the 1989 panel.

The 2004 DOE report is here.  A 2005 Scientific American summary of the findings was titled “Back to Square One.”  Some on the panel thought “the evidence for excess power was compelling” but “When it came to whether nuclear reactions took place in the experiments, the report noted that two thirds of reviewers found the evidence unconvincing, one person found it compelling, and the remainder were somewhat convinced.”

It is incredibly tricky to measure all of the energy inputs and outputs, which is why 60 Minutes had an independent expert come in and examine the one company’s claims.  He ended up convinced excess heat was being generated.  Richard Garwin, one of the country’s foremost authorities on nuclear physics and “the author of the actual design used in the first hydrogen bomb,” remains unconvinced.

I was very unconvinced by the over-the-top hype from the main expert on the show:

“We can yield the power of nuclear physics on a tabletop. The potential is unlimited. That is the most powerful energy source known to man,” researcher Michael McKubre told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley.

McKubre says he has seen that energy more than 50 times in cold fusion experiments he’s doing at SRI International, a respected California lab that does extensive work for the government.

McKubre is an electro-chemist who imagines, in 20 years, the creation of a clean nuclear battery. “For example, a laptop would come pre-charged with all of the energy that you would ever intend to use. You’re now decoupled from your charger and the wall socket,” he explained.

The same would go for cars. “The potential is for an energy source that would run your car for three, four years, for example. And you’d take it in for service every four years and they’d give you a new power supply,” McKubre told Pelley.

“Power stations?” Pelley asked.

You can imagine a one for one plug in replacement for nuclear fuel rods. And the difference only would be that at the end of the lifetime of that fuel rod, you didn’t have radioactive waste that needed to be disposed of,” McKubre replied.

Huh?

First off, where does this lifetime-charged laptop come from?  I thought this thing generated excess heat.  That is the last thing you want in a laptop.  I am no expert on nuclear physics or electrochemistry, but I just don’t see how this operates as a small, incredibly long-lived battery and a huge, heat-generator for a power plant.

Second, the last thing you would do is stick this in a nuke, which is an incredibly expensive power plant, wildly over engineered to deal with neutrons and radioactivity and the possibility of a meltdown.

The goal, I thought, was to boil water and drive a steam turbine.  And frankly, they have no idea whatsoever if they can do that, because they don’t even have 100% reproducibility of whatever it is they are doing, and they don’t even have an agreed-upon theory as to why it works (if it does).

Even if they are generating excess heat at a very small scale in an ideal laboratory setting, seemingly in spurts, they don’t know if this would scale up to a very high temperature steady-state real-world situation needed to generate large amounts of electricity.

And needless to say, if this isn’t being done through nuclear reactions, but through good old-fashioned chemical reactions, it is infinitely less interesting and infinitely less likely to be an energy game changer.

Frankly, this guy sounded like dozens of very smart and sincere people I’ve heard over the past 15 years give powerpoint presentations about how their amazing technology breakthrough would solve the energy crisis.

Count me unconvinced.

For more, here’s a nice post by NueroLogica blog with an extended comments discussion that includes at least one knowledgeable cold fusion advocate.

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36 Responses to No country for cold fusion

  1. Rick C says:

    Joe,

    Is it true that as of yet Fleschmann and Pons experiment has never been conducted with a control like say comparing the heat output of deuterized water with non-deuterized water?

  2. Harrier says:

    Aren’t there hot fusion designs that have shown at least a little promise? I seem to recall reading about one that started with a T. T-something.

    I think fusion should be researched even if its immediate prospects look gloomy, because it is more or less the holy grail of energy. Even the dim prospect of capturing the power of the stars ought to be enough to proceed with testing. If we could get it to work, fusion could change everything.

  3. Brewster says:

    I’ve been following Cold Fusion for some time, and I’m convinced it’s for real.

    However, I also agree that nothing found so far indicates it will ever be commercially useful. As the NeuroLogica article states, it should be pursued on the chance something big comes from it, but it would be silly to spend major money on it.

    That being said, it has produced far more excess energy than Hot Fusion for a H*ll of a lot less money…

  4. Brewster says:

    Harrier, the word you are looking for is “Tokamak”…

    My translation would be “Not Yet”

  5. Mark Shapiro says:

    Cold fusion is fascinating measurement error.

    Hot fusion happens steadily and reliably in every star with no technology or brains, just huge mass creating huge temperatures and pressures. Create those same pressures and temperatures in a box on earth, while feeding in fuel, and bleeding off the heat and waste in a nice steady stream? No.

    I don’t even like doing the research. Wouldn’t you just hate for fusion technology to get good enough to create a cheap thermonuclear bomb? Personally, I prefer cities unvaporized.

    Fusion is worse than a distraction. Dreams of unlimited power are unhealthy. It’s time to get back to work.

  6. Mike says:

    Interesting,

    So typical, it defies logic, the title says it all, no country for cold fusion, and that is so true, the powers to be who pull the strings to get funding will do anything and everything to keep the funds flowing to hot fusion, and smear any attempt of any other type of fusion energy. There are hundreds who have duplicated so called cold fusion, and with far less than the billions that went into developing hot fusion, so it is not about solving our energy needs, it is all about money. Fusion exists, I have too seen it, but no one would be crazy enough prove it without getting visit from men in black, sent by those who lobbyists have been paying off for years. lol

  7. Jim O' says:

    Geez Joe, didn’t think you’d jump on the Low Energy Nuclear Reaction Denyer Bandwagon quite so fast! (Thats what Cold Fusion is now called).

    The Navy recently confirmed similar results to Pons and Fleishmann, who, in my opinion, got a bum rap. Navy researchers have found “streaking” -evidence of excited neutrons. I’m not completely sure what that means but it sounds like its worth looking into.

  8. Fred Heutte says:

    No neutrons, no fusion. Simple as that.

    Charles Seife’s book “Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking,” is well worth reading. He focuses mostly on “hot” fusion but has a useful short history of the strange Fleischman/Pons episode and others since then.

    Fusion has always been the great hope 30 years away. It was like that in the 1950s and it still is.

  9. This is top of the shelf magical thinking – enough real research to make it plausible. But it is out of reach right now. More possible is geo-thermal.

    Currently carbon fuel should be used only to establish green energy systems. All other uses of carbon energy should be heavily taxed.

  10. Rick C says:

    Mike,

    See my question above. The reason for comparing water containing deuterium, a hydrogen isotope, with water not containing deuterium is signigicant. Like Fred said if there is no neutron radiation there is no fusion. Deuterium contains a single neutron a proton and an electron. When two deuterium isotopes, or as is more likely a deuterium and tritium isotope (two neutrons) fuse a neutron is given off that packs a walloping 14.1 Megaelectron Volts (Meg) which is where the vast majority of the energy in a fusion reaction comes from. Now if non deuterized water is used as a control and it still gives off heat than there is no fusion reaction pure and simple.

    To date I don’t think Pons and Fleischmann have ever submitted their cold fusion reaction experiment to this kind of control. If there is no control then you don’t know what your getting is fusion or just some run of the mill chemical reaction.

  11. Theodore says:

    It seems that a laboratory unfamiliar to an outside expert observer would be a fine setting for profitable magic tricks by those that designed the machines. It might be impossible for one not intimately familiar with the equipment to detect the extra chemical or energy inputs. This might be the full expanation for every positive result obtained so far.

  12. russ says:

    Excellent article – magic will not solve any problems.

    Low level expenditure is fine – new things are found all the time where no one expected but to wait for this to be the answer is more than foolish.

  13. Jim Beacon says:

    While there’s nothing wrong with spending a little money on this kind of basic research, we should certainly not count on it and if something eventually comes of it, great. But we don’t need any more research to create the solutions to the climate change threat. We already have the technologies we need to meet that challenge — we only have to make the commitment to deploy them on a a huge scale as quickly as possible (like yesterday).

    That’s why I’m disheartened when I see the Obama Administration planning to allocate so much money to yet more research and development, more “prototyping”, more “feasibility studies” and more of the every popular “demonstration projects”. I see the universities lining up to take their cut for more research and analysis. Phooey. We’ve had 30 years of that kind of dog paddling. We have no more time — and certainly not much spare money — to waste screwing around any longer. We need to take the tools we already have, roll up our sleeves and do the job at hand. Enough theory. Enough speculation. Time to act.

  14. elbarto says:

    I’ve been harnessing fusion energy for some time now. I have a special “inclined planar collector” on my roof, it converts the massively abundant “stellar fusion energy” into hot water for my showers…

  15. Mike says:

    Rick,

    No doubt, starting with deuterium is why it gave the skeptics an easy way to debunk process, and what it seems is being missed is the end result which has been duplicated many times, and that is excess heat and energy above input. Like many have said, this was never suppose to be lableled fusion, it was done so by competition in hot fusion field to make cold fusion become the snake oil of science, and that is the real issue.

    Agreed, if there is no neutron radiation, there is no fusion. And yes, deuterium contains a single neutron, a proton and an electron, so if deuterium water was not used, and there was none detectable even after producing excess heat, I agree, this is not conventional fusion. But it still is feasable as an alternative energy source, just redefine it as other than fusion to satisfy science by the book for all the skeptics and let the funds flow into other than hot fusion, or any fusion as I see it.

    It is time to define this new excess energy source, not try to shove it in to a neat and tidy Phd correct box. What I have seen is excess energy, and it is duplicated by many, and yes, it uses deuterium water, so what, the point is it has been duplicated many times, but everyone is afraid that the same thing will happen given the results Pon and Fleischmann were subjected to. Better to look at what Blacklight Energy has done, they simply state the excess energy is undefined, and really, who cares what science wants to call it if it produced cheap clean energy with no radiation or harmful waste to deal with like all hot fusion process does.

    Simply put, if the word fusion was not wrongly attached to Pons and Fleischmann’s breakthrough, we would all be using this and all the funding would have been shifted to this new nameless process, and that is the real shame, it was supressed, just as it has been a hundred times over and over when it threatens to impact funding to these colleges. I witnessed an unexplained reaction years ago, and it too defies science as we know it, and it can be replicated, and in less than a year, it will be introduced, just as Blacklight has moved forward, ever so slowly. LOL

  16. russ says:

    The government has spent hundreds of billions on energy research over the past 50 years and should continue to do so.

    To say we have the answer in hand is simplistic and wrong. Answers on hand in 2009 are all steps along the way – nothing more and nothing less.

  17. EricG says:

    Hey guys, how does the First Law fit into this? If the process yields excess energy, doesn’t something else have to change? They imply the energy comes from the Pd. If we can measure a change in energy, shouldn’t we be able to measure an offsetting change in the Pd?

  18. Rick C says:

    Mike,

    until you can reproduce the experiment, and to my knowledge only Texas A&M replicated it, (Generating a flood of Aggie jokes here in Texas) you have no evidence. MIT didn’t reproduce it. Caltech didn’t. If this is all that passes for evidence we might as well shutdown the Physics departments at Princeton, MIT and Caltech.

  19. Rick C says:

    elbarto,

    Clever! ;)

  20. energyman says:

    I saw the story and thought it was ok.
    I wanted to know more about the company Energetics Technologies. I found their website if
    you want to check them out too.
    http://www.energeticstechnologies.com

  21. Rick C says:

    Mike,

    The only thing cold fusion has proved thus far is that if you run a current through electrodes emersed in a heavy water and salts solution you will electcrolyze water into deuterium and oxygen. That’s not even worth stopping the presses for. In so far as energy yield is concerned, if what is going on is fusion then where is the neutron radiation. The answer is there isn’t any. No components of fusion are present. If this is another kind of energy than they should drop the cold-fusion pretense.

    None of the major universities has been able to replicate this experiment. Even MITI in Japan could not do it. If anybody has a stake in energy independence it is Japan which has no mineral resources to speak of and would desperately love to be energy independent.

  22. What troubles me about the “cold fusion” debate is the cruelty and incuriosity of the skeptics. They flatly declare it is impossible, and unfairly attack good faith investigators. Look what happened to Fleishman and Pons, and to Taleyarkhan (bubble fusion).

    Why not examine the evidence? Why be so vehemently vindictive, regarding research you know nothing about? The 60 Minutes piece was a good expose of the obstacles in the way of scientific knowledge. Hot fusion’s merits may be judged from the discourtesy of its advocates.

    It looks like those who made their careers in hot fusion, and who desperately want the lavish government grants for hot fusion research to continue, are determined to be atrociously savage to those who dare to investigate other possibilities, in the hope of scaring off all work in “cold fusion” — which is not the name its investigators prefer, but a smear label. The Inquisition has declared the sun revolves around the Earth, and all dissenters will be burned like Giordano Bruno. Galileo: shut up.

    Prof. Ruslan Taleyarkhan claimed to have detected excess neutron emissions (more neutrons out than were put in) in the cavitation bubble collapse of deuterated acetone, and Purdue took away his teaching position for academic misconduct.

    Now we have claims of intermittent excess heat from Pd/deuterium electrolysis, and the hate is on again. Maybe the excess heat detected is from the energy of the excess neutrons getting absorbed. Maybe not. Maybe the predictions of electricity from cold fusion are over-optimistic. But why not look further?

  23. Wladimir Guglinski says:

    Based on the new nuclear model of Quantum Ring Theory, a new theory is proposed to explain the results obtained by Pamela Mosier-Boss cold fusion experiment, published in last March.

    See the article in Peswiki:
    How zitterbewegung contributes for cold fusion in Pamela Mosier-Boss experiment:
    http://peswiki.com/index.php/Article:_How_zitterbewegung_contributes_for_cold_fusion_in_Pamela_Mosier-Boss_experiment

  24. Wladimir Guglinski says:

    GUGLINSKI’S THEORY ON COLD FUSION WILL BE TESTED IN US NAVY

    Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2009 10:29:47 -0700
    From: pam.boss@navy.mil
    To: wladimirguglinski@hotmail.com
    Dear Wladimir,
    Like many, we have very few funds and resources. But we will consider your suggestions and see what we can do as time and money permits.
    Regards,
    Pam


    From: Wladimir Guglinski (wladimirguglinski@hotmail.com)
    Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 10:35:59 PM
    To: PAMELA MOSIER-BOSS (pam.boss@navy.mil)
    Hi, Pamela
    Be careful, and take cary.
    If all the deuteriuns of the Pd lattice alligned in the same direction get resonance and have fusion at the same time, perhaps it can occur a small explosion in your electrolytic cell.
    Also, I recomend you to put a loadstone externally in the cell (like in the Letts-Cravens experiment), in order to help to keep a lot of deuteriuns alligned toward the same direction (that of the external magnetic field applied)
    Good luck

  25. Stephen Kaplan says:

    Joseph:

    Did you write the piece on cold fusion that is the lead story on your blog?

    Jed Rothwell has prepared a point by point rebuttal. I will send it to you
    later today. It got lost in your spam filtering system.

    Since Rothwell’s piece is quite extensive with many web references I think
    it deserves equal billing with the orginal piece. Otherwise, it might get lost in the many responses you’ve received, which are not as extensively documented.

    After you receive the piece, possibly by tonight, please let me know if
    you agree if it deserves a equal billing as I am suggesting.

    Thanks for your fair review,

    Steve Kaplan

    [JR: Can’t find it. Have him repost it. If he wants equal billing, he needs to run his own blog.]

  26. Jed Rothwell says:

    Dear Dr. Romm,

    I found a number of technical errors in your article “No country for cold fusion” as well as some misunderstandings, and some assertions I disagree with. I tried to upload a response but your spam filter rejected my message. I asked Stephen Kaplan to forward this response to you.

    You wrote:

    “Many major physics laboratories failed to reproduce the results and scientific theories explaining how it might be possible were lacking (as they pretty much are still today).”

    Several laboratories did fail to replicate in 1989. However, a larger number succeeded. By September 1990, Fritz Will tallied 92 replications and a few years later positive reports far outnumbered failures. See:

    http://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/WillFGgroupsrepo.pdf

    http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/RothwellJtallyofcol.pdf

    “The 2004 DOE report is here. A 2005 Scientific American summary of the findings was titled ‘Back to Square One.'”

    I disagree with the Scientific American’s article for reasons spelled out in detail here:

    http://www.lenr-canr.org/News.htm#SciAmSlam

    “Some on the panel thought ‘the evidence for excess power was compelling’ but ‘When it came to whether nuclear reactions took place in the experiments, the report noted that two thirds of reviewers found the evidence unconvincing, one person found it compelling, and the remainder were somewhat convinced.'”

    I suggest you read the reviewers’ own statements rather than the DoE’s summary of them. See:

    http://www.lenr-canr.org/Collections/USNavy.htm

    “It is incredibly tricky to measure all of the energy inputs and outputs, which is why 60 Minutes had an independent expert come in and examine the one company’s claims.”

    This is not incredibly tricky. As Flieschmann pointed out, the instrument and techniques he uses were developed by J. P. Joule. Faraday measured the inputs and outputs to electrochemical cells and established his laws of electrolysis in 1834. A blank cold fusion experiment with platinum and ordinary water is an exact replication of Faraday’s work, and it gives same answer. Any electrochemist in the last 170 years could have measured the Fleischmann-Pons effect with confidence. The effect is difficult to produce but easy to detect once it turns on.

    “Richard Garwin, one of the country’s foremost authorities on nuclear physics and ‘the author of the actual design used in the first hydrogen bomb,’ remains unconvinced.”

    This is not what Garwin told DARPA. In his 1993 report on his visit to SRI he wrote: “We have found no specific experimental artifact responsible for the finding of excess heat . . .” In other words, he does not know any specific reason to doubt the power measurements. Unless he can cite a specific reason his claim cannot be tested or falsified and therefore it is not a valid scientific assertion. Garwin’s SRI report is here:

    http://www.newenergytimes.com/v2/reports/GarwinLewisReport/garwin.shtml

    Garwin’s assertion is also incorrect because excess heat has been measured when there is no input power, in heat after death and with gas loading. If the heat were an artifact caused by input power measurements, it would vanish as soon as input power is cut.

    “I was very unconvinced by the over-the-top hype from the main expert on the show . . .”

    This is not over-the-top hype. McKubre’s assertions are based on careful extrapolations of experimental results. Fleischmann and others have made similar extrapolations. Please bear in mind that these are extrapolations: McKubre does not claim he is certain the technology will be perfected, but only that that this is likely to happen if researchers learn how to control the reaction better than they can today. Enormous progress has been made, so it reasonable to think that the effect can and will be controlled. Once this is achieved, scaling up will be easy, as McKubre indicated.

    “First off, where does this lifetime-charged laptop come from? I thought this thing generated excess heat. That is the last thing you want in a laptop. I am no expert on nuclear physics or electrochemistry, but I just don’t see how this operates as a small, incredibly long-lived battery and a huge, heat-generator for a power plant.”

    This would be done with thermoelectric devices (TED). Present-day TED would produce somewhat more waste heat than conventional batteries or transformers, but advanced ones will not have this problem. This is discussed in detail in my e-book “Cold Fusion and the Future”:

    http://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/RothwellJcoldfusiona.pdf

    “Second, the last thing you would do is stick this in a nuke, which is an incredibly expensive power plant, wildly over engineered to deal with neutrons and radioactivity and the possibility of a meltdown.”

    He did not mean this should be done literally, with an existing nuclear plant. He meant that cold fusion cathodes have reached temperatures and power density comparable to the core of a conventional fission reactor. The reactor turbines and heat exchangers will not have to radically redesigned.

    “The goal, I thought, was to boil water and drive a steam turbine. And frankly, they have no idea whatsoever if they can do that, because they don’t even have 100% reproducibility of whatever it is they are doing, and they don’t even have an agreed-upon theory as to why it works (if it does).”

    Some techniques are close to 100% reproducible. Others work ~80% of the time. This is not the same as having “no idea whatsoever.” No commercial product ever achieves 100% reproducibility. In the early 1950s, in some transistor production lines the success rate was less than 10%, and device performance would change “when someone slammed the door.” Despite these problems with reproducibility and control, it was clear that transistors would become an important technology.

    Many technologies and experiments today cannot be explained by theory. The purpose of research is to develop a theory, not to reject widely replicated phenomena because they cannot be explained by theory.

    “Even if they are generating excess heat at a very small scale in an ideal laboratory setting, seemingly in spurts, they don’t know if this would scale up to a very high temperature steady-state real-world situation needed to generate large amounts of electricity.”

    The effect has been scaled to high temperatures, as I noted. The effect is small in some cases but palpably large in other cases, ranging from 20 to 100 W. Cold fusion cells have produce 100 to 300 MJ in a single run, whereas the largest plasma fusion test in history produced only 6 MJ, albeit at a much higher power level.

    Some experiments produce heat in spurts, but many others, including McKubre’s, produce steady-state, sustained heat for long periods of time, ranging from days to months. During these periods, cells produce far more energy than a chemical device of the same size could produce. (They have produced 10,000 times more, and they can probably produce millions of times more, but this would take decades, and the cells are turned off after a few months.)

    “And needless to say, if this isn’t being done through nuclear reactions, but through good old-fashioned chemical reactions, it is infinitely less interesting and infinitely less likely to be an energy game changer.”

    Chemical reactions are ruled out for a number of reasons. Very briefly:

    * There is no chemical fuel in a cold fusion cell, and no chemical reaction products or ash is ever found after the reaction.

    * The reaction sometimes produces thousands of times more energy than any chemical reaction could (as noted above).

    * The reaction produces helium in the same ratio to the heat as plasma fusion does.

    * The reaction produces tritium, neutrons and other nuclear products at different ratios, but often in amounts far above background. Tritium has been detected at levels millions of times above background. This is proof that some sort of nuclear reaction is taking place.

    These issues are discussed in far more detail in my book, chapter 1; in the books by Storms, Beaudette and Mallove; in Storm’s “Student’s Guide” and in thousands of cold fusion papers. (Chapter 1 of my book was carefully reviewed by Mallove, Mizuno and many other researchers and engineers.)

    “Count me unconvinced.”

    My impression is that you have not read the literature carefully enough to form an opinion about this subject. A person cannot be convinced or unconvinced about a scientific claim until he has read the literature. Cold fusion is a complicated subject, and you cannot understand it by guessing.

    [JR: You’ll need 100% reproducibility and a testable — and confirmed — explanatory theory to convince me. A working product would be a big help, too.]

    I have a large collection of papers on cold fusion, including 1,200 peer-reviewed papers copied from the library at Los Alamos; 800 from non-peer-reviewed journal papers; and 1,000 from conference proceedings, official publications from the U.S. Navy, Los Alamos and various other national laboratories in the U.S., Italy, Japan and China. I have uploaded this bibliography and 500 full-text papers and books here:

    http://lenr-canr.org

    This literature shows that the effect has been replicated thousand of times, by roughly 2,000 professional scientists in hundreds of laboratories. Some of these replications were close to the noise, but others were at high signal to noise ratios. There is not the slightest chance that all of these researchers made mistakes. If that could happen, the experimental method itself would not work. Nothing remotely like that has happened in the history of science. Mistakes such as polywater did not resemble cold fusion for several reasons. Briefly, only one lab ever claimed to replicate polywater, and it soon retracted; and the effect was supposedly at very low signal to noise ratios, at the limits of detection, whereas cold fusion sometimes occurs at high signal to noise ratios, such that it could have been measured anytime in the last 170 years, as I said.

    If you have any questions about this subject, or if you would like to see some of the papers listed in the bibliography that I have not uploaded, please feel free to contact me.

    Sincerely,

    Jed Rothwell
    Librarian, LENR-CANR.org

  27. Jed Rothwell says:

    You wrote:

    “[JR: You’ll need 100% reproducibility and a testable — and confirmed — explanatory theory to convince me. A working product would be a big help, too.]”

    These have never been held as a requirement for any previous scientific claim. If we had demanded 100% reproducibility and a theory, we would have rejected radioactivity, semiconductor research from 1924 to 1952, antibiotics, low temperature and high temperature superconductivity (HTSC) and hundreds of other important discoveries and technologies. There is still no theory for HTSC and for many aspects of electrochemistry. The purpose of science is to find explanations, not to reject phenomena that cannot be explained.

  28. Joe says:

    Jed: You are jumping the shark here. Scientific claims require reproducibility — and not 70% to 80% of the time.

    Sorry, without 100% reproducibility there’s 1) no clear evidence you folks know what you’re doing and 2) no possibility of a product.

    Some scientists tell me it’s fusion, some say it’s a nuclear reaction. Others that it’s phantom.

    That’s completely different than the situation for HTSC.

  29. Jim O' says:

    Joe: I know that you are concerned that the GW Denyers and their FF Funders have used emerging and never-to-emerge future technologies to confuse the American People and slow down our desperately needed rush to efficiency and clean energy tech that we have on the shelf today – I get it. Most of us here do.

    Up above I couldn’t miss the opportunity to have some fun and call you a LENR-Denyer but seriously, as a friend I would say you should tone down the somewhat harsh skepticism toward this research. This research is important and the people who have bravely stood in there in the face of fanatical and vitriolic attacks are, in my opinion heroes just like our Patron James Hanson. Can’t you see some of the paralells here? We all know the history of Science and Politics and the destruction of people when they dare to suggest ideas that are outside the conventional dogma.

  30. Imagine that you are the Assistant Secretary of DOE for Renewable Energy. A group of scientists from respected institutions come to you with information on a remarkable new energy process. The fuel supply is immense and the process is safe. It promises to produce high power and energy densities. Hence, the process could possibly replace the need for fossil fuel and conventional nuclear fission power as energy sources for utility power plants. Further, it might lead to decentralized power sources, easing the burden on the grid.

    The scientists’ assertions have a solid experimental base. Over a 20 year period, the data coming in from scientists from all over the world shows higher and higher degrees of reproducibility, with some being as high as 70-80 percent. Moreover, data coming from Defense Department laboratories indicate that the nuclear processes, which skeptical scientists have long claimed to be impossible, are in fact occurring. Multiple types of data indicate that nuclear processes are what is bringing about the claimed “excess heat” and “heat after death (after the original triggering process is turned off). The experiments done in the past and now in over ten countries are inexpensive, and do not require multi-billion dollar facilities.

    Faced with such information, amidst an unprecedented energy crisis and economic downturn approaching the depth of the depression of the 1930’s, would you give some serious consideration to investing $20 million annually into further basic research? The goal would be to see if the new process could eventually bring about commercially viable and reliable energy alternatives.

    The twenty million being requested is a tiny fraction of the tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have already been invested in very expensive “hot fusion” experiments. In your position, you would know very well that the investment in “hot fusion”, which was first made over fifty years ago, has yet to show positive results for the nation’s energy future. The field’s own advocates claim that hot fusion processes will not provide useful power for another twenty to thirty years. In that time, if a tiny investment in basic research is made by DOE or other government research facilities, the US could become a world leader in a green and safe nuclear power industry based on the remarkable new advances in current and subsequent cold fusion research.

    What would you do? What is the wisest and highest cost-benefit decision that could be made?

  31. Jed Rothwell says:

    You wrote:

    “Scientific claims require reproducibility — and not 70% to 80% of the time.”

    That is complete incorrect. The reproducibility rate of cloning is less than 0.1%, but no one claims that cloning does not exist for that reason. The reproducibility rate of transistors was far lower than cold fusion until the late 1950s, but no one claimed that transistors did not exist. To this day, semiconductor production line reproducibility is below 100%; may devices fail to pass QA testing. High reproducibility has NEVER been held as a standard for believing an experimental phenomenon. 100% reproducibility has never been held as a standard for commercial production! You have applied this standard to cold fusion, arbitrarily, disregarding logic and the history of science and technology. You have moved the goalposts first down the field, out into the parking lot, and into the next county.

    [JR: Quite wrong. It is cold fusion people who are promising a replacement for your laptop battery that lasts forever, or a quick drop in replacement for nuclear fuel rods without radioactivity.

    This is not getting all the media hype because it is a “experimental phenomenon.” THe hype is about real products in the foreseeable future. Try again.]

  32. Jerry Iseler says:

    I do not know if the phenomenon under discussion will become useful in a commercial product but I DO believe that something interesting happens when Palladium is “loaded” with Deuterium. I personally saw polaroid x-ray films exhibit “pictures” of a piece of Palladium that had been loaded and then sparked, however the images did not appear every time.

  33. david megarry says:

    It has been proposed that a different kind of fusion process is happening
    in the Pons and Fleishman experiment: proton or neutron capture by Pd atoms.
    A Pd lattice saturated with Deuterium will produce enough collisions to
    allow quantum tunneling to occur. There are 7 stable isotopes of Pd (though
    two are rarer in natural abundance) which would produce the following final
    decay products if neutron capture is happening:
    Pd-102 -> Rh-103
    Pd-104 -> Pd-105
    Pd-105 -> Pd-106
    Pd-106 -> Ag-107
    Pd-107 -> Pd-108
    Pd-108 -> Ag-109
    Pd-110 -> Cd-111

    if proton capture is happening:

    Pd-102 -> Pd-104
    Pd-104 -> Pd-106
    Pd-105 -> Ag-107
    Pd-106 -> Cd-108
    Pd-107 -> Ag-109
    Pd-108 -> Cd-110
    Pd-110 -> Cd-112

    Has anyone looked for these by-products in these experiments? I think helium production
    is highly unlikely. Heat does not have to be measured to prove the validity of this
    proposal, spectrum analysis is needed to detect the presence of the final products.
    Initial isotopic conditions and contaminates need to be identified to eliminate
    false positives. I also think the isotopic mix needs to be examined. It maybe that different
    mines produce different mixes: if only one isotope is responsible and it is not present,
    the experiment will be a failure

  34. I can’t believe the closed – minded arrogance and sheer stupidity of this conservative American society these days. Cold fusion has done been confirmed beyond any shadow of doubt literally thousands of times in hundreds of laboratories all around the world. The more important question that must now be answered is whether or not it can be made practical enough to make a major contribution to our energy needs……Or will it forever remain only a laboratory curiosity or only small – scale cellphone battery applications ?

  35. Nick Palmer says:

    I think Joe and many of those commenting may be missing the point. The experimental evidence that something nuclear is happening in these “low energy” experiments is huge. Short of positing a vast degree of fraud, like the deniers claim for AGW science (which we know is just paranoid desperation, right?), I think if people looked at the evidence fairly, they would come to these conclusions.

    1) A new nuclear regime probably exists

    2) We are still in the “look, here’s a new phenomenon phase” for which a “cast-iron, works every time, for everybody short of someone skilled in the art” experiment is still elusive.

    3) Given 1), this is major news for physics and deserves many fully funded research teams working on it trying to understand what the parameters are that create the reaction, coming up with theory and testing it by experiment – the way true science works. Why wouldn’t genuine scientists want to explore exciting new territory?

    4) A new regime of physics that appears to generate energy, mostly in the form of heat beyond any possible chemical explanation, and seemingly with little or no dangerous nuclear ash, holds great promise for humanity.

    5) Those who have investigated it, and become convinced of the large positive possibilities, naturally wax lyrical about how the effect could change energy supply when sufficient R&D has been done. Don’t jump on them for being enthusiastic.

    6) Instead of knee-jerk scepticism paralysing the availability of any research funds (restricting the field to almost a garage tinkerer level) a broad acknowledgement that there is a phenomenon here that needs investigating in an Edisonian, try every material for a filament, way should open the floodgates.

    The possibility that we could end up with a more or less inexhaustible, more environmentally benign energy source should be just about the biggest carrot that could be imagined. Cold fusion or low energy nuclear reactions doesn’t need the stick.