A Tentative New Hope for Discredited Cold Fusion

By Eliza Strickland | March 24, 2009 11:45 am

cold fusion TimeCold fusion is the dream that won’t die for some nuclear physicists. If they could replicate the nuclear reaction that powers our sun under room temperature conditions, the thinking goes, humanity would gain a clean source of nearly limitless energy. Work on cold fusion has been relegated to the margins of science since a much-hyped experiment 20 years ago was discredited, but now a new team of researchers says they’ve conducted experiments that should reinstate the field. “We have compelling evidence that fusion reactions are occurring” at room temperature [EE Times], said lead researcher Pamela Mosier-Boss, of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego.

On March 23, 1989, physicists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann claimed to have created fusion reactions in a tabletop experiment, at room temperature. [Watch a video of the annoucement here.] Their claims of producing small amounts of excess heat — energy — in their experiments were at first met with excitement, then skepticism and finally derision as other scientists were unable to reproduce the results [Houston Chronicle]. Most physicists eventually concluded that the extra energy was either a fluke or the product of an experimental error.

Mosier-Boss announced her team’s new findings at a meeting of the American Chemical Society yesterday, twenty years to the day since the earlier declaration. She has also published the work in the journal Naturwissenschaft.

The theoretical underpinnings of cold fusion have yet to be adequately explained. The hypothesis is that when electrolysis is performed on [the heavy hydrogen isotope deuterium], molecules are fused into helium, releasing a high-energy neutron. While excess heat has been detected by researchers, no group had yet been able to detect the missing neutrons [EE Times]. But Mosier-Boss says that earlier experiments simply lacked the instruments to detect such a small number of neutrons.

Mosier-Boss says her team found the “tracks” left behind by high-energy neutrons, which, they suggest, emerge from the fusion of a deuterium and tritium atom [New Scientist]. In their experiment, researchers exposed a special type of plastic to the reaction, and they say the excited neutrons carved three minute grooves in the material. However, the team didn’t prove conclusively that the neutrons were the product of fusion, and other researchers say the subatomic particles could have been created in some other, unknown nuclear reaction. For now, the debate over cold fusion will continue.

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Image: Time

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math
  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/ Uncle Al

    Cold fusion exotherms (other than platinum D2/O2 recombination catalyst explosions) are trivially rationalized. Cold fusion only “occurs” in LiOD/D2O electrolyte. Why does the cation matter? Under prolonged high current density electrolysis a lithium-rich rind can be deposited and accumulates upon the Pd cathode. Li is barely reactive in water. A small local temp spike initiates Li and Pd alloy with a huge exotherm (e.g., Na and Hg). Pd/Li has a much lower melting point than Pd. The thing bubbles along for a few days doing nothing, then a fast huge exotherm plus BLEVE impresses people who should know better.

    The obvious experiment: Add a bit of base-soluble mercury salt as surface recombination catalyst. Both Pd and Li amalgamate. The cathode will progressively disintegrate without any “cold fusion events”. OTOH, if you are an optimist, start with a Pd/Li-6 alloy cathode (generate tritium in situ!) and get a leg up on the anomaly.

  • http://clubneko.net Nick

    Well Uncle Al, considering she’s a PhD and you’re just an pseudonymous commenter on the internet, I think I’ll wait until further studies are done and the experiment is replicated or not and the true source of the heat and reactions are found.

    Lets not forget that 100 years ago, nuclear weapons, nuclear fusion, space travel and walking on the moon would have gotten you laughed out of the scientific establishment, your work discredited, and you’d be told to go write novels, assuming they didn’t ruin you so bad you committed suicide. Now nukes are our biggest worry, we LIVE in space and have been to the moon six times.

  • Jcs

    Check out a two-part video from the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society with the researchers reporting these LENR developments:

    http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1289320

    http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1289427

  • Christina Viering

    Give cold fusion another chance.

  • Jason

    Reading all of the commentary surrounding this subject, going back to 1989 and the rank abuse that Pons and Fleischmann endured as the “scientific consensus” decreed that what they had found did not really exist, I recall the advertising slogan of a certain Japanese motorcycle company around that time:

    “They said it couldn’t be done – what they meant was: they couldn’t do it!”

    Another great monument to the bankruptcy of “consensus science” has been created thanks to Pamela Mosier-Boss and her people at SpaWar. Hopefully Pons and Fleischmann did, as was rumored, patent their process despite the derision that was directed at their (what apparently has now been proved to be) breakthrough . Being proved right is nice, being proved right and getting really rich in the bargain is even better.

  • http://www.slideshare.net/lewisglarsen/lattice-energy-llc-public-overview-january-30-2009-986197 Lewis Larsen

    Prof. Paul Padley’s (Rice University) criticism of the Mosier-Boss work in a Houston Chronicle news story was correct: they failed to provide any believable theoretical explanation of how a fusion process could occur in condensed matter systems under such experimental conditions.

    Further down below there are titles and URLs to our seven theoretical publications on LENRs, beginning with our peer-reviewed EPJC publication in March 2006. There are also links to six ‘plain English’ articles on LENRs that were published by I-SiS, as well as a public online MS-PowerPoint presentation that provides a concise high level historical and technical overview of LENRs as seen through the ‘lens’ of our theoretical work.

    The Institute of Science in Society (I-SiS) is a nonprofit ‘green’ environmental organization headquartered in London, UK (http://www.i-sis.org.uk/index.php ). Over the years, I-SiS has made notable contributions to efforts that aim to curtail the spread of genetically modified crops in Europe. Until recently, I-SiS (like Greenpeace) has also steadfastly opposed expanded use of nuclear (fission) power. However, after investigating LENRs in 2007, I-SiS changed its policy position on nuclear power. In fact, I-SiS now encourages commercial development and deployment of nuclear technology in the form of weak interaction LENRs (as opposed to strong interaction fission or fusion processes) as a truly ‘green,’ carbon-free nuclear energy technology.

    In our theory, surmounting a high Coulomb barrier is a non-issue. As shown in our papers, LENRs in condensed matter systems do not involve any kind of Coulomb barrier-penetrating fusion, i.e., deuterium-deuterium, D-T, hot, “cold,” warm, or otherwise. Furthermore, LENRs did not begin with Pons & Fleischmann in 1989 — we have uncovered evidence in published peer-reviewed literature that heretofore unexplained, anomalous LENR-related phenomena have been seen episodically in certain types of experiments for at least 100 years.

    None of our work includes the assumption of any new microscopic physics. What is novel about our new theoretical approach to LENRs is that, for the first time, we extend many-body collective effects to existing electroweak theory within the overall framework of the Standard Model. In a total of seven technical publications, we have developed a foundational theory of LENRs that weaves together all of the previously disparate threads of varied experimental evidence into a coherent whole. We have done so using rigorous, established, well-accepted physics.

    In our view, the Widom-Larsen theory can explain all of the good experimental data in LENRs. Pons & Fleischmann were correct about excess heat being a real physical effect, albeit poorly reproducible because they were completely wrong on the underlying mechanism and had no appreciation whatsoever of crucial nanoscale device fabrication issues that are in the process of being solved by our company today. However, P&F were dead wrong about it being strong interaction, Coulomb barrier-penetrating D-D fusion that was producing the observed ‘excess’ heat. Unbeknownst to anyone back in 1989 and many people today, P&F’s experimental results were actually the result of condensed matter collective effects and weak interactions.

    Posted February 14, 2009 (24 slides):
    http://www.slideshare.net/lewisglarsen/lattice-energy-llchigh-level-historical-and-technical-overview-of-lenrsfeb-14-2009

    #1. November 13, 2008
    Low Energy Nuclear Reactions for Green Energy -
    How weak interactions can provide sustainable nuclear energy and revolutionize the energy industry
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/LENRGE.php

    #2. December 4, 2008
    Widom-Larsen Theory Explains Low Energy Nuclear Reactions &Why They Are Safe and Green -
    All down to collective effects and weak interactions
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Widom-Larsen.php

    #3. December 10, 2008
    Portable and Distributed Power Generation from LENRs -
    Power output of LENR-based systems could be scaled up to address many different commercial applications
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/PortableDistributedPowerFromLENRs.php

    #4. December 11, 2008
    LENRs for Nuclear Waste Disposal -
    How weak interactions can transform radioactive isotopes into more benign elements
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/LENR_Nuclear_Waste_Disposal.php

    #5. January 26, 2009
    Safe, Less Costly Nuclear Reactor Decommissioning and More
    How weak interaction LENRs can take us out of the nuclear safety and economic black hole
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/safeNuclearDecommissioning.php

    #6. January 27, 2009
    LENRs Replacing Coal for Distributed Democratized Power
    Low energy nuclear reactions have the potential to provide distributed power generation with zero carbon emission and cheaper than coal
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/LENRsReplacingCoal.php

    ******************* URLs to Technical Publications *************************

    1. “Ultra Low Momentum Neutron Catalyzed Nuclear Reactions on Metallic Hydride Surfaces”, Eur. Phys. J. C 46, 107 (2006 – arXiv in May 2005)
    http://www.newenergytimes.com/Library/2006Widom-UltraLowMomentumNeutronCatalyzed.pdf

    2. “Absorption of Nuclear Gamma Radiation by Heavy Electrons on Metallic Hydride Surfaces” (Sept 2005) Widom and Larsen
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/cond-mat/pdf/0509/0509269v1.pdf

    3. “Nuclear Abundances in Metallic Hydride Electrodes of Electrolytic Chemical Cells” (Feb 2006) Widom and Larsen
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/cond-mat/pdf/0602/0602472v1.pdf

    4. “Theoretical Standard Model Rates of Proton to Neutron Conversions Near Metallic Hydride Surfaces” (Sep 2007) Widom and Larsen
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/nucl-th/pdf/0608/0608059v2.pdf

    5. “Energetic Electrons and Nuclear Transmutations in Exploding Wires” (Sept 2007) Widom, Srivastava, and Larsen
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0709/0709.1222v1.pdf

    6. “High Energy Particles in the Solar Corona” (April 2008) Widom, Srivastava, and Larsen
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0804/0804.2647v1.pdf

    7. “Primer for Electro-Weak Induced Low Energy Nuclear Reactions” (Oct 2008) Srivastava, Widom, and Larsen
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0810/0810.0159v1.pdf

  • Wladimir Guglinski

    Theoretically cold fusion is impossible according to the principles of Quantum Mechanics, the reason why the physicists refuse to accept the occurrence of the phenomenon.
    The nuclear chemist Mitch Andre Garcia showed by very easy calculations that cold fusion occurrence is theoretically impossible, from the laws of Quantum Mechanics, in a Chemistry Blog where he is the administrator.

    However cold fusion is theoretically impossible because Quantum Mechanics does not consider the zitterbewegung (zbw) as a helical trajectory of the electron (the zitterbewegung appears in the Dirac equation of the electron, but the quantum physicists did not interpret the zbw as a helical trajectory).

    By interpreting the zitterbewegung from a new viewpoint, by considering it as a helical trajectory of the electron, cold fusion becomes theoreticall possible, as Guglinski has shown to Mitch Andre Garcia, along a discussion in the topic “THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COLD FUSION AND COLD FUSION”, which can be seen in the link:
    http://www.chemicalforums.com/index.php?topic=17140.0

    Look at the Guglinski’s « Reply #8 on: September 24, 2007 ».

    So the chemists are now getting knowledge that cold fusion is theoretically possible thanks to the adoption of the new interpretation for the zitterbewegung, and they are undertaking the performance of cold fusion experiments, because it seems that they dont trust in the viewpoint of the physicists.

    Clearly, there is a dispute “CHEMISTS vs PHYSICISTS”, and it seems that the controversy on cold fusion will be finally resolved, but not by the physicists.

    The new duel chemists vs physicists has ideological origin. The physicits keep their loyalty to Quantum Mechanics, because they dont accept to change their interpretation on the zitterbewegung, since such a changing requires a very deep modification in the foundations of Modern Physics (the zbw cannot be considered as a helical trajetory in Quantum Field Theory, which is the successor of Quantum Mechanics).

    Unlike, the chemists keep their loyalty to the scientific method, according to which any experiment cannot be neglected only because it defies the principles of a theory, as happens now in this duel between Quantum Mechanics and cold fusion.

    Such new participation of chemists is healthy to science’s develolpment. Because as the physicists have some dogmas which they consider unsourmantable (as for instance their interpretation of the zitterbewegung in Quantum Field Theory), the development of cold fusion requires scientists free of dogmas of Physics, as the chemists.

    In few words, we have to consider the following situation:

    1- as cold fusion is impossible by considering the interpretation of zitterbewegung in Quantum Field Theory…

    2- … but as the experiments prove that cold fusion really occurs, as confirmed now by the experiments made in the US Navy…

    3- … then there is need to change the interpretation on the zitterbewegung (a new alternative that chemists probably will take in consideration starting from now)…

    4- … instead of neglecting the cold fusion experiments (as the physicists insist to do).

  • http://dreadtomatoaddiction.blogspot.com/ Tomato Addict

    Pons & Fleischmann were certainly guilty of “science by press release”. A few months of peer review might have saved a lot of fuss and bad press.

  • http://www.slideshare.net/lewisglarsen/lattice-energy-llc-public-overview-january-30-2009-986197 Lewis Larsen

    Tomato Addict, you may be interested to know that Prof. Fleischmann was strongly opposed to the idea of a ‘grandstanding’ news conference and argued vociferously against it, but unfortunately he was overruled by the Administration at the University of Utah. For a fascinating heartfelt personal account of this particular part of the ongoing Pons & Fleischmann “cold fusion” saga, please go to the UK’s Financial Times ScienceBlog and read Clive Cookson’s (he is Science Editor of FT) March 24, 2009, blogpost titled, “A sad anniversary for cold fusion” at the URL = http://blogs.ft.com/scienceblog/2009/03/24/a-sad-anniversary-for-cold-fusion/#more-22

  • Wladimir Guglinski

    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

  • Wladimir Guglinski

    GUGLINSKI’S THEORY WILL BE TESTED IN US NAVY

    Subject: RE: absence of gamma-rays in your experiment, and neutron’s background
    Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2009 10:29:47 -0700
    From: pam.boss@navy.mil
    To: wladimirguglinski@hotmail.com
    CC: m_bernstein@acs.org; hestenes@asu.edu; canmarrai@gmail.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

    RE: absence of gamma-rays in your experiment, and neutron’s background‏
    From: Wladimir Guglinski (wladimirguglinski@hotmail.com)
    Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 10:35:59 PM
    To: PAMELA MOSIER-BOSS (pam.boss@navy.mil)
    Bcc: JOHNATHAN CHAN (coldfusion111@gmail.com); jnaudin509@aol.com
    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
    WLAD

  • M. Report

    A little historical perspective for the “Experts”, two from 1930′s Chemistry texts:

    “Anyone who understands Chemistry, and Celestial Mechanics,
    understands that space travel is forever impossible.”

    “Uranium: A heavy metal whose only use is to impart a purple glaze to cheap pottery.”

    and a few years later: ” Congressmen, I assure you that the uranium bomb cannot
    possibly work, and I speak as an expert on High Explosives.”

    and a few years later: “You can think about Nuclear Fusion all you want, but if
    you publish anything about it, we will lock you up and throw away the key.”

    That last was out of fear born of ignorance, and an abundance of caution; They
    thought there might be an easy way to make a hydrogen bomb.

    I sure hope they stay wrong.

  • Tom P

    I have actually contacted some critical scientists in this field myself, and, essentially, they have conveyed to me that, essentially, there is simply TOO MUCH MONEY at stake for TOO MANY PEOPLE, for this news to be revealed in any “normal” fashion…such was the reason for the abovelinked Press Conference held by Drs. Pons & Fleischmann back in 1989…

  • http://Discoverthecnology Ralph Aranda

    Stop arguing what it is or what it’s not. If it’s producing excess energy built the dam thing.
    so we can use it on our cars and our homes. Let the other greety scientist to prove what it
    is. They must be decendents of the ones who said to close the patent office because everthing
    had been invented. Also no one could fly.

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