by Keith D. Foote
In spite of numerous claims room temperature fusion is impossible, research on cold fusion has continued. Both the U. S. Navy and a small number of private institutions have been researching cold fusion. The U. S. Navy, though not working in secret, was discrete in its research, which lasted from 1993 to 2003. Navy researchers repeatedly demonstrated an otherwise unexplainable temperature increase in over one hundred trial experiments.
The discovery of cold fusion was announced in 1989, by Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons, who were both at the University of Utah. They claimed they had created fusion in cells composed of a palladium electrode (a white, soft, conductive metal with an atomic number of 46) resting in ‘heavy water’ (oxygen is bound to ‘deuterium,’ rather than hydrogen; also called deuterium oxide). The original announcement of cold fusion was met with contempt and disbelief, and was followed by a number of unsuccessful efforts to imitate their cold fusion process.
Within months, the Energy Research Advisory Board/U. S. Dept of Energy declared claims regarding cold fusion were “false and without merit.” Leading science journals, such as the Journal of Physical Chemistry, refused to publish any of the positive results from cold fusion experiments. Scott Chubb, a guest editor for the journal 'Accountability in Research,' described the bias and handling of cold fusion as “a scientific debacle” and “a breakdown in the process of unbiased, objective reporting of scientific information.”
The process of creating cold fusion involves sending electrical current through a heavy water solution to a cathode made of palladium, or coated with palladium. Under ideal circumstances, this process can produce a thirty to forty percent gain of energy over the electric current being applied. This increase in heat energy is described as the fusion of deuterium ions. Any number of factors can influence cold fusion experiments. Something as simple as the thickness of the palladium electrode can dictate the results, with a rod six millimeters thick producing results, while a one millimeter rod will not. Smooth rods will work, while rods with minute, nearly undetectable cracks will not.
In 1994, Melvin Miles, working with the Navy at the time, discovered a palladium/boron alloy would also produce the 30-40% energy gain. Using a field theory paradigm, moving electrons pass through the “heat” of the heavy water, aligning and polarizing molecules as they pass. In the process, the weakly bonded deuterium atom (of an HDO molecule) captures a moving electron and breaks free of the shared electron linking it to the oxygen atom. These free deuterium atoms are carried with the currents of moving electrons and accumulate in, and at the surface of, the palladium.
As the deuterium builds up on the surface of the palladium, new deuterium atoms slam into the buildup, fusing, and forming helium-4 atoms. Unlike IEC fusion, the cold fusion process inhibits the splitting deuterium atoms, resulting in helium-4. A small number of protons in the heavy water promote the formation of tritium, which is also created during the fusion process. As fusion takes place to form helium or tritium, thermal activity increases to a higher degree than would take place by the passage of electric current alone. The fusion process generates heat and raises the temperature. This model of cold fusion is supported by findings of large amounts of helium-4, smaller amounts of tritium, and no observations of helium-3.
More recently, in February of 2015, 34 peer reviewed articles were published in the journal 'Current Science,' nuclear scientists from a dozen nations, including the United States, India, China, and France, reported cold fusion was real, and should be taken seriously. Explaining the minimal research into this process over the last 25, Michael McKubre, of SSI International in California said the early criticisms of cold fusion “were premature and adverse.” There is now more than sufficient evidence proving low energy nuclear reactions occur.
Mahadeva Srinivasan coedited Current Science, and said, “What comes out of this review is that the phenomenon of LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reaction) is real and by all accounts appears to have the potential for practical applications in the not-to-distant-future. The discovery is too important to be neglected... It is just a matter of four or five years for energy sources based on cold fusion to be commercially available. (Might be a little longer than that.)
“Experimental evidence shows that LENR can have very large energy gains, but the engineering of commercial prototypes is still relatively crude,” David Nagel, of George Washington University, stated.
It should be noted, changing the name of something often has the psychological impact of changing its identity. Politicians use this tactic quite readily, and the physics community is a political community. If the conservative base disagrees with new ideas, they will effectively shun the offending physicists, as happened with Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons. Apparently by changing the name, some scientists felt more comfortable with investigating “cold fusion.”
On May 16th, 2013, a paper was submitted to arXiv.org, titled 'Indication of Anomalous Heat Energy Production In A Reactor Device.' An investigation of anomalous heat production in a special type of reactor tube was carried out. Data was collected in two experimental runs, with anomolous heat production indicated in both experiments. Even with the most conservative perspective, the results were still ten times than conventional energy sources (coal, oil).
Cold Fusion should be taken seriously. As additional evidence, MIT has been offering an optional introductory course on Cold Fusion for the last three years. Obviously they are starting to.