What Is Cold Fusion?Updated June 1, 2022 Energy Science
The process of creating cold fusion involves sending an 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.
Despite numerous claims that 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. It 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.”
Cold Fusion Controversy
Since the announcement of a successful cold fusion reaction by Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, two scientists at the University of Utah, in March 1989, the scientific community has been astir over the meaning of their experiments. Cold fusion would overcome the hurdle currently standing in the way of the use of nuclear fusion as a technology for the generation of electricity; namely, the incredibly complex and demanding requirements necessary for the use of hot fusion.
There is a great deal of controversy over how such a reaction occurs, or how it can be duplicated consistently. After the initial announcement by Pons and Fleischmann in 1989, scientists the world over tried to duplicate their results and a hasty consensus emerged from the scientific establishment that cold fusion couldn't be demonstrated. In fact, the "conventional" scientific establishment (in some cases) still regards it as a complete hoax or at the very least badly performed science. How this occurred is an interesting study of a weakness of the scientific system.
For a scientist to survive and thrive, he or she must have research funding. Often, academic and professional success is most commonly measured in "publish or perish" terms. Established and respected scientists populate the committees that determine who does and who does not receive research grants and/or funding. It is difficult for these committees to grant funding for work in areas where there is no accepted track record.
It is true that "claims of scientific discovery require independent verification to establish a basis for understanding the underlying scientific phenomena and to explore the prospects for technology development." It is also true that radical discoveries and theories more often than not exhibit the characteristic of not being immediately understood. The history of science is full of examples of theories dismissed as preposterous or unscientific that are now held to be true.
An example of this is the theory of plate tectonics, which describes how heat flow inside the Earth creates all of the surface geologic features including volcanoes and earthquakes. Using existing theory in the early 20th century, geologists argued that the proponents of the new theory did not have a deep understanding of the fundamentals of geology.
Initially dismissed as naivete, 50 years later plate tectonics is now thought of as conclusively proven in the scientific community.
Reports of the successful generation of more heat energy (excess heat) out than electrical and other energy into the experiment continue to grow despite the failure of many mainstream scientists to duplicate the initial experiments.
Dr. Edmund Storms, a retired Los Alamos scientist, points out that more than 50 examples of excess heat production have been reported and have passed the process of peer review confirmation. Dr. Storms participated in the First International Conference on Future Energy and presented the latest information on cold fusion.
The reasons for the animosity toward the field of cold fusion research are partly extra-scientific. Many proponents of cold fusion research believe that the passionate resistance is a reaction to how the initial announcement of a "cold fusion breakthrough" was made through popular media rather than traditional scientific journals.
Patents vs Transparency
After the initial stir of excitement, it appeared that the announcement by Pons and Fleischmann was premature. The result of academic pressure to achieve prestige and the apparent withholding of some critical information to preserve their potential patent rights.
This demonstrates the conflict any new energy investigator will experience. Full disclosure may allow the scientific community to duplicate and therefore verify the experiment, but this same disclosure compromises the investigator's ability to obtain a patent. It is important to note that no one has claimed to have disproved the experiments merely to have been unable to reproduce the same results.
Some of the scientists involved are claiming up to three times the energy output in heat compared to the energy put into the experiment through electrical current. It is possible that this power gain could be the answer to the world's energy problems for centuries to come. The potential is well understood in Japan where energy resources are scarce.
Japanese investors from Toyota have funded a $9,000,000 research facility in Monaco for Pons and Fleischmann to pursue the development of cold fusion as a power source.
Although not yet brought to the level of development where it is understood well enough to be widely reproduced, excess heat has been produced and independently verified.
One technology has already been granted a patent for a cold fusion process. This US patent is owned by the CETI Corporation in Texas. The CETI Corporation and many other researchers in the field of cold fusion research will be the subjects of this section of the website.
Cold Fusion Research
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 of 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 that 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.”
“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 16, 2013, an investigation of anomalous heat production in a special type of reactor tube was carried out. Data was collected in two experimental runs, with anomalous heat production indicated in both experiments. Even with the most conservative perspective, the results were still 10 times higher than conventional energy sources (coal, oil).
Cold fusion should be taken seriously. But what are we to make of the growing claims that "excess heat" is being generated by this research? One thing worth considering is that the theories behind these results are not as yet fully understood.
Some researchers point out that the processes that are producing this excess heat are looking less and less like fusion at all, and this may be leading to some misunderstanding about what is truly going on in the experiments. Production of "excess heat" holds great promise for the production of world energy.