Cold Fusion Is Back! – CERN Webinar on Cold Fusion, March 22, 2012

The following is a further posting in a series of articles by David French, a patent attorney with 35 years experience, which will review patents of interest touching on the field of Cold Fusion.

March 23, 2012 –One would think that the above title should be a headline in the newspapers following a live webcast originating from CERN in Geneva on March 22, 2012.  This CERN Colloquium entitled: “Overview of Theoretical and Experimental Progress in Low Energy Nuclear Reactions – LENR” was presented by Drs Francesco Celani and Yogendra Srivastava. Dr Celani is an Italian physicist at the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Frascati National Laboratories, Italy and the Vice-President of the International Society of Condensed Matter. Dr Srivastava is an emeritus professor of physics at Indiana University in the U.S.

Program:  (slides and video at bottom of screen)

These two scientists have devoted their careers to studying the phenomena originally announced by Pons & Fleischmann in 1989 and discredited in the media and amongst the community of nuclear physicists in the years following.  But, as the speakers confirmed, there are still 1000 researchers around the world who have been studying the phenomena of: “unexplained excess heat” and they have produced results that irrefutably indicate that something real is happening.

Professor Srivastava addressed his preferred theory as to the source of the unexplained excess heat.  He was clear that it had to be nuclear and argued that it arose from a weak force effect.  Essentially, he supported the Widom & Larsen theory that neutrons can be formed in a solid matter matrix by the capture of an electron by a proton:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron_capture

http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=229479

This presumably requires overcoming a 780 KeV energy barrier based on the mass difference between the neutron and the combined masses of a proton and an electron.  But once a neutron is formed, it’s available to carry-out all sorts of nuclear reactions, including transmutations of available background metals in the crystal lattice and the conversion of hydrogen or deuterium nuclei trapped in the crystal lattice into tritium, helium 3 or helium 4.  These processes result in the releasing of substantial amounts of heat.

Professor Srivastava did not address the alternate theory, originally proposed by Pons and Fleischmann, that the source of unexplained energy was arising from the fusion of two deuterium nuclei trapped in a metal lattice.  The prospect remains that this process may still be occurring.

“D-D fusion produces a 2.45 MeV neutron and helium-3 half of the time, and produces tritium and a proton but no neutron the other half of the time. D-3He fusion produces no neutron.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron

Arguing against the proposition that D-D fusion is occurring deep in the host crystal lattice is the evidence that apparently indicates that the low energy nuclear reaction effect – LENR tends to occur on the surfaces of active metals such as Palladium and Nickel. 

On the other hand, Professor Peter Hagelstein from MIT, who continues to defend the deuterium fusion concept, has argued, with some effect, that if helium is the resulting material that forms through fusion at critical vacancies in a metal lattice, then the accumulation of helium can choke-back the reaction by plugging the vacancies. However, helium formed near a surface has an opportunity to defuse out of the metal lattice, freeing up the vacancies in the same region to continue the LENR effect.  Hence even the deuterium fusion theory can fit with the observed phenomena that high surface area contributes to the production of excess heat.

The original experiments done by Pons and Fleischmann produced excess heat on the order of 10-20%.  That is, for every unit of electricity consumed in the electrolysis experiments that they were running, the driving of deuterium onto/into Palladium, an additional 20% of heat was appearing in the system.  A problem with results of this nature is that the measurement of an excess heat of only 20% requires careful instrumentation.  A great deal of criticism was made of the calorimetric procedures followed by Pons and Fleischmann.  However, Professor Celani produced data on experiments in the 20 years following 1989 that show heat gains in excess of 50% to 200% and, on occasion, infinite, in the sense that heat was produced even though no electricity was being run through the reaction vessel.

A lot of the objections to the demonstration of the production of excess heat would necessarily be met if it could be reliably shown that heat gains in excess of 100% are being achieved.  Errors in actually measuring the precise amount of excess heat would then be irrelevant.

There are a number of Golden Goals that one would like to see achieved if the LENR effect is to become the gift to humanity that many believers insist is possible.  The critical parameters are:

1. Gain. If electricity or another energy source is needed to precipitate an LENR effect, then gain has to be significant.  It costs 3 calories of thermal energy to generate 1 calorie of electrical energy.  This means that the gain, if electricity must be used, has to be at least 300%.  Gain is important.

2. Power. Power is important because if the phenomenon collapses at higher power rates, then this energy generation source will never be of service to mankind.  Instead, it will be a curiosity.  It is known that a pair of deuterium nuclei can be made to fuse by introducing a Muon in place of an electron in orbit around at least one of a pair of deuterium nuclei.  This is called a “muon catalyzed fusion“.

This produces heat by way of fusion.  But Muons are extremely difficult to generate and have a very short half-life.  The phenomenon is interesting but it’s not likely to be useful to produce power at any relevant level of interest to human society.  Test results shown by Professor Celani indicate results, by solid scientific researchers, in which energy is being generated at rates up to on the order of 20-50 W.  This is promising.  The claims by Andrea Rossi and Defkalion that they are producing energy at the rates in excess of 1 kW are suspect as they are not been scientifically evaluated and proven.  But more than trivial power has been produced. Power is important.

3. Temperature. Temperature is important because of the Carnot principle.  If you’re going to generate work using thermalized energy, then the Carnot theorem sets a limit on the proportion of thermal energy that can be converted to work.  Electricity is equivalent to work energy.  The Carnot formula depends on the temperature difference existing between a heat source and a heat sink.  Thus the maximum energy, the absolute theoretical maximum, that can be extracted from a heat source at 273°C using ice at 0°C as a sink is 50%. 

Typical power generation stations that burn coal, gas or oil rely on temperatures in excess of 800°C and have difficulty achieving efficiencies in excess of 40%.  Many of the experimental tests done in the past were carried-out in electrolytic cells that contained water or heavywater.  Only modest temperature increases were being measured, and the presence of water set an upper limit on any temperature increase that could be created.  More recent experiments in the gas phase have actually been running at 300°C, 400°C and experiments have been attempted by Professor Celani at temperatures as high as 900°C.  Achieving high temperatures will be extremely relevant to providing mankind with inexpensive electrical power.  Temperature is important.

4. Duration. The duration of the unexplained excess energy effect has been the bane of most researchers.  Generally, it has taken a long time to turn-on an LENR effect. And then in most cases the effect has only lasted for a limited period of time, in some cases only minutes.  However, more recent tests have demonstrated a heat generation duration of many days, sometimes weeks.  To be an effective source of energy the active materials have to be able to continue to produce energy beyond a trivial short interval.  Accepting that a nuclear effect is the source of the energy, the prospects for extended periods of heat generation are theoretically possible.  The amount of heat that can be provided through nuclear effects is enormous. Technology must resolve the issue of how to sustain an LENR reaction over an extended period of time.  Duration is important.

5. Control.  From the beginning and even today, the turning-on of an LENR effect has been a sometimes proposition.  Apart from the extended delays that are required before the effect appears, it’s not even clear whether the effect is precipitated by:

– electric current passing through a host crystal LENR environment

– the presence of an electric field applied to the LENR environment

– oscillations in such an electric field

– magnetic fields, whether static or oscillating

– thermal energy present in the form of vibrations present in the host atom nuclei forming a crystal matrix; in electrons present in the crystal matrix, possibly in the conduction band or otherwise; or in protium/deuteron nuclei nesting at critical locations in the crystal matrix

All of these effects represent “handles” by which a low energy nuclear reaction might be controllable.  Ideally, controls should exist to not only turn-on an LENR event but also to adjust its rate, including preventing runaway, and allowing for shutdown.  Control is important.

Professor Celani indicated that in one of the experiments that had been carried-out a heat flux of 1500 W per gram of Palladium was achieved.  This compares favorably with the heat flux at the core of the sun:

“At the center of the sun, fusion power is estimated by model to be about 276.5 watts/m3, [2] a power production density which more nearly approximates reptile metabolic heat generation than it does a thermonuclear bomb. [3] Peak power production in the Sun’s center, per volume, has been compared to the volumetric heats generated in an active compost heap.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_core

 A key comment in the presentation by Professor Celani addressed the effect of loading of the metal lattice.  It has been known that as hydrogen is forced into a nickel or palladium lattice, the electrical resistance of the lattice initially rises, but then falls after a loading ratio of approximately 0.7:1 is passed.  Thereafter, approaching a loading of approximately 1:1 the resistance can drop by 50% from its peak.  Information on the effects of loading beyond this limit is not readily available.  But Professor Celani did observe that the observation of the appearance of excess energy appears uniquely associated with loadings in this negative resistance region.

The suggestion is that loading is a critical parameter for these phenomena to occur.  Any technology which could generate high loadings and maintain high loadings over time could be key to a practical application of the LENR effect.

Post presentation questions

After the speakers had concluded their remarks, questions were invited from the audience.  One particularly persistent questioner insisted repeatedly that the numerous failed attempts by scientists to replicate the ColdFusion effect following the Pons and Fleischmann announcement in 1989 should be given as much weight as the more recent identification of concrete, incontrovertible, excess energy experiments from numerous sources around the world.  The relevance of this objection can be compared to the example of announcing to children at a birthday party that there is a special treasure source of gold foil covered chocolates to be found somewhere in the house.  The children proceed to effect an exhaustive treasure hunt throughout the house.  Many many children come back reporting that no such gold coin chocolates have been found.  But a few report that, while they didn’t find the treasure source itself, they did find some sample chocolate coins which they then place on the table. 

Would it be appropriate to argue in these circumstances that a treasure source does not exist?  Unfortunately, the style of this questioner has predominated in the general physics community since 1989.

Watch Yogendra Srivastava video and slide presentation

Watch Antonio Celani video and slide presentation

David French is a retired patent attorney and the principal and CEO of Second Counsel Services. Second Counsel provides guidance for companies that wish to improve their management of Intellectual Property. For more information visit: www.SecondCounsel.com.

David French is prepared to address questions included as commentaries to any of his postings or by direct email. In particular, he would like to learn what people need to know in order to better understand patents.

18 thoughts on “Cold Fusion Is Back! – CERN Webinar on Cold Fusion, March 22, 2012”

  1. In my mind I feel that Rossi has a strong alibi for his stance. We as a society fail to protect his intellectual property rights. He responds with secrecy. This is not hard to comprehend.

    If on the other hand he is a charlatan he must be mad. What other outcome could he foresee other than the total destruction of the entire Cold Fusion community’s reputation. This would be a monumental character flaw.
    He would be discounting the future for fleeting fame.
    I must add that genius is touched by insanity. It is for this reason that insanity has persisted in the gene pool. One is dependant on the other.

    1. Yes, Arthur, I agree completely with your analysis. Exactly what the mixture of madness and genius is in Rossi’s case remains to be seen. For his sake, and for the world’s I’m still hoping that it is more genius than madness. Ruby Carat’s timely interview is the best recent testimony supporting that interpretation.

  2. Excellent article.

    Many seem to forget LENR is a field advancing despite “Andrea Rossi”. It is nice to hope he can control LENR and will shock the world, but it is more practical to endorse LENR research and hope a multi billion dollar look at LENR today will lead to quicker and better scientifically accepted results.

    Andrea Rossi is not helping research, as his antics fuel the skeptics.

    We have a power that is very close to providing very very cheap and clean energy to the world, and people refuse to talk about it because it has a bad reputation. It deserves a better reputation fast.

    -Imagine 600 million smog producing cars and trucks replaced by a smog free clean air variety.

    -Imagine fresh country air in the middle of any city.

    -Imagine global warming halted.

    -Imagine buying a car that never requires refueling. A lifetime of fuel is built right in.

    -Imagine cheap desalination providing water to deserts and ocean villages worldwide.

    -Imagine lives saved from clean water, food, and fresh air.

    -Imagine 1kg of Nickel = 200 000 barrels of oils. Nickel is fifth most common element on earth.

    -Imagine no oil wars.

    -Imagine the middle east becoming “friendlier” to endorse their new non oil economies.

    -Imagine a resurgence of giant airship flying hotels (BLIMPS) as LENR energy provides the heat and Helium necessary to keep them powered easily.

    -Imagine prices drop on everything as manufacturing costs and transportation costs are drastically reduced for most all items.

    – Imagine the business booms. People say it could hurt governments, but realistically governments will make their money on other fronts. It will be a boom above all booms.

    -Imagine cruises much cheaper and the ships go at five times the speed. Sailboats would only be for enthusiasts and not for people scrimping on fuel. Everyone will want a hydrofoil or powerboat.

    -Imagine retiring or living in the middle of your lake on a boat with enough power to provide a comfortable environment with televisons and computers.

    NOW ABOVE ALL

    Imagine all this is possible within a few years. We are close. Support research.

  3. Kwhilborn,

    I agree with your comment except for the statement that “Andrea Rossi is not helping research, as his antics fuel the skeptics.”

    It is true that Rossi’s refusal to satisfy skeptics with their preferred form of validation has a negative dimension. On the other hand, his claims, as well as the tests he has conducted, which have partially or completely satisfied many impartial observers, have drawn great attention to the research that has continued by many courageous and talented scientists since 1989 and to their results. It has also led to a number of striking announcements, e.g. Zawodny at Nasa, of research that has been conducted in the shadows for some time now. I would submit that it is far too early to declare the impact of Rossi’s work. If two years go by and he has no production capacity, then it will be fair to conclude as you have done that he has probably hurt rather than hindered the progress of the technology.

    On the other hand, if within a year he has a factory producing and selling units, then his work will have been the most important since Pons and Fleischmann.

    Overall, superb article – the summary of “gain, power, heat, duration and control” as significant parameters of progress is especially useful for us beginners.

    1. Yes. I will admit it was Andrea Rossi who got the ball rolling in the open. I certainly have been following AR since the beginning “demos”.

      I do wish people would look at LENR more than Andrea Rossi though. Too many skeptics think the entire field is bogus despite confirmed and repeatable results from worldwide/notable organizations.

      The Zawodny video holds some importance, but his blog withdrawal of NASA views a few days later was in my opinion wholeheartedly to stop people from thinking he was endorsing the unproven Rossi.

      I feel sorry for Andrea Rossi as i feel he will be passed by superior patents and designs. Maybe they will name a school after him. I do feel if he can prove anything stable he should otherwise nobody will believe him in court.

      1. I agree, Mr Rossi has done more to promote widespread interest in this field, than all of the Academics, and Government agencies put together. However it is quite likely that he will be eclipsed, by others who take advantage of his ground breaking work. I understand that the Japanese have been quietly working on this technology ever since the first announcement by Pons and Fleischmann, and are quite close to commercialization.

  4. Above you state:
    “The Carnot formula depends on the temperature difference existing between a heat source and a heat sink. Thus the maximum energy, the absolute theoretical maximum, that can be extracted from a heat source at 273°C using ice at 0°C as a sink is 50%. ”

    Where does your 50% number come from? The Carnot efficiency is = 1 – (low temp in K/high temp in K). If 273K is the low temp reservoir, then 50% implies a high temp reservoir of 273 x 2 = 546K or 273C. At 900C the Carnot efficiency would be 1 – (273K/(900C + 273C) = 1 – 273/1173K) = 1 – .2327 = .7672 or 76.7%.

  5. I reply to Cy Todd:

    Cy, I chose 273°C and ice for the example because this is the ideal that represents 50% efficiency. You are right: At 900°C Carnot efficiency is 76.7%. But can the LENR process deliver heat at 900°C? The effect has not been demonstrated at that temperature. Disruption of the host lattice by high temperature may quench the generation of excess heat. Providing heat at high temperature is important. But it is not clear if this new science can deliver all across the board.

    Regarding Rossi, I am neutral. I hope he’s right; I wish him well.

    David French

    1. just look at the CERN video of celani,
      he cite an experiment at 900C.
      Defkalion talk of 650C, but problems with coolant above 415C.
      Woombera allegate they havealready dry steam at 350

  6. LENR hob nobs with leading nuclear scientists ending the conference with this wonderful presentation of Cold Fusion Technology

    @Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space 2012 Topical Meeting

    The Lunar and Planetary Institute – 43rd Lunar And Planetary Science Conference
    ANST – Aerospace Nuclear Science and Technology
    USRA: Universities Space Research Association
    ANS – American Nuclear Society

    http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/nets2012/pdf/3051.pdf
    A Game-Changing Power Source Based on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENRs) Xiaoling Yang and George H. Miley, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801 (104 S Wright Street, 216 Talbot Laboratory, Urbana, IL 61801, xlyang@illinois.edu, ghmiley@illinois.edu)

  7. Lets Rossi doing his job to find a manufacturer for his E-cat. if the apparatus works, there is plenty of time for everybody to check if there is a remarkable energy gain or not.
    The scientific world can post examine why the Wright Brothers aircraft was flying or why James Watt’s steam engine worked.

  8. [quote]Post presentation questions

    After the speakers had concluded their remarks, questions were invited from the audience. One particularly persistent questioner insisted repeatedly that the numerous failed attempts by scientists to replicate the ColdFusion effect following the Pons and Fleischmann announcement in 1989 should be given as much weight as the more recent identification of concrete, incontrovertible, excess energy experiments from numerous sources around the world. The relevance of this objection can be compared to the example of announcing to children at a birthday party that there is a special treasure source of gold foil covered chocolates to be found somewhere in the house. The children proceed to effect an exhaustive treasure hunt throughout the house. Many many children come back reporting that no such gold coin chocolates have been found. But a few report that, while they didn’t find the treasure source itself, they did find some sample chocolate coins which they then place on the table.

    Would it be appropriate to argue in these circumstances that a treasure source does not exist? Unfortunately, the style of this questioner has predominated in the general physics community since 1989.[/quote]

    Dear Mr French,

    Have you ever heard of probabilities? of statiscital fluctuations?
    Let’s say that the probality to find a chocolate is one over ten.
    If you send 1000000 children in the house and that 100000 of them find a chocolate, then you might say you proved your theory.
    If you send 1000000 children in the house and only one find a chocolate, then you can’t prove anything. OK, you found a chocolate, but it is not statistically significant.

    But maybe it is because statistics were studied for more than a century (ie long before 1989) that you don’t like them.

    1. Statistical arguments for and against are irrelevant in the case of replication of cold fusion. Now that the some of the preconditions for cold fusion are understood a little better. The question ought to be how many researchers utilizing the known best practices, are able to replicate the effect. Luckily we do not need to stumble around in the dark any more, even though we may still have a lot to learn

      1. Agreed. Yet this is what most funding sources still seem not to understand. This failure to comprehend would seem to be the result of a combination of vested psychological and material interests threatened by an energy revolution of this magnitude, and simple good old fashioned intellectual laziness which fails to understand that 100 percent replicability is not, and never has been, the precondition for the reality of a given phenomenon. The history of science is full of examples illustrating this, but it seems that scientists and their masters have to learn this idea all over again with each fresh revelation of scientific progress.

  9. To Mister Hans Schulze:

    Statistics is a tricky thing. In 1895 before Becquerel discovered radioactivity no one had observed and/or recognized this phenomena. Hundreds of millions of human beings had existed before then. None of them had seen effects that were attributed to radioactivity. As far as they were concerned, radioactivity did not exist. Can we therefore say that, statistically, in 1895 the odds of radioactivity existing as a phenomenon of nature were 0.00000…..?

  10. Dear Mr. French,

    Do you have already information about the “catalyst” of the E-Cat? Italian patent on that matter has been filed and I think available on demand at the Italian Patent Office. The catalyst is probably an alkaline metal such as potassium or an alkaline earth metal such as strontium used in the BlackLight apparatus. In hydrogen atmosphere negatively charged hydrogen ions H-)
    are formed which are probably the so-called hydrino’s and will overcome the Coulomb barrier of
    the nickel nuclei and fuse therewith to form copper nuclei.

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