The recent 2014 Cold Fusion/LENR/LANR conference from March 21st to March 23rd at Massachusetts Institute of Technology happened to overlap with the 25th anniversary of the announcement of the discovery of cold fusion at the university of Utah. Against all odds, huge strides in understanding the phenomenon were made in the last 25 years. Recently, groups have shown that this is more than a lab curiosity, it can be engineered and harnessed to safely solve the worlds energy problems. This is an overview of some commercial groups which presented at the 2014 MIT conference.
Jet Energy operated by Dr. Mitchel Swartz was the organizer of the conference and also presented some very interesting findings. They have been working with very small devices which can be used as a demonstration unit or operated in a huge array to produce commercial levels of heat. Dr. Swartz has been active in the field since the very start and is constantly improving on his device, the newest generation being called the Nanor. Dr. Swartz’s devices are unique because the loading and operation stages of the device are separated, allowing for simple plug-and-play operation which greatly simplifies use by groups trying to study the effect. Jet Energy has published cold fusion research since the late 1980s, Jet Energy’s recent developments involve using a magnetic effect to boost the output of his devices, which have seen COP’s of 100. This reinforces the recent developments in understanding the effect, magnetism is seems to play a role in both the cause and effect aspects of cold fusion. Dr Hagelstein of MIT made an interesting comment during one of Dr. Swartz presentations, “I can’t for the life of me understand why graphs showing gains of over 100 are being rushed through”. This is a symbol of how much things have improved in the last 25 years. We are moving from just trying to prove the effect really exists to starting to understand the cause of the phenomenon and develop commercial units from the technology.
MIT Conference video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBDImkDZ4h8
Clean Planet, a Japanese group with Dr. Tadahiko Mizuno as the lead scientist made their debute at the MIT conference, represented by Hideki Yoshino. Mizuno is a household name in the Cold Fusion field and has developed many well referenced experiments. It appears he has found the financial backing required to attempt to bring a commercial reactor to market. At the conference, Clean Planet showed off their proof of concept reactor which operates at a COP of 1.9 as well as some other reactors being built which are made to operate at the 1kw and 10kw power level. Their reactor is simple and an amazing spectacle to watch. Using normal nickel mesh, they create a brilliant plasma to sputter the surface of the metal, cleaning it and creating surface nanostructures which kick off the Cold Fusion effect. Preparing their material inside of the reactor may solve some of the material consistency issues other commercial groups are struggling with. They have a well equipped lab with gamma and neutron radiation detection, although they have not seen any consistent hard radiation outside their reactor during excess heat, they have some some occasional bursts. Clean Planet also presented mass spectroscopy results which confused many scientists and has started a wave of speculation regarding theory. In the mass spectroscopy results, higher masses decreased during excess heat at the expense of lower masses, opposite to what would be expected of fusion events. Clean Planet was quick to point out that these results should be seen as preliminary, their equipment can not separate deuterium and helium so until their outside gas analysis comes back they don’t have solid information. Japan is in dire need of this technology and has historically been supportive of cold fusion research, we can expect Japan to have a serious presence in the Cold Fusion commercialization race. While Mizuno skyped in, his group was represented at the conference by multiple businessmen, they look to have all the resources they need and attracting funding and talent should not be an issue. This is a company to keep an eye on, they could quickly develop a foothold at the head of this field.
MIT Conference video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DB_MRUX4mo0
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries research program, headed by Dr. Yasuhiro Iwamura had some big developments since their last presentation 8 months ago at ICCF18. They are focusing on technology which maximizes transmutation using a gas permeation process, previously reporting that they were able to use the cold fusion effect to transmutate cesium to praseodymium, essentially producing a valuable material from a radioactive waste. While transmutation in this field has been a proven reality, a well funded drive to engineer this effect could lead to enormous advances in many fields of technology. Transmutation could solve both issues with nuclear contamination as well as material scarcity, including exotic isotopes. A research program at NRL failed to replicate these results, at ICCF18 Dr. David Kidwell spoke the same day as Dr. Imawura about NRLs failure to replicate the results, he was overly aggressive and had a very mocking tone, accused them of improper use of equipment, sloppy work and accidentally spiking samples after apparently finding praseodymium contamination in their lab. While the motives behind the NRL bullying were foggy, they ate crow pie a few months later when Toyoto affiliated labs published results showing that they had replicated the transmutation effects in this experiment. MHI originally they used gas permeation through a palladium film ion-implanted with cesium to trigger the effect and transmutate the cesium to praseodymium. At MIT, Dr. Imawura showed new developments in their transmutation research, they started developing modular experiments so they can scale up the device to commercial levels. Dr. Imawura revealed that they had began hybrid electrochemical experiments where they are using cesium in a liquid solution. This may not only be more effective due to the known electrochemical methods of triggering the effect, but it will also have engineering benefits such as cooling and scalability. This is an enormous breakthrough if it can transmutate Cesium in a liquid solution at high yields. Considering water contaminated with cesium is the main contamination at Fukushima, this technology could not only clean up the radiation but also generate heat as a side product. The potential here is enormous, not only for Japan, but for the world, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is quickly moving forward.
MIT Conference video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzZl9l8nn1c
Permanetix Corporation is a new startup which was announced at the conference, President Nikita Alexandrov, in his mid twenties, is one of the youngest researchers involved in this field. Permanetix Corporation is developing tools and experiment techniques to better study the cold fusion effect. He explained how low cost tools and new scientific instruments can help solve the cold fusion problem in the same way that they revolutionized the human genome project. He presented a robust radiation sensor which can be placed in a gas loading experiment, detecting all the low energy radiation that does not pass through the reactor walls. They detected alpha radiation testing the device, meaning that they should also be able to use this as an internal tritium detector, since tritium also emits soft radiation. Nikita Alexandrov also spoke about the challenges of real time helium detection technology and how to design a low cost helium isotope analysis system. While they have prototypes of new tools, they also presented their long term research plan, involving the mass testing of precisely created materials for the cold fusion effect using advanced versions of their tools. Both companies developing reactors as well as researchers interested in the basic science could benefit from the discovery of new materials. But since Permanetix is not making reactors, it is a challenge to fund until cold fusion is a household word. Brian Ahern, who funded many research projects during his time at DARPA, spoke up after the presentation, “You are obviously leading, or ahead of the field so funding will be a challenge”. Permanetix technology could lower the barrier to entry for research companies starting in this field. If they prove themselves and can attract the large amount of funding required for a mass materials screening project, there is no doubt their approach could pay off tremendously.
MIT Conference video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsR4rrP22Uc
The LENR Industry Association was represented by Steve Katinsky and presented their plan forward at the MIT conference. This trade group will position itself as a facilitator of cold fusion technologies, involved in the education and adoption of cold fusion technology worldwide. This is an important step because it shows that even in such a highly competitive field, groups are willing to work together to do what it takes in making this technology a reality. Already over two dozen groups have pledged membership to this association, involving entities such as Naval Research Lab, two branches of NASA, as well as SKINR, commercial groups and other international research entities.
MIT Conference video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMNSl-nrFXQ
SKINR is one last non-commercial group is worth mentioning. Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance at University of Missouri was formed by a large private investment, absorbing one of the most successful cold fusion companies at the time (Energetics) into the university. Even though they are not a commercial entity, they are possibly the most well funded and equipped research group operating today. SKINR had an excellent presentation summarizing their work in the field, available here. They are currently running many experiments in collaboration with other groups, recently adding industry giant Aerospace Corporation, a move which shows that industry leaders are biting off on Cold Fusion. SKINR is funded for the next 4 years and have constantly been innovating and learning more and more about the science behind the cold fusion effect. Recent developments include a method of surface analysis which can predict if a material will be active as well as new experiments to detect low energy radiation. Their parting message was that if low energy radiation is used as an indicator of cold fusion, it is possible to detect events down to the femto-watt level of excess heat! With multiple groups developing new experiments and techniques for studying the effect, it is expected that huge strides will be made in understanding the cold fusion effect in the coming months and years.
MIT Conference video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWL6VUPSqKQ
Many groups were not represented at the conference, with some of the largest commercial players absent. Defkalion was registered but pulled out last minute, which is unfortunate because researchers were very curious about the huge magnetic anomalies present in their reactor which they mentioned briefly at ICCF-18.
Leonardo corporation, the company formed by Andrea Rossi which is leading the field in terms of commercialization was of course absent. They have not presented at any recent conferences and are more focused on rapid commercialization. Recently partnering with some powerful American backers, it is rumored that they will release third party test long duration test results in the next few weeks, if the results are anywhere near as positive as the previous published tests, this field may see an explosion of interest and may finally get the recognition it deserves.