What makes cold fusion work?
That’s the trillion dollar question.
At this time, no one knows definitively what is happening. Even as the first commercial products are being developed, numerous theories are challenged to match the empirical data of laboratory experiments.
A few necessary but not sufficient conditions to successfully initiate the Fleischmann-Pons Excess Heat Effect have been cobbled together over the past two decades of research on two types of systems.
A ‘necessary but not sufficient’ condition is a condition that must be met in order to activate a cell, but in and of itself, it is not sufficient to do so; some other as-yet-unknown condition(s) is also required. Identifying all the criteria necessary to activate cold fusion has been the concern of new energy researchers in the field of condensed matter nuclear science since Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons first announced their astounding discover in 1989.
Palladium-Deuterium Pd-D electrolytic systems have been studied the most during that time. These systems use the metal palladium in a bath of heavy water, a type of water made with the hydrogen isotope deuterium, also called heavy hydrogen.
In his talk “What Happened to Cold Fusion?”, Dr. Michael McKubre spoke of his research with Pd-D systems at SRI within a historical context and presented this slide summarizing the criteria that his lab has confirmed as necessary for activating a cell, as well as several more elements of cell design that appear to correlate with success.
For instance, its been determined that the palladium metal must be stuffed with heavy hydrogen up to 85% capacity, maintaining a high D/Pd ratio, to start a reaction. In other words, the space between the palladium atoms of the metallic lattice must be almost all filled up with the fuel of heavy hydrogen nuclei called deuterons. This loading threshold is a necessary condition for Pd-D cells.
In addition, for these systems that use bulk palladium metal, it is necessary to allow large loading times, even when the metal is in the form of a super-thin foil. Although the deuterium diffuses into the palladium within a day or two, it has to be in the metal for days, or even weeks, before the cell will spontaneously initiate the excess heat effect.In electrolytic systems, an electrical current is applied to the cell, making a negatively-charged palladium electrode and a positively-charged platinum electrode. Positive ions from the heavy water solution are then attracted to the negatively-charged cathode and get absorbed into the palladium metal. Loading the metal at a lower current, and then bumping up the current density level appears to be necessary to initiate an active cell.
These systems must also be free of impurities. Any tiny bit of foreign material can prevent the reaction from occurring. Small tabletop cells can not be made out of glass, for that kills the system, but can be made out of quartz, or fused-silica.
The second type of system is the gas-loading Nickel-Hydrogen Ni-H systems where a nickel powder is infused with a gas of simple hydrogen. This type of system is the basis for the first commercial cold fusion technology of Andrea A. Rossi and his Energy Catalyzer E-Cat steam generator. The engineers at Praxen Defkalion are also prototyping a thermal energy unit of that same type.
Corresponding to experimental data, many theories of cold fusion model the reaction as occurring on the surface of the metal. Using a powder made of metal increases the surface area, thereby exposing more surface atoms to possible reaction.
These Ni-H systems do not appear to need such high loading ratios, long loading times, or high-current density, to trigger a reaction. Indeed, the on-demand steam power is the feature that makes these systems fitting for the first steps in commercial cold fusion technology.
Heating the cell, and operating at a high temperature, appears to trigger and/or increase the excess heat effect for both Pd-D and Ni-H systems. Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat operates at temperatures around a few hundred degrees Celsius. The Praxen Defkalion Hyperion product currently in development will run at temperatures between 450-600 degrees Celsius. Brillouin Energy, a company developing the Brillouin Boiler for the hot-water boiler market, operates at temperatures between 100 and 200 degrees Celsius.
Once initiated, these thermal energy generators will produce temperatures upwards of 900 degrees Celsius. This is a high enough temperature to make hot water and useful steam, and controlling this high temperature output is the goal of these early new fire technologists. Generating enough steam power to make enough electricity to power the generator, in addition to electricity for consumer use, will be the next focus of development.
However, cold fusion generators of both types have been monitored in self-sustain mode, whereby the excess-heat effect continues even after the current or heater has been turned off. Called “heat after death” in the early electrolytic systems, the self-sustain mode will be a powerful feature for cold fusion energy generators in the future. As long as there is fuel available, the unit can generate stand-alone power.
But the reactor won’t get too hot and ‘runaway’. The melting point of nickel is 1453 degrees Celsius and the melting point of palladium is 1554 degrees C. Once that temperature is reached, the metal will melt, destroying the nuclear active environment, and stopping the reaction.
The heating of a cell adds a bit of energy to the system to help initiate the reaction, but heating the unit is not the only way to add energy.
A voltage applied to the cell at a particular frequency, or series of frequencies, will add energy by “jiggling” the atoms and nuclei of the metallic lattice and hydrogen fuel with electro magnetic pulses called flux. “In no case of any cold fusion experiment that I’m aware of is the effect produced under equilibrium conditions. It’s produced when you get a very high thermodynamic condition, when you pump it very high, and start move it.”, said Dr. McKubre in his lecture.Irving Dardik describes this as a Superwave, a wave-within-wave, nested set of frequencies that boosts the power of a cell. Dardik works with Energetics Technologies, a company developing a commercial generator that has published 25x energy return. This flux makes the atoms and hydrogen nuclei move rhythmically in a pattern, as a phonon, a collective excited state of the atoms in a solid material.
Robert Godes‘ Quantum Fusion Hypothesis further describes the vibrational patterns that occur in the metals atomic structure as quantum mechanical in nature, interacting as both point-like particles and spacially extended waves. He applies flux to his Brillouin Boiler using Quantum compression pulses, or Q-pulses, high-current pulses applied to the cell which “transfer momentum to the core lattice”.
Mr. Rossi’s E-Cat has been demonstrated using a radio frequency generator that somehow “stabilizes the rate of nuclear reactions that are taking place.” When asked about his use of radio frequency during an interview on the Smart Scarecrow show, he declined to speak about the details citing confidentiality, but he did say “The effect is based on the fact the forces that theoretically should fight against us, and I mean the Coulomb forces, are used to help us. This is the principle. This effect is an effect where we have turned to our advantage what theoretically has to be to our disadvantage.”
Frequency modulation has been successful for many researchers as early as 1992 when Dennis Letts reported up to 30x energy return using a radio frequency of 1420 MHz, the 21-centimeter wavelength of hydrogen that has been used to map the universe.
In their 2008 paper The Enabling Criteria of Electrochemical Heat: Beyond Reasonable Doubt, experimentalists Dennis Cravens and Dennis Letts outlined “four criteria that were correlated to reports of successful experiments attempting replication of the Fleischmann-Pons effect” in Pd-D systems. They described the same four necessary but not sufficient conditions that Dr. McKubre spoke of in his talk: the palladium must be full of deuterons, the chemical environment must be pure, there should be a high operating current density, and some way to move the particles with flux, making them dance in a rhythmic pattern.
The necessary but not sufficient criteria described here apply to the electrochemical Pd-D systems. There are some similarities with Ni-H systems, but these criteria do not transfer one-to-one to those systems. As this field develops from a science to a technology, experiments will expand to include other metals, which may modify the criteria further for those systems.
But any successful theory will have to address the anomalies present in both Pd-D and Ni-H systems as well as other types of environments where cold fusion reactions also take place, including sonofusion, laser-initiated systems, and even biological organisms.
Cold Fusion Now!
Intensification of Low energy Nuclear Reactions Using Superwave Excitation 2003 by Irving Dardik and the scientists at Energetics Technologies from www.lenr-canr.org
Enabling Criteria of Electrochemical Heat: Beyond Reasonable Doubt 2008 by Dennis Cravens and Dennis Letts from www.lenr-canr.org