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.
April 23, 2012 –For some of us who have not been following the ColdFusion scene very carefully, Brillouin Energy Corp may seem like a new upstart. Actually, they have been around for some time. But they have now “come out” with a very complete and informative release that describes their initiatives, and reported “breakthrough” in the ColdFusion universe. Here is a summary description from Pure Energy Systems. Their slogan is apparently: “Understanding how LENR works will enable us to be first!”
This website is very generous in explaining their theory for generating energy through a lattice assisted nuclear reaction – “LANR”. This theory is based upon electron capture with a twist. Coherent phonon waves within a host lattice created by pulsating electrical current provide energy levels in excess of the 782 KeV threshold needed to produce a neutron out of the combination of an electron and a proton. The accumulating neutrons eventually form 4H – “hydrogen 4” which is an entity I had never heard about. It is an atom that contains one proton and three neutrons. Apparently, once created hydrogen 4 can convert to 4He – “helium 4” with the emission of a beta particle and without releasing penetrating gamma ray radiation. Beta particles, high-speed electrons, are likely to be readily absorbed within a metal lattice and its surrounding containment; accordingly, they are not readily detected. They would certainly not represent a radiation hazard by themselves.
The website contains a generous dose of mathematics. I do not pretend to understand the physics, particularly the analysis of Hamiltonians. I am going to have to study that subject further. But there is a story in the patent applications that have been assigned to Brillouin at the US Patent Office, and in the corresponding applications filed elsewhere in the world.
Apparently, as early as December 29, 2005 the inventor Robert E. Godes initiated a first US Provisional patent application which has served as a priority document for a number of filings. The year later follow-on US non-provisional ran into trouble on the basis that it was directed to “Cold Fusion”. As is usual, the US Examiner issued a rejection which was subject to being withdrawn if the applicant could prove that the invention as described works, i.e. the invention delivers on its promise. Apparently Godes, then operating on behalf of Profusion Energy, Inc. of Alameda, California as the assignee/applicant, encountered continuing resistance. Fortunately, as this application was part of the US patent system, after having been rejected in this first application another filing was made in the form of a US “Continuation” application.
This procedure is virtually unique to US law. A properly-filed US Continuation application enjoys all of the filing dates of the earlier application upon which it is based. The consequence is that there is still a US patent application pending which dates back to 2005 and which, if supported by proof of utility, could have significant impact on the exploitation of LENR systems in America.
Meanwhile, the earlier US priority filing and the subsequent non-provisional application made a year later gave rise to a PCT filing. That PCT filing, in turn, has matured into filings in Europe, Japan and China. This PCT application probably contains “new matter” not included in the original priority filing, but at the same time probably parallels the content of the first and second US non-provisional filings. A comparison of the documents would have to be made to determine this issue properly.
Note that there are a large number of countries for which patents have not been filed for this technology. In all of these countries, the invention as described in the published US and PCT applications on or about September 6, 2007 is available for use without obligation. Publication has made this invention unpatentable in all countries where applications were not already pending.
There are actually two PCT filings that have been made naming Robert E. Godes as an inventor; only one apparently relating to cold fusion; the other apparently relates to solid-state electronics technology which may be collateral to cold fusion issues. This second application should also be checked to determine its relevance.
Note, this search summary of published applications focuses on cases naming Robert E. Godes as an inventor. It is possible that further Brillouin applications are pending in the names of other inventors. Also, one or more further filings by Godes could be pending but unpublished if they are still within the 18 month secrecy window.
Of the applications now in national entry status derived from the PCT filing, the European application is the one of most interest. Examination has been requested for this application but has not commenced.
Using the US claims as probably being exemplary of what this series of patents aspires to control, we can now examine Claim 1 to see what can and cannot be done, if and when a patent issues containing this claim, without seeking permission from Brillouin Energy Corp. Claim 1 reads as follows:
1. An apparatus for energy generation comprising:
a body, referred to as the core, of a material capable of phonon propagation;
a mechanism for introducing reactants into said core;
a source of current pulses for establishing current pulses through said core, said current pulses inducing phonons in said core so that reactants, when introduced into said core, undergo nuclear reactions; and
a closed loop control system, coupled to said mechanism
– for introducing reactants and to said source of current pulses,
– for specifying operating parameters of said mechanism for introducing reactants and of said source of current pulses,
– for sensing one or more operating conditions, and for modifying one or more operating parameters,
thereby controlling the number of nuclear reactions and the depth of the nuclear reactions in said core so as to provide a desired level of energy generation while allowing energy released due to the nuclear reactions to dissipate in a manner that substantially avoids destruction of said core.
One of the first observations that can be made is that this claim stipulates that the coherent sound waves, the phonons, are generated by establishing “current pulses through said core”. Apparently, sound waves created by a piezoelectric effect, magnetostriction and or applied electrostatic fields are not intended to be within the scope of these exclusive rights. This might get changed in the course of examination if the Brillouin patent attorneys reconsider this claim. But they can only enlarge its scope if there is support for the larger ideas in the final, non-provisional filing for this application. That is the way patent procedure works.
Otherwise the above claim is a pretty well-written claim. Notice that it does not rely on any sort of theory. It simply describes a procedure which the application represents will deliver a useful result. That is what patents and patent claims are all about. You do not patent a theory. You patent how to get to a useful result.
Nevertheless, the full disclosure in the patent document is very interesting as a source of guidance for a theory that might work. Even if the theory put forward in the application is not correct, the patent, and its claims, can still be valid if the instructions for producing a useful result are accurate.
This application has already gone through the US Patent Office once when it ran into trouble for failure to satisfy the Examiner that it describes how to achieve the useful result. On this second pass, a different outcome may occur, depending on the nature of the evidence that is filed to support the promises that are being made.
Special learning point: you should not promise much in a patent application. A patent disclosure is not a sales pitch. You should simply say, effectively: “The invention delivers some degree of useful result.”
In conclusion, the Pure Energy Systems article first referenced above contains an excellent outline of the theory that this company is apparently operating on. If they have managed to achieve reliable production of energy at the elevated temperatures that they represent in their website, they are going to have a breakthrough winner that should attract the attention of the world.
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.