On July 20, 1969 three men from Earth set foot on another world. In doing so, the astronauts of Apollo 11 were acting out a well-rehearsed performance that took behind-the-scenes support from countless people around the world.The skilled individuals employed to design, engineer, and manufacture new materials and technologies to take humans into space was an effort that coalesced from a widespread segment of the population. Whole new industries were generated as TV, satellites, and computers intersected to ferment the pool.
After the Apollo program, NASA produced Skylab and the Space Shuttle, but unmanned robotic missions like Galileo, Cassini, and the Mars rovers delivered most of the science. Since the Space Shuttle ended its run only a few months ago, NASA is continuing to pursue robotic missions on smaller budgets, while human spaceflight takes a backseat minus a ride.
But thanks to cold fusion, NASA again has an opportunity to take a lead in developing new technologies for space applications, and more, from low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR), also called lattice-assisted nuclear reactions (LANR) and otherwise known as cold fusion, even as the national space agency embarks on a series of lab experiments to test the basic science behind LENR.
NASA began research shortly after Drs. Fleischmann and Pons‘ announcement in 1989, and has continued to varying degrees throughout the past two decades, seemingly stepping up their commitment in just the last few years, trending with the rest of the world.
The following list of NASA reports is not meant to be exhaustive, but contains much of the publicly available materials produced by the U.S. space agency in this field.
LANGLEY Research Center
Some of the more bold and vocal supporters of LENR research at NASA are two men Dennis M. Bushnell and Joseph M. Zawodny, both of Langley Research Center (LaRC). These individuals have released strong statements of interest in LENR research and described ongoing experiments at Langley to test the Widom-Larsen Theory, a proposed model of the LENR reaction by Alan Widom and Lewis Larson that depends upon the creation of electrons with increased mass being captured by protons to create low-momentum neutrons to build-up nuclei via transmutation to create excess heat and transmutations.
Joseph Zawodny is featured in a January 2012 Technology Gateway 2-minute NASA video with the title “Method for Enhancement of Surface Plasmon Polaritons to Initiate and Sustain LENR“.
In this May 23, 2012 release, Zawodny describes the experiments NASA is working on to test the theoretical hypothesis and his belief in the potential of LENR.
Around that same time, in an almost coordinated effort, Dennis Bushnell, the Chief Scientist for Langley, published his essay Low Energy Nuclear Reactions the Realism, the Outlook on NASA’s Future Innovation page here.
It is not known how much support for LENR exists in the upper echelons of NASA administration. Over the past two decades, individuals in the Navy, academia, and national labs wishing to pursue cold fusion research were, and still are, forced to operate without official sanction from their institutions. Yet all of these entities had rogue individuals setting up experiments in closets and working on them off-the-clock. For Zawadny and Bushnell, endorsing this science and technology publicly has been increasing in frequency.
On April 23, 2011 of last year, Dennis Bushnell spoke with EV World’s Bill Moore in The Future of Energy Part 1 and Part 2. Audio of the discussion is available on the EV World website, and features Bushnell’s acceptance of Peak Oil, and how LENR can solve both our energy problems and the climate crisis causing desertification of equatorial regions.
On October 24, 2011, Dr. Zawodny was quoted in Aviation Week article Nuclear Powered Aircraft? by author Graham Warwick, who begins the article referring to a “late-80s cold fusion debacle of Pons and Fleischmann” and ends abruptly with a confusing Zawodny quote “When LENR devices work they consume themselves” left unexplained.
Still, we had this quote:
“Writing in Aviation Week & Space Technology’s Imagining the Future issue, Joseph Zawodny says experimental evidence indicates low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) technology could be an extremely clean energy source.”
“Recent LENR research dates back to the late-1980s ‘cold fusion’ debacle of Pons and Fleischmann but, Zawodny says “a growing body of increasingly repeatable experimental evidence indicates the LENR effect is real and is likely not fusion, cold or otherwise.” An LENR power source would have enormous energy density, but the ionizing radiation produced would be extremely low.”
LENR represents such an enormous energy density (gigajoules per gram of fuel), and fuel consumption would be so low – the energy from the hydrogen in 40 liters of water could power a 747 half way round the world – that aircraft could be thought of taking off and landing at the same weight, says Zawodny.“
GLENN Research Center
On September 22, 2011, the Glenn Research Center (GRC) held a workshop on LENR with several of NASA’s LENR researchers in attendance. Presentation slides from that workshop include the following:
September 22, 2011 Dennis M. Bushnell Chief Scientist NASA Langley Research Center Slides for LENR Workshop at Glenn Research Center [presentation slides .pdf]
September 22, 2011 Gustave C. Fralick, John D. Wrbanek, Susan Y. Wrbanek, Janis Niedra LENR at GRC. [ presentation slides .pdf]
September 22, 2011 Michael A. Nelson Overview of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions as Implemented by Andrea Rossi and Francesco Piantelli. [presentation slides .pdf] Dr. Nelson is from the Marshall Space Flight Center and is identified as a NASA-MSFC Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) Space Applications Lead
September 22, 2011 Joseph M. Zawadny Low Energy Nuclear Reactions Is there a better way to do nuclear power? [presentation slides .pdf]
The GRC has a long history of cold fusion research. Workshop presenters Gustave C. Fralick and Janis Niedra along with Ira T. Meyers and Richard S. Baldwin released NASA Technical Memorandum 107167 Replication of the Apparent Excess Heat Effect in a Light Water- Potassium Carbonate Nickel Electrolytic Cell in 1996. [download .pdf]
Co-author Janis M. Neidra is listed then as representing NYMA, Inc from Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. while Fralick, Meyers and Baldwin are listed as from NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland.
The 1996 Memorandum states:
The existence of an excess heat effect in electrolytic cells based on a platinum (coated) anode attached to a nickel cathode immersed in a light-water solution of K2COs was first reported by R.L. Mills and S.P. Kneizys, although the possibility was stated earlier by S. Pons et al. in a patent application. The effect was soon verified by V.C. Noninski and continues as an active topic of research at numerous laboratories.
From the GRC page on Physical Sensors Instrumentation Research page, here:
Tests conducted at NASA Glenn Research Center in 1989 and elsewhere consistently show evidence of anomalous heat during gaseous loading and unloading of deuterium into and out of bulk palladium. At one time called “cold fusion,” now called “low-energy nuclear reactions” (LENR), such effects are now published in peer-reviewed journals and are gaining attention and mainstream respectability. The instrumentation expertise of NASA GRC is applied to improve the diagnostics for investigating the anomalous heat in LENR.
In NASA/CR-2003-212169 Advanced Energetics for Aeronautical Applications, prepared by David S. Alexander from MSE Technology Applications, Inc in Butte, Montana, U.S. for NASA Langley Research Center, chapter 3.1.5 Low Energy Nuclear Reactions has briefs on George H. Miley‘s research with thin-films and Brian Ahern‘s Nanofusion concept.
The 2003 survey of energy production and storage begins the chapter with:
“188.8.131.52-Electrochemically Induced Deuterium Fusion in Palladium
The first-discovered form of solid-state fusion was that achieved by electrochemically splitting heavy water in order to cause the deuterium to be absorbed into pieces of palladium metal. When this experiment is conducted according to procedures that have resulted from the work of many researchers since 1989, it is reproducible.”
While the author did not see the electrolytic cell-type of use to aerospace, he noted that Miley’s thin-film technology, then called Proton Power Cells, looked promising as it allowed higher temperatures, and emitted little radiation.
A 2005 update by Alexander, NASA/CR-2005-213749 Advanced Energetics for Aeronautical Applications: Volume II, also prepared for NASA Langley, was an even fuller survey of new energy advanced concepts with cold fusion/LANR/LENR now referred to as Condensed Matter Nuclear Science. Looking at the table of contents for Volume II, one gets the feeling that the author dived into new energy enthusiastically, scouring the landscape for breakthrough technology discoveries.
Chapter 5 section 4 features briefs by Dennis G. Letts and Dennis J. Cravens, as well as Yasuhiro Iwamura, and H. Yamada, and is very brief. A mere three pages completes the sample, but the tone is enthusiastic at the results of excess heat and transmutations.
The most recent publicly available contracted report was written by Marty K. Bradley and Christopher K. Droney of Boeing Research and Technology, Huntington Beach, California, and has one of the best analyses of LENR as an application for aircraft power. Released May 2012, NASA/CR-2012-217556 Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research Phase II: N+4 Advanced Concept Development was also prepared for Langley and “is an advanced concept and technology study that examines a wide variety of alternative fuel and energy technologies and is not an offer, commitment or promise on the performance or capabilities of any future Boeing product.” [download .pdf]
Boeing had multiple teams assess the potential of several power sources for “green” aircraft at a workshop, and this report brings their independent conclusions together. “The idea of using a Low Energy Nuclear Reactor (LENR) was discussed at the N+4 Workshop, both as a ground-based source of energy to create electricity or hydrogen, and an aircraft carried power source for primary propulsion. Given the potential of clean zero-emissions energy, further work was identified for both applications.”
The report states “Concept 8 (LENR) had the same issue with being able to draw the boundary on energy. The group identified that the LENR concept could have tremendous benefits, but the technical risks are extremely high”. They “recommend small study to set goals and watch tech feasibility and development.”
The groups feel it prudent to “Investigate system architecture options”, and “develop baseline system design and system performance targets.” This graph from the report projects a possible timeline for LENR applications from Boeing. Download the report and zoom in close to read the milestones clearly. The bulk of development occurs in the block of time from year 2018 to 2026.
Johnson Space Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC) is opening a new lab Eagleworks to “pursue advanced physics concepts emerging in the literature” for rocket propulsion and spacecraft power. Representative Harry “Sonny” White gave a talk on Advanced Propulsion Physics: Harnessing the Quantum Vacuum, a paper co-authored with Paul March at the Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space (NETS) conference last March 2012. [download .pdf]
“When you pursue things that fit into the category of speculative physics, you have to be very careful about what you’re doing, you have to be rigorous and due diligent”, says White. “Take your time and try to be your own worst critic. So we are setting up some facilities at Johnson Space Center that are very high fidelity systems that try and work in the realm where physics and engineering overlap.”
A report by Ruby Carat on that session, also attended by cold fusion researcher George H. Miley, and theorist Y.E. Kim, can be found here.
At the session, Miley proposed a LENR-based General Purpose Heat Source to replace the plutonium thermoelectric generators that currently provide power to long-duration spacecraft, and Kim outlined his theory of the cold fusion reaction based on a Bose-Einstein Condensate. (See our George H. Miley interview from April HERE)
In 2009, the American Institute of Physics AIP published Condensed Matter Cluster Reactions in LENR Power Cells for a Radical New Type of Space Power Source by Xiaoling Yang, George H. Miley, and Heinz Hora from SPACE, PROPULSION & ENERGY SCIENCES INTERNATIONAL FORUM: SPESIF‐2009 24–26 February 2009 in Huntsville (Alabama) saying,
“This is a fundamental new nuclear energy source that is environmentally compatible with a minimum of radiation involvement, high specific power, very long lifetime, and scalable from micro power to kilowatts.”
NASA’s Earliest Experiment
Earlier this year in January, Dr. Francesco Celani, a longtime Italian cold fusion researcher, spoke at the World Sustainable Energy Conference 2012 hosted by the International Sustainable Energy Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. In the abstract of his talk, he mentioned the “large skepticism” existing in the scientific community towards cold fusion, and only “researchers and a few institutions” continued to investigate this perplexing phenomenon.
Among them we mention NASA and John Bockris at Texas A&M, who started in July 1989 an investigation looking for an occurence of the usual Deuterium-Deuterium (D-D) fusion with emission of neutrons (i.e. strong force interaction). They did not find it, but NASA detected unexplainable behavior of Pd tube when heated at high temperatures (350°C) and Hydrogen (H2) or Deuterium (D2) gas were allowed to flow in and out. In short, the behavior of energy production was as expected using H2 gas but completely unexpected with D2. Heat production was detected both in the incoming and out-coming phases of the gas: such effect was against any previous scientific experience!
Such key results were not communicated immediately to the Scientific Community until, by chance, a report was found inside a drawer and wide-spread only in 2004. In December 2009 another similar experiment was performed, devoted to reconfirm the thermal anomalies found on 1989. The results, thanks to specific and improved instruments, were of even better quality. Again, the results were not made public until the document was found, by chance, on the web in August 2011. Recently, top level NASA Researchers are more “open” about their results produced “at home”.
The report to which he refers is the December 1989 NASA report RESULTS OF AN ATTEMPT TO MEASURE INCREASED RATES OF THE REACTION 2D + 2D → 3He + n IN A NONELECTROCHEMICAL COLD FUSION EXPERIMENT by Gustave C. Fralick, Arthur J. Decker, and James W. Blue, all from NASA Lewis Research Center [download .pdf]
This early NASA cold fusion experiment was designed to try to detect neutrons, thereby confirming a nuclear fusion reaction as the conventional theory dictated. While they didn’t find the neutrons they were looking for, they did generate excess heat.
Dr. Celani’s presentation slides also say:
Among others, it is pity that excellent experiments, like that performed by NASA, were not made public immediately but after 15 years: the realty of LENR were reconfirmed, even in gaseous environment (D2) and high temperature (350°C), just after only 9 months from F&P first paper!
The, improved quality, reconfirmation of NASA 1989 experiment, performed on Dec 2009, would have the some fate: luckily it was found, by chance, on August 2011. –Francesco Celani
NASA found excess heat from cold fusion in 1989.
Now preferring the term LENR, bold individuals continue to pursue research in an area that has the potential to provide the world a revolution in clean energy and a next-generation nuclear power to take humans off-world to destinations beyond Earth orbit, creating new as-yet unimagined industries, and form an economy independent of fossil fuels.
We don’t have the kind of coordinated effort that carried humans to the “beautiful desolation” of the Moon within ten years. If we did, we might be on Mars in a decade, and Earth could be the paradise of First Nature that it was at the beginning of human civilization.
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