Why ColdFusion/LENR has not been seized upon by private industry


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.

In my last posting I started Part 1 of what was to be a two-part reference to the initiatives of Randall Mills  and Blacklight Power in respect of  producing energy through exploitation of a shrunken hydrogen atom, the “Hydrino”.   Part 2 will soon follow.  Meanwhile I wish to now address a consideration respecting what will be needed to make Cold Fusion a commercial success.

It’s been 23 years since Pons and Fleischmann made their initial announcements. Hundreds if not thousands of examples of unexplained excess heat have now been identified in the laboratories of heroic “cold fusion” researchers struggling around the world on very modest budgets. Yet industry has not picked-up the baton to join in the race. Why is this?

There are no doubt many reasons but this article addresses the issue of thermal efficiency. It is proposed that industry will not be interested in ColdFusion technology until energy gains well in advance of 3:1 are achieved. Something higher e.g., 6:1 or 8:1 is a minimum in order to activate commercial interest in the exploitation of the excess energy phenomena associated with condensed matter physics. It all starts with the Carnot cycle.

Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot (1 June 1796 — 24 August 1832) was a French military engineer who, in his 1824 book Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, gave the first successful theoretical account of heat engines, now known as the Carnot cycle. He is often described as the “Father of thermodynamics”, being responsible for such concepts as Carnot efficiency, Carnot theorem, the Carnot heat engine, and others.

The Carnot theorem applies to engines converting thermal energy to work. This is to be contrasted with fuel cells and batteries which convert chemical energy into work. The theorem states that the maximum efficiency that any heat engine can obtain depends on the difference between two hot and cold temperature reservoirs that are its “source” and its “sink”.

The principles behind Carnot’s theorem are as follows:

• there is a maximum limit to the efficiency by which work that can be extracted from heat;

• only an engine operating on the Carnot cycle can achieve the maximum efficiency possible in extracting energy from heat in order to produce work

• only a perfect, reversible, heat engine operating between a heat source and a heat sink can equal the efficiency of a Carnot engine operating between the same reservoirs

• all irreversible heat engines operating between two heat reservoirs are less efficient than a Carnot engine operating between the same reservoirs.

Generally, for an engine to operate “reversibly”, it has to function very slowly and have not heat loss through “leakage”. Virtually all practical heat engines are of the irreversible kind.

The formula for this maximum efficiency is:

Efficiency = 1 – T(cold)/T(hot)

where T(cold) is the absolute temperature of the cold reservoir, T(hot) is the absolute temperature of the hot reservoir, and the Efficiency is the ratio of the energy-value of the work done by the engine to the heat drawn out of the hot reservoir.

Using the above formula to demonstrate an example, and recalling that 0°C is 273° Kelvin, the ideal Carnot efficiency of a heat engine operating between 273°C and a block of ice at 0°C is 50% i.e. 1- 273°K/546°C. This is ideal. This is perfection. Typical gasoline automobile engines operate down in the range of 20% thermal efficiency. Power generation stations achieve typical thermal efficiencies of around 33% for coal and oil-fired plants, and up to 50% for combined-cycle gas-fired plants.

Using the above figure of 33 1/3%, it takes 3 barrels of oil to make one barrel of electricity in terms of heat value. This is a shocking thought for national planners who see citizens using electricity for heating. Nevertheless, electricity is an amazingly convenient energy source that is delivered apparently effortlessly to the door of the consumer and is available at the turning of a switch. Only the cost of electricity limits its consumption as a source of heat.

Because electricity is such a special form of energy, ready to do work directly with 98% efficiency through electric motors, it can be used in some applications to recover a portion of the heat value used to create it. And if you do not demand too much, it can provide even more. Heat pumps are designed to extract heat from the environment and raise the temperature of the extracted heat to certain modest target levels.

If the object is to heat a room with 30°C hot water, then this heat can be pumped out of the ground from a depth of 30, 40 or more feet, where the temperature is generally a constant 10° to 15°C. Heat pumps are rated based on their “coefficient of performance” – COP.  Depending on the temperature spread between the heat source and the heat sink, the co-efficiency of performance for an electrically driven heat pump can be higher than 3:1, for example 4.5:1. Thus it is possible to recover some of the heat value used to generate electricity if the object is to provide only a moderate boost in the temperature of the heat being pumped.

If on the other hand, you aspire to re-create the furnace temperatures used when the oil or natural gas is combusted to create electricity in the first place, then a heat pump just won’t do the job.

Meanwhile, in the field of cold fusion, virtually all of the experimentation that has been going on has been using electricity as the source of heat to stimulate the low energy nuclear reaction, (if that’s what is occurring). On this basis, if the reaction does not produce a 300% output of heat for 100% input of electricity, then that technology has failed to achieve even a bare minimum recovery of the value that it has consumed. In addition, there are always system inefficiencies. That’s why a ColdFusion reactor is not really going to make sense until it has a gain, or coefficient of performance – COP, in excess of 6:1 and preferably 8:1 and more.

The original question posed was: Why has industry not picked-up the challenge to develop ColdFusion into a working industrial resource?  One reason is that a large number of experiments done around the world have not shown a COP of 6, 7 or 8. In fact, many of the scientific results have shown excess energy gains of 20%, 30%, etc. rather than the 600%, 700% or 800% that would make investors sit up and pay attention.

If an LENR reaction were to produce heat at the temperature of 500°C, or preferably 600-800°C and do so with a COP for the input electrical energy of even just 600%, then interest may suddenly arise. The Carnot efficiency, that is the ideal theoretical capacity to generate electricity from thermal energy for a source at a temperature of 850°C, relying on a cold-water sink at 27°C would be just under 67%.  Allowing for production losses, a thermal efficiency of 25-30% might be achievable for the production of electricity.

Electricity is like “White Gold”. It can be sold instantly. There is always a market for it. This removes one major uncertainty from the business case for investing in ColdFusion technology. You know that you will have something to sell that people will buy.

But this hasn’t happened. We still haven’t had a demonstration of the sustained production of high-grade heat for an extended period of time.

This is not to say that the production of steam, “wet” steam if it still contains water droplets and is only at a temperature of 100°C, is not valuable. It can be used for low temperature applications throughout our society. Heating homes is only just one application. Running air conditioners is another. Industry consumes a lot of hot water. And the desalination of water is a big application that will change the lives of hundreds of millions of human beings.

Let us hope that demonstrations at higher levels of COP will soon attract the interest of industry and provide the breakthrough that every fan of ColdFusion has been hoping for, for so long.

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.

16 thoughts on “Why ColdFusion/LENR has not been seized upon by private industry”

  1. David, your article contains a lot of valuable information.
    However, your are missing the key point of a self-sustaining LENR device, where no electricilty is needed after the initial pre-heating. Even if a LENR reactor produces a COP of ‘only’ 300%, why would anyone continue to use electricity for sustaining the reaction?
    Beyond those lab experiments we are seeing now, anyone involved in this matter would certainly plan on ‘recycling’ a portion of the excess heat in a controlled fashion to sustain the reaction in a commercial device.
    And once you ‘close the loop’, the 300% COP suddenly becomes indefinite!

    1. The point is no one has demonstrated a sustained reaction by using heat to continue the reaction. If it was that simple it would have likely been done by now. The more likely explanation is that pulsing the energy input in certain ways or some other technical hurdle requires the control that only electricity, and not raw heat, can supply. If that is the case, for now anyway, then LENR would be unsuitable for electrical generation due to the fact that a 1KW input of electricity would create 3KW of heat which would become equivalent to 1KW of electricity when the heat was converted to electricity using a generator of very high efficiency. This would create a sustainable LENR reaction but would supply no usable energy outside of the system making it nothing more than a very very expensive novelty. Even if some usable energy was produced by a LENR system the capital costs of the generating equipment vs usable energy would still have to be compared to the capital costs of the generating equipment vs usable energy produced by coal or combined-cycle gas-fired plants. If the latter have faster returns on investment than they will be used and LENR will be ignored.
      Clearly the LENR process should be suitable for heating and that is where all the efforts should be placed in order to raise capital for the industry as well as being the best way to legitimize LENR. Why that has not happened is difficult to ascertain but my best guess is that it is a combination of pseudo skepticism creating a self fulfilling prophecy, resistance to change by the entrenched interests of short-sighted companies large enough to develop the technology who may see this as technology that would undercut their own profits in natural gas, heating oil and electricity and therefore want nothing to do with it and other factors that work in tandem to slow adoption of this technology.
      Randell Mills has claimed to overcome the thermal inefficiencies inherent in generators by creating a solid state device that leverages energy produced by hydrino transitions using a half cell reaction that is not limited by the Carnot efficiency limit, because it is not a heat engine. The future will be the judge of the veracity of this claim but due to the negative visceral reactions to his theory it will not be an easily won battle, if he is right, due to the fact that what he is attempting to theorize and engineer would be akin to creating a nuclear theory then engineering and designing a nuclear reactor privately, if nuclear reactors and the theory underlying them did not exist, while the vast majority of scientists and laymen are absolutely sure it is completely impossible pseudoscience. Nuclear reactors were enough of a challenge without mainstream skepticism inhibiting its creation and it would have been essentially impossible if almost everyone had believed it couldn’t be done. Hopefully Dr.Mills is right and he manages to pull of what is certainly a herculean task because the benefits for mankind will be staggering if that occurs.

  2. Likewise, David. Where were you all these times? NO David. You are missing the whole point.
    It seems that you have been asleep at wheel or simply are ignoring and passing on to those gullible that LENR(Low Energy Nuclear Reaction)/cold-fusion .. Just about anybody who spent more than few minutes on reading widely availabe reports will know that it works in “SELF SUSTAIN” mode.

    Which means “INFINTE COP” !!!! Do you understand ? “Low Energy” means how much energy it requires to “START UP” the reaction !!

    Once it starts, it will into closed loop where it will use its own power/heat to continue without any detectable radiation of anykind from users point. And at the same time it can be shut down immediately at any time . So there’s no runaway problem as in dangerouos radioactive fission nuclear reaction .

    Tis is the reason why LENR/Cold-Fusion is such a game changer for all humanity and beyond. !!!
    I don’t think I will ever retain you for my patent .

    [ Incivility will be edited. -Ruby ]

    1. Current products in development are not advertised as “self-sustaining”, and we don’t know the extent to which they actually will be when these products first emerge for the public.

      It is true that this mode will be a huge advance in energy production eventually.

      This author just came from the Cold Fusion 101 course at MIT from which some of this info was adapted.
      The technical problems of the past will be solved by this technology, but it will, most likely, be in stages.

      Thanks for your obviously strong support of cold fusion technology, but any uncivil comments are removed by me!

      Ruby

    1. Actually, you can. There have been many processes that were turned into technologies before the theory was understood – silicon chips for one. Read Robert Duncan’s interview http://coldfusionnow.org/?p=2582:

      “In the 1950s when silicon transistors were discovered, materials science was just beginning. During those first years, batches of transistors were made and tested, and the ones that worked were kept, while the ones that didn’t work were thrown away. As much as 80% of the batches had to be thrown away because they didn’t know what was causing them to work or not.

      Today the process control in fabricating silicon transistors is well-known. The certainty in quality comes from the purity of silicon and added dopants, but this knowledge is the result of decades of research and hundreds of billions of dollars. A similar situation occurred with superconductors.”

  3. My understanding is that Defkalion is now (27 Feb) allowing independent testing of their LENR reaction chamber and LENR generator, which ought to verify their claims of over 600C. On the other hand, Rossi says he has been shown a Sieman AG turbine that could produce electricity at 30 per cent efficiency from a steam temperature of 250 C (this is much lower than the 550 C steam temperatures that are required in conventional electrical generation).

    In other words, both Defkalion and Rossi both seem to be progressing to at least industrial generation of electicity using commercial LENR generators that will soon be on the market.

    One finally comment: I am skeptical that Rossi or anyone else will be granted a patient on LENR. On the other hand, I would not be surprised if Rossi gets a big out of court settlement from Defkalion for them using his “secret Italian sauce” without his permission. Am I being contradictory?

  4. To Councel David French,

    Sir,

    I inform you of the article : “Belgian LANR Patents” e-Cat Site rating Belgian LANR patents
    BE1002780 and BE1002781, inventor VAN DEN BOGAERT JOANNES. I should like that you have a look at that matter.

    Thank you.

  5. In 1903 the Wright brothers flew a “heavier than air machine” at Kitty Hawk, something that many people considered impossible.

    However, the many skeptics could not prevent the fact that only a few years later, several people were manufacturing airplanes. And flying them, because they worked.

    There has been 24 years since Pons and Fleishman and their results have been not replicated.. Maybe the time has come to set the bar higher, and any inventor that: a) created a LERN, b) had a personal epiphany and extra power demonstrated and c) is willing to demontrate in a lab, SHOULD do so, so he and his fellow investigators will be respected.

    Until then, it’s going to be a matter of she said / he said…..really sad.

      1. replicated by 30% at the beginning (while people were not mastering the needed condition).
        replicated by the MIT team that frauded the resulst to hide the anomalous heat, putting Eugene Mallow, “chief science writer for the MIT News Office” at that time (and having insider’s preliminary non-tweaked version of the frauded paper), in furror… so he became a cold fusion activist.
        story there:
        http://www.infinite-energy.com/images/pdfs/mitcfreport.pdf
        (beware, if you love science risk of vomit)

        and 100% successful protocol by SPAWAR, independently replicated with SPAWAR kit.
        see their peer reviewed papers
        http://newenergytimes.com/v2/reports/SSC-SD-Refereed-Journal-Articles.shtml
        and their conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VymhJCcNBBc

        why the consensus in science does not accept it ? my theory, based on R benabou rational denial, group delusion theory… and Wade&Broad books on Scientific fraud.
        http://www.lenrforum.eu/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=40&p=48#p48

        (beware, if you love science risk of vomit)

        1. This is like trying to argue with theologians.

          Guys, aLL you have to do to convince me is to show me, in independent testing, an LENR that works.

          Is that too much to ask?

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