Did the 2004 US DoE review reject cold fusion?


“Cold fusion,” as reviewed in 2004, was primarily the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect, with palladium deuteride, through electrolytic or gas loading.

The review panel was evenly split on the issue of anomalous heat, half considering the evidence for a heat anomaly “compelling.”

The only direct evidence that the FP Heat Effect is “nuclear” is the production of helium correlated with heat, first reported by Miles in 1991, and confirmed by other groups later. There are other reported nuclear effects, such as tritium, but none of these have been correlated with heat, so far, and none are at levels  allowing them to be a major part of the reaction producing measurable heat.

On the question of whether or not the FPHE was nuclear, only one reviewer considered nuclear evidence “convincing.” About a third considered it “somewhat convincing.”

It is easy, reading the review and the related documents carefully, to understand the conclusions. The review contained this:

Results reported in the review document purported to show that  4He was detected in five out of  sixteen cases where electrolytic cells were reported to be producing excess heat.The detected 4He was typically very close to, but reportedly above background levels. This evidence was taken as convincing or somewhat convincing by some reviewers; for others the lack of consistency was an indication that the overall hypothesis was not justified. Contamination of apparatus or samples by air containing 4He was cited as one possible cause for false positive results in some measurements.

Given that summary, were it accurate on fact, the conclusion of “unconvincing” was rational and sound. Notice the “lack of consistency” in five out of sixteen.

However, there were two errors. The minor error was that 5/16 is from the  Case Appendix, which is about gas-loaded palladium on a carbon catalyst base, not “electrolytic cells.”

The major error is the claim that these cells were “producing excess heat.” However, in that Appendix, heat data was given for only one cell. The Case Appendix was seriously defective, missing crucial information. If provided, it would have shown a stunning correlation between heat and helium.

However, the panel had other heat/helium evidence before it. Miles was referenced. However, the reviewers had 130 papers to consider in a short time.

Only one reviewer showed clear signs of having read Miles, the one convinced as to “nuclear.” Miles is, stand-alone, conclusive, needing only confirmation. Because Miles, and other reports as being confirmations of Miles, were missed, the crucial nuclear evidence was missed.

Instead, as is with cold fusion, a mass of data was presented on “other nuclear evidence,” all of which is relatively weak and circumstantial. The theory-du-jour was presented, quite where the panel lost interest.

Cold fusion requires a paradigm shift, and scientists do not accept paradigm shifts unless presented with conclusive evidence that they are required.

The original discovery was of a heat anomaly. The panel, for the first time, showed that there was substantial reason to consider the heat real, a major advance over the 1989 review.

Because of the theoretical implications, and because of the native unreliability of the heat effect, there is a substantial segment of the scientific community that will continue to think “there must be some mistake” with the heat evidence, until there is proof (and heat/helium is proof).  The opportunity to consider the only convincing nuclear evidence was missed, because of how the information was presented.

Had the review paper gone through peer review, the omissions would have been noticed. Had the DoE review included a substantial back-and-forth, the omissions would also have been noticed.

The 2004 DoE review demonstrates what has been missing in the consideration of cold fusion, a careful look at heat/helium.

Storms covers the issue of heat/helium in his Naturwissenschaften “Review of cold fusion (2010).”

There is lengthier coverage of the DoE review and critique of heat/helium at

Single incredible experiment

and that post links to examination of the attempted rebuttals of Miles by Jones and Shanahan.

As a community, we will prepare to return to the Department of Energy with a focused and thoroughly vetted presentation. There are those who claim DoE prejudice, and behind-the-scenes torpedoing of all cold fusion research proposals.

However, we have not openly tested this, we have only rumor and circumstantial evidence.

It is time that we listen to the skeptics, who have been saying that we haven’t convinced them. They are right, because  we failed to communicate what was necessary.

We will remedy this, and, should heat/helium still be considered inconclusive, we will resolve the issues, with a more careful and precise investigation designed to address all rational criticism. This research is precisely in line with what both DoE reviews recommended. We will do what it takes.

From 2004:

The nearly unanimous opinion of the reviewers was that funding agencies should entertain individual, well-designed proposals for experiments that address specific scientific issues relevant to the question of whether or not there is anomalous energy production in Pd/D systems, or whether or not D-D fusion reactions occur at energies on the order of a few eV.

(We do not know that the FPHE  is the result of a D-D fusion reaction. The heat/helium ratio indicates, but does not prove, that the effect releases helium with heat at the level expected from D-D fusion, but other processes could do this. The premature assumption of d-d fusion has afflicted cold fusion from the beginning.)

People get ready, there’s a train a-coming.


Miles, M., et al. Correlation of excess power and helium production during D2O and H2O electrolysis using palladium cathode J. Electroanal. Chem., 1993. 346: p. 99.

Miles, M., et al. Thermal Behavior of Polarized Pd/D Electrodes Prepared by Co-deposition. in The 9th International Conference on Cold Fusion, Condensed Matter Nuclear Science. 2002. Beijing, China: Tsinghua University: Tsinghua Univ. Press.

Miles, M. Correlation Of Excess Enthalpy And Helium-4 Production: A Review. in Tenth International Conference on Cold Fusion. 2003. Cambridge, MA: LENR-CANR.org.