The 18th International Conference of Cold Fusion (ICCF-18) begins Sunday, July 20, 2013 at University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. The week-long event brings condensed matter nuclear scientists together to exchange the results of their research on cold fusion, also called low-energy nuclear research (LENR), lattice-assisted nuclear reactions (LANR), quantum fusion, and the Anomalous Heat Effect (AHE) among other acronyms.
The Rumplestiltskin-reaction derives from the Fleischmann-Pons Effect (FPE), the generation of excess heat from the elements of hydrogen and metals in electrolytic chemical cells. The search for control of this reaction has led to the discovery of multiple types of systems, as well as other anomalous effects, such as transmutation.
A form of powerful energy, and the realization of the ancient search for alchemy, is poised to transform human culture in one sweep of adoption, and the mainstream press is clueless.
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Today’s successes in cold fusion energy generators have been hard-won by trial and error, with each system developed by a select criteria amassed over years of painstaking success and failure.
Ironically, the many labs with commercial prototypes each follow a different mental model of how their system works, a problem for developing a technology, as the criteria to enable the anomalous effects of excess heat and transmutations are not universal over all cells.
Prototypes appear to suffer from either one of two extremes: i) there is control of the reaction, but not high-enough power output, or ii) there is plenty of thermal output, but engineering control and/or stability are at issue. No definitive theory describing how to make cold fusion happen on-demand with maximal efficiency exists, for any type of system.
When an accurate model of the reaction is finally articulated, it will spell-out exactly how to build energy-dense, ultra-clean batteries charged for life.
While there are many researchers in condensed matter nuclear science (CMNS) modeling the reaction, few can agree on what the features of a theory should be, and the lack of consensus is keeping a revolutionary new-energy technology from a world in need of a solution.
The names given to cold fusion over the years reflect various streams of focus:
low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR) differentiates the phenomenon from hot fusion and is the most commonly used term today.
lattice-assisted nuclear reactions (LANR) focuses on the crystal-lattice structure as enabling excess heat.
quantum fusion attempts to describe the reaction using 20th-century physics.
nickel-hydrogen exothermic reactions describe the elements involved in generators being developed for commercial use.
anomalous heat effect (AHE) labels a reaction without any reference to cause.
Finding the recipe
“This is the most ideal energy you could possibly imagine,” says Dr. Edmund Storms, a former-Los Alamos National Lab nuclear chemist and long-time researcher in cold fusion.
Describing the conditions needed to make the reaction happen is essential to producing a usable technology. To move forward, “what are the basic theoretical criteria that we can collectively agree upon?”
Issue #108 of Infinite Energy magazine attempts to answer that question by gathering leading researchers and moderating a discussion on the properties a theory should have.
David J. Nagel, Xing Zhong Li, Jones Beene, Vladimir Vysotskii, Jean-Paul Biberian, Andrew Meulenberg, and Ed Pell all responded to the call, each writing their thoughts with various focus.
But for all that brain power, and a seemingly simple question – where does the reaction occur? – there is little agreement on the answer.
The NAE is something special
Storms notes that nuclear reactions don’t generally spontaneously erupt in ordinary materials. He asks, what changes occur in the chemical environment of a regular piece of metal to make a reaction happen? He describes those special conditions as the Nuclear Active Environment (NAE).
Many theories today apply to only one system, either Pd-D or Ni-H, and put the reaction within the metallic lattice. Mathematics is utilized to explore how enough energy might accumulate at one spot to overcome the Coulomb barrier, or initiate electron-capture.
Storms asks these theories to explicitly state how it is that enough energy can spontaneously accumulate locally in the lattice without first affecting the chemical bonds that hold the atoms together, or, violating the laws of thermodynamics? Justifying all theoretical assumptions is essential to weeding out dead-end ideas and accelerating those that appear more promising.
Whereas Storms sees physicists by-and-large concentrating on the cause of the reaction, asking ‘what possibilities exist that could start a nuclear reaction inside a metal?’, he differentiates his chemist’s approach to modeling by remaining tethered to the known chemical properties of solids, and how materials are witnessed to behave in the lab.
“Any theory of cold fusion must begin and end with the experimental results,” says Storms. “A theory that does not explain what we see and measure in the lab must be abandoned.”
Where does the reaction occur?
In palladium-deuterium systems, which have been most studied, and for which there is the most publicly available data, measurements of nuclear products helium, tritium, and transmutation products point to origins within a few microns of the metal’s surface.
Following a chain of reasoning commanded by the experimental data, Storms hypothesizes that the NAE are cracks that form on the surface of bulk metals due to stress. Expanding the idea of cracks to apply to all types of systems, he includes the tiny nano-spaces that exist within metallic powders and biological organisms.
Nano-sized cracks and spaces satisfy the criteria that puts the reaction near the surface in metal-hydrides and they can be found in all types of systems. In addition, a nano-space provides a special environment separate from the rest of the solid, relieving the burden that the chemical environment imposes, allowing the space to respond differently from the lattice, subject to appropriate stimuli.
Still, questions remain. For instance, David J. Nagel asked how could these cracks be formed so perfectly as to be just the right-size for a string of hydrons to form? And where is the mathematics to quantitatively model this hypothesis?
The nuclear mechanism
Getting these questions out in the open and discussed is the point of IE’s exercise and Storms plans to respond in the next issue, but he has made clear he does not find it fruitful to provide a mathematical argument before first describing the location of the NAE.
“If you don’t know what the initial conditions are to make the reaction happen, how can you describe what is actually happening quantitatively?”
Storms believes if theorists first focus on finding the location of the reaction, and can describe the initial conditions that make the reaction happen, then a theory of the nuclear mechanism will begin to take shape.
Supposing Storms’ idea of the NAE is confirmed, he does speculate qualitatively on the nuclear mechanism by first having the tiny cracks and spaces become filled with hydrogen to form hydrotons.
Subject to some stimulus, the hydrotons in the crack resonate, beginning a process whereby mass is slowly turned to energy according to Einstein’s E=mc2 without the dangerous radiation associated with hot fusion. This nuclear mechanism would be a new type of reaction not yet understood in the context of conventional theory.
Only experimental results will confirm or deny any proposed theory. However, the lack of coordinated research programs amongst the community, exacerbated by an absence of funding and patent-protection, is a huge problem.
Peter H. Hagelstein has attempted to model cold fusion since 1989, chewing through multiple versions of ideas, and abandoning them when they are no longer feasible. For all his work, he has endured two-and-a-half decades of isolation from mainstream science.
In IE#108, he opens the series on theory with a guest editorial On Theory and Science Generally in Connection with the Fleischmann-Pons Experiment [.pdf], available free compliments of Infinite Energy and lenr.org.
If his closing statement to The Believers movie was a devastating admission of defeat by SNAFU, this new essay shows a wit that won’t back down despite the massive challenges. With unblunted satire, Hagelstein deconstructs the scientific method, updating the hallowed steps-to-discovery for 21rst century conditions.
While the scientific method might lead to unambiguous data, its effectiveness is lost in an atmosphere of hostility.
Storms’ hypothesis on the NAE leads to twelve new predictions, providing a rubric to test the idea. The simplest test is to detect deuterium from Ni-H systems; a mass spectrometer on an active cell would suffice for that one. But who with access is willing to perform these experiments? Money is now being raised by interested parties to pay for co-operation.
Infinite Energy magazine is undertaking this effort to bring theorists together over a model of cold fusion with a series of issues. Jean-Paul Biberian, a researcher from Universite Sciences de Luminy and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Condensed Matter Nuclear Science will be leading the next issue focused on theory this winter. We hope it begins a productive renaissance in collaborative science on the greatest scientific question of our time.