Let’s Explore ‘Cold Fusion’

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Cold Fusion, or LENR (low-energy nuclear reactions) reactors have purportedly been built in recent years that offer new possibilities in terms of energy production.  These reactors use very small amounts of nickel and hydrogen, combining them with trace amounts of other ingredients.  Once these reactors are brought online, there is hypothetically an anomalous amount of heat generated internally, an amount which cannot be explained by chemical or nuclear reactions alone. However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and the idea is not without its skeptics. Even the name itself has come under fire. Nonetheless, scientists working on the technology remain adamant about its future potential.

Exploring Fusion Power

Fusion power was once in the realm of pure fantasy, since hot fusion requires reactions of millions of degrees along with materials and engineering concepts to support such high temperatures and associated pressures.  Hot fusion will likely remain out of reach for the foreseeable future, given its enormous energy input requirements.  Cold fusion on the other hand  seemingly can be conducted in experiments and laboratories without such immense energy inputs and physical requirements, and has become something that inventors and scientists have tinkered with in recent years, albeit with limited results.

Many of the foremost scientists in this area are heavily scrutinized because they are not able to develop a single theory as to why the extra energy output, in the form of heat, actually occurs. The reality is that until this question is answered and the technology can be easily replicated, it may continue to be disregarded.  Check out the video below which discusses why Dr. Peter Hagelstein, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT, believes that cold fusion continues to be dismissed as fringe science by others in the field.


It is important to remember that many scientific discoveries are made before a supporting theory or hypothesis has been developed, and many organizations are investing huge sums of money to help develop this technology.  While fossil fuel giants like BP and Exxon continue to pour huge sums of money into shale oil and fracking technologies, other companies and individuals with the foresight and concern for sustainability are looking to other means of energy development.

The Man Behind the Idea

Italian scientist and inventor Andrea Rossi is the primary proponent of cold fusion, at least for the time being.  Rossi worked with University of Bologna physics professor Sergio Focardi to develop what he calls an E-Cat, or energy catalyzer.  This E-Cat has supposedly been tested and put through numerous trials by outside investigators and scientists, all of whom observed the same anomalous production of energy.  These scientists and observers have published a series of papers outlining their findings which seemingly support the notion that such E-Cats are actually some kind of cold fusion reactor, the likes of which have not yet been understood by other scientists.  This presents a problem for many hard-line scientists and energy experts, one that often leads them to dispute or even refute the physical evidence that E-Cats are generating more energy than they are intaking.

E-Cats are proclaimed to be relatively inexpensive with the ability to offer billions of people the opportunity to switch from fossil fuels to a much more sustainable energy source .  E-Cats do not produce any toxic or nuclear waste and the spent materials, mostly nickel and hydrogen, can be recycled back into the environment quite effectively.

Conclusion

The long-term commercial success of cold fusion is dependent on whether or not it can ever actually be taken to market. Right now, I don’t have much confidence that this will ever occur but if this technology (or a viable alternative) is ever actually proven, it could one day offer humans the ability to colonize other planets and solar systems due to it’s extremely modest and simple material input requirements. No matter how we get there, this idea is what I’m most excited about. Stay tuned…

  • bachcole

    “Right now, I don’t have much confidence that this [commercial cold fusion] will ever occur . . . .” This is merely the result of not being familiar with what is going on. Don’t worry. It will pass.

    • Gerard McEk

      Bachcole, you seem to talk more positively abou LENR in the discussion forum of Ecat-World.

      • bachcole

        Gerard, I think I understand the misunderstanding. I meant that Jason Carr’s, the author’s, lack of confidence in commercial cold fusion will pass. (:->) In other words, he WILL become a believer, and he won’t have to do anything except go to his local home improvement store and look around.

        • Gerard McEk

          Sorry, I missed the quotation marks. I read it too quickly. I am relieved now, pfiew…

          • bachcole

            Not to worry. I have not going to throw away 19 months of intense scrutiny just for the heck of it or because it is Thursday.

      • http://pathoskeptic.com/ tyy

        Ecat-World seems to have become a hiding place for intellectual cowards.

        • bachcole

          I am NOT an intellectual coward. I AM an emotional coward, and I just don’t want the hassle and emotional disturbance of dealing with people who are regularly abusive, either implicitely or overtly. (:->) I realize that people at http://www.e-catworld.com are capable of being emotional abusive, and I regularly defend those who they direct their ire at, but since I agree with them as to the reality of the E-Cat, they are rarely if ever abusive towards me.

          I just had an exchange with a person named Barry Kort, and I knew from the get go that he was not emotionally abusive, and we had fun and had a productive exchange.

          • http://pathoskeptic.com/ tyy

            OK, just a hiding place then. That’s fine.

            Frank Acland can choose whatever policy he likes for his naive E-catW. If he prefers children and blind believers to skeptics, that is his choice. It does not add his credibility though.

            I wonder how he will react, when truth about Rossi will finally become clear to him. Will it ever? No doubt some true believers will not loose their faith no matter what.

            And some people are just running a stupid show because of money.

            We will see.

  • clovis

    you seem to be behind ,it is already gone to market, better read
    ( E CAT WORLD THEY HAVE THE LATEST

    • http://www.wiredcosmos.com/ Jason Carr

      I do and in fact, the IH announcement is what prompted today’s post. A lot still remains to be seen but I’ll admit this is at least a step in the right direction. Thanks for reading.

  • Barry Kort

    About a year after CBS 60 Minutes aired their episode on Cold Fusion, I followed up with Rob Duncan to explore Richard Garwin’s thesis that McKubre was measuring the input electric power incorrectly.

    It turns out that McKubre was reckoning only the DC power going into his cells, and assuming (for arcane technical reasons) there could not be any AC power going in, and therefore he didn’t need to measure or include any AC power term in his energy budget model.

    Together with several other people, I helped work out a model for the omitted AC power term in McKubre’s experimental design. Our model showed that there was measurable and significant AC power, arising from the fluctuations in ohmic resistance as bubbles formed and sloughed off the surface of the palladium electrodes. Our model jibed with both the qualitative and quantitative evidence from McKubre’s reports:

    1) McKubre (and others) noted that the excess heat only appeared after the palladium lattice was fully loaded. And that’s precisely when the Faradaic current no longer charges up the lattice, but begins producing gas bubbles on the surfaces of the electrodes.

    2) The excess heat in McKubre’s cells was only apparent, significant, and sizable when the Faradaic drive current was elevated to dramatically high levels, thereby increasing the rate at which bubbles were forming and sloughing off the electrodes.

    3) The effect was enhanced if the surface of the electrodes was rough rather than polished smooth, so that larger bubbles could form and cling to the rough surface before sloughing off, thereby alternately occluding and exposing somewhat larger fractions of surface area for each bubble.

    The time-varying resistance arising from the bubbles forming and sloughing off the surface of the electrodes — after the cell was fully loaded, enhanced by elevated Faradaic drive currents and further enhanced by a rough electrode surface — produced measurable and significant AC noise power into the energy budget model that went as the square of the magnitude of the fluctuations in the cell resistance.

    To a first approximation, a 17% fluctuation in resistance would nominally produce a 3% increase in power, over and above the baseline DC power term. Garwin and Lewis had found that McKubre’s cells were producing about 3% more heat than could be accounted for with his energy measurements, where McKubre was reckoning only the DC power going into his cells, and (incorrectly) assuming there was no AC power that needed to be measured or included in his energy budget model.

    I suggest slapping an audio VU meter across McKubre’s cell to measure the AC burst noise from the fluctuating resistance. Alternatively use one of McKubre’s constant current power supplies to drive an old style desk telephone with a carbon button microphone. I predict the handset will still function: if you blow into the mouthpiece, you’ll hear it in the earpiece, thereby proving the reality of an AC audio signal riding on top of the DC current.

    • bachcole

      Barry Kort, even though you have doubted the competence of one of my heroes, I find your comment to be honest and decent and without malice. As to the scientific validity, I am not qualified to say anything other than “what happened to the increase in helium?”.

      • Barry Kort

        I have no theory to offer regarding claims of helium production. My depth is in electrical engineering and telephony (signal and noise power).

        I’d love to have Peter Hagelstein check the work that I did with Dieter Britz and others to model the omitted AC power term arising from transient voltage fluctuations that appear during the phase when the Pd lattice is fully loaded, when the drive current is jacked up, and when bubbles are rapidly forming and sloughing off the surface of the electrodes. This is the condition which McKubre and Storms both say are present when excess heat is produced.

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