Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"Cold Fusion" Proven?

I remember well the phenomenon of "cold fusion" as it was dubbed. This was back in 1989 when Professors Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischman claimed that they could extract 40% more energy in the form of heat than they had put in the form of electricity into an electrochemical cell containing deuterium oxide ("heavy water"). They proposed the deuterium nuclei had undergone a nuclear fusion. The potential implications of this were staggering: that rather that trying to mimic the massively high temperature conditions in a star such as the Sun, of some hundred million degrees or so as are necessary to overcome the strong Coulombic forces that tend to keep two positively charged nuclei apart, as in "hot" plasma-fusion, it was feasible to somehow overcome this barrier such that the process could occur at room temperature.

Pons and Fleischman became largely dismissed as charlatans when many other research groups around the world found themselves unable to reproduce their results and confirm their claims, which were accordingly dismissed as unfounded. However, note the comment below to the effect that the phenomenon has since been confirmed in many highly credible laboratories around the world. I remember there were some really quite bizarre effects found by other workers - for example, one young man was killed when a cold-fusion cell exploded while he was trying to demonstrate the phenomenon of "fusion in a test-tube" as the popular press described it. So, something real was happening, fusion or not. A senior scientist and champion of cold-fusion, Dr Eugene Mallove, was murdered during the furore, which incited a number of conspiracy theories at the time.

The matter never entirely went away and I recall reading an article either in The Guardian or New Scientist (or both) to the effect that a scientist in the US had claimed to have demonstrated fusion when he exposed hexadeuteroacetone (that's C3D6O as opposed to the more common C3H6O) to ultrasound. He was crucified by the scientific community, as I recall, who had decided that cold fusion did not exist, and when they do that, God help you, if you claim otherwise - you will be castigated as a heretic, with all the ardour of the Spanish Inquisition. The most fervent believers, both scientific and religious, tend to bang the drum of their dogmas with equivalent enthusiasm; trampling the opposition where they may find them.

However, a professor in Japan has apparently demonstrated that if deuterium gas is passed into a reactor containing composite palladium-zirconium oxide (Pd-ZrO2) nanoparticles, Helium-4 is produced (a sure sign of fusion?), the temperature of the reactor rises and its centre remains warm for 50 hours.

If this is true it is absolutely fascinating and perhaps the accepted laws of chemistry and physics will need to be substantially modified, as has been said. However, from a practical point of view, that of dealing with the energy crunch, is the result of any importance even if cold fusion is a reality? I don't think so, frankly. I have not seen any figures for how much Pd and deuterium gas are used to run this cell and how much excess heat is produced. However, I have yet to be convinced that the energy needed to produce deuterium gas (by the electrolysis of deuterium oxide - "heavy water") and to make enough heavy water in the first place to feed the electrolysis units, will be offset by the final thermal output of the "fusion" reactors.

Then there is the matter of availability of palladium metal, the energy for its fabrication into the composite nanoparticles and so on, and how would the heat energy be extracted usefully, say to heat buildings or drive electricity turbines? The problem of energy extraction is even worse for "hot" fusion, from a plasma that even if it can be sustained, would produce ultra-high energy neutrons that no known materials are yet able to withstand, from which to extract thermal energy.

Very interesting indeed if it's all correct, but so what? We need more pragmatic solutions than fusion, hot or cold, to preserve lifestyles as we know them as we begin to see the depletion of conventional fuels.

Related Reading.


Jed Rothwell said...

You wrote:

"Ponds and Fleischman became largely dismissed as charlatans when many other research groups around the world found themselves unable to reproduce their results and confirm their claims . . "

That's Pons, not Ponds.

They were were largely dismissed, but in fact their work was replicated in over 200 world-class laboratories, and researchers have published 3,000 papers describing these replications, including many in mainstream, peer-reviewed journals.

The statement that others were unable to reproduce them is widely believed but it is false.

You can read 500 full text papers on cold fusion at our web site:


You will also find an e-book, written by me and recommended by Arthur Clarke and many distinguished professors, describing how cold fusion technology might impact the world economy, if cold fusion can be made into a practical source of energy.

- Jed Rothwell

Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Dear Jed,

thanks for this. You will note my tone on the subject of the "scientific establishment" and its treatment of heretics.

I heard a lecture by Martin Fleischman when I worked at Queen Mary College at around this time and he didn't strike me as a charlatan.

If there was nothing in any if this, I doubt the Japanese would have continued to fund it, including private industry there.

There is certainly a phenomenon afoot here, whether it is fusion or not.

I'll correct the typo and read your book.



Anonymous said...

I KNOW this sounds wacky, but listen to ALL of this. I wish I had the e-mail addresses to Pons and/or Fleischman. Pass it on if you can.

Professor Chris Rhodes said...

This does sound pretty wacky from a scientific perspective, yes! However, I have friends who are into spiritual matters and I have heard of this aspect of differnt layers/dimensions of DNA - some that can be seen and some that belong to different dimensions.

Well, people are entitled to believe what they like, but I doubt either Professor Pons or Fleischman can give you a scientific explanation any more than I (Professor Rhodes!)can!


Chris Rhodes.

Anonymous said...

Last I heard, Pons and fleischman were on the payroll of mitsubichi?
and were set up in a labratory in France working on a heat producing
system..This was shortly after they were laughed outta MIT...Will be interesting to see what new innovations mitsobiche? comes up with in the heat fuel cell arena...Hal

Professor Chris Rhodes said...

That is most interesting! I had also heard the "The Japanese" were investing in cold fusion. I also understand that heat was produced and also there was an explosion in another lab which killed a guy who was trying to repeat their work.

Yes, if they pull it off, it might change the world!


Chris Rhodes.

Unknown said...

Might change the world? That's an understatement! As I am not a chemist or physicist, I can only see it from a layman's point, but I am very familiar with Kryon, and in the latest publication, Kryon The Recalibration of Humanity, it is again re-stated that "The experimenters could not repeat their discovery because they were not aware of the attribute of magnetics that was influencing their experiment(which was done in a basement with electrical panels aroumd them)."

Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Dear Debra,

it sounds great "limitless energy". But, against the backdrop of a decline in conventional fuels, can civilization hold itself in sufficient shape, for long enough, to embrace new technology such as this?

What we are facing is most pressingly a "liquid fuels crisis" rather than an energy crisis per se.

There are more recent postings on this blog which describe the situation: "Why Bother With Fracking?" and "What Happens When the Oil Runs Out?"



Unknown said...

In Egypt they have been going over the reasons as to why the pyramids were built, as some of them do not have the embellishments that the tomb pyramids have. Through their investigations, they have come up with some concepts. The fact that there are various reservoirs underneath them and when they become filled, they are able to create energy by passing through limestone, combined with the pyramid being situated upon ley lines enhances energy to allow the pyramid to hold energy such that it begins to glow. Scientists are currently trying to find out why it no longer functions as such.

So, in answer to your question, humanity has passed the "marker" so to say, of annihilation. Currently people have surpassed the behaviour of fighting over who is correct and learning to accept each other instead of trying to change each other. There are people who are on the planet now who are able to bring out the concepts of alternative energies and have much better support than before. I admit, it is not perfect at the moment, but it is so much more better now than in the past. The Pope is now addressing the fact that there were problems in the past, and that in itself is a huge step. Little by little humanity is not putting up with a lack of integrity with the powers that be and more and more there is accountability. So, yes, humanity can hang on, and it will until alternative solutions are to be found and accepted.

Professor Chris Rhodes said...

Hi Debra,

it's nice to hear an optimistic opinion, amid the doom and gloom that I have been reading of late. It is nit an energy issue per se, that confronts us though, but a liquid fuels crisis cause by the loss of a cheap supply of crude oil.

If you are correct, humanity may be able to access other forms of energy (even unconventional), but has to make it over the chasm first. There may be fewer of us on Earth by the time that happens.

I have no doubt that much knowledge has been "lost" since the days of the Ancients. Fir example, no one really knows how the pyramids were built, and probably they could not be put together with such precision even using the best modern engineering methods. The Ancients seemed to have the power to move stones, and in ways that we don't really know.

I am looking to the more nature-friendly methods such as permaculture, becasue itn seems to me that at least over the next few decades, our civilization will devolve from a globally mobile status, to one that relies much more on localisation.

This is quite an old article now, and which I have updated to review the subject of "Nuclear Fusion", in a more recent posting