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Dear E632 and WA84 Colleagues,
FIRST ANNUAL COLD FUSION CONFERENCE.
1. Impressions of the First Annual Cold Fusion Conference
2. Paper by Pons and Fleischmann
2.1 Content of Paper
3. New Results from the Experiment of Salamon et al. in Pons's lab
4. National Laboratories
7. Solar Neutrinos
8. Oppenheimer-Phillips mechanism
9. Selling a Patent
The two main items are the second paper from Pons and Fleischmann and the
First Annual Cold Fusion Conference which was the most unusual meeting I have
attended. Here I will give the overall impression of the Conference. On return
from a Collaboration meeting, hope to have time to give further and more
On 23rd March, the first anniversary of the announcement, there was a meeting
of the Supervisory Board of the National Cold Fusion Institute, NCFI. By chance
I attended the last part of the meeting which was open once you got past the
locked doors of the NCFI. Reports were given of the last quarter's activities.
Great attention was paid to a statement by Haven Bergeson that there may be a
hint of something, though he did not want to say too much as it was outside
the normal range of the counter - later I saw this very preliminary peak which
was inconsistent with the other data and which
normally one would check first. There were some gentle questions and then the
State of Utah's board approved continuation of funding(see below), though money
will run out soon and there have been no offers of funding apart from a gift
from an anonymous donor (was told who he is - a hero in some societies but
not in other societies).
A major topic is the experiment of Mike Salamon et al. who did not observe
any neutrons or gammas when positioned below four of Pons's cells. They have new
strong evidence against any fusion product emission at a time when Prof. Pons
said one of his cells gave heat. This was published by Nature during the
conference. Now there are strong rumours of a law suit against Salamon,
Bergeson and the other authors - do hope this is not correct as a law court is
not the best place to settle a scientific argument - though it may be good for
Obtained more precise information about what is happening in Japan and India.
Thought that there was now no cold fusion experiments being performed in
Europe, but have now heard of three labs in Southern Europe performing
1. IMPRESSIONS OF THE FIRST ANNUAL COLD FUSION CONFERENCE
The conference was quite
unlike any scientific meeting I have ever attended because in addition to the
attempt to be scientific, there was a strong fervour that seemed almost
religious among most of the people present. The use of the words "Believers"
for the good guys and "Skeptics" for the others, is indicative. The first talk
was by Stan Pons and was firstly a rebuttal of some of the criticisms and
secondly a very mathematical description of their calorimetry (I have been
trying to urge Martin Fleischmann to do a simpler experiment with a constant
temperature bath and a closed calorimeter which would not require such
complicated corrections - no luck). At the end of Stan's talk a paper was
distributed and will be discussed. The final talk was by Martin and was not
technical but was very successfully inspirational for, something I had
not seen before at a scientific meeting, most of the audience got to their
feet applauding strongly and longly. I naturally applauded, for I like
Martin - estimated about 80 to 90% of the audience were on their feet but
it was difficult to estimate precisely as I was sitting down.
All of the talks were by people who are Believers, except for Nate Hoffman
who said he was neither a Sceptic nor a Believer. The result was that the
10% of the world's data that was positive, was fully presented, but the other
90% that was negative, was not presented. Both at the meeting and at a local
TV discussion plus phone-in show, I protested that at a Scientific meeting
ALL the data must be presented and discussed. This did not happen but at least
it was admitted by Believers that most of the results were negative.
The meeting had about 230 people signed up of whom perhaps ten to twenty
were sceptics and of whom three (Richard Petrasso, Steve Kellogg and myself
asked questions several times (note at the start of each session the Chairman
read out a formula saying that audio or video recording was not allowed - though
the organisers made one - and questions should only be addressed to the matter
that had been presented - at one time this caused the Chairman to try and cut
me off when I commented on something the speaker had said in answering a
question - though he apologised privately later). It was quite possible for
sceptics to attend but none were asked to speak except one who refused nor
were any asked to be members of the two panel discussions.
At a Scientific meeting am accustommed to there being review talks and to
there being summing-up talks - i.e. to give some perspective. Here there
was no serious attempt to summarise the subject or theory. It was a series of
isolated talks. No one took all the positive results and asked whether they
were self-consistent or not. Rather one counted the number of positive results.
It was said you could get more positive results if you did certain things,
but no one took all the positive results and asked if this were true. The
nearest thing to a review talk was by David Worledge of the Electrical
Power Research Institute, EPRI, who seemed to accept the positive tritium
results but to have reservations about the others. He considered the problem
of reproducibility to be dominant and said the EPRI would not fund major
studies until the reproducibility problem was solved but would fund many
short experiments. I agreed with many of his comments. Up to now I have not
seen a single good clean convincing experiment giving excess heat and
nuclear products at a reasonable rate and at a correlated time. I had hoped that
we would hear the results of the series of experiments with 32 cells that Stan
Pons started in January at the NCFI, but no results were available.
There have been many theories of Cold Fusion. Believers said that their
problems were (1) how to explain the non-reproducibility, (2) the low rate of
nuclear products compared with the heat claimed and (3) the ratio of tritium to
neutrons said to be a hundred million instead of the ratio of one from theory
and from experiment. However before the conference I was told that a famous
Italian physicist would explain all these problems. This he did (reference
to an earlier paper is Il Nuovo Cimento 101(1989)845 ) and was one of the
dominating characters of the Conference. Prof Guilano Preparata of Milan
is indeed well-known for his unusual theories - have since been told by several
people that he has explained the gravitational wave results of Weber that
are in disagreement with other results and theory by many orders of magnitude
and also he has explained the results of a French scientist who found that water
has some remarkable properties - the more you dilute it the stronger its effects
become - and who was exposed by Nature and contradicted by commissions of
There were about 100 media people there. The Press Conferences were
fascinating. Some local journalists were favourable to Cold Fusion but most
of the media were doubtful. A very senior official of the NCFI attacked the
media which did not go down too well - it caused one journalist to say you
think we are stupid but when Dr.B. says that he observed tritium production
for twelve days and then shows a graph with a peak followed by a steadily
falling curve, that we do not realise that it should rise continuously
so that really what he observed was a high rate for a short time
and then a decay for ten days [a contradiction not commented on
by the regular scientists in the meeting]. The media expected Fleischmann
and Pons to attend at least one press conference, and protested when told
this would not happen. They protested even more when they learnt that there
had been a private "press" conference for a very few selected journalists.
All good religions must have a Devil that you can boo. John Maddox and his
journal, Nature, well fulfilled this role. There was another physicist whose
name began with K who also elicited some reaction. However in general the tone
of the meeting was friendly - in this it ressembled a scientific meeting where
one could disagree but still stay friends, more than a religious one. Was in
the bar until midnight with some of the strongest Believers trying to play
Liar's Poker - but found out we were playing different rules! The good humour
was such that at the end of the meeting Richard Petrasso took the microphone
with difficulty, from Martin and said that "there are exciting things that
need to be explained", and said that in addition to the particles that
Martin had listed as possible candidates to explain the results namely "Wimps,
Champs, Dineutrons, Dubions and Morrisons", one should add :"Skeptions".
For the all-important question of Funding; the DOE has said they would give
two million dollars next year - for cooperative experiments. However in
Pathological Science, such experiments are rare - the only previous one in
Cold Fusion was between Moshe Gai and Steve Jones It was a good short
experiment but finished in serious disagreements. However Steve Jones announced
an amazing joint experiment between BYU and U. of U. - which he said jokingly,
deserves the Nobel Peace prize! The leaders would be Steve and Hever Bergeson.
Good Luck! Have not heard yet if the experiments chosen for funding by DOE
will be peer-reviewed. There are two sections of EPRI that independently award
funding. It is possible that the total would come to over a million dollars. As
long as there is funding, research will continue. So when I am asked if there
will be a Second Annual Cold Fusion meeting - I answer "Yes", though I would
also expect there will be a smaller attendance by participants and by media.
This is assuming there is no "smoking gun" or messy law suits.
2. PAPER BY PONS AND FLEISCHMANN
After the end of the opening talk by Dr. Pons
a paper was made available. As this is only the second written document from
them, it will be described and commented on.
2.1 CONTENT of PAPER
The paper was signed by Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann (not yet by
Marvin Hawkins though it contains new experimental data). It is 25 pages
long plus four figures. It is entitled "Our Calorimetric Measurements of
the Pd/D system: Fact and Fiction". In a footnote is written "This paper has
been accepted for publication in, and copyright has been assigned to, the
Journal of Fusion Technology. It will appear in the July issue. Two other papers
dealing with this subject, including the full paper corresponding to the
preliminary note, have been accepted for publication in other journals and will
appear shortly" - one will be in the J. Electroanal. Chem.
The abstract says "In this paper, we emphasise the technique, model and
experimental procedures exactly as we have used them during the last few
years in our calorimetric investigations. We have chosen to give this summary
in the context of what others have said we have done and what we actually did".
The first part of the paper answers 7 criticisms and is followed by a short
Discussion. Table 1 list 28 rods which gave excess power and Table 2 lists
8 Palladium and 6 Platinium rods which gave no excess power and which are
called blank experiments.
The criticisms answered are (1) Recombination, (2) Gas and liquid purity
determinations, (3) Mixing, (4) Control of water baths, (5) Estimate of heat
transfers, (6) Heat transfers - Black Box model, (7) Blank experiments.
The greatest part of the paper is mathematical analyses of heat transfers in
parts (5) and (6).
In Part (5), the heat transfer from the cells to the water bath is analysed
in terms of radiation and conduction, in particular when a calibration is made
by adding joule heating using the electrical heater (basically this means that
the cell's temperature is raised for three hours and the rate of heating and
cooling are observed.
In Part (6), a "black box" model is introduced. The transient from the
inhomogeneous non-linear differential equation is fitted to the experimental
data. As the curvature of the hyperspaces converges badly, simplifications are
used and the optimization is reduced to four parameters and this allows an error
matrix to be evaluated. The resultant calculated error in the total output
enthalpy is found to be about 0.1% which is in the range 0.1 to 10 mWatts.
In the Discussion, it is pointed out and Dr. Pons showed a graph, that the
excess enthalpy rises as the current density increases and there is "no
indication of a limit". At 1 A/cm2 the excess enthalpy reaches 100 W/cm3.
However at intermediate current densities (shown as 64 mA/cm2) there is a
scatter of results, much greater than the experimental errors, and this is
taken as a sign of a threshold phenomenon.
The above are considered "baseline" excess enthalpies. In addition "bursts"
have been observed and the most prolonged of these is shown, lasting some
500 hours. The power output is 17 to 40 times the total enthalpy input to
the cells. These burst and baseline outputs are 100 to 1000 times any that
could be generated by a chemical process; "We fail to see how such large
specific enthalpies could be attributed to anything other than a nuclear
process". They say it is not clear whether these excesses are linked to the
production of tritium or neutrons though "the tritium levels increase markedly
following a "burst" (factors of eight have been observed in the NCFI
laboratories) but these increases are insignificant compared to the heat
produced, if we assume the "normal" tritium output channel is responsible" -
[by more than ten orders of magnitude actually].
The position on Blank experiments is unusual "Our view has always been that a
palladium electrode that does not show excess enthalpy in D2O is the most
appropriate blank". However the paper gives more conventional controls in
that six experiments are reported with platinium rods and no excess heat was
found. Five experiments are reported with palladium electrodes and normal LiOH
instead of LiOD as the electrolyte (could not find any statement that H2O was
used instead of D2O, but this is a reasonable assumption) and no excess heat
The paper concludes "We note that the use of energy efficient systems would
give energy producing systems even for some of the baseline excess enthalpies
In the question time afterwards, Dr. Pons told Richard Petrasso that gamma
ray measurements would be discussed by Dr. Fleishmann, but this did not happen.
In a reply Dr. Pons said that they believed that volume effects were dominant
but that there was strong evidence from other experiments that surface effects
are also important.
It is interesting to analyse the results given in Table 1. In the
original 23 March 1989 press conference, the results were expressed as the
ratio of the power out to the power in and it was said that for one Watt in
four Watts out were obtained. A week later this ratio rose to ten. These were
apparently "baseline", i.e. steady power production and gave great encouragement
to the dream of "inexhaustible source of energy". Hence in Table 1 we would
expect excess heat in the range 300% to 900%, but in fact 27 of the 28 have
less than 70%, and of these 22 have less than 30% and 9 less than 10%. Thus all
except one cell has less than 70% excess power.
Looking at the one cell that has an excess enthalpy of more than 70%, it
has 112%. This sounds encouraging. Now a frequent criticism of people who fail
to observe excess heat is that their current density was too low. As mentioned
above, 64 mA/cm2 is considered a threshold. Now the one cell with a value
of 112% had a current density of 8 mA/cm2.
In considering the above numbers it should be recalled that the error in
the total output enthalpy is claimed to be 0.1%.
In Table 1 errors from the regression analysis are given to between 0.1%
to 5%. However no errors are given for the experimental values though it should
be possible by studying the spread of measurements during the long period of
time each cell was run for (there is said to be a three month mean measurement
In the text it is written "The increase in the excess enthalpy with current
density is very marked and at least of the order I squared". However it is
instructive to ask how the percentage excess varies with current density.For
current densities of 8, 64, 128, 256, 512, and 1024 mA/cm2, the average excess
heat values are 68%, 17%, 25%, 10%, 23% and 40%. In view of the very wide
spread of results given above it is difficult to draw any clear conclusion
other than to say that the authors could claim roughly comparable percentage
excess heat at all current densities. Thus the excess enthalpy would increase
as the current density to the power one of the current and not at least two
In the paper the "allegations in Nature that we had not carried out blank
experiments" are refuted by noting that there was reported one blank experiment
with a sheet electrode. However in Table 2 it can be seen that the current
density was 0.8 mA/cm2 which has elsewhere been considered to be too small.
3. NEW RESULTS FROM THE EXPERIMENT OF SALAMON ET AL. IN PONS'S LAB
It will be recalled (Cold
Fusion News No 18, 30 July) that Mike Salamon et al. set up their apparatus to
measure neutrons, gammas, electrons and protons below a table in Pons's lab
on top of which were four cells. This paper has just been published in Nature
of 29 March (i.e by coincidence during the Cold Fusion Conference),
vol 344(1990)401. They report upper limits between a picoWatt(E-12) and a micro-
Watt(E-6) during the five weeks of running in May and June 1989. This was even
though a cell was observed to boil for two hours (they were told by Dr. Pons
that they should not "reference these events as being due to release of excess
thermal energy"). The Salt Lake Tribune reported Dr. Pons as saying "We are not
at all surprised by their results" as the cells they were monitoring were
running at barely detectable levels. "We have purposely kept the power amounts
low on these cells" explaining that he and colleague Martin Fleischmann are
trying to "lower our error bars" in their heat detection. With the second
Pons and Fleischmann paper, it is now possible to estimate numerically what
these "barely detectable limits" are. They are 0.1 to 10 milliwatts. These
values are many orders of magnitude greater than the upper limits of Salamon
et al. and hence it must be concluded that the barely detectable heat that
Dr. Pons was observing is not of nuclear origin. i.e. not fusion.
A new controversy has arisen. Dr. Pons informed the authors that during
the period when their apparatus was off during a power failure, "there was a
two-hour segment in which there was an excessive thermal release from cell 2-1".
At first the authors thought they could not have detected such an event as the
power was off, however K. Dexler told them that neutrons would activate the
23Na of their sodium iodide detector to produce 24Na and this decays with the
very convenient half-life of 15 hours! Re-analysing their data they were able
to give upper limits of 10 mWatts(E-2) for the d(d,p)t rection and a microWatt
(E-6) for the d(d,n)3He reaction. This would seem to be even stronger evidence
that whatever was causing Dr. Pons to claim excess heat, is not fusion.
Since the Fleischmann-Pons claim of excess heat is said by the authors not
to be Chemistry and has been shown by Salamon et al. not to be Nuclear, there
appears to be only one explanation.
4. NATIONAL LABORATORIES
The comment has often been made that National
Laboratories have not observed Cold Fusion. Hence there was relief for
Believers when scientists from Los Alamos and Oak Ridge presented positive
results from their labs. Indeed one very strong Believer sent me a Fax asking
my opinion of the work of Scott et al. at Oak Ridge reporting the existence of
excess heat, neutron emission, gamma ray activity and tritium formation. Below
is a summary of my reply;
a) Tritium; in my notes is written "within errors canNOT say any tritium" and
in their conclusion they did not claim any tritium.
b) Neutrons; Their biggest effect is 21 +/- 3 1/2 over a period of four hours.
This is only one bin. It is a rate of 0.0015 neutrons/second which is about
E-15 Watts or a femtoWatt. Later there was a result suggesting an excess rate of
30 neutrons per day or 1/3 E-15 Watts or 1/3 femtoWatt. Again this rate is so low
it seems doubtful for a single counter. There seems to have been only one
counter whereas experience has shown many times that a single 3He or BF3 counter
often gives spurious signals. Thus a single counter is not trustworthy.
c) Gammas; They find an excess in the bin 2.64 to 3.14. Where does this come
from? - mostly likely from radioactivity, especially Thorium. I missed hearing
any numerical estimate of the rate e.g. in Watts
d) Excess Heat; A variation of the power in the low range of joules/second
was shown - missed hearing any numerical estimate of Watts or of the ratio of
power out to power in. This is the only result worth further study - would be
pleased to have details of calibration, temperature control etc.
Overall there seem to be major inconsistancies of many orders of magnitude
in the power outputs. The experiment is a small one, surprisingly so for so
large a laboratory.
Both Oak Ridge and Los Alamos seem to have been doing minor experiments and
not making full use of the facilities available. The only US National lab
that seems to have made a substantial effort on Cold Fusion is Sandia - and they
found no effects.
In other Western countries some national labs have made major investigations -
at Harwell in the UK, at Karlsruhe in West Germany, at the Paul Scherrer
Institute in Switzerland, at Mol in Belgium. All found nothing. The biggest
Cold Fusion experiment in the world was at Harwell where six million dollars
worth of apparatus was used and it cost half-a-million dollars. Here they did
not use one neutron counter but 56 counters so that any erratic behaviour by one
could be excluded by the other 55.
Since the earliest days, the threat that Japan might develop an
American discovery, has been brandished. At the CF Conference, Dr. Ikegami
of the National Institute for Fusion Science told me that the Institute was
established for Hot Fusion research. It has six large divisions working on
different types of Hot Fusion. There is also a section for special projects
of which Dr. Ikegami is the leader. When the Utah results were announced,
his section allocated 2% of its budget of $5 million to Cold Fusion - that is
$ 0.1 million. In February there was a meeting of Japanese interested in
Cold Fusion and some thirty papers were presented. Of these about ten were
theoretical, ten found no effect and ten found positive effects. These were
essentially universities or similar institutions. There are known to be a
number of private organisations working on Cold Fusion, but the scale of their
activities and their results have not been made available.
The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, BARC, has been working extensively
on Cold Fusion. The Director, Dr. P. K. Iyengar, gave a very interesting
introductory talk. He showed an impressive photograph of BARC and said 13 000
people worked there of whom 3000 were scientists. He said they had never
budgeted for this type of research, so 140 volunteers have done the work but
no money has officially been spent. A publication, BARC 1500 describes the work
of six groups during April to September 1989.
Dr. M. Srinivasan presented the results in detail and gave a generally
excellent impression of competence. The results of the six groups were that
neutrons were produced in bursts but in small quantities, and that tritium
was produced abundantly, the ratio n/t being about E-8. However this was based
on six values, namely E-8, E-9, E-7, E-8, E-3 and 1.4 E-6 which to me suggests
a very wide spread and the average is less than E-8. Steve Kellogg said that if
the tritium came from the reaction d + d ---> t + p, then the tritium should
once in 5000 times give the reaction t + d ---> 4He + n and this neutron
would have 14 MeV which would be easily recognisable. Dr. Srinivasan said they
had looked for energetic neutrons but had not found them. Since BARC 1500,
some 6 or 7 experiments have been performed. On March 15th tried a Pd/Ti cell
and said "if do not get neutrons on first day will pack up" - got neutrons on
the first day. This seems to me to be a dangerous technique, almost as bad as
a professor telling a research student that he would not get a doctorate if he
did not find a certain result.
Although there were earlier reports of work on Cold Fusion elsewhere in
India, there were no reports of work other than at BARC.
7. SOLAR NEUTRINOS
In the last Cold Fusion News, the importance of a possible
disagreement between the solar neutrino flux measured and theoretical
expectations, was shown. The present best experiment to measure this is the
Kamiokande detector in Japan. However it was proposed to shut down this detector
to install a Cold Fusion cell. Explained this to Steve Jones who was not aware
of this and of the possible importance of the present maximum of the sun spot
cycle. However have just had a message that the Kamiokande experiment is
continuing measurements and results will be presented at the important bi-annual
Neutrino conference to be held in CERN in June.
8. OPPENHEIMER-PHILLIPS MECHANISM
People have been seeking for a mechanism to increase the
probability of deuterons penetrating the potential barrier, as normal
calculations show that there is the enormous factor of ten to the power -40.
one hope was that the Oppenheimer-Phillips mechanism might help. This was
because the Coulomb field acts only on the proton of the deuteron and not on
the deuteron centre of mass. Thus the deuteron could be polarised and the hope
was that the neutron would lead into the palladium nucleus reducing the
barrier factor. This has now been calculated by S.E. Koonin and M. Mukerjee
(Caltech report MAP-129) who find the effect is negligible, changing the rate by
less than 1%.
9. SELLING A PATENT
Many people have taken out patents, and one who has a good
track record of successful patents, is reported to be on the point of selling
it for a million dollars. However the money has to be put into escrow and if
if the system works as advertised, the money will be paid.
Douglas R. O. Morrison.
The article "Rise and Decline of Cold Fusion", CERN report
CERN/EP 90-36, seemed to be appreciated as restoring some balance at the
conference, however some corrections to it and to News No.21 were given
1. Japan does not have a National Cold Fusion Research Institute - as explained
above there is a Fusion Institute which was intended for Hot Fusion research.
2. On the 24 March 1989, Steve Jones did not have a press conference - the
announcement was made by BYU - Steve was told he could be absent.
3. The fun particle invented by Edward Teller which he called the Meshugtron
from the word "meshuga" - this word is from Yiddish and not Hebrew.
LEP and the four LEP experiments are all running well with the normal amount of
interuptions. A record beam accumulation of 3.1 mA has been obtained (but not
for physics). The low beta squeeze has been reduced from 7 to 4.3 cm and this
was found to give a 50% increase in rates in the experiments. At times they are
obtaining 10 Z0 events per minute. Each experiment has about 15 thousand
new Z0 events this year.