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Douglas R.O. Morrison's Cold Fusion News
No. 22—13-17 April 1990

Back to Morrison Index

(Source: New Energy Times)
Dear E632 and WA84 Colleagues,

FIRST ANNUAL COLD FUSION CONFERENCE.

Summary
1. Impressions of the First Annual Cold Fusion Conference
2. Paper by Pons and Fleischmann
2.1 Content of Paper
2.2 Comments
3. New Results from the Experiment of Salamon et al. in Pons's lab
4. National Laboratories
5. Japan
6. India
7. Solar Neutrinos
8. Oppenheimer-Phillips mechanism
9. Selling a Patent
Corrections
LEP Progress

SUMMARY

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 detailed comments.

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 lawyers.

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 experiments.

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 enquiry.

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 was observed.

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 already produced."

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.

2.2 COMMENTS

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 cycle time).

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 as claimed.

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.

5 JAPAN

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.

6. INDIA

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.

CORRECTIONS

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 to me.
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 PROGRESS

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.