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2010 ACS Review of Low-Energy Nuclear Reaction Research - Transcript
(Video)
(Slides)

"2010 ACS Review of Low-Energy Nuclear Reaction Research"
by Steven B. Krivit
Editor, New Energy Times


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This is Steven Krivit, editor of New Energy Times. This is the 2010 ACS review of low-energy nuclear reaction research.

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Warning: This presentation has been rated S for scientific. It contains graphic scientific images and hard facts and is not recommended for people who follow dogma or have fixed beliefs.

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Twenty-one years ago when people started researching this field, the cold fusion people assumed that what they were seeing was some kind of modified branch of deuterium-deuterium nuclear fusion.

Melvin Miles, an electrochemist who was working at the Navy's China Lake laboratory, was one of the people who saw significant amounts of helium early on in his experiments. He said that helium was the only product that he could find that would explain the amount of excess heat he was observing.

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It was a good assumption at the time;

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however, he and probably many other people did not know about electroweak interactions. It had only been recognized a few years earlier, and at that, in the world of physics, not electrochemistry.

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Here is an equation that depicts the most common hypothetical deuterium-deuterium cold fusion reaction: D+D --> helium-4 + 24 MeV of heat. But this is a bit dumbed-down. There are a few things that are implied in this equation.

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A more precise equation shows these assumptions: First, that helium-4 comes out with relatively low energy, perhaps under 100 KeV. They are also assuming that there are no other nuclear products that come out.

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But LENR is far more complex than this hypothetical idea of cold fusion.

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The experimental phenomena include tritium, low fluxes of neutrons, heavy element transmutations, isotopic shifts, energetic alphas and the heat and helium-4.

Let's take a look to see how the cold fusion idea may explain some of these phenomena.

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How does cold fusion explain tritium? Well, if you try to put tritium into the equation it just doesn't add up, and this is even assuming you have some satisfactory explanation of the "three miracles of cold fusion."

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Assuming there is a satisfactory explanation of the source of neutrons, can a neutron capture process explain tritium? Yes, quite easily. A deuteron plus a neutron will get you your tritium.

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What about the cold fusion idea? Can that explain some of the low fluxes of neutrons that have been seen? Again, if you try to put something like neutrons into this equation, it still doesn't add up.

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Can weak interactions explain the creation of neutrons? Yes, as Widom and Larsen have shown, if you have ultra-low-momentum neutrons, they can give rise to spallation neutrons and those spallation neutrons can be observed outside of the experiment.

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How does cold fusion explain heavy element transmutations, for example the research that was done at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, where they show the increase of molybdenum at the same time they show a decrease of strontium? No, there's no explanation for it as fusion.

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On the other hand, can neutron capture explain heavy element transmutations? Yes, through a series of neutron captures and intermediate beta decays.

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How about isotopic shifts, for example, palladium-108 going to palladium-110? Well, those two neutron captures will give you an extra 10 MeV and that doesn't add up into the cold fusion equation.

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What about isotopic shifts explained by neutron capture processes? Easily. Pd-108 plus a neutron goes to Pd-109, add another neutron, you get Pd-110.

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What about the energetic alphas, for example the 11-16 MeV that were seen by Lipson and Roussetski at the Russian Academy of Sciences? Again, if you try to put 13 MeV alphas in there, the cold fusion equation does not balance.

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What about for neutron capture processes? Yes, through a series of beta-delayed alpha decays.

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So how do cold fusion people explain all these phenomena that are inexplicable by the idea of cold fusion?

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One of their explanations is that they have suggested that there are two separate sets of phenomena, two branches. The first is what they call the cold fusion phenomena, which is the fusion of light elements at low temperatures which produces only heat and helium-4, and they lump everything else into the nuclear reactions category.

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Their second explanation is that they have come up with an ad hoc conclusion that, somehow, they know that there are no other energetic phenomena in LENR experiments and that the heat and helium-4 are the main reaction channels and that all other LENR phenomena are only minor effects.

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For a decade, many cold fusion people thought that the proof of cold fusion was in Michael McKubre's experiment M4. As Scott Chubb said, "The proof is the 24 MeV, McKubre nailed it."

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This would be an appropriate point to mention a quote from Sherlock Holmes, speaking on making theories in the absence of data. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: "Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts."

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In 2010, New Energy Times published an extensive investigation of how Michael McKubre of SRI International manipulated and fabricated data and values over a 10-year period to obtain the "24 MeV" value to which Scott Chubb was referring. Here are just a few of the dozen changes that were made and reported to experiment M4.

They lowered the value of the first helium sample and provided no published mathematical explanation.

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They raised the second helium sample value and again published no mathematical explanation.

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But in the fourth sample, they did something else. They invented a helium retention hypothesis, although they performed no tests to verify their hypothesis.

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McKubre's theory, as it was explained by Scott Chubb, is that helium-4 was somehow being trapped and implanted inside the palladium by electrochemical processes, and that by similar electrochemical processes, which Scott Chubb called a "recycling procedure," the helium was also released from the palladium.

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Then McKubre did something even stranger with the fourth point. He indicated that the fourth point was actually higher than the original fourth point. And he again did so without providing any explanation for this.

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Then he drew this green line and put the label on it: "helium release." Now by looking at this line, it gives the impression, actually a false impression, that the helium measurements are representing an accumulation of helium in the experiment. But they are not cumulative values of helium; they are four separate and distinct measurements.

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Then they drew an ascending blue line that represented the excess heat release, but they arbitrarily showed it as a plateau that continued all the way over to the fourth measurement of helium.

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This formed the basis for the graph that they presented to the Department of Energy's 2004 review of low-energy nuclear reactions. This point represented, as they explained it, the "final accumulation of helium" representing 24.75 MeV.

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SRI's collaborator Vittorio Violante, over at ENEA Frascati, also performed research and claimed to get a value very close to 24 MeV. For several years, they had been depicting a graph similar to this, supposedly representing the relationship between heat and helium-4 that they measured: A green circle, red triangle, almost on top of each other, accompanying text showing a very close match between the two and the predicted value of 24 MeV.

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However, the actual energy was down here, at the purple line. Now, there are two ways of interpreting what the data was, depending on how you consider the background value of helium. Either it's where the purple line is or it’s somewhere halfway in between where the purple line and the red line are, not 24 MeV.

According to Violante, they performed this experiment and obtained these results just two months before the 2004 Department of Energy LENR review.

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Here is a slide from 2008 from Peter Hagelstein, Michael Melich and Rodney Johnson where they are showing that they "would like to believe" in the idea that there's 24 MeV per helium-4 atom in these experiments. They claim to show "strong support from SRI and ENEA." Those are the two previous experiments which we just looked at.

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What about all the other experiments that have shown some measurements of helium-4, but not 24 MeV? They range anywhere from 12 to 90 MeV of heat per helium-4 atom.

How do cold fusion people explain the difference between that and 24 MeV? They say it's "within an order of magnitude" and it’s "close enough considering the range of experimental errors."

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But there's a bigger problem. The 24 MeV idea is actually meaningless and here's why: For 24 MeV to signify the precise mass-energy deficit of deuterium-deuterium fusion, there must be no other nuclear products in the system.

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A lot of people in the field have always thought and hoped that it was something simple. They like the idea of Occam's razor. They thought it might be something as simple as simple as 2+2=4.

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Shouldn't it be the simplest answer that D+D -> helium-4, along with of 24 MeV of heat?

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It's certainly a very nice and tidy explanation.

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But it's not what nature says is happening.

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There is a whole other world of phenomena besides the heat and helium-4 occurring in LENR experiments and all of these phenomena are inexplicable by the cold fusion theories.

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Once I began explaining this I heard people tell me that "it's still possible, just because there is no evidence doesn't mean cold fusion doesn't exist."

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Yes, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, I know. It's a clever phrase

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but is it scientifically useful? No.

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Absence of evidence is more appropriate for a belief system.

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So how are some of the cold fusion people explaining some of these contradictions? Let's take a look at how Peter Hagelstein has explained the measurements of alpha particles by SPAWAR, Russian Academy of Sciences and Oriani and Fisher, as well as others.

Last year, he published a paper that speculated on the theoretical upper limits of alpha particle energy. He suggested that the alpha particles must be born in LENR experiments with energy less than 20.3 KeV. Now you would have to, of course, ignore the research of Lipson et al. in 2002 which showed that these alphas were actually coming out somewhere between 11 and 16 MeV.

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Now how does Scott Chubb explain George Miley's light-water LENR research? He said that "because there are two deuterium atoms in every 12,000 atoms in normal water, deuterium-deuterium fusion is still possible."

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How do the cold fusion people explain some of the nickel-hydrogen [gas] LENR? Through a form of pathological skepticism. As Jed Rothwell said, "I don't believe Piantelli because his work is full of holes and people who have visited him have been unimpressed."

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How did David Kidwell of the Naval Research Laboratory explain the increase of praseodymium in the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries experiment? He suggested that the "individual who was doing the extraction used lucky tweezers and may have caused some possible contamination" and he insinuated that the person had left MHI as a result of these actions. This is one of his speculations as to the growth of the praseodymium in this experiment.

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But when I asked Kidwell if he could explain the simultaneous decrease of cesium, he didn't have anything to say.

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So does the cold fusion idea really explain LENR? No, it doesn't.

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Here's what some of the cold fusion people have done instead. They've come up with a transition term and they've been attempting to call it the "Fleischmann-Pons Effect." They've been encouraging other researchers to use this term rather than "cold fusion." But this makes little sense because you would have to disregard all the other effects that are known in the field such as the Iwamura effect, Letts-Cravens effect, etc., etc.

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At the ICCF-14 conference in Washington , D.C. , organizers David Nagel and Michael Melich were encouraging everybody to drop the term "low-energy nuclear reactions" and use the term FPE instead of cold fusion.

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Now let's take a look and see how some of the researchers are dealing with the new idea of neutron capture. Michael McKubre, for example, has offered a new definition of neutron capture. He's attempted to redefine neutron capture as fusion. McKubre's claim is that people in the cold fusion field should be able to use scientific terminology any way they want to.

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Scott Chubb also introduced a new nonsensical use of the word fusion, suggesting that transmutations of heavy elements might be considered fusion processes.

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In 1989, it's true, the idea of cold fusion was derailed by pathological skeptics at the time, outsiders if you will.

But since the year 2000, progress in LENR has been delayed by pathological science by people from within the field.

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In 1989, the critics were right. It's not cold fusion and it never was. But by 2010, those critics were also shown to be wrong. There is something valid to the field. It is nuclear.

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Let's go back and take a look at idea of the "proof" of cold fusion.

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Gene Mallove was one of the first people to alert me about a problem with this idea. He said to me, "You're on very thin ice," when I stated that excess heat was consistent with 24 MeV per helium-4 atom.

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But at the time, I didn't see it. I didn't understand what he was talking about. But within a few years I began to see that Gene was right. It doesn't look like fusion.