By Steven B. Krivit
Earlier this year, I began to discuss with my board of directors my evolving opinion that "cold fusion" was not fusion but was still real—that is, a real, novel energetic nuclear phenomenon.
Mike Carrell, a member of the New Energy Institute board of directors, was surprised. He, like many other people in the field, argued that helium-4 found in low-energy nuclear reaction experiments was the proof of cold fusion.
"The existence of helium-4 is not the point," I replied to Carrell. "We have no disagreement on this. I am striving to make the distinction between rigorous evidence for a nuclear effect versus rigorous evidence for a fusion effect."
After I gave him a preview of what would later become the core of my 2008 American Chemical Society presentation, he wrote, "Steve, you have made an excellent point, in effect, that the emperor has no clothes. I recommend that you pick words carefully and use them gently but precisely, for the issue is emotionally charged by the sincere efforts of good people. You can quote Fleischmann and Pons' words 'hitherto unknown nuclear process.'"
In January, New Energy Times discussed a proposed theoretical model that is mathematically rigorous and that appears to explain the production of excess heat, helium-4, helium-3, tritium, and transmutations, among other reported LENR-related phenomena. This model, unlike many others, does not use speculative "new physics"; it uses well-established physics put together in a novel way.
The theoretical model, initially conceptualized by Lewis Larsen, who trained as a biophysicist and who later rigorously developed the model with Allan Widom and Yogendra Srivastava, validates the work of many experimentalists in the condensed matter nuclear science field. This model casts cold water on the hypothesis of deuterium-deuterium fusion as an explanation for "cold fusion."
Peter Hagelstein questioned the reality of light-water excess heat, then made a mockery of it during one of his talks at ICCF-14. Many people in the audience laughed. (audio recording) When this writer expressed his objection to Hagelstein's mockery during the question-and-answer session, Hagelstein said that the point he was trying to make was that he did not understand what was going into the experiments and what was coming out of them. He said that very few researchers were doing light-water experiments. Hagelstein also said that the work of these experimentalists were not as convincing to him as the heavy-water experiments, such as those performed by his consortium associate Michael McKubre of SRI International. (audio recording.)
Most of the existing theorists in the field vigorously opposed this new theoretical model that did not involve fusion. For example, K.P. Sinha and Andrew Meulenberg, frequent collaborators of Hagelstein, issued dire predictions about the theoretical model.
"We see a disaster if this [model] were to be published and acclaimed by [the condensed matter nuclear science field]," Sinha and Meulenberg wrote. "It would certainly confirm most physicists’ view of the field. Mostly, those looking for flaws would read it. They would easily find and advertise them. ... It looks like a snow job. And that makes us wonder why/how it was done."
In contrast, Hideo Kozima, who has developed a neutron-based LENR theory, is one of the few people willing to endorse the proposed model. Is it coincidence that Kozima was denied an oral session by organizers at ICCF-14 who were so focused on emphasizing "cold fusion"?
In July, New Energy Times discussed the work of Randall Mills, who uses nickel and a hydrogen-radio frequency-excited plasma to obtain excess heat. New Energy Times is not as enthusiastic as Mills is about his work. Nevertheless, our investigation presented convincing evidence that his experimental work was the result of a real phenomenon, although Mills' hydrino theory has gained little acceptance among mainstream physicists.
In the same July issue, we ran two in-depth investigations on the work of Francesco Piantelli and Sergio Focardi. They observed excess heat—lots of it—with a hydrogen gas and nickel system. One of our stories was titled "Deuterium and Palladium Not Required." We even reported on a failed attempt by researchers at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, to debunk that work. The Piantelli-Focardi work also casts cold water on the hypothesis of deuterium-deuterium fusion as an explanation for "cold fusion."
On April 12, 1989, in the Dallas, Texas, American Chemical Society meeting, Stanley Pons somewhat reluctantly told reporters that he was seeing a small signal of excess heat from a hydrogen-palladium experiment. This disclosure took great scientific courage and integrity because Pons did this knowing full well that his hostile critics would use it as an argument against the Fleischmann-Pons hypothesis of deuterium-deuterium fusion.
Over the past year, I have dug deeply into the experimental evidence that members of the field have employed to claim that "cold fusion" is a fusion-based process. At each step in my investigation, the evidence for fusion as the correct explanation for LENR phenomena became weaker.
I am not a professional scientist, but I am a very persistent investigative science journalist who has been covering this field for the last eight years. Although the prospects of LENR appear to be more promising than ever, I no longer think that LENR is fundamentally a fusion process. I suspect that the underlying process or processes responsible for the observed low-energy nuclear reaction phenomena are the result of weak interactions.
I believe that eventually, once the dust has settled and the real race begins, this field will blossom beyond the imagination of many who are part of its historic beginning.