July 30, 2010
Issue #35


Previous ArticleTable of ContentsNext Article
New Energy Times home page

15. Bockris' and Miles' Historic Confirmations of LENR-Produced Helium

By Steven B. Krivit

Recently, I was double-checking the values I had on record for the amount of heat per helium-4 atom (MeV/4He) measured in LENR experiments. Through my communications with electrochemist Melvin Miles, I was able to determine more precisely some of the values for his related experiments.

Miles and colleagues were among the first researchers in 1991 to observe the temporally correlated production of helium and heat during LENR electrolytic experiments.[1] A year later, John O'Mara Bockris and his team were the first to show helium on the cathode after electrolysis. Both achievements were milestones in LENR history: Miles' for showing that the heat was related to a nuclear effect, and Bockris’ for providing the first experiment that answered the criticism of possible helium permeation through glass.[2]

Miles conveys the significance of his work in the abstract from his 2003[3] paper: "[T]he excess enthalpy produced in cold fusion studies is correlated with helium-4 production: D+D 4He + 23.8 MeV." Surprisingly, even though MeV values were a key point for his thesis, he didn't report any MeV values in his papers, as he wrote to me on May 15.

"I always reported my helium-4 results as 'helium atoms per second per watt of excess power' and never used 'MeV per helium atom,'" Miles wrote. "I always believed that the various experimental errors (calorimetry, helium analysis, background helium) were too large to get exact values in terms of MeV per helium-4 atoms."

Miles directed me to his papers from 2003 and 1996[4], which presented results from three sets of experiments performed at the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake. He groups the experiment series as follows: 1990-1991, 1991-1992 and 1993-1994.

In a follow-up e-mail, I asked Miles whether he could provide me with the MeV values. He replied on May 21, expressing caution about interpreting his values as proof of D+D fusion events because of the experimental uncertainties.

He explained that his "most accurate results for the helium-4 measurements" were from the second set, which provided a mean of 25.0 +/- 10.9 MeV per He-4 atom.  He wrote that his third set produced a mean of 34.4 +/- 21 MeV per He-4 atom. However, I pointed out to him that he misplaced the decimal point on two of the numbers and that the mean was actually 56 +/- 21 MeV per He-4 atom. At 35-77 MeV/4He atom, this would be inconsistent with the D+D 4He + 23.8 MeV hypothesis. 

"The helium-4 production rate was 1 E10 to 1E11 helium atoms per second per watt," Miles wrote. "This would yield about 6 to 60 MeV, which would still be consistent with the D +D fusion reaction."

Miles advised me and Jeffrey Hullekes (author of a related paper)[5] that he had taken a closer look at his work and found that it justified a precision of 24 +/- 10 MeV/4He atom. He wanted me to cite the results from set two rather than set three.

This was a very useful conversation. Until that time, because he had not provided any MeV values, I had overlooked the data from his first set of experiments. The second set, if averaged together, provided a value of 24 MeV.

"You simply cannot use these less-accurate results in Table 4 [set three] and ignore the much more accurate results from Table 2 [set one]," Mile wrote. "... In summary, please quote 24 MeV +/- 10 MeV if you want to use my most accurate measurements of excess power and helium-4 production."

I pointed out to Miles that these values, of course, are accurate only under the assumptions that a) he knows what the correct value is supposed to be – for example, 23.77 MeV from the hypothetical D+D 4He (~24 MeV) Heat reaction – and b) that no other reaction products are observed in the system. Otherwise, he will have no idea how much energy to attribute just to the helium-4.

Here are the final values we came up with:

I also responded to Miles with some of my reflections. Here is a slightly edited version of my letter.

Hi, Mel,

I've spent a lot of time this year looking closely at heat and helium. Just recently, I reread your ICCF-10 summary paper more closely.

I can unequivocally say that what you have done experimentally, and what you have reported via this paper, appears to me to reflect the rigor, detail and explicitness that I would expect of excellent science experiments and a science paper. I'm not saying this to win points with you; I'm just trying to set the foundation for fairness. If I am going to offer my objective criticism, it is only fair that I offer my objective compliments, as well.

In your papers, from what I have seen so far, you have been very clear about your data and your methods; you present the data with minimal interpretation, and you present key data values. Some of your peers have not even come close to this level of detail.

Your experiments, results and objectivity have resulted in very significant contributions to the field. 

As far as I know, the D+D 4He + 24 MeV heat hypothesis was a good starting place and a good working hypothesis. It was a hypothesis initiated by Martin [Fleischmann] and Stan [Pons], and as they said, it had one in a billion chance of being right. I applaud such risk takers and courage! Nothing at all new will come from what is already known. To get something new, to get a new source of clean energy, you have to, like they say on “Star Trek,” "boldly go where no man has gone before."

I respect Martin and Stan for this, and I respect you for it. Even researchers whose work I have been critical of deserve respect and honor for their courage and contributions, though I don't think we should be permissive of clearly unscientific behavior.

I see no reason why you could have or should have considered any other working hypothesis when you did your landmark heat and helium work. I see no reason to be critical of you for using D+D 4He + 24 MeV heat as a working hypothesis when that was the only available hypothesis. That seemed like the most reasonable approach when it was the only game in town. What I don't understand is your reluctance to consider the alternative hypothesis that has been of interest to me recently, the nonfusion, weak interaction, neutron-catalyzed hypothesis.

I know you have had certain experiences with Lewis Larsen, but you've always seemed to me to be an objective scientist and not allowed personality issues or your emotions to interfere with your objectivity. I don't know. Maybe people who have been involved in LENR for a long time resent Larsen as a newcomer. It certainly seems like a broad character attack is going on. When I spoke with Beverly Barnhardt of the Defense Intelligence Agency in a two-hour phone call a few months ago, I got the impression from her that all the LENR people she spoke with told her [untrue] things about Larsen, just character assassination, nothing about science. This unscientific behavior seems mean-spirited. It reminds me, in a way, of how so many of the critics in 1989 told the media "bad things" about Martin and Stan.

What is so strange is that the "cold fusion" working hypothesis hasn't always been the only game in town. Even Peter Hagelstein, who now is enamored of the "cold fusion" theory hasn't always been on that path. The weak-interaction idea is not at all new.

Even more surprising, is that, after pursuing a "cold fusion" theory back in April 1989, by 1990, he switched modes and proposed creating virtual neutrons through the weak interaction. By 1993, Hagelstein thought nonfusion, weak interaction, neutron-based theories "more closely match[ed] the experimental observations." (See the related article "Neutron Capture Is Not the New Cold Fusion" in this issue.)

So the point of this consideration of nonfusion, weak interaction, neutron-based hypotheses is that we're not just talking about Widom-Larsen theory. This general nonfusion, weak interaction, neutron-based concept existed long before Widom and Larsen came into the field. What makes them unique is that they've been able to put more of the pieces together than, apparently, anybody else.

Some of your peers are brushing off the acceptance of the Widom-Larsen theory by some people in the U.S. government by saying that those people are simply enamored of WLT. For the life of me, I can't think of any honorable reason why your LENR peers would want to discount ANY theory that gains ground and builds acceptance for LENR within the federal government.

You're an experimentalist. I understand how some of the theorists have a dog in the fight for the fusion hypothesis. But I don't understand why you would want to lock yourself into one working hypothesis versus the other. 

The significance of the heat and helium correlation is that the nuclear product (4He) helps validate that the excess heat is coming from a nuclear reaction. Your work thus far will always stand as a valuable contribution and key milestone that established the veracity of LENR as a nuclear phenomenon, regardless of what the inevitable explanation may turn out to be.

Best regards,


Miles responded with a kind note, thanking me and saying that he didn't see any reason to change his thinking that the excess heat that he observed was the result of D+D fusion.

He pointed out to me that his "best heat/helium results give a mean of 24 MeV per Helium-4." He asked me whether I thought his result was due to some error. He reiterated his confidence that the observed heat and the helium-4 production were correlated – a statistical probability of occurring by random errors at 1 in 750,000.

"The observations of excess heat and Helium-4 are definitely related," Miles wrote. "Therefore, any theory must be consistent with these experimental facts:  Helium-4 is produced when there is excess heat. No Helium-4 is produced when there is no excess heat."

I told Miles that I was in full agreement with his facts about his heat and helium measurements. Still, I had the sense that our wires were still crossed, so I sent another letter.

Hi, Mel,

I appreciate and honor the chance to have this dialogue with you. I do not mean to argue, only to discuss, learn and develop better understanding. 

Do I think your result was due to some error? No and yes.

As far as measurements, precision, and known errors, I think your reports are 100 percent precise. As far as the temporal correlation between the evolved heat and helium, again, 100 percent precise.

As far as evolved gases, you appear to have searched for and not found significant 3He and tritium. You stated in 1993 that "the major gaseous fusion product in D2O + LiOD is 4He rather than 3He."[6] So I think you are on the money with your conclusion that 4He is the major gaseous product.

Where I think you have an oversight, not an error, is in two parts: first, a fundamental assumption that, because you put something in and you get something else out, you therefore know the causative mechanism. Naturally, you have assumed for 20 years that fusion is the most likely explanation. The point is, whereas your heat and helium measurements are empirical observations, your assumption of a mechanism is an interpolation. This is where the breakdown occurs.

I know you are a scientist, I know you seek to know nature's truth and I know that you do not want to follow blindly a path of assumptions or beliefs. Therefore, I realize that your assumption was not a conscious choice. My ideas probably sound very strange to you because, after 20 years, your assumed mechanism has become so familiar to you and your peers that its difficult for you to even recognize that it is an assumption.

In 1989, fusion was not a wrong assumption, not at all. Most people, but not all, had no better assumption. Even Steven Koonin, who is now the Department of Energy Secretary, for a very short while postulated a fusion theory. And for the following 10 years, fusion was still probably not a wrong assumption.

But around 2000, things began to shift. For example, neutron activation analyses[7] were performed by your colleagues Benjamin F. Bush, and Joseph Lagowski at the University of Texas that showed evidence of energetic transmutations and isotopic shifts from natural abundances in heavy water FP cells. This was the paper that you saw me hand to Peter Hagelstein at the ACS press conference this past March. This paper is one of many, many reports of isotopic and elemental changes that do not fit the fusion hypothesis.

The second part of a possible oversight on your part was that you may not have appreciated such experimental developments in the last decade. You may not have realized their significance, how they weakened the fusion hypothesis.

[Miles] "I will need hard experimental evidence to convince me that it is some other process.  If there are really ultra-slow neutrons involved, then there must be some way to prove this by experiments such as neutron activation of nearby metals or by isotopic shifts from natural abundance. Scientists seek to settle such arguments by experiments rather than by debate."

It's not my objective to try to convince you. My objectives are twofold: one, to have clear communication with you, to have clarity where we agree and clarity where we disagree; and two, to attempt to engage your curiosity and interest to discuss an alternate hypothesis. If it's right or wrong, we will all find out eventually. If you don't want to continue the conversation and explore the alternative hypothesis with me, just tell me so and I won't pester you further on this topic.

[Miles] “Any theory will have to be consistent with my experimental observations before I can accept it. Theories change. Experimental facts do not.”

Well said. Of course, I'm not asking you to accept any theory. I’m just asking for an open dialogue. Please let me know if that is OK with you.

Best regards,


Miles wrote back the next day; our open, scientific dialogue continues.



1. Bush, B.F., Lagowski, J.J., Miles, M.H., and Ostrom, G.S. "Helium Production During the Electrolysis of D2O in Cold Fusion Experiments," Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, Vol. 304, p. 271 (1991)

2.Chien, C.-C., Hodko, D., Minevski, Z. and Bockris, J.O’M. "On an Electrode Producing Massive Quantities of Tritium and Helium,” Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, Vol. 338, p. 189–212 (April 1992)

3. Miles, M. "Correlation of Excess Enthalpy and Helium-4 Production: A Review," Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Cold Fusion, Cambridge, Mass. (2003)

4. Miles, M., and Johnson, K.B. Anomalous Effects in Deuterated Systems, Final Report. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (1996)

5. Hullekes, J.Q. Rethinking Reactants: A new look at helium and heat production in LENR experiments. (Also see Appendix A) Vice Chancellor for Research Seminar Series: Excess Heat and Particle Tracks from Deuterium-loaded Palladium. Columbia, MO.  (May 29, 2009) 

6. Miles, M.H, Hollins, R.A., Bush, B.F., Lagowski, J.J., and Miles. R.E. "Correlation of Excess Power and Helium Production During D2O and H2O Electrolysis Using Palladium Cathodes," Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, Vol. 346, p. 99 (1993)

7. Bush, B.F., and Lagowski, J.J. "Trace Elements Added to Palladium by Electrolysis in Heavy Water," (Albert Machiels, Thomas Passell, Project Managers) EPRI TP-108743 (November 1999)


Previous ArticleTable of ContentsNext Article