Michael McKubre (b. 1948), a protégé of "cold fusion" claimant Martin Fleischmann, worked at SRI International for 37½ years. At SRI, he led a major group during the 1990s as the director of the SRI International Energy Research Center, until the funding for that program ended, in 1998. McKubre and his group pioneered first-principles mass-flow calorimetry that established perhaps the most credible evidence for excess heat and production of helium-4 in LENR experiments.
Beginning in 2000, McKubre gradually changed, added and deleted data points and values from an experiment performed at SRI in 1994 known as "M4". McKubre made a total of 11 changes over a 10-year period without scientific explanation, most changes without notification.
McKubre was attempting to prove the long-standing hypothesis that, for every helium-4 atom produced in palladium-deuterium electrolytic experiments, 24 MeV of excess heat would also be produced. The hypothesis, expressed as D+D --> Helium-4 + 23.8 MeV (heat), was first suggested by Douglas Morrison on March 31, 1989, in his newsletter. Peter Hagelstein followed soon after, mentioning the idea on April 12 and 21, 1989, in two press releases and in preprints he sent to Physical Review Letters.
Had McKubre's data supported this hypothesis, the samples of helium-4 would have been measured at the same value as his expected value, 24 MeV per helium-4 atom, thereby supporting the theory of deuterium-deuterium "cold fusion." However, McKubre's data, taken in 1994, didn't match the hypothesis — yet.
In 2010, Steven, B. Krivit, publisher and editor of New Energy Times, began an investigation into McKubre’s M4 experiment. McKubre published the original data accurately and scientifically in 1998, in the 379-page EPRI document TR-107843-V1, which Krivit found on the EPRI Web site, publicly available for free.
In later documents and presentations, beginning in 2000, McKubre began making unscientific changes to his reporting of the data, to match the "cold fusion" hypothesis. In some cases, where McKubre did not invent values, he shifted the theoretical baseline to effectively bring his measurements closer to his hypothesis. His 11 changes are summarized in this list and the complete investigation record is displayed below.
During the Mar. 21, 2010, press conference at the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco, California, Krivit asked McKubre about M4 in person. In McKubre's response to, and denial of these allegations, he said that, in hindsight, he had found a single error in the 1998 data and that he reported that error to the sponsor of the research, Electric Power Research Institute. (video, transcript)
The day after the press conference, experiment M4 was history. McKubre had mentioned experiment M4 in nearly every presentation in every conference presentation since 2000. McKubre's alleged proof of "cold fusion" disappeared silently at 4:29 p.m. when he concluded his presentation at the American Chemical Society meeting. For the first time in a decade, without any notice let alone formal retraction, McKubre failed to mention his d + d —> Helium-4 + 23.8 MeV (heat) claim, let alone claim that his experiment M4 provided proof.
When Krivit contacted Brian Schimmoller, a senior communications manager at EPRI, he wrote back on March 30, 2010, that the company had no record of receiving any such correction.
"After checking," Schimmoller wrote, "there is no record in our system of any corrections or errata published for those reports, and the retired project manager tells us that he's not aware of any corrections or errata, either."
That project manager was Thomas Passell. Schimmoller also contacted Albert Machiels, the other manager on that project. Machiels was also not aware of any corrections or errata.
McKubre repeated the "correction" story in an e-mail to his colleagues on Dec. 10 2011.
"Neither I nor anyone else at SRI 'fabricated' data associated with M4 (or anything else that I am aware of)," McKubre wrote. "We had occasion to re-analyze those data, found an error in the EPRI report (a private document at that point), and communicated that promptly to the only person who was aware or cared (in the mid-to-late '90's) - the EPRI Program Manager. Later published reports in the open literature are, I believe, correct, and I have had no reason to doubt or refine them in the past dozen years."
All later published reports by McKubre, including the paper he presented to the Department of Energy in 2004, through his 2009 ICCF-15 presentation, contained the same uncorrected and unscientific changes, additions, and deletions.
Even if there was an error and McKubre had reported it to EPRI, that leaves 10 other manipulations for which McKubre never suggested a defense.
McKubre failed to identify a single factual or scientific error in the New Energy Times investigation. Instead, in private e-mails to researchers in the field, McKubre resorted to attacking Krivit's character.
McKubre resigned from SRI International on March 4, 2016, and moved back to his native country of New Zealand, according to an e-mail he sent to LENR researchers on March 16, 2016.