About LENRs

Dr. Edmund Storms
Los Alamos National Laboratory (retired)

On February 22, 2003 I had the pleasure of spending the day with Dr. Edmund Storms. This was my chance to ask all the burning questions I've had about this mysterious field. Beyond his clear depth on the subject, I was touched by his kindness and wisdom. Dr. Storms is a dedicated pioneer who generously shares both his scientific expertise and supportive guidance with others who have a curiosity about cold fusion. 

- Steven B. Krivit

Many scientists who study cold fusion, including yourself, use the terms LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reaction) and CANR (Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reaction) to describe their work. While I understand that LENR and CANR are more technical descriptors, are we still talking about cold fusion?
Yes, cold fusion is how most people refer to this field. The only handicap is the attitude people have towards the name because it has been given negative connotation. Nevertheless, as the field becomes more acceptable, I think people will use "cold fusion" just because the name is short and simple.

Would you say that if cold fusion reaches its potential, it would enable homes, vehicles, and businesses to create their own power source on site, for virtually pennies?
I think cold fusion is one of several ideal energy sources. It's an interesting time because a number of other ideal sources are being proposed. Cold fusion is probably the most thoroughly documented at this point, but all of them have several things in common. They would be very inexpensive, pollution-free, and inexhaustible. Also, the source of energy would be hard for a single company or government to control because the generators can be very easily localized and built on a small scale for any special application.

How would you rate the significance of cold fusion relative to, let's say, the discovery of electricity?
These forthcoming technologies are very basic to the way society is organized and the way people live. They are going to change our lifestyle enormously. They're going to change how political power operates and alter the economic structure of the world. So yes, they are going to have a basic fundamental impact. They will allow mankind to live in all parts of the world, many of which are inhospitable now because water is unavailable. These energy sources will allow water to be made available from the oceans by inexpensive desalinization. They will also allow mankind to explore the universe. At the present time, we can't do that because chemical energy is not sufficiently dense and conventional nuclear energy is too dangerous. These new kinds of energy sources are sufficiently dense and don't have these other problems, so they would allow us to explore the solar system and beyond. Who knows what possibilities would come about?

If I understand what you're saying, while we currently have the capacity to travel to the moon, cold fusion could possibly give us the means to travel much further, perhaps beyond our solar system?
Yes, we would be able to go to other stars. What will we find there? Well, we may find more advanced civilizations that would give us additional insights into how humanity can develop. The process grows on itself. Cold fusion would allow extraordinary events to happen.

There are some who place "cold fusion" in the same category as "free energy", a notion that violates the Law of Conservation of Energy, also known as the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that "Energy cannot be created nor destroyed."  Does cold fusion violate this law of physics? 
No one is proposing to violate the Law of Conservation of Energy. Cold fusion is the release of nuclear energy during various kinds of fusion and transmutation reactions. In other words, reactions that combine two elements to make a larger element are the source of energy. Such nuclear reactions release considerable energy. This is the opposite of fission, which takes a large atom and breaks it into two smaller parts. We're talking about ordinary nuclear energy. There's nothing magical about it. There's nothing that anyone would call "alien" to the laws of nature. It's the mechanism for achieving these nuclear reactions that is poorly understood at this time and, therefore, is in dispute.

The term "Excess heat" is typically used by cold fusion researchers to describe their experimental observations.   Can you explain "excess heat" further?
Put simply, more heat, [a form of energy] is coming out of the experiment than is expected based upon the energy being put into the device. The best-verified amplification so far has been approximately 70% excess heat, or a factor of 1.7 times the amount of energy going in. Most cells produce 10 to 15 percent excess. If you should achieve a factor of 3, this would be quite significant. People would throw a big party. In this case, 1 watt of energy would go into the apparatus and 3 watts would come out. In a typical experiment, electrical energy goes into the apparatus and heat is a common output. Consequently, the resulting heat must be converted back into electric power for the energy to be used in most applications. This process results in a loss of useful energy and is one reason the factor of three amplification of energy is required.

Pons and Fleischmann, and perhaps others, reported excess heat [energy] output of several orders of magnitude beyond the amount of energy input.  My understanding is that more recent experiments have found more conservative results.  What is the explanation for this?
Early in the field people loved to report the amount of energy that was being produced in watts per cubic centimeter. Because they were working with very small samples, they would measure the watts of power and then they would divide it by a very small number. That division gives a very big number. When power was reported as "watts per cubic centimeter", the result would look like a very large number of watts were being produced to someone who was not paying attention. If two or three watts were being applied and a thousand watts per cubic centimeter were being generated, this might look like a big improvement. In fact, only a mathematical illusion made the result look big.

Then how did they arrive at a more accurate measurement of the excess heat?
Early in any field misconceptions and false assumption are common. One of the early false assumptions was that novel heat was being generated within the entire sample. Consequently, a person would calculate the amount of heat relative to the entire sample. Besides, using values of watts per cubic centimeter gives a feeling for how the process might theoretically scale up if a bigger apparatus were used. Well, this approach turned out to be wrong. Heat is not being produced in the entire sample, but only in a very small thin layer on the sample surface. If you calculate the power density more accurately , still using watts per cubic centimeter, the result would be a huge number because the number of cubic centimeters that is actually involved is even smaller. Unfortunately, the true volume is unknown because the amount of surface layer that is actually causing the nuclear reactions is unknown. However, once the volume of the true active material is determined, a calculation based on watts/cm3 becomes meaningful. The new understanding means that energy can be produced in a very small amount of material and allow a very compact energy source to be created.

Let's talk more about the "active material". What is this about the possibility that LENR may require living cells to work?
As recently as 50 years ago, a few people claimed that living cells, such as chickens, and plants seemed to contain elements that were not present in their environment. For example, elements contained in the food of the chicken were determined. Then, the amount of calcium present in the eggs, in the bones, and everywhere else was determined. The amounts didn't balance. The chickens contained more calcium than they had eaten. Well, few people believed the result although the claims were widely known and accepted among fringe groups. Recently, however, because of the cold fusion implications, people started looking into this idea in greater detail. A Japanese worker studied yeast and bacteria at the cellular level, where elemental composition can be analyze with very little ambiguity or error. He saw the same lack of material balance as was seen when chickens were studied. He also found that if a yeast sample is denied an element needed for life, let's say potassium, when an analysis is made later, potassium is found to be present! Where did it come from?

The Russians made a similar study in a very clever way. They found a bacterium that will grow in heavy water (D2O). This bacterium was then grown in heavy water with some manganese sulfate. The intent was to see if deuterium would go into the nucleus of manganese to produce iron-57. The problem was to detect iron-57. They very cleverly used the Mossbauer Effect, which allowed iron-57 to be measured very accurately. They were able to watch as the amount of iron-57 increased as the bacteria grew. This isotope of iron could only be generated when manganese and deuterium were both present along with growing bacteria. The evidence is overwhelming that living organisms can in fact, initiate nuclear reactions.

Wow that's quite bizarre.
Yes, the implications are really staggering, and what's worse, it really challenges a person's ability to keep an open-mind. Nevertheless, evidence is growing.

What are your hopes and expectations for the field?
I fully expect it to be accepted in the not too distant future. But acceptance will be a gradual process, as information and the reality become known to more people. We're doing everything we can to make the evidence known. A big step in this direction is the creation of the website at on which most information about the subject can be found. Gradually, people will see that money can be made using cold fusion. Companies will begin to make something useful that they can sell. Once that happens, development will be rapid.

So it first needs to be accepted by venture capitalists?
All new phenomena are always misinterpreted at the beginning because information and claims are too confusing. The only way such confusion is eliminated is by further study, but that costs money. In the absence of money, progress can be very slow. That's been the case with cold fusion - so far. Once people come to the conclusion that cold fusion is in fact real, that it is worthy of study, and can be used to make money, then large amounts of money will start pouring into its study. After that, understanding will develop very rapidly. Venture capitalists who see the truth before the reality is commonly known will make a lot more money than the skeptics who wait until the reality is obvious to everyone.

What do you think of the fact that few businesses or governments are interested at this time?
That's because it's still too young for many people to accept its reality. For example, when the transistor was discovered, when the Wright brothers flew their airplane, when atomic energy was discovered, large numbers of people didn't accept the ideas. On the other hand, a few people did accept the ideas and these people made millions as a result. A sorting-out process always occurs initially. As for cold fusion, a number of individuals, companies, and nations are in the process of arranging to make a lot of money and, in the process, solve a lot of problems for everyone.

Cold fusion research has gone through some drastic changes since it was first announced. How have you seen it change over the years?
In 1989 at Los Alamos (Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico) where I worked, the lab almost came to a standstill because so many people took time off from their regular tasks to study cold fusion. Hundreds of people were working on the cold fusion project. The auditorium would be packed with individuals who were interested in learning about the subject or doing experiments. The director of the laboratory at the time remarked, "This is absolutely amazing, physicists and chemists are actually talking to each other. This hasn't happened since the war years!" This approach was occurring in many nations all over the world. Experiments were being done everywhere, but unfortunately very few of these succeeded. Three groups succeeded at LANL and I was one of them. When a person sees the process happen, and finds no error, that's pretty doggoned good proof that its real. Because it is real, I didn't want to do anything else. But then, the US government put the brakes on future studies and work in the US almost stopped. However, it did not stop in other countries. Thanks to work done elsewhere, the field is slowly being accepted in the US.

What did you find that persuaded you to the reality of cold fusion?  We looked for the production of tritium in a Pons-Fleischmann electrolytic cell. Tritium is one of the by-products of a fusion reaction. Three main by-products of a fusion reaction occur: helium-4, tritium with a proton, and helium-3 with a neutron. Later, I looked for and found the heat signature.

Tritium is a gas, correct?
Yes, tritium is an isotope of hydrogen. In all of its chemical properties, it's just like hydrogen, but with some small differences because it has a different mass. Tritium is also radioactive. As a little background, hydrogen has three isotopes: Protium, which is ordinary hydrogen, the basis of water; deuterium, which is a proton and a neutron stuck together; and tritium, which is a proton with two neutrons. Deuterium is a non-radioactive isotope that occurs as one part in six thousand in ordinary water. Methods are presently available to separate it from water in large amounts and at low cost. The presence of tritium is not natural because half of it decays away every 12.3 years. So, any significant amount of tritium that's on earth has to result from some man-made event, like atomic bomb tests - or cold fusion.

So the amount of tritium in the atmosphere is well known and can be measured with a Geiger counter?
You can't detect it with a Geiger counter because the beta particle produced during its decay is too weak. However, other techniques for measuring its presence are available. And yes, the amount in the atmosphere is known, but it's a trivial amount.

Could you define the term "background" as it is used in science?
"Background" is the amount of a material or radiation that exists under normal conditions. There's always a certain amount of everything in the background. All experiments are always evaluated with respect to a change from the background. I was working in a group at LANL where tritium was well understood. If tritium were detected, we knew it could only have occurred in the cells after being generated by some abnormal nuclear reaction within the cells. We took great pains to prove that the tritium was not coming from any other source.

Chemical experiments do not normally generate tritium, do they?
Correct, tritium has to be produced by nuclear reaction. Out of about 200 attempts made at LANL, 13 successfully made tritium. Unfortunately, we could not determine at the time why the 13 were successful. Now the reason for success is much better understood.

You saw tritium far above the background?
Yes, very far above background, which is a little higher around Los Alamos than in other geographical regions. However, the background was trivial compared to the concentration in the cells. We established, using a number of different techniques that this tritium could not have come from any other source except from a nuclear reaction within the cells.

How does one measure tritium in a sealed container?
We extracted a small amount of fluid from the cell using a hypodermic needle, which was passed through the lid in the top of the cell. This fluid was then mixed with a scintillation fluid. Scintillation fluid is an organic compound that gives off light when a beta particle generated by the decaying tritium passes through it. Next, the mixture is placed in a machine that can detect the very small amount of generated light. The number of light flashes is measured over a known interval of time. Because the decay rate of tritium is known very well, the amount of tritium required to cause the observed number of light flashes can be calculated.

Do you also use a mass spectrometer to confirm that the sample is tritium?
No, the mass spectrometer is difficult to use and not as sensitive as the scintillation method.

How would someone interested in cold fusion research authenticate their results if they don't have the scintillator and photomultiplier tools to measure the presence of tritium?
Cold fusion provides several products to show its presence; excess energy, helium-4, tritium, electromagnetic radiation, energetic particles, and elements normally absent from the apparatus. Tritium is only made occasionally. However, reactions involving deuterium normally generate helium-4, and of course, they always generate heat. So for diagnostic purposes, the two best tools are a calorimeter to measure heat energy and a mass spectrometer to measure helium-4. Many people are now searching for and finding various kinds of radiation and elements resulting from transmutation. However, this work requires very special tools and skill.

I understand that calorimetry is essential in cold fusion research.  Can you tell me about the calorimeter?
A calorimeter is a thermally isolated container designed to restrict flow of heat from a cell placed within its interior. Heat flow is detected in various ways as it passes from the cell to a stable sink for heat energy. This process allows heat produced from within the cell to be measured after the device is calibrated using a known source of heat energy. During a cold fusion study, the amount of energy going into the container is known. The calorimeter allows heat leaving to be measured. The difference, if any, is the anomalous energy being sought.

It would seem to me that obtaining tools for accurate measurement of experimental observations may form a significant barrier to entry for the casual cold fusion researcher.  Is this so?
Yes, this kind of study cannot be done in a trivial way and still be useful. First of all, the diagnostic tools are not available at Wal-Mart, like a thermometer for example. A person must have tools that are quite sophisticated and therefore fairly expensive. On the other hand, creating the material that will become nuclear active has been the greatest challenge. Even though I have really fantastic tools, getting a sample to actually produce something strange is the challenge. However, this is becoming less of a problem because we now know how to initiate the reactions with greater frequency.

What are your personal hopes and expectations for your activities in the field?
I expect that this field, this phenomenon, will be accepted and I expect that once it's accepted, I will continue to contribute to it in a meaningful way, perhaps even being paid to do the studies.

It must be quite challenging when most of the world, and academia in particular, doesn't appreciate the work that you do.
It's more challenging for some people than for others. Some people in this field have paid a really high price. Profs. Pons and Fleischmann are the most prominent examples, but a number of other people have also suffered, both financially and in terms of their careers. In my case, I have been one of the lucky ones. Without having to pay any such "price", I've managed to continue investigating a phenomenon that is really fascinating and to participate in a process that I enjoy.

I'm glad to hear that not all cold fusion researchers have been tried for heresy.  At least some of your colleagues must have thought you lost your mind by pursuing this work?
Oh yes, but I have two advantages. One is that I worked at a national laboratory that used to be much more open-minded than a typical university. Many universities are very closed minded when it comes to new ideas, in spite having the myth of generating and supporting new ideas. I retired from LANL, not because of the way I was treated with respect to cold fusion, but because of changes in laboratory policy restricting research in general. Being retired has the additional advantage that my career does not depend on what my colleagues think of me.

At this point in history, is the study of cold fusion still a pursuit that needs be kept hidden from mainstream colleagues?
Yes, that's a situation that applies to the development of many new ideas. New ideas seldom get developed within the mainstream. The mainstream generally fights new ideas tooth and nail.

You recently wrote that "Until the nature of the real world, in contrast to the ideal imagined world, is addressed by theory, the field will continue to stagnate". Can you tell me more?
This statement was in the context of cold fusion theory. A lot of people are trying to explain the mechanism that allows cold fusion to work. This has been a challenge because the behavior violates our understanding of accepted rules. Unfortunately, people tend to choose the data that best fits their imagined model rather than attempting to understand how nature really behaves.

Does the current notion of cold fusion violate any laws or theories of physics?
No law is violated, but the present theories do not adequately explain the observations. Most theories that apply to the fusion process are based on how fusion behaves when the deuterium nuclei are brought together with great energy. These models do not apply to the situation existing in the cold fusion environment. So, a person would conclude that cold fusion behaves in a way that is totally unexpected and is totally inexplicable in terms of what we presently know. A few people are expanding on what is known and may, by this process, explain the behavior. However, our understanding is still a long way from being satisfactory. I expect some really new approaches will be required.

Are you saying our understanding about chemistry is a long way from being satisfactory?
No, our understanding of nuclear interactions and the chemical environment in which they occur.

Can you tell me more about this?
For a nuclear interaction to take place, the two nuclei have to overcome a repulsion that exists between them. This repulsion is called the Coulomb barrier, and it exists because all nuclei have positive charges. Positive charges naturally repel each other. This barrier has been overcome by brute force in the past. Two nuclei are brought together with sufficient energy that the barrier is simply penetrated--blasted through.

Is this process of bringing two nuclei together typically performed in the Tokamak machine?
Yes, the Tokamak is designed to provide enough energy to overcome the Coulomb barrier and allow a fusion reaction to take place.

For the layperson, is the concept of the Coulomb barrier similar to when a person takes two magnets and pushes each of their "north" ends together?
Yes, the closer the magnets get, the harder they push apart. The same thing happens with respect to the nucleus.

How much energy is generally used to overcome the repulsion?
The energies are usually talked about in terms of MeVs or temperatures, while the pressures are kept low to permit the gas to be ionized. About 0.001 MeV is generally sufficient to produce a detectable fusion reaction. However, the problem is not to get the fusion reaction to start, which is easy, the problem is to make it happen at a rate sufficient to generate energy faster than it is being used by the machine. This break-even point has not yet been achieved. As a result, the temperature in the Tokamak must be much higher. The other problem is to maintain these conditions for sufficient time. This requirement has also been difficult to achieve. Of course, using a higher temperature maintained for a longer time will subject the machine to additional wear and tear that will shorten its life. This problem has not yet been solved.

And what kind of results do they get with these Tokamak reactors?
Tokamaks can produce a lot of energy, in fact many megawatts for a short time. The problem is that the energy output isn't as much as it takes to generate the required temperature and magnetic forces to create the effect. The machine would have to generate more energy than is put into it for there to be any leftover to be useful.

How long have they been working with Tokamaks?
The Tokamak itself is relatively new and is based on a Russian approach. But work on causing fusion using a plasma is over 50 years old now. A big program existed at Los Alamos for many years. Several methods can be made to work. A plasma can be contained by a magnetic field, that's what the Tokamak does, or a laser can be used. The laser light hits a small particle of deuterium or tritium and creates a brief high temperature plasma, which then causes the fusion reaction.

Aren't these Tokamak devices quite large, something on the scale of a small house?
Oh yes, they're huge, complex, and expensive. We're talking about multiple millions of dollars for one of these machines. And in addition to that problem, a significant power source is required to just get it started. A large staff of people is required to keep it running. However, these research machines are small compared to the size they would be if the method were actually used for producing useful power. If a Tokamak reactor were made big enough to supply power in a practical way, it would have to be huge.

Does all of this that we've been speaking about in the last few minutes fall under the general category of "Hot Fusion"?
Right. In contrast, cold fusion would have a useful size that would be perhaps as large as your refrigerator. Such a device would supply all the heat and electricity your home would need for the next 10 years. When the deuterium was used up, someone would come in and take out the "core" and put in a new one. You would then have power for another ten years.

I am curious what your comments might be relative to the business and legal aspects of cold fusion. Once cold fusion is understood and controlled, is it likely that it will be considered an aspect of nature and will, therefore, be unpatentable?
First of all, you can forget about patents. If a person attempts to write a patent at this time, it will be so wrong and so confused that it will be impossible to reduce to practice. Even though you might in fact have a patent, it would have little legal standing, expect perhaps to satisfy a venture capitalist who doesn't know any better. In the real world, patents obtained early in this field are totally worthless. The important patents will be the ones that come after the phenomenon is better understood so that the patent can describe a working application. Right now, few of the patents I have read can be reduced to practice using information in the patent.

Would the concept here be akin to the fact that we cannot patent "fire", but we can patent, say, an internal combustion engine which uses fire to create power?
Yes, that's correct. The original patent that Pons and Fleischmann wrote, which would be the "grandfather" of the field, unfortunately is null and void. It was rejected by the Patent Office (USA). One million dollars was spent trying to get it approved and it was turned down every single time. It would have required yet another million to go to district court and prove that the patent office was acting illegally and inappropriately with respect to its own rules. No one had that amount of money. Furthermore, even if the patent had been granted, it would have been of limited use because it was so poorly written. About 350 to 400 cold fusion patents are still in the queue at the patent office in the process of being rejected. Most of these, and I have read many of them, I suspect are absolutely useless. One of these days, the patent office is going to have a real problem in sorting through this list. They generated an enormous backlog of applicants who have been treated very badly. Because of this, I suspect the patent office is going to be in court and have problems for years. The patent office has created a monster.

My understanding is that currently the USA patent office is categorically rejecting any application that even resembles cold fusion.  
Yes, that's true, but with a few recent exceptions. Sooner or later somebody will prove that cold fusion is real so that the patent office can no longer reject the idea. They will have to go back and re-examine all the applications in terms of this realization. How will they do that? What kind of process will they use? What happens when somebody who was denied a patent can show that their patent had validity and that they lost money because of an illegal rejection?

Has this ever happened before?  Who does the patent office answer to?  
They don't appear to answer to anyone directly.

There must be many people in our government who are well connected to the oil industry who would be very unhappy should something like cold fusion become available.  
It doesn't take a conspiracy to explain the rejection of cold fusion. All it takes is a "common self-interest". For example, let's say you and I are in two different businesses. You're selling automobiles and I'm selling refrigerators. A phenomena or device is generated that would cause fewer of your cars and fewer of my refrigerators to be sold. We would not have to sit down together and agree to stop the device from being developed. It would be natural for each of us, on our own, to reject the new device. That's the nature of a common self-interest. This process drives most rejections. No conspiracy is required. Unfortunately, many industries would be damaged by cold fusion. That is why it's called a disruptive technology.

Do you think there is a repression of cold fusion information by government authorities?
No, you can't repress knowledge. You can, however, repress any implementation of that knowledge by denying money, but you can't repress knowledge itself. The only way the flow of knowledge is stopped is to claim that the knowledge is flawed, or is based upon deceit or ignorance. In this way, the value of the knowledge is diminished. That's what the government and certain other powers have done to knowledge about cold fusion. They say that the knowledge is based on pathological science, that it's not real, and that it's based upon people's imagination. They generate a mythology to make the knowledge seem worthless. Knowledge is being made available in spite of these efforts.

Technologies that are too disruptive to a country do exist and a government might act wisely in delaying their use. This delay can give society and industry time to adjust. We have had time to adjust to the idea of cold fusion in the US, but other countries are going ahead anyway. There will come a time when a dramatic development will be announced by another country, perhaps Japan. Unless we in the US are educated about the subject, we will be left out in the cold when the technology is developed.

For example, at Mitsubishi Heavy Industry in Japan, people are working on cold fusion. Their results have been reported at cold fusion meetings and their results are extraordinary. They are willing to tell the world what they are doing and part of their discoveries. They are also very clearly on a path to eventual solution of this riddle and its commercial development. When they solve the riddle, we in the US will be in trouble.

This field is outside of normal understanding and no school teaches cold fusion. Consequently, technicians and scientists are not available who understand all of the implications. Very few people in this country could even write an intelligent proposal. The Japanese are training these technicians and scientists. When they find a way of making the process work on a commercial scale, they will have people available to advance the effort very quickly. For example, someday they may announce to the world, "We have developed an automobile that runs on heavy water for ten years and does not need gasoline". If the US continues to ignore the phenomenon, we will not have the scientists needed to develop a similar product when this time comes.

So it seems that one of the greatest challenges for our future may be the lack of scientists trained in both chemistry and physics?  
That's correct, it's a broad multi-disciplinary phenomenon. A person trained only in physics wouldn't have the faintest idea how this process works. Training in chemistry helps. At least such a person can understand the environment a little better. Training in material science, electrical engineering, and, in some cases, electrochemistry is important.

My guess is that it would take an experienced scientist perhaps five to ten years to get the cross-training they would need?  
Yes, it would take them quite a while. Because schools do not teach the subject, on-the-job training is required, as is happening in Japan and in other countries. Once such an industry discovers how to manufacture these energy sources, it will have available a large number of skilled people and an infrastructure to train more.

I understand that Mitsubishi has an internship program that includes cold fusion research.  Is this the only known company with such a program?  
No, Canon is also doing work and has some patents. The Japanese government, unlike the US, has been granting patents for years.

It seems like the US may have a big wake-up call on its way
Oh yes, in addition to quite a few other wake-up calls that are on the horizon right now.

There was one more question I had relating to the business side of cold fusion. I suspect that once cold fusion is recognized and is of interest to the general public, we can expect to see a wide range of fraud and hucksters as well as valid business activity. Do you think the distinction between fraudulent and valid cold fusion activity and development will be clear?  
No, I expect a significant amount of fraud. First of all, it is the nature of humanity to deceive. You can see this process operating on the Internet and in advertising for many products. Wherever there's ambiguity or uncertainty, some people will attempt to make money at another person's expense. Cold fusion will offer fertile ground for fraud to grow because a clear understanding does not exist. And even when that understanding becomes sufficient to start generating money in an honest way, that knowledge will be known only by a specific industry or group of people. The ordinary person will still be ten years in the past in terms of their understanding. They'll be easy prey when somebody comes in and says, "Hey I've got this figured out, I've got a device - see this little box - it's got a cold fusion thing in it and its making all this energy and I just need some money". You'll see lots of that kind of pitch. Of course, promoters will provide an explanation of how the device works, but people still won't have any understanding of whether it's real or not.

How will people sort out the frauds from the real stuff?  
Like anything, a person has to ask people who know something about the subject. Unfortunately, very few experts exist in the cold fusion field.

Can you help me construct simple descriptions of each of the known methods of LENR?  
The electrolytic method, as used by Pons and Fleischmann, is the most widely studied. This method requires two electrodes of any metal and a solution of lithium in heavy-water (D2O). One of the electrodes is usually platinum and the other is palladium. These are called precious metals or noble metals, and are commonly used in jewelry or as catalysts in the chemical industry. The metals look like stainless steel, but they are very expensive.

Just how expensive would that be?  
Palladium recently was about $500 per ounce and platinum about $800 per ounce. For perspective, they are usually significantly more valuable than gold. Heavy-water is also required as the electrolyte. This compound is available from a chemical supply house and costs about $1 per gram. Lithium is added to the heavy-water to make a conductive liquid, called an electrolyte. The process of passing an electric current through the electrolyte is called electrolysis.

Passing current between the electrodes causes the heavy-water to decompose into deuterium gas and oxygen gas. When the palladium is the cathode (negative electrode), and platinum is the anode (positive electrode), deuterium gas forms on the palladium surface and slowly reacts with the metal, forming a compound called a hydride. In addition, complex alloys of various elements plate on the surface of the palladium. This surface layer, which is also a hydride, is believed to be the environment in which the nuclear reactions occur.

To help with the terminology, can we say that the negative and positive terminals on any battery are conceptually the same as a cathode and anode?
Yes, just remember that the palladium is the negative electrode and platinum is positive in these experiments. While heavy-water is decomposing, deuterium gas forms at the cathode and oxygen bubbles off of the positive electrode (platinum). Normally, if the study is done correctly, a recombiner is present in the cell. This catalyst causes the gases to react and turn back into water. As a result, heavy-water is not lost.

Next let's discuss the Gas Loading technique
The gas loading technique is a lot simpler. Very finely divided palladium is used in a form of black powder that contains particles having nanometer dimensions.

Like dust? 
Actually a lot finer than dust. The particles are much smaller than the size of flour particles. The palladium particles can also be attached to an inert material, such as charcoal. Because charcoal has a very high surface area, many very fine particles of palladium can be retained. The first method, (powder) was developed by Dr. Arata (Japan) and the second method (charcoal) was used by Dr. Case (USA).

I'm still a bit fuzzy on this gas loading process. How do you get the palladium powder to stick to the carbon? Well you have to be a little clever. The charcoal is soaked in a solution of palladium chloride, which is absorbed onto the charcoal. Upon drying, very small particles of palladium chloride deposit all over the charcoal surface. Heating in hydrogen at about 100°converts all of the PdCl2 to very small particles of palladium metal. After purifying the material in vacuum, exposure to deuterium gas creates the environment for a nuclear reaction to occur in the small palladium particles. However, the method has been difficult to replicate because the small particles must have certain characteristics that are not yet understood.

There's a term that I've heard you use, Nuclear Active Environment, does this term apply to each of the 4 methods?  
Yes. The nuclear active environment is the location in which the nuclear reactions occur. It is the very special chemical and physical environment required to initiate a nuclear reaction. The nature of this environment is still a mystery. People are just beginning to understand where to look for this environment and explore its complex nature.

Of course when you say that you get more energy out than what you put in, you mean more than what you are aware that you put in, right?  It's not that you are proposing to break the law of conservation of energy, but you are presuming that it is coming from somewhere, just an unknown source, right?
A nuclear reaction is generating the energy. As a result, helium and other elements are being formed and deuterium is being lost.

So you are not saying the energy is just coming out of thin air?  
No. It's coming from well known and well understood nuclear reactions. The source is well understood. What isn't understood is the mechanism of how the nuclear reactions are made to happen under the circumstances.

Let's go on to the last cold fusion method, the sonic method
The sonic method uses intense sound created within heavy-water. The sound causes bubbles to form and when they collapse on a piece of palladium metal; they inject deuterium ions into the metal. As these ions accumulate, they eventually create a nuclear active environment. This method has also been difficult to replicate.


Edmund Storms obtained a Ph.D. in radiochemistry from Washington University (St. Louis) and is retired from the Los Alamos National Laboratory after thirty-four years of service. His work there involved basic research in the field of high temperature chemistry as applied to materials used in nuclear power and propulsion reactors, including studies of the "cold fusion" effect. Over seventy reviewed publications and monographs resulted from this work, as well as several books, all describing an assortment of material properties. He presently lives in Santa Fe where he is investigating the "cold fusion" effect in his own laboratory. These studies have resulted in sixteen presentations to various conferences including the American Chemical Society and American Physical Society.  In addition, twenty-one papers have been published in 1991, 1996 and 1998, including three complete scientific reviews of the field.  A critical evaluation of the Pons-Fleischmann Effect was published in 2000. In May 1993, he was invited to testify before a congressional committee about the "cold fusion" effect. In 1998, Wired magazine honored him as one of 25 people who are making significant contributions to new ideas.