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?
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.LENR-CANR.org 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
So it first needs to be accepted by venture
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
Tritium is a gas,
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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?
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
Is this process of bringing two nuclei
together typically performed in the Tokamak machine?
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 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
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
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
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
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?
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
Has this ever happened before? Who does the
patent office answer to?
They don't appear to answer to anyone
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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,
A nuclear reaction is generating the energy. As a result,
helium and other elements are being formed and deuterium is being
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
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.