Douglas R.O. Morrison's Cold Fusion News
No. 17—16 July 1989

Back to Morrison Index

(Source: New Energy Times)
Dear E632 and WA84 Collaborators,


1. Introduction
2. LEP Start up
3. United States DOE Panel gives Interim Report
3.1 General
3.2 Calorimetry
3.3 Fusion Products
3.4 A Comment from Utah
4. Funding in Utah
5. More News of Tritium Discoveries in Texas - Editorial in Nature
6. Other Items
6.1 Situation in Utah
6.2 Brazil
6.3 Search for Neutrons at Sandia
6.4 Bursts of Neutrons at Los Alamos


After many years work, the Large Electron-Positron Collider, LEP at CERN, started its tests on the 14 July as scheduled and a positron beam was able to circulate round the entire 27 km ring.

The panel set up by DOE has issued an interim report. Essentially it said that there was no good evidence that cold fusion could produce a useful source of energy and hence there should be no major funding for it. Some things were not understood and a modest amount of financing would be acceptable - but on the basis of competitive proposals.


On Friday, July 14, positrons were injected for the first time into the LEP storage ring. This ring is about 27 km in circumference and is about 100 metres underground. The injection from the SPS accelerator, began at 15.30 and went round to the first luminescent screen and was seen and the screen was lowered, then to the second screen where it was seen and that screen was lowered and so on. There was so little difficulty that by 16.30 the positrons were able to go all the way round! Considering the number of components and the precision required, it is a remarkable achievement. By now 16 turns have been achieved. The beam is about a few times ten to the nineth.

The aim is to accelerate simultaneously intense electron and positron beams to about 50 GeV and make them collide to produce Z-zero particles. SLAC has just given its first physics result from its electron-positron collider, that the mass of the Z0 is 91.2 +/- 0.4 GeV - this is almost an order of magnitude more precise than the previous value.

At present the LEP schedule is to continue commissioning until early August when there will be a three day test run of the four LEP experiments, then more commissioning until September when it is hoped to start full physics runs.

(By 17 July improvements have been made to the SPS and 30 turns have been made).


3.1 General

The US Department of Energy had asked a 22-member committee to report on Cold Fusion. The Co-chairs are a nuclear chemist, John R. Huizenga and a physicist, Norman Ramsey. They have issued a preliminary report (ahead of their own schedule) on July 12 (sorry for the delay but I finally took a day off to ski on the Mont Fort glacier above Verbier, also we are starting another test run of our WA84 scintillating fibres). The report said;

"the experiments reported to date do not present convincing evidence that useful sources of energy will result from the phenomena attributed to cold fusion".

"evidence for the discovery of a new nuclear process termed cold fusion is not presuasive"

"no special programs to establish cold fusion research centers or to support new efforts to find cold fusion are justified at the present time." The panel distinguished between the excess heat ["Fleischmann-Pons effect", my comments are in brackets] claiming production of relatively large amounts of heat(some Watts), and the reports of production of small amounts of fusion products or of very small amounts of heat (it was recalled that one Watt corresponded to about 1 E12 neutrons).

The panel said that to clear up conflicting results and for general scientific interest, some experiments should continue, but suggested three conditions; (1) the funding be modest, (2) it should be on the basis of competitive proposals [which implies that you have to explain what you have done and what you intend to do] (3) co-operation between labs is encouraged, (4) for calorimetry, the use of closed calorimeters is encouraged

3.2 Calorimetry

The panel wrote that Calorimetry was difficult and its analysis complicated. They recommended that closed cells be used where there were fewer uncertainties rather than open cells (where the D2 and O2 gases escape) [claims of excess heat have only come from open cells]. "In none of our visits to the different sites did we see an operating cell that was actually producing excess heat" [the sites included Utah and Texas A&M].

"However there are reports of sporadic temperature 'excursions' or 'bursts' that apparently represent power outputs significantly larger than the input power. These.....are not at present understood".

The panel recommended some research to "resolve some of the claims and counter claims in calorimetry .....supported at a modest level" of funding, but "against any significant expenditure".

3.3 Fusion products

Neutrons - "Although many experimenters report no neutrons, some report as many as one neutron per second". As this is 1 E-12 Watts "it is of no interest as a practical energy source".

Tritium - "Numerous experimenters"... "have found no excess tritium". "one group reports finding up to 1 E14 tritium atoms". In similar cells they find about one neutron per second; this is about 1 E10 less than expected.

Helium - "None of the researchers to date ...have reported 3He or 4He above the detectable level of 1 E9 atoms".

Volcanoes - Some groups are looking for tritium from volcanoes as it has been suggested cold fusion could produce this.

The panel recommended (1) some experiments to check claims of excess tritium (2) some studies of other fusion products for reasons "of general scientific interest" (3) when experiments searching for excess heat are being performed, some simultaneous monitoring for fusion products should be done. All these experiments should be modest in funding.

3.4 A Comment from Utah

The New York Times followed its excellent tradition of not just copying press releases, but of contacting other sources to obtain balancing comments. Thus they quote "In a telephone interview, Dr. James Brophy, director of research at the University of Utah, dismissed the panel's findings, saying he was confident cold fusion was real."


The University of Utah had asked Congress for $25 million to start a new centre to study cold fusion. It was already considered that such money would not be given - the DOE report should make it definitive. The Utah legislature had set aside $5 million for such studies and recently hearings had started to release the money as the Governor believed that there was adequate confirmation of the original work of Fleischmann and Pons. Confirmation hearings have started. It is most surprising that of 11 July, no one from Brigham Young University in Utah had been asked to give evidence although they were well known to have worked on the question for the past three years and Steve Jones gave evidence to Congress. Let us hope that the fact that Steve testified that although he considered his group had observed some neutrons, he did not believe that practical energy could result from this work as the flux of neutrons was many orders of magnitude too low .


Prof. Bockris has sent me many comments about the situation and also a preprint by Kevin Wolf's group, Packham et al. on "The observation of tritium production during electrolysis of heavy water samples using palladium wires". This paper reports measurements of samples of the electrolyte with liquid scintillators - these measurements were confirmed by five other labs. The counting rates varied, the highest being 4.9 E 6 counts per min per ml. which corresponded to a production of 1 E 10 atoms of tritium per second. If this were fusion according to the reaction

d + d ---> t + p +4.02 MeV (1)

it would correspond to 2 milliwatts. It would be expected that the reaction

d + d ---> 3He + n (2)

would produce equal amounts of neutrons, i.e. 1 E 10 per second. No measurements of neutrons of this cell are reported. However measurements are reported for two other cells which gave lower tritium counting rates, 1.2 E 5 and 1.95 E 2 which is three orders of magnitude lower - these measurements are 0.8 neutrons per second. It is not commented upon that these measurements are completely inconsistent with one another.

It is commented that the tritium rate equivalent to 2 milliwatt is 2 E-4 less than the 4 watts claimed from calorimetric measurements, but it is suggested that the difference escaped as gas. Unfortunately no measurements are given to justify this hypothesis. Again it is speculated that tritium only forms on the surface of denderites - but for an unexplained reason, the cathodes of these cells were not examined to correlate denderite formation with the highly variable amount of tritium observed.

A new word is introduced the "sporadicity" of the effect, but no statistical analysis of the evidence is presented.

If the 4 Watts came from dd fusion giving tritium, then I warned Prof. Bockris that one would expect a lethal dose of neutrons. He says that this is not so and Kevin Wolf will sent me calculations to show this. They are awaited with interest.

Thus in conclusion, there are tantalising results on tritium measurements, but all the measurements given are wildly inconsistent. Again as Texas A&M is a very well-equipped university, it would be great if they could do one really careful experiment where everything was measured simultaneously and then publish.

In Nature dated 6 July, the front cover says "No evidence for Cold Fusion Neutrons" (this refers to the paper by Gai et al.) and inside John Maddox discusses the evidence concluding "end of cold fusion in sight". He also comments on the controversy about the gamma measurements claimed by Fleischmann and Pons and doubted by Petrasso et al. of MIT who concluded that their gamma spectrum is an artifact. It is interesting to look up in a dictionary the various definitions of "artifact".

Prof. Bockris objects strongly to this editorial in Nature and has sent me a copy of a letter he has written to John Maddox. He has also made a list of experiments giving positive results. This was before the DOE panel's report, but it is doubtful if this will change believers opinions.

Am told informally that the circulation of Nature has increased since cold fusion began on March 23 [have ordered it myself]. It would be interesting to see a graph of the circulation as a function of time


6.1 Situation in Utah

Have received mail about the situation in Utah. Apparently large sections of the population believe that the energy problem has been solved and cold fusion will be developed in Utah to produce power economically. Again this shows the great power of the media and the need for responsible Science reporting where the reporter does not simply reproduce what he is told uncritically, but checks with other experts.

6.2 Brazil

I had been informed that in Brazil, a hot fusion group had interupted their work to study cold fusion. I tried to check this with my Brazilian neighbours, but was only told that there were experiments being done. I am now informed by Prof. Nacimento that it was not the tokamak group, but another group in Brazil.

Prof. Thome of COPPE in Rio has given me a list of four groups who are doing research in cold fusion. Some have found intriguing results and are continuing.

6.3 Search for Neutrons at Sandia

Dick Garwin has told me of a paper submitted to Fusion Technology by Schirber et al. of Sandia National Laboratories, entitled "Search for Cold Fusion in High Pressure D2 Loaded Ti and Pd Metal and Hydride". No clearly identified neutron excess was observed above a background of 10 counts per hour (the lab was underground). They specially searched for bursts of neutrons. They conclude "It should be stressed that without neutron counter redundancy, reports of the irreproducible generation of neutrons, including bursts, should be treated with great skepticism". This is what several other workers have emphasised - some times one counter gives strange results (especially BF3 counters). It is important to design the experiment to check for this and not to rush into publication.

6.4 Bursts of Neutrons at Los Alamos

In connection with the Sandia results, Dick Garwin has been asking some pertinent questions of Dr. Menlove but has not had a reply yet. I have heard from Stuart Taylor, a colleague of Steve Jones who is collaborating with Dr. Menlove, that they are finally doing the experiment with normal H2O. Hope they obtain the results before they get the proofs from Nature.

Douglas R. O. Morrison.