Cold Fusion News
No. 18—30 July 1989

Back to Morrison Index

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


1. Introduction and Summary
2. Karlsruhe Experiments
3. Search for Fusion products in the Lab of Prof. Pons
4. Sandia Experiments
5. CalTech Experiments
6. Utah gives $4.5 million for Cold Fusion
7. Is Cold Fusion Dead?
8. Other Items

LEP and Z0 News


In the Lab of Prof. Pons in Utah there is a table on top of which are some of his electrolytic cells which are at times considered to be "active". Below the table are neutron and X-ray detectors. In a first summary of their results, they find no evidence for nuclear products of fusion.

At the large Nuclear Research Centre at Karlruhe a series of high quality and careful experiments have been done, in particular calorimetry with a closed cell. No evidence for cold fusion was found. The Institute has now stopped all activities concerning Cold Fusion

Papers from the Sandia National Labs have now been received. No neutrons were found.

Despite the recommendations of the DOE panel not to fund any large scale research on cold fusion, the State of Utah has released the rest of the $5 million set aside for Cold Fusion. Details of the State Advisory Panel attitudes make fascinating reading and help to make the decision understandable.

Is Cold Fusion Dead? - some people think so, some not, out of the very roughly 500 million people who have heard of it and of Fleischmann and Pons. This many-sided question is discussed.

The new LEP colliding rings are being steadily prepared for operation in August to provide Z0 particles copiously. Meanwhile both SLAC and Fermilab have given impressive new values for the Z0 mass.


Prof. Dr. B. Zeitnitz has sent me an interim report on a series of experiments performed by different groups of experiments at the Kernforschungszentrum at Karlsruhe. It is the largest such research centre in West Germany, larger than DESY, for example. The experiments have been carefully performed and are a tribute to the legendary thoroughness of German research.

Calorimetric measurements were made using closed cells which is the best way as many rather doubtful corrections and assumptions are avoided. The D2 and O2 were fully recombined in the cell, so there was no need to add D2O liquid (this is a worrying feature in many experiments {e.g. Fleischmann and Pons} where the liquid level decreases and is refilled at intervals, sometimes as long as two days. A direct comparison was made of D2O and H2O by using two cells simultaneously with the same current passing through both cells. An upper limit for heat generation of 0.3 Watts was found where the heat dissipation was 10 to 30 Watts. Thus this result is in serious disagreement with those of Fleischmann and Pons and of the Texas group and since it was performed in a closed cell, it is a better experiment. It confirms the result of the British Columbia group who also used a closed cell.

Neutron measurements were made under a variety of conditions. Firstly an attempt was made to reproduce the Fleischmann and Pons conditions by placing three electrolytic cells in a well of 43 counters using 3He. An upper limit of 0.07 neutrons per second was found - much less than Fleischmann and Pons claimed.

Three experiments were done to reproduce the conditions of Scaramuzzi et al. with pressurised metal systems. Ti and Pd rods, Ti-sponge, Ti-shavings, and a Vanadium single crystal were used. Degassing, deuterium loading, cooling to liquid nitrogen temperature and warming up were employed. The upper limits obtained are 0.04, 0.6, and 0.5 neutrons per second and these are at least three orders of magnitude less than reported by Frascati. Having many counters operating simultaneously is a great advantage, and one of the groups comments, "based on a long experience, we are aware of the extreme sensitivity of neutron monitors to various disturbances (moisture at insulators, ground loops etc.) causing spurious pulses." "We are suspicious that some positive indications of neutron emission in connection with cold fusion are due to spurious signals of the neutron monitors".


Limits on Neutron, Gamma, Electron, and Proton Emissions from "Cold Fusion" Cells in the Laboratory of Prof. Pons.

For over one month M. H. Salamon, E. Wrenn, and collaborators had a large NaI crystal (8" diameter by 4" thick) installed in laboratory of Prof. Pons where his cold fusion cells were operating. The detector was approx 1ft away from the cells, being underneath the table which held the water tank in which the cells were located. The efficiency (measured) for detecting a 1 MeV photon in the photopeak was 1.5x10**-3; this factor includes both the geometry factor (solid angle), intrinsic efficiency, photopeak fraction, and attenuation. Spectra were continuously accumulated with integration times of 30-60 minutes and stored on a PC. During this period we were informed at least twice that there was at least one "active" cell; during one of these times, the D2O electrolyte was personally observed to be boiling. Our discussion will focus on this episode, which lasted approx 2 hours (until the cell was turned off under Prof. Pons's instructions--this was to avoid a catastrophic event).

By comparing the spectra during "quiet" periods with that of the boiling episode, we are able to place limits on various nuclear by-products of the known fusion channels. For neutrons, we looked for an excess in the 2.2 MeV region of our spectrum (0 to 28.5 MeV) relative to background. In particular, we looked at the ratio of the 2.2 MeV region (which includes two background lines of Bi-214) to the 1.76 MeV Bi-214 line region; this ratio is insensitive to fluctuations in Rn concentration in the ambient air. With a NaI energy resolution of 9%/sqrt(E in MeV), we are able to place a limit of <600 neutrons per second being emitted during the boiling episode from the active cell based on the absence of any enhancement in the 2.2 MeV region. We also see no evidence of any new gamma lines that are not present during background runs; these are limited to well below 1 gamma/sec for energies above a few MeV coming from the active cell.

We also can eliminate the presence of internal conversion electrons. These would emit copious yields of bremsstrahlung radiation (the fractional radiation yield varies linearly with energy; at a kinetic energy of 4 MeV in water, with a range of 2 cm, the radiation yield is 1.68% of the total). After background subtraction, our residual counts at 1 MeV are over 8 orders of magnitude smaller than that predicted by the Bethe-Heitler cross-section.

We are confident, therefore, that if fusion is invoked to explain the boiling water episode, it cannot involve the emission of neutrons of any energy; it cannot involve a radiative (gamma) de-excitation mechanism; and, it cannot involve an internal conversion process. What is left is dd --> pt. However, we are now exploring whether this channel can also be ruled out by the NaI spectra. Assuming the proton may be treated as a Dirac particle, the Bethe-Heitler bremsstrahlung calculation may be applied to protons. This predicts a low-energy excess in our spectrum that is two orders of magnitude larger than that observed. This cannot be taken seriously at this point, however, because the B-H cross-section is calculated in the first Born approximation, which is not applicable for 3 MeV protons undergoing bremsstrahlung in Pd. We are in the process of searching the literature for such measurments; if none are available, we will have to measure them ourselves before we can rule out this last channel with certainty.

We have also searched for neutrons using U-235 foils sandwiched between polycarbonate plastic nuclear track detectors, these being placed in the water bath immediately adjacent to the operating cells. Neutrons captured by the U-235 induce fission; with very small but finite efficiency the fission daughters enter the plastic film, causing damage which can be microscopically detected after chemical processing (etching). Our neutron limit from these measurements is < 0.5 neutrons/sec emitted from a cell.

We have also looked for 21 keV X-rays from cells in the lab of Prof. Wadsworth who has an independent cold fusion lab. He has seen heat excursions beyond what chemistry can produce. We used a Si(Li) detector. We have yet seen any such X-rays. These K-alpha X-rays from Pd are created by the ionization of the 3 MeV proton as it slows within the Pd electrode. The production efficiency per proton is 10**-4. (This was first brought to our attention at the Sante Fe meeting by Ron Fleming and collaborators of U. of Michigan)

A final caveat: we have not yet been able to get hard numbers on the actual heat excess generated in the operational cold fusion cells as a function of time from the group of Prof. Pons; until we do so, one could argue that we had been observing for several weeks with non-operational cells, and so should have seen nothing.


In the previous notes, results from the Sandia National Laboratories were briefly mentioned. Dr. Schirber has now sent me two papers. The first is a test of the electrochemical cell results of Fleischmann and Pons, (using palladium) and of Jones et al. (using Titanium foil, sponge and pellet, various electrolytes including the so-called "Mother Earth" where a TiD2 pellet was used). The 22 counters using 3He were divided into three groups that can be recorded independently. This was important as on one occasion an apparent neutron emission event was observed in one system, but as it was not observed in the other two (as would be expected from the habit of neutrons to diffuse everywhere), this response cannot come from neutron emission but must be a spurious effect. Microphonics and internal discharges in the the detector system have been identified as possible causes of such spurious effects. Thus no effect is observed above a corrected background of 110 counts per hour. Since they ran for 10 to 20 hour time peroids, this means their upper limits were less than the positive values claimed by Jones et al. and the values of 875 counts per hour claimed by Bertin et al. in the Gran Sasso tunnel. This was the work of M. A. Butler et al.

In the second paper, J.E. Schriber et al. describe experiments where various Ti and Pd metal and hydride preparations were subjected to D2 gas loading at pressures up to 2.4 bar followed by temperature cycling - this to test the work of A De Ninno et al. at Frascati. Again no signal was observed over the background (corrected for efficiency of 9.2%) of 110 counts per hour, again much lower than the Frascati group data. They also looked for neutron bursts as had been reported by Menlove et al. in less than 0.128 seconds. Schriber et al. looked for single, double and triple coincidences over 1 sec time periods, and found no effect. Again the redundancy was important.


At the APS meeting in Baltimore, 1 and 2 May, the presentation of the CalTech results by Nathan Lewis was the most dramatic demonstration that the positive Cold Fusion results were probably mistaken. Now have just received the CalTech paper which has been accepted for publication in Nature. It is a serious document where the numerous experiments are well described. They conclude that "no evidence has been obtained for any excess enthalpy, neutron, gamma ray, tritium or helium production during electrolysis of D2O with palladium electrodes." As the results have been given previously, will only give the main ones. The 95% confidence upper limit for neutron production is 0.070 neutrons per second per cm3 of Pd or 1.5 E -24 fusions/dd pair/second (this is lower than the Jones et al. value but they were using Ti.) In the headspace a search was made for 4He and a Pd rod was melted and 3He and 4He from it were looked for - none found with an upper limit 30 to 300 times less than Walling and Simons claimed (J. Phys. Chem. 93(1989)4693). The calorimetry was done with a "constant temperature system with a well-defined heat loss rate to a constant temperature bath". After corrections they find agreement between the power in and the power out to better than 6%. They describe several subtle sources of possible error. With reference to the Huggins work at Stanford which depends on a temperature difference between D2O and H2O cells, they note that the interpretation is complicated by "known differences in heat capacity, thermal conductivity, thermal masses of the evolved gases, electrical conductivity, and resistivity of Pd rods in the light water vs heavy water solutions".


The DOE panel has issued an interim report saying that there was no good evidence that Cold Fusion could produce a useful source of energy and hence recommended that there should be no major funding. It might seem surprising that the Utah legislature should soon afterwards release the $5 million that it had set aside for cold fusion. This needs some explaining. It reflects the very special conditions in the State of Utah. Some quotations are given that may help some students of Life.

Immediately after the Fleischmann and Pons press conference on 23 March, the State legislature set aside $5 million for related research, this money to be released when confirmation had been obtained. The basic idea was that as Utah was economically depressed, one way out would be to make it a "Fusion Valley". At the beginning of July the Governor considered that there was enough confirmation and asked the Panel to release the money. The following is from the Salt Lake Tribune, Saturday, July 15, 1989;

State Fusion/Energy Advisory Council member Wilford Hansen, who has drawn criticism for asking for some of the money he was appointed to distribute, said Friday he is not planning to withdraw his request for $750,000 of the $5 million in state fusion money.

"I think they've made a mountain out of a molehill, but I guess that happens all the time," said Dr. Hansen, a physicist and chemist at USU. He joined with four other USU scientists in sending a letter to University of Utah officials requesting the money Monday, a day before the panel met to discuss funding.

"If any discussion comes up that involves any research of mine, and I doubt that it will, I'll excuse myself from that discussion," said Dr. Hansen, one of the nine members of the board in charge of distributing the state fusion money.

"I can see now it was a little bit of a trap, and I suppose if I could do it over I wouldn't submit it," he said. "but what would withdrawing it do?"

"I think he's got a conflict of interest and he ought to resign,' said Salt Lake attorny Mitchell Melich, another panel member. "I can't believe that he would have waited so long to come in and ask for money."

"The man is a superb scientist and he's done a great job on the panel, so it's very awkward for us," said Gov. Norm Bangerter's chief of staff, Bud Scruggs. "We're not anxious to have him off the panel, but I think the burden of proof is on him."

Karen Morse, Dr. Hansen's provost at USU and another panel member, said she and Dr. Hansen made it clear at the panel's first meeting that they may want some of the money for research at the Logan school. "We recognized that from the beginning. I think Wilford made it vey clear that he was working on that."

They [the other panel members] said then that they would cross that bridge when we come to it, and maybe we've come to it," she said.

The situation is complicated by the fact that Dr. Hansen is the only physicist on the panel and the complicated issue of scientific confirmation has been a troublesome one for the council. Dr Hansen asked Tuesday that a vote on confirmation be delayed until the next meeting on July 21 so they could further study it.

Dr. Morse said his apprehension over confirmation is proof that he is not just looking for money. "I think it shows he's quite objective."

"He's a person whose expertise carries more weight than anyone else on some issues, Mr. Scruggs said. But he added that one of the ex officio council members, Val Finlayson, has a background in nuclear physics. "I don't think we have to lose a lot of ground" if Dr. Hansen steps down.

Mr. Scruggs also said he didn't think it would be adequate for Dr. Hansen to merely remove his name from the request, but withdrawing the proposal would do a lot towards curing the situation."

University of Utah officials say it's up the council to decide the matter, but U. Fusion Research Director Hugo Rossi said he sent a letter to the committee opposing Dr. Hansen's resignation.

Mr. Melich said losing Dr. Hansen's expertise would not be a problem "because we're not going to do the research work...We're relying on Pons, Fleischmann and the others. Those are the people who will be taking this forward."

Panel member Joseph Gubler, a Cedar City accountant, said he didn't have a problem with the request because the panel will not be involved at that level. "The fusion board is not going to be appropriating any money for fusion grants. That's the University's job" he said, "if he got approval, it would be by virtue of his meeting their criteria."

"In my opinion he should have stepped forward with his position" said another panel member, State Science advisor Randy Moon. "I do think there's a conflict there, and I do think he needs to come before the council and explain, but I do not think he needs to resign."

In the same issue it is reported that the Univ. of Utah has signed a long-term lease on its fusion headquarters. University Vice-President James Brophy has refused to confirm or deny.

In the Salt Lake City Tribune of 22 July, it is reported that the State Advisory Panel has unanimously voted to "accept the work of B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann as conformed...". the panel also voted unanimously to authorize the release of the $5 million. [reports speak of $4.5 million - this confusion might possibly be connected with lawyers fees].

Stanley Pons has expressed how pleased he is that he has been vindicated.

Utah State physicist panel member Wilford Hansen has been exonerated by the panel chairman. It was decided that he had no conflict of interest.

Also in the same issue is a letter to the Editor from Mike Nauenberg (who has published work on fusion rates) of UC Santa Cruz in which he points out that "This charade has already done great damage to the reputation of the Chemistry department at the University of Utah. If continued, it will do irreparable damage to the credibility of the whole university."


It would be nice to be able to give a clean answer to this question. but in real life it depends on who you are and your access to information.

If you are a scientist, accustomed to handling lots of experimental data, and have access to most of the experimental results on Cold Fusion, then there is a good chance you consider Cold Fusion dead. But you are one of only a few thousand people in the world.

But what of the roughly 500 million people in the world who have heard of Fleischmann and Pons and of Cold Fusion? Perhaps half have heard of several confirmations and think it is possible. The other half have heard of positive and negative results and think it very doubtful if it can be used for power production. Of these some fraction have heard of the DOE panel report - for example it was not very widely reported in European papers. The great problem is that a positive result is news-worthy but a negative result is not very exciting (e.g. ""Earlier report of cancer cure not confirmed" is not as interesting as "New cure for cancer", guess which headline a reporter wanting promotion will chose). There is a strong media bias because of the need for most newspapers to attract readers.

For the second group who realise that there are many negative results, they none the less feel that there must be something in it or else how did so many distinguished scientists find the effect? And many of these often say that since the reward of power with little pollution is so great, that is it not worth a little more effort just in case the problems are solved? Then you get quoted some examples - "didn't they say it was impossible to put a man on the moon?" It is very hard to explain to someone unfamiliar with orders of magnitude that the results claimed for say, neutrons, are off by ten orders of magnitude - they guess it is off by a factor of 2 or 5 or 10 and maybe with more research.....

Thus a tremendous informational and educational effort is needed.

At the same time there are some people who are complete believers in Cold Fusion - the reason for Chapter 6 above. No amount of reasoning, no amount of presentation of facts or experiments will move some people, for they have their own set of facts, experiments and theories. Often you hear that they will only believe their experiment is wrong if someone repeats it exactly.

Yesterday someone wrote on my blackboard the four precise conditions for repeating his experiment and being successful, one of which was that the anodes had to be of gold. Tried to suggest that this was not a critical condition. But then comes the clinching argument. You say that if an experiment is not reproducible, then it is not Science. Oh no! The fact the effect does not occur every time proves that it requires exactly the right conditions and that is why it is so important to repeat the conditions that gave success. The argument is reversed, the effect must be true so the fact that the work is not reproducible cannot be a negative argument, it must be incorporated into the mystique. So bring on the gold anodes.


8.1 Harvard Result with Ultra-high Pressure and Loading

I. F. Silvera and F. Moshary of Harvard have sent a paper where they achieve exceptionally high loading of deuterium into palladium, with D/Pd of 1.34 +/- 0.1, the highest value reported apart from ion implantation. They achieved this by using a pressure of 105 k bar! the technique was very interesting and uses two diamonds. Temperatures were varied between 4.3 and 400 K. The limit from absence of neutrons is 2.5 E -18 fusions/DDpairs/s and for heating 1.6 E-8 fusions/ DDpairs/s. No evidence was found for gammas.

8.2 Believers only for Cold Fusion Workshop?

Hear reports that a section of a US government organisation is planning to organise a workshop where only those with positive results will be welcome. It is rather surprising particularly after the interim report of the DOE Panel, but as said above some do not consider that cold fusion is dead.

8.3 Letter from Martin Fleischmann

In conversations with Martin we had said that the safest calorimetry was with a closed calorimeter. The only example available at that time was Hayden et al. at British Columbia. Martin sent a long critique of it. Some of the points I agree with, such as it is not too safe to use a rubber bung - on the other hand as I mentioned to him earlier, it should not be too difficult for the authors to replace the bung - he considers this to be probably the most serious matter. The other points I will try and discuss with the authors. He makes the point that their paper only reports one experiment while they in Utah have done many. He is sympathetic to closed cells(and they are continuing their efforts in that direction), but with another technique.

He gave me the names of two experts in electrochemistry who are neutral, so will consult them about papers I have received recently.

8.4 Mailing List

Some of my colleagues say that Cold Fusion is dead and they no longer read about it. Will anyone who does not wish to receive any futher copies of these notes please let me know.

LEP NEWS and Z0 NEWS (not intended for those working on LEP who know all this stuff off by heart).

Although not working on LEP myself, I share in the great air of suppressed excitement in CERN these days.

LEP is progressing steadily.The main mile stones have been;

14 July Positrons injected and in one hour make first turn
22 July Positrons make 700 turns
25 July Electrons injected and in 80 minutes make first turn
26 July Electrons make 60 turns
28 July 20 microamps of positrons stored for 15 minutes
30 July 250 microamps of positrons stored with a lifetime of 70 minutes (4 bunches)
31 July Try increasing energy for the first time from the 20 GeV at injection from the SPS accelerator, and reach 30 GeV but with only 2 microamps left
3 Aug. 250 microamps of electrons stored
4 Aug. Positrons were accelerated to 47.5 GeV, close to the design energy and enough for Z0 production if there had been an electron beam of the same energy. The current was 56 microamps and the lifetime of the beam was 45 minutes

There are many problems as one one expects from a system with over 4000 components in the beam line. They are overcome, but there is one serious worry which is that a coupling between the horizontal and vertical oscillations of the beam, has been found - it is being studied both experimentally and theoretically. A solution has been found by switching to different values of Qh and Qv. The next step is to inject both electron and positron beams this weekend at 20 GeV, then accelerate. The four LEP experiments should be able to take test data sometime in the coming week.

The determination of the mass of the Z0 as accurately as possible, can give important results.

Using the UA1 and UA2 detectors at the CERN proton-antiproton collider, the present combined value reported (G. Altarelli, Physics World, July 1989.) is 91.9 +/- 1.8 GeV where he has combined the errors (the actual values are for UA1, 93.1 +/-1.0 +/- 3.1 and for UA2 91.5 +/- 1.2 +/- 1.7 GeV). There may be a new result next week.

At Stanford the Mark 2 group has reported a mass, based on 106 Z0 events, of 91.11 +/- 0.23 GeV in good agreement with the CERN result but with much smaller errors.

At Fermilab using their 1.8 TeV proton-antiproton collider, the CDF Collaboration has issued a preprint reporting a mass of 90.9 +/- 0.3 (stat) +/- 0.2 (scale) The small errors were a surprise at first, but seem justified as they select their best 123 di-muon decays and 65 e+e- decays, plus use some 1000 W decay electrons to establish the momentum scale. However this could be a hot subject of discussion at the conference in Slac next week.

It is interesting to compare these values with the very recent paper of John Ellis and G. L. Fogli ( preprint CERN-TH.5457/89) where they deduce the central value of the top quark mass to be

M(t) = 95 GeV + 66{91.6 GeV - M(Z)}

This formula does not cause disappointment if the Z0 mass is greater than 91.6 as was weakly indicated by the CERN results, but with these new results giving a lower value of M(Z), this could imply a top quark having a mass of over 100 GeV which would make it rather difficult to find with existing accelerators and would be an additional justification for the future UNK, LHC and SSC accelerators. But more exact measurements will come soon, e.g. Mark 2 already has over 200 Z0's. It should however be pointed out that this theoretical paper depends on the low energy determinations of neutral current chiral couplings, u(L)2, d(L)2, u(R)2, and d(R)2 - as we are working on these with our neutrino-hydrogen experiment, WA21, it should be said that the analysis is delicate. John has just told me that they have used the Mark 2 mass and find

M(t) = 125 +34/-43 GeV.

The Mark 2 group also do a simultaneous fit of the Z0 mass and of the number of neutrino families and find this number to be 3.3 +/- 1.4. This is not too exciting a number yet as from other experiments (especially Astrophysics) it is determined that there are probably 3 or 4 families, however it does indicate that better statistics should give a good answer to this very important question.

The Mark 2 group made a third fit to the Z0 mass, the number of neutrino families and the width (gamma) of the Z0. They find Gamma to be 1.6 +0.6/-0.43 GeV. The CDF Collaboration find Gamma to be 3.8 +/- 0.8 +/-1.0 GeV. Both these values are consistent with the value of about 2.6 GeV from the Standard Model whose predictions appear to be obeyed almost too well.

Douglas R. O. Morrison.