Douglas R.O. Morrison's Cold Fusion News
No. 20—9 November 1989

Back to Morrison Index

(Source: New Energy Times)
[ed. note: This newsletter is incomplete.]

SUMMARY and Highlights

Today's International Herald Tribune has a headline based on a NYT article. RETURN OF "COLD FUSION" ; NEW TESTS ARE INTRIGUING. There is some truth in this for some. Cold Fusion is changing and evolving. The unpleasant but statistically significant phenomenon of the Regionalisation of Results is continuing and re-inforced but the regions are changing. Previously Southern Europe had all positive confirmations, but now the results are negative or they find it impossible to repeat the previous positive result - this was shown at the 2-day conference of Cold Fusion at Varenna in September. At first Japan reported mixed results thus at a meeting in Tokyo end July, 10 groups reported success in a variety of cold fusion experiments. At a meeting in Kyoto at the end of September, Prof. Bockris counted for me 21 papers of which 8 were positive (6 observations of neutrons, 1 of tritium and 1 od tritium, gammas and heat). Dr. Ikegami of the Institute for Fusion Research, announced on August 1st that the Institute has decided to begin joint research on cold fusion with 80 scientists from 25 institutes, colleges and universities. The Institute is actually an office in Mitii which organises the research in the labs. All agree that many private companies are also engaged in research and application work, though there are no available reports. Thus Southern Europe has moved from Phase 1 to Phase 2 and almost Phase 3, while Japan has stayed in Phase 2.

Most of the public in Utah believe in Cold Fusion though it really is in Phase 2 where there are both positive and negative results. When I gave a lecture at the University of Utah on the Status of Cold Fusion (it is summarised in Section 2), it was well received, almost with relief.

Visited the new National Institute for Cold Fusion Research and formed a good impression - they were doing serious work already despite having just started. The Director Hugo Rossi and his people were very open and friendly. Some told me they were not aware of any restrictions in talking or publishing. A couple of days later Hugo Rossi gave an interview in which he said they had found no effect so far and that if no effects were found by February, they would have to reconsider. However there is talk of outside pressure since then and a European television team has been told that everyone at the Institute and at the University is too busy working to be interviewed and they can only talk to Dr. Brophy, the University Vice-President. Let us hope things are not changing. My talks on Cold Fusion at Texas A&M and at Gainsville were also well received except for powerful comments from a non-academic person which elicited an appropriate response.

This week there is the Electrochemical Conference in Florida - their last meeting on 8th May was in Los Angeles and was famous for inviting only positive results (though after protests, Nate Lewis of Caltech was invited to speak very briefly). This time there were no restrictions and it was written that the 26 papers were mainly negative though Prof. Bockris who attended the first day counted 7 positive results out of 14 papers (he considered the negative ones are not really negative, they mainly consist of people who did not electrolyse long enough. However the NSF (engineering division) and the EPRI (Electrical Power Research Institue) held a three-day meeting in Washington by invitation only. Was told in Texas A&M that sceptics would also be invited (Nate Lewis was quoted) but it was said that the 50 scientists were all sworn to secrecy. However a participant told me that it was not quite like that, though they did agree to some restrictions, particularly some groups did not wish their results to be quoted before publication. Anyway it would be very hard for the NSF to sponsor a secret meeting. The headline above - "Return of Cold Fusion" was about this meeting. The co-chairmen were Dr. Appleby and Dr. Paul C. W. Chu of Houston who is famous for his work on high temperature superconductors - they stated "Based on the results we have, these results cannot be explained as a result of artifacts, equipment error or human errors". More funds were requested and it was said that they were available - it is to be hoped that future experiments will be formally proposed and and peer-reviwed. The meeting on Cold Fusion was called "Anomalous Effects in Deuterated Materials! Edward Teller was also there and took it seriously, recalling some fundamental points, and looking for ways that new nuclear physics could explain the effects claimed (an exotic neutral particle, for example, which allowed transfers at large distances, though with small probability - this may solve one problem but raises others such as there should be large amounts of helium in the cathode). Working groups prepared a series of sensible guidelines e.g. in the future closed calorimeters should be used.

There are a number of negative results such as the series of measurements at the Swiss PSI and Culham whereas BARC near Bombay is continuing to report positive results.

Brookhaven (and the NYT and Physical Review Letters) have reported neutron production when a deuterated titanium target is bombarded by clusters of D2O molecules - this might be considered hot fusion rather than cold. Steve Koonin has done calculations which indicate that the results are curious or maybe one should say Anomalous.

This Brookhaven result appears to be in contradiction with some clean and well-planned experiments at the Max Planck Institute at Garching in Munich who bombarded titanium with D ions of 300 to 6000 KeV with loadings of up to three deuteriun ions per Ti nucleus and found no abnormal effect. The cross section follows the normal Gamow curve.

The final report of the DOE Cold Fusion Panel is expected soon and may be tougher than their preliminary one.

1. Varenna Conference
2. The Status of Cold Fusion - Summary of a lecture at the U. of U.
3. Visit to the National Institute for Cold Fusion Research
4. Measurements of Fusion Products in Dr. Pons's Lab
5. Visit to Texas A&M
6. Visit to Gainsville Florida.
7. Results from Japan
8. Hot/Cold Fusion by Clusters at BNL
9. Ion Implantation and other Research at MPI Munich
10. Results from the Paul Scherrer Institute
11. Ratio of Tritium to Neutron production
12. Other Items


A two day meeting was held in Varenna, on the 15, 16 September. While most people were Italian, others were also invited for example Dr. Appleby of Texas A&M, and David Williams. The transparences of the former were very similar to those he showed at Santa Fe in May and there appeared to be little new work even though he has claimed the highest reproducibility rate of 80%. There were worries about the assumptions of the potentials of the electrodes. David gave his extensive negative results. Claude Petitjean of the PSI near Zurich also gave their negative results (see below). Prof. Scaramuzzi of the National Institute for Alternative Energy, Frascati, showed again his early positive results that have been discussed in No. 10, and said that they had not been able to repeat these results. Several other local groups such as Prof. Frullani of the Sanita and Chemistry Institute of Rome University,who had earlier indicated positive results said that they had not been able to reproduce them despite greater efforts (an interesting point is that they put a thermocouple on the electrode instead of in the electrolyte).

The Genoa group reported that they had initially found positive results confirming the results of Prof. Scaramuzzi, but on checking had found a series of explanations for these effects that did not involve Cold Fusion, such as ultra-sound, humidity, etc. which led them to be believe them to be spurious. The results of Ettore Fiorini of Milan were eagerly awaited because of his reputation for reliability. His group studied electrolysis in the Mont Blanc tunnel where they have had a laboratory for some years as the background is so exceptionally low. They found an upper limit to neutron production of 0.01 n/s. Working in Milan they tried to reproduce the Frascati type of fusion results but could not.

Prof. G. Marx of Berlin reported on their null results - they have also tried dt fusion using an old target of a neutron generator as cathode, which consisted of Cu with a thin layer of Ti on which 1.5 E 11 Bq of tritium was absorbed. They have also tried Pd, Ti, Ta, Nb, and the alloys ZrCo and CuTi as cathodes and Pt and Au as anodes.

Participants said the overall impression was not favourable to Cold Fusion.

2. THE STATUS OF COLD FUSION - Lecture at the University of Utah.

Was invited by Richard Price to give a lecture on the Status of Cold Fusion. After giving a few new results presented at the Varenna meeting, the situation for each of the fusion products was given. All experiments known to me for which I had well described results, were listed and the audience was invited to add any that I had omitted (this meant that I had omitted some but they were both positive and negative and did not seriously affect the statistics). Below is a summary;


2.1.1 Steady production

Ten positive results were listed of which two have been withdrawn (Fleishmann - Pons and Georgia Tech). Of the six for which I know the measurement rate and the background rate, in every case the neutron signal was 3 to 5 times the background rate. Thus although the claimed rates varied between 0.04 and 40000 neutrons per second, no one had observed an actual rate which was many times background. It should be recalled that if one watt of power is produced by fusion, then 1 000 000 000 000 neutrons per second are expected. Eighteen experiments have reported no significant production of neutrons. If we take the production of Jones et al. as a standard rate of one, then roughly 7 experiments have upper limits about a factor of ten lower and four give upper limits about a factor of a hundred lower than observed by Jones et al.

2.1.2 Non-equilibrium - Temperature, Pressure - Frascati type

Prof Scaramuzzi suggested that by varying temperature and pressure, the non-equilibrium conditions resulting could produce cold fusion. He has not been able to reproduce these initial results since April. Two Italian and one German group initially found similar results but have since have not been able to reproduce their results and have found reasons for their initially positive findings. Four other groups have reported finding no effect; two of them have placed upper limits which are one-thousandths of the Scaramuzzi result.

2.1.3 Neutron Bursts

At Los Alamos Dr. Menlove plus Steve Jones of BYU reported that bursts at a very low level had been observed. Four groups have said they observe no bursts. Steve has now accepted the invitation of Moshe Gai to repeat the experiment at Moshe's lab at Yale. They have agreed not to talk about their results until the analysis is completed.

2.1.4 Conclusion

The weight of the evidence suggests that there is no evidence for neutron production.


The only positive result was of Fleishmann and Pons and that has been withdrawn. Nine groups have reported finding no gammas, with levels as low as one gamma per second.

2.3 X-RAYS

When paladium is excited it typically emits 21 KeV X-rays. Four labs have reported that no 21 KeV X-rays were found.

The palladium could be excited by the passage of an energetic proton, triton or 3He from dd fusion, or from gammas in the reaction d + d ---> 4He + gamma. Thus the non-observation of 21 KeV X-rays constitutes strong evidence for the absence of any fusion products and hence the absence of any fusion.


The situation is complicated. The original claim of Fleishmann and Pons has been withdrawn. Texas A&M report copious production with estimates varying from E-3 to E-8 Watts (Prof Bockris has claimed 10 Watts). In Gainsville, Fa, the downstairs group claims observation but the upstairs group finds none (see Section 5). At Los Alamos Drs. Storm and Calcott found two cells gave tritium in their first batch of cells, but they have told me that their next 80 cells did not give any tritium. Since writing this have heard that they have now found tritium in their latest batch of cells - trust that it is possible to interpret these alternating results.

Prof. Bockris has told me that Case Western Reserve finds "some".

Five groups find no tritium production.


Calorimetry is much more difficult than one might imagine. Martin Fleischmann has told me that he has done 60 pages of calculations on the analysis of his cells. They involve using Newton's Law of Cooling in the calibration. In discussion he agreed that if one uses a closed calorimeter (where there is a palladium catalyser to recombine the D2 and O2 gases), then this is the best experiment. The next best is a constant temperature bath where the cells and their surroundings are kept at a temperature slightly higher than ambient by a heater in the surrounding bath. If the cell emits heat, then the amount of heating is reduced - the amount of this reduction then gives the excess heat produced and few assumptions or complicated work is required.

Hence in compiling calorimetric results, the experiments were classified in three groups;
A) neither closed nor constant temperature
B) constant temperature, but not closed
C) closed and constant temperature.

Of the 8 labs that reported heat excesses, all were of type A. While most labs reported excesses of 8 to 40%, Utah has reported 10 to 50 Watts.

Of the 15 reports of no observation of excess heat, 7 were of type A and they gave upper limits of 0.2 % to 2% excess heat, or < 0.3 Watts.

Of the 5 type B experiments, all found no excess heat giving upper limits between 0.3 and 9% or 0.1 Watt.

Two labs (British Columbia and Karlruhe) were of type C, that is they had both a constant temperature bath and a closed calorimeter. Their upper limits were 0.3% of 4 to 18 watts input and 1 to 3% of 10 to 30 Watts input resp. (note Dr. Mackubrie of SRI not included here - was told his cell was closed but on the transparencies this was unsure. He reported 8 heat excursions totalling 19 Watt-hours for a total input of 1900 Watt-hours).

The balance of the evidence and the quality of the experiments seems to favour that there is no excess heat - it should be noted that the type A experiments are difficult to perform and analyse. However it is very difficult to understand the contradictions between the consistent negative results and the fluctuating nature of the positive results. So it may be reasonable that more experiments be funded to understand the reported positive effects - but it is essential that proposals describing the experiment be written in full detail and be peer-reveiwed, otherwise no money.


Two labs have passed muon beams into loaded cells and found no effect. One (KEK) deduced that Cosmic Ray muons should give less than 1.3 E-6 neutrons per second or less than one every two weeks. Two groups found that Cosmic Rays muons gave no effect.


Two groups tried high pressure E+5 and E+6 bars but said they did not observe significant effects.


Ion implantation has been tried and also an alpha source, but no effect was observed.


Drs. Fleischmann and Pons say it is a volume effect while Drs. Jones and Scaramuzzi say it is a surface effect. Dr. Bockris also believes it is a surface effect probably associated with formation of denderites.


Dr. Fleischmann has said it is static while 6 other groups say it is dynamic and takes between 10 minutes and 8 hours.


All observers of effects agree that they are not reproducible. Some of the effects are also sporadic - a few bursts and then nothing.


There is often controversy about the amount of deuterium in the metal cathode required to initiate fusion and also about the time it takes to load this deuterium into the cathode.

Well established experiments and theory of deuterium in Palladium show that normally a ratio of D/Pd of 0.8 can be obtained when the octahedral sites are filled but that it is difficult to exceed this except at low temperature or by ion implantation. Thus Sandia implanted 10 KeV ions at 35 degrees Kelvin and achieved 1.3. When they warmed up the loading decreased to 0.8 at 100 degrees and stayed there up to 350 degrees. Martin Fleischmann said that the time to load was long and quoted, for 1, 2, 4 and 8 mm rods, 2 days, 8 days 1 month and 4 months resp. However the British Columbia group have measured this in electrolysis find it takes about 10 hours to attain about 0.8 loading for a 4mm cathode. The Group of Muga et al. at Gainsville (upstairs group) in a nice experimental apparatus, similarly find the loading is acheived in half a day, though their results are preliminary. Three other groups that measured loading in electrolysis found about 0.8. Harvard with a pressure of 105 kilobars, reached 1.34.


Both Martin Fleischmann and Steve Jones have told me that there is no secret.


There is an immense literature on palladium hydrides available to everyone in libraries. The deuterium ions in octahedral and/or tetrahedral sites are much further apart than in a natural D2 gas molecule and therefore there is no reason to expect fusion to occur in a steady mode.


If the world is divided into two zones;
Zone A is Northern Europe and major US labs and parts of North America where the New York Times is the dominant serious newspaper.
Zone B is the rest of the world,

Then it was found that up to 2 May, in Zone A one positive result was found and 18 negative while in zone B there were 25 positive results claimed and only 2 negative.

In the period 3 May to 24 May, 2 negative results and 16 positive results were reported in Zone A while in Zone B the situation has changed with 6 positive results and 11 negative.

If one considers these statistically significant figures in terms of Pathological Science where the history of an erronious result is in three Phases which are;
Phase 1 After the original claim the first results are almost all confirmations
Phase 2 About equal numbers of positive and negative results
Phase 3 An avalanche of negative results,
then these numbers may be interpreted as saying that Zone B was initially in Phase 1 but moved into Phase 2, while Zone A has stayed in Phase 3.


The lecture ended with a comparison of Cold Fusion with Pathological Science and its proposed extension to Biopsy Science where it was shown to have many of the characteristics of the syndrome of a mistaken result - in fact both fusion products and calorimetry had a higher score than N-rays.

The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that there was according to faculty members a standing ovation - that is an exaggeration but one was certainly aware of the release of pent-up feelings by the couple of hundred people present. Tim Fitzpatrick of the Tribune, who seems an enterprising and responsible journalist, also interviewed the Institute Director, Hugo Rossi, who said "what is unnerving to me is the so-called mainline scientists and laboratories, except those at Stanford, have not seen the effect. That's extremely disturbing, but I don't know what it means". He also said "He gave his talk as if the book has been closed and I think its premature".

The Sunday Deseret News published a public opinion poll in Utah as to the public perception of Cold Fusion. 61% said they believed in it, 15% did not and 24% were undecided. From my brief experience of the media in Utah, I understand these statistics.


On the Friday visited the Institute before my talk and also spent the entire Saturday there. In the morning there was an informal round table discussion with Hugo Rossi. After lunch I was shown round the lab. The building is in the University Science Park and is extensive. So far only part of it is used. There are four groups there who have started remarkably quickly. They have quite a number of cells working and are doing several experiments. They are not simply trying to repeat previous work but are aiming also to get a basic understanding. They are planning to do calorimetry with a closed cell. One new feature I liked was the idea of measuring the length of the cathode extremely accurately as this, when calibrated, will give the amount of deuterium that has been absorbed by the cathode, i.e. the loading. Their equipment was mainly new and of a high quality. At one time I asked if I could take a photograph of some of the cells - this caused some uncertainty, so I did not, however I saw much more detailed images of the the same cells and more on television that evening! (it was the six month anniverary of the Press Conference of Fleischmann and Pons).

During the morning discussion, I learnt about the rate of diffusion of ions through metals. For deuterium ions in Palladium, the normal diffusion constant quoted is 1 E-7 (which corresponds to 0.1 mm per day), but was told that the experimental values are widely spread, up to 1 E-5. The reason is that consistent values are for pure crystals whereas normally the palladium is made up of many crystals and the ions can diffuse along the boundaries at a much higher speed. Stress would increase the boundaries. This would explain why experimental times of less than a day to load a cathode, can occur. Cheeves Walling gave me some interesting calculations on Radiative and Conductive Heat Transfer.

I asked if their contracts contained any clause that would restrict or limit their ability to publish or talk about their results, and was told by several people that there was no such restriction.

The Institute has been initially funded by money from the State of Utah. According to the Economist, the EPRI are also contributing substantially, but more funds will be needed in the future. However the Tribune quotes Dr. Kulhammer, Vice-President for Exploratory Research of EPRI as saying "We haven't funded anything yet, but we are talking to the University about a contract and a work statement". It is expected to be less than a million. Some funding may come from the General Electric Corp "but Dr. Rossi said GE researchers in Schenectady, NY have still not seen suitable results in their cells, one of which came from Dr. Pons'lab."

On the Tuesday the Tribune published two articles by Tim Fitzpatrick, one about my Status report on Friday and the other an interview with Hugo Rossi. There he said that his Institute had "seen no sign of fusion in the month or so they have been operating" - this from "more than 20 electrochemical cells, all variations of the experiment" of Fleischmann and Pons.

'"It's gotten to be time for us to start wondering if we're doing anything wrong" said Dr. Rossi who believes the current situation is "unnerving" but not yet desperate. "we have a conference coming up here next February. If we don't have any papers to present, then this place is closing up shop. I'm not saying I will do that. I'm just saying I think that is what would happen."

In view of all the above, it can be seen why I have some confidence that Dr. Rossi and his colleagues at the National Cold Fusion Research Institute are reasonably open-minded and should produce careful work. However a TV team tell me that they have been informed they can only talk to Dr. Brophy. But Ms. Pam Fogle, U spokeswoman "promised regular up-dates on the controversial research and interviews with the scientists will be available by appointment" according to the newspaper which also wrote "The University's National Cold Fusion research Institute has also cut off media access to its scientists, but U. Vice President for Research, James J. Brophy said that the decision was one of practicality. "We want to restrict entrance to the laboratories just so it's not chaos". Well, I did not seem like chaos to me. I wish the best for Hugo Rossi and his people.


On the Sunday I met Dr. Mike Salamon who is the leader of a group of 10 scientists who measured for five weeks, gammas and neutrons under the table on which Dr. Pons had four cells operating. Preliminary results were given in No. 18. Now that I am fully informed, I am impressed by the care they took, making the calibrations in a similar set-up since they did not wish to disturb the running of Dr. Pons's cells. They have given results covering four different fusion reactions;

4.1 d + d ---> t + p

The 3.02 MeV proton produced has a range of 30 microns in Pd, will excited some of the Pd isotopes which will de-excite by emitting gammas of energy between 0.37 and 0.56 MeV and these could be detected with their NaI detector (checks were made using 3.02 MeV protons at the U of Lowell accelerator). The upper limit found for the tp reaction is 0.01 Watts.

4.2 d + d ---> 3He + n

Here they first looked for thermalised neutrons producing 2.2 MeV gammas from the reaction with protons in water. The small upper limit of 10 pWatt was found. Secondly during a 67 hour period, neutron- detecting sandwiches made of 235U-emriched foils (80%) U foils and nuclear- track-detecting plastic, Lexan polycarbonate were placed in the water bath next to the cells. An upper limit for the neutron rate of 1.8 n/s was found corresponding to a power of 0.9 pWatt.

4.3 d + d ---> 4He + gamma

A search was made for the 23.85 MeV gammas. No signal was found corresponding to an upper limit on the rate of 5 per sec. and a fusion power of 20 pWatt.

4.4 d + d ---> 4He + e- (internal conversion)

It has been suggested by Walling and Simons that although nuclear de-excitation is usually greatly suppressed relative to radiative de-excitation, it would be wise to consider this possibility. The 24 MeV electrons will generally escape the Pd rod and give bremsstrahlung photons which should be detected. A very low upper limit of 10 nWatt is found.

4.5 Discussion

Salamon et al. thus seem to have covered all the known fusion reactions and find upper limits much lower that the Watts of power reported previously from Dr. Pons's cells. There is the question of whether the cells were ever active - Dr. Pons says they were not though at a EPRI conference on 16 August , he did say that a low level excess heat was observed. However one of the cells was observed to boil for two hours and during this time the upper limits found were d + d ---> t + p 1.0 mW d + d ---> 3He + n 1.2 pW, d + d ---> 4He + e- 0.9 nW. It has not yet been explained why when workers in the lab considered the cell suddenly boiling to be a manifestation of excess heat, Dr. Pons was of a different opinion.

Thus although people did try to produce power by raising the current, no other evidence of activity was recorded during the 831.5 hours the equipment was operating. No currents are given in the paper - it is to be hoped that this information will be made available to the authors by their colleagues.

It is rather remarkable that in five weeks it was not possible to produce heat clearly in any of four cells of Dr. Pons' in his own lab.