Douglas R.O. Morrison's Cold Fusion Updates
No. 8—27 November 1993

Back to Morrison Index

(Source: New Energy Times)
Dear Colleagues,

Have been rather occupied with other matters and have not been able to post anything for some time.

Recently Mr. Rothwell referred to the work that Fleischmann and Pons published in Physics Letters A (paper communicated by J-P Vigier), and said that Prof. Fleischmann had informed him that electrical readings were only recorded every 300 seconds. This greatly astonished everyone as the most extreme claim of F&P concerned a time of only 600 seconds. This was during the period when the cell was boiling vigorously, this over the last 600 seconds before the cell is dry, "the excess rate of energy production is about four times that of the enthalpy input" and the specific excess enthalpy is 3.7 kW per cc of palladium. In June 1993, comments were written on the F&P letter and they are available as the CERN preprint, CERN-PPE/93-96. They were also submitted to Phys. Lett. A. In this comment is written;

"Another important problem is the estimate of the input energy - here the input enthalpy is taken as the current multiplied by the (cell voltage - 1.54V). It is not explained how these quantities are measured. This is crucial as when the cell is boiling vigorously, the impedance must be fluctuating strongly. Thus the current will have both an AC and a DC component. If only the DC component were measured, then the input enthalpy would be underestimated. A detailed description of the current and voltage systems showing their fast response characteristics is needed, but is not presented, so that although the estimate may be correct, there is an absence of proof. Also the cell voltage over the last 600 seconds cannot be read from fig. 8 as the bin size is 500,000 seconds and the trace is rising exceedingly steeply - as this is an important question, one would have expected the voltage trace over the last 600 seconds to have been shown in great detail."

Hence it seemed impossible that after so many years, and having all the expensive facilities available to them at the NCFI in Utah and with the IMRA organisation near Nice, that F&P would take data only every 300 seconds.

Now this information came from a non-scientist, Mr. Rothwell, whose accuracy is variable - for example he has been writing that "Morrison was unable to get his critique published because as you will see, it lacks scientific merit. He claims, in essence, that it is possible to burn 0.004 moles of hydrogen and generate over 87,600 joules of energy." Both of Mr. Rothwell's statements are inaccurate. He adds " This clearly violates junior-high school level physics and chemistry, and so do most of Morrison's other claims".

But it seemed so incredible that Mr. Rothwell was correct and Fleischmann and Pons really did after all this time, measure only every 300 seconds, so felt that the only way to be sure, was to ask one of the authors. Last Wednesday Prof. Fleischmann gave a talk at the University of Lausanne. It was very charmingly presented. Thanks to some adroit chairmanship plus interventions, very few balancing comments to explain why most of the World's scientists do not believe in Cold Fusion, were expressed, despite efforts. Since I felt my time to comment was rather limited, gave the Chairman the programme of the University of Lausanne's winter series of public lectures (Cours General Public) and asked him to announce that another point of view would be presented there, in particular when I would give the closing talk of the series on the 23 February entitled "Science pathologique; fusion froide et autres histoires". The Chairman appeared to agree and took the paper, but then somehow forgot to announce it.

So asked Martin afterwards and he confirmed that the data was taken once every 300 seconds. Tried to explain about AC and DC, but somehow we did not seem to communicate. However he generously said if I asked for any plot, he would send it to me. I asked for the plot of the current and voltages during the end of the run. Martin also kindly invited me to visit their laboratory near Nice.

On the net there has been great interest in the three hours after the cell runs dry. Many were astonished that with no incoming power, the cell should stay very close to 100 degrees although earlier calculations had indicated that the cell should cool down. Most people considered this an impossibility and a demonstration that there was something wrong with the experiment, but at Lausanne, exactly the opposite conclusion was extracted by Martin. He declared that the fact that the cell stays hot with no heat input, shows that something exciting is taking place. Wonder if this will be the subject of the last talk at ICCF-4, on Monday afternoon by Pons and Fleischmann intriguingly entitled "Heat after Death"?

In the confused period after I questioned this impossibility, seemed to hear the statement that two other groups had repeated this work and obtained the same result - this is natural, if you repeat with the same technique, you should get the same result. On the other hand if the two groups are normal scientists, they will carry out check experiments to try and prove themselves wrong. For example a major criticism in CERN-PPE/93-98, was that during the final phases of Fleischmann and Pons's experiments, they only used D2O and did not repeat with H2O to see if they could claim it was fusion (as F&P believe) or not as J-P Vigier believes (he would expect excess heat to occur also with H2O according to his version of quantum chemistry). It will also be interesting to see if the two other groups use normal fast electronics to record the current and voltage and look for the expected fluctuations, ie AC as well as DC input. Also it will be interesting to see if they repeated the experiment with a single thermistor or whether the cell was properly instrumented with many measuring devices. It would of course, be even better if they were to have done a complete controlled experiment where they continuously measured and studied the outgoing fluids and solids (Lithium, D2, H2, O2, D2O, H2O, 3He,4He, tritium, etc.) and their heat content. And it would be even more scientific if they had followed the recommendations made at previous Annual Cold Fusion conferences, to do good complete experiments - that is to measure simultaneously with excess heat, also X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, and protons - measuring seriously, that is the energy spectrum with good resolution capable of distinguishing the 21 keV X-ray line (as Steve Jones emphasises and even offers to provide a compact detector), gammas of 24 MeV, neutrons of 2.45 and of 14 MeV, and protons of 3 MeV. Simply using a health physics neutron counter or an X-ray plate which indicate "something" vaguely is no longer serious after so many years of Cold Fusion and now good funding.

Since the piece of palladium used by F&P was so small, 0.039 cm3 (a speck) it would be normal to vary the size of the palladium cathode, eg 4 cm3, 40 cm3 (taking appropriate precautions if you believe in F&P's results).

Think one of the new groups was from the CEA (French Atomic Energy commission) in Grenoble. Wonder if the CEA knows?

Steve Jones has continued the BYU habit of doing simple experiments which test vital claims. When was in BYU a few months ago giving a lecture, was shown by Prof. Lee Hansen experiments with calorimeters to study whether or not there could be recombination of hydrogen (deuterium) with oxygen to form H2O (D2O) plus heat, in Fleischmann and Pons type cells - they have always denied it and cite complicated calculations (have they ever done any experiments on this?). However Lee did two simple experiments. Firstly he operated the cell with the anode and cathode very close together as F&P so that there was a chance that the hydrogen and oxygen emitted by the two electrodes could mix and possibly recombine - assuming no recombination, he calculates that he had then observed excess heat. He now moved the anode and cathode apart, and as he did so the apparent excess heat vanished. This he interpreted as evidence that recombination was occuring in the F&P - type conditions and could be falsely interpreted as excess heat. Just in case of any doubts, he did a second experiment - with the electrodes close together as F&P and searching for excess heat, nitrogen gas was blown in at the bottom of the cell - this one might expect to reduce the mixing of the hydrogen and oxygen and hence reduce the recombination. He now calculated no excess heat. It is to be hoped that those groups making claims of excess heat, will do these simple control experiments - at the very least vary the separation of the anode and cathode.

Steve Jones has now repeated the F&P experiment as described in their Phys. Lett. A paper. Except he used H2O instead of D2O - and observed boiling (if you believe this is manifestation of excess heat, it indicates it is not fusion, and J-P Vigier should be happy while other theoreticians such as Preparata, Bressani(also experimentalist) and Del Guidice who declare it is fusion, should be unhappy as it implies Cold Fusion is not Fusion).

Steve followed F&P in keeping the current constant at 0.5 A. This meant the voltage could vary, and unlike F&P did not sample it every 300 seconds but recorded it on a strip-chart recorder. He wrote "As 100C was approached, the voltage rose quickly from 20V to 75V, then we observed rapid fluctuations during the boiling, with voltage jumping by + 60 V then -60V over short intervals (less than 30 seconds)". This work is very recent and is being analysed more completely, but already it clearly shows that the F&P calculation of assuming only DC input is incorrect and the wild fluctuations give a large AC contribution which has been ignored and instead interpreted as a contribution to excess heat.

The overall conclusion is that the experimental technique employed by F&P is inadequate or as written in the CERN preprint "The experiment and some of the calculations have been described as "simple". This is incorrect - the process involving chaotic motion, is complex and many calibrations and corrections are needed. The calculations have been made to appear simple by incorrectly ignoring important factors. It would have been better to describe the experiments as "poor" rather than "simple".

The Fourth Annual Cold Fusion Conference,(ICCF-4) last four days, 6 to 9 December. It is difficult to detect from the titles and speakers' names, any hint of skepticism that is so essential in Science, except possibly my talk and the final Panel Discusion where the names of the members of the Panel have not yet been given - wonder who will be invited to provide some balance to reflect the fact that the vast majority of the World's scientists do not believe in Cold Fusion - will I be invited?

My talk is entitled "Review of Progress in Cold Fusion" and I had rather hoped that it would be in one of the scientific sessions. If there had been lots of progress to report, I would have been given lots of time, if no progress then I would have been given zero time. I have been given 20 minutes. The talk is in the Parallel Session on "Special Topics". The speaker before is Dr. Fox and the following speaker is Dr. Mallove (no doubt purely accidental choices) - Drs. Fox and Mallove are not noted as recent regular scientific research workers, but they may surprise us. It could be an interesting session and one looks forward to later talks on "Cheap Electrical Power from Nuclear Fusion" and "Proposed Nuclear Physics Experiment to Conclusively Demonstrate and Explain Cold Fusion".

Cold Fusion workers may be interested in the last three paragraphs of an article that Nature asked me to write on "The Rise and Fall of the 17 keV Neutrino" where a comparison is made with Cold Fusion - it is the 4th November issue, 366(1993)29-32.

(c) Douglas R.O. Morrison.