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Cold Fusion 1

Cold Fusion: fake science, myth

Cold Fusion: fake science, myth, or just completely misunderstood

Antonio Copene Kevin Kellems Nick Hopps Logan Jensen

Physics 1010 Salt Lake Community College

Cold Fusion 2 Abstract The science behind cold fusion is one that is marked as a bunk science, but still has a number of things to be learned off these finds. Fusion and fission at the two type of known nuclear reactions and the type of environments that these need to happen have been documented and tested. Heavy Water or deuterium is an important part of the science of cold fusion. Deuterium is hydrogen with an extra neutron, this happens natural at the rate of once for every 6,420 hydrogen atoms in the ocean. Pons and Fleishmann claimed to of found the process of cold fusion only to have it refuted that same year. Pons and Fleishman electrically charged deuterium to create this process. LENR or Low Energy Nuclear Reaction is the new name of the science leading the cold fusion experiments. Introduction Cold fusion has been a hot button issue in the science world since the events of 1989, where two professors were pushed into stating findings that they didnt have the results to back up. Before these events the science was more of a bunk science that no one really gave any thought too. The new way of cold fusion type science that changed its name to LENR or Low Energy Nuclear reaction. The debate if cold fusion is an actual science has been going on for years. From the findings starting from the metal palladium to deuterium aka heavy water and so on. The findings have been on the same page since the beginning but they have never been able to repeat or prove that an outside force wasnt really the cause of the results.

Cold Fusion 3 The impact of cold fusion would make true renewable power that has very little negative effects. Taking all the Nuclear Fission energy plants and turning it into a process that is safe enough to do in the home. The implications are high and world changing if true. The results of science have always been questioned until technology has advanced enough to throw them to the side or prove them science fact. The world thought the earth was flat for thousands of years, or that the sun rotated around the earth, according to the flat earth society this is still science fact. So it could just be time and advancements in technology before we know what really happened during each of these findings. The history of cold fusion is one of magic and dreaming but at sciences base didnt all great findings start off with these at its core. Fusion vs. Fission Looking at this idea of cold fusion we have to look at how nuclear reactions happen. Fission and Fusion are almost the opposite of each other, fission the breaking up of an atom into two smaller atoms and fusion the combining of two atoms to make a new atom. Both of these methods give off a large amount of energy but fusion does it with very little radioactive byproducts. Fission and fusion have both been recreated by man in nuclear weapons and in the lab but the conditions for both currently have their downsides. Fission has two conditions needed to happen these are: Critical mass of the substance (the minimum amount of mass required for fission to be self-sustaining) and a relatively slow neutron is required to initiate the process (Diffen, n.d.). Fission is

Cold Fusion 4 currently being done in nuclear power plants by bombarding unstable isotopes, like Uranium-235, with high-speed particles, usually neutrons (Duke Energy, 2013). The byproduct of this method is a highly radioactive byproduct from the fission process. The storage of this radioactive byproduct and the possibly of melt down have haunted this method of creating power for the last 40 or 50 years. If controlled and used wisely this has a great future of cheap renewable energy but with the Chornobyl melt down in the 1980s and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that had the holding tanks of the nuclear waste breaking and are currently leaking into the pacific ocean. Nuclear fusion process is of turning two or more lighter atoms into a larger one (Diffen, n.d.). This process is done with very little if any radioactive byproducts but extreme energy is needed to create this process, in terms of heat it needs to reach levels of 100 million kelvin. This is the process uses the energy to break down the electrostatic repulsion and the nuclear forces binds them together. This process is found in stars where the large amounts of energy are created by deuterium and tritium becoming helium with a byproduct of a neutron. To do this process of fusion in a more controlled friendly environment is what makes cold fusion such an inviting method of energy production. Currently Fusion has to be held in a magnetic field since it would melt through any container holding it. Cold fusion would go beyond this and turn this source or power into something that could be used in the home and a 1000 other household items. The history and methods of what was or is thought to be cold fusion have a rich and controversial history.

Cold Fusion 5 The Methods of Cold Fusion Palladium is a rare silvery looking metal that was discovered and named in 1802 by English chemist and physicist William Hyde Wollaston ("Palladium." Wikipedia.). Wollaston named the metal after the asteroid Pallas. Palladium is very important in technology for its relationship with the element hydrogen. Its a special metal because of its ability to absorb hydrogen far greater than other transition metals. This was discovered by a Chemist named Thomas Graham. He concluded that even at room temperature, Palladium could absorb vast amounts of hydrogen when other metals had to be red hot to do the same. When Palladium is saturated, it can have a ratio of hydrogen to palladium up to .6. It was not until the late 1920s when scientists reported that they were able to create a reaction at room temperature. Friedrich Paneth and Kurt Peters claimed that they were able to fuse hydrogen into helium simply by dividing palladium into fine pieces and allowing them to absorb hydrogen. Unfortunately this was not the case because the helium they measured was actually helium from the air. Paneth and Peters later took back their claim realizing the mistake they had made. Though Paneth and Peter's claims were eventually debunked, they were read into with great interest by a Swedish chemist and physicist named John Tandberg. Tandberg thought he could succeed where the others failed. In an electrolytic cell, electrical energy is passed through and a reaction occurs where atoms have their oxidation state changed. This process is called reduction-oxidation, or simply redox. By putting this cell under high pressure and using electrodes made of the palladium, John Tandberg claimed to

Cold Fusion 6 have created small amounts of helium molecules and surplus energy. Tandberg proceeded to apply for a patent in his country for producing useful energy. Unfortunately, this was denied because he was unable to explain how his process physically worked in detail. Tandberg went on to continue the experiments with Deuterium. ("Cold fusion." Wikipedia) The Neutron wasn't discovered until the year 1932. An Isotope is a version of an element with an un-average amount of neutrons within its nucleus. These extra neutrons account for an inconsistent precise weight of what is considered to be a pure element. Take Hydrogen for example, deuterium is also known as "heavy Hydrogen". The oceans on our planet have one atom of deuterium for every 6,420 atoms of hydrogen. ("Deuterium." Wikipedia.) Deuterium is different from regular hydrogen on the atomic level because it contains a neutron. A Deuterium atom is completely stable. It was discovered in 1931 by Nobel Peace Prize earning scientist Harold Urey. Keep in mind that it wasn't actually recognized as an Isotope until a year later when the neutron was discovered. Deuterium oxidizes the same way regular hydrogen does to form water. In the case of Deuterium, when it oxidizes it forms a different version of water known as "heavy water". Heavy water is in fact more physically massive because of the extra neutrons per molecule. The physical properties between heavy water and light water are about the same, other than heavy water being 10.6% more dense. It is reported that there isn't even the slightest difference in taste between heavy water and light water. Heavy water can be separated from light water using electrolysis, this is because the difference

Cold Fusion 7 in mass of the two different hydrogen isotopes creates a small difference in the speed of the reaction. Heavy water is an essential component in nuclear reactors designed to produce energy and also those that are used in the creation of nuclear weapons. During WWII the Nazis needed to secure their own source of heavy water for their weapons program. The Norsk Hydro Company created an operation that could produce a renewable source of heavy water in the hydro-electric power plant Vermork. The allies decided to sabotage and destroy the plant prior to the inevitable German invasion of Norway in a crucial effort to prevent the Nazis from obtaining nuclear weapons. ("Norwegian heavy water sabotage." Wikipedia.) Tandberg continued to run his experiments in the effort to unlock a nearly endless source of energy from cold fusion. His experiments began to utilize the electrolysis of Heavy water. This was a method used by two other scientists several decades later. The 1989 Cold Fusion Experiments The most important and controversial event in the history of cold fusion took place on march 23, 1989 at the University of Utah campus when electrochemists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleishmann announced they had successfully produced and sustained a fusion reaction at room temperatures (Krivi). This of course sparked a lot of hostility and questions over the next years when the experiment could never be repeated. To better understand this we will look at the experiment itself, the unusual announcement, and the fallout that followed. The first experiments Pons and Fleishmann conducted on their hypothesis on cold fusion were self-funded and done and pons personal residence. They first started their

Cold Fusion 8 research simply out of scientific curiosity and did not take their idea to the University for almost a year. Pons, being the head of the Chemistry department at the time, it was not long after they took it to the university that lab and experiments and research were underway. Over the course of the next year or so Pons and Fleishmann continued their research until the point of the false success in January of 1989. The experiment consisted of a glass double beaker with a metal rod in the center surrounded by heavy water that was then electrically charged. The intention being to drive the atomic nuclei of deuterium (heavy hydrogen) from the surrounding water into the rod of metal using electric currents in the hope it would be squeezed into a new atomic structure. When this happens it releases an extremely large amount of energy generally causing temperatures in the millions of degrees. So when Fleishmann and pons observed a 100% increase in temperature within the cell that couldnt be attributed to any known chemical process they assumed fusion had taken place at near room temperatures. They let this observation of heat over shadow the absence of other key components that would result from the fusion of deuterium. Such as the lack of excess helium that would have been produced and also the lack of trace neutrons that would have been left over. Pons and Fleishman were not experts in quantitative isotope analysis this is not too surprising for the time. When the announcement was made Pons and Fleishmann had urged the University to allow for an additional 18 months of research but due to a failed potential partnership with a BYU chemist studying the same area (Alfred). Making them believing

Cold Fusion 9 they needed to hurry and patent their research and make the announcement or lose out on their extremely lucrative invention, an almost unlimited supply of clean nuclear energy. Because the announcement was made in a press conference and the lack of a peer reviewed journal and details made the scientific community very suspicious of this new discovery. When the announcement was made no one in the Universitys own physics department were aware the research was being conducted. This caused a lot of drama between the two departments culminating in a professor of physics at the University announced he had rechecked their cells and found no evidence of excess neutrons. Over the next few years, man scientists tried to recreate Pons and Fleishmanns success with no results. Condemning them and their careers. Sadly, Pons and Fleishmann would take the fall for the University pushing them into a bad situation on the grounds of making money. Cold fusion would have been one of the greatest discoveries in energy, so I can partly understand why so much was done to protect it. But many people made quite a few errors turning the whole ordeal into one of the biggest misconceptions in nuclear sciences history. The Future of Cold Fusion. Since the 1989 debacle of Cold Fusion, that has become known as scientist trying to sell snake oil Dr. Pons and Dr. Fleischmann have been viewed as trying to take short cuts in Fusion energy. The scientific community viewed cold fusion as experimental errors and never accepted that any sort of fusion had ever taken place (Brown 1989) . By October of 1989 the U.S. Department of Energy concluded, that cold fusion was not demonstrated, cold-fusion advocates complained

Cold Fusion 10

they were being politically victimized by the hot-fusion and particle-physics establishment (Randy Alfred, Wired). There was hand full of people and countries still pursuing cold fusion until 1997, basically became extinct and taboo science. Until Andrea A. Rossi and Professor Sergio Focardi of the University of Bologna came along (Sergio Focardi Has, 2013).

Without funding science becomes stagnant and progression comes in very, very small steps, Andrea Rossi is an entrepreneur that has had a fascination with trying to find ways of turning waste into useable products. Much like a modern alchemist wanting to turn lead into gold.

Andrea A. Rossi and Professor Sergio Focardi of the University of Bologna began working on cold fusion very quietly and in January 11 of 2011 he announced that his firm Leonardo Technologies Inc. that they had a commercial viable source of cold fusion. Rossi claims that this device called an Energy Catalyzer does not operate on the basis of cold fusion, but a low energy nuclear reaction (Gibbs, 2012) 4. One of the problems is in 1989 the laws of physics knew of two reactions fission and fusion, since they knew it did not demonstrate the traits of fission they assumed they had created fusion. The research showed that there was something nuclear going on but at the time lacking the technology to demonstrate that they were producing cold fusion it was dismissed by mainstream physics (Krivit, 2012).

Cold Fusion 11 Since the term cold fusion comes with so much baggage, in 2012 it is beginning to remerge under this new name of Low Energy Nuclear Reaction. Rossi did not want to be involved financially with something viewed as incompetent or delusional. LENR will battle its own amount of skepticism, so for the sake of being taken seriously its being called Low Energy Nuclear Reaction or (LENR). Also Low energy nuclear reaction is different than the cold fusion of the past allowing Rossi to patent his technology. Of course scientist would start working on it again, if were to work, unlimited, cheap, green energy, it could be a global problem solver. Andrea Rossi is one of the ones dumping millions into LENR and feels they will have something to bring to market in the near future. I find it interesting how fast people were ready to debunk the findings of Dr. Pons and Fleischmann, saying how they were delusional and cold fusion didnt exist. As of January 28 2014 a large U.S Investment Company has acquired the rights to use Andrea Rossis E-Cat technology to set up in the U.S and China. Over twenty years later, companies like Cherokee Investment Partners are now filling for patents on cold fusion again. NASA is involved with the phrase Cold Fusion again claiming cold fusion could put a reactor in every home, car and plane (Sebastian, 2014). This makes me realize how much was at stake in 1989 and when you are treading water in the territory of new science how it is brought to the world is very important. Is Cold Fusion and LENR the same thing, no, but what Dr. Pons and Dr. Fleischmann were doing in 1989 similar to LENR, yes. Cold fusion was explained by the room temperature nuclear fusion of deuterium and that the primary product of this reaction was helium-4, producing heat (Krivit, 2012). The unfortunate thing is that they were uncertain what to

Cold Fusion 12 call the nuclear reaction they were seeing in their results. At the time it wasnt fission so they called it fusion. It was a low heat nuclear reaction. There is as more at stake today for the possibilities of cold fusion/Low Energy Nuclear Reaction being realized and a viable source of energy. Conclusion The future of cold fusion/Low Energy Nuclear Reaction is unknown but bright at the same time. To see how in 200 years it has made jumps but our technology at these jumps was never able to fully understand what is happening. We see this in the 1800s before the knowledge of Deuterium and then in 1932 when we the knowledge of Isotopes explained why Deuterium happened and what caused it. It always seems that technology and current science is always one step behind the jumps people make with cold fusion. Leading mainstream science to point the finger and lead this to a bunk science. I dont know if the reactions that have happened in the past are cold fusion or just something else that we have not found out about the natural world, but it will be interesting to see the jumps we make before the current generation dies off. To see where real funding will get this science is one of the most exciting things to come out of the last few years in cold fusion. Even if this whole thing turns out to be a bunk the other knowledge the world gains for it might end up helping the push of green energy forward. The 1989 event seemed to be fuelled by a want and need to make a profit off of an untested science. When these change and become tested or found to be false well be able to look into what they learned and what is still solid science.

Cold Fusion 13 Citations

Alfred, Randy . "March 23, 1989: Cold Fusion Gets Cold Shoulder." Conde Nast Digital, 23 Mar. 2011. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <>. "Cold fusion." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <>. "Deuterium." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 26 Mar. 2014. <>.

Nuclear Fission vs Nuclear Fusion. (n.d.). - Difference and Comparison. Retrieved April 7, 2014, from Nuclear Information Center. (2013, January 30). Nuclear Information Center. Retrieved April 10, 2014, from Krivit, Steven. "New Energy Times - The Five Press Conferences of Cold Fusion." New Energy Times - The Five Press Conferences of Cold Fusion. New Energy Times, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. < shtml>. "Norwegian heavy water sabotage." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Mar. 2014.

Cold Fusion 14 Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <>. "Palladium." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <>. Krivit, Steven. " LENR is Not "Cold Fusion" - A Crucial Distinction." 01 10 2012: n. page. Print. <>. Sebastian, Anthony. "Cold fusion tech picked up by major US partner, prepares for launch in the American and Chinese energy markets." 28 01 2014: 1. Web. 23 Mar. 2014. <>. Brown, Malcom. "Physicists Debunk Claim Of a New Kind of Fusion." NYTimes/science. 05 03 1989: n. page. Web. 23 Mar. 2014. <>. Gibbs, Mark. "The State of the Cold Fusion Market." Forbes. 08 04 2012: n. page. Web. 23 Mar. 2014. <>. Alfred, Randy. "March 23, 1989: Cold Fusion Gets Cold Shoulder." Wired. 03 23 2009: n. page. Web. 23 Mar. 2014. <>.

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