baudrunner's space: Cold fusion not so bogus
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Monday, January 21, 2008

Cold fusion not so bogus

In 1998 Wired Magazine published an article by Charles Platt titled What if Cold Fusion is Real?. Its eleven pages make for very interesting and compelling reading almost ten years later, especially in light of reports of the work done at the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center at San Diego in 2004. Experiments there involving specially coated electrodes using a process called co deposition in which particular ratios of palladium and deuterium are applied electrolytically produced evidence of high-energy nuclear reactions concentrated near their surface. At the March 2007 meeting of the American Physical Society, two other teams reported similar results based on that work. The credibility of cold fusion claims reported by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons in their controversial experiments of March, 1989 has finally been vindicated. Cold fusion is real.

The essential purpose, the holy grail as it were of controlled fusion is the return of large amounts of energy from the input of a very little amount of very abundant fuel. Most research funding, to the tune of billions of dollars has been directed toward hot fusion experiments in which a form of hydrogen is used to fuel sustained nuclear fusion reactions, in the hope of producing vast amounts of heat and potentially fueling clean electrical energy plants using steam driven turbines. For all the investment in sustained hot fusion so far, the best result that has been achieved to date is an energy return of slightly less than that used to obtain it.

It has taken almost fifteen years for the initial Fleischmann-Pons work to be taken seriously by the scientific community, and this is largely through the work of privately funded independent researchers (read the article). As to whether cold fusion products will actually ever make it to market is another matter. All the brains who have successfully reproduced the results of the two original experimenters have noted that the materials used, especially Palladium, have very quirky characteristics. "If you chop a [Palladium] rod into three or four sections," says John Bockris, of Texas A&M; (1998), "you get the confusing and ridiculous effect that the first section works splendidly, and the second doesn't work at all..". That would explain the inconsistent results of all those scientists trying to duplicate the work of Fleishmann and Pons, and in the end ridiculing them.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and enough money diverted from hot fusion research toward cold fusion research should resolve the intricate problems that have slowed productivity in CF research down. One need only consider the positive results obtained from that field of endeavor with respect to the amount of money invested in it compared to those for hot fusion, with the billions that have gone into that, to make the intelligent decision.

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