Lots of you will remember the debacle of Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons at the University of Utah when in 1989 they announced, not very dramatically, that they had an interesting experiment that expelled more energy than they used to run the test of the apparatus.  When the media got hold of it and dramatically dubbed it “cold fusion” the die was cast for a series of attempts to make fusion at room temperature.  Lots of failures followed and much was written that held the two scientists in low regard.  But . . .

Several researchers around the world have in fact duplicated and innovated other ways to get an atom’s protons in proximity close enough to fuse.  Now that goes far to resurrect the reputations of Sirs Fleishmann and Pons.  For the rest of us there is a glimmer, a mite spark of thought that condensed matter nuclear science could have a role in long term energy production.  Cold Fusion though, is dead.

The current take on fusion is in the two fields of high heat and pressure such as the endless multi-government enterprise known as ITER and the high velocity methods most famously by Bussard and best funded by Rostoker.  With ITER 4 of 5 decades at least from having any workable design the heat/pressure guys are looking rather weak.  The Bussard team and Rostoker using sheer speed as the tool to get protons together looks far far ahead with many convinced that Bussard may well get a reliable device design this time and might even get to breakeven in 2008.

With so many experiments with condensed matter nuclear science demonstrating that fusion is taking place, many bright minds are examining just how the event is taking place and what is going on.  This leads to explanations that many of us can grasp.  While the explanations are somewhat speculative, the phenomena are real.  To reduce this I would offer that the activity in the light elements like hydrogen and deuterium are getting packed into metal lattices where the elements are more tightly packed than in the normal gaseous state.  Once there the element’s vibratory nature is controlled by the lattice and promote a fusion like event releasing energy.  Another explanation from a different experiment theorizes that in the tight packed state an electron plows into a nucleus and triggers a series of events that release energy.  A third explanation from yet another experimental setup has the idea that the packed elements are responding to the energy in the lattice.  A fourth theory has it that in a narrow range of energy input that certain frequencies would trigger resonant tunneling to get protons in range enough to fuse. A much more elaborate explanation is here at the Institute of Science in Society, UK. “How Cold Fusion Works.”

The Institute of Science in Society also offers a page titled, “From Cold Fusion to Condensed Matter Nuclear Science,” that offers a good history of cold fusion from the events when Fleishmann first published the details of their experiment until today with notice of the International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear science back in July.

The page I introduce next is titled “Transmutation, The Alchemist’s Dream Come True.”  I fully admit I dislike that title immensely.  Anyway, with so many experiments completed with condensing light elements into larger ones with an abundance of excess energy some scientists are expanding the experiments to larger elements with the hope that in addition to energy production there might be new ways to form up larger nuclei that might be used to destroy uranium and plutonium reaction’s waste material.  This goals is also of considerable value and may offer solutions; particularly the large amount of waste mankind creates each year in atomic power generation.

Where will all of this take us?  I fully admit that I am somewhat trepidatious about this post.  Cold Fusion has an undeserved bad reputation that taints almost anyone who becomes brave enough to touch it.  But the science is real.  The research is truly basic as the scientists are still coming to terms with theories and explanations that can stand up for mainstream acceptance.  With so much experimentation accomplished and offering good possibilities the “old bad rep” needs itself to be cast off.  With the now “Condensed Matter Nuclear Science” on solid footing there should be more research and engineering work to seek ways to bring the science to mankind’s benefit.

But I am encouraged.  A Google on condensed matter nuclear science brings up a series of pages that forthrightly deal with the topic, which challenges the searcher to find the bad reputation.  That means the “hoax’ we all recall to be just that – something we recall that it turns out – isn’t a hoax but a fact after all.  Maybe if enough of us know that, the progress might lead a source of energy for our futures.


7 Comments so far

  1. Jed Rothwell on December 3, 2007 10:18 AM

    You wrote:

    “Lots of failures followed and much was written that held the two scientists in low regard. But . . .

    Cold Fusion though, is dead.”

    These statements are completely incorrect. “Condensed matter nuclear science” is just another name for cold fusion. The Fleischmann Pons effect, as reported, was replicated by hundreds of world class laboratories such as Los Alamos and China Lake, and these replications were described in over a thousand peer-reviewed papers in mainstream journals. Fleischmann and Pons were fully vindicated.

    The only people who hold Fleischmann and Pons in “low regard” are those who have not read any peer-reviewed papers on the subject, such as the editor of the Scientific American. He told me he has read no papers because it is “not his job.” He admits that he knows nothing about the research, yet he is certain that it is wrong.

    The paper you reference in the link describes cold fusion. I suggest you read other papers about this research before declaring it “dead.” You will find a bibliography of 3,000 cold fusion papers and full text from over 500 papers at our website:


    – Jed Rothwell
    Librarian, LENR-CANR.org

  2. Anonymous on December 4, 2007 9:58 AM

    Hi Dr. V.

    I picked this one up.

    Ciao, Guus

  3. flash on December 6, 2007 7:44 AM

    I’m very excited about any regeneration of this field… we need to reexamine all forms of clean energy in today’s climate, and although there is much controversy over cold fusion and the like, some claim it is still possible so we should give it a second chance.

  4. Brian Westenhaus on December 7, 2007 3:42 PM

    Thanks Jed, but the press has left the public mind thinking just as I said. So those reported failures are part of the common thought.

    You’re are still correct, though. Named “condensed matter nuclear science” opens a new door to an old room that as you say correctly is full of success. Please let “cold fusion” die an undeserved but dignified death. Its only a label and the science needs more support however it can be named.

  5. Jed Rothwell on December 7, 2007 3:57 PM

    You wrote:

    “Please let ‘cold fusion’ die an undeserved but dignified death. Its only a label and the science needs more support however it can be named.”

    First, no one ever deliberately named it “cold fusion.” Martin Fleischmann and others dislike that name because it is technically inaccurate. But no one is in charge of language, and words come to mean what they mean.

    Second, renaming it “condensed matter nuclear science” will not help. Academic opponents will attack it a vigorously by that name as any other. It isn’t the name they object to; it is the concept.

    Renaming cold fusion to escape opprobrium is like coming up with a new euphemism to escape embarrassment. You might call the toilet a “bathroom,” then a “restroom,” then a “mens room” but no matter how many times you change the name, it is still embarrassing, and the new euphemism you choose will soon be as awkward as the previous one.

  6. Brian Westenhaus on December 7, 2007 4:40 PM

    OK Jed, you win. But I have to ask what you think the prospects might be for (everyone insert their own descriptive terminology)? Is there some research going to energy production that has legs?

  7. Jed Rothwell on December 10, 2007 1:21 PM

    You wrote:

    “Is there some research going to energy production that has legs?”

    Honestly, that is difficult to say. There has been a lot of scientific progress in recent years. Some researchers can make the reaction occur every time. Mitsubishi and others can transmute elements reliably. But there has been little progress toward scaling up.

    As early as 1991, reactions produced temperatures and power density as high as a fission reactor core, and some cathodes produced hundreds of megajoules of energy, but unfortunately large scale cells tend to go out of control, and melt or explode.

    It will never be a practical source of energy unless it can be controlled. In the last 9 months or so, Storms has made dramatic progress controlling the low temperature plasma “lukewarm” fusion reaction (plasma in the presence of metal). This technique was developed years ago at BARC, Los Alamos and at many Russian labs. It works at high temperatures so it is promising. Plasma fusion theory predicts that lukewarm cells should produce a small nuclear reaction. Rout (BARC) described a reaction that should have produced 10E9 particles, but it produced 10E16 instead — a clear anomaly.

    If it can be controlled and scaled up, Arthur Clarke, I and many others are confident that it will be far cheaper and more abundant than any other energy source. Probably about 1000 times cheaper and millions of times more abundant. Clarke wrote a paper about this, and many sections in the revised Millennium Edition of “Profiles of the Future,” which I assisted him with. He also recommended my e-book, “Cold Fusion and the Future”:


    Now available in Portuguese and Japanese.

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