With some minor trepidation cold fusion is in the headline.  The words still evoke some pained feelings, but the objective minds haven’t waited, the research has plowed on.  Brian Wang at his NextBigFuture site caught the release of the information made available from the 15th International Conferences on Cold Fusion (ICCF) held in Rome this year over the five days of October 5 through the 9th, 2009.

The main note from a look over the abstracts points up some information that with the sophisticated sensors now available, a wider array of low energy heat releasing events is being found than anyone previously could suspect.  Whether or not they are classic cold fusion isn’t much of a worthwhile question, thus the question is just how are these unforeseen events happening in addition to the planned ones?

One is realizing now that the chemistry field has a new grip on the field.  The presentation listing has some impressive universities and scholars involved that are following the leadership maintained since the Fleischmann and Pons event now over 21 years ago, from mostly independent and self supporting private individuals and groups.  Our thanks to them – the hints found in the field found so far pose huge potential.

The other field of interest is physics, which could and should hitch up its pants and be more adult about the field.  Twenty-one years is a full generation – a long time to carry bad feelings and reflects poorly managed emotions over the work in the science.

Even more, there are some who propose that Randell Mills’ BlackLight Power system might be a form of the basic physics taken to what might be commercial scale in the coming months or a few years.  If, so – then the mass of his work is going to need grasped, tested, sorted out and improved.  Should BlackLight be some part of the power generation business – with Mills’ two decade effort bearing results and found to be some form of low temperature nuclear energy release – cold fusion, which may well be a misnomer would be a scientific earthquake.  It is getting interesting . . . Mills’ developments might (well, probably) be a fully different activity for another new field.

This link is the home page for the ICCF conference with a listing to the various activities. The meat of the conference is here, the list of the linked pdfs and ppts available for review. A shortcut to getting a handle on what is most interesting is a pdf file of abstracts about the presentations.  There is lot there, and for some of you, it’s a very worthwhile excursion.

For the interested observer David J. Nagel has written a Scientific Overview of the IFFC 15 that if 11 pages can be called brief, will catch one up as quickly as one might hope. The field seems to be expanding geometrically.

Nagel points out “The dominant scientific question at the core of LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reaction) is how input chemical energies (on the order of electron volts, that is, eV) can trigger nuclear reactions (with output energies of millions of  eV).”  That question has many inputs and outputs so Nagel has devised a graphical matrix with the darker boxes showing where more work has been accomplished.

LENR Output Measurements. Click the image for more info.

Nagel’s second important observation is the importance of the materials, the chemical property of the field.  He says, “Materials are at the heart of efforts to produce LENR reliably and to scale up their output to levels needed for various applications.  But, materials have multiple problems.  The most basic challenges are their production, modification and characterization, that is, the measurement of materials composition and structure before, during and after experiments. This is true whether materials are inserted into an experiment or deposited during an experiment. Given the central importance of materials, there was significant attention given to them at ICCF15.”

ICCF15 had more papers on theory than on any other topic.  Nearly a third of the papers were reports on concepts and subsequent theoretical developments.  There have been over two dozen rather distinct concepts put forward since the field began in 1989. These are in widely different stages of development now. Few have been compared directly with the results of LENR experiments. This situation is from the point theory work is less costly than running experiments.  Using computer resources though, requires considerable power.  The issue today is where theories are in the sequence from (1) developing a concept to (2) writing out its equations to (3) evaluating them numerically to (4) comparison with available data or (5) designing future experiments.  Most LENR theories are not past the third stage, yet.

Some experimenter’s observations are already correlated, notably heat and helium production. So, the challenge to theoreticians is to develop theories that will explain all or most of the observations.  It remains possible that there is more than one mechanism active in LENR experiments.  If so, some of the experimental irreproducibility might be understandable.  That is, sometimes, materials or experimental conditions would favor one mechanism and other times, materials or protocols could activate another mechanism.

Theory work then has taken off into many directions.  While its hard to imagine more than one theory might be needed, one theory would be nice, but the range of observations isn’t getting to just one.

LENR, cold fusion or however it is labeled is a fascinating new field in science.  The criticism may still out talk raw science, but the successes effectively blank out comments other than those concerned with supporting the field.  The players are world wide from the U.S. on to Europe, the former soviet states, Japan, and Australia.  Progress in experimentation is still leading theory, a situation of incredible fascination.

The outlook holds applications out, way out perhaps 10, 20 or 30 years or more out.  But a brief consideration of the known observations bears some thought.

Power generators won’t be big or likely expensive, it should scale to heavy equipment or even trucks.  Units might be home sized, solving grid distribution matters.  The experiments do not emit dangerous prompt radiation, nor residual radioactivity, so no radioactive waste.  And for the greenies, no carbon molecule gasses are emitted.

But for us, the curious, the story is great because this science is still empirical – the experimental research brings surprises and challenges to theoretical thinking.  The Scientific Method strives to disprove hypothesis by experimentation, which always must be followed, is in many experiments offering more new information in the field.

It’s just getting started.  Let ‘er rip.


4 Comments so far

  1. Johnson on December 26, 2009 11:46 AM

    In my opinion, aneutronic fusion is one of the fusion approaches that should be considered.

  2. Mackenzie Hardridge on May 26, 2011 9:03 AM

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  3. Dorinda Navar on August 31, 2011 6:55 PM

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  4. Magaret Likar on September 6, 2011 2:11 AM

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