Lewis Larsen, a Chicago physicist associated with the Widom-Larsen Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) theory is exploring slow nuclear fusion reactions among elements that are not radioactive.  Larsen has discovered harmless low-energy nuclear reactions may be taking place routinely inside of compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. 

Common Compact Fluorescent Bulb from Wikipedia

Common Compact Fluorescent Bulb from Wikipedia

LENR has NASA scientists alert now for a prospect of cheap, non-polluting energy.

There are fingerprints of mercury isotopes in used fluorescents that can identify environmental pollution from the bulbs.  Nuclear reactions may be responsible for the unusual fingerprints of mercury isotopes simply because there aren’t any viable theories to transmute the mercury from its state when the bulbs are new.

Larsen was quoted by Jeff McMahon who wrote about the idea in Forbes Magazine’s web site saying, “Unbeknownst to the general public, dynamically active nuclear processes are presently occurring in tens of millions of households worldwide. Fortunately, there aren’t any radiological health risks associated with CFLs because no hard radiation is emitted from them and no environmentally hazardous, long-lived radioactive isotopes are typically created by LENRs.”

Larsen told McMahon he has suspected low energy nuclear reactions occur in CFLs, and is encouraged by a February study of used bulbs that found isotopes of mercury that more conventional theories cannot explain.

The authors of the February study analyzed used fluorescent bulbs looking for a unique fingerprint of mercury isotopes. If they could find a unique fingerprint, researchers could identify mercury pollution in the environment that comes from discarded fluorescents.

Chris Mead of Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability who led the group said, “All fluorescent lamps use mercury (Hg) and can be a source of Hg to the environment when broken.”  The study was published in a February issue of Environmental Science and Technology.

The CFL market is growing fast. And as compact fluorescents command a larger share of the lighting market, the researchers expect mercury pollution from the bulbs to increase.

The research team points out the importance of their work saying, “The share of atmospheric anthropogenic Hg emissions represented by fluorescent light bulbs in the United States is 1–5 percent. Only a third of fluorescent light bulbs are recycled. As fluorescent lighting continues to supplant incandescent lighting, and as emissions from large point sources of Hg, such as coal-fired power plants and municipal waste incinerators are reduced, fluorescents will become an increasingly important source of Hg to the environment. Therefore, a method to detect and quantify Hg derived from fluorescents would be very useful.”

What they found has opened another LENR door with a unique fingerprint for mercury from fluorescent bulbs.

The expectation is explained, “The trapped Hg of used CFLs show unusually large isotopic fractionation (the distribution of mercury into its various isotopes), the pattern of which is entirely different from that which has been observed in previous Hg isotope research aside from intentional isotope enrichment.”

That’s the fact that set off a wee flurry of theory.  Larsen’s take is he believes he knows why the mercury isotopes in used CFLs are different.  “When viewed through the conceptual lens of the Widom-Larsen theory, Mead et al.’s carefully collected Hg isotope data suggests that low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) transmutations may actually be occurring at extremely low rates in CFLs during normal operation,” he said.

Larsen’s first thought is the news should make the idea of home nuclear fusion reactors less frightening.  The hard part will be distinguishing fusion from fission in the minds of the media and the public.

On that matter Larsen hopes to demonstrate that low-energy nuclear reactions are safe, green and commonplace in part to distinguish them from fission reactions that produce the dangerous ionizing radiation produced in conventional fission reactors.

Larsen has also found evidence of LENRs occurring in lithium-ion batteries, catalytic converters, and naturally in bacterial processes and lightning.

Perhaps one of the best explanations of LENR occurred from combining McMahon writing about NASA’s look at LENR home power and Bob Silberg of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory writing in February on the agency’s Global Climate Change blog:

“LENR offers a slow-moving neutron to an element (such as nickel). The nickel absorbs the extra neutron, rendering the nickel unstable. To regain stability, the acquired neutron splits into an electron and a proton. So where it once had an extra neutron, making it an unstable isotope of whatever element it was, it now has an extra proton instead, which makes it a more stable isotope of a different element. This process releases energy, which, hypothetically, can be used to generate electricity. With its new proton, the nickel has gained stability as another element: copper.”

LENR seems to be turning up in a lot of places begging the question, “Why have they been missed so far?  The obvious answer is we haven’t been looking.  Or more to the facts the sensitivity to find them comes from recent developments – and more people are looking with enhanced abilities to find them.

McMahon quotes Larsen who understands the activity is quite tiny and needs accurate assay before and after events saying LENR, “can only be readily detected and measured through the use of extraordinarily sensitive mass spectroscopy techniques on stable isotopes. Consequently, for nearly 100 years LENR processes have effectively been hidden in plain sight from the vast majority of the scientific community.”

Are Widom and Larsen right?  Or is Edmond Storms right?  Or are both somehow complementary to each other?  The answers are coming.  For now it’s a bit glorious to know there is elemental transformation occurring in all those CFLs out there and no one is being harmed.

LENR, LANR, Cold Fusion and all the others are just the dawning of the energy to come.  More light on the subject is going to be welcome.


5 Comments so far

  1. Matt Musson on April 3, 2013 7:33 AM

    If CFL’s were not foisted upon us by environmentalists – the environmentalists would be freaking out over the mercury pollution they encourage. Now, they would be positively apoplectic over the possibility of nuclear reactions and radioactive isotopes.

    I think I finally understand what the CF in CFL really stands for.

  2. Allan Kiik on April 4, 2013 5:19 AM

    Not by environmentalists alone, this is much more complicated, but Philips has done most of this scam, read here:


  3. Dug on April 16, 2013 10:32 AM

    Why the focus on compact fluorescents? Is the process going on inside a CFL fundamentally different from that in all the linear fluorescent lamps that have been standard commercial lighting for many decades?

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