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Professor Chris Rhodes

Professor Chris Rhodes

Professor Chris Rhodes is a writer and researcher. He studied chemistry at Sussex University, earning both a B.Sc and a Doctoral degree (D.Phil.); rising to…

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The Progress made in the Different Fields of Nuclear Fusion

Feasible fusion power – the carrot before the donkey?

When I was about 10, I recall hearing that nuclear fusion power would become a reality "in about thirty years". The estimate has increased steadily since then, and now, forty odd years on, we hear that fusion power will come on-stream "in about fifty years". So, what is the real likelihood of fusion-based power stations coming to our aid in averting the imminent energy crisis? Getting two nuclei to fuse is not easy, since both carry a positive charge and hence their natural propensity is to repel one another. Therefore, a lot of energy is required to force them together so that they can fuse. To achieve this, suitable conditions of extremely high temperature, comparable to those found in stars, must be met. A specific temperature must be reached in order for particular nuclei to fuse with one another. This is termed the "critical ignition temperature", and is around 400 million degrees centigrade for two deuterium nuclei to fuse, while a more modest 100 million degrees is sufficient for a deuterium nucleus to fuse with a tritium nucleus. For this reason, it is deuterium-tritium fusion that is most sought after, since it should be most easily achieved and sustained.

One disadvantage of tritium is that it is radioactive and decays with a half-life of about 12 years, and consequently, it exists naturally in only negligible amounts. However, tritium may be "bred" from lithium using neutrons produced in an initial deuterium-tritium fusion. Ideally, the process would become self-sustaining, with lithium fuel being burned via conversion to tritium, which then fuses with deuterium, releasing more neutrons. While not unlimited, there are sufficient known resources of lithium to fire a global fusion programme for about a thousand years, mindful that there are many other uses for lithium, ranging for various types of battery to medication for schizophrenics. The supply would be effectively limitless if lithium could be extracted from the oceans.

In a working scenario, some of the energy produced by fusion would be required to maintain the high temperature of the fuel such that the fusion process becomes continuous. At the temperature of around 100 - 300 million degrees, the deuterium/lithium/tritium mixture will exist in the form of a plasma, in which the nuclei are naked (having lost their initial atomic electron clouds) and are hence exposed to fuse with one another.

The main difficulty which bedevils maintaining a working fusion reactor which might be used to fire a power station is containing the plasma, a process usually referred to as "confinement" and the process overall as “magnetic confinement fusion” (MCF). Essentially, the plasma is confined in a magnetic bottle, since its component charged nuclei and electrons tend to follow the field of magnetic force, which can be so arranged that the lines of force occupy a prescribed region and are thus centralised to a particular volume. However, the plasma is a "complex" system that readily becomes unstable and leaks away. Unlike a star, the plasma is highly rarefied (a low pressure gas), so that the proton-proton cycle that powers the sun could not be thus achieved on earth, as it is only the intensely high density of nuclei in the sun's core that allows the process to occur sustainably, and that the plasma is contained within its own gravitational mass, and isolated within the cold vacuum of space.

In June 2005, the EU, France, Japan, South Korea, China and the U.S. agreed to spend $12 billion to build an experimental fusion apparatus (called ITER) by 2014. It is planned that ITER will function as a research instrument for the following 20 years, and the knowledge gained will provide the basis for building a more advanced research machine. After another 30 years, if all goes well, the first commercial fusion powered electricity might come on-stream.

The Joint European Torus (JET)

I attended a fascinating event recently - a Cafe' Scientifique meeting held in the town of Reading in South East England. I have also performed in this arena, talking about "What Happens When the Oil Runs Out?", which remains a pertinent question. This time it was the turn of Dr Chris Warrick from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy based near Abingdon in Oxfordshire, which hosts both the MAST (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak) and the better known JET (Joint European Torus) experiments. In the audience was a veteran engineer/physicist who had worked on the pioneering ZETA4 experiment in the late 1950s, from which neutrons were detected leading to what proved later to be false claims that fusion had occurred, their true source being different versions of the same instability processes that had beset earlier machines.

Nonetheless, his comment was salient: "In the late 50s, we were told that fusion power was 20 years away and now, 50-odd years later it is maybe 60 years away." Indeed, JET has yet to produce a positive ratio of output power/input energy, and instability of the plasma is still a problem. Dr Warrick explained that while much of the plasma physics is now sorted-out, minor aberrations in the magnetic field allow some of the plasma to leak out, and if it touches the far colder walls of the confinement chamber, it simply "dies". In JET it is fusion of nuclei of the two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium that is being undertaken, a process that as noted earlier, requires a "temperature" of 100 million degrees.

I say "temperature" because the plasma is a rarefied (very low pressure) gas, and hence the collisions between particles are not sufficiently rapid that the term means the same distribution of energy as occurs under conditions of thermal equilibrium. It is much the same as the temperatures that may be quoted for molecules in the atmospheric region known as the thermosphere which lies some 80 kilometres above the surface of the Earth. Here too, the atmosphere is highly rarefied and thus derived temperatures refer to translational motion of molecules and are more usefully expressed as velocities. However expressed, at 100 million degrees centigrade, the nuclei of tritium and deuterium have sufficient translational velocity (have enough energy) that they can overcome the mutual repulsion arising from their positive charges and come close enough that they are drawn together by attractive nuclear forces and fuse, releasing vast amounts of energy in the process.

JET is not a small device, at 18 metres high, but bigger machines will be necessary before the technology is likely to give out more energy than it consumes. Despite the considerable volume of the chamber, it contains perhaps only one hundredth of a gram of gas, hence its very low pressure. There is another matter and that is how long the plasma and hence energy emission can be sustained. Presently it is fractions of a second but a serious "power station" would need to run for some hours. There is also the problem of getting useful energy from the plasma to convert into electricity even if the aforementioned and considerable problems can be overcome and a sustainable, large-scale plasma maintained.

The plan is to surround the chamber with a "blanket" of lithium with pipes running through it and some heat-exchanger fluid passing through them. The heated fluid would then pass on its heat to water and drive a steam-turbine, in the time-honoured fashion used for fossil fuel fired and nuclear power plants. Now my understanding is that this would not be lithium metal but some oxide material. The heat would be delivered in the form of very high energy neutrons that would be slowed-down as they encounter lithium nuclei on passing through the blanket. In principle this is a very neat trick, since absorption of a neutron by a lithium nucleus converts it to tritium, which could be fed back into the plasma as a fuel. Unlike deuterium, tritium does not exist is nature, being radioactive with a half-life of about 12 years. However produced, either separately or in the blanket, lithium is the ultimate fuel source, not tritium per se. Deuterium does exist in nature but only to the extent of one part in about two thousand of ordinary hydrogen (protium) and hence the energy costs of its separation are not inconsiderable.

The neutron flux produced by the plasma is very high, and to enhance the overall breeding efficiency of lithium to tritium the reactor would be surrounded with a “lithium” blanket about three feet thick. The intense neutron flux will render the material used to construct the reactor highly radioactive, to the extent that it would not be feasible for operators to enter its vicinity for routine maintenance. The radioactive material will need to be disposed of similarly to the requirements for nuclear waste generated by nuclear fission, and hence fusion is not as "clean" as is often claimed. Exposure to radiation of many potential materials necessary to make the reactor, blanket, and other components such as the heat-exchanger pipes would render them brittle, and so compromise their structural integrity. There is also the possibility that the lithium blanket around the reactor might be replaced by uranium, so enabling the option of breeding plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.

Providing a fairly intense magnetic field to confine the plasma (maybe Tesla - similar to that in a hospital MRI scanner) needs power (dc not ac as switching the polarity of the field would cause the plasma to collapse) and large power-supply units containing a lot of metals including rare earths which are mined and processed using fossil fuels. The issue of rare earths is troublesome already, and whether enough of them can be recovered to meet existing planned wind and electric car projects is debatable, let alone that additional pressure should be placed upon an already fragile resource to build a first generation of fusion power stations.

World supplies of lithium are also already stressed, and hence getting enough of it not only to make blankets for fusion reactors and tritium production but also for the millions-scale fleet of electric vehicles needed to divert our transportation energy demand away from oil is probably a bridge too far, unless we try getting it from seawater, which takes far more energy than mining lithium minerals. The engineering requirements too will be formidable, however, most likely forcing the need to confront problems as yet unknown, and even according to the most favourable predictions of the experts, fusion power is still 60 years away, if it will arrive at all. Given that the energy crisis will hit hard long before then, I suggest we look to more immediate solutions, mainly in terms of energy efficiency, for which there is ample scope.

To quote again the ZETA veteran, "I wonder if maybe man is not intended to have nuclear fusion," and all in all, other than from solar energy I wonder if he is right. At any rate, garnering real electrical power from fusion is so far distant as to have no impact on the more immediately pressing fossil fuels crisis, particularly for oil and natural gas. Fusion Power is a long-range "holy grail" and part of the illusion that humankind can continue in perpetuity to use energy on the scale that it presently does. Efficiency and conservation are the only real means to attenuate the impending crisis in energy and resources.

UK and US join forces on laser-fusion energy

The UK company AWE and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have joined-forces with the US-based National Ignition Facility (NIF) to help provide energy using Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF), in which a pellet of fuel is heated using powerful lasers. Since the late 1950s, UK scientists have been attempting to achieve the fusion of hydrogen nuclei (tritium and deuterium) using magnetic confinement (MCF). The UK-based Joint European Torus (JET) is the largest such facility in the world and may be regarded as a prototype for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) based in France. So far, the "breakeven point" has not been reached, and the energy consumed by the plasma has yet to yield more energy than it takes to maintain it; moreover, there are problems of instability as already alluded to.

An alternative is Inertial confinement fusion (ICF), in which fusion of nuclei is initiated by heating and compressing a fuel target, typically in the form of a pellet containing deuterium and tritium contained in a device called a hohlraum (hollow space or cavity) using an extremely powerful laser. Energy is delivered from the laser to the inner surface of the hohlraum which produces high-energy X-rays. The impingement of these X-rays on the target causes its outer layer to explode, and by a Newtonian counter reaction, drives the inner substance of the target inwards, compressing it massively. Shock-waves are also produced that travel inward through the target.

If the shock-waves are intense enough, the fuel at the target centre is heated and compressed to the extent that nuclear fusion can occur. The energy released by the fusion reactions then heats the surrounding fuel, within which atomic nuclei may further begin to fuse. In comparison with "breakeven" in MCF, in ICF a state of "ignition" is sought, in which a self-sustaining chain-reaction is attained that consumes a significant portion of the fuel. The fuel pellets typically contain around 10 milligrams of fuel, and if all of that were consumed it would release an energy equivalent to that from burning a barrel of oil. In reality, only a small proportion of the fuel is "burned". That said, "ignition" would yield far more energy than the breakeven point value.

At the NIF it is hoped to have ignition within a couple of years, or far sooner than the carrot before the donkey "50 years away" for MCF, although there is much to be done yet. A single shot from the world's most powerful laser at NIF is reported to have released "a million billion neutrons" and for a tiny fraction of a second produced more power than was being consumed in the entire world, although to achieve ignition this would need to be increased a thousand-fold.

A real breakthrough, no doubt, but as with MCF, how long before this technology can be fabricated into actual power stations? There are many nontrivial ancillary challenges too, especially the secondary procedure of actually getting the energy out of the reactor into a useful form, i.e. heat to drive steam-turbines as with all other kinds of thermal power stations, to generate electricity. This is very complex and untested technology compared, say, to coal- and gas-fired or nuclear power plants. Actual fusion power is still at best many decades away and the concept should not be thrown as a red-herring that the world's impending energy crisis has been abated.

Most immediately, what fusion in any of its manifestations does not address is the problem of providing liquid fuels as conventional supplies of oil and gas decline, and it is this which is the greatest and most pressing matter to be dealt with, against a backdrop of mere years not a luxury of decades.

"Cold fusion" proven?

I remember well the phenomenon of "cold fusion" as it was dubbed. This was back in 1989 when Professors Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischman claimed that they could extract 40% more energy in the form of heat than they had input in the form of electricity into an electrochemical cell containing deuterium oxide ("heavy water"). They proposed the deuterium nuclei had undergone a nuclear fusion. The potential implications of this were staggering: that rather than trying to mimic the massively high temperature conditions of some hundred million degrees or so as are necessary to overcome the strong Coulombic forces that tend to keep two positively charged nuclei apart, as in "hot" plasma-fusion, it was feasible to somehow overcome this barrier such that the process could occur at room temperature.

Pons and Fleischman became largely dismissed as charlatans when many other research groups around the world found themselves unable to reproduce their results and confirm their claims, which were accordingly dismissed as unfounded. However, note the comment below to the effect that the phenomenon has since been confirmed in many highly credible laboratories around the world. I remember there were some really quite bizarre effects found by other workers - for example, one young man was killed when a cold-fusion cell exploded while he was trying to demonstrate the phenomenon of "fusion in a test-tube" as the popular press described it. So, something real was happening, fusion or not. A senior scientist and champion of cold-fusion, Dr Eugene Mallove, was murdered during the furore, which incited a number of conspiracy theories at the time.

The matter never entirely went away and I recall reading an article either in The Guardian or New Scientist (or both) to the effect that a scientist in the U.S. had claimed to have demonstrated fusion when he exposed hexadeuteroacetone (that's C3D6O as opposed to the more common C3H6O) to ultrasound. He was vilified by the scientific community, as I recall and its dogma that cold fusion did not exist and could not as there is no theory to explain it. However, a professor in Japan has apparently demonstrated that if deuterium gas is passed into a reactor containing composite palladium-zirconium oxide (Pd-ZrO2) nanoparticles, Helium-4 is produced (a sure sign of fusion?), the temperature of the reactor rises and its centre remains warm for 50 hours.

If this is true it is absolutely fascinating and perhaps some accepted scientific laws will need to be substantially modified, as has been said. However, from a practical point of view, that of dealing with the energy crunch, even if cold fusion is a reality, have we found our salvation? I don't think so, frankly. I have not seen any figures for how much Pd and deuterium gas are used to run this cell and how much excess heat is produced. However, I have yet to be convinced that the energy needed to produce deuterium gas (by the electrolysis of deuterium oxide - "heavy water") and to make enough heavy water in the first place to feed the electrolysis units, will be offset by the final thermal output of the "fusion" reactors. Then there is the matter of availability of palladium metal, the energy for its fabrication into the composite nanoparticles and so on, and how would the heat energy be extracted usefully, say to heat buildings or drive electricity turbines? The problem of energy extraction is even worse for "hot" fusion, from a plasma that even if it can be sustained, would produce ultra-high energy neutrons that no known materials are yet able to withstand, from which to extract thermal energy.


The issue of “cold fusion” has resurfaced in the guise of the Energy Catalyzer. This is also referred to as E-Cat and is claimed as a Low-Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) heat source, and is the creation of Andrea Rossi who is an inventor. Much has been written on this subject in the popular press, and the following highlights are taken from a useful wikipedia article11, containing original references which I have read and validated as being accurate. A patent was approved in Italy on April 6, 2011 by Rossi and physicist Sergio Focardi which designates the E-Cat as "process and equipment to obtain exothermal reactions, in particular from nickel and hydrogen". Now this is where it gets interesting: Rossi and Focardi say the device works by infusing heated hydrogen into nickel, transmuting it into copper and producing heat. However, an international patent application has received an unfavorable international preliminary report on patentability because it seemed to "offend against the generally accepted laws of physics and established theories" and it is concluded that the application is lacking in either experimental evidence or a firm theoretical basis that accords with current scientific understanding. The device has been demonstrated to a number of invited audiences, but it has not been independently verified. Writing on Forbes, Mark Gibbs has concluded that: "until a verifiably objective analysis is conducted by an independent third party that confirms the results match the claims, there’s no real news".

Evaluation of the device

The University of Bologna, where Focardi is an emeritus professor, has made it very clear that it has not been involved at all in the device so far, but will begin experiments on the E-Cat as soon as the contract signed with Andrea Rossi's Italian company (EFA Srl) comes into force. On November 23, 2011, the Corriere della Serareported on its Bologna edition that the University's contract with Rossi is expected to start "within a few weeks", and that the results of the research would be published in scientific journals, possibly "by summer [2012]". As Ny Teknik reports, Peter Ekström, a lecturer at the Department of Nuclear Physics at Lund University in Sweden, points out that a chemical reaction is unlikely to provide sufficient energy to overcome the Coulomb barrier, that gamma rays are absent, that there is no explanation for the origin of the extra energy, that the expected radioactivity after fusing a proton with58Ni is not detected, the occurrence of 11% iron in the spent fuel is unexplained, that the 10% copper in the spent fuel has coincidentally the same isotopic ratios as naturally occurring copper, and that there is no unstable copper isotope in the spent fuel suggesting that only stable isotopes are produced. Kjell Aleklett, who is a physics professor at Uppsala University, said the proportion of copper was too high for any known nuclear reaction involving nickel, and significantly the copper had the same isotopic ratio as natural copper (implying that this is where it came from rather than any process of transmutation).

Actual demonstrations of the E-Cat

Two such demonstrations were given in January and February and others as summarised in the list below. Reporting on the January demonstration, Benjamin Radford, an analyst on the Discovery Channel wrote: "If this all sounds fishy to you, it should,” and that "In many ways cold fusion is similar to perpetual motion machines. The principles defy the laws of physics, but that doesn’t stop people from periodically claiming to have invented or discovered one.”

•    On the 29th of March, 2011, two Swedish physicists, Hanno Essén and Sven Kullander witnessed a test of a smaller version of the Energy Catalyzer, which ran for six hours. It was claimed that a net power output of 4.4 kW had been achieved with a total energy output of about 25 kWh. An analysis of the unused powder showed it to be pure nickel while that taken from the reactor (reported as used for 2.5 months) contained 10 percent copper and 11 percent iron. Kullander said that the presence of copper is "a proof that nuclear reactions took place in the process”. However, other researchers, Ekström and Aleklett concluded that since that copper had the same isotopic ratios as natural copper, and that the proportion of it is too high, it most likely arises from contamination. Significantly, the formation of iron is not mentioned at all in the patent. Essen and Kullander were guarded in their evaluation, writing that: "Since we do not have access to the internal design of the central fuel container... we can only make very general comments.” Essén later stated "I am still very uncertain about this.”

•    A test run of the E-cat was made on the 6th of October, 2011, which reportedly lasted for about eight hours from which Roland Pettersson, an emeritus Associate Professor from the University of Uppsala, said: "I'm convinced that this works, but there is still room for more measurements".

Potential commercial exploitation

A Greek company, Defkalion, had intended to build a heating plant based on the Energy Catalyzer, but the deal fell through, although the company has announced that they plan to fabricate a similar device. Rossi made a deal in May 2011 with AmpEnergo in Ohio, to receive royalties on sales of licenses and products built on the Energy Catalyzer throughout North and South America. It was reported that an engineer Domenico Fioravanti had tested a1 MW power plant based on the Energy Catalyzer on the 28th of October, 2011, although the name of the client was not disclosed.
Fioravanti claimed that over a period of 5.5 hours the plant produced 2,635 kWh, which corresponds to an average power output of 479 kW. Independent observers were not permitted, but also the plant remained connected to a power supply throughout the test, purportedly to run the fans and the water pumps. It is reported that the customer took possession of the plant afterwards. Rossi claims to have orders for thirteen more 1 MW units which are on sale for $2 million each, in addition to the unnamed customer who has the one from the 28th of October test.Focus, a popular science magazine in Italy, has stated that 12 additional units are to be provided to the same, undisclosed customer. Rossi commented: "We are building a 13 MW thermal plant, made of 13 plants such as the one you saw on October 28th: but it's a military research and I can't reveal any further detail, not the name, nor the place, nor the nationality of the customer".

Four Swedish entrepreneurs, two of them particle physicists have a website Ecat.com set-up to sell the device from. In response to a question about sceptical commentary regarding the device, one of the physicists, Magnus Holm, replied that "Until [Rossi] makes an independent test, there is obviously a small chance that it does not work. We are willing to take that risk because it’s such an amazing technology if it works". When asked if he was "contributing to fraud", Holm said: "We are not engaged in any deception, and I do not think Rossi is engaged in any fraud either. If it would turn out that it does not work, in spite of everything, I would think it is about self-deception". This is all quite fascinating and all I can say is: watch this space.

By. Professor Chris Rhodes

Professor Chris Rhodes is a writer and researcher. He studied chemistry at Sussex University, earning both a B.Sc and a Doctoral degree (D.Phil.); rising to become the youngest professor of physical chemistry in the U.K. at the age of 34.

A prolific author, Chris has published more than 400 research and popular science articles (some in national newspapers: The Independent and The Daily Telegraph)
He has recently published his first novel, "University Shambles" was published in April 2009 (Melrose Books). http://universityshambles.com

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  • Mike MacDonald on June 10 2012 said:
    People thought Electricity was work of the underworld!

    People rioted at the thought of piping Gas to use for lighting and heating.

    People deny the thought that there might be forces in this Universe that as yet man has not seen.

    There were no such things as "Sprites" (Lightning) till some one saw them.

    Who says there is NO other force that might cause a transmutation?

    I think that any person who thinks man knows all is a BF. It is time to open the mind and think in ALL directions. A test tube and a gramme of nitro Glyscerinee might kill. --- but where did that lead us? Investigate this cold fusion thing --get the Pb out ,
  • Gerrit on June 11 2012 said:
    thank you professor Rhodes for looking into this interesting LENR topic. I would urge you to keep "watching this topic" and let the readership know what you make of it.

    Maybe you can contact prof Hagelstein at MIT and quiz him about the current NANOR demonstration, which has reportedly been generation excess heat continuously since January this year.

    Another - somehow releated - topic is causing a stir in Italy, where Carpeteri et al have recently published results that indicate Piezonuclear Fission Reactions in Rocks (DOI 10.1007/s00603-011-0217-7). This has caused a reaction by the scientific "establishment" that is reminiscent of the events in 1989. A petition was started to prevent this research to continue.

    I always thought that the scientific reaction to unexplained experimental results would be quite different. It seems history is repeating itself in that science is ruled by vested interests and not by the scientific method as the general public is led to believe.
  • Stephen T. on June 11 2012 said:
    Enjoyed the article. Also of interest are the smaller hot fusion projects. The Polywell and dense plasma focus devices are well along in their development and have the added potential of no neutrons, abundant fuel, and direct production of electricity rather than steam. Watch this space as well.
  • Tom on June 11 2012 said:
    Besides Rossi and Defkalion, many more companies are trying to commercialize LENR.
    Increasingly these involved in LENR are avoiding the term 'cold fusion' because of the controversy of Proton-Proton reactions at room temperature. In new theories/experiments, activated hydrogen acts as a neutron. Godes/Brilliouin uses electronic pulses to promote proton-electron capture reaction which change protons in metal to neutrons. Blacklight Power/Randall Mills lowers hydrogens energy state, smearing proton-electron charges, causing hydrogen to act as neutrons. LeClair/Nanospire use high velocity water cavitation making high density? neutron flux. Some at NASA seems to think Widom-Larsen Theory can explain how these reactions work as well.
  • Barry on June 11 2012 said:
    Thank for the article. It always bothers me when people like Benjamin Radford compare Cold Fusion to perpetual motion. A better model might be hot fission, where a reaction take place on an nucleus level rather than a chemical level, releasing perhaps a million times more energy from a very small amount of matter. From what I understand CF devices, like hot fission, will have to be refueled perhaps a couple of times a year.
  • Roger Bird on June 11 2012 said:
    Although the author's credentials are impressive, the article is poorly written to the extent of being painful to read. It also did not cover many other breakthroughs in LENR, such as Brillouin Energy, MIT, Mike McKubre at SRI, Blacklight, and many others.
  • X-prize on June 11 2012 said:
    From the website:


    What is going to happen to the scientific community when Rossi’s ship hits the rocks? What are they going to say then?
    Wouldn’t it be the best for the whole scientific community if all of the scientists who have supported Rossi in the past get together now as a group and say to Rossi — Rossi do a real 3rd party independent test on one of your 10KW e-cats or we are going to make a public statement that we do not believe you have a device like you keep claiming and furthermore we believe it is highly possible that Andrea Rossi fooled us in the past to gain our support (or something to that effect). A public statement like that would give all of those scientist back their credibility.
    Are those scientists even aware what the world thinks of someone who supports Andrea Rossi after a detailed look at his life and everything he has said and done relating to his e-cat project? They are being ridiculed much more now than they ever would by admitting Rossi may have fooled them.
    None of the scientists that were a part of any of the prior demonstrations by Rossi have ever printed the fact that they had complete independent control of the demonstration, including the publishing of the results, the location of the test, the data collecting, the source of electricity, the testing equipment, the length of the demonstration, etc., etc. And that they looked for all possible sources of hidden energy, including electrical, chemical, and nuclear, both inside and outside the device. That all measurements were continuous throughout the demonstration. That all measurements were impeccably done conforming to standard laboratory procedures. That every bit of data relating to the demonstration from the start to finish was published for analysis by all. In short no demonstration by Andrea Rossi has conformed to the most basic standards set worldwide for any published experiment.

    All of the scientists who have supported Rossi in the past, still have the opportunity, to repair their credibility, if they admit that they may have been wrong in the past but now because of the Florida BRC report, the issue with National Instruments, Rossi’s many falsehoods, unrealistic escalating claims by Rossi, etc., they want Rossi to now allow a true independent 3rd party test, or he will lose their support. Or they will publish a public report distancing them from Andrea Rossi and his e-cat project. Almost every scientist associated with Rossi has sometime in the past made the statement that Rossi needs to allow a true independent 3rd party test. They all need to formally call for this test NOW.

    The longer they wait, and if they don’t do this, the more they will have to lose, when the complete truth concerning the Rossi farce becomes known. Why?

    Because the question then becomes — were they willing partners of Rossi’s farce?
    There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, we all do it. But it takes a real man to stand up and admit it, instead of just sticking their head in the sand hoping it all just goes away.

  • Nick on June 11 2012 said:
    A self-sustaining fusion reactor, more energy out than in, can only be possible with electrostatic acceleration. Electrostatic fusion machine is that will power mankind’s future energy needs with safe and clean aneutronic fusion fuels. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ro5-QYqqxzM
  • Observer on June 11 2012 said:
    FYI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_embrittlement
    " The Ni powder, most pure and finest grade, is handled in dry box under inert atmosphere.
    It is mixed with 5% by weight carbon powder, subjected to 500 C and degassed with a vacuum pump to prepare the surface and clean out any oxygen/oxides clinging to it.
    The surface is cooled. The chamber is pressurized with hydrogen to 2000 psi and heated to 200 C after the gas line is closed.
    When the pressure reaches stability the chamber is cooled.
    This process is repeated five times to fully load the Ni. "
    "7. Perfect control using pulse adjustment on RFG and Propane flow.
    8. Incredible steam output steady 2 weeks under pressure.
    9. Operating at 650C."
    "Joseph Fine
    April 25th, 2012 at 9:01 AM
    Whatever the LENR, cold fusion, or controlled electron capture phenomenoa may be or whether Nickel is the catalyst or a reactant, Hydrogen is still involved. (My favorite is one of the Hydrides or the negative Hydrogen ion.)"
    "Robert Mockan
    October 26th, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    Dear Mr. Guglinski,

    I should have qualified my statement better. Both Gray and Widom-Larsen describe increasing the electron mass-energy by acceleration.

    In your hypothesis I’m still trying to understand how the field generates force vectors that cause the helical trajectory.

    I admit to also trying to reconcile Randall Mills orbit shell vectors with the field generated vectors in your hypothesis to perceive the commonality. Probably juggling too many balls at once. I’ll get back with you about this.
    Lou Tengzelius
    October 26th, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    Dear Robert Mockan.
    Your comment (October 26th, 2011 at 12:24 AM):
    “Can any body suggest methods that Rossi might be using to accomplish this?”
    We assume H + N => Heat We assume Rossi Reaction commences at about 200 C. We assume the Rossi Reaction triggers harmonic oscillation with application of Frequency Generator applying alternating fields to reaction chamber From experimental graphs of application time frames we assume an initial steady application to trigger reaction and short time applications to prevent the thermal output from falling into a negative energy mode. We assume the species of harmonic be that of a Hydride Ion. It is symmetrical. We assume the Hydride Ion normally takes the form of semi chaotic physical shape which when tuned with a RFG generator aligns with one another as simple harmonic oscillators. We assume the Guglinski New Physics describes the oscillating e p e as donut proton donut symmetrical about a central axis whereby the elections trace the surface of the donuts helically in opposite direction to satisfy the spin theories. As this oscillator worms its way through the Nickel electronic cloud at distance d we envision separation of the Hydride Ion into e and p e where the p e portion enters the Nickel nucleus using the Guglinski New Physics to balance energy concerns.
    May I suggest that powdered Magnesium (Whose Hydride formation equilibrium occurs at approximately 200 C.) and ferromagnetic Iron powder is placed within an enclosure containing Nickel powder where Hydrogen under pressure, heat and an alternating magnetic field created from outside via an RFG or within via a plasma arc produced by an alternating voltage play a probable scenario to explain not only the Rossi Reactor but many other experimental results.
    The mathematics and geometry are a daunting work in progress for me especially attempting to include d empirically. Lou Tengzelius"
    "Stare at the jpg, close your eyes and picture convolute oscillation along fixed axis as each electron wave reverses position while maintaining their spin direction. Now zoom out to imagine say 1000 doing the dance in perfect harmony. That's the Ballet of NiH fusion."
    An explosion of positive results to date will lead to the start of a new era of incredibly inexpensive power.
  • Bertuswonkel on June 11 2012 said:
    Rossi and his E-cat may well be one great hoax but the LERN effect seems to be real since it is supported by a large base of scientific evidence. The "cold fusion" research disappeared from the mainstream after the heavy criticism it received after 1989. However, some researchers kept investigating the subject. Especially, Japanese researches made some important contribution to the field since Japan stared a large research program into LERN, which is still running. Toyota also financed Fleischmann to continue his research in France until 1995 but much of these results have never been published. Today, there is enough to read about the subject e.g.:


    The effect is real, the question is if Rossi really found a way to amplify the effect and sustain it over a longer time frame. One guy i.e. Rossi is not so important for LERN technology what is needed is a revival of the LERN research in respected universities. The question of the "realness" of LERN should be resolved fast so Pons and Fleischmann can get their name cleared before they are no longer among us.
  • Mel Tisdale on June 12 2012 said:
    As targets go, fusion reactors = a manned Mars mission, while Thorium reactors = unmanned earth orbit.

    By all means keep researching fusion, be it hot or cold, but for pity's sake, but if we want to keep the lights on, we should also be developing thorium reactors as a replacement for the ageing fleet of uranium reactors.

    liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors employ a proven technology which was only dropped because it could not be used to manufacture nuclear weapons, which were needed to support the arms race at the height of the Cold War.

    Today that inability to make nuclear weapons has to be an advantage. It is only one of a large number of advantages they have over uranium fission reactors and also fusion reactors of all types. Not least of these advantages being the short time scale needed to get the technology ready for commercial production, or do the lights have to go out first?
  • JOE SHEAort of on June 12 2012 said:
    This was certainly a useful review of "hot" fusion research, but by excluding hydrino and NASA research it falls far short of being an adequate review of "cold" fusion. Brillouin, Nanospire, Energetics, Nicheenergy and other developers absolutely deserved a mention here, and the author made a critical error: he said no disinterested observers were allowed to watch the Oct. 28 demonstration in Bologna, but in fact Science Writer Peter Svensson of The Associated Press was permitted to observe the entire demonstration but for reasons having to do with the origin of the assignment and bureaucratic considerations was not allowed to report on what he saw.

    Youy can't observe all the divergent forces headed to market without awe and trepidation, anxiety and excitement. Clealry, some very serious organizations are intending to demonstrate a commercially viable breakthrough in electric power generation in a very short time, at a minimum within one year and hopefully far less than that. Whether it is Mills (whom I believe will be first), Rossi, Brillouin, Nanaospire, Defkalion or someone else, there will probably be some jumping the gun, some premature demos, some false starts; yet I expect the reality of cheap, pollution-free electric power generation for the home and small warehouse/factory/store/shop in a matter of months. I hope the author will go back and take a second look at the progress being made.
  • Green Win on June 12 2012 said:
    Rhodes refuses to acknowledge the recent
    announcements by Drs. Zawodny and Bushnell, NASA’s Chief Scientist at Langley Research Center. Or any of the ongoing work by DoD, DARPA, Naval Research Labs, Energetics Ltd. SRI Intl., or Dr. Robert Duncan’s $5.5M LENR research fund at U Missouri. Or the joint ventures between U.S. government and Italian ENEA for a decade. Or the 1400 peer-reviewed articles, papers, talks documenting LENR experiments.

    In Rhodes’ favor he did include the new projected timeline for hot fusion:

    “In the late 50s, we were told that fusion power was 20 years away and now, 50-odd years later it is maybe 60 years away.”

    But he neglected to report father of hot fusion, Assistant Director of the Atomic Energy Commission Dr. Robert Bussard’s statement that magnetic confinement is a myth:

    “One of the biggest obstacles is the world-wide Tokamak lobby, which perpetuates the fraud that Hirsch, Trivelpiece and I foisted on the country in the 1970?s when we started the big Tokamak ball rolling.

    Magnetic confinement fusion is a misnomer, as magnetic fields can NOT confine a plasma, only constrain its motion towards walls. The entire history of the MagConf program has been to reduce transport to neo-classical (not turbulent or instability-driven) losses. And THEN the machines are all inherently and inevitably huge and cost too much and make too much power to ever be economically useful…”
  • Greg Goble on June 13 2012 said:
    "Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, the Realism and the Outlook" by Dennis Bushnell chief scientist NASA.

    "We are still far from the theoretical limits of the weak interaction physics for LENR performance and are in fact inventing (in real time) the requisite engineering, along with verifying the physics. When we concentrated upon nuclear engineering beginning in the 1940's we "jumped" to the strong force/ particle physics and leapt over the weak force/condensed matter nuclear physics. We are going "back" now to study and hopefully develop this arena.

    The "precautionary principle" demands that we core down and determine realism for this arena, given the truly massive-to-mind boggling benefits – solutions to climate, energy and the limitations that restrict the NASA Mission areas, all of them. The key to space exploration is energetics. The key to supersonic transports and neighbor-friendly personal fly/drive air vehicles is energetics, as simplex examples of the potential implications of this area of research.

    There are estimates using just the performance of some of the devices under study that 1% of the nickel mined on the planet each year could produce the world's energy requirements at the order of 25% the cost of coal.
  • Tyler Jordan on June 14 2012 said:
    Do your research on Rossi. He has a long history of fraud. It's just amazing to me to see so many people willing to swallow Rossi's scheme after all he has pulled in the past. Look it up. Once a con-man, always a con-man.

    Personally, I'm looking to Polywell for the future of energy. It's inventor, the late Dr. Robert Bussard was a real physicist, not a hack and not a scam artist.
  • Paul Maher on June 14 2012 said:
    Hello, If you hold up one individual, such as Andrea Rossi, and hinge your faith in "Condensed Matter Physics" and LENR based soley on his trials and tribulations you have missed the boat. Take a listen to what Drs. Bushnell and Zawodny from NASA's Langley Recearch Center have to say about the subject. They plan to power the next generation space plane with it. They also will not deny what many have called "THE NEW FIRE" will provide nearly free, entirely clean, and completely scalable sources of new energy. In addition consider Brillouin Energy, (Robert Godes), and its relation with the Stanford Research Institute. And certainly consider Dr. Hagelstein at MIT. He's had one running for a great long while at MIT. Let's light up the dark places in the world. Let's drain the swamps and flood the fields around the world.
    I suggest a jump off at www.coldfusionnow.org

    I understand reluctance on the part of the petrochemical and coal industries to embrace something that will reduce their power and influence. But, at some point adoption of the technology and taking part in the coming paradigm shift will be seen as the thing to do. Turn oil tankers into LENR boilertubes. Take your trillions of dollars and jump start the world. Benefit from it, don't be battered and bruised by it.

    Sincerely, Paul D. Maher, CC
  • Greg Goble on June 14 2012 said:
    This is a good article. It is very informative.

    Multiple developments in engineered cold fusion are moving ahead at a rapid rate, entering commercialization involves some secrecy. Rossi is a small, yet most likely positive, part of cold fusion.
    Many different useful low energy nuclear reactive environments are being engineered. As NASA states, "This is far from a “Narrow Band” set of physical phenomena."

    NASA provides an expert opinion on LENR/LENT Science, popularly known as Cold Fusion.


    "Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, the Realism and the Outlook" (read)http://futureinnovation.larc.nasa.gov/view/articles/futurism/bushnell/low-energy-nuclear-reactions.html
    by Chief Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center Dennis Bushnell http://futureinnovation.larc.nasa.gov/view/articles/futurism/bushnell/bushnell-bio.html

    "We are still far from the theoretical limits of the weak interaction physics for LENR performance and are in fact inventing (in real time) the requisite engineering, along with verifying the physics. When we concentrated upon nuclear engineering beginning in the 1940's we "jumped" to the strong force/ particle physics and leapt over the weak force/condensed matter nuclear physics... " (LENR)


    *hundreds of experiments worldwide indicating heat and transmutations with minimal radiation and low energy input
    *evidence indicates something real is occurring
    with effects occurring from using diverse materials, methods of energy addition etc
    *This is far from a “Narrow Band” set of physical phenomena
    *several labs have blown up studying LENR and windows have melted, indicating when the conditions are “right” prodigious amounts of energy can be produced and released
    *are in fact inventing (in real time) the requisite engineering, along with verifying the physics


    *for NASA Langley, the epiphany moment on LENR was the publication of the Widom-Larsen Weak Interaction LENR Theory
    *theory indicates energy densities, some several million times chemical. The current experiments are in the 10?s to hundreds range
    *still far from the theoretical limits of the weak interaction physics for LENR performance
    given the truly massive-to-mind boggling benefits – solutions to climate, energy and the limitations that restrict the NASA Mission areas, all of them. The key to space exploration is energetics. The key to supersonic transports and neighbor-friendly personal fly/drive air vehicles is energetics, as simplex examples of the potential implications of this area of research
    *1% of the nickel mined on the planet each year could produce the world’s energy requirements at the order of 25% the cost of coal
    *it is worth far more resources than are currently being devoted to this research arena

    That's NASA... here are examples of commercialization.
  • Frank Gordon on June 16 2012 said:
    I'm glad to see "cold fusion" included in an article about possible future energy sources. It's interesting that most of the comments address the issue of "cold fusion." If you really want to know the latest, attend the 17th International Conference of Cold Fusion that will be held in Daejeon, Republic of Korea from August 12-17, 2012. (http://iccf17.org/) There's also a tutorial session on August 10th. ICCF-17 may not answer all of your questions but one think that I think it will do is to convince you that the effect is real. You will also hear from several groups who are working on devices that could produce a commercially viable energy source.
  • Mark LeClair on July 30 2012 said:
    The results of our August 24-25, 2009 experiments were historical. 2900 watts of hot water out at a 3.4 COP. Check out the temperature history recorded by thermocouples and a data logger at www.nanospireinc.com. The gram quantities of transmuted material were highly radioactive, and left clear nuclear tracks in the dishes they were placed. The transmuted material was redundantly analyzed by four groups, who all showed the same results. The mass spec, SEM-EDAX and XPS revealed that nearly every element was present. Radioactive isotopes, such as 147Pm were present. 147Pm only has a two year half life. The actinides were also detected. None of these are present in nature. The elemental distribution closely followed stellar nucleosynthesis patterns, including the odd-even rule favoring even numbered isotopes. The fused material also underwent dramatic levels of fission during fusion-fission cycling, as evidenced by the high levels of the standard byproducts of heavy element fission seen in the data.

    Rossi, Defkalion and Brillouin have never publicly shown anything like what we have shown for data or results. We are many light years ahead of all of them in what we have already accomplished and understanding how it works. NanoSpire is and will continue to be the world leader in cold fusion/LENR.
  • Craig Hubley on April 08 2013 said:
    I would have expected more comment on lithium-proton and boron-proton fusion.

    While these are "hot" approaches, they are theoretically possible at quite low temperatures using commercially available scales of magnets (about 3 GigaGauss with the largest currently available commercial magnets being about 2.5). Possibly resulting in small power plants under 100MW about the size of a shipping container.

    It's odd to omit these when they're known to be quite physically possible under Earth conditions, while (as the article above states) this is obviously not proven for a fusion of hydrogen (or protons) into nickel, resulting in copper. The only place we know where stuff like that can happen, is inside the Sun...

    DARPA has apparently approved a lithium-proton experiment so evidently they are satisfied that there is something to test.

    Also there are "cold" approaches like sonofusion that are more promising than the palladium cube, because they don't require such an expensive material.

    And aneutronic fusion which avoids the radiation problems of all these neutron scattering approaches, both fission and fusion, by simply shooting lighter particles at each other in a very constrained path.

    Given those omissions, and even with the helpful comments by others, I don't think this article is a good summary of research in the field, frankly. Wikipedia has more on all the above, with direct links to credible references that that this article unfortunately lacks.

    If Rhodes means to dismiss all of the above approaches then they certainly deserve a line or two of what's wrong with them or what is generally believed to be wrong with them.
  • Fred Zoepfl on February 13 2014 said:
    NanoSpire is not, never was and never will be "the world leader in cold fusion/LENR." No one can make "every element in the periodic table" from water, an aluminum plate and a 0.5-hp pump. Mark LeClair is suffering from grandiose delusional disorder (aka paranoia). He fabricated all of his results, so there is no nuclear fusion, no neutrons, no LENR, no radiation, no radioactivity, no new elements, no "chlorine-39," no "wave trains and vortices," etc. Let's all hope he doesn't decide that he can fly without wings and jump off the tallest building in Buxton, ME. Anyone who believed this for more than a second should go back to high school physics class.

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