Cold fusion

A few years ago I, with others, was invited to view an experiment that had been set up in a London hotel. The purpose of the invitation was to see whether I would be interested in investing in further research that the inventors thought that the results of the experiment justified.

In essence I was shown a process under which when electrical energy was put into the process, around 10% more electrical energy came out at the other end. It was fascinating but the amounts of electricity with which this experiment would work were tiny – not useful for any purpose.

The inventors, who seemed to be sincere, thought that with some money they might be able to significantly improve the process and put large amounts of electricity through it, with a mind boggling result under which, by “piggybacking” process upon process, you would end up with huge amounts of electricity for virtually nothing.

I declined to invest. Even if there was anything in the process, which I doubted bearing in mind the laws of thermodynamics, I knew that ground breaking scientific discovery these days involve hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment, which I did not have and I doubted that the project could attract.

I think that we have discovered and picked virtually all the low hanging fruit upon the scientific apple tree; there might be the odd apple hidden away, but the rest of the fruit is so high that we need to stand upon the shoulders of giants, who themselves are standing on the shoulders of titans, to reach half way to the apples.

If cold fusion is actually on the tree of science, it must be right at the very top. Cold fusion is a concept of a possibility, not even a possibility.

The idea is founded upon experiments done in 1988 by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons in the United States. These indicated that by electrolysis of heavy water on a palladium electrode (a fairly simple experiment, in scientific terms) there was excess heat produced. By excess, they meant more heat that is explained by any process except a nuclear process.

The experimenters reported very small amounts of nuclear type by-products – including neutrons and tritium, which can be used to generate energy which Mr Fleischman and Mr Pons hoped, would prove a source of energy that would be virtually free.

The theoretical scientists believe that this type of fusion, called “cold” fusion” because the fusion is achieved without massive heat, is actually not possible. Messrs Fleischmann and Pons’ experiments could not be replicated regularly, and the concept of cold fusion was largely disbelieved by the scientific community.

In 2004 after an extensive enquiry by the US Department of Energy attended by many leading US physicists and chemists, the US decided not to invest in further investigations into the possibility of cold fusion.

Very recently cold fusion is back in the news. In this desperate energy hungry age the search for replacements for finite fossil fuel and the threat of climate change has meant that the BBC thought it worth reporting on its mainstream news, that the American Chemical Society is holding a cold fusion debate, not withstanding that the original experiments in which cold fusion was said to be observed have never been able to be repeated properly.

A debate on cold fusion, or on any similar hoped for scientific process does not mean that a new free source of energy will be discovered. It is no news at all. And I thought of the experiment I witnessed in that London hotel a few years ago.

However sincere the inventors of the experiment that I observed may have been, and however sincere those who believe cold fusion to be possible, it is critical that we direct effort to halt climate change and future fuel shortage in accordance with accepted scientific principles. There is not enough money spent on particular research without spending money on a wild goose chase.

It is, of course, entirely possible that a new great thinker, someone of Einstein’s quality, may emerge one day to provide a scientific theoretical basis for cold fusion or some way of getting free energy, and when that has emerged we stand a chance of using cold fusion for energy or getting the free energy, because the researchers can build upon the foundation of the theory.

Until then our resources are better used in not providing the world with false hopes of a free lunch, when it comes to energy, but providing a framework which encourages and supports fundamental and original theoretical scientific thinking.

 

6 Responses

  1. […] Robert Kyriakides’s Weblog added an interesting post on Cold fusionHere’s a small excerptA few years ago I, with others, was invited to view an experiment that had been set up in a London hotel. The purpose of the invitation was to see whether I would be interested in investing in further research that the inventors thought that the results of the experiment justified. In essence I was shown a process under which when electrical energy was put into the process, around 10% more electrical energy came out at the other end. It was fascinating but the amounts of electricity with […]

  2. […] The Big Pond put an intriguing blog post on Cold fusionHere’s a quick excerptIn essence I was shown a process under which when electrical energy was put into the process, around 10% more electrical energy came out at the… […]

  3. Robert, what is your opinion / analysis of this Dailly Mail article;

    “How this 12 inch miracle tube could halve heating bills”

    “…It sounds too good to be true – not to mention the fact that it violates almost every known law of physics. But British scientists claim they have invented a revolutionary device that seems to ‘create’ energy from virtually nothing…………….”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-481996/How-12inch-miracle-tube-halve-heating-bills.html
    I have kept the original Newspaper article because I was interested to verify whether or not it was true, I think its got a better chance of being true because it wasn’t printed April 1st !.

    Peter Burke

    P.S…..

    a movie repreesntation of cold fusion is in this video clip at 3:10 and 3:28 ! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htv7VjXPjd0

    • In fairness, there may be soemthing in the laws of chemsitry that explains this, not thermodynamics, but I somehow doubt it. Nice if it worked, though!

  4. Good articles on how solar panels work, does it work all year round?

  5. Robert , you are already in the business of using nuclear fusion to heat water and isn’t this a vast virtualy limitless supply of free clean renewable energy? Of course I am talking about the sun which is an amazing vast nuclear fusion reactor!

    What amazes me is that the sum [of an atom] is less than the components which is in itself mindbending and seemingly impossible, an atom is somewhat like a house being lighter than the building materials it is composed of.

    Its a miracle how the sun pours out all of this energy, how it travels to the earth over such a distance and we have technoogy to grab this energy already but its nott being used as widely as it could or should be.

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