Cold Fusion and New Energy Technology Resource Guide
1995, Edition No.1 Copyright, 1995 Eugene F. Mallove and Jed
Frequently Asked Questions:
I thought cold fusion was dead - proved to be a mistake or a
hoax. Is cold fusion research really still going on?
Cold fusion, the "miracle or mistake," that was announced
at the University of
Utah by Drs. Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons in March 1989
is far from dead. It is alive not only in dozens of laboratories
in the United States, but
in numerous foreign research centers, particularly in Japan.
Cold fusion research is now a world-wide activity in over a dozen
What is "cold fusion"?
"Cold fusion" is a real but still incompletely explained
energy-producing phenomenon, that occurs when ordinary hydrogen
and the special form of hydrogen called deuterium are brought
together with metals, such as palladium, titanium, and nickel.
Usually, some triggering mechanism, such as electricity
or acoustic energy, is required to provoke the "cold fusion"
effects. Both ordinary hydrogen and deuterium are abundant in
ordinary water - whether fresh
water, ocean water, ice, or snow-so the process will help to
end many of the world's energy concerns, if it can be developed
commercially. Now this is all but certain. (The deuterium form
of hydrogen is present naturally as one out of every 7,000 hydrogen
atoms and is easy to separate.) Are there good sources of information
about cold fusion?
If you would like to read about the evolution of this scientific
controversy and the impending technological revolution, please
read Fire from Ice: Searching for the Truth Behind the Cold Fusion
Furor (John Wiley & Sons, May, 1991), by Dr. Eugene F. Mallove.
This work, which Arthur C. Clarke has called "the only good
book on the subject," covers the first two years of the
cold fusion era. For more technical information, consult the
reference sections of
this Resource Guide.
What is "hot" fusion?
Hot fusion is the kind of nuclear reaction that powers the Sun
and the stars. At temperatures of millions of degrees, the nuclei
of hydrogen atoms can overcome their natural tendency to repel
one another and join or fuse to form helium nuclei. This releases
enormous energy. Fusion is the opposite of fission, which is
the release of energy by splitting heavy uranium or plutonium
What is the present status of "hot" fusion?
Scientists the world over have spent more than four decades and
billions of dollars (an estimated $15 billion in the U.S. alone)
to investigate the possibility of mimicking with devices here
on Earth the fusion reactions of the stars. These are complex
and large machines that rely on high magnetic fields or powerful
lasers to compress and heat fusion fuel -typically the isotopes
of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium. The controlled hot fusion
has made enormous strides, but all agree that the earliest possible
time when practical hot fusion devices might be available is
about three decades away. Hot fusion is a very tough engineering
problem. Many engineers-even those favorable to hot fusion-suggest
that the "tokamak" reactor approach being followed
by the U.S. Department of Energy will never result in commercially
The U.S. hot fusion people now want to build a big, complex test
reactor called ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental
Reactor), which might begin to operate in 2005. A commercial
hot fusion power plant would not be on-line until at least 2040.
The annual budget for hot fusion research in the U.S. regularly
exceeds $500 million, and the program now seek increased funding
for ITER and other experiments. How does cold fusion differ from
Cold fusion releases enormous quantities of energy in the form
of heat, not radiation, as in hot fusion. This heat energy is
hundreds to thousands of times what ordinary chemical reactions
could possibly yield. If "cold fusion"
is a heretofore unknown form of benign nuclear reaction-as many
the cold fusion field believe-there is more potential cold fusion
energy in a cubic mile of sea water than in all of the oil reserves
on earth. Cold fusion,
in contrast to hot fusion, occurs in relatively simple apparatus,
albeit not yet without some difficulties. Cold fusion reactions
are not at all like conventional hot fusion reactions. If they
were, cold fusion experimenters would have been killed by massive
flows of radiation-neutrons and gamma rays. The continuing wonder
of cold fusion is that -whatever it is- it is apparently
a very clean reaction that gives very little of the radiation
common to fission and fusion reactions. Are there theories that
can explain "cold fusion"?
Cold fusion researchers have attempted to find theoretical models
to explain the observed cold fusion effects-the large thermal
energy releases, the low-level nuclear phenomena, and the absence
of massive harmful radiation and other conventional nuclear effects.
In cold fusion experiments, low-level neutrons, tritium, helium-4,
and isotope shifts of metal elements have been seen. There is
yet no single, generally accepted theory that explains all these
phenomena. There is no doubt, however, that the phenomena exist
eventually be explained -most likely in the next few years. It
is very hard,
however, to come up with a theory that fits all the data. The
explanation might lie in nuclear reactions, exotic "super-chemistry"
requiring some modifications to quantum mechanics, or something
even more bizarre (such as tapping of the zero-point energy of
space at the atomic level).
What is the main evidence for "cold fusion"?
The most important evidence for cold fusion is the excess heat
energy that comes from special electrochemical cells-much more
heat coming out than electrical energy being fed in. Competent
and careful researchers have now confirmed that under the proper
conditions it is possible to obtain excess power output beyond
input power anywhere from 10% beyond input to many thousands
of times the input power!. In fact, in experiments reported at
the Fourth International Conference on Cold Fusion (December,
1993), one researcher, Dr. T. Mizuno of Hokkaido University,
reported an output/input power ratio of 70,000. Sometimes this
power comes out in bursts, but it has also appeared continuously
in some experiments for hundreds of hours and in some cases even
for many months. When this power is added up to give kilowatt-hours,
the inescapable conclusion is that much more energy is being
released than any possible chemical reaction (as we ordinarily
reactions) could yield.
And there is more: In the past few years, there has also emerged
a startling body of experimental evidence that elements have
been transmuted in cold fusion experiments. Helium-4, for example,
has been found by several laboratories, and low levels of radioactive
metal atoms, e.g isotopes of silver and rhodium, have appeared
in palladium electrodes from cold fusion cells where no such
atoms existed before the experiments began. How can we be sure
that the cold fusion heat-measuring experiments are not mistaken?
Many of these cold fusion experiments differ significantly from
one another in
their approach and conditions. So there is no chance that the
various laboratories are all making the same systematic errors
in all these experiments. The excess energy in some of these
experiments is proof that something very extraordinary and of
enormous potential technological significance has been discovered.
In the early days of cold fusion research, when scientists were
struggling and learning how to replicate the effect, there were
many poorly done experiments, and many mistakes. In the weeks
following the 1989 announcement by Drs. Martin Fleischmann and
Stanley Pons at
the University of Utah, large numbers of scientists tried to
replicate the phenomenon, and failed-or thought they had failed,
but actually might have obtained positive results but for various
reasons falsely interpreted and improperly reported their data.
The experiment is considerably more complicated and difficult
to perform than originally reported in some scientific and popular
news journals. The possible measurement error in many cold fusion
experiments today are much, much smaller than the huge effects
Are there other ways of getting excess energy in "cold fusion"?
The original cold fusion experiment of Drs. Fleischmann and Pons
has now been joined by many other methods to obtain excess energy.
This is the current (and
growing) list of apparent "cold fusion" processes giving
The Original Pons-Fleischmann Process.
Heavy water solution with a current-carrying electrolyte such
as lithium deuteroxide (LiOD). Current is passed between a palladium
or palladium-alloy cathode and a platinum anode.
Molten Salt Process.
High-temperature molten electrolysis process involving typically
lithium chloride (LiCl) and potassium chloride (KCl) molten solution
saturated with lithium deuteride (LiD). Electrodes of palladium
The Randell Mills Process.
Ordinary water solution with (typically) potassium carbonate
(K2CO3) electrolyte. Electrodes: nickel cathode and platinum
or even nickel anode.
Deuterium Gas Discharge Process.
Low voltage electrical discharge onto various metals through
a deuterium gas atmosphere.
Using ultrasonic frequencies, acoustic energy bombards palladium
or other metal submerged in heavy water, producing excess energy
Ceramic Proton Conductors.
Certain ceramic materials such as strontium-cerium-oxide and
aluminum-lanthanum-oxide, when very low current is passed through
them in a deuterium gas atmosphere, give significant excess energy.
Magnetic Field and Radio Frequency Stimulation.
Magnetic fields and radio-frequency stimulation have now been
proved to enhance the excess energy from other cold fusion processes,
e.g. electrochemical cold fusion cells.
A massive aluminum cylinder with a geometric hole pattern on
its periphery rotates at close tolerances within a steel casing.
Ordinary water is pumped through the interface and is heated
or flashes to steam. The Hydrosonic Pump (of Hydro Dynamics,
Inc.) has now shown convincing evidence of massive excess power
production. Similar devices have been reported by others.
A nickel substrate is subjected to high temperatures in a hydrogen
Process details have not been released, but evidence for massive
production is clear.
Which laboratories are getting positive results?
Several hundred laboratories around the world have obtained positive
cold fusion results. A partial list, which appeared in Fire from
Ice in 1991, is already outdated. In the spring of 1991, a conference
in the former Soviet Union revealed many more positive results;
at the Second Annual Conference on Cold Fusion held in Como,
Italy, in July 1991, much more positive evidence for
cold fusion emerged. At the Third International Conference on
Cold Fusion in October, 1992, the evidence became completely
overwhelming. At the Fourth International Conference on Cold
Fusion (Maui, December, 1993), the field blossomed in many new
directions: new methods of generating excess power, and new observations
- especially the apparent transmutation of heavy elements at
low-energy. Research facilities reporting important cold fusion
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)/Stanford Research Institute
Los Alamos National Laboratory Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Naval Weapons Center at China Lake
Naval Research Laboratory
Naval Ocean Systems Center
Texas A&M University
California State Polytechnic University
ENECO, Salt Lake City
Hokkaido National University
National Institute for Nuclear Physics (Italy)
Osaka National University
National Institute for Fusion Science, Nagoya
Tokyo Institute of Technology
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay, India
NTT (Nippon Telephone and Telegraph company)
E-Quest Sciences (California)
Shell Recherche SA (France)
Tsinghua University (China)
University of Illinois at Urbana
Many other private research laboratories in the U.S. and abroad.
Who is funding cold fusion research and development?
Major financial support for cold fusion research comes from these
The public announcement in December 1993 that ENECO, a Salt Lake
City-based corporation, had acquired world-wide licensing rights
to the University of Utah's cold fusion patents is further indication
of the increasing corporate interest in cold fusion R&D.
ENECO has now become one of the top funders of cold fusion research
in the United States and abroad.
The Ministry of Education, Government of Japan. Research is coordinated
through Japan's National Institute for Fusion Science, in Nagoya,
and conducted in National University Laboratories. The Ministry
of Education spends $15 to $20 million per year on cold fusion.
In the Autumn of 1991, the Ministry of International Trade and
Industry organized a research consortium of ten major Japanese
corporations to advance research in cold fusion. Prior to this,
only the Ministry of Education was involved in this research.
This consortium is called "The New Hydrogen Energy Panel"
(NHEP). In the spring of 1992, as the activities of the Panel
became widely known, Japanese newspapers reported that five other
major Japanese corporations asked to be included.
In mid-1992, MITI announced a four-year, three billion yen ($24
million) program to advance cold fusion research. This money
was to be spent on special
expenses within the national laboratories, such as travel and
extra equipment purchases beyond the usual discretionary levels.
That sum does not include the
money, salaries and overhead, which come out of separate budgets,
and it does not count any research in the private sector, which
we know to be substantial.
In fact, the corporate members are expected to contribute at
least $4 million more to the fund, for a total of $28 million.
Both MITI and NHEP members emphasize that this fund is flexible,
and can be expanded. The present annual expenditure in Japan
on cold fusion is estimated to approach $100 million. This will
clearly rise dramatically as technological devices begin to emerge.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Palo Alto, CA.,
(the $500-million/year research arm of the U.S. electric utility
industry) had spent as of the end of 1991 $6 million on cold
fusion, and had budgeted as of January, 1992 $12 million. The
EPRI program continues to spend several million
dollars per year. EPRI's sponsorship of the Fourth International
Conference on Cold Fusion (December, 1993) means that this powerful
is in the field to stay.
What about the ordinary water - non-heavy water - cold fusion
experiments that I have heard about?
These ordinary water experiments were first reported in May,
1991 and have since been widely reproduced-in Japan, India, and
in the United States. Dr. Randell Mills of Hydrocatalysis Power
Corporation, of Lancaster, PA, whose
heat-producing experiments with cells with ordinary water, potassium
electrolyte and nickel cathodes are increasingly highly regarded
in the cold fusion field. Dr. Mills made a presentation at the
May 5, 1993 Congressional hearing before the House Science, Space,
and Technology Committee. Mills's opening remarks concisely summarized
what the important Lancaster, PA effort is all about:
"Hydrocatalysis Power Corporation (HPC) has an extensive
theoretical and experimental research program of producing energy
from light-water electrolytic cells. HPC and Thermacore, Inc.,
Lancaster, PA are cooperating in
developing a commercial product. (Thermacore is a well-respected
defense contractor and its expertise is in the field of heat
transfer.) Presently, all
of the demonstration cells of HPC and Thermacore produce excess
power immediately and continuously. Cells producing 50 watts
of excess power and greater have been in operation for more than
one year. Some cells can produce
10 times more heat power than the total electrical power input
to the cell. A steam-producing prototype cell has been successfully
tested. ....The [original] experiment has been scaled up by a
factor of one-thousand, and the scaled-up heat cell results have
been independently confirmed by Thermacore, Inc. Patents covering
the compositions of matter, structures, and methods of the HydroCatalysis
process have been filed by HPC worldwide with a priority date
of April 21, 1989. HPC and Thermacore are presently fabricating
a steam-producing demonstration cell." What does Dr. Mills
think is behind this ordinary water energy source?
Dr. Mills and his colleagues believe that the energy source in
their ordinary water experiments is technologically extremely
potent, but they have adopted a
radical theory to explain the excess heat. Dr. Mills says that
the source of excess energy is released in a catalytic process
whereby the electron of the hydrogen atom is induced to undergo
a transition to a lower electronic energy level than the "ground
state" as defined by the usual quantum-mechanical model
of the atom. Thus, stored energy in the atom is catalytically
views many of the nuclear effects in "cold fusion"
to be real effects, which he thinks can be explained by his theory.
Are cold fusion experiments generally reproducible?
Cold fusion effects have not always been easy to reproduce, but
that does not make them any less real. The difficulties with
reproducibility, however, are rapidly disappearing as researchers
discover the conditions required to provoke the phenomena, such
as sufficient deuterium loading of metal lattices,
specific metallurgical requirements, and peculiar triggering
mechanisms. Some experimenters now report very regular appearances
of cold fusion phenomena, such as neutron bursts, tritium production,
and excess power as exhibited by heating and even boiling.
Critics of cold fusion research have regularly dismissed positive
results simply because the effects have not always been repeatable.
This is a remarkably naive view! Of course there are many natural
phenomena that are highly erratic, not repeatable, and definitely
not predictable, such as meteorite falls, lightning strikes,
earthquakes, and the elusive "ball lightning." There
are also a host of modern technical devices that will not function
if subtle, sometimes poorly understood composition parameters
are askew; semiconductor electronic devices are good examples
of this. It is not so surprising that the exotic cold fusion
phenomena are subject to similar difficulties. What about the
experiments of Caltech, MIT, and Harwell that supposedly found
no excess heat in 1989? Aren't these very damning to the cause
of cold fusion?
It is shocking but true, but in the case of three major research
groups that had supposedly negative results in the spring and
summer of 1989 -Caltech, the
Harwell Laboratory in England, and MIT-there now appear to be
significant questions about their work, which have not been addressed
by the scientific community. Three scientists have found simple
algebraic and other fundamental experimental errors in the Caltech
work, which invalidate the paper's negative
conclusions. These scientists wrote many times to Nature magazine,
but Nature refused to publish these corrections, so a critique
was published in Fusion Technology. In the MIT Plasma Fusion
Center case, serious questions about the methods used to evaluate
excess heat results have arisen. The unpublished data
appear to show indications of excess heat, but the published
version does not show these indications. Furthermore, analysis
of the methodology employed by this group revealed fatal flaws
- even if the data had been properly handled. A technical discussion
of the 1989 MIT Plasma Fusion Center cold fusion calorimetry
appeared in Fusion Facts, August, 1992, authored by Dr. Mitchell
R. Swartz. In the case of the widely-touted and supposedly completely
"negative" Harwell Laboratory (U.K.) calorimetry results,
of that laboratory's raw data show evidence of excess heat production.
The details of the Harwell Laboratory problems have now been
published in both the
Third and Fourth International Conference on Cold Fusion Proceedings.
Do we need to understand cold fusion to begin to develop it commercially?
When conventional (low temperature) superconductivity was discovered
accidentally in 1911, there was no physical theory that could
explain it, nor was there any such theory for about the next
half century. The much discussed high-temperature superconductivity,
which appeared in 1986-1987, still has no satisfactory theory
to account for it. Yet industries and governments are bent
on developing and commercializing it. The same should be true
for cold fusion.
However, because cold fusion seems to be an even more radical
departure from conventional physics wisdom than high temperature
superconductivity, and because of the past reproducibility problems
of cold fusion, the latter has not been accepted as readily as
Is there a future for cold fusion?
Cold fusion research is not "Big Science" -it does
not need massive installations, just relatively small-scale dedicated
work at national laboratories, universities, and in private industries,
which are already beginning to enter the field in the U.S., despite
discouragement from officialdom. Cold fusion does, however, require
the talents of top scientists and engineers, combined with sophisticated
analytical instrumentation. The federal laboratories are well-equipped
to support cold fusion research. They are floundering in search
of a new mission. Cold fusion research could well become a major
mission for scientists at these laboratories.
Cold fusion energy development will dominantly be the territory
for private industry. There is no need for massive government
investment. But government must smooth the path for private efforts.
Is it really possible that a revolutionary energy technology
has been inappropriately cast aside in the U.S.? That is exactly
what has happened, as scientific and engineering developments
will show. This need not be true any longer. For the economic
environmental well-being of the nation and the world, every citizen
must become aware of the facts about cold fusion and help encourage
funding for American and world-wide research. Probably the most
difficult hurdle in trying to come to terms with cold fusion
is that it seems too fantastic scientifically, and "too
good to be true" economically and socially. But the same
could have been and was said about many other technological revolutions
as they began to happen. Cold fusion and allied discoveries will
likely revolutionize the world in ways we can barely begin to
imagine. We believe that before the year 2000 there will be cold
fusion powered automobiles, home heating systems, small compact
electrical generating units, and aerospace applications. These
technologies will revolutionize the world as they speed the end
of the Fossil Fuel Age. The stakes have never been higher. We
should remember the sentiment of the famous scientist, Michael
Faraday, in the last century, to whom we owe our revolutionary
electrically powered civilization. He wrote, "Nothing is
too wonderful to be true."
Send a comment to Dr. Mallove. [email protected]
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