Description of New Technology
1. What is Cold Fusion?
Most people are familiar with the various types of renewable energy available today, from solar and wind power to biomass and geothermal, which are generally considered safe and effective. Several other methods are being investigated by scientists for generating renewable energy. One of these methods is known as cold fusion, as it involves generating energy by causing a nuclear reaction at room temperature.
History and First Adopters of Cold Fusion
Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons claimed to have discovered cold fusion in their research that led up to a public announcement in 1989. This involved liquid electrolysis of heavy water using palladium and platinum electrodes.
Fleischmann and Pons were respected professors with extensive backgrounds in chemical research, but they announced their discovery at a press conference before their research could be peer reviewed. Nevertheless, many in the media and scientific community have been optimistic that cold fusion could provide a significant source of energy that is environmentally friendly and less dangerous than traditional nuclear fission.
Since that time, many scientists throughout the world have shown that nuclear reactions can be made to occur without having to use high temperatures required for hot fusion. This has been demonstrated by the numbers of efforts that produced positive results, accurate scientific measurement methods used, and an ability to discuss easily the results with the worldwide scientific community.
Theory of the Application of Cold Fusion
Fusion is a process in which nuclei join, or fuse, to form a larger nucleus. Because the small nuclei are positively charged, they repel each other, and only nuclei that move quickly enough to have a high kinetic energy actually fuse. Energy is produced due to the difference between the mass of the resulting product nucleus and the mass of the initial nuclei. High-speed nuclei are ordinarily created through particle accelerators or heating nuclei to extremely high temperatures for hot fusion.
In cold fusion, conditions for the reaction cause fusion at a much lower temperature than was previously thought possible.
Potential Benefits of Cold Fusion
If cold fusion can be scaled up, it could result in numerous important benefits http://coldfusionnow.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Top-Five-Benefits.pdf. First, it would be an extremely clean form of energy. No radioactive materials are used in cold fusion, and there is therefore no dangerous material to dispose of in order to create energy. The process also does not emit carbon dioxide or other harmful gasses. Once the metals needed for cold fusion are no longer usable, they can be recycled.
Cold fusion is also generated by plentiful resources. Hydrogen and deuterium come from water, and the necessary metals are abundant in the earth. As a result, cold fusion can be used for a long period of time. Because these materials do not take up a significant amount of space once they are assembled into cold fusion generators, these generators provide a high energy return compared to the input energy, making them efficient and accessible to a wide variety of businesses and communities.
Finally, cold fusion is a new industry that can positively impact the economy. The installation and maintenance of cold fusion generators could result in new jobs and sources of revenue. Cold fusion may also lead to the invention of new engines for transportation, change the mining industry, and save home and business owners money over time.
The State of Cold Fusion Research
Despite the past controversy surrounding cold fusion, many scientists and companies are still dedicated to researching its potential. The process is also sometimes called by another name, low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR). An industrial association https://www.lenria.org/ecosystem for LENR is in the process of being organized.
The following examples indicate a few of the companies with websites showing progress in this new area of technology:
A. Leonardo Corporation in Miami, Florida is one of the best-known LENR companies. The Italian scientist Andrea Rossi is the inventor of the E-Cat https://ecat.com/inventor-andrea-rossi, a device that is claimed to produce consistent heat using cold fusion principles. In January 2014, the technology was licensed in the US, Russia, and China to promote further research. Rossi has also developed a larger 1MW device designed to power industrial buildings and factories. A one-year test of a 1MW unit was completed in 2016 in Florida, although the results do not appear to have been released to the public. Hydrofusion, LTD is a related company located in the United Kingdom and Sweden.
B. Global Energy Corporation, in Annandale, VA, is focused on the development and commercialization of hybrid fusion-fast fission technology.
C. Jet Energy, Inc. in Wellesley Hills, MA. has developed cold fusion devices that are preloaded with hydrogen or deuterium and called “nanors” and “phusors”.
D. Brillouin Energy Corporation in Berkley, CA is developing cold fusion methods and systems to stimulate controlled electron capture reactions with hydrogen.
A great amount of technical background information can be found on the web. A report on Operability and Utility https://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/NagelDJevidenceof.pdf was written by NUCAT Energy, LLC.
2. Cold Fusion Energy Production
An earlier blog discussed the potential benefits of cold fusion as a green energy source and provided links to several small U.S. companies that are attempting to develop systems to utilize cold fusion or low energy nuclear reactions (LENR). The purpose of this blog is to discuss ideas about possible sources of energy from cold fusion.
In the process of performing cold fusion experiments, scientists have determined that more energy is produced than can be accounted for by chemical reactions. Chemical reactions involve electron volts (eVs) of energy per reaction, while nuclear reactions typically involve millions of electron volts (MeVs) of energy per reaction. One electron volt = 1.6 x 10-19 joule; but, one MeV = 1.6 x 10-13 joule, which is a million times larger. In addition, scientists have observed that various types of atoms can be produced and that these might be produced by nuclear fusion, nuclear transmutation, nuclear fission, or a combination of these three types of reactions.
It is important first to discuss how energy (heat) is produced in chemical reactions. Atoms bond together to form molecules because in doing so they attain lower energies than they possessed as individual atoms. That is, the bonded atoms or molecules have an energy that is less than the sum of energies of the initial atoms. A quantity of energy is released that is equal to the difference between the energies of the atoms bonded together to form molecules and the energies of the initial atoms or molecules. The energy is usually released as heat. When atoms combine to make molecules, energy is always given off, and the compound has a lower overall energy.
The web provides a lot of information on how chemical reactions work. See, for example:
During a chemical reaction, atoms are rearranged, and bonds are broken within reactant molecules as new bonds are formed to produce product molecules. This involves breaking of chemical bonds between atoms of reactant molecules and forming new chemical bonds between atoms of product molecules. Bond energy is defined as the amount of energy that it takes to break one mole (6.02 x 1023) of bonds in the gas phase. Energy always has to be added to break a chemical bond. Making a bond always releases energy. If more energy is released during bond forming (of the products) than bond breaking (of the reactants), then the overall reaction is exothermic. This can be represented by the energy-level diagram in this figure.
“Activtation energy” in the figure is defined as the minimum amount of energy needed to activate atoms or molecules to a condition in which they can undergo chemical transformation. It is sometimes much less than the bond energy of reactants, and can even be zero for some reactions.
Energy is required to break bonds; but energy is released when bonds are formed. The numerical value of the bond energy is the same whether it is being broken or formed. But, the change in energy is positive (+) when bonds are broken and negative (-) when bonds are being formed. The minus sign is important to show, as this signifies heat energy is released when bonds are formed. The total energy change of the reaction (or “enthalpy” of the reaction”) is the energy it takes to break the bonds of reactants plus the energy that it takes to make new product bonds. It is generally indicated as ΔH. This is the same as subtracting the total amount of energy produced as bonds are formed from the energy used to break the bonds of the reactant molecules.
A covalent bond, also called a molecular bond, is a chemical bond that involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms. In a covalent bond, atoms with the same electronegativity share electrons because neither atom preferentially attracts or repels the shared electrons. The best examples of covalent bonds are the diatomic elements like H2, N2, O2, and F2 ,etc. Water (H2O) is another example, as it is formed by sharing electrons between hydrogen and oxygen. The reaction to form water from hydrogen and oxygen can be represented in the following equation. Activation energy is provided by heat from a flame contacting the gas.
2 H2 + O2 → 2 H2O ΔH = - 481 kJ.
The H-H bond in hydrogen gas has an energy of 436 kilojoules per mole (kJ/mol). The O-O bond in oxygen gas has an energy of 499 kJ/mol. Therefore, the energy needed to break the bonds of two moles hydrogen and one mole of oxygen is (2 x 436) + 499 = +1371 kJ. The O-H bond in water has an energy of 463 kJ/mole and a molecule of water has two O-H bonds. The energy needed to form both bonds in two moles of water molecule is 2 x 2 ×463 = -1852 kJ. The energy produced during this chemical reaction is then +1352 + (-1852) = -481 kJ.
A watt of power is defined as one joule of energy per second (1 Watt = 1 J/sec). One kilowatt (kW) is 1 kJ/sec (1000 J/sec). Thus, by burning two moles of hydrogen and one mole of oxygen each second, 481 kW (481 kJ/sec) of power can be produced. By comparison, a house requires about 4-5 kW of power for heating, lighting, etc.
Nuclear reactions are quite different in that they involve interactions with the very small, internal nucleus within atoms. Atomic bonds are not involved. The nuclei within atoms consist of neutrons and protons, and are positively charged due to protons that they contain. Nuclear reactions also involve nuclear particles (e.g., alpha particles, beta particles, neutrons) produced from these internal nuclei.
The web provides a lot of information on how nuclear reactions work. See, for example:
The probability of an effective nuclear interaction depends upon the size (cross section) of the interacting particles and the velocity (or kinetic energy) with which the particles interact. Due to their small size, it is a statistical process. The interacting nuclei or particles have to be on nearly exact, but opposite, trajectories so that they will collide; or, one of the particles may be stationary. A positively charged particle, such as a proton or an alpha particle, can only interact effectively with a positive nucleus in an atom if its velocity is also sufficient to overcome the height of the coulomb barrier produced by its proton(s) and the protons in the nucleus. In fusion, two positively charged nuclei can interact and combine if their velocities are sufficient to overcome the height of the coulomb barrier produced by their protons. The height of the coulomb barrier represents an effective “threshold energy” for nuclear reactions involving charged particles. A neutron does not contain a positive charge, and can more easily interact with nuclei in atoms.
The probability of a nuclear reaction is described by the manner in which cross section changes as a function of kinetic energy of the interacting particles. Cross sections have previously been determined from laboratory measurements, and are in units that can be compared to a typical geometrical cross sectional area for a nucleus, which is about 10-24 cm2 (this unit of measure is called a “barn”). The cross section for neutron induced reactions increases with decreasing velocity or kinetic energy because the likelihood that a neutron can be captured depends upon the amount of time it spends near a particular nucleus. The cross section for positively charged particles increases with increasing energy because of the presence of the coulomb barrier.
Cold Fusion Reactions
As indicated above, some in the scientific community believe that cold fusion (or LENR) is possible because they were able to determine that MeVs of energy (in the form of heat) was produced in their experiments. In addition, nuclear reaction products (alpha particles and neutrons) were detected in some experiments. From these observations, it has been assumed that energy from cold fusion can be produced by the same types of nuclear reactions (fusion, fission and transmutation) that have otherwise been observed for standard nuclear reactions. It has furthermore been assumed that the conditions/parameters for the reactions must be different to enable the cold fusion reactions to occur.
A p-d fusion reaction can be represented by the following equation:
p + d   →   He-3 + E (5.5 MeV)
Energy could be provided by a 5.5 MeV gamma ray from excited helium-3 (He-3) produced in the reaction.
Similarly, d-d fusion can be described to occur by three competing paths shown in the following equations:
d + d   →   He-3 + n + E (3.3 MeV)
d + d   →   T-3 + p + E (4.0 MeV)
d + d   →   He-4 + E (23.8 MeV)
These equations indicate the manner in which protons (p), neutrons (n), tritium (T-3), helium-3 (He-3), and helium-4 (He-4) and energy could be produced in the reactions.
In nuclear reactions, energy can be produced when some of the mass of reactants on the left side of the equations is converted to energy, along with the products on the right side of the equations. This is a major difference between nuclear reactions and chemical reactions, as little-to-no mass is converted to energy in chemical reactions. The amount of energy that can be produced is determined by the difference between the masses using Einstein’s formula ΔE = ΔM c2, where ΔM is the mass difference and c is the speed of light. If mass is given in atomic mass units (amu), then a mass difference of 1 amu can be converted to 931.5 MeV of energy (1 amu = 1.66054 x 10-27 kg).
The following table illustrates energy calculations for some fusion reactions.
Examples of Energy from Fusion Reactions
Mn = 1.008665 amu; Mp = 1.007828 amu; Me = 0.00054858; 1 amu   →   931.5 MeV.
|Energy Estimate (maximum)
Mass difference x 931 Mev
|p + d →
1.007828 + 2.014102
|d + d →
2.014102 + 2.014102
|He3 + n
3.01029 + 1.008665
|d + d →
2.014102 + 2.014102
|T3 + p
3.016049 + 1.007828
|d + d →
2.014102 + 2.014102
|d + T3 →
2.014102 + 3.01605
|He4 + n
4.002602 + 1.008665
Heat could be produced by absorption of energies from helium-3 and neutrons (He-3 and n), from tritium and protons (T-3 and p), from helium-4 and neutrons (He-4 and n), and by gamma radiation from excited He-3 and He-4.
The following table illustrates energy calculations for some neutron produced transmutation reactions in nickel.
Examples of Energy from Transmutation Reactions
Mn = 1.008665 amu; Mp = 1.007828 amu; Me = 0.00054858; 1 amu 931.5 MeV.
|n + 58Ni → 59Ni →
1.008665 + 57.935346
|e+ + 59Co
0.00054858 + 58.933198
|n + 60Ni →
1.008665 + 59.930788
|n + 61Ni →
1.008665 + 60.931058
|n + 62Ni → 63Ni →
1.008665 + 61.928346
|e- + 63Cu
0.00054858 + 62.939598
|n + 64Ni → 65Ni →
1.008665 + 63.927968
|e- + 65Cu
0.00054858 + 64.927793
By inspecting data in these tables, it is possible to surmise that cold fusion reactions might, in general, be able to produce about 5 MeV of energy per reaction. Since 1 MeV of energy is equivalent to 1.6 x 10-13 joules, 5 MeV = 8.0 x 10-13 joules. Thus, in comparison to the above discussion on chemical reactions, in order to produce 480 kJ of energy would require about 6 x 1017 nuclear reactions. This number of cold fusion reactions would be required each second for 480 kW of power.
3. Phonons in Cold Fusion
This blog attempts to provide a visual description of cathodes in cold fusion systems loaded with deuterium and/or hydrogen, and discusses the role of phonons (i.e., thermal vibrations) in producing cold fusion reactions in the loaded material. The fact that atoms in materials vibrate has been known since the late 1800s; the characteristics and effects of these vibrations has more recently been investigated as an active area of semiconductor physics.
Loaded Reaction Material
It is possible to estimate the amount of deuterium and/or hydrogen that needs to be loaded into the cathode’s reaction materials, such as consolidated nickel particles, in order to produce a useful output of energy. This can be done by considering an example cubic centimeter of the material where the atoms of nickel are each separated roughly by about 5 angstroms (5 x 10-8 cm). A solid piece of nickel would contain approximately 8 x 1021 atoms. Instead of the solid piece of metal, consider reaction material that has been made to contain many very small spaces where the reactions might be made to occur. It is possible, for example, to have a line of at least 3000 such spaces in the distance of 1 cm along each direction of the cube, or a total of 2.7 x 1010 spaces in a volume of one cubic centimeter.
Visualize a nickel surface internal to each of the very small spaces as having an internal circumference of about 10 microns (10 x 10-4 cm). If the atoms were separated by 5 angstroms, the surface would contain about 20,000 nickel atoms around its circumference. This small space could be considered to be “highly loaded” if it were to contain about this number of deuterium and/or hydrogen atoms.
Assume the space could be loaded with 20,000 deuterium and hydrogen atoms (10,000 each), providing the possibility of 10,000 cold fusion reactions, and assume that each of the reactions is able to produce 5 MeV of energy. Since 1 MeV equals 1.6 x 10-13 joule, 10,000 reactions would produce 8 x 10-9 joule. This is only eight nanojules – a very small amount of energy. A total of 2.7 x 1010 spaces in the reaction material, however, may be able to produce 216 joules/cm3. If this energy were produced each second, then it would result in 216 watts of power for each cubic centimeter of reaction material. This is about the same power density able to be produced by nuclear fission power plants.
Instead of thinking about the nickel surfaces internal to the very small spaces, however, visualize the surfaces themselves as connecting into many 1 micron long linear channels and defects that branch off and that are much more narrow. Each of these more narrow, linear channels could contain several thousand deuterium and hydrogen atoms. Assume that each space branches off to ten (10) linear channels or defects, and that each channel contains 2,000 deuterium and hydrogen atoms (1,000 each), providing the possibility of 1,000 cold fusion reactions. These reactions would produce 8 x 10-10 joule in each channel, 8 x 10-9 joule in 10 channels, or 216 joules in each cubic centimeter of the cathode.
Phonon Characteristics and Effects
Scientists have studied phonons, or thermal vibrations of atoms in solids, since the late 1800s to explain many important material characteristics. The phonons have energies and vibration frequencies related to temperature of the material. For example, melting can be explained in terms of the increase in the number and amplitude of phonons with temperature to the point that the material can no longer stay together as a solid. Electrical resistance can be explained in terms of diffraction or scattering of electrons by periodic vibrations of atoms in the material. An understanding of thermal vibrations was also used to describe the manner in which heat capacity of materials varies with temperature up to the temperature reached when all modes of vibration are active, known as the “Debye temperature”. The Debye temperature for nickel sometimes used in cathodes of cold fusion devices is 183 °C (456 °K). The heat capacity for a mole of atoms in most metals has been determined to be about 25 joules per degree Kelvin, or 6 calories per degree Kelvin (6 calories/°K). These values are important to the operation of some cold fusion systems.
Some phonon characteristics have been derived from the study of superconductivity. Values of the low temperatures at which materials lack electrical resistance were determined early on to be proportional to their Debye temperatures. In the 1950s, these transition temperatures also were determined to be inversely proportional to the square root of isotopic mass. Since the mass of atoms in the material is important, their vibrations must be involved. It was subsequently shown that in traveling through material at very low temperature, electric current is carried by a pair of electrons. The pair is formed when two electrons are weakly attracted to each other (overcoming their repulsive Coulomb forces) as a result of being scattered by the vibration of phonons in the material. This is energetically possible because the paired electrons have lost some of their energy, and have lower energy than when they were separate. The phonon vibrations, however, have insufficient energy, to scatter the more massive pairs, and they can then travel through the material unimpeded.
The amount of coupling between the phonons and electrons is expressed by a coupling constant. This is an extremely important microscopic characteristic of metals. The entire phonon spectrum is considered to contribute in some degree to the coupling constant. It is then possible to correlate the coupling constant with kinetic properties of a metal when the entire phonon spectrum is excited. For example, a direct relationship has been shown between the coupling constant and temperature-dependent resistivity. The dielectric constant has been related to the concentration of conduction electrons and to the effective frequency of electron-phonon collisions. Above the Debye temperature, the electron-phonon coupling constant can be determined using optical measurements.
Scientists have used related concepts since the latter part of 1990 to investigate a theory that cold fusion reactions in the cathode could be caused by strong interactions of high frequency phonon vibrations with electrons of deuterium and hydrogen atoms in adjacent channels and defects. The phonon frequencies are generally thought of in the region of 1012 to 1014 Hertz. The channels and defects are considered to be one-dimensional where positive and negative ions can move rapidly toward each other and fuse. When the deuterium and hydrogen atoms lie in these channels and defects, they have their own spacing in the chain. The interaction is believed to be able to cause some of the electrons to pair up around the deuterium or hydrogen, to produce a negatively-charged atom. The atom with a pair of electrons is more stable than if it had one electron. The phonon interaction is also able to cause electrons to be absorbed into the protons of hydrogen atoms to form neutrons. These neutrons can cause transformation reactions in adjacent material, and would be undesired for long-time operation of cold fusion systems.
4. Cold Fusion Demonstration Experiment
Previous blogs have indicated that many scientists have been working on cold fusion since its discovery in 1989, due to the amount of energy that can be produced per reaction compared with chemical reactions. Some have been able to develop rudimentary prototypes that demonstrate energy production and/or reaction products, such as helium. The purpose of this blog is to proceed down a parallel path to advocate design for a test device that is an amalgamation of earlier concepts reported in the literature and should, therefore, be possible to be used successfully in cold fusion demonstrations. Successful prototype demonstration can subsequently be extended for greater outputs.
About two dozen theories were proposed by the mid-1990s to explain how cold fusion could occur. Cold fusion theory today is still in about the same place in that it lacks firm understanding. Experimental results in science and engineering, however, frequently precede theoretical understanding. From experimental results over the last 20 years, scientists have been able to conclude that the cold fusion reactions must occur in the extremely small, linear defects, cracks and crevices of the cathode reaction material, rather than in perfect bulk material devoid of defects as previously thought. This appears to be important for cathode design and development. Scientists then theorized that cold fusion reactions in the cathode are caused by the small, high frequency vibrations of atoms in the cathode material interacting strongly with electrons of adjacent deuterium and hydrogen atoms in the defects. The atomic vibrations are called “phonons” and have energies and vibration frequencies related to temperature of the cathode material. As few as 1015 atoms reacting per second should produce about a kilowatt of power. So, some researchers suggested that the deuterium or hydrogen atoms should be able to be provided by high pressure deuterium and hydrogen gas directly, rather than relying on the more common practice of liquid electrolysis with heavy water (D2O). High purity deuterium gas can be obtained from Advanced Specialty Gases in Reno, NV and other suppliers. High purity hydrogen is usually available from local suppliers.
An amalgamation of these concepts was used in designing the test device in Figure A. The cathode is made of consolidated nickel powder containing a great many microscopic-sized cracks and crevices. The device contains a heater that enables the cathode to be heated to high temperature, and uses high pressure deuterium and hydrogen gases rather than liquid D2O. Readers of this blog are encouraged to compare these features with similarities on the web, e.g., in: (1) “Energy Generation and Generator by Means of Anharmonic Stimulated Fusion,” by S. Focardi et al., August 3, 1995 (WO 95/20816); (2) the Hyperion system designed by Defkalion Green Technologies, S.A. in Athens, Greece; (3) “Method and Apparatus for Carrying Out Nickel and Hydrogen Exothermal Reactions,” by A. Rossi, January 13, 2011 (US2011/0005506A1); and (4) “Method for Production of Renewable Heat Energy,” by Gyorgy Egely, April 10, 2014 (US2014/0098920A1).
The cathode where the reactions are to occur has an approximate volume of 200 cm3, is 4 inches long, has an inner diameter of 1.5 inches and an outer diameter of 2.5 inches. It is inside a stainless steel pipe that is 8 inches long, has an inner diameter of 2.5 inches and an outer diameter of 2.906 inches. Each end of the pipe (about 0.5 inch) is threaded so as to be joined to the pipe extensions in Figures B and C. Small gaps at the joints help to reduce heat from traveling from Figure A up into Figure B and down into Figure C. Threaded insulator couplings are used to join the pipe extensions in Figures B and C with the pipe in Figure A.
Cartridg heaters can be obtained from Dalton Electric Heater Company in Ipswich, MA. http://daltonelectric.com/index.php/product-data/cartridge-heater-sizes Figure A shows a cartridge type of heater that is also able to serve as anode in the center of the cathode because its outer sheath is electrically isolated from internal heating coils. Importantly, the heater is not operated and its electric circuit is isolated while high voltage (approx. 1000 volts), low current electricity is applied to the anode. The hot section of the sheath has a length of 4 inches and an outer diameter of 0.5 inch. A puller plug on the upper end of the sheath is used to attach the high voltage anode wire. On the other end is a one-inch long unheated section and flat flange for mounting the heater. Power for the heater is provided by two wires from this end. The flange is mounted to a ring type of insulator that contains holes so that gas can flow through it into the space between the cathode and anode/heater. The anode wire travels through another ring insulator above the heater. The manner in which these insulators are secured to the surrounding pipe is not shown. An additional ring insulator is used to support the cathode.
The outer part of the device consists of a flow calorimeter with an internal fluid volume of approximately 2 liters. It is made from a 6 inch long piece of stainless steel pipe with an inner diameter of 6 inches and outer diameter of 6.56 inches. Top and bottom of the calorimeter are made of stainless steel disks welded to the ends of the pipe and to the inner pipe, while still exposing threads to mate with Figures B and C. The calorimeter contains spray nozzles that are exercised when needed for rapid cooling. It contains thermal sensors and inlet and outlet pipes for adding and removing water need for thermal measurements with the calorimeter.
Electric connections are made to the anode and heater, and high pressure deuterium and hydrogen gases are provided through the pipe extensions depicted in Figures B and C. The pipe extensions provide easy access to gas ports and enable feedthroughs to operate at relatively low temperature. High pressure feedthroughs can be obtained from Solid Sealing Technology, Inc. (SST) in Watervliet, NY.
Figure D depicts the basic experimental device connected with the two pipe extensions. A tight fitting, high-Z tungsten metal energy shield and thermal insulation fabric layer are also added around the calorimeter. The energy shield converts some of the radiation produced by the cathode into heat adsorbed by the calorimeter. Thermal insulation is needed to ensure that heat is retained in the calorimeter, and increases accuracy of temperature determinations. Tungsten parts are available from Midwest Tungsten Service in Willowbrook, IL; thermal insulation fabric is available from many sources on the web.
Assembly and Operation
Before installation of the cathode, heater and insulators, great care is required to cleanse the internal metal body of the device and pipe extensions in Figures A-C of any residue and organics used in manufacture and assembly of the parts. Steps of inspection also ensure that the cathode, heater and insulators are not contaminated. Parts must subsequently be handled with clean gloves. After inspection, the gas supplies and vacuum system are connected to ports in the pipe extensions. Thermal and pressure (not shown) sensors and power for the electric heater and high voltage anode source are connected. Control and measurement software is loaded into its computers and exercised to demonstrate that all operations can be appropriately performed. The computer/data acquisition system should be set to record data continuously (e.g., each second) from current and voltage sources and temperature and pressure sensors.
Subsequent steps should be from behind a suitable safety shield according to standard laboratory procedures and include the following. A vacuum is pulled on the system and power for the heater is turned on in an attempt to remove oxygen from the system. The device should be subjected to a sequence of vacuum and high temperature cycles, and the system allowed to bake out until no further pressure changes occur. Care is needed to limit heater power to less than its standard operating power rating. The sequence of steps from this point vary according to experimental objectives. After power is removed from the heater and the device allowed cool, pressurized deuterium gas is added and pressure readings recorded over time to check for leaks. If no leaks are found, additional deuterium can be added to reach approximately half of its operation pressure. Pressure readings are again recorded to check for leaks. Readings are also monitored to determine loading of the cathode with deuterium gas; and, loading steps are repeated as needed. After sufficient loading, the cathode would be subjected to high temperature from the heater. The spray nozzles would be cycled briefly to cool the inner surface of the calorimeter, and hence the outer part of the adjacent cathode. These loading steps are repeated as additional deuterium and/or hydrogen are loaded into the cathode. Water flow through the cathode is established and the rate adjusted to ensure that it does not cool the adjacent cathode below its operating point. At this point, measurement of heat generated in the cathode can be made with the calorimeter. Also, small samples of reaction product gases can be extracted through one of the ports and subjected to isotopic analysis.
5. Design of a Practical Cathode
From previous blogs, it is possible to gather together information for design of cathodes that can be used in future cold fusion generators. The last 30 years have demonstrated that it is difficult to cause cold fusion reactions to occur, at least consistently over a long period of time. When they do occur, it is assumed that the conditions need to be replicated well for the reactions to continue or be repeated. It is known that several material parameters are involved in phonon phenomenology, and, therefore, that future improvements in cathodes could be expected to be implemented by advanced understanding and application of those parameters. Temperature is identified as one of the most important parameters. One can assume not only that the cathode must be heated at least to its Debye temperature (183 °C) for consistent operation, but that the cathode’s temperature operating point will need to be accurately controlled, possibly even within a couple of degrees, for the cold fusion reactions to continue. The cathode can be heated to this temperature with a separate, built-in electric heater. Any additional heat produced internally in the cathode by cold fusion reactions must be removed to produce useful energy output. This additional heat will need to be removed in a regulated manner so that the temperature internal to the cathode is not reduced below its operating point.
Results from cold fusion experiments have demonstrated that several types of reactions are possible – fusion, transmutation, and fission. Very low energy, slow neutrons produced in the reactions, for example, are able to transmute some of the nickel in the cathodes to copper. Energy may be able to be produced in some transmutation reactions. These types of reactions, however, can change the composition of reaction material in the cathode, potentially making it less useful, and are undesired for long-term generator operation. Operating conditions that support fusion reactions will need to be maintained, instead of those that would cause transmutation and fission.
Experiments have also demonstrated that sufficient energy can be produced in the microscopic, local vicinity where reactions occur to melt the reaction material. This concern stems from the observation of “volcanoes” formed from melted metal on the surface of (palladium) reaction material. The volcanoes have a diameter of a few tenths of a micron to tens of microns. Depths are about the same as the diameters. Temperature of the material would need to be raised by at least 1500 degrees for melting. Since the heat capacity of metals is 25 joules per mole per degree, about 20 reactions at 5 MeV each (a total of 100 MeV or 0.016 nanojoule) would provide enough energy to “melt” a million (106) atoms of the material. The volume of a 5-micron diameter volcano (cone) with a depth of 5 microns would contain 1012 atoms before the volcano is formed. Thus, about 20 x 106 reactions would be required to melt the material for a 5-micron volcano. Before the volcano is formed, a thin (one to a few atoms thick) crevice or defect formed in the center of this volume with a width and (triangular) height of 5 microns might contain up to about 108 deuterium atoms that would be available to produce this energy. This indicates that the number of reactions in each microscopic reaction volume will need to be limited (perhaps to less than 20 reactions for each million atoms) to prevent reaction material in the cathode from being changed, particularly for generators that are required to operate consistently for long periods. Melted areas of the cathode would probably not be able to serve as sites for additional reactions.
Now consider deuterium and/or hydrogen gas outside the cathode. Molecules of gas impacting the surface of the cathode will travel at high velocity due to their temperature (thermal or kinetic energy). Gas pressure on the surface of the cathode is due to the numbers of gas molecules and their kinetic energy. Velocity of the molecules can be easily calculated if this were of interest. The average density of molecules at any instant can be calculated from the ideal gas law, PV = n RT, where n is the number of moles of gas (1 mole = 6.02 x 1023 molecules) and R is the universal gas constant (R = 0.082 liters-atmospheres/moles-°K). If the system were operated at 10 atmospheres of pressure and 456 °K (183 °C, the Debye temperature for nickel), then one liter of the gas would contain 1.6 x 1023 molecules. A volume of one cubic micron (10-12 cm3) would contain 1.6 x 1011 molecules. As shown above, relatively few of these molecules need to get through the cathode and into the microscopic cracks and crevices where reactions occur.
An earlier blog indicated that inside the cathode, by comparison, the small volumes internal to each of the great many very small cracks and crevices can be visualized hypothetically as containing either about 20,000 or 2,000 deuterium and hydrogen atoms, providing either 8 x 10-9 joule or 8 x 10-10 joule (8 or 0.8 nanojoule) of energy per reaction site. For a practical cathode for long period operation, however, the amount of energy produced per reaction site must be reduced substantially. One way to do this is to limit the quantity of deuterium and/or hydrogen gas provided to the sites down to about 100 atoms, for example. If this were done, power rating could be expected to be proportionally impacted. A larger cathode to increase the number of reaction sites would be required to maintain power rating. In addition, relative quantities of deuterium and hydrogen can be controlled to enhance the type of fusion reactions that will not cause as much local heating in the reaction sites. Fusion of deuterium with hydrogen produces helium-3 and gamma radiation that does not need to be absorbed close to the reaction sites. Fusion of deuterium with deuterium will produce reaction products that need to be absorbed close to the reaction sites. Thus, much better cold fusion generators can be expected to be developed based upon fusion of deuterium with hydrogen.
6. Heat from Cold Fusion Generators
Hydrogen (proton) – deuterium (deuteron) fusion reactions need to be considered when developing cold fusion generators. The main reason for this emphasis is that proton-deuteron fusion reactions should occur more easily in a cold fusion physical environment than deuteron-deuteron reactions. This is discussed in a paper on the web by Setauo Ichimaru, “Radiative Proton-Capture Nuclear Processes in Metallic Hydrogen,” that was published in Physics of Plasmas in October 2001 (Vol. 8 (#10), pages 4284-4291). A second reason is that facilitating proton-deuteron reactions, e.g., over deuteron-deuteron reactions, would help to control the amount of local heating in each microscopic-sized, very small reaction site within cold fusion generator cathodes. Deuteron-deuteron reactions produce protons and other nuclear particles that would likely damage the reaction sites. Fusion of deuterium and hydrogen produces gamma radiation that is not able to be absorbed significantly within the small reaction sites. The heat produced would be distributed through the whole of the generator and would not be able to melt local cathode material at the reaction sites. Cold fusion generators should be able to operate for much longer periods if the reaction sites are not degraded.
Process of Converting Gamma Energy to Heat
The energy produced as gamma radiation from each proton-deuteron (p-d) reaction is sufficient to ionize thousands of atoms and molecules in the cathode and other parts of the generator, and this is part of the process of producing heat. Only 10 to 1000 eV are needed for each ionization. The relation between energy and frequency of the radiation is described by the formula
E = h f ,
where E is energy in joules, h is Plank’s constant (6.63 x 10-34 joule-seconds), and f is frequency of the radiation in Hertz. Thus, 5.5 MeV gamma radiation photons will have a frequency of 1.3 x 1021 Hertz. Note that here we are speaking about “photons” or electromagnetic radiation, not “phonons”. Wavelength ( λ ) of the radiation can be determined from the formula λ = c/f, where c is a constant equal to the speed of light (3 x 108 meters per second). The 5.5 MeV gamma radiation will have a wavelength of 2.3 x 10-3 Angstroms. This indicates a low probability of interaction between the photon and any single atom or molecule in the cathode and other parts of the generator. But, the generator is composed of a great many atoms of material with which to interact. Higher energy gamma ray photons, such as 23.8 MeV from d-d fusion would have much less probability of interacting with the material.
Gamma radiation is attenuated by the photoelectric effect (most important for gamma energy below several hundred keV), by Compton scattering (most important for gamma energy between several hundred keV and a few MeV), and by pair production (considered for gamma energies above 1.022 MeV). Each of these effects will come into play for 5.5 MeV gamma ray photons produced by p-d fusion reactions. Each of the three gamma ray attenuation processes involves production of electrons. Heat is produced as the electrons slow down by Coulomb interactions with atoms in the absorbing material.
In the photoelectric effect, a gamma ray photon interacts with an atom of absorbing material, resulting in ejection of an electron from the material. The electron receives all the energy of the gamma ray minus the electron’s binding energy, and may induce secondary ionization events. The probability of the photoelectric effect is proportional to atomic number (Z) of the absorbing material and is inversely related to gamma ray energy. The photoelectric effect is most important for low energy gamma rays interacting with heavy elements.
Compton scattering also involves interaction of a gamma ray photon with an atom of the material and ejection of an electron from the material. In Compton scattering, however, only a portion of the energy from the higher energy gamma ray is transferred to the electron and the remaining energy is transmitted as gamma rays at lower energy. As with the photoelectric effect, the probability of Compton scattering is proportional to atomic number (Z) of the absorbing material and is inversely related to gamma ray energy. Compton scattering produces a continuum of scattered gamma ray energies from 250 keV below the highest energy of the incident gamma radiation (known as the “Compton gap”) down to a minimum value. The minimum energy (in keV) of scattered gammas produced by Compton scattering can be determined from the equation
E min = 511 E incident / (511 + 2 E incident) .
In pair production, a gamma ray photon above 1.022 MeV can be converted into an electron-positron pair near the nucleus of an atom of the absorbing material. Any energy of the incident gamma ray photon greater than 1.022 MeV is transferred to the electron and positron as kinetic energy. The electron and positron can produce additional ionization in the absorber material. The positron will eventually be annihilated, producing two 511 keV gamma rays, which can interact further with the material.
The whole mass of the cold fusion generator would be able to absorb heat produced by gamma radiation. An additional energy shield made of a high atomic number (Z) material such as tungsten can be used as necessary to absorb any radiation that is not otherwise absorbed. The National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s XCOM database may be referenced in determining the amount of gamma ray absorption in various materials. In addition, the specific amount of absorption by the photoelectric effect, Compton scattering and pair production can be determined from one of several x-ray and gamma ray calculators on the web.
7. Industrialization of Cold Fusion Technology
Cold Fusion is discussed on this website as one of several renewable energy technologies that should be pursued to help address climate change. When industrialized, cold fusion generators could be distributed around the world to provide non-polluting energy in many venues. Local, community-based electric power plants is an example.
Earlier blogs have implied technical subtleties that need to be taken into account in a program of industrialization and have indicated that steps to develop cold fusion generators will be technically challenging. As example, it is shown that as few as 1015 atoms reacting per second should be able to produce about a kilowatt of power; but, research to date seems to have been able to produce only a few watts or less of power per cubic centimeter of cathode material. Concepts presented indicate that early generators will be able to provide relatively low quality (i.e. temperature) heat compared with generators that burn hydrocarbon-based fuels. The reason for this limitation is that operating temperature will be influenced by Debye temperatures of materials (e.g., nickel, palladium or titanium) from which present-day, research program cathodes are made. Heat produced in cathodes will need to be removed to maintain a relatively constant operating temperature within the cathodes. In addition, only a portion of the potential reaction sites (see an earlier blog) can be expected to host reactions. The present efficiency could be as low as one in a thousand. Subsequent research will hopefully be able to develop improved cathode materials and power output. Second, the quantity of deuterium and/or hydrogen provided to cathodes must be provided in small amounts, e.g., high pressure gas puffs, containing only a millionths of the quantity of gas ordinarily dealt with in power and heating systems. High gas pressure components and gas valves that can be rapidly opened and closed will be needed. Third, it appears that several kinds of nuclear reaction might occur at the potential reaction sites within the cathodes, producing various energies and types of reaction products such as protons, neutrons, helium, and gamma radiation. The particles can deposit their energies locally and damage the reaction sites. Only a few nuclear reactions (e.g., less than 20 for each million atoms of cathode material) can be permitted to occur at each reaction site for cathodes to last during long periods of operation. Fourth, for continuous generator operation, helium produced in the reactions will need to be removed from the cold fusion generators so that there is room to add more deuterium/hydrogen gas. Methods will need to be developed to remove the helium but enable deuterium gas to remain in the generators. These types of technically complex concerns appear to be manageable through dedicated and focused research and development (R&D) that is part of a program to industrialize cold fusion technology.
Comprehensive Statement of Need
The proposed industrialization program should be undertaken even though there is technical risk to be addressed. The Earth needs a revolutionary transformation in production of energy. Oceans are eroding land at an increased rate. The rapid acidification of the oceans from dissolved carbon dioxide places at risk the entire chain of sea organisms. Expanding populations and rapid industrialization have fostered massive reliance on and competition for fossil fuel. The result is cities choked with crippling pollution. In other countries with enormous growing populations, millions are without even minimal amounts of clean water, easily supplied if suitable energy sources were available. Populations have been increasingly reliant on fossil fuels, which are known not only to pollute our planet, but also will be depleted or too expensive to use over the long term. Disasters have shut down the nuclear power industry and forced an increased reliance on fossil fuels. Many scientists warn of worldwide catastrophic effects of climate change from global dependence on fossil fuels, while sources of these polluting and increasingly costly fuels are rapidly being depleted. The costs and competition for energy are a source of international conflicts, fomenting warfare and human destruction.
Downsides of Conventional Nuclear Power
Conventional nuclear power was a hopeful alternative in the last half of the twentieth century. Now there is evidence of the downside - possible catastrophic accidents, unsolved problems of high-level waste requiring secure storage for thousands of years, weapons proliferation and susceptibility to natural disasters, terrorism, and war. The fracking process to increase oil supplies is severely detrimental to the environment, and harmful to our health. Other alternatives have been pursued - solar power, wind power, and others. One of the difficulties in the success of these approaches is the intermittent nature of the source, and no suitable energy storage technology has emerged that can overcome or compensate for these disadvantages.
Producing Energy From Hydrogen & Deuterium
For the past 25 years, scientists have been working to discover how we can use hydrogen and deuterium gas as a fuel source to produce energy. Small systems developed over the last few years indicate this is possible. This technology could address all of the above problems, and could do so at reasonable costs, in safety, without hazardous waste, and without pollution or climatic damage. This is possible because of the enormous energy yield produced by nuclear reactions of a type that are not the same as those in conventional nuclear power plants that have produced hazardous radiation and by-products from fission. This other type of nuclear reaction now being investigated occurs at low energies and has been studied in an array of configurations with many differing materials and under different operating conditions. Unlike conventional nuclear fission reactors, this technology has no critical size and can be built to any practical scale. The most amazing facet of this new technology is that its typical fuel is derived from water and that this fuel source could supply the entire energy demands of the earth for thousands of years. Additionally, the process has no application in weaponry, and the universal access to fuel could prevent political and military rivalries that accompany access to energy.
Elements Proposed for Program to Industrialize Cold Fusion
Basic research on cold fusion has been conducted by many scientists, individual researchers and organizations over the last 30 years. This work has demonstrated that nuclear reactions can be made to occur in a chemistry laboratory environment, including fusion in particular environments at temperatures that are much lower than for hot fusion. An industrialization program should begin from this point of knowledge and proceed deliberately through the typical steps of Advanced Research and Development though Manufacturing and Production.
R&D Efforts by Industry Leaders
Leadership by industry is important, whether altruistically interested in the technology due to the crisis of climate change or with an objective of making a profit through manufacturing and selling generator components. The activities of the program must be performed by seasoned R&D companies and include scientists having knowledge of cold fusion from their work to date. The program should be a team effort and include strong international participants. U.S. government support should be thorough the Department of Defense (DoD) and appropriated into the Defense budget. It is recommended that DoD’s portion of the effort be managed by the Office of Naval Research due to its previous support and understanding of the technology. The Navy has an urgent requirement for new energy sources to replace fuel for ships.
Cold Fusion Program Activities
Early program activities might include, for example: (a) physical design of the cold fusion generator system - expected to be straightforward as based upon knowledge of other high pressure and high temperature gas systems; (b) early research to determine the rate at which high pressure deuterium gas can be absorbed at high temperature into and through manufactured cathodes; (c) system design to provide small quantities of gas to cathodes; (d) system design to remove heat produced in cathodes; (e) research and system design to remove helium and enable deuterium gas to remain in the generator; (f) computer modeling activities to demonstrate the manner in which cold fusion nuclear processes can be enhanced by changes in operational parameters; (g) computer modeling to demonstrate the manner in which heat flows through the rest of the system.
R&D Acquisition Management Procedures
Streamlined R&D acquisition management procedures must be used. This involves processes that shorten the phases of research and development, such as use of parallel or overlapping activities in each program phase. All activities of the program should be coordinated by a single technical assessment and analysis group and should also be responsible for providing progress reporting to funding agencies and the public.
8. Patents and Industrialization
This blog provides examples of information in U.S. patents on cold fusion and low energy nuclear reactions (LENR) that can be reviewed and incorporated as appropriate into a program to industrialize cold fusion technology. Information in patents is generally considered to be better thought out than that in technical papers and presentations, although papers in journals are often peer reviewed. The reason is that inventors who develop information for their patents are often subjected to detailed questions of a wide variety from patent examiners during the patent prosecution process, many of which help to ensure technical accuracy of the information. Also, the patent review process is considered arduous, time consuming and costly, all of which support the need for accuracy. Thus, patents about cold fusion (and LENR) can be used as important sources of information to support an industrialization program, for example in finding ways to increase heat output. The following are some U.S. patent examples:
a. 5,318,675, “Method for Electrolysis of Water to Form Metal Hydrides,” June 7, 1994, by James A. Patterson. Describes a type of liquid electrolysis device containing microspheres coated with a conductive palladium layer and an electrolyte composed of water or heavy water and a conductive salt (e.g. lithium sulfate). Methods are discussed for making the electrolysis device, electrolyte and microspheres. Test setup and results are also discussed. Patent examiner: Donald R. Valentine. Application was dated July 20, 1993.
b. 5,411,654, “Method of Maximizing Anharmonic Oscillations in Deuterated Alloys,” May 2, 1995, by Brian Ahern et al. Developed with U.S. Air Force support. Describes concepts for a liquid electrolysis device containing either deuterium or hydrogen (sublattice) in many small regions on surfaces of a palladium-silver, palladium or nickel cathode (host lattice), at a ratio of at least 5 atoms of the sublattice to 10 atoms in the host lattice and energized by low frequency (5-2000 Hz) voltage. A theoretical discussion is provided on enhancing deuterium or hydrogen oscillation within the small cathode regions. The deuterium or hydrogen is provided to the cathode by electrolysis of water or heavy water. Methods of making many small regions on host lattice surfaces (e.g., scribing and layering) are also discussed. Patent examiner: Donald R. Valentine. Application was dated July 2, 1993.
c. 6,248,221 B1, “Electrolysis Apparatus and Electrodes and Electrode Material Therefor,” June 19, 2001, by Randolph R. Davis et al. Discusses design of a gas or gaseous type of cold fusion device with cathode reaction material comprised of nanocrystalline (e.g., nickel) particles, a porous ceramic reaction vessel between the anode and cathode, a microwave waveguide starter/initiator, and a relatively simple electronic control circuit. A theoretical discussion is provided on the movement of hydrogen into and through the cathode by electrolysis, gas pressure, and electric and thermal diffusion. Spray conversion processing is discussed as a method of making nanocrystalline particles for the cathode. Patent examiners: Kathryn Gorgos and Thomas H. Parsons in USPTO Art Unit P/1729. Application was dated June 1, 1999.
d. 7,244,887 B2, “Electrical Cells, Components and Methods,” July 17, 2007, by George H. Miley. Describes concepts for a wet (or dry) electrolysis type of cold fusion device that uses a multi-layer thin film cathode made of palladium, titanium or nickel, for example, or metallic nanoparticles. Cells designs which employ loading of ionic hydrogen from a hydride storage layer are considered. Results from experiments with multi-layer thin films are also included. Patent examiner: Bruce F. Bell. Application (under the international Patent Cooperation Treaty or PCT) was dated February 26, 2001.
e. 7,893,414 B2, “Apparatus and Method for Absorption of Incident Gamma Radiation and Its Conversion to Outgoing Radiation at Less Penetrating, Lower Energies and Frequencies,” February 22, 2011, by Lewis G. Larsen and Allan Widom. Describes concepts for a gas type of device to produce heavy electrons within oscillating “surface plasma polaritons (SPPs)” on metal substrate (e.g., nickel) surfaces that can interact by extremely intense electric fields directly with oscillating protons (or deuterons without protons) and be captured by the protons (or deuterons) to form low energy neutrons. The neutrons can be captured by device construction material (e.g., palladium-lithium alloy) in a low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) process, transmuting the material and producing energy. A theoretical discussion is provided on the manner in which gamma radiation from the LENR reactions, or from outside sources, may be shielded by SPP electrons that absorb gamma ray electromagnetic energy. Methods of making the metallic working surface are also discussed. Patent examiners: Robert Kim and Hanway Chang in Art Unit P/2881. Application was dated September 9, 2005.
f. 8,227,020 B1, “Dislocation Site Formation Techniques,” July 24, 2012, by George Miley. Describes concepts for a gas type of cold fusion device to use multi-layer thin films made of palladium, titanium or nickel, for example, or metallic nanoparticles and providing dislocations where reactions would occur. Theoretical discussion on pyconuclear reactions and reaction rate equations are provided. Detailed discussion is provided on results from experiments with multi-layer thin films. Methods are provided to increase the density of dislocations in the thin films. Patent examiner: Brian K. Talbot in Art Unit P/1715. Application was dated March 31, 2008.
g. 8,440,165 B2, “Dislocation Site Density Techniques,” May 14, 2013, by George Miley and Xiaoling Yang. Information in this patent is similar to that in 8,227,020 B1. Patent examiner: Frank Lawrence, Jr. in Art Unit P/1776. Application was dated March 7, 2012.
h. 8,419,919 B1, “System and Method for Generating Particles,” April 16, 2013, by Pamela A. Boss et al. Developed with U.S. Department of the Navy support. Describes the design of a liquid electrolysis device whose cathode is formed by co-deposition of deuterium and a deuterium absorbing metal, such as palladium. Steps in making and operating the device are discussed, to include the use of CR-39 plastic as a detector. Results are provided from related experiments. Patent examiners: Keith Hendricks in Art Unit P/1773 and Steven A. Friday in Art Unit P/1795. Application was dated September 21, 2007.
i. 8,603,405 B2, “Power Units Based on Dislocation Site Techniques,” December 10, 2013, by George Miley and Xiaoling Yang. Information in this patent is a continuation-in-part and similar to 8,227,020 B1 and 8,440,165, but with additional system design provided for small power units (Figure 16) and gas loaded reaction generator modules (Figure 17). Patent examiner: Frank Lawrence, Jr. in Art Unit P/1776. Application was dated May 13, 2013.
j. 9,540,960 B2, “Low Energy Nuclear Thermoelectric System,” January 10, 2017, by Nicolas Chauvin. Discusses engineering design of a thermal generator to utilize transmutation reactions to produce heat for use in mobile applications. Indicates use of heater and radio frequency energy to energize nickel powder in a reaction chamber and a shield to block any gamma rays emitted by the transmutations. Patent examiner: Jesse Bogue in Art Unit P/3748. Application was dated March 22, 2013.
These examples of patents appear to fall into two categories: those more closely associated with fusion, deuterium, energy and helium; and, those more closely associated to transmutation, hydrogen, energy and transmutation products. All are related to low energy nuclear reactions that was generally unheard of before Pons and Fleischmann in 1989. Patents (a-d), (f-i) are more closely associated with fusion, deuterium, energy and helium; and, patents (e), and (j) appear to be more closely related to transmutation, hydrogen, energy and transmutation products. It is important also to note that some patent examiners in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office currently hold a view that there has been no reliable evidence that these types of nuclear reactions have been achieved. This impacts the number of patent applications that are approved as patents. Inventors are concerned that this may be due to inappropriate influence on managers in the USPTO. The industrialization process, however, can also look to additional supporting information available both in published U.S. applications and in international patents. For example, a list of published applications is provided in patent 9,540,960 B2. A company called “Nichenergy” www.nichenergy.com holds at least five international patents. Reference WO95/20816 (January 27, 1995), WO2010/058288 (May 27, 2010), WO2012/147045 (November 1, 2012), WO2013/008219 (January 17,2013) and WO2013/046188 (April 4, 2013).
9. Design of Helium Separator
In order to produce kilowatts of energy, cold fusion generators must be able to sustain more than 1016 nuclear reactions per second. Reactant product helium gas molecules can be anticipated to be produced at approximately this rate, and will need to be removed from the system so that additional hydrogen and/or deuterium gas can be added, thus enabling the generator to operate for long periods of time. A year of continuous operation at 1016 nuclear reactions per second can produce 3 x 1023 helium molecules (0.5 mole) that occupy about 11 liters.
Benefits of Helium Separation
Removal of helium can, therefore, be crucial for spacecraft power applications and in unattended power applications in remote areas where sustained operations are required for long periods of time. A capability to remove incremental and pre-determined quantities of helium, with the addition of hydrogen and/or deuterium to the reactor, can also be used to help balance pressure-related, variable operating conditions within the reactor and to support maintenance of consistent pressure and temperature operating conditions. Additionally, government directives for controlling helium usage have stimulated incentives for saving and re-use of helium as an irreplaceable natural resource of limited extent. Supplies of helium-3 are particularly limited and of high cost. Collection and storage of helium reactant product gas can result in a profitable resource due to its commercial uses.
Many methods of helium separation have been investigated. These include: diffusion, adsorption, cryogenics, fractional distillation, Becker nozzles, and centrifuges. Diffusion relying upon the permeability of helium through materials has been the most studied and applied in practical systems to separate helium from other gases, e.g., for the gas industry. Sufficiently high helium diffusion rates are possible due to helium’s small, monoatomic molecule diameter compared, e.g., with hydrogen’s larger diatomic molecule diameter. Helium diffusion rate through materials and seals has also been extensively studied by others in relation to leak testing methods, such as those used to ensure mechanical integrity of piping. Helium can be separated by diffusion without the use of “purifiers”/“purification” where the other gases would be required to be adsorbed or otherwise removed from the gas mixture, i.e., by a getter or absorber, and without additional valves or pumps that may be required by some other methods of separation.
An article on “The Diffusion of Hydrogen and Helium through Silica Glass and other Glasses,” by G. A. Williams and J. B. Ferguson in 1922 demonstrated that permeability of silica glass both to helium and hydrogen is proportional to gas pressure and to an exponential function of temperature. Permeability to helium is much larger than permeability to hydrogen. Permeability of helium through fused quartz (est. 1013 atoms per second per cm2 for 1 mm thick samples at 300 °C and pressure difference of 1 atmosphere) compared with hydrogen and deuterium was discussed in “Diffusion Coefficients of Helium in Fused Quartz,” by D. E. Swets et al., in 1961 and in “Diffusion of Hydrogen and Deuterium in Fused Quartz,” by R. W. Lee et al. in 1962. Values were obtained through a series of steady state measurements with different, but constant temperatures and pressures.
Permeable Element Materials
Materials for construction of helium permeable elements for cold fusion generators can be determined from a list of materials able to withstand high temperature and known from the technical literature to be effective in separating helium from other gases. Zirconia, fused silica and silica glass are considered to be the best materials to use for the permeable elements (see photograph).
Polyethylene was discussed in “Permeability of Solids to Gases,” by A.P. Brady et al. in 1963, but is not considered to be useful due to its relatively low melting temperature. The use of zirconia (permeability to helium est. 1015 atoms per second per square centimeter for a 1 mm. thick element and pressure difference of about 1 atmosphere) was discussed in 1969 by W.R. Seetoo and J. W. McGrew in NASA CR-72603 as a means of removing helium from nuclear reactor containment vessels. Permeability of zirconia to helium was shown to be much larger than permeability to hydrogen. As discussed in “Permeation in Fused Silica,” by J. S. Masaryk and R. M. Fulrath in 1971, fused silica is also considered as a promising construction material for helium permeable elements because of its permeability to helium (est. about 1013 atoms per second per square centimeter across 1 mm at 300 °C with a pressure difference of 1 atmosphere).
10. Cold Fusion Gas Control
Earlier, it was indicated that deuterium and/or hydrogen should be provided to cathodes where cold fusion reactions can occur in small, high pressure gas puffs. The reason is that only about 1015 atoms reacting per second are needed for each kilowatt of power. This is unusual in that it is only a millionth of the quantity of gas ordinarily dealt with in conventional power and heating systems. It was also indicated that, for continuous generator operation, helium reactant gas produced in the reactions will need to be removed from cold fusion generators so that there is room to add more deuterium/hydrogen gas.
It is recommended that the gas handling system be composed of four (4) separate gas source and collection manifolds that are able to be mated directly to the generator’s reaction chamber. Each of the manifolds necessarily includes high-pressure-rated tubing and fittings, gas measurement chambers, temperature and pressure sensors, mechanical and electric valves to control gas flow, and cooling chambers that can provide cooling to the tubing and pipes connected to the reaction chamber, thus protecting the sensors and valves from high temperature in the reaction chamber.
Figure 1 is an example of a deuterium/hydrogen gas supply manifold whose purpose is to provide predetermined, controlled, small quantities of deuterium and hydrogen gas to the generator’s reaction chamber. Figure 2 is an example of an inert carrier gas (e.g., argon) manifold. This manifold can provide predetermined quantities of carrier gas to the reaction chamber during start-up and maintenance periods. Figure 3 is an example of a reaction gas manifold that enables reactant gas (e.g., helium) to be quantified, temporarily stored and periodically extracted from the generator according to applicable standards and regulations. Figure 4 is a design for a gas measurement and evacuation manifold that can enable gases to be extracted from the reaction chamber and the gas manifolds during start-up and maintenance periods. Additional details on design of the gas handling system can be found in patent application US 2018/0087165A1.
The above photograph provides some examples of high-pressure components of the type that can be used to build cold fusion generator gas handling systems. The small storage tank to the left is about the size needed for deuterium to power a car about a year. The mechanical valves and fittings shown are available from High Pressure Equipment Company www.highpressure.com/ in Erie, Pennsylvania. An example of a normally-closed, high pressure, electric solenoid valve is also shown in the photograph. This type of valve is available from Clark Cooper www.clarkcooper.com in Roebling, New Jersey. To the right of the electric valve is an electronic pressure sensor of the type available from ASCO Valve, Inc. www.ascovalve.com in Florham Park, NJ. At the far right is a specially designed gas chamber for quantifying helium reactant gas produced by the generator. The measurement chamber includes an electronic interface and operates by similar principles as the stand-alone Binary Gas Analyzer (Model BGA244) from Stanford Research Systems, Inc. www.thinksrs.com/products/bga244.html in Sunnyvale, California.
11. Cold Fusion Reaction Chamber
The design of the cold fusion generator discussed on this website was developed to bridge the gap between laboratory research systems and a commercially useful device, and to ensure it can be manufactured and supported by industry. The generator is designed to make use of pressurized hydrogen and deuterium gas and proton-deuteron (p-d) reactions since these are predicted to occur more easily in a cold fusion environment than some other types of nuclear reactions. Interested readers are encouraged to request a list of related technical references by writing to New Energy Power Systems, LLC, P.O. Box 3825, Fairfax, VA 22038.
The purpose of this blog is to discuss the reaction chamber that encloses the generator’s active high-temperature and pressure components. The reaction chamber must be massive enough to absorb 5.5 MeV gamma radiation from the p-d reactions, converting this radiation into heat. The reaction chamber is also required to contain high gas pressures and temperatures during operation, and not leak with changes of pressure and temperature during generator startup and shutdown. It needs to have a large enough internal volume to contain an anode, the cathode where cold fusion reactions occur, and other supporting electrical components (e.g. temperature sensor). It should be able to be opened and closed when maintenance is required on internal parts. For convenience, the anode and supporting electrical components can be mated with the top. Pipes extending from the reaction chamber are used to connect with gas source and collection manifolds discussed below in another blog. The reaction chamber also needs to be surrounded by a heat exchanger to remove heat from its outer surface.
The reaction chamber in the above photograph was designed to satisfy these requirements. It was made from a large steel pipe (stainless type 316) available from France to a local shop, and is designated as the Mk12.31. Reaction chambers may also be obtained from the High Pressure Equipment Company in Erie, Pennsylvania. The chamber is shown with reaction material (on the left) made by consolidating nickel powder under high pressure. The cathode consists of the reaction material wrapped in a metal casing or sleeve that is designed to provide thermal contact with the inside of the reaction chamber.
Attenuation of gamma radiation through the reaction chamber and heat exchanger can be determined by using an x-ray/gamma radiation calculator on the web; and, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s XCOM database (click on www.nist.gov/pml/xcom-photon-cross-sections-database ) can be referenced to determine the amount of gamma ray energy absorbed in various materials. Information in the below chart shows that only 6% of the energy from 5.5 MeV p-d reactions would be stopped by 2.5 mm of stainless steel, but that about 71% would be attenuated in 5 cm. This is about the distance through the cathode, a steel sleeve around the cathode, the reaction chamber wall and the heat exchanger/boiler wall. If the steel sleeve around the cathode were replaced by a tungsten sleeve, practically all radiation would be absorbed before exiting the wall of the reaction chamber.
Gamma Radiation Attenuation through Reaction Chamber
As shown in the table, all of the primary radiation can be absorbed through a combination of the photoelectric effect, Compton scattering and pair production. For information on these effects, reference discussions in the text on “Radiation Detection and Measurement,” by Glenn F. Knoll, John-Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000.
During system operation, the amount of any leakage will need to be continually verified, for example with a standard gamma spectrometer located outside of the heat exchanger or directly above the top of the reaction chamber. If any of the radiation were able to make its way completely through the reaction chamber and heat exchanger, then it could be detected in the spectrometer as a “full-energy peak” at 5.5 MeV and as lower energies from partially absorbed radiation. The appearance of the spectrum can be estimated with The Gamma Spectrum Generator (GSG) available from the Joint Research Centre Institute for Transuranium Elements in Karlsruhe, Germany.
12. Theoretical Basis for Cold Fusion
About two dozen theories were proposed by the mid-1990s to explain how cold fusion could occur. Going forward now from experimental results over the last 20 years, it is essential that cold fusion theory be understood with respect to those experiments. Scientists have been able to conclude that the cold fusion reactions must occur in the extremely small, linear defects, cracks and crevices of the cathode reaction material, rather than in perfect bulk material devoid of defects as previously thought. Scientists have theorized that cold fusion reactions in the cathode are caused by the small, high frequency vibrations of atoms in the cathode material interacting strongly with electrons of adjacent deuterium and hydrogen atoms in the defects. The atomic vibrations are called “phonons” and have energies and vibration frequencies related to temperature of the cathode material. The purpose of this blog is to provide background into this development.
Some of the technical background known by physical chemistry students and scientists in universities and industry is that, rather than representing electrons in orbits around a nucleus (i.e, the Bohr model), the electric charge of electrons should be considered to be in an electron cloud, some of which can pass through the nucleus. A neutron can be produced within an atom when an electron is captured by a proton in the nucleus in a process called “k-capture”. Electron capture can also occur with more distant L-electrons. Electron capture occurs spontaneously, without the addition of outside energy. It is possible for proton-rich isotopes above the line of stability in the chart of the nuclides .. For example, a proton in the nucleus of potassium-40 is able to capture an electron, turning it into argon-40. The captured electron is already part of the potassium-40 atom, so the amount of energy produced can be determined just by subtracting the mass of the argon-40 atom (39.962383 amu) from the mass of potassium-40 atom (39.963999 amu) and multiplying the result by 931 MeV/amu. A gamma ray would be produced with an energy of about 1.5 MeV. As another example, a proton in the nucleus of beryllium-7 consisting of only 4 protons and 3 neutrons is able to capture an electron, turning the beryllium-7 into lithium-7. Outside an atom, by comparison, neutrons can be produced from nuclear fission or by high-energy particle scattering (such as alpha particles from polonium-210 striking beryllium). But, the electron in a hydrogen atom normally cannot collapse into the nucleus (it doesn’t emit a photon and loose energy) to produce a neutron. And, the neutron mass cannot result from combining an electron with a proton, as the rest mass of an electron (0.00054858) in combination with a proton (1.00727647) is insufficient to produce the mass of a neutron (1.008664). An additional 0.00083895 amu or about 780 keV would be required.
A theory of cold fusion that appears to be consistent with these and other ideas from chemistry and physics was detailed in a paper written by Dr. K.P. Sinha in June-July 1999, while he was a visiting professor at Harvard University. The theory suggests that cold fusion nuclear reactions can occur as a result of interactions between phonons, i.e., high frequency vibrations, in cathode reaction material and electrons (electric charge) of hydrogen and deuterium atoms in defects, cracks and crevices of the reaction material.
A mathematical description of the process involves the following:
- Hydrogen and deuterium molecules, atoms and ions are contained by the small defects, cracks and crevices. When the deuterium and hydrogen species lie in these channels, they are assumed to be affected by the associated electric potentials within these small volumes and to have their own spacing in the chain.
- The atoms of reaction material can be made to produce optical (high frequency) phonons. Phonons are a quantized form of lattice vibration (the energy is carried in discrete quanta).
- The hydrogen species in the channels thermally vibrate with a common frequency as “Einstein oscillators”. Energies of these vibrations are quantized into levels separated by E = h f , where h is Planck’s constant (6.63 x 10-34 joule-seconds) and f is frequency.
- High frequency (longitudinal) vibrations of reaction material atoms in/near the surfaces of the channels interact strongly by electrostatic fields with electrons of the hydrogen and deuterium, causing the electrons to pair up around individual hydrogen or deuterium atoms. With a pair of electrons, the atom has a negative charge. It is also more stable than if it had one electron.
- An electron or electron pair located on a proton or deuteron and interacting with the phonons can acquire an effective heavy mass; and, the corresponding atoms or ions are squeezed to much smaller size.
- A negatively charged deuterium or hydrogen ion that results can strongly attract its complementary positive deuterium ion in a molecule that, for a small instant of time, has no electrons. The electrons can negate the positive coulomb barrier between the ions, enabling the ions to fuse (a comparison can be drawn to muon-catalyzed fusion).
- Since the channels are essentially one-dimensional, distantly-spaced positive and negative ions can also move rapidly toward each other and fuse.
- A heavy electron or pairs of heavy electrons close to the nucleus can be captured by a proton to form a neutron through an electron capture process. The neutrons can cause transmutation of adjacent reaction material.
The above drawing indicates related reaction mechanisms. The double dash indicates two electrons around a deuteron, causing it to have a negative charge. Examples of “fusion” occur when protons, deuterons, or tritons (tritium) are made to combine with the negatively charged deuteron ion as shown on the top row of the drawing. Fusion of deuterium (deuterons) and deuterium to produce neutrons, protons and tritium, along with helium-4 and helium-3 is not desired due to local heating or transmutation that could be produced in the reaction material. In the bottom row, the right side of the drawing depicts a way that “transmutation” may occur, where the adsorption of a very low energy neutron into an element may help to convert it into another element. An example is the transmutation of nickel reaction material into cobalt and copper (although this also is undesired). The left side of the bottom row depicts electron capture in one of the protons of a hydrogen molecule to produce a neutron (the other proton or atom of the molecule is not shown). The captured electron is already part of the hydrogen molecule, so the energetics of the process can be estimated by subtracting the mass of the other proton (1.0072647 amu) from the mass of hydrogen (2 x 1.00794 or 2.01588 amu), which takes hydrogen’s binding energy taken into account. The difference of 1.0086153 indicates that hydrogen has almost enough mass-energy to form a neutron (1.008664 amu). A mass of 0.000049 amu, however, is still needed, which, when multiplied by 931 MeV/amu, is equivalent to 46 keV. This may be able to be provided by the heavy effective electron mass or phonon energy. Another theory discussed below provides further support.
Professor Sinha initially suggested the role of electron pairing during a cold fusion meeting in 1989 held in Bangalore, India. The idea was also mentioned in an obituary for Professor F.C. Frank that he wrote in 1998. Dr. Sinha then indicated that he can explain how cold fusion works during an April 1999 conference hosted by Integrity Research Institute at the Holiday Inn in Bethesda, Maryland. In the summer and fall of 1999, the staff and technical consultants for Epoch Engineering, Inc., a systems engineering company in Gaithersburg, Maryland, assisted him in further documenting his theory. Details were presented in a meeting at the Hilton Arlington, VA hotel on November 18, 1999 (see above photograph where Professor Sinha is briefing participants in the meeting on “The Role of Electron Pairing in Facilitating Fusion, Fission and Other Mechanisms in Reproducible Experiments”). This location was chosen for its proximity to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Science Foundation. About 40 copies of the briefing charts were distributed to scientists across the nation as a technical note (NEPS-TN-003). The theory was subsequently described in “A Theoretical Model for Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions,” by K.P. Sinha, dated 1999 and published in Infinite Energy magazine, Issue 29, pages 54-57, January/February 2000. The theory was also included in a March 2000 technical proposal from Epoch Engineering to DARPA on “New Power Production Technology Reaction Material”.
Dr. Sinha continued his theoretical work on cold fusion as a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2000-2003). He met Andrew Meulenberg (PhD, Vanderbilt University in Nuclear Physics) who has been working with him under the aegis of the Science for Humanity Trust in Bangalore, India, which they founded. Since that time, they have co-authored about a dozen related papers and briefings that can be found on the web. Information on electrostatic fields in the channels was discussed in 2006 and 2007, and information on reaction rates in the channels was discussed in 2012.
This theory has several important implications for development and long-time operation of cold fusion systems. The most important is that, since melting of channels where reactions can occur should be prevented, the system should be designed to support fusion of hydrogen and deuterium (p-d). Fusion of deuterium with deuterium (d-d) can produce neutrons and protons that deposit their energy locally in the channels. Second, the reaction material should be made to contain a sufficiently large number of extremely small, one-dimensional channels for the power level of interest. The channels should allow distantly-spaced positive and negative ions to move rapidly towards each other and fuse. Specifications will need to be developed for consistent manufacturing of reaction material. Another implication of the theory is that cold fusion systems should be made to operate when all modes of vibration are active, i.e., above the Debye temperature of reaction material from which cathodes are made. Cathodes should be made of materials that have a high Debye temperature. Also, production of slow neutrons and transmutation should be prevented. This may be able to be regulated by controlling the environment, e.g., temperature and the relative amounts of hydrogen and deuterium in the reaction chamber.
Mathematics for a supportive theory is discussed by Dr. Alan Widom and Lewis Larsen in “Ultra Low Momentum Neutron Catalyzed Nuclear Reactions on Metallic Hydride Surfaces,” that was published in Condensed Matter on May 2, 2005. This paper shows how mass of electrons on reaction material surfaces can be increased by electromagnetic radiation on the surfaces. The heavy mass electrons can interact with protons and deuterons on the surfaces to produce very low energy neutrons in a manner similar to that shown in the lower left of the above diagram. The low energy neutrons can be captured by the reaction material, and new isotopes produced that decay by beta emission into other elements. Heat is produced by the radioactive decay and gamma ray adsorption.
13. DOE Support for Cold Fusion Industrialization
This website discusses some of the technical complexity involved in industrial development of cold fusion technology. Next steps, for example, involve improved modeling of phonon processes, the energy produced in individual reaction material sites, summation of energy from the reaction material (cathodes) and heat flow through the reaction vessel and into a boiler/heat exchanger. Improvements are needed in reaction material for higher temperature operation.
The Atomic Energy Commission, now known as the Department of Energy (DOE), was established in 1946 by the Atomic Energy Act (Public Law 79-585) to direct the research and development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to control the development and production of nuclear weapons. It established U.S. policy that the development and utilization of atomic energy shall be directed, so far as practicable and subject at all times to the paramount objective of assuring the common defense and security, toward improving the public welfare, increasing the standard of living, strengthening free competition in private enterprise, and promoting world peace. It provided for programs of assisting and fostering private research and development to encourage maximum scientific progress; for control and dissemination of technical information to encourage scientific progress and for sharing of information concerning the practical industrial application of atomic energy; of federally conducted research and development to assure the Government of adequate scientific and technical accomplishment; for control over fissionable materials; and, of administration that will enable Congress to be informed so that it could take further appropriate legislative action.
The Atomic Energy Act (Section 3)directed the agency to insure the continued conduct of research and development by private or public institutions or persons and to assist in the acquisition of an ever-expanding fund of theoretical and practical knowledge in nuclear processes; the theory and production of atomic energy; utilization of fissionable and radioactive materials for medical, biological, health or military purposes; utilization of fissionable and radioactive materials and processes entailed in the production of such materials for all other purposes, including industrial uses; and the protection of health during research and production activities.
Since cold fusion deals with nuclear energy, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, it appears incumbent on the DOE to support related research and development. Climate change now is recognized as a crisis that requires this support. It can be assumed, therefore, that DOE is very interested in the recent progress made by industry in cold fusion.
Cold fusion was discussed on May 5, 1993, in a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Energy. DOE representatives discussed hot fusion, magnetic confinement work. A researcher from industry expressed concern that DOE’s tokamak hot fusion funding excluded virtually all research on new ideas and systems. A scientist explained research to develop energy from a chemical process related to cold fusion. A researcher on cold fusion indicated that absence of U.S. policy on cold fusion was inhibiting development of a vital legal and intellectual property infrastructure, that the U.S. patent office was not issuing patents in this field, and that the field was so new that training people will not be an easy or rapid task. Supporting written testimony was provided from several other individuals and organizations.
The DOE held a meeting on August 23-24, 2004 to review progress to develop cold fusion technology. Information about the review and DOE’s report from the review are available on the web at https://lenr-canr.org/wordpress/?page_id=455
The review was requested from the DOE by several scientists who considered the field of cold fusion to be sufficiently mature at that time to receive substantial government funding. Scientists who requested the review provided a paper to the DOE to support the review entitled, “New Physical Effects in Metal Deuterides,” August 1, 2004 (also on the web) that discussed the production of excess heat, helium, and other nuclear emissions, along with 137 supporting background papers. Eighteen (18) reviewers provided their comments; eleven (11) reviewers participated in the DOE meeting. The resulting DOE report dated December 1, 2004 is succinct with only five pages. Lines 11-24 on page 3 indicate that about half of the reviewers at that point thought that excess power was produced; lines 10-13 on page 4 indicate that approximately seven (7) of the 18 reviewers felt that low energy nuclear reactions were produced. The reviewers focused mainly on deuterium-deuterium reactions to produce helium-4. Only a few mentioned reactions to produce either helium-3 or neutrons. The reviewers were not explicitly tasked for comments on the issue of reproducibility, which was only infrequently mentioned in their comments (also on the web). Line 23 on page 3 of the DOE report indicated that most reviewers felt the effects are not repeatable.
Reproducibility is discussed in “Evidence of Operability and Utility from Low Energy Nuclear Reaction Experiments,” NUCAT Energy LLC Report 2017-01, dated August 1, 2017. This report was written by one of the scientists who requested the DOE meeting in 2004, and is available on the web at https://www.lenr-canr.org/acrobat/NagelDJevidenceof.pdf
This report on reproducibility is based upon the idea that operability can be demonstrated when a cold fusion or low energy nuclear reaction device produces heat or nuclear reaction products. Examples of devices that have produced heat and helium are provided on pages 10-19 and 28-36. It also shows that utility of an operable device can be demonstrated when its design is subsequently used in the design of another “operable” cold fusion or low energy nuclear reaction device. Reproducibility can be demonstrated with the same or different devices.
14. Cold Fusion Reaction Chamber and Heat Exchanger
The purpose of this blog is to provide the reader with additional technical details about design of cold fusion systems. The design of the reaction chamber and its surrounding heat exchanger in the following diagram is discussed as an example. This approach to building an operable cold fusion system would produce energy by nuclear fusion in its cathode of hydrogen and deuterium to produce 5.5 MeV of energy per reaction. Hydrogen and deuterium would be converted to helium-3 in the fusion process. The energy from each reaction (5.5 MeV) is produced as gamma radiation which, to be useful, would be attenuated in the reaction chamber and the heat exchanger.
Current Situation with Nuclear Fission Plants
“(Nuclear fission) is no longer a viable strategy for dealing with climate change, nor is it a competitive source of power. It is hazardous, expensive and unreliable, and abandoning it wouldn’t bring on climate doom. The real choice now is between saving the planet and saving the dying nuclear industry.” This analysis and assertation by Dr. Gregory Jaczko, Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2009-2012) in the Washington Post on May 19, 2019 (pages B1 and B4) indicates that the present nuclear power industry is dying and may soon be extinct. Nuclear industry representatives over the years apparently withheld information on the need to solve plant safety issues and “off-site” radiation release into local communities.
Now is an appropriate time to consider the benefits that could be provided by a new energy industry based upon cold fusion to replace fission-type power plants. Cold fusion could still make use of the much greater energy output from nuclear reactions than what’s possible with chemical systems, but not involve the dangers associated with present-day nuclear power plants or alternatives based upon nuclear fission. Expertise residing in the nuclear power industry could be retained and applied in cold fusion systems development. The Department of Energy (DOE) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would have regulatory responsibilities.
The reason for the reaction chamber is to provide pressure, temperature and electric field conditions that facilitate hydrogen and deuterium absorption into reaction material (highlighted in the drawing) where cold fusion reactions occur. The reaction chamber contains a microwave loop antenna and a temperature sensor, and an anode in the center, surrounded by a cylindrical cathode which contains the reaction material. There is an electric heater in the anode that is used to increase the temperature of the inner surface of the cathode and the gas between the anode and cathode. A photograph of the reaction chamber was provided in an earlier blog. The system is designed to be operated with gas pressure as high as 1000 psi at 500°C, but is expected to operate generally at approx. 150 psi and 300°C. Although hydrogen and deuterium gases are supplied to the reaction chamber in the form of gas molecules, the region between the anode and cathode contains a mixture of molecules, ions and electrons, pressurized hydrogen and deuterium gas, elevated temperatures and strong electric fields. Microwaves are used during system start-up to jiggle electrons in the gas between the anode and cathode.
Loading of Reaction Material
In this particular design, loading of the reaction material can make use of a combination of high deuterium and hydrogen gas pressure in the reaction chamber, a high voltage electric field between the anode and cathode, and a thermal gradient through the cathode and reaction material. The electric field between the anode and cathode takes advantage of the reaction chamber’s cylindrical configuration to help transport positive gas ions into and through reaction material in the cathode. Several ion forming mechanisms are involved. The most important is due to collisions of thermal electrons with gas molecules. The resulting mixture can contain many different species of positive and negative ions and molecules that interact with various probabilities. The positive ions of hydrogen and deuterium, however, will be repelled by the positive anode and attracted toward the negative cathode, and accelerated toward the cathode at different rates determined by their mass and electric charge. Thus, it will be possible to cause deuterium and hydrogen ions to move toward, impact with, and enter the surface of reaction material in the cathode. Movement of hydrogen and deuterium further down though the reaction material will be caused by thermal diffusion caused by the heat exchanger.
The heat exchanger surrounding the reaction chamber extracts heat from the system and facilitates the thermal gradient through the cathode and wall of the reaction chamber. The heat exchanger is designed to remove heat quickly when reactions in the cathode begin to increase its temperature. It consists of a low volume, quick acting flash boiler that provides a mist of water or other coolant to the outer surface of the reaction chamber. The heat exchanger is also able to supply steam in a closed-loop configuration to downstream electric generators.
15. How to Use Renewable Energy
By now, it’s safe to say that most people understand the importance of renewable energy. With pollution and greenhouse gas emissions higher than ever, renewable energy is often considered the eco-friendly solution to the world’s power needs. What is less well known, however, is how to use renewable energy effectively. Supporting electronics, electrical components and subsystems are required to use most types of renewable energy, especially for renewable energy technologies that produce electricity.
Cold Fusion. Earlier blogs have noted that industry has its sights on how to design and build cold fusion systems that can produce energy output that is greater than what is available with other renewables. New Energy Power System’s design of its Mk12.31 system is an example described through some of the blogs on this website. Supporting electronics are depicted in the following subsystem schematic.
Electronic Control Subsystem
The system cannot operate without this or some similarly complex electronic subsystem. In the diagram, CAN and UPS are abbreviations for “controller area network” and “uninterruptable power supply”. Note on the right side of the diagram that the electronic control subsystem is required to process temperature, pressure, acoustic, electric current and nuclear radiation data from a number of connected instruments. The computers/controllers use these data to determine operational steps for pulsing the gas valves, and for providing high voltage on the anode and electric current to the anode heater and microwave “initiator”, for example. Major functions are to control the addition of extremely small increments of high pressure hydrogen and deuterium gas into the reaction vessel, to facilitate diffusion of hydrogen and deuterium through the cathode, and to manage temperature within the cathode. Additional details on design and operation of the electronic control subsystem can be found in patent application US 2018/0087165A1.
Other types of renewable energy, such as solar power, wind energy, and geothermal energy, also require supporting electronics, electrical components or subsystems for their use, as the electrical output of the prime energy source is not usually in a form that can be used directly in the consumer's equipment. Main categories of components/subsystems are:
(a) Energy Storage. High capacity storage batteries https://www.engineering.com/ElectronicsDesign/ElectronicsDesignArticles/ArticleID
/16489/Batteries-and-Inverters-in-Solar-Energy.aspx are needed in stand-alone power generating systems to maintain operation during periods when energy demand exceeds the supply, for example during weather outage when less energy is produced by solar panels. Batteries are also needed to help create a clean, regulated, alternating current power output for customer use and as a buffer to match variations in available energy and customer energy requirements.
(b) Power conditioning electronics https://www.testandmeasurementtips.com/7120/ are needed provide a pure, noise-free sine wave output at a standard, fixed frequency and voltage to the user, and also to replicate the frequency and voltage from any connection to the long-distance grid. An inverter is required to convert direct current (DC) from batteries to alternating current (AC) power at a standard supply voltage and frequency, and deliver the AC power to the user's electrical equipment. “Synchronous” inverters take their frequency and voltage references from the grid. “Grid-tie” inverters convert direct current into an alternating current suitable for injecting into an electrical power grid, normally 120 V RMS at 60 Hz or 240 V RMS at 50 Hz. Since the battery voltage is usually quite low, the inverter incorporates a DC-to-DC converter that is able to transform the low voltage DC from the battery to a higher voltage DC for the inverter circuit. The inverter also usually has its own voltage regulator to ensure a stable AC voltage level is provided.
(c) Fuses, circuit breakers and surge suppressors are needed for safe operation, to protect both the users and the equipment. Tesla Motors, Inc https://www.tesla.com/energy manufactures a Powerwall to support individual homeowners and a Powerpack to support industrial applications. Each Powerpack contains 16 individual battery pods with isolated DC-DC converters, and a thermal control system that monitors cell level performance. Its inverters are bi-directional, converting AC grid power to DC for Powerpack storage, then converting this DC power back to AC for grid interconnection.
16. Steps in Advanced Development for Cold Fusion Generator Prototype
The last 30 years has involved Basic Research and experimentation of cold fusion technology. Many of the technical reports describing this research are available on the web in a publication library provided by the International Society for Condensed Matter Nuclear Science https://iscmns.org/ and also through the LENR-CANR https://lenr-canr.org.
Design of the Mk12.31 Cold Fusion Generator
A small group of scientists in Fairfax, Virginia combined the best scientific principles from its study of these and other technical resources over the last 25 years into the Mk12.31 cold fusion generator design discussed on this website. The design includes the following important advances:
(a) utilizes pressurized hydrogen and deuterium gas and proton-deuteron (p-d) reactions that should occur more easily in a cold fusion environment than other types of nuclear reactions.
(b) it is designed to produce 200 kilowatts (kW) of heat, which can be converted into mechanical horsepower sufficient to run an automobile or power homes in a community. Each p-d fusion will produce an atom of helium-3 and 5.5 MeV of energy from gamma radiation. About 2.3 x 1017 reactions per second will produce 200 kW.
(c) operates continually for longer periods than systems producing energy by transmutation or d-d fusion where their cathodes would be degraded more rapidly.
(d) gamma radiation energy is low enough to be absorbed and contained by the system’s physical components.
(e) energy produced by each p-d fusion reaction is greater than the energy which could be produced by averaging types of d-d fusion. Less deuterium will be needed.
(f) deuterium and hydrogen are provided to the reaction in small, high pressure gas puffs that contain only a millionth of the quantity of gas ordinarily dealt with in conventional power systems.
(g) reactant gas (helium-3) is extracted and temporarily stored, enabling addition of deuterium/hydrogen gas for long period operations.
Three physical methods - high gas pressure, electric fields and thermal diffusion -are used to load the generator’s cathode where cold fusion reactions occur. Thermal diffusion is supported by a quick-response heat exchanger/boiler with spray nozzles to cool the outer surface of the generator’s reaction vessel. The design includes four gas manifolds consisting of pipes, fast-acting gas valves, gas measurement containers, and electronic temperature and pressure sensors to control gas flow. The design also includes a sophisticated electronic subsystem to monitor and control system operation. Patent application US2018/0087165 A1 provides additional detail. Readers who would like a list of references used should send a note to New Energy Power Systems LLC, P.O. Box 3825, Fairfax, VA 22038.
This system was designed to bridge the gaps between laboratory research systems and a commercially useful cold fusion device, and to ensure it can be manufactured and supported by industry. This design has a practical application as the prime power source in community-based power plants, and would be used along with solar, wind and geothermal power as alternative energy solutions to hydrocarbon fuel. Due to climate change, this innovation is urgent for homeowners, communities, and national governments.
This field of technology appears to be moving slowly from Basic Research into the next step of Advanced Development. Related physics and chemistry understandings are being consolidated, and several designs of cold fusion generators have been developed to produce measurable excess heat and reaction products indicative of cold fusion.
Advanced Development is expected to take significant industrial resources, time and money. Scientists and engineers in companies involved in Advanced Development of these systems will need an in-depth understanding of cold fusion processes and positive results obtained to date; and, work to investigate the different types of cold fusion reactions (fusion and transmutation) will need to be continued. Concepts to mitigate undesirable reactions, such as neutron formation, will need to be devised. Due to deuterium in the system, some tritium can be expected to be produced by the interaction of neutrons with deuterons. Steps will need to be taken to ensure that the tritium is contained. Detailed computer modeling of thermal and electrical system parameters will be required to simulate generator operation and to validate operational parameters for generator designs. The COMSOL Multi-physics simulation series of computer codes https://www.comsol.com is an example of modeling software that can be used in this process since it contains many types of supporting scientific data. Modeling results are expected to be used to refine and improve the system’s various physical and electrical components. These data can also be used to refine steps in computer software needed for automatic system operation. During Advanced Development, all system components are required to be assembled into an improved prototype which is tested repeatedly to work out operational problems that could arise.
All components and parts of the Mk12.31 can be manufactured using standard production methods. The cathode can be made by high-pressure, metal powder consolidation and, thus, inherently contains a greatly increased number of individual reaction sites compared with cathodes made by other methods. The reaction chamber is designed to contain high gas pressures and temperatures during operation and also to be opened and closed for maintenance. Successful manufacturing of a prototype cathode, anode, reaction chamber and helium measurement system has been demonstrated. A prototype feedthrough assembly is shown in the above picture.