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I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year. The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

4. COLD FUSION Previous | Next

Nuclear energy without the drama?

DESPITE what you might have heard, cold fusion never really went away. Over a 10-year period from 1989, US navy labs ran more than 200 experiments to investigate whether nuclear reactions generating more energy than they consume - supposedly only possible inside stars - can occur at room temperature. Numerous researchers have since pronounced themselves believers.

With controllable cold fusion, many of the world's energy problems would melt away: no wonder the US Department of Energy is interested. In December 2003, after a lengthy review of the evidence, it said it was open to receiving proposals for new cold fusion experiments. In this chapter I explore some of the scientific results, attend a talk to the US Navy Research Conference where some of the researchers present their ongoing work, and go to the house of Martin Fleischmann, one of the original cold fusion pioneers. Fleischmann was disgraced in 1989, but he still stands by the work he was doing.

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Location:Lewes, UK

#1 - Posted: 06/08/2008 15:09

Cold Fusion never went away in the US – it just went underground. In Japan, it never even went underground. In May, for example, a distinguished Japanese professor called Yokiashi Arata gave a demonstration of his cold fusion cell at Osaka university. I don’t know Arata’s work, but he has a building named after him at the university and he got an award from the Japanese emperor in 2006, so he’s no fly-by-night. Turns out (as you’d expect, maybe) that it’s impossible to verify his claims of producing excess heat, as described in this critique of Arata’s work. Whatever the eventual truth, it’s nice to see that the low energy nuclear reactions (that’s cold fusion to you and me) people are at least doing critiques and a bit harder to convince than maybe they were at first…If you want more on this frankly murky topic, visit here.

I still don’t know how to even begin to make sense of it – there’s so much to wade through. Maybe that’s why mainstream science just leaves it alone. Anyway, I see it’s the International Cold Fusion Conference in Washington DC next week, so I’ll post some more here then.

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#2 - Posted: 08/08/2008 23:50

I would be happy with any form of fusion as a power source. The issue I have with cold fusion is that it is not even understood at a theoretical level. Traditional fusion is well understood and worked on for decades and has not yielded a commercially viable energy source, so unless we are incredibly lucky developing cold fusion as a commercial alternative to other energy sources will probably not happen in our lifetime. I guess the exciting part of cold fusion is that since the basic theory is not understood we can project our dreams onto it and hope that a breakthrough happens that would allow it to leapfrog other technologies as a commercially viable energy source. Is bubble fusion related to cold fusion?

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#3 - Posted: 11/08/2008 10:55

In response to the question - is bubble fusion related to cold fusion? In theory, no - the idea behind bubble fusion is that collapsing bubbles in a cool fluid can become so hot that they trigger conventional nuclear fusion. The trouble is that they'd need to heat to something like 10 million degrees C to do this; however, the maximum temperature you could realistically get by collapsing a bubble is more like 20 thousand degrees C. So it's not looking too believable. Shame really - bubble factories churning out cheap clean energy would be very nice! (If the technology ever got that far ...)

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#4 - Posted: 15/08/2008 01:21

I can think of a many ideas of clean and cheap energy. People just have to demand it.

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#5 - Posted: 13/09/2008 13:34

no discussion of cold fusion could be complete without a thorough look at the social, political and economic implications of this possibility.  what does it mean when the the u.s. navy is heading up research and not universities.  burgeoning asian economies, which are particularly heavy fossil fuel importers are undoubtably leading the research into commercially viable cold fusion energy generation.  could this trigger WWIII as the oil/banking cartel sees its stranglehold slip away?  these are the real issues that make the cold fusion debate such a hot topic.  don't think for a moment that these powerful interests don't direct, diffuse, manipulate and supress scientific research.  as the u.s. military is only the executive arm of these same interests, a most effective way to control and usurp this research is to find a military application for it, then make it classified.  wait for it!  however, if asia brings a cold fusion device to market first, what will the military do then?

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