Nuclear fusionCold fusion is enjoying a rebirth

Published 30 March 2009

Researchers presented new evidence for the existence of this promising — and controversial — energy source’ papers discussed last week at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society

At any good bookstore that has a large science selection, it is more likely than not that you will find many books in the physics section that have both “cold fusion” and “hoax” in their titles. It is time, perhaps, to give cold fusion another look, especially as researchers are reporting compelling new scientific evidence for the existence of low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR), the scientific name for cold fusion — that holds the promise of a new source of energy. One group of scientists, for instance, describes what it terms the first clear visual evidence that LENR devices can produce neutrons, subatomic particles that scientists view as tell-tale signs that nuclear reactions are occurring.

Low-energy nuclear reactions could potentially provide twenty-first century society a limitless and environmentally clean energy source for generating electricity, researchers say. The report, which injects new life into this controversial field, was presented here today at the American Chemical Society’s 237th national meeting held last week in Salt Lake City. It is but one of thirty papers on the topic that were presented during a four-day symposium called “New Energy Technology” which was held on 22-25 March, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the first description of cold fusion.

Our finding is very significant,” says study co-author and analytical chemist Pamela Mosier-Boss, Ph.D., of the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) in San Diego, California. “To our knowledge, this is the first scientific report of the production of highly energetic neutrons from an LENR device.”

The first report on cold fusion, presented in 1989 by Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons, was a global scientific sensation. Fusion is the energy source of the sun and the stars. Scientists had been trying for years to tap that power on Earth to produce electricity from an abundant fuel called deuterium that can be extracted from seawater. Everyone thought that it would require a sophisticated new genre of nuclear reactors able to withstand temperatures of tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit.

Pons and Fleishmann, however, claimed achieving nuclear fusion at comparatively “cold” room temperatures - in a simple tabletop laboratory device termed an electrolytic cell. Other scientists, however, could not reproduce their results, and the whole field of research declined. A determined group of scientists persisted, however, seeking solid evidence that nuclear reactions can occur at low temperatures. One of their problems involved extreme difficulty in using conventional electronic instruments to detect the small number of neutrons