Professor George Miley of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and director of its Fusion Studies Lab, reported on progress toward a “cold fusion battery”—a small power unit that uses a low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) (i.e., “cold fusion”) to process an energy release from an electrolytic cell operating at low temperature and that could be competitive with a Li-ion battery or a fuel cell—at the 239th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, which began Sunday in San Francisco.
The process is created by purposely creating defects in the metal electrode of the cell. Deuterium atoms diffuse into the electrode material from the heavy water used in the electrolyte. The deuterium atoms “pile up” in the defect region and form a very dense state that in turn undergoes nuclear reactions—in this case like the original “cold fusion” reactions originally disclosed by Pons and Fleischmann.
The cell generates more energy due to these energy releasing reactions than it consumes in the electrolysis process. Once further optimized and energy conversion elements, such as thermoelectric converters, are added, the cell could produce electricity. This would in effect represent a small “battery” that, due to its nuclear input power processes, could have much longer lifetimes than conventional batteries, Miley said.
Miley’s research is focusing on nano-manufactured structures to achieve a high volumetric density of the trap sites. To initiate the reactions in these ultra-high density deuterium clusters, efficient ways are needed to excite the deuterium via a momentum pulse. One approach is through pulsed electrolysis to achieve high fluxes of deuterons hitting the clusters. Another method uses ion bombardment from a pulsed plasma glow discharge, while electron beam and laser irradiation represent other approaches to be explored.
We are aimed at a power-producing unit. We do this by creating nano voids within the metal lattice where we create deuterium clusters—a sub-lattice of tightly packed deuterium. To do that, we have to do nano manufacturing of material to create the places for it to react, and then we have to create the engineering necessary to control, get the heat out, and convert that to electrical output.
One thing that frustrates me to no end, is that I don’t know how to convert this energy directly. It looks like it will have to be a thermal conversion—that makes it not quite as easy as if I could get a direct conversion to electricity. If I produce heat and then convert, I’ll have to do some really clever elements to be competitive.—Prof. Miley
Miley’s presentation was part of a larger cold fusion topic focus within the larger ACS national meeting. The cold fusion symposium included nearly 50 papers describing research and discoveries on the topic.
Years ago, many scientists were afraid to speak about ‘cold fusion’ to a mainstream audience. Now most of the scientists are no longer afraid and most of the cold fusion researchers are attracted to the ACS meeting. I’ve also noticed that the field is gaining new researchers from universities that had previously not pursued cold fusion research. More and more people are becoming interested in it. There’s still some resistance to this field. But we just have to keep on as we have done so far, exploring cold fusion step by step, and that will make it a successful alternative energy source. With time and patience, I’m really optimistic we can do this.—Dr. Jan Marwan, symposium organizer
The term “cold fusion” originated in 1989 when Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons claimed achieving nuclear fusion at room temperature with a simple, inexpensive tabletop device. That claim fomented an international sensation because nuclear fusion holds potential for providing the world with a virtually limitless new source of energy. Fuel for fusion comes from ordinary seawater, and estimates indicate that 1 gallon of seawater packs the energy equivalent of 16 gallons of gasoline at 100 percent efficiency for energy production. The claim also ignited scepticism, because conventional wisdom said that achieving fusion required multi-billion-dollar fusion reactors that operate at tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit.
When other scientists could not reproduce the Pons-Fleishmann results, research on cold fusion fell into disrepute. Humiliated by the scientific establishment, their reputations ruined, Pons and Fleishmann closed their labs, fled the country, and dropped out of sight. The handful of scientists who continued research avoided the term “cold fusion.” Instead, they used the term “low energy nuclear reactions (LENR).” Research papers at the ACS symposium openly refer to “cold fusion” and some describe cold fusion as the “Fleishmann-Pons Effect” in honor of the pioneers, Marwan noted.
The number of presentations on the topic at ACS National Meetings has quadrupled since 2007. Among the other reports scheduled for the symposium are:
Michael McKubre, Ph.D., of SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif., provides an overview of cold fusion research. McKubre will discuss current knowledge in the field and explain why some doubts exist in the broader scientific community. He will also discuss recent experimental work performed at SRI. McKubre will focus on fusion, heat production and nuclear products.
Melvin Miles, Ph.D., describes development of the first inexpensive instrument for reliably identifying the hallmark of cold fusion reactions: Production of excess heat from tabletop fusion devices now in use. Current “calorimeters,” devices that measure excess heat, tend to be too complicated and inefficient for reliable use. The new calorimeter could boost the quality of research and open the field to scores of new scientists in university, government, and private labs, Miles suggests. He is with Dixie State College in St. George, Utah.
Vladimir Vysotskii, Ph.D., presents experimental evidence that bacteria can undergo a type of cold fusion process and could be used to dispose of nuclear waste. He will describe studies of nuclear transmutation—the transformation of one element into another—of stable and radioactive isotopes in biological systems. Vysotskii is a scientist with Kiev National Shevchenko University in Kiev, Ukraine.
Tadahiko Mizuno, Ph.D., discusses an unconventional cold fusion device that uses phenanthrene, a substance found in coal and oil, as a reactant. He reports on excess heat production and gamma radiation production from the device. “Overall heat production exceeded any conceivable chemical reaction by two orders of magnitude,” Mizuno noted. He is with Hokkaido University in Japan, and wrote the book Nuclear Transmutation: The Reality of Cold Fusion.
Peter Hagelstein, Ph.D., describes new theoretical models to help explain excess heat production in cold fusion, one of the most controversial aspects of the field. He notes that in a nuclear reaction, one would expect that the energy produced would appear as kinetic energy in the products, but in the Fleischmann-Pons experiment there do not appear energetic particles in amounts consistent with the energy observed. His simple models help explain the observed energy changes, including the type and quantity of energy produced. Hagelstein is with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Xing Zhong Li, Ph.D., presents research demonstrating that cold fusion can occur without the production of strong nuclear radiation. He is developing a cold fusion reactor that demonstrates this principle. Li is a scientist with Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
|ACS Press Briefing on Cold Fusion, 21 March 2010. Professor Miley’s brief statement begins at 13:24.|
Ultra high density deuterium clusters for low energy nuclear reactions Authors: Prof. George H Miley, Dr. Xiaoling Yang, Prof. Heinz Hora