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Technology

Cold Fusion Rears Ugly Head With Claims of Deuterium-Powered Homes 186

szczys writes: Ah, who can forget the cold-fusion fiasco of the early 1990s? Promises of room-temperature fusion machines in every home providing nearly-free energy for all. Relive those glory days of hype with this report of Deuterium-Based Home Reactors. Elliot Williams does a good job of deflating the sensationalism by pointing out all of the "breakthroughs," their lack of having any other labs successfully verify the experiments, and the fact that many of the same players from the news stories in the '90s are once again wrapped up in this one. I'm still waiting for the neighborhood E-Cat to arrive ...
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Cold Fusion Rears Ugly Head With Claims of Deuterium-Powered Homes

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  • Just (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:44PM (#50671895) Homepage Journal

    Just get solar inexpensive enough and I'll be perfectly happy. It sure isn't there yet.

    • Re:Just (Score:5, Funny)

      by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:47PM (#50671919)

      Well, I think we can safely assume solar doesn't have the potential Deuterium does for warp drive applications.

      • Well, I think we can safely assume solar doesn't have the potential Deuterium does for warp drive applications.

        I seem to lack sufficient gold-pressed latinum for the warp drive, but the solar panel guys take cash, check and credit card.

        • by meglon ( 1001833 )
          You have the lobes of a hew-man.
        • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

          I seem to lack sufficient gold-pressed latinum for the warp drive

          Dude(tte). Everyone knows you need a Beryllium sphere. Just check the historical documents. Jeeze.

      • Warp biking is much greener anyway.
      • Forget warp drive, just get me my promised "Mr. Fusion" for my electric car and I'll be good-to-go. October 21st is just a few days away, so we've got to get moving on this!

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        Well, I think we can safely assume solar doesn't have the potential Deuterium does for warp drive applications.

        Two things...
        1. There are probably no potential warp drive applications for your house.
        2. Even "star trek" warp drives ran on anti-matter, mere fusion power you are likely to get from deuterium probably wouldn't get you very far...

    • What, you don't want something powerful enough to power a BattleMech? With blazing lasers!!!???

    • Re:Just (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:06PM (#50672123)

      Just get solar inexpensive enough and I'll be perfectly happy. It sure isn't there yet.

      For me it would be, if the goddamn electric utility would set fair rules.

      If the utility is going to charge me a grid-tie fee, make that fee the same as all of the subscribers. IE, any house with approximately the same service type (200A 240V Single Phase with Neutral) should have the same grid-tie fee as I as a solar user would have.

      As a power producer, they should pay a reasonable amount of money for my power to them during peak hours. They should not be allowed to only reimburse me the rate they charge for middle-of-the-night lowest-demand time, which is something like 10% of what they charge during peak hours. I understand that I'm not going to get 100%, that's not the issue. I do expect to get more like 50%, especially if they itemize all power customers' grid-tie separate from their usage fees.

      As they want it now, they want to benefit from my power production when they have the most demand, and to charge me for the privilege of supplying them with that power.

      My argument in favor of my position is that during peak hours (I live in a hot desert climate) my production means that they do not have to supply as much power from on-demand power stations that are more costly to operate than their base-load power plants. They don't have to burn natural gas or propane or diesel to keep up with all of the air conditioners if enough solar customers are selling power back to the grid. The solar customers also put power back on to the grid locally, which reduces amperage across the higher current distribution portion as local power in a local section is being produced.

      As they have it now it's a racket, and there is no reason for it to be so.

      And yes, I am well aware of danger to linemen if there's a general outage and a residence is still supplying power. I would put in a transfer switch capable of intentional islanding and some form of intelligent grid AC resync and reconnect if I were to do this.

      • And yes, I am well aware of danger to linemen if there's a general outage and a residence is still supplying power. I would put in a transfer switch capable of intentional islanding and some form of intelligent grid AC resync and reconnect if I were to do this.

        It's simple enough to just mandate these for interconnect. Everyone will need them anyway, if they want their solar system to work when the grid is not feeding them power.

      • Re:Just (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:17PM (#50672207)

        Get yourself a Tesla Powerwall, and the utility doesn't even have to know you have solar. Instead of using the grid as your battery, you use you own battery as the battery.

        • Re:Just (Score:4, Informative)

          by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:02PM (#50672647) Journal

          In fact, there's a solar installer that will happily sell you a PowerWall [solarcity.com] with your rooftop system...

        • by TWX ( 665546 )

          Get yourself a Tesla Powerwall, and the utility doesn't even have to know you have solar. Instead of using the grid as your battery, you use you own battery as the battery.

          I have considered on-site batteries. I even have a climate controlled storage room that they could be installed in if being out of the heat would help with their longevity.

          My biggest worry is that under absolute peak demand I would exceed production. Being able to pull from the grid in those circumstances is necessary, especially in the winter when the days are shorter and I would reasonably expect to be working in my shop when I'd have to be on-battery instead of on-panel.

          • "Being able to pull from the grid in those circumstances is necessary"

            Of course. I'm not suggesting going off grid, but just avoiding the whole hassle of net metering by soaking up any excess daytime solar production using local batteries which you can draw from when you're running the dryer at night.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I just don't get the righteous indignation. Why should the utility be required to buy your excess production at all? I get that in some kind of ideal world, it makes sense to pump excess residential generation into the grid but I don't know if that's much more than wishful thinking right now -- there's no coordination or management of reverse feeds, for the utility its a nuisance and could be a real headache in the future.

        At some point I wonder if this is really about being pissed off that the economics o

      • No, they should only pay you rates based on how much less expenses they are incurring if and when you provide power back to the grid. Minus the charge for figuring out when you are actually contributing back to the grid.

      • If the utility is going to charge me a grid-tie fee, make that fee the same as all of the subscribers. IE, any house with approximately the same service type (200A 240V Single Phase with Neutral) should have the same grid-tie fee as I as a solar user would have.

        That sounds fair, but it actually isn't. Somebody who, at unpredictable intervals, will be feeding power into the grid requires a more expensive hookup than somebody who will only ever draw power from the grid.

    • Re:Just (Score:5, Informative)

      by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:27PM (#50672307)

      Solar panels are going quite well. What would be nice is to see is battery capacity drop in price. Having charge controllers and inverters get cheaper, but still maintain the same level of quality and safety wouldn't be bad either.

      Batteries are the weakest link in the solar equation. We get banks that are reasonably priced for individuals, have a long life, can handle charge/discharge cycles, and can store a decent amount of ampere-hours, and that will go a long way in helping with energy issues.

      Of course, the ability to pull CO2 from the air and synthesize a fuel using solar wouldn't be bad either, especially if it were ethanol or a synthetic diesel. This would provide for long term storage in an energy-dense manner.

      • Re:Just (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @04:09PM (#50673311)

        Batteries are the weakest link in the solar equation.

        The weakest link in the solar equation is the diffuseness of the solar energy. Yes the solar constant is 800 W/m^2 at North American and European latitudes. But you have to multiply this by the efficiency of the solar panels. Right now about 16% is standard, which would give you 128 W/m^2 (why these panels are usually advertised as 125 or 130 W/m^2). If you go with the higher 22% announced in a recent /. article, you get 176 W/m^2.

        Then you have to multiply that by capacity factor, which takes into account night, angle of the sun, weather, etc. For the U.S., that averages about 0.145, with the desert southwest hitting a max of about 0.185. For northern Europe (UK, Germany, France) it's about 0.11. So even using 22% efficient panels you're down to 25.5 W/m^2, 32.6 W/m^2, and 19.4 W/m^2 respectively of equivalent constant power generation.

        Then you have to multiply by the efficiency of the battery charge/discharge cycle. Typically this is about 0.6-0.85. If you go with the higher 0.85 figure, say half of your generated power is stored in the battery for later use, and try to replace, say, a 1000 Watt (1.3 hp output) generator, you need an average of 42.4 m^2 of panels in the U.S. on average, 33.2 m^2 of panels in the desert southwest U.S., and 55.7 m^2 of panels in northern Europe.

        If you use the lower bound of these numbers (16% efficient panels, 0.6 battery charge/discharge efficiency), these numbers are 67.3 m^2 of panels for the U.S. average, 52.8 m^2 of panels in the desert southwest U.S., and 88.8 m^2 of panels in northern Europe. Just to replace a relatively tiny 1000W generator.

        • Re:Just (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @04:20PM (#50673395)
          I forgot to add:

          Of course, the ability to pull CO2 from the air and synthesize a fuel using solar wouldn't be bad either, especially if it were ethanol or a synthetic diesel. This would provide for long term storage in an energy-dense manner.

          These already exist, and their manufacturing cost is zero, or sometimes even negative (we pay money to get rid of them). They're called plants. They take sunlight and CO2 from the atmosphere, and convert it into sugar molecules which can be short (nectar, syrup, sugar), medium (starch), or long (cellulose). All of these can be utilized as fuel. The dream would be a way to easily convert waste cellulose into an alcohol fuel. Using manufactured solar panels in their stead to convert atmospheric CO2 into hydrocarbon fuel seems like a rather roundabout way to do it in comparison.

      • Batteries are rapidly falling in price. Just 2 years ago you would have paid $500kw/h of storage. The price is down to almost $250 currently. Once it reaches $100 it's actually going to be cheaper to use batteries and solar panels than it will be to hook up to the grid.

        I wouldn't be invested in power utilities right now given that if they don't manage the renewable transition well they are likely to be put right out of business.

    • Re:Just (Score:4, Interesting)

      by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:59PM (#50672619)

      Just get solar inexpensive enough and I'll be perfectly happy. It sure isn't there yet.

      Bingo. Solar would go a long, long way to solving the energy demand if it was inexpensive enough and/or efficient enough.

      A solar cell with 50% efficiency would revolutionize the whole industry (I think 22% or so is the current record, and I believe that's still in an experimental stage as far as I know).

      A less expensive solar cell would be almost as good, maybe better in some cases. I think solar is now about ~$3 per watt installed, but bring that down to under a dollar and it would suddenly become waaaaaaay more attractive and practical.

      I love the idea of cold fusion but so far it still seems genuinely unobtainable. For all the research I've seen there's still no real, definitive example of it actually being feasible or even possible. (I know a lot of people will disagree with me, perhaps vehemently.) Quite a few claim to have done it, but I don't know of any indisputable examples.

      • Re:Just (Score:4, Informative)

        by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:28PM (#50672873) Journal
        $1.82 installed. It will take my 7kW array 2.5 years to pay itself off.
        • $1.82 installed. It will take my 7kW array 2.5 years to pay itself off.

          Wow, that's awesome! Care to share any details about the brands you used, sources, that kind of stuff?

          I've been interested in retrofitting my home to solar for years but various things kept me from doing it, including the (perceived) cost of the whole installation.

          If you'd care to share anything about your setup, I'd love to hear it, especially details that would allow me to replicate something similar to what you've done.

          • Just a DIY 7kW array [gogreensolar.com]. Price has gone up to $1.99/w, damn. Price includes the inverters, panels, mounting brackets, etc; installation is bolting it to my roof and wiring it, which requires about $100 of breakers and wiring. I have a roofer who can do the installation in around $250-$300, about twice the cost of hiring cheap Mexicans from Home Depot but he's more reliable.

            I initially planned on DIYing the whole installation, but engineering and permitting services plus having my roofer actually bolt the

      • See the other reply. Solar installed right now is about $2 a watt and it's continuing to fall. It's got a ROI of around 3 years in most of the US right now. That's a damn good investment, let alone power for your home. And the best part is after you pay the panels off your power is essentially free for a guaranteed 25 years (panel warranty).

        • See the other reply. Solar installed right now is about $2 a watt and it's continuing to fall. It's got a ROI of around 3 years in most of the US right now. That's a damn good investment, let alone power for your home. And the best part is after you pay the panels off your power is essentially free for a guaranteed 25 years (panel warranty).

          I know the panels are supposed to last a long time, but what about the battery packs? How long are they good for, on average?

          Side note: the guy that installed our new furnace a couple years ago said he runs solar in his home with no battery pack, at night he just switches over to the utility power (actually I think it switches automatically).

          • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

            Side note: the guy that installed our new furnace a couple years ago said he runs solar in his home with no battery pack, at night he just switches over to the utility power (actually I think it switches automatically).

            Assuming that guy is doing the standard grid-tie configuration, it's not that the house "switches over" at night, so much as that all power generated by the solar array goes out to the local grid (and causes the electric meter to run backwards), and all power used by the house comes from the grid (causing the electric meter to run forward). The actual electric bill is therefore calculated by subtracting the amount generated from the amount used during each billing cycle.

        • I keep seeing people say it is $2 a watt to install, but I haven't seen it. Lowest prices I've been quoted was about $3.50 a watt.

          I'd be all over solar if it were $2 a watt installed.

          • I thinks its BS, unless people are factoring in some massive incentives in special case scenarios

            https://www.californiasolarsta... [ca.gov]

            • According to that web site, it is over $4 a watt installed for > 10kw, over $5 a wall installed for 10kw.

              That is even higher than here in Texas.

              Where is this $2 a watt that people keep harping on about? I have seen multiple people say, "oh, solar is already cheaper than fossil fuels". Maybe, if you count just the cost of the panels, not installing them, and the rest of the gear is not counted, I suppose...

    • Are you sure about that? It's inexpensive enough for roughly 30 million homes *right now*.

      http://ecowatch.com/2015/01/16... [ecowatch.com]

      • Only when tax dollars are paying a big chunk of it...

        • And when the federal ITC expires in January (should Congress do nothing, which is what they do best) it will still be break-even (or better) with grid power in 25 of 50 states. And with a huge manufacturing plant opening in New York next year that is mass-producing modular panels with 22% efficiency [techcrunch.com], the cost will dive further.

          Sure, it's not the absolute most efficient panel out there, but the design is ready to manufacture, doesn't use stupidly expensive materials (GaAs), and isn't subject to stiff import

      • Are you sure about that? It's inexpensive enough for roughly 30 million homes *right now*.

        Around here, if I put in a solar system, the rest of you lot pay 80% of the cost through tax credits.

        Which might go far toward explaining "30 million homes *right now*"

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      And call it hydrogen fusion power.

    • I need both solar and global warming. Otherwise I'd have to heat my roof to get the 12+ inches of snow off it for 4+ months.

  • by oobayly ( 1056050 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:49PM (#50671943)

    I'm still waiting for an independently verified e-cat which measures the energy input/output properly rather than "look - steam - it's obviously working"

  • Hmmm .... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @01:49PM (#50671949) Homepage

    So, either Leif Holmlid is a lying, attention-seeking media whore ... or he's really made a revolutionary breakthrough.

    But if he can't demonstrate that it works in such a way as to be repeatable by someone else, then he must be a lying, attention-seeking media whore.

    I know which one my money is on.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As a scientist, I actually have one more possibility - not overly likely, but still possible: He sucks at documentation.

      Part of the repeatability of an experiment lies in the proper documentation of the processes and procedures. It is possible (though not likely) that he left out something really important.

      Personally, I think he's mistaken or lying. I just wanted to make sure that we considered the reasonable alternatives.

      • Re:Hmmm .... (Score:5, Informative)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:59PM (#50672617) Homepage

        Personally, I think he's mistaken or lying. I just wanted to make sure that we considered the reasonable alternatives.

        I'm pretty sure in reading TFA there is little chance he could be "mistaken":

        The secret sauce seems to be ultra-dense deuterium, "D(0)" whatever that means. Looking through the author's other papers, it looks like he's claiming to have made metallic hydrogen, which would be a Nobel Prize right there. And it's starting to look a little bit suspicious that no other labs have replicated the work in the intervening eight or ten years.

        While metallic hydrogen probably exists inside the core of Jupiter, no lab on Earth has succeeded in making metallic hydrogen repeatably, although it's been postulated to be possible since 1935 and many have tried. Teams at Cornell and the French Atomic Commission have both given it a shot, and failed with pressures as high as 3.2 million atmospheres.

        Well, no labs except [Holmlid]'s. It must be true, though, because it's on Wikipedia! It says right there that the [Holmlid] lab made metallic hydrogen using "Rydberg Matter". We'd never heard of this stuff, so we followed that Wikipedia link down the rabbit hole, only to find some mumbo-jumbo that we didn't understand and citations of papers nearly exclusively by, you guessed it, [Leif Holmlid].

        If he can demonstrate this, then fine ... he's a super genius.

        But I'm sticking with my "if he can't demonstrate that it works in such a way as to be repeatable by someone else, then he must be a lying, attention-seeking media whore."

        It isn't up to the world to validate his outrageous claims. Put up or shut up.

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Nahh. Leave open the possibility that he's honest and really has something. But if he's incapable of sharing it, for whatever reason, then it's worthless to anyone else.

          Remember, in the really early days of crystal radios there were frequently people who could get their set working, but couldn't help anyone else to do so. So leave slack to allow this to be what's happening here. Of course, it's still worthless to anyone else.

        • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @10:27PM (#50676195) Journal

          I followed the link to the original paper. It's a bit sketchy. But on a skim I don't get quite as much of a "what did he do" as the author of that piece did.

          What it looks to me like he did is:
            - Made some "ultra dense" duterium - apparently by the same method as F&P: Using electricity to force it into palladium by electrolysis, with the solid palladium holding it at high density and in particular orientations.
            - Hit it with a laser.
            - Got muons out - with energies above those that could be explained by the laser excitation, and apparently with energy totalling substantially more than spent on the laser and the electrolysis drive power.

          Now if this is real, and can be repeated and engineered:

          1) High-energy charged particles, at well-defined energies, emerging from a well-defined location, and with adequate lifetimes to last through a few microseconds of the process, can easily have most of their kinetic energy collected as electricity by pretty trivial equipment.

          2) Muons catalyze fusion - at room temperature (or even liquid hydrogen temperature). They replace an electron in a hydrogen atom/molecule - but are heavy so the resulting muonic atom/molecule is much smaller, allowing the nuclei to come within fusion distance. The fusion kicks the muon off and it repeats the process. This has been known for decades: Just point a muon beam at some hydrogen and watch the fun.

          The problem has always been that it takes a lot of energy to make a muon and it has a tiny lifetime - long enough to do maybe four fusions before it decays. So muon-catalyzed fusion (using accelerators to make muons) would never approach breakeven. If this guy has figured out how to make muons in a simple cell, with the energy to make the muon coming from a fusion reaction, it could change the game big-time.

          Also: If muons manufactured by such a process were a step in the very sporadic, looked-like-fusion, effects seen by the people trying to do cold fusion, it could explain why the effects were sporadic - and understanding the process might lead to being able to produce it reliably and consistently.

          So maybe this is just another will-o-the-wisp. Or maybe it's something that could lead to substantial repeatable interesting physics. Or maybe it could lead to real energy-producing reactors on a less-than-tokamak scale.

          And just maybe it's a missing piece of a real room-temperature fusion process that led to the cold-fusion flap and might become practical. Wouldn't that be nice?

          Regardless, this just got published within the last month or so. If it's real it should be pretty easy to reproduce, and from there not too hard to figure out. So let's see what happens. Maybe nothing, maybe little, just the off chance of another roller-coaster ride. B-)

          • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @12:29AM (#50676697) Journal

            Looked it up:

            They replace an electron in a hydrogen atom/molecule - but are heavy so the resulting muonic atom/molecule is much smaller, allowing the nuclei to come within fusion distance.

            H2 (D-D, D-T) molecule.

            The fusion kicks the muon off and it repeats the process. [...] The problem has always been that it takes a lot of energy to make a muon and it has a tiny lifetime - long enough to do maybe four fusions before it decays.

            Actually the muon lasts a couple microseconds which is a LONG time at molecular and nuclear speeds. But in addition to decaying it has maybe a 1/2% to 1% chance of sticking to the helium and getting lost until it times out. So it only catalyzes maybe 100 to 200 reactions. You need somewhat more than 300 to break even for the energy used to create it in an accelerator (maybe times a factor of about 2.5 to make up for the accelerator efficiency).

    • So, either Leif Holmlid is a lying, attention-seeking media whore ... or he's really made a revolutionary breakthrough.

      But if he can't demonstrate that it works in such a way as to be repeatable by someone else, then he must be a lying, attention-seeking media whore.

      I know which one my money is on.

      Bingo. Many claims, but zero proof.

      If it really works, drag it into the lobby of NIST or any reputable test lab and fire it up. If they can't do that I'll have no choice but to consider it to be flim-flam.

  • We've already got e-cats [google.com]!
  • Rather than "heavy" hydrogen, (one neutron) you'd do better with two of them (heavy, heavy...)
    Less velocity (lower temperature) is required to overcome the EM force and get close enough for the strong force to take over.
    Of course, acquiring it is more problematic than the regular "heavy" stuff. But once you're producing a good flux of neutrons you could shield with water then refine and extract the fuel.

    Ref the 1991 publication by Knopfler et. al., wherein the hypothesis is presented. [google.com]

    • by meglon ( 1001833 )
      You're right, if we start with tritium that eliminates one of the steps, and should bring the fusion temperature needs down into the 25 million degrees or so range, although we'll end up with more tritium as byproduct... kinda... But it'll definitely be a lower temperature than if we, say, started with helium.

      Read your sig, please.
    • by nedwidek ( 98930 )
      If you want to lower the coulomb barrier energy to its minimum, it is with muon catalyzed D-T fusion (deuterium + tritium -> He4 + fast neutron). You still need insanely high temperatures to have it work. At room temperature you can get the random fusion events just from quantum tunneling, but that will happen so rarely that you'd better have good detectors to see that one rare fast neutron.
      • If you want to lower the coulomb barrier energy to its minimum, it is with muon catalyzed D-T fusion (deuterium + tritium -> He4 + fast neutron).

        I was just about to say that.

      • No, the muon cat DT can go at room temperature and lower, but alas nature makes it totally useless for power production, muons take too much energy to create, last for too short a time, and catalyze only 100 reactions before sticking to helium nucleus formed

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        That's why since it was first realized in 1957, no one is trying to make a muon cat DT power plant

  • by schmidt349 ( 690948 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:03PM (#50672085)

    I think this announcement is scheduled for October 21, 2015. [backtothepredictions.com] Just fire up your Pizza Hut rehydrator and make sure all your fax machines are clear for the announcement.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:45PM (#50672481) Journal
    I use the "I want five blades" Fusion. [theonion.com]. It works even when rinsed with cold water. I have seen a Ford Fusion in Minnesota in dead winter. It is time to stop denying. Cold Fusion works.
  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:57PM (#50672605)
    It must suck for any genuine scientist who might come up with an interesting idea as it relates to small scale or cold fusion. I can just see the grant request meeting:
    So you have filed a grant form on researching neutron production at low temperatures?
    Yes
    Isn't that cold fusion by another name?
    Not really but...
    You're fired, we are stripping your PhD, and we are having the art department make funny cartoons about how much of a loser you are.
    But I only asked for a $2 grant.
    We are also requesting retractions on all your papers including ones that have been lab verified by over 1000 independent researchers.
    But.
    We also just burned your house down and killed your dog.
    I don't have a dog.
  • Conflict of Interest (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:02PM (#50672649)

    The really sad thing is, cold fusion (LENR) was never really discredited. There were three primary groups involved here. One, the US government. Two, MIT. Three, CalTech. Then there is the many labs around the world which tried to reproduce.

    MIT was caught with scientific fraud. Their experiment actually recreated the experiment. MIT had a party celebrating the "death of cold fusion" before they even created their experiment. Once they conducted their experiment, they never checked their results. This according to one of the people involved in the research. When they were called on their fraud, they checked their research and confirmed they did find an thermal anomaly as predicted by Pons and Fleischmann.This can be observed in the graph they bury in their own paper.

    CalTech made an effort to reproduce the experiment. They were unable to do so. They were told they were not properly doping their material. CalTech was sure they were. CalTech now admits they were not properly doping their experiment. CalTech has now, years later, successfully recreated the experiment.

    Lastly was the government. They government had a conflict of interest in that the people voicing opinion all had vested interest in existing nuclear technologies. No one who offered opinion had knowledge of the details and simply said it was impossible because they said so. Period.It was a massive conflict of interest.

    The combination was the government, MIT, and CalTech all coming out saying it's impossible.

    Lastly we have various labs around the world. Many would not reproduce the experiment while some could. Turns out we now know why. There was two primary suppliers of palladium wire to these labs. The primary supplier had contaminated palladium which prevented doping. Which means all of these labs inadvertently recreated CalTech's failed experiment. CalTech simply failed to dope properly. The other labs had contamination which prevented proper doping. The labs which obtained their wire from the secondary supplier were largely able to reproduce the experiment.

    At this point LENR has been successfully reproduced in over 200 labs around the world; including some heavy hitters in particle physics labs. This also includes IBM and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. DARPA has two success LENR projects and one of them has successfully obtained funding for a second round. The basis for funding was, "increase efficiency of LENR effect." The National Academy of Sciences (IIRC, this is the right group) has recently changed it's policy and is now offering LENR grants because so many scientists have put pressure on them because of positive results in their own experiments.

    Long story short, we have been living in a post-fossil fuel world since the 1980s. The sad thing is, thanks to MIT's scientific fraud, the federal government’s conflict of interest, and CalTech's inept best effort, the world simply doesn't know.

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:37PM (#50672957) Homepage

      That's not what Wikipedia etc. tell me.

      Not definitive research, obviously, but since 2004, there's been nothing of note that I can see, and most of it rehash / recheck of previous results.

      Yes, the field suffered a huge PR setback, but it recovered shortly after but is now more a discredited FIELD than a PR disaster. Nobody is able to reproduce even the early results, let alone come up with anything new.

      And although such science is worthy of investigation, there is still investigation ongoing. And none of it appears to be particularly productive.

      The crap about LENR being reproduced in 200 labs seems... well... bollocks to me. There's a big difference between an anomalous result and actual confirmed cold fusion and they almost all fall into the former virtually immediately.

      As with all things scientific and Wiki-related: citation required.

    • by SumDog ( 466607 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @08:05PM (#50675321) Homepage Journal

      Toyota had a dedicated lab in France that worked with cold fusion for two years! There are countless other groups that have done so as well.

      The biggest problem is that the results are not predictable. Many groups can get excess heat from water, but not consistently. We need to know how and why it works before it can be marketed. We need to know how and why it works so it can be reproducible 100% of the time. Even if we don't really figure out how/why, if we can get the numbers up to 90% reproducible...it can be marketable. But no one can.

      There is a huge missing piece that no one has figured out. Major companies and universities have invested a large amount of time and money into this. But I have a feeling this will come down to a group or individual having an eureka moment and discovering the missing part of the equation. The potential for energy is staggering. It would literally change everything.

      I hate the tone of the Slashdot article because it makes this seem like a stupid/lost cause/hoax situation when it's anything form that.

      Watch "Fire from Water." It's a bit sensational, but it's a decent documentary that does accurately portray the cold fusion debate.

  • I don't need room temperature fusion, I'd be happy with pizza oven temperature fusion, or automobile engine temperature fusion.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:22PM (#50672809)

    I thought everybody had moved on to Wordpress and Drupal years ago.

  • Promises of room-temperature fusion machines in every home providing nearly-free energy for all.

    I dont know about the rest of you but my Mr. Fusion works just fine. I mean, it just came out this year but I havent had many problems with it. hell, even sold my old one to some elderly guy and a kid driving around the town in an old delorean.

  • "Ah, who can forget the cold-fusion fiasco of the early 1990s?"

    Uh, it was the 1980s first.

  • The claim is about fusion in exotic matter triggered by a laser turning it into a plasma. Fusion in heated plasma != cold.

    So the "deflation" is based on a heap of bullshit and misunderstanding, not worthy of reading. This is even worse than the popular and often repeated misunderstanding about the EM drive*. (that a null test generated thrust thus invalidating any result of the experiment - but the null test in that experiment tested one hypothesis of how the device would work and was not a dummy-test. The

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