2) A Typical Experiment
Ludwik Kowalski, <kowalskiL@mail.montclair.edu>
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, N.J.
Return to the clickable list of items
The first publication on excess heat (in the so-called "cold fusion" phenomenon) appeared in 1989 (1). The discovery, and its aftermath, were described in many books (2-8). A typical setup was a glass container filled with heavy water in which a small amount of the LiOD salt was dissolved to make an electrolytic cell. Two electrodes were inserted into the container, one made from platinum and another made from palladium. The platinum was connected to the positive terminal of a power supply while the palladium was connected to the negative terminal. Deuterium ions entered into the palladium electrode (cathode) and diffused to occupy the interstitial positions of the crystal lattice. This preparation process, called loading, is an exothermal reaction (formation of PdD) whose thermal output is about 9,000 calories/mole. The rate at which heat was produced during the loading was small in comparison with the rate of ohmic heating of the cell.
Nothing unusual was taking place at this stage; the current was small and the cell temperature was rising to reach 31 degrees. At that temperature the cell was in thermal equilibrium with its surrounding. After 19 days the atomic ratio of D/Pd was sufficiently high (close to unity) to start the second stage, generation of excess heat. This was probably accomplished by doubling or tripling the voltage between the electrodes. The cell temperature increased to 48 degrees (new thermal equilibrium) and remained high for a long time. During that time the rate at which heat was flowing out of the cell was measured. It turned out to be about two times higher than the rate at which electrical energy was supplied to the cell.
How can it be that the amount of thermal energy released, at any specified time interval, exceeds the amount of electric energy supplied? The only reasonable answer was that some kind of a heat-producing process was going on inside the cell. This unknown process was named "cold fusion." The ability to generate excess heat eventually ended, after about one month. During that time approximately 17 MJ (4.1 million calories) of heat was generated per cubic centimeter of palladium. The authors claimed that this could not possibly be attributed to a chemical process. Attributing it to a nuclear process was certainly premature in 1989.
Ideally one would like to have a process in which excess heat is generated for as long as at least some PdD is left in the cathode. In reality "the energy-out" over "the energy-in" ratio was decreasing progressively till it became less than unity, one month later. This has probably been correlated with the progressive deterioration of the cathode. Note that the thermal output of 17 MJ in one month amounts to only 6.5 watts. Practical applications of the process must wait for the development of long lasting electrodes able to generate heat at significantly higher rates. The mysterious "cold fusion" process must be studied in order to promote possible future applications. Unfortunately, the federal financial support for research in this area has been cut in 1990, mostly due to mistakes made by the early promoters. This, however, did not prevent a small group of researchers (at least one hundred) from exploring the uncharted territory and publishing the results of their studies, mostly over the Internet (9).
1) M. Fleischmann, B.S.Pons and M. Hawkins, J. Electroanal. Chem.,
261, 301, 1989.
2) J.R. Huizenga, "Cold Fusion: The Scientific Fiasco of the Century,"
Oxford University Press, 2nd edittion, Oxford, 1993. (The November
1989 ERAB report to the DOE, called "Cold Fusion Research. A
Report of the Energy Research Advisory Board to the United States
Department of Energy," is available at http://www.ncas.org/erab)
3) F.D. Peat, "Cold Fusion", Contemporary Books, Chicago, 1989.
4) E.F. Mallove, "Fire from Ice: Searching for Truth Behind the Cold
Fusion Furror," John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1991.
5) F. Close, "Too Hot to Handle: the Race for Cold Fusion," Princeton
University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1991.
6) G. Taubes, "Bad Acience: the Short Life and Weird Times of Cold
Fusion," Random House, New York, 1993.
7) T. Mizuno, "Nuclear Transmutations: The Reality of Cold Fusion,"
Oak Grow Press, Concord, NH, 1998.
8) C. Beaudette, "Excess Heat. Why Cold Fusion Research Prevailed."
Concord, NH, 2000.
9) Many recent findings are described in documents downloadable
from the Internet site: http://lenr-canr.org/Features.htm
I strongly recommend the 1996 article of M.H. Miles et al.,
"Anomalous effects in deuterated systems," and the 2001
article of E. Storms, "Cold fusion: an objective assessment."
Return to the clickable list of items