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144) Catalytic Mechanisms

Ludwik Kowalski (5/30/04)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

Fusion of two deuterons into one helium atom, in hot plasma, is a rare process (one out of million fusion events). It is an exothermic process; the released energy of 23.7 MeV appears in the form of gamma rays. In condensed matter, on the other hand, production of helium has often been reported as a dominant fusion event in which the released energy appears in the form of heat and not in the form of gamma rays. What is the mechanism of nuclear fusion of deuterons in condensed matter? According to R.H. Parmenter (1) cold fusion in metallic lattices can be a two-step process whose steps are:

1H + 2H --> 3He + 5.4 MeV


3He + 2H --> 4He + 1H + 18.26 MeV

Note that common protons, presumably dissolved in the metallic lattice, play the catalytic role; they are used in the first step and released in the second step. The author claims that that the probability of the Coulomb barrier penetration, for the first step of the above sequence, is six orders of magnitude higher (but still very small), than for the direct fusion mechanism (3H + 2H --> 4He). The 3He produced in the first step (of the above sequence) has sufficient energy to overcome the Coulomb repulsion hindering the second step.

A sequence of two nuclear reactions, producing two 4He atoms (and 22.3 MeV of energy), is also discussed. In that reaction neutrons play the catalytic role; 6Li is supposed to be introduced into the lattice from the LiOD or LiOH salt dissolved in the electrolyte. The envisioned two-step process is:

6Li + n --> 3H + 4He + 4.8 MeV


3H + 2H --> 4He + n + 17.5 MeV

The issue of the critical mass (in a real cell not all neutrons produced in step 2 would react with 6Li), and the issue of the absence of gamma rays, are not addressed by the author.

1. Parmenter, R.H., Enhancement of Cold Fusion Processes in Palladium by Catalytic Agents. Infinite Energy, 2002. 8(43): p. 66.

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