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206) A new Russian report on nuclear alchemy

Ludwik Kowalski (3/15/05)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

1) Two years ago I mentioned that work performed in a Russian laboratory, Lutch, had a strong influence on my attitude toward cold fusion. The publication that impressed me, by Karabut, was translated from Russian in unit #13. Irina Savvatimova, also from Lutch, worked with Karabut, as reflected in their 1992 publication. I had a chance of meeting her at two cold fusion conferences. Two days ago she informed me that her ICCF11 report can be downloaded over the Internet. The URL is:

Note that the “download” button, on the screen that opens, is at the bottom. Be aware that the file is in the MS Word format and that its length is 14 Mb.

2) The ion bombardment apparatus used by Irina is similar to that described in unit #13; it is the deuterium glow discharge chamber. The applied voltages were between 300 V and 850 V; the currents were between 10 mA and 20 mA. But the main tool was a scanning electron microscope. It was used to examine a titanium cathode before and after the ionic bombardment (in experiments in which excess heat was also measured). The microscope was equipped with a setup, called EDS, (elemental dispersion spectroscopy?) that analyses X-rays emitted from spots selected by the electron microscope beam. Another instrument, called TIMS (thermo-ionization mass spectrometer), was also used in the reported study.

3) The purpose was to demonstrate nuclear alchemy -- formation of new elements. That area of research, known as nuclear transmutations, has been investigated by several cold fusion researchers. (see my units #85, #104 and #105). Traditional alchemy is known to be impossible and transmutations, if confirmed in reproducible experiments, will convince us about reality of unexpected nuclear processes. The instruments used in Moscow are probably available in many US laboratories; I have no idea why others are not trying to either validate or contradict experimental data reported by Savvatimova and Gavritenkov. Counting how many DOE panel members believed (and not believed) in validity of experimental results is not a correct way to deal with claims made by experimental scientists. Don’t we have experts able to perform experiments described by Russian researchers?

4) I suppose that it is a matter of poor translation to refer to “byproducts of transmutation” as “impurity elements.” The terms “new elements” and “trace elements” would also be better for a situation in which authors are convinced that new elements were not introduced through a contamination. The English word impurity implies contamination, at least to me. With this in mind let me quote from the paper: “The exceeding content of the impurity elements on the irradiated titanium surface were found in 20 cases from 47 analyzed places. The amount of the impurity elements in the comparison with an initial material was more from 10 up to 1000 times and from the tenth parts of percent up to percents. The integral content of the impurity elements in an initial sample did not exceed 7*10-3 %. “

The initial overall concentration of iron in titanium, for example, was 0.002% but the local concentration in the selected 6 sites, after the exposure to deuterium ions, was twenty times higher (0.04%, according to Table 3). The situation for Al is even more dramatic: -- 0.003% before the exposure to ions versus 0.33% after the exposure, in 9 selected sites. Possibilities of non-nuclear origin of such findings are discussed and rejected on the basis careful examination. I recall an earlier publication in which a highly unusual isotopic composition of iron, found in the palladium cathode, was reported. Irina was a coauthor of that paper (see item #13). Unfortunately, the isotopic composition of iron produced in titanium was not reported; that would be a very convincing argument in favor of its nuclear origin. Some speculations about nuclear reactions, that might be responsible for generation of new elements, are offered. The last paragraph consist of five conclusions:

“1. The following elements O, F, S, Al, Na, Mg, Fe, and Ni in amount of 0.3-0.5 % up to ten percents were found in Ti foil after deuterium glow discharge experiments with excess heat effect.

2. The appearance of new elements within structural defects on the surface (in the micro explosions places, micro craters, local melting zones, phases inclusions on the tracks and others formations) could be the result of unequilibrium processes such as a micro arc with overvoltage with some accelerated effect leading to fusion and fission reactions in the excited crystal lattice of cathode surface.

3. The appearance of most elements obeys the law of energy conservation.

4. Excess heat effect in Ti foil could be explained as a result of elements transmutation in the cathode under excitation of crystal lattice in the deuterium low energy glow discharge.

5. It is necessary to have more statistical results with sequential analysis for explanation and understanding of mechanism.”

I do not know why the potential difference under which the reported results were obtained was not specified more accurately; a person desiring to replicate the experiment would not be happy with the 300 to 850 volts range. And I was not happy that isotopic ratios were not reported. I expected to see them because of the following introductory statement: “Investigation of the isotopic composition was carried out by the thermo-ionization mass spectrometry method (TIMS).” The only place in which isotopic masses are shown is Table 4. But that table does not list iron. Three isotopes of Sr are listed but isotopic ratios are not specified. What is interesting, however is absence of the isotope 87Sr. In natural Sr that isotope is 12.5 times more abundant than 84Sr, actually observed by authors. I suspect a typing error in Table 4; otherwise the observation would be discussed as highly significant. What can be a better indication of nuclear origin than a highly abnormal isotopic ratio? Another possibility is that the 87Sr peak was covered by the tail of the eleven-times-higher 88Sr peak. I am not familiar TIMS; I do not know what its resolution should be in different mass regions.

Normally the most abundant isotope of calcium is 40Ca (97%). But that isotope is not listed in Table 4. Another typing error? The same question can be asked about the absence of 160Gd. I will assume that trivial clerical errors were made in composing Table 4. What else can it be? Absence of information on isotopic composition of iron is likely to be disturbing to anybody who read unit #13, and papers listed in it as references. According to Lutch scientists one half of iron produced in a palladium cathode consisted of 57Fe. That is over 20 times more than in common iron. Is the situation in titanium the same as in palladium or is it very different? I would expect Savvatimova to focus on that question. But she did not address it. I am puzzled by this.

Unusually high contamination at selected spots on the surface of a titanium cathode, in comparison with its nominal bulk composition, can possibly be due to factors that have nothing to do with nuclear reactions. All kind of impurities are likely to appear on surfaces when foils are manufactured. Lutch researchers are certainly aware of this; that is why they compare observations of two surfaces of the same foil. The surface bombarded by ions, has more “new elements” than the surface that was not bombarded. But the factor of twenty (0.002% versus 0.04% for iron), if my understanding is correct, does not refer to two surfaces. Arguments of that kind would become totally irrelevant if the isotopic composition on “new iron” were shown to be very different from that of ordinary iron. Savvratimova knows this very well; she was a coauthor of several publications in which highly unusual compositions of new elements, including iron, were reported for a palladium cathode. That is why I am puzzled.

Appended on 3/24/05:
This unit was listed as “work in progress” for eight days because I was waiting to for Irina’s clarifications. And I am glad that I waited; what she wrote to me (see below) is extremely important. In my opinion, the paper should be revised before it is made available over the Internet.

Irina’s clarifications:
Your questions are very deep. Not all questions have simple answers.
1. The change of the potential difference has no significant influence on the results. The glow discharge in our chamber is stable for any potential difference between 300 and 800 V.

2. The change in chemical composition with initial structure was compared in the Table 4 . CPS is count per second during the mass-spectrometry analysis. Such significant numbers are not error. Table 4 does not content trivial clerical errors:

a) Ca40 is an isotope, which we observed in large quantity during the analysis of the initial sample and after after experiment. It is a reason of the excluding this isotope from table 4. [To avoid confusion I would not exclude Ca-40 from the table]

b) Sr 87 has the mass as Rb 87 (85, 87). It is not right to include in table for the comparison. Much mass 87 in the tungsten cathode by mass-spectrometry method was noted also before. [I am not sure I understand this point.].

c) The decreasing Fe 56 up to 100 times was observed after experiment. Fe57 had not significant quantity before experiment, and Fe57 had not change in the comparing with initial sample after experiment.

** The peak of the mass 55, after the bombardment, was 40 times larger than before the bombardment. [In my opinion focusing on a single peak is less convincing than focusing on isotopic ratios].

** Mass 55 is Mn55 or Fe55 (electron capture). Mn was not detected by EDS method. Fe was revealed by EDS method up to 4±0.2% (I think that this is highly significant. I will look at this fact again more carefully. It may be an indication of a mechanism for the Fe56 - Fe55 transformation.

3. You are right, showing isotopic ratios would be a more convincing evidence of nuclear transmutations. I did not include the ratios to save place (I tried to put all results in 12 pages). I do have isotopic ratios but they were not included in the paper; I will add them soon. Thank you very much for your interest and questions.

[Jed Rothwell told me that the paper of Savvatimova and Gavritenkov will soon be downloadable from the library at <> I hope it will reflect information on isotopic ratios.]

Adenedum (6/24/05):
The updated version of the report has been in that library since last may. Table 5 reports data on ratios of Ca isotopes. The claim is that Ca is one of the transmutation products generated during the experiment in the titanium target and that its isotopic composition is significantly different from that found in common calcium (96.9% of Ca-40, 0.65% of Ca-42, 0.135% of Ca-43 and 2.0% of Ca-44). It would be preferable if percentages of individual isotopes found in the Ti target were reparted in the same way as for common calcium. Unfortunately, what is reported are relative abundances.

The table shows that the relative abundance Ca-40 with respect to Ca-44 was 31 (insted of 48.4, as in common calcium), the relative abundance Ca-40 with respect to Ca-42 was 125 (insted of 161), the relative abundance Ca-44 with respect to Ca-43 was 49 (insted of 14.8), and the relative abundance Ca-44 with respect to Ca-42 was 4 (insted of 3.3). I do not know why absolute percentages were not given; that would be more useful. Estimated experimental errors, associated with these abnormal relative abundances, would also be useful. I assume that more information will be available in a future publication. Changes in isotopic composition of all trace elements are worth studying. As I wrote before, the term "trace element" is better than the term "impurity" (used in this paper). Impurity implies contamination.

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