22) Excess Heat and Helium Again

Ludwik Kowalski, <kowalskiL@mail.montclair.edu>
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, N.J. 07043

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To appreciate experimental difficulties associated with AE (anomalous energy) electrochemical experiments, one may be advised to read the paper of B. Bush and J. Lagowski. The paper was presented at the 7th International Conference on Cold Fusion (1998). It can be downloaded from:


The paper describes two stages of a typical experiment. First is the preparatory loading stage (introducing a sufficient amount of D ions into the crystal structure of Pd), second is the excess heat generation stage. The loading may take several days and it is performed at law current densities, such as 1 mA/cm2. To switch to the second mode the current density must be increased to about 20 mA/cm2. This often, but not always, leads to generation of excess heat for as long as the cathode remains loaded. Some cathodes last much longer than others. It depends on the origin of palladium and on its surface was prepared.

The authors write: “Many laboratories have reported generating excess heat during deuterium oxide electrolysis at palladium cathodes, many of these reports being extremely convincing. The major difficulty with the topic of excess heat generation is not reproducibility, but rather control. The ability to control the circumstances of the electrolysis so that the excess heat can be ‘turned on, and turned up or down’ has eluded us as yet.” Let me add that, according to more recent reports, the reproducibility is now much higher than it used to be. Microscopic examinations of surfaces often helps to reject potentially unproductive cathodes.

A section on calorimetry is also instructive; it warns that some kinds of calorimeters are more suitable than others. The authors write: “
thermal flux calorimeters based on Peltier devices (e.g. Melcor refrigichips) will fail in the most insidious fashion possible , several man years have been wasted on Peltier devices between the Navy and ourselves. We prefer to operate with the calorimeters submerged in a water bath, because this provides for reliable long term temperature stability. Further, because we are concerned with the helium produced by the excess heat generating reaction, we find it particularly useful to submerge the calorimeters in water, because helium is less soluble in water than in air and we can sparge the helium out of the water by bubbling liquid nitrogen boil-off gas through the enclosed water continuously to keep atmospheric contamination out.”

The section of the paper dealing with generation of helium is indeed very interesting. The authors write: “We entered this field by performing helium analysis as a nuclear products analysis. Our first effort was qualitative: 8 times during the generation of excess heat, helium was detectable in the electrolysis off-gas; 6 times when no excess heat was being generated, no helium was detectable in the electrolysis off-gas. This qualitative finding showed that the Pons and Fleischmann effect is a nuclear process occurring at the surface of the cathode. Subsequent quantitative helium versus energy analysis performed by ourselves,2 and Dr. M. H. Miles working independently indicated that the excess heat and helium was produced via the D + D -->4He + 23.82 MeV(heat) reaction pathway.” I was particularly impressed by a demonstration that the observed 4He/3He ratio was found to be significantly different from that of helium in air. This rules out a possibility that the progressive accumulation of He can be attributed to atmospheric contamination.

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