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266) First scared then reassured.

Ludwik Kowalski (11/1/05)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

The experiment described in item #261 is still in progress; without my participation. In about ten days I will be participating in another version of that experiment. The advantage of the second version will be Pinnacle, a very unique power supply. It will allow us to nearly instantly (several microseconds) suppress arcing, if it develops. Several days ago my collaborator sent me a message with a question about the latent heat of vaporization, L. “Do you know what L values were used by Clauzon in their
paper?” Replying to this question I wrote that L was 2260 J/g plus a small correction needed to raise the temperature of 20 C water to the boiling point. The correction was necessary because 20 C water was constantly added to replace the evaporated water.

After answering I started to think about a possible interpretational errors in the determination of excess heat from the amount of water evaporated. Latent heat is determined by attractive molecular forces between the escaping molecules and remaining liquid. In other words, L is determined by the surface tension. Suppose that water is not pure and that a thin layer of "something" is present on its surface. Is it not reasonable to assume that the presence of that "something" might change the effective value of L significantly? Suppose that the presence of that "something" lowers the L by 50% but a researcher is not aware of this. Instead of multiplying the mass of the lost water by 1130 he multiplies it by 2260 and concludes (wrongly) that the amount of released thermal energy is much larger than the amount of received electric energy. That would be an illusion of excess heat.

Is the above scenario possible? Can the surface tension of water be lowered significantly by "something?" What can that "something" be? Can it come from the salt used to make the electrolyte? Can it come from the body of the cell, etc.? Can it come from products of reactions taking place near the cathode? These questions were actually posted on the CMNS discussion list. Fortunately, about 24 hours later, somebody responded by emphasizing that vaporization, at the boiling temperature, takes place deep below the surface. The lowering of the surface tension by an additive would be expected but this should have no effect on the L that must be used to calculate excess heat. I also learned that ionic compounds tend to increase the surface tension of water while organic compounds added to water tend to lower it very significantly.

Responding to this reassuring comment I wrote: “I agree with you. Bobbles are indeed formed below the surface, as one can see, and surface tension should not play a role. This, however, is not true when evaporation takes place below the boiling point. At 40 C, for example, one cannot see bubbles coming from the bottom. Therefore I expect L to depend on the surface purity at temperatures below boiling. Fortunately, this has nothing to do with measuring of the COP (Coefficient Of Performance) in Mizuno-type experiments. Thanks for restoring my confidence in the validity of methodology described by Fauvarque et al.” But a day later I started worrying again. Here is my next posting on the CMNS list.

“Evaporation of water (below the boiling temperature) is a surface phenomenon. Boiling, as emphasized by X, consists of bubbling that takes place in the entire volume. Is it just a coincidence that the latent heat of evaporation and the latent heat of boiling are identical? Slow evaporation seems to be reversible, fast boiling is not reversible. (I have never seen bubbles forming at the surface and going down to condense near the bottom.)

By the way, a large fraction of bubbles is produced near the very hot cathode. Some bubbles are probably born as chunks of supercritical water (neither liquid nor vapor). Is it possible that supercritical evaporation, if not accounted for, might lead to the lowering of the effective L? Recall that L approaches zero when the critical point is approached in the P,T diagram. Lowering of the effective L could possibly create an illusion of excess heat. Evidence of extremely high temperature (sufficient to melt tungsten) was clearly visible when our cathode was examined under the microscope.”

The answer, if any, will be paraphrased below; unless I decide to ask for permission to quote the reply. The responsibility of addressing such issues -- the so called burden of proof -- should be an obligation of those who make a discovery. A month from today I will be presenting results of an ongoing study at a conference in Japan. The issue of the “effective L” seems to be central when the amount of excess heat is deduced from the amount of lost water. Was that issue addressed by those whose conclusions we are trying to either confirm or refute? I do not think so.

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