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291) Yes, these experiments are dangerous, but . . .

Ludwik Kowalski; 4/9/2006
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

Several days ago Jed Rothwell, the author of the book “Cold Fusion and the Future,” posted the following message on the restricted list of CMNS researchers. Note that CMNS stands for Condensed Matter Nuclear Science -- a new name for what used to be called Cold Fusion (CF). The CF is a subfield of CMNS in which unexpected nuclear particles are studied. Jed wrote:

I recently updated my book, and I included a list of 4 anomalous cold fusion explosions in chapter 12. I also uploaded some photos of accidents here:

I just realized there was another anomalous explosion reported at ICCF-3:

Zhang, X., et al. On the Explosion in a Deuterium/Palladium Electrolytic System. in Third International Conference on Cold Fusion, "Frontiers of Cold Fusion". 1992. Nagoya Japan: Universal Academy Press, Inc., Tokyo, Japan.

This event occurred in April 1991. I just asked Zhang if he still thinks it was anomalous and if I should include in the list. Glow discharge appears to be the most dangerous and unstable version of cold fusion, but the other types are also hazardous.

This was followed by several messages (shown in the appendix below”) in which Jed argued that plasma electrolysis experiments should not be conducted by students and amateurs. This goes against what I wrote in the unit #252. And I still disagree with Rothwell that Mizuno type experiments in an open cell, as described in the unit #286, are much more dangerous than experiments students perform in high schools and universities. Safety issues are important one protection rules, such as using a ventilated hood, protective glasses, etc., must be respected. Furthermore, student experiments must be supervised by science teachers. In replying to one of Jed’s messages I wrote:

An explosion due to accumulation of hydrogen is much less likely to occur in an open Mizuno-type cell. Nearly all chemistry experiments performed by students must be supervised by science teachers. If I were to supervise a Mizuno-type student project I would used the open cell. And I would insist of using a standard laboratory hood, plus protection glasses, etc. Yes, safety aspects are very important.

Do you remember a report from two high school girls who confirmed the COPs >1 in Louisiana two years ago? I do not recall any safety concerns being raised (at our conferences) about open cell experiments by high school students. Why now? I would like to see several student reports about over-unity COPs each year. The fact that these reports do not prove anything new would not bother me. At this stage we need confirmations, the more the better. And think about educational and motivational effects of such projects on students.

The topic of risks in research is very broad and interesting. It has recently been discussed in the context of some ongoing medical and agricultural projects. Frederic Joliot Curie addressed that topic in his (1934 ?) Nobel Prize address. He speculated about a possibility that a nuclear chain reaction can develop in our environment and destroy it at once. That is what Jed is speculating about. I think he is exaggerating. But his comments, like his book, are worth reading.

APPENDIX: Rothwell’s messages:
Message #1
You do NOT -- repeat NOT -- want anyone to do this as a science fair project! This experiment should not be done by high school kids or by people who do not have safety equipment at hand, including goggles, a shower and so on. Let me reiterate what I said earlier, with emphasis: This experiment is DANGEROUS. The electrolyte is toxic and it is boiling. The light from the cathode is so intense it will damage your eyes if you look at it too closely for too long.

On at least one occasion, a glow discharge cell has exploded violently without warning, releasing over 400 times more energy than was input into the cell. This is far beyond the limits of chemistry -- there is no doubt the energy release was anomalous. It drove a glass shard about 1 cm into Mizuno's neck, next to the carotid artery, and the noise deafened him and his colleague for several hours. I spent several days watching both Ohmori and Mizuno performed their versions of this experiment. Both of them are careful, and both have decades of experience doing electrochemistry, but Ohmori's technique was so frightening to Mizuno that Mizuno refused enter the lab. "I will watch from out here," he said, standing out in the hall. "The way Ohmori does this scares the hell out of me." This was five years before his own cell exploded.

Let me put this very bluntly. If you go around encouraging unqualified, unprepared, inexperienced people to do this experiment, and one of them is hurt or killed, you will regret it for the rest of your life. You might end up in civil court owing huge sums of money. This is like encouraging people to repair gasoline motors and gas tanks in their garage. I have know two people who burned their house to the ground doing that. One of them also incinerated his 6-year-old son. For you to even suggest this should be done as a "science fair project" is utterly irresponsible and stupid. Furthermore, it would serve no useful purpose. Hundreds of inexperienced people doing this as a science-fair-level project would not convince any scientist, and it would not teach us anything new about the reaction.

Message #2
Ludwik wrote: An explosion due to accumulation of hydrogen is much less likely to occur in an open Mizuno-type cell.” This explosion was anomalous. It could not possibly have been caused by hydrogen, or any chemical reaction. I presume it was a runaway cold fusion reaction, like the one that melted or vaporized

Fleischmann and Pons' cathode in Feb. 1985. We should not kid ourselves about this issue anymore. I have now seen five credible reports of anomalous explosions, four them clearly beyond the limits of chemistry. I think it has been established that cold fusion can produce runaway reactions and explosions. It is my gut feeling that the glow discharge version is particularly prone to this, because it sometimes produces large energy spikes very rapidly. I only hope cold fusion cannot be used to make a large-scale nuclear bomb, but no one can be sure of that at this stage.

Ludwik asked: “Do you remember a report from two high school girls who confirmed the COPs >1 in Louisiana two years ago?” Was that with glow discharge, or ordinary electrochemistry? Glow discharge is much more dangerous at a practical, hands-on level. The electrolyte boils, the cell shakes and rattles, the light is blinding, power levels and temperatures are much higher than other types of cold fusion, and the cells sometimes produce large volumes of free H2 and O2 gas, from pyrolysis.

Message #3
Ludwik Kowalski wrote: “Would you support a moratorium on experiments with Mizuno-type cells anywhere, including national labs, old deep mines etc.?” No, that would be ridiculous. Let me put it this way. Internal combustion gasoline engine technology is 120 years old. It has been developed in national labs and corporations, and people work on gasoline engines in millions of shops and garages across the land. But, even after 120 years these things are still dangerous, and they always will be. As I said, I knew two people who destroyed their houses -- one who killed his son -- because they were monkeying with gasoline engines in their garage, and they did not have the proper tools, training, ventilation and so on.

There are many other dangerous jobs that untrained amateurs should not engage in, such as working with AC electricity house wiring or using heavy duty chain saws. Nobody suggests we should ban the use of AC electricity, even though every baby and toddler in the country is a few meters away from sticking a finger into a socket, and babies do that every day. We must take risks, but we should also take precautions. (You should cover up those sockets with plastic gadgets until the kid turns 3! And don't do it when the kid is watching.)

As I have said and said again, people who do the Mizuno experiment should use proper tools and safety procedures. They should know about these procedures because they should be trained chemists -- or at least they should consult with chemists. They should use a television camera to observe the glow discharge, rather than squinting at it from 50 cm away. They should use other common sense methods of avoiding danger. They should be willing to spend a few thousand dollars extra to ensure safety, if that is what it costs.

Of course if the experiment produces an explosion on the scale of a small nuclear bomb nothing can be done. I would not rule out that possibility completely, but I personally would be willing to observe or participate in these experiments despite that remote possibility. Present-day fossil fuel based systems cause enormous damage, and they kill vast numbers of people. Coal alone kills roughly 20,000 people per year in the US. They are probably causing worldwide global warming which may kill millions of people, wipe out hundreds of thousands of species, and destroy thousands of cities and towns. So although there is a remote possibility that cold fusion might be capable of causing nuclear bomb scale explosions, it is worth taking that risk because the energy systems we have now are causing catastrophic damage.

Message 4:
[X asked for details.], they are here: <> [X also asked: “Would this not provide sceptic-zapping proof that LNER are real?” It proves LENR is real, but it will not zap any skeptics because Mizuno cannot make it happen on demand, and no skeptic will believe that it happened in the first place. Mostly it has zapped Mizuno and his colleague. He is no longer doing these experiments because he is frightened, which is understandable. There have been at least 4 anomalous explosions, and probably 3 others count (one at BARC and two reported by W.-S. Zhang). See: <>

That book, by the way, is available (free) over the Internet. Jed wrote: “If you would like to print a copy, we suggest you download the high-resolution version: (15 MB)

Please feel free to print as many copies as you like. Note that it is cheaper to print in black and white. The first two chapters of the book have been translated into Italian and are available on line here: “

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