This website contains other cold fusion items.
Click to see the list of links

347) Interesting New SPAWAR Results

Ludwik Kowalski
Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, 07055
April 8, 2008

1) Introduction
A report presented by PA. Mosier-Boss, S. Szpak and F.E. Gordon, entitled “Pd/D Co-Deposition: Excess power Generation and its Origin,” can be downloaded from It was presented at the meeting of American Chemical Society. In this unit I want to share my own notes and comments based on this interesting report, and on a subsequently published paper. First the authors describe the electrolytic method for fast loading of deuterium into palladium. They have been using this method for many years. What evidence do we have that excess heat, measured by authors, has nuclear origin? They say that "amounts hundreds of times greater than can be delivered by any known chemical reaction/process, constituted proof of its nuclear origin. To verify that the heat generation is indeed nuclear in origin, nuclear ash needs to be detected.”

The term “nuclear ash” stands for production of nuclear products in the amount matching excess heat. As I wrote in Unit 345, only helium can be considered a “nuclear ash.” Production of tritium, at the rate of about 5000 atoms per second, studied by the authors, is a convincing indication that a nuclear process was going on. But, even that rate was not sufficiently high to produce measurable excess heat.

Another indicator of a nuclear process due to electrolysis was production of elements, such as Al and Mg in some spots on their cathode. These elements were identified on the basis of characteristic X-rays emitted under the bombarded by electrons. Such elements, the authors wrote, “could not be extracted from cell components and deposited at discrete sites. Furthermore it is thermodynamically impossible to electrochemically plate out metals such as Al and Mg from aqueous solutions.”

2) Why am I mostly interested in what the SPAWAR team wrote about data gathered with CR-39 detectors? Because I already used their CR-39 protocol, as described in units 319 and 337. That protocol consisted of wrapping the cathode wire around a CR-39 chip, etching the chip after the experiment, and observing tracks that were produced during the electrolysis. My results were nearly identical to theirs. But my conclusion was that most of the observed tracks were too large to be due to alpha particles. The SPAWAR team did not agree with that conclusion. See item #10 in

3) In a discussion on the Internet list for CMNS researchers Ludwik wrote:
The ACS report does not allow one to compare tracks produced during electrolysis with tracks due to alpha particles from a radioactive source, under identical etching conditions. Fortunately, such comparison became possible on the basis of information they published in European Physical Journal, Applied Physics (Vol. 40, p. 293–303, December 2007). The title of that paper is: “Use of CR-39 in Pd/D Co-deposition Experiments” and the authors are Pamela Mosier-Boss, Stanislaw Szpak, Frank Gordon and Larry Forsley. Let me also mention that some pictures to which the paper refers are in the online supplement downloadable from:

Figures S1 and S2, shown below, were copied from that supplement.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Figure S1
Picture of CR-39 tracks (after 9 hours of etching) due alpha particles from 241Am. Macroscopic magnification was reported as 1000.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

= = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Figure S2
Picture of a CR-39 track (after 9 hours of etching) due an particle emitted during electrolysis. Macroscopic magnification was reported as 1000.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Macroscopic magnifications under which these pictures were taken was 1000. On that basis I assumed that scaling factors were identical. The photographs shown in the supplement also showed the same tracks after 12, 16 and 20 hours of etching. Figure 3 shows how the widths of tracks changed with time of etching. The size of a track is defined as its diameter, when the track is circular, or as its width when the track is more or less elliptical. The length of the major axis depends on the angle of incidence, its width does not depend on that angle.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Figure 3
Depenedence of the track sizes on time of etching. For example, what does the 23% represent? The total width of an alpha track, was 30 units after 16 hours of etching and 37 units after 20 hours of etching. The ratio, 37/30=1.23, shows that the increment was equal to 23% of the final size.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

In what follows I will explain why, in my opinion, the large track shown in Figure S2 should not be attributed to an alpha particle of ~1 MeV, as tentatively assumed by SPAWAR team. Figure 3 and Figure 4 will be used to justify my position.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Figure 4
Dorschel's calibration curve for alpha particles (smooth line) versus a hypothetical calibration curve (dashed line). (See, for example, C. Brun, M. Fromm, M. Jouffroy, P. Meyer, J.E. Groetz, F. Abel, A. Chambaudet, B. Dorschel, D. Hersmdorf, R. Bretschneider, K. Kander, and H. Kuhne; “INTERCOMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE DETECTION CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CR-39 SSNTD FOR LIGHT IONS: PRESENT STATUS OF THE BESANCON DRESDEN APPROACHES,” Radiation Measurements, vol 31, (1999), pp 89-99 )

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

4) I am glad that SPAWAR people [Pamela Mossier-Boss et al.] showed exactly the same pits after different etching times. This is not always easy when the pit density is very high. Comparing widths of pits in Figure S1 with the diameter of the top circular pit in Figure S2, I see that pits due to alpha particles are smaller that pits due to particles emitted during the electrolysis. That is roughly consistent with my report at the APS meeting. The conclusion was that particles emitted during electrolysis must be different from alpha particles. Figure S1 and S2 (and Dorschel’s calibration curve in Figure 3) seem to confirm this conclusion. . . .

5) Let me be more quantitative. (*) Tracks in Figure S1 are due to alpha particles of 5.5 MeV (241Am). (**) According to Dorschel, the maximum width of tracks due to an alpha particle can be no more than 25% larger than the width due to alpha particles of 5.5 MeV. (***) Zooming on Figures S1 and S2 I found that the width of the top track in Figure S2 is ~2.2 times larger than the mean width from seven tracks in Figure S1 (due to 5.5 MeV alphas). That is why I am claiming that the top track in Figure 2 cannot possibly be attributed to an alpha particle. (****) I will assume that the size of the top track in Figure S2 is typical; sizes of tracks produced during my electrolysis also excedded sizes of tracks due to alpha particles by a factor larger than two.

SPAWAR photos in Figures S1 and S2 also show that the top track in Figure S2 seems to be shallower than tracks due to alpha particles. I discovered this when I plotted the dependence of the track's widths on etching time (see the two curves in Figure 3). The upper curve is for the top track from Figure S2 while the lower curve is for the alpha particle track from Figure S1. The percentages indicate increments in widths between consecutive data points, as explained in the caption below the figure. The arbitrary units, along the vertical axes were millimeters, on my screen (plus or minus one), after zooming. 

6) In general the width of a track (or the diameter when the track is circular) is known to increase with the time of etching. But what should one expect after very long etching? My expectation was that tracks should start disappearing; less deep tracks should disappear before more deep tracks. Consider, for example, alpha particles of 2 MeV (range ~8 microns in CR-29). Their tracks should disappear after about 7 hours. But tracks due to 5 MeV alpha particles (range ~30 microns in CR-39) should disappears after about 25 hours. These etching times were calculated from the known bulk etching rate of CR-39, about 1.2 microns per hour.

7) Ludwik wrote (not posted):
How can long etching times (deep pits) be reconciled with the idea that tracks created during electrolysis are due to alpha particles of ~ 1MeV? SPAWAR team, as far as I know, is currently working under such assumption (hypothesis).

8) Ludwik wrote:
a) According to Dorschel’s calibration curve, the track widths for 1 MeV alphas should be smaller than the tracks of 5.5 MeV alphas. But the width of the top track in Figure S2, is twice as large as for a track of an alpha particle of 5.5 MeV in Figure S1. Something is not right somewhere. Do you agree? 

b) I think that the top track in Figure S2 might be due to something much heavier, and more energetic, than an alpha particle. It might be a track of a fission fragment. I know, from literature, that CR-39 tracks due to FF are about two times larger that for alphas of several MeV. But that is not the only reason for suspecting fission fragments. Another part of my consideration has to do with the depth of tracks, rather than with their sizes seen from above the chips. The top track in Figure 2 keeps growing after after 20 hours. This indicates that its depth is at least 1.2*20=24 microns. How can such depth be attributed to an alpha particle whose range in CR-39 is known to be about 4 microns? Alpha particles of ~1 MeV are probably dissolved in hot NaOH after about four hours of etching.

c) Let me share another observation. According to Figure 7 (also from the online supplement, but not shown here), widths of tracks due to particles created  during electrolysis are significantly smaller than the widths of  tracks due to alpha particles. Doesn't this conflict with conclusions reached from the photos in Figure S1 and S2?"

9) Pamela discovered one of my mistakes.
I assumed, in comparing sizes of tracks in Figures S1 and S2, that identical magnifications imply identical scales. She remesured diameters and informed us that the diameter of the top track in Figure S2 was 7.5 microns while the diameter of an alpha particle track, in Figure S1, was typically 5 microns. Responding to this I wrote: “OK, the ratio of track widths, after remeasuring, becomes 1.5 instead of 2.2. That is a big difference. With the ratio of 1.5, one can no longer ignore the question of how the widths of tracks were determined by Pamela and by Dorschel. Systematic errors, or differences in how the widths were defined by Pamela and Dorschel, become significant. Such things can indeed be responsible for the interpretational disagreement between Pam and myself."

10) So let me accept Pamela’s interpretation -- the top track on the Figure S2 is due to an alpha particle of ~ 1 MeV. This is still not consistent with the Dorschel’s curve. Figure 4 shows how Dorschel’s curve (smooth line) was arbitrarily modified (dashed line) to be in agreement with Pam’s hypothesis. Note that differences between the two curves are more pronounced in the very low energy region, that is in the region in which tracks become more and more shallow. Point A shows Dorschel’s diameter for alpha particles of 5.5 MeV. Point B corresponds to the diameter which is 1.5 times larger than the diameter of an alpha particle of 5.5 MeV  The dashed curve would have to pass through the point B to justify Pam’s hypothesis. Why am I saying this? Because the diameter of her top track in Figure S2 is said to be 1.5 time larger than the width of a track due to an alpha particle of 5.5 MeV. Point C corresponds to the diameter which is 2.2 times larger than the diameter of an alpha particle of 5.5 MeV If the scale correction was not made by Pamela, then the dashed curve would have to pass through the point C, in order to accept her interpretation.

11) I am not going to argue about whether or not my arbitrary correction of Dorschel’s curve (the dashed line) makes sense. Why? Because I have no information about the accuracy of his data. Neither do I know what curve is built into the simulation program used by Pam. The region of very low energies is difficult to explore. Is the error mostly on Dorschel’s side or on SPAWAR’s side? I do not know. The whole point of this exercise is to show what I have to do in order to accept Pamela’s interpretation. Point B is much closer to the reported curve than the point C. That is why I am now willing to give Pam all the benefit of the doubt, as far as my first argument is concerned.

12) Ludwik wrote:
But my second argument, against her tentative hypothesis, seems to remain valid. Why was it ignored so far? That argument was based on the fact that the diameter of the top track in Figure S2 was still growing after 20 hours of etching. How can this experimental fact be reconciled with Pam’s interpretation? The range of alpha particles of 1 MeV in CR-39 is only about 4 microns. This, as I already indicated, is much less than the layer of CR-39 that is expected to be dissolved in hot NaOH after 20 hours of etching.

13) Michel Jullian wrote:
. . . I may have the answer to your second objection to Pamela BTW. When I read your sensible suggestion that experimenting would resolve the dilemma it occurred to me that such experimenting might have been done, so I did this quick Google search:

and found this 2007 paper, authored by Nikezic and Yu among others:  

If I am not mistaken, it says that 1MeV alpha tracks are indeed visible after 15h (cf table 1) etching in a 6.25 N aqueous solution of NaOH at 70 C (cf abstract), in the form of 3 to 4 Ķm diameter hemispherical pits (cf table 2 and fig.3)

14) Ludwik wrote:
I printed this paper, after reading it with great interest, about two weeks ago. But the snip of information to which you refer did not catch my attention. I was mostly intereseted in the method by which profiles of tracks were deterined. Looking at what is shown on page 267, I agree with you that Pamaela's hypothesis is much more defendable than I thought. I am happy to withdraw my second objection. What is good for SPAWAR team is good for all of us. We are not competitors. My suggestion is that they replicate the experiment of Nikezic et al., if this has not already been done. Thanks for sharing; together we are stronger than each of us, individually.

15) Ludwik wrote (4/24/08):
a) I already suspected that Dorschel's calibration curve, on which my first objection was based, had a systematic error in the low energy region, as shown by the dashed line in Figure 4. But now I am even more inclined to accept this. Either something is wrong with his data or something is wrong the the SPAWAR hypothesis that alpha particles of ~ 1MeV are emitted from cathodes during electrolysis. Do you agree?

b) Unfortunately, I cannot find the reference from which Figure 4 was taken. It was posted on this list by Haiko, about one year ago. Perhaps he will share the reference in which the calibration method is described. Were his alpha particles from an accelerator or were they from a radioactive source? If he used a source then energy was probably controlled by absorbers. Was he the only one to calibrate CR-39 for alpha particles below 2 MeV? If not then how did his results compare with results of others? I wish my ability to find information by googling was better. Please help.

c) And here is a new question. Is it reasonable to think that helium ash, produced during excess heat experiments, comes from alpha particles detected by SPAWAR team? This question is worth addressing. Suppose that excess heat is generated at the rate of 1 W. How many particles must be emitted each second? We know that each alpha particle contributes 23.6 MeV of energy (3.78 pJ). Thus the number of particles emitted per second must be 1 / 3.78*10^-12 = 2.64*10^11.

Let me make a rather unrealistic (and too optimistic) assumption -- tracks are uniformly distributed over the CR-39 area of 1 cm^2. It is easy to show that the average distance between tracks of particles would be d(cm)=1/sqrt(N), where N is the surface density, in tracks per cm^2. Thus, N=2.64*10^11 gives d= 1.94*10^-6 cm or nearly 0.02 microns. Most tracks would be on top of each other, even if the CR-39 was exposed to the cathode for only one second. An exposure lasting 100 seconds would produce 100 times more tracks and the mean distance between tracks would be sqrt(100)=10 times smaller (0.002 microns). Yes, estimations of N are not likely to be easy.

d) But let us ignore this, for a moment. Suppose three SPAWAR type experiments were performed and excess heat was measured. The results were 100, 10 and 1 Joule. Suppose that CR-39 chips were used in these experiments. Wouldn't it be desirable to estimate values of N for each of these experiments. Yes, indeed. If excess heat is due to cold fusion of two deuterons then each track would be associated with production of 23.6 MeV (3.8 pJ) of heat, and of one atom of helium. But, as shown above, experiments in which excess heat is measurable would produce chips with highly overlapping tracks. A new method of measuring N must be invented. Any idea?

e) Yes, I know, we are not yet ready for experiments of that kind. A less ambitious short-term goal, in my opinion, should be to offer a protocol for a reproducible-on-demand demo of a nuclear activity triggered by a chemical process. How close are SPAWAR people from being able to offer a persuading protocol to mainstream  scientists? How reproducible their tracks have been so far? I know that different kinds of experiments were performed at SPAWAR, and many results were published. By "persuasive protocol" I mean a protocol for a single, "most reproducible experiment, demonstrating tracks of nuclear particles.”
Appended on 4/29/08
14) According to my Unit #347, SPAWAR team works under the hypothesis that nuclear tracks, produced during their electrolysis experiments, are due to alpha particles of ~1 MeV. Referring to this I posted the following message on the Internet discussion list for CMNS researchers.

“ Here is an idea based on that paper of Khayrat and Durrani. What would I do to confirm Pam's hypothesis -- that tracks produced during electrolysis are due to alpha particles of about one MeV?

a) First I would try to replicate the experiment of Khayrat and Durrani (using alpha particles of at least three energies: 5.5, 3 and 1 MeV and etching for two hours only). Suppose my results also showed  that tracks due to alpha particles of ~1 MeV  are nearly two times larger than those due 5.5 MeV.

b) In that case I would start testing the hypothesis. First one corner of a CR-39 chip would be irradiated by alpha particles from 241Am. Then I would conduct a codeposition experiment, using that chip,  as described in SPAWAR last paper (*). But instead of etching the chip for 9 hours, I would etch it for 2 hours.

(*) Mosier-Boss, P., Szpak, S., Gordon, F., Forsley, L, "Use of CR-39 in Pd/D Co-deposition Experiments," European Physical Journal, Applied Physics , Vol. 40, p. 293–303, (Dec. 13, 2007)

c) After that I would compare sizes of tracks due to 241Am with sizes of tracks created during electrolysis. Suppose sizes of tracks created during electrolysis were nearly twice as large as those due to 241Am. That would be a confirmation of their hypothesis.

Does this make sense? I am assuming that tracks, attributed to nuclear particles, are nearly always produced in at least one kind of SPAWAR experiment. That seems to be the case, according to their publications.”

15) In subsequent message, on the same forum, I wrote: “Suppose the following question is asked. Why are tracks due to ~ 1MeV alpha particles nearly twice as large tracks due to 5.5 MeV particles after 2 hours of etching while at much longer etching (for example, ~7 hrs) sizes of tracks are nearly the same (according to Dorschel)?

I already tried to answer this question.But here is a simpler answer. It is well known that the degree of damage created by an alpha particle in CR-39, is higher near the end of the latent track. The range of alpha particles of ~ 1 MeV is close to 4 microns while the range of 5.5 MeV particle is close to 30 microns. Two hours of etching is enough to reach the bottom of a latent track of a 1 MeV particle but not enough to reach the bottom of the latent track of a 5.5 MeV particle. The highly damaged region, of the 5.5 latent track, is not etched and that is why the track is not as large as it would be after etching for 6 or 9 hours.

This probably captures the essence of the explanation without addressing many details. I would very much like to know if simulated tracks, after 2 hours virtual etching, agree with experimental data of Khayrat and Durrani.”

This website contains other cold fusion items.
Click to see the list of links