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354) Excess-Heat Cell of John Dash

Ludwik Kowalski; 10/5/2008

Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, USA

(1) On 9/24/08, John Dash posted the following message at a private Internet discussion list for CMNS researchers:

“ Scott, In Aug. 2003 my students ( 3 high school students and 1 graduate student) demonstrated 0.8 W excess thermal power in Peter Hagelstein's lab at MIT during ICCF-10. I believe we can do the same demo on demand, anytime, anywhere. It is now more than 2 years since you began to evaluate our experiment. When can we expect  a report on your findings ? “

(2) On 9/25/08
, Marissa Little, who works with her father, Scott, replied: “John, we have discussed the conclusions with you on multiple occasions. While we did see an apparent excess heat signal, we identified two mundane causes for it.  Our conclusion is the same as it was at the end of testing in 2006.  Thanks for reminding me that the final report was never made available.  I will post a link to it on CMNS in a few days and everyone can read the details of our testing and the results.

(3) I was not aware that Scott and John cooperated to validate excess heat from a cell similar to that displayed at MIT during the first cold fusion conference I attended. Units 98 and 103 were composed after my return from the conference. Replying to the above I wrote:

“John, I was very impressed by your 2003 demo at MIT. It is worth showing in as many places as possible, and as often as possible. If I had such  "demo on demand" I would aggressively invite many respected scientists to my lab. I would bet with them and used the gained money to support  further research. Here is a constructive suggestion. Please describe the protocol for this demo and offer help to anyone who decides to replicate your results. The goal would be to confirm that your simple experiment can be replicated "anytime, anywhere" and by any competent person. Just imagine what would happen, after ICCF15, if several people independently reported positive results using your protocol. Describe it here (with all details) as soon as possible. I might be one of  those who decides to follow your footsteps. Nothing is more urgent that a simple reproducible CMNS experiment.”

(4) On 9/26/08) Mike McKubre wrote: “ John has a long career in experimental science so I don't think Marissa would have communicated her conclusion of ‘two mundane causes’ for excess heat without significant substantiation in hand.  We need to know the reasons and arguments.  If there are systematic errors that can be demonstrated quantitatively to have caused (or even contributed measurably to) the excess heat effect in John's (mostly) closed cell calorimeter I (for one) would like to know what these are.  If there are not, or if John does not agree, that I would also like to know.  The Little calorimeter is of unusual design and may be capable of resolving errors that could cause confusion in other calorimeters.  Or it may have systematic problems of it's own.  It would be nice to know.  Until such time as this is resolved I don't see the point of more discussion of what, where, when and who.  I am much more interested in how.

(5) On 9/29/08,
Pierre Carbonnelle, who is not a CMNS researcher, wrote: “Let's beware of pseudoskepticism, i.e. of ‘making counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence, of assuming that criticism requires no burden of proof, or suggesting that unconvincing evidence is grounds for dismissing it’ ".

(6) On 9/30/08, Marissa Little (who works with her father Scott Little) posted the result of their investigations. She wrote: “Thanks to John’s recent reminder, we’ve finally completed the report of our effort to verify the excess heat claims of John Dash and Wu-shou Zhang.
Here is the conclusion from the report:
We did see an apparent excess heat signal from the Dash-Zhang cell when operated with their protocol.   It took the form of a broad pulse that started just as the cell was reaching equilibrium temperature and always died away to nothing after about 8 hours of operation.  The maximum apparent excess heat power for a closed cell (DZ8) reached 0.2 W while the total input power was about 15 W.  We found two separate mundane causes for this heat pulse.   

1. The release of heat energy stored in the cell during the high-power period at the beginning of the run.  This effect is made larger by the use of insulation around the cell such as the cardboard box recommended by Dash and Zhang.
2.  The heat of wetting released when ~100 g of recombiner pellets is wetted by water vapor rising from the nearly-boiling electrolyte.

We also conducted a number of experiments using electrodes supplied by Dash and Zhang mounted in standard ET cells.  None of these runs showed any signs of excess heat above MOAC's detection limit, which is approximately 30 mW.
John, if you have new cells which avoid these problems and show substantial persistent excess heat, we would be delighted to test them in our calorimeter.”

(7) Several other CMNS researchers contributed to this thread. Many important details, with which I was not familiar, were emphasized. John Dash wrote that his improved protocol, and personal help in implementing it, is available to any CMNS researcher.

(8) On 10/1/08 Mike McKubre wrote: “. . . John you are using a very large amount of recombiner.  Why?  Would you care to comment on Marissa's observations?  No matter how stated there is information and learning there and it is up to you to understand quantitatively what Marissa is reporting and get back to us with agreement, rebuttal or uncertainty. Marissa; I don't think anyone doubts your observation, just your interpretation and the forcefulness of your conclusion.  I don't pretend to be an expert or superior in this matter but . . .  I have not read your web-paper yet but, however rigorous your energy calculation, you apparently observed little more than a 1% peak effect.  This is not (as I understand it) the Dash-FP effect.”

(9) On 10/1/08 John Dash wrote: “Marissa, I should have read your report before I responded. It does have the numbers ! Sorry. You did some excellent work on our behalf. Thank you and thank Scott. What I am wondering is, did you calibrate MOAC with the calibration cell in the cardboard box ?

(10) On 10/2/08 Marissa Little wrote: “Ed and Mike, the DZ cell is quite unique – it contains 100 grams of recombiner pellets (our typical cells use 30 pellets which weighs just over ONE gram).  Before each of the DZ runs, the pellets are placed in an oven overnight, so they are very dry.  The DZ cell contained far more recombiners than needed, most get wet and stop working.  But a few stay dry and continue to work.   Here is a picture of a cell immediately after power was cut.

(11) On 10/2/08 Ludwik Kowalski posted the following message:

Dear all, Please provide data for the summary of reported results (replace question marks with wattages below).

A) John Dash -- -->MIT demo 2003
Input power ~10 W, excess power 0.8 W (+/- 0.15 W)

B) Scott and Marissa Little  ----> 2008
Input power ~15 W, apparent excess power 0.2 W (assuming 0.2 W was not due to two “mundane causes” suspected by the authors.)

C) Chang Chun University, China ----> 200?
Input power ???, excess power ??? (+/- ???)

D) Italy two high schools----> 200?

(12) On 10/4/08, Scott Little sent me a private message explaining that my use of the word “suspected” (in item B above) did not properly refer to what they did. Scott wrote.

“I have a quibble with the wording of your recent statements about our efforts on the Dash-Zhang experiment.  It's not worth taking up the time of everybody on the CMNS list so I'm writing privately. [quoting item B shown above]

Back in late 2006 when we were running the Dash-Zhang cell in our calorimeter, the first time we observed a temporary excess heat signal while using the cardboard box around the cell, we "suspected" that the box might be partly responsible.  We then set up the differential equations for an insulated mass being heated by a declining input power and plotted the temperature of the mass vs time.  As discussed in our report, this computer simulation "demonstrated" results that qualitatively matched the behavior of the DZ cell.   But that's a transient effect which should have integrated to zero.  In the case of the DZ cell, the integrated energy totals always came out a little positive.  We then began to "suspect" the 100 grams of recombiner pellets, mainly because that was the only other unusual aspect of the DZ cell.  At the time we had never heard of "heat of wetting".    As discussed in our report, we set up a special experiment in our calorimeter to measure the heat of wetting of 100g of dry recombiner pellets.  The result was 2760 joules, which closely matched the net energy integral we were seeing from the DZ cell.

Summarizing, we "suspected" the two mundane causes first, then we proceeded to "demonstrate" that they were both present and that they qualitatively and quantitatively accounted for the observed apparent excess heat signal.

Ludwik, we are making a concerted effort to state our conclusions properly and with appropriate reservation.  I will be the first to admit that our negative results do not prove that the DZ cell does not work. But I do not think it serves us well to soften the results as you have done above.  We saw an apparent excess heat signal and we demonstrated that it was due to mundane causes.  That sort of reporting is exactly what the CMNS field needs if we are ever to be properly recognized by mainstream science.”

(13) On 10/5/08 Ludwik Kowalski wrote: ” It is great that John offered to help anyone willing to replicate his demo, and that Marissa offered access to their superb calorimeter. Will there be at least one new team of electrochemists to take advantage of the offers made by John and Marissa? This remains to be seen.

In any case, I hope that the ongoing cooperation between John and Marissa will continue till they agree on presence or absence of excess heat, in a cell constructed according to John’s protocol. It would be a big waste to stop their cooperation at this time; John has great experience in building excess heat cells, Marissa and Scott have experience in measuring excess heat with their calorimeter. The instrument is not only very sensitive (able to measure small amounts of excess heat); it is also very accurate (small systematic errors--drift etc.) and very precise (small random errors--standard deviation).

I guess that more than ~95% of necessary investments (time and money) have already been made by each team. That is why I think that stopping the ongoing cooperation would be highly regrettable. Finding the truth is much more important than any other possible factor. Am I the only one to think that John and Marissa should continue to cooperate? “

(14) On 10/5/08 Ed Storms wrote: “It seems to me we have two issues. The first is whether the calorimeter and cell design John uses has demonstrated real excess energy. The heat of absorption of water on  the large amount of catalyst is a worry, as shown by Marissa. The second is  whether the cathodes made and used by John are nuclear-active. Since creating nuclear-active cathodes has proven to be very difficult, any success in making active material would be a major accomplishment. Therefore, I think the emphasis should be placed on testing a Dash cathode that has made excess heat previously in his calorimeter. I would volunteer to do this using a well characterized Seebeck calorimeter. I can also examine the cathode for various characteristics before and after the run. Since my setup has in the past detected excess energy, we can be sure it can do the same in the future.”

15) On 10/5/08, Marissa Little wrote: ”Very good points Ed.  I think that John may have moved away from the large amount of catalyst, though I could be wrong.  I noticed in a poster (W.S. Zhang, Dash, Z.L. Zhang) at ICCF-14 that the catalyst was on the order of a few grams instead of ~100 grams.  Here's a comparison of the "old" cell and what I think is the "new" cell (shown in an isoperibolic calorimeter) [Two photos displayed]. John, was this a unique setup or do most of your cells now use smaller amounts of catalyst?

16) On 10/5/08 Ludwik Kowalski wrote: “I agree with Ed that ‘we have two issues,’ excess heat and its nuclear origin. I will be happy to provide CR-39 chips and to perform the tedious task of counting tracks, if any, for anyone who observes excess heat.”

17) Final wish
Let us hope that John and Marissa (helped by others) come to an agreement about excess heat, and publish the result in a mainstream paper. I am not going to write about details that are still being discussed. I am not an expert in electrochemistry and recombiners. But the discussion is interesting.

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