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360) Sixty Minutes Program about CMNS

Ludwik Kowalski
Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, 07055
April 22, 2009

1) The following announcement was made on the CMNS list, nearly a week ago. “COLD FUSION IS HOT AGAIN -- Presented in 1989 as a revolutionary new source of energy, cold fusion was quickly dismissed as junk science. But today, the buzz among scientists is that these experiments produce a real physical effect that could lead to monumental breakthroughs in energy production.  Scott Pelley reports. Denise Schrier Cetta is the producer.” It was a fair presentation; both skeptics and enthusiasts had a chance to say what they think. “ The first think I did was post this announcement at the PHYS-L list for physics teachers. <=== video
<=== text

The first thing I did, after watching this fair report, was to submit a short OpEdNews article, entitled “Will Cold Fusion Solve Our Energy Problems?” I wrote: One of the three items in the “60 Minutes” TV broadcast (April 19, 2009) was devoted to so-called “cold fusion.” This phenomenon, informally announced by Fleischmann and Pons (during a press conference in March 1989), became the subject of an ongoing controversy. The content of the broadcast can be seen at [see the second link above]; the entire video can be seen at: [see the first link above]. The emphasis was on so-called “excess heat,” rather than on signatures of nuclear effects (emission of particles and transmutations). Can excess heat be produced on a large industrial scale? ...

Both optimistic and pessimistic evaluations were presented. The journalist, Scott Pelley, said: "So 60 Minutes asked the American Physical Society, the top physics organization in America, to recommend an independent scientist. They gave us Rob Duncan, vice chancellor of research at the University of Missouri and an expert in measuring energy." After visiting one laboratory, and examining their reports, Duncan said “I found that the work was carefully done, and that the excess heat, as I see it now, is quite real."

I think that the most logical next step for Duncan would be to replicate the experiment in his own laboratory, and to publish the result. The possibility that “cold fusion” can help us, as described by Mike McKubre (at the beginning of the program), is a good reason for supporting such experiments. The costs would be minimal, in comparison with costs of research already supported by the government.

A brief interview with rapidly-aging Martin Fleischmann was also very interesting. Martin said that he has two regrets: calling the nuclear effect "fusion," and agreeing to the idea of a press conference in 1989. The premature conference was organized by the University of Utah. He would have preferred to perform more experiments, and to announce the results via a formally published paper. The term “cold fusion,” he said, was imposed “by a competitor.”

Cold Fusion, now called CMNS (Condensed Matter Nuclear Science), was also discussed at a recent conference of American Chemical Society. The emphasis was on emission of nuclear projectiles, such as neutrons and alpha particles. Reproducible experiments, demonstrating the reality of a nuclear effect resulting from a chemical effect, would be a great challenge to theoretical physicists. The prevailing view is that nuclear processes (associated with nucleons inside atomic nuclei) are not influenced by chemical processes (associated with atomic electrons). Fortunately, researchers on both sides of the controversy agree on an acceptable methodology of validation. Will consensus be reached in the next ten years? That remains to be seen.

2) Teacher 1, the author of the first comment, posted on the PHYS-L list wrote:
“I have no expertise on this particular topic however I think there are some interesting comments which might apply from a lecture by I. Langmuir as recorded in an article in Physics Today, Oct. 1989, page 36. In the article (a transcription by R. N. Hall from a recording of Langmuir) a short list of aspects which are common among examples of 'pathological science' is given. I wonder how many apply to the present case? I have the article in pdf if anyone wants it.”

3) Teacher 2,
the author of the second comment wrote:
“I did not get to watch the 60 minutes presentation, but I did look at the web site.  I was not impressed by the web site.  In one video they disclaimed that there were any nuclear processes, and the investigator essentially implied he did not have much knowledge of physics.

In the second video they claimed deuterium fusion.  If this really happens then there should be an independent way of verifying this.  The explanation of why there is fusion sounded like gobbledy-gook to me.  Now if someone else can explain his explanation in more reasonable terms, I would be glad to read it. They claim to be designing this effect for home heating!!!  I am not sure I want a fusion reactor in my home.

4) Ludwik, prompted by the above, wrote:
“a*) Let me begin with what is well known about fusion of two deuterium   nuclei, for example, by bombarding a deuterium target with a beam of   accelerated deuterons. The experimental results are in reasonable   agreement with what is predicted theoretically; it is a QM problem of   coulomb barrier penetration. The fusion probability is very low at ~10   keV; it becomes nearly three orders of magnitude larger at ~100 keV,   etc.

But no matter what the initial energy is, the outcome of such fusion   is always the same: about one half of collisions result in 3H+1H   (production of tritium and protons, of combined energy of 4 MeV). The   other half of collisions result in 3He+1n (production of 3He and   neutrons, of combined energy of 3.3 MeV). And rarely (one out of   million collisions) the output is 4He + a photon of 18 MeV. All this   is well known.

b*) One argument against cold fusion was that kinetic energies of   deuterium ions, at room temperatures (even far above the most probable   energy of 0.04 eV, if I recall this number correctly) are too small to   make fusion possible. The other argument was as follows. Suppose that   cold fusion of two deuterons is responsible for generation of measured   excess heat at the rate of about 1 W. How many neutrons would be   produced? The energy of each neutron is known to be close to 2.5 MeV   (a fraction of 3.3 MeV released by the corresponding fusion   reaction).  Neutrons are produced in one half of collisions. Thus they   contribute a little less that 0.5 W=0.5 J/s or about 3*10^12 MeV/s.   The estimated answer is 3*10^12/ 2.5=1.2*10^12 neutrons per second.   Attempts to detect neutrons, emitted from electrolytic cells, were   made but they were not successful. Attempts to detect photons of 18   MeV were also unsuccessful.

c*) I cannot speak for Mike McKubre. But I can imagine what he would   say to John C. First he would probably show a beautiful experimental   result--a correlation between the amount of excess heat and the number   of helium atoms produced in the cathode of his cell. Mike was one of   several people who independently demonstrated such a correlation. His   result was a straight line (with large random errors but many data   points). The slope of the line was  one atom of helium per 23 MeV of   excess heat. That is what one would expect by comparing the mass of   two deuterium atoms with the smaller mass of one helium atom.

Mike would take it for granted that production of neutrons and   tritium, if any, certainly does not match the rates corresponding to   the amount of excess heat. Therefore, he would say, "it must be a new   nuclear process." The mechanism of this process (taking place inside   the palladium lattice) is not known. But production of helium from   deuterium, he would emphasize, is a nuclear process, even if it is not   a simple two-body collision. The released energy, he would speculate,   goes directly into the lattice (as in Mosbauer effect). That is why no   radioactive byproducts are produced.

d*) None of this conflicts with the idea that some neutrons and   tritons, or photons, are occasionally produced. But the amounts are   negligible in comparison with what is produced in a nuclear reactor.   Unfortunately, the term cold fusion is still used (for sentimental   reasons, I suppose). Most researchers now use the term CMNS (Condensed   Matter Nuclear Science) or LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reaction). It is   remarkable that, at the end of the interview, Martin Fleischmann   mentioned two things he regrets: using the term cold fusion and   agreeing on the press conference. I remember him saying, four years   ago, that they wanted to wait another year (to perform more   experiments and to publish a paper). The press conference, he said,   was imposed on them by the university administration.

P.S. Reproducible experiments, demonstrating the reality of a nuclear   effect resulting from a chemical effect, would be a great challenge to   theoretical physicists. The prevailing view is that nuclear processes   (associated with nucleons inside atomic nuclei) are not influenced by   chemical processes (associated with atomic electrons). Fortunately,   researchers on both sides of the controversy agree on an acceptable   methodology of validation.

5) Teacher 2, responding to the above, wrote:
As I recall they mentioned the energy generation, but it is not universally reproducible. They did not mention the detection of helium generated in the process.

Look at the videos on the referenced website at:

In the first video he proposes violating the laws of thermodynamics.  I don't think this enhances his credibility.

In the second video he says it is not "fusion".  OK, he is saying that fusion is only done by collision so this is not fusion, which is nonsense. The third video which attempts to explain the mechanism resorts to hand waving when it comes to the actual fusion process.

The 60 minutes report is also on their website. BUT nowhere is there any evidence produced for their being fusion.  If He4 is produced and detected, this would constitute fairly direct evidence for deuterium fusion, but there is no mention of this.  So all one can say from these videos is that there is anomalous heat generation.

An interesting experiment would be to see if you get the same result with plain water, or better yet undeuterated water.

If there is evidence for He generation why is it not mentioned????  I find this very curious.  So can this anomalous heat generation be sustained for a long period of time?  It appears to be erratic at best.  If it can't be sustained then it is probably a chemical effect and may not be usable for large amounts of power.

6) Ludwik: replying to the above, wrote:
Well, what people say at honoring ceremonies is not expected to be scientifically rigorous. Let me suggest two references for those who are new to the CMNS field. The author, Ed Storms, is a retired nuclear scientists (from Los Alamos National Laboratory). ==>Click on “Student’s Guide to Cold Fusion.” ==> In the search box type “The Dummies Guide”

The search box of this magnificent website is likely to take you to a CMNS topic in which you are interested. The link LIBRARY, near the upper left corner, will take you to a list of links to downloadable papers. Pay attention to four tabs, at the top of the “Bibliography” window. Jeff Rothwell, by the way, spends a lot of time (without being paid) in developing this useful website. He will probably be happy to hear from you.

More sophisticated readers will probably learn a lot from Storm’s recently published book

This book is highly informative; it deserves a place in any good library.

7) Researcher 1, on the CMNS list, wrote:
“All that I can say, from the viewpoint of a chemist, trained originally in Organic Chemistry, is that my first response to hearing about  "Cold Fusion" was, "Sure, why not?!  Looks to me like an 'isomerization' of D:D to Helium 4.  A rare, high-energy vibration of D:D and a state of  Helium 4 could have instantaneous physical identity but different 'Energy' content, so there would be no stabilization to the Helium 4  unless there were an 'Energy Sink' available which could absorb the Energy Difference.  The Palladium Lattice, with a myriad of Energy levels available, would seem to qualify as the necessary 'Energy Sink.' "

At that time, several years ago, the correspondence of heat produced to He4 produced was not yet shown.  I have had no reason to change my guess that the process is simply an isomerization between DD and He4, or possibly between DD+ and He4+. which is able to take place because there is a suitable "Energy Sink" available in the Palladium lattice. This explanation is, of course, speculative; but, might make sense to chemists, especially organic chemists such as myself,   who are more likely to think in physical terms than in mathematical.

8) Researcher 2, also on the CMNS list, wrote:
(*) “You might note that I find the isomer way of thinking about things, [as presented by R1 above] similar to my way of looking at things. In my view a 3-alpha isomer version of a C-12 nucleus going from a Many-Centers (Bloch) geometry to a Single-Center geometry is involved in Oriani's triple tracks.

(**) April 19, 2009 was a special day.  Thank you "60 Minutes" for your forthright report on current cold fusion research.  Thank you Prof. Robert Duncan, APS (American Physical Society) Fellow and  Vice Chancellor for Research at University of Missouri, for personally examining an in-progress cold fusion laboratory program. Thank you Energetics Co. for allowing your on-going experiments to be critically examined during operation and in full detail.  The "60 Minutes" report clearly shows that condensed matter physics can cause a metal-hydrogen system to release nuclear reaction heat.  It provides the evidence needed by policy makers and investors to make scientifically sound decisions regarding energy development.

The cold fusion option has enormous promise:  billion-year fuel supply, and a reaction product that is not a greenhouse gas and is totally harmless.   The cold fusion option  avoids use of uranium, which would greatly aid the world's non-proliferation effort.  At least one of the nascent cold fusion technologies promises quick development, in time to avoid severe global warming.” This probably expresses feelings of most CMNS researchers. But what result will this have?

9) Ludwik, responding to the above, wrote:
Thanks for writing this; you are probably expressing feelings of many on this list. Do you think that Dr. Duncan will start performing his own CMNS experiments? That would be highly desirable. What can be done to make this happen?

10) Researcher 3, also on the CMNS list, wrote that Russians have huge reserves of palladium at Norilsk.

11) Researcher 4, also from the CMNS list, wrote:
“Yes, engineering break-even is the way to go. I am starting on that right now.”

12) Ludwik, also responding to the point (a) above, wrote:
Yes, self-sustained electrolytic cell would be very impressive. But I think that Dennis is too optimistic.

(a) Suppose excess heat is generated at the rate of 1 W and the temperature of the electrolyte is nearly 100 C, for example, 370 K. The ideal theoretical efficiency (converting electric energy into electric energy, at T1=370 K and T2=273) would be:

1- T2/T1 = 1 - 273/370 = 1-0.74= 0.26

That is well known theoretical limit imposed by the 2nd law of thermodynamics. In practice the efficiency would probably be 0.1 or so.

(b) Suppose that 2/3 of the total thermal wattage is due to excess heat. That would mean that each watt of excess-heat rate the power supply must be feeding the cell with electric energy at the rate of 0.5 W. Otherwise the cell would not be able to produce excess heat at the rate of 1 W.

(c) Suppose the practical conversion efficiency is 0.1. That means electricity due to excess heat will be produced at the rate of 0.1 W. That is five times less than what is needed to have an electrolytic cell generating excess heat without using a power supply.

(d) Suppose that T1 is much higher and the efficiency is 0.8. Yes, I know that this would require a highly unrealistic temperature. But let me ignore this fact. In that case electricity due to excess heat will be produced at the rate of 0.8 W. That is higher that 0.5 W needed to sustain the process without receiving electric energy from an external source. .

13) Researcher 1, also from the CMNS list, responding to something else, wrote:
The problem in all of this, is how do we convert excess heat back into electrical current?    Anybody figured out how to insulate the whole mess and  use  a thermocouple device to supply the current?   Is current necessary?  Has anyone done any serious work on DD -->He4  not involving electrolytic cells?  Of course, in a way this is a non-sequiter as the known methods  of forming DD presumably are all electrolytic.

But then, of course, back to the drawing board.  Seems to me that, almost exactly  the time of the initial Cold Fusion announcement, someone else noted the probable transformation of H:H to D?  Somehow this got lost in the furor over the term,. "Cold Fusion."  Does anyone know anything about what happened to that work? Seems like it was possibly a Japanese investigator.

14) Researcher 4, responding to Ludwik’s efficiency message, wrote:
“Your initial assumption is incorrect.  You are assuming to use the electrochemical route. Instead use the gas loading of Pd black route.  There is no input electrical power required.  So the path I am currently following is gas loading at elevated temperatures and using solid state conversion methods. Notice at ICCF14 (poster) I was getting about 0.5 W excess (over H loaded) at 250C.

And yes, I am underway at this time. I cannot say much more than that at this time. I hope to have web cast of my lab and processes within a month. It will be limited to "serious experimenters" (defined as someone that has published some CMNS experiment) due to limited bandwidth. Give me a month and then check back.”

15) Ludwik, addressing Researcher 4:
“I would be very happy to hear about your success.  My main point was that you are attempting something that is likely to be much more difficult that confirming reality of excess heat. I think that everything that is more difficult than necessary should be avoided at this stage. Turning 70%-reproducible experiments into 99%-reproducible experiments is probably more important now than trying something new. A reliable home heater would be as spectacular as a constantly glowing light bulb. Each reproducible demonstration would convince people that CMNS research should be supported. And what seems to be very difficult at the 1 W level, will become easy  at the 1 kW level.”

16) Researcher 4 wrote:
“Rest assured that I THINK I have it figured out.  There are a few engineering tricks that I will have to employ to get a standalone break-even device working - but I think I now have found ways around the obvious problems.  The first device will be VERY low power and not too spectacular but still feel a standalone system will be useful for acceptance.

Do not confuse engineering break-even with commercial break-even. The cost of Pd severely limits any commercial break-even paths at this time.  For example, if it takes $1K to make a milliwatt of usable electrical power that is a million dollars a watt.  Not too commercially viable.  But it would still be significant.  I think it is still way to early to worry about commercial applications.

Also do not confuse reproducibility with break-even.  For now the reproducibility issue is a problem.  However to achieve an engineering break-even device one does not need reproducibility. One can merely go through hundreds of cells until you have enough for a demo.  When you do these cells, there are often a few rare but spectacular performers.

As far as difficulty - that is what makes life interesting and why "we climb the mountain".

I think the most important thing at this time is to get people to do experiments.  Talk does little, it is only by doing that we will advance. To that end, any experiment is important to do.  Thus, I need to get back to the lab.”

17) Researcher 5 , also from CMNS list, reminded us that it would better to transform the fusion energy directly into electric current. His paper on that subject can be seen at:

18) Researchers 6 and 7, responding to an unrelated question, wrote:
that they independently used palladium monocrystals (very expensive) as cathodes, long time ago. No excess heat was observed in these experiments. That seems to indicate that NAE (Nuclear Active Environment) is created in boundaries between tiny crystals of metallic foils. This probably means that the idealized CBS broadcast model (showing D+ ions entering a lattice) should be modified.

19) Ludwik wrote:
“Googling the Internet, I discovered a large number of comments on various websites. The author of one of them wrote: 'BlackLight Power is developing hydrino technology and has a 50 kW prototype. A Self Powering Internal Combustion Engine (SPICE) powered by these same fractional quantum states - is under development by Chava Energy. This hydrino technology is expected to turn new cars, trucks and buses into power plants when parked. Imagine vehicles that pay for themselves by wirelessly selling power to the local utility. This will be an exciting alternative to building new coal and nuclear power plants.'

Replying to this I wrote: “A commercial success, even at the level of 2 kW (sufficient for heating a room), would convince society that something new was really discovered. The effect of this would be more profound than all theoretical speculations. An acceptable theory would probably emerge in year or two. This observation is not limited to neutrinos; it applies to cold fusion, or to anything else.” I am repeating what I heard from several serious CMNS researchers.

Appended on 4/24/2009
Researcher 8
informed the list that a link to the CBS video (their 60 minutes piece) became dead this morning. I clicked on the link and saw the following message “The video you requested is unavailable or may have expired.” After that I clicked on another link, to see a video dated January 4, 2009. That video played. In other words, a normal expiration was not the cause for removing the CF video form the CBS website. A message at

explains what happened. Rob Duncan was not formally recommended by APS, contrary to what was stated in the broadcast. Here is extract: “APS does not, as an organization, endorse particular experiments or their results. That can only be done through publication in peer-reviewed journals, and by independent replication by other researchers. The APS does not endorse the cold fusion experiments featured in the April 19 '60 Minutes' news program. Any suggestion by the CBS journalists to the contrary is misleading and false.” The video will probably reappear, after the offending statement is removed.

The original video did not say that APS endorsed cold fusion; it only said that Duncan name was received from APS. The new version will probably tell us who recommended Duncan. Recommending an expert today is not the same as endorsing what he is going to say tomorrow. Why did APS ask for the removal of the video already seen by millions? What are they afraid of? The video was fair; both optimistic and pessimistic researchers had a chance to elaborate on their points of view.

Appended on 4/29/2009
Additional details about the APS involvement, and the link to the modified version of the CBS video, can be found at:

Dr. Robert Dunken seems to be well qualified; his professional biography is at:

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