45) Experiment in which I participated

Ludwik Kowalski (March 6, 2003)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

1) Imagine the following experiment. The lead nitrate salt, which is not radioactive, is dissolved in distilled water. Two zirconium electrodes, inserted into the solution, are connected to the output of a transformer whose effective difference of potential is 300 volts. A current of several amperes is allowed to flow through the solution. Intensive arcing and sparking takes place inside the liquid. After about thirty minutes of processing the voltage is turned off and the radioactivity of (a) solution, (b) electrodes, and (c) precipitate are measured with a NaI gamma ray detector. That was the first experiment in which I participated last week in Salt Lake City. No radioactivity exceeding the natural background was found.

Why would anyone bother to conduct such an experiment? Because in earlier experiments (1,2) the thorium nitrate was used under identical condition and a sizable reduction of radioactivity was observed. Was this an indication that nuclear reactions were induced by the current or was it simply an indication that some thorium (or its daughters) escaped into the atmosphere? The easiest way to answer this question was to use lead nitrate, which is not radioactive, and to process it in the same way as thorium nitrate. If thorium and its daughters are transformed via electrically-induced nuclear reactions then the same is likely to occur in lead. Finding radioactivity in lead, after processing, would confirm the reality of highly unusual nuclear reactions.

Hal Fox, who invited me to his lab, still thinks that nuclear transmutation might occur producing stable (not radioactive) elements. That would be highly desirable; think about turning radioactive waste from nuclear reactors into stable products. That is much better than keeping them in Yucca mountain for tens of thousands of years. To test for this possibility the non- radioactive products (several grams of powder) were collected. They will be sent (as soon as funds become available) to a chemical lab to analyze the content. Was the initial lead (or at least a big fraction of it) transformed into elements that were not initially present? That is the question to be answered. Personally I do not expect to hear about new elements. But I am sufficiently open-minded to accept experimental evidence of nuclear transmutations, if such evidence becomes convincing.

2) An experiment to verify the destruction of radioactivity of thorium nitrate, as described in item 44, was also performed by using a gamma ray detector (sodium iodide) connected to a multichannel analyser. The results were negative; the radioactivity after processing (for dominant gamma ray peaks) was not essentially different from that before processing. The activity before processing was measured by placing the thorium nitrate powder on top of the detector, the activity after processing was measured by using essentially the same geometry. Gamma rays after processing were emitted from the remains of electrodes and from the residual powder removed from the vessel after all water was allowed to evaporate.

3) Let me add that the laboratory in which I worked is small. But it has interesting results on separation of precious metals from rocks. The current financial situation of the company is expected to improve.

Addendum (3/11/03)

I think it is appropriate to described what happened after I left the lab. The best way to do this would be to show my replies to messages I received. The first message described an experiment involving thorium nitrate; the gamma activity “after sparking” turned out to exactly the same as “before sparking.” I wrote:

1) I agree with Jin's conclusion (no significant loss of activity resulted from sparking in this trial). Therefore I see no need for using my new program [based on Bateman’s formulas]. It was a challenge to create it. Let me know if changes in activity are observed again. Then we can see how this can (or can not) be explained. Keep in mind that a single experiment can never be trusted.

2) I read your two papers (1997 and 1998) again and this reminded me that your processing before was done in a totally different reactor (high pressure and high temperature). Therefore the new observation, even if it is confirmed in the future, is not necessarily in conflict with what was reported before. May I suggest that you use the old reactor again and analyze spectra under the constant geometry condition.

3) The only reason we used open beakers was to create an experiment that teachers could perform. In that sense we did not succeed.

Next came a message from Hal which I quote entirely in my reply below.

On Tuesday, Mar 11, 2003, Hal Fox wrote:
> I am sorry that I didn't find the papers from the Cincinnati group.  They spent
> much time and much money in working with the reactor under higher pressure
> and temperatures.  The major results in their work showed a considerable
> difference in the before and after chemical analysis.

You can not be responsible for what they published.

> However, one thing that we know is that we can obtain precipitates when we work
> with radioactive (and non-radioactive liquids).  We KNOW that we can reduce the
> degree of radioactivity in the liquid (obviously, there is radioactivity in the precipitates). 
> However, the before and after measurements of just the solution was not made during
> the recent experiments.
It will be interesting to bombard some of the lead precipitates
> and see if there is also new elements involved after the use of the new type of proton

Somebody reading your two papers (1997 and 1998) is likely to think that the claim was about nuclear reactions taking place, not about the removal of radioactivity from the electrolyte. If I were the coauthor I would insist on publishing (at least in JNE) a short statement that tentative conclusions, described in these papers, were not confirmed in more recent experiments. But I would wait for the result of what you are planning to do before publishing the correction.
> The use of the new type of particle accelerator (which we hope to have running within
> a very few weeks) will enable us to demonstrate that the radioactive precipitates can be
> properly bombarded with the HDCC combined with protons (low-pressure, hydrogen
> atmosphere) and transmuted to stable elements.

That would be an extraordinary accomplishment. I would be very happy to participate in this project. The success here depends on the ability to generate HDCC carrying protons. Instead of trying to transform heavy nuclides, such as Th , etc. I would begin with very light nuclides because here the coulomb barrier is much lower. What about the reaction Cockroft and Walton used (in 1930) to confirm E=m*c^2 experimentally, for the first time? They bombarded Li-7 with protons (whose energies were up to 0.7 MeV) and observed two alpha particles. Another possibility would be to produce N-13 by bombarding C-12 with protons. The half-life of N-13 is 10 minutes and it emits positrons of up to 1.2 MeV. Positrons annihilate with electrons producing easy to detect 0.51 MeV gamma rays. Keep in mind that I have no data on the corresponding cross sections; one would have to do some literature research to take my specific suggestions seriously. But the general idea of starting with light elements is probably valid.

> I do not understand why there was not some degree of radioactive lowering in the
> recent experiments.  While Dr. Jin is working on the new particle accelerator, I'll work
> with another of our group (with better equipment) and see if we can't boost the HDCC
> activity even in a covered beaker.  We will also do some more experiments using a
> closed, high pressure, and high temperature environment.  We will soon have an ICP
> so that we can make immediate measurements of the before and after chemistry as
> rapidly as we perform experiments.

4) Let me also add that according to what I found today (7/2/2003) at


no evidnce for excess heat was found from a well designed “undewater sparking” experiment. The author was inspired by the results of Hal Fox.

Appended on 5/25/08
1) Today I posted the following message on a private Internet discussion forum for CMNS researchers: “The essence of our CMNS controversy is the 1989 claim made by Fleischmann et al. -- a nuclear process is triggered by a chemical process. Please help me to compose a list of experimental effects that were used to validate the claim. Here is the beginning of my list:
1) Excess heat is orders of magnitude larger than what can be attributed to known chemical reactions.
2) Excess heat (produced in a cell whose electrolyte is made from heavy water)  is correlated with production of 4He. The amount of excess heat is close to 23 MeV per atom of produced helium. In other words, helium is the nuclear ash.
3) The isotopic composition of an element, after a chemical (atomic or molecular) process is significantly different from the composition before this process. Diffusion of a gas through a solid, by the way, is an atomic process.
4) Energetic nuclear particles, not attributable to cosmic rays or contamination, are detected during a chemical process.
5) The amount of a radioactive substance is REALLY changed during a chemical process (by much more than expected on the basis of the half-life).

The "really" is worth emphasizing. I once participated in a demonstration in which the destroyed-radioactivity effect turned out to be apparent, and not real. Radioactivity was redistributed during high-voltage electrolysis and the counting geometry changed. What was originally in the electrolyte was deposited at the bottom of the cell. A more careful experiment, using the same call, showed that the amount of radioactivity, after the experiment, was essentially the same as before the experiment. What else should be added to my list?

Shortly after that, X wrote to me in private:
Ludwik, you stated/** on the CMNS List that you had personally participated in a demo which sounds to me very much like the Cincy Group LENT-1 Radwaste Remediation Reactor of my late friends Stan Gleeson and Don Holloman. Could you please be more specific about the time/place/participants and who did the before-and-after testing?

My reply:
1) Yes, it was something similar to Gleeson's cell. But our experiment was at normal atmospheric pressure (in an open glass beaker, rather than in a hermetically closed metallic vessel). Both electrodes were Zr and we used the AC power supply. I was a guest of Hal Fox; it was my first CF experiment (in 2003 ?). The experiment was performed by me and by one of Hal's coworkers.  Hal was certainly involved but his participation was not 100%. He was doing other things at the same time.

2) A salt containing thorium was dissolved in water, the NaI detector of gamma rays was placed on the side of the beaker and gamma radioactivity coming from the beaker was measured. Seven well defined peaks, spread over a large range of energies, were recorded in a multichannel analyzer. Then electrolysis started; it lasted for several hours; I do not recall exactly how long. Water was added periodically to the cell to keep the volume of the electrolyte constant. After that the radioactivity was measured again, for the same time as before the experiment. The seven peaks were again seen in the spectrum but their heights were  significantly reduced. So much for the apparent effect.

3) After that we performed the experiment in a different way.
a) We used the same amount of salt as before. But we placed it at bottom of the beaker, distributed evenly.
b) We place the beaker on top of the NaI detector and measured the radioactivity (recording the spectrum of seven gamma peaks)
c) We added water to the beaker and waited till the salt was dissolved. 
d) We started electrolysis, and kept it going for the same time as before (also adding water periodically)
e) At the end of electrolysis we placed the beaker on top of the hot plate and allowed all the water to evaporate.
f) A solid deposit was formed at the bottom of the beaker. It consisted of the initial salt, pieces of Zr, and who knows what else.
g) The beaker was then placed on top of the same NaI detector, in exactly the same position as before electrolysis.
  h) Radioactivity was measured, for the same duration as before electrolysis. Each of the seven peaks, after electrolysis, was nearly the same as before electrolysis. 

The experiment was designed to produce a clear yes-or-no answer to a well formulated question--is gamma radioactivity reduced or not reduced during electrolysis. And the answer was no. The apparent reduction of radioactivity (in the first experiment) resulted from the fact that its distribution after the electrolysis was not the same as before electrolysis. The "centrum of radioactivity" after electrolysis was further away from the detector than before electrolysis. The second experiment eliminated this effect. I wish other CF experiments, in which I participated, also produced unambiguous answers.
Please do not share this description with others. It was Hal's experiment, not mine. My only contribution was to perform the experiment as described in 3 above. 

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