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55) The Smoking Gun?

Ludwik Kowalski, <>
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043, (4/20/03)

The discovery of the catalytic approach to cold fusion, by Case, has already been described in item 47 on my list. The description also referred to the work of McKubre et. al. who confirmed the observation of helium in spent cold fusion fuel. One of the major criticisms of Fleischmann and Pons was their inability to demonstrate presence of that byproduct. After rereading McKubre’s article I want to focus on its main points. But first let me observe that McKubre and two of his coauthors are from the Stanford Research Institute. The fourth coauthor is a professor from MIT. Would Robert Park call them misguided scientists? Would he qualify their work as voodoo science? These highly qualified people have been studying cold fusion from the year in which it was discovered. Why did Park ignore scientists of that caliber and used Rendall Mills as an example of a cold fusion researcher? As far as I can tell Mills’ proposals are only marginally connected with cold fusion; they are based The Grand Unified Theory book described at the Black Light Power company website < >

The article which I am summarizing here is entitled “The Emergence of a Coherent Explanation for Anomalies Observed in D/Pd and H/Pd System: Evidence for 4He and 3He Production.” It was a paper presented at the 8th International Conference on Cold Fusion, Italy, 2000. Like many other publications of leading cold fusion researchers the article can be downloaded from the library at: < >. The authors begin by listing the “apparent anomalies in carefully performed experimental studies of D/Pd and H/Pd systems. Such anomalies include:

1) prompt emission of electrons and charged particles
2) unexplained heat in excess of known input sources
3) the residual presence of light elements (notably 3H, 3He and 4He)
4) the possible occurrence of isotope anomalies in higher mass elements
5) unusual electrical conductance effects both stable and transient.”

Then they describe four experiments verifying what has already been reported by other scientists -- the correlation between excess heat and accumulation of helium. Here is their descriptions of two experiments:

“2) Loading of D2 and H2 into Pd on carbon supported catalyst using modest gas pressures (1-3 Atm.) and temperatures (170º–250ºC). These experiments were designed to test the claim by Case to observe excess temperature and increasing 4He levels under similar conditions. Experiments at SRI were performed in sealed Nupro® 50 cc stainless steel vessels connected to a steel manifold. Periodic measurements of 4He were made by direct connection to an Extrel® mass spectrometer capable of resolving the mass-4 peaks of D2 and 4He. Using information recorded from temperature sensors placed inside and outside active and reference gas cells it was possible to obtain heat-flow calorimetric information at times when the catalyst bed temperature rise was significant. . . .

4) Closed cell electrolytic loading of D (and H) into hollow Pd cathodes sealed to contain small dimension Pd-black powders. These experiments were performed to replicate published results by Arata and Zhang in which excess heat, 4He and 3He, were found to be associated with the electrolysis of such “double structured” cathodes in D2O, but not in H2O. In experiments performed at SRI accurate mass flow calorimetry was used to evaluate and compare the heat production of double structured cathodes electrolyzed in D2O and H2O in otherwise identical cells. . . . “

The results, illustrated on four figures, are remarkable. The authors were able to confirm the existence of the previously observed correlation. Their quantitative results are not exactly identical with those reported by other researchers but discrepancies are not excessive. This work, based on findings of Case, Arata and Zhang, is very convincing evidence that the accumulation of helium in palladium is commensurable with the amount of excess heat. Let me end this short note with a quote from the ERAB report < > which discredited cold fusion in 1989.

“The initial announcement by Pons and Fleischmann exhibited the discrepancy between heat and fusion products in sharp terms. .... The persistence of this major discrepancy [absence of reaction byproducts in the amount commensurable with the reported excess heat] in all subsequent experiments has led to various explanations as to how the observation of fusion products might be obscured. For example, some have suggested that in a solid the fusion energy is released directly as vibrations of the metal lattice, so that no hard radiations would be observed. In any case, this would not explain the absence of helium or tritium. Helium should be produced in about 50% of all reactions (see Table 1.1). Several electrodes from cold fusion experiments have been examined for helium, but at this writing, none has been reported. The amount of tritium directly observed in some experiments is much too small to account for observable heat. . . “

Why does the energy released in cold fusion, when helium is produced, go directly into the “vibration of metal lattice,” rather than to gamma ray photons, as in D+D--> He? This question remains to be answered; the mechanism of helium production is still a mystery.

P.S. A recent publication reporting the results of a several-years-long study (downloadable from < >), by Antonella De Ninno et al., also confirms generation of helium byproducts and focuses on several new effects. Contribution of Carlo Rubia (Nobel Laureate) to this study is recognized by the authors. The title of the report is “Experimental evidence of 4He production in a cold fusion experiment.” How many independent confirmations are needed to convince our scientific establishment that cold fusion research is not voodoo science? I think the CF field should reevaluated in light of new findings.

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