Koziol 2018


Scientists in the U.S. and Japan Get Serious About Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions

It’s absolutely, definitely, seriously not cold fusion

By Michael Koziol

It’s been a big year for low-energy nuclear reactions. LENRs, as they’re known, are a fringe research topic that some physicists think could explain the results of an infamous experiment nearly 30 years ago that formed the basis for the idea of cold fusion. That idea didn’t hold up, and only a handful of researchers around the world have continued trying to understand the mysterious nature of the inconsistent, heat-generating reactions that had spurred those claims.

Like many non-journal articles on cold fusion, this article by Koziol, a science journalist with an undergraduate degree in physics and a master’s degree in science journalism, relies on a series of canards, often-repeated memes that disappear if examined closely.  To understand LENR or “cold fusion” will probably not take merely a few hours or days browsing tertiary sources, nor believing what is claimed by some “scientists” who aren’t actually engaged in the research. There are somewhere over 5000 papers on LENR, and few guides through the maze. Yet, many scientists (especially physicists) not familiar with the evidence will voice strong — even “vituperative” — opinions about “cold fusion.”

Physics applies to theories of cold fusion; experimentally, it is not physics, but more appropriately classified as chemistry.

Almost all of these strong opinions are from those ignorant of the actual history, as shown in scientific papers and personal accounts (such as those collected by Gary Taubes).

But what is “cold fusion”? This was a confusion from the beginning, in 1989. Pons and Fleischmann, the authors of the original paper that started the ruckus, mentioned “fusion,” and even described the standard deuterium-deuterium fusion process, but it was very obvious that, whatever was happening in their experiments, it was not “d-d fusion.” They knew that, but perhaps thought that some (low) level of d-d fusion was taking place. In fact, the evidence they had for that (a gamma spectrum) was apparently an error, though the more I have learned about that history, the less convinced I have become that we know what actually happened.

It is very obvious why d-d fusion was considered impossible, but any careful skeptic will not overstate the case.

d-d fusion at low temperatures (“cold fusion”) is not impossible, a clear counterexample is well-known, muon-catalyzed fusion, which demonstrates that one form of fusion catalysis is possible, so perhaps there are others. Careful physicists at the time were aware that the “impossible” argument was bankrupt (that was mentioned in the first U.S. Department of Energy review, 1989).

However, d-d fusion remained, even then, very unlikely as an explanation for Pons and Fleischmann’s primary claim, anomalous heat, not because of the impossibility argument, but because the behavior of 4He*, the immediate product of d-d fusion, is very well known and understood, and it would have shown very obvious signals, such as the “dead graduate student effect,” based on radiation expected if the heat were from d-d fusion. So something else was happening.

the inconsistent, heat-generating reactions:  It is easy to misunderstand this. All physical phenomena depend on necessary conditions. Until the conditions are understood and controllable, and unless the phenomenon is actually chaotic — which is unusual and probably not the case with LENR — results may be erratic, based on uncontrolled conditions. However, once the phenomena occur, they are not necessarily “erratic,” and many correlated conditions and effects are known. Some may be misleading. For example, the “loading ratio,” the percentage of atoms in a metal deuteride that are deuterium, is highly correlated with excess heat, even though high loading is not a sufficient condition itself. Other necessary conditions are poorly understood. It is possible that high loading is also not necessary, but sets up other conditions that are the true catalytic conditions, such as creating stress in the material that causes a phase change on the surface.

Their determination may finally pay off, as researchers in Japan have recently managed to generate heat more consistently from these reactions, and the U.S. Navy is now paying close attention to the field.

The Japanese research was presented at the International Conference on Cold Fusion in Fort Collins, Colorado, in June of this year (2018). “More consistently” is poorly defined, but results from their particular approach may have been more consistent than previous results.

Various U.S. Navy laboratories have long worked with LENR, since 1989. It is not clear that the Navy is paying closer attention than before. The Japanese work was using larger amounts of material than many prior experiments, so may result in “more heat.” I don’t want to denigrate that work, but it was simply not particularly surprising to those familiar with the field. The basic science was demonstrated  conclusively long ago, with Miles’ 1991 report of a correlation between heat and helium production (and particularly when that was confirmed by other groups). See my 2015 Current Science paper.

One might think that a journalist would read relatively recent peer-reviewed reviews of the field, but it is routine that they do not. It may be because they do not imagine that there are such reviews, but there are. I counted over twenty since 2005, in mainstream peer-reviewed journals, but we still see claims that journals will not publish papers relating to cold fusion. Some journals have blacklisted cold fusion, and that gets conflated into a pattern that is not, at all, universal.

In June, scientists at several Japanese research institutes published a paper in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy in which they recorded excess heat after exposing metal nanoparticles to hydrogen gas. The results are the strongest in a long line of LENR studies from Japanese institutions like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The article (preprint): ResearchGate. There were a number of presentations from ICCF-21 from these authors. I intend to transcribe them, as I have done with some other presentations at that conference. The ordinary links are to YouTube videos, the green links are to pre-conference abstracts.

Akito Takahashi – Research Status of Nano-Metal Hydrogen Energy (29:13) T-1

Yasuhiro Iwamura – Anomalous Heat Effects Induced by Metal Nanocomposites and Hydrogen Gas (30:07) I-1

Tastsumi Hioki – XRD & XAFS Analyses for Metal Nanocomposites in Anomalous Heat Effect Experiments (28:00) H-1

Jirohta Kasagi – Search for γ-ray radiation in NiCuZr nano-metals and H2 gas system generating large excess heat (26:49) K-1

Michel Armand, a physical chemist at CIC Energigune, an energy research center in Spain, says those results are difficult to dispute. In the past, Armand participated in a panel of scientists that could not explain measurements of slight excess heat in a palladium and heavy-water electrolysis experiment—measurements that could potentially be explained by LENRs.

There have been scientists of high reputation stating that LENR reports are “difficult to dispute” for almost thirty years now. To whom did Armand “say” this? If the reporter, why did the reporter pick Armand to consult?

What panel? The word “slight” can be misleading. It is not uncommon for cold fusion experiments to generate heat that is beyond what chemists can understand as chemistry.  However, the difficulty has been control of material conditions at the necessary scale (not far above the atomic level, so “nanoscale”).  The power levels are often low, hence open to suspicion that some error is being made in measurement. However, correlations bypass that problem. As well, sufficiently calibrated measurements of power can integrate to “excess heat,” i.e., excess energy release, that can be beyond chemistry and thus there can be a suspicion of LENR. Because high-energy nuclear reactions can possibly occur in a low-temperature general environment, low levels of such reactions are not ruled out by the temperature. High-energy reactions are usually ruled out by the absence of expected normal products.

In September, Proceedings magazine of the U.S. Naval Institute published an article about LENRs titled, “This Is Not ‘Cold Fusion,’ ” which had won second place in Proceedings’ emerging technology essay contest. Earlier, in August, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory awarded MacAulay-Brown, a security consultant that serves federal agencies, US $12 million to explore, among other things, “low-energy nuclear reactions and advanced energetics.”

Koziol has obviously been influenced by Steve Krivit. An example is the use of the plural “LENRs”, which is a particular Krivit trope, also taken up by Michael Ravnitsky, author of that article (who works extensively with Krivit).  (Most in the field — and many others as well, such as the two authors cited below — would simply write “LENR”, which acronym can cover the singular or plural, Low Energy Nuclear Reaction(s). Is there more than one LENR? Yes. That’s actually obvious.  But the field is “LENR,” or a bit more specifically, CMNS (Condensed Matter Nuclear Science). Sometimes what is being studied is simply called the Anomalous Heat Effect. “Cold fusion” was a popular name, used originally for muon-catalyzed fusion, and then for the Pons and Fleischmann reports and claims. It was known from the beginning, however, that if the explanation for the heat effect was nuclear, the main reaction was nevertheless not d-d fusion, but an “unknown nuclear reaction.”

Ravnitsky kindly sent me a copy of his article (much appreciated!). It treats the Widom-Larsen speculations as if established fact, and, in common with how Krivit treats the subject, has:

“Setbacks occurred in 1989 when two scientists, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, incorrectly claimed that the phenomenon was ‘room temperature fusion.'”

There is a footnote on that quotation, citing Krivit, “Fusion Fiasco.” The Kindle Reader edition does not have correlated page numbers. (There is an index which apparently gives page numbers for the print edition, it is almost useless for the Kindle edition, but I can search for words.) The reference is apparently to a comment by Pam Fogle, press officer for the University of Utah, from a draft article from 1991. It does not use quotation marks. Quoting a tertiary source, highly derivative, is sloppy.

The Ravnitsky article has 19 references. 8 are to Krivit or Krivit and Ravnitsky documents and another three are to Widom and Larsen papers. There are over 1600 papers, as I recall, in mainstream journals relating to LENR, and Widom-Larsen theory is not widely accepted by researchers in the field. There are mainstream-published critiques (and others published in the less formal literature of the field).

We do not know enough to know if the claim of “fusion reactions” was correct or not, but almost everyone agrees that “some kind of fusion” is involved, especially if we include as “fusion” what is more commonly called “neutron activation.” There are certainly many problems with “d-d fusion,” I will come to that, but there are also problems with the neutron idea. They are simply a little less obvious.

The actual news here was that an essay won a contest. This shows what? How is this relevant to “getting serious about low energy nuclear reactions”? Was the essay peer-reviewed by experts, able to identify the possible problems with it? Ravnitsky works for the U. S. Navy. Does this essay indicate a higher level of Navy interest in LENR? Remember, it has long been high! The essay is not a scientific article and would probably be rejected by a scientific journal.

There is no experimental confirmation of Widom-Larsen theory. The theory was designed with various features to “explain” LENR, but it has not successfully predicted what was not already known. That’s called an “ad hoc” theory. D-d fusion normally produces high levels of neutron radiation and tritium, and rarely highly energetic gamma rays. The high-energy gammas are not observed, nor are anything more than very low levels of neutron radiation, but tritium is observed well above background. There is a lack of study correlating tritium with excess heat, but it is clear that tritium levels are on the order of a million times lower than expected from d-d fusion with the reported heat. And this is a clear reason for rejecting d-d fusion as an explanation for the anomalous heat effect.

Yet, neutron activation is also well-known and understood, it would generate activation gammas, easily detectable. So, suspend disbelief that enough energy could be collected in a single electron-proton pair to convert it to a neutron, there is still the problem of the missing gammas. So another miracle is proposed, absorption of the gamma by the “heavy electrons” which must then have a long lifetime, and must hang around until the gammas have all been emitted (which can take days or longer). Larsen has patented this as a “gamma shield,” though it has never been experimentally demonstrated. When it was pointed out that this could easily be tested by imaging an active cathode with gamma rays, it was then claimed that the shields only operated for a very short time. Never mind, let’s ignore the fact that transient shield patches could still be detected by imaging along the surface.

How could the shield patches capture gammas when they n0 longer exist? Neutrons are not confined by electromagnetic forces, what would prevent the neutrons from drifting below the patches? There would be edge effects where some gammas escape. There is an extensive series of problems with Widom-Larsen theory, I will come to more below.

So what exactly is going on? It starts with physicists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons’s infamous 1989 cold fusion announcement. They claimed they had witnessed excess heat in a room-temperature tabletop setup. Physicists around the world scrambled to reproduce their results.

Sloppy. They were not “physicists,” but electrochemists. That’s quite an important part of the history, and missing that fact is diagnostic of shallow journalism.

As Krivit points out quite clearly, this was not a “cold fusion announcement.” The term “cold fusion” was not used until later, by a journalist. Yes, physicists — and others — scrambled to “reproduce their results,” and did not bother to wait for detailed reports. The first paper was quite sketchy.

The experiment looked simple. It was not. It required high skill at electrochemistry (or a precise protocol, carefully followed, and to make things worse, there was no such protocol that reliably worked, and that may still be the case. Pons and Fleischmann had been quite lucky, because the material used was critical, and when they ran out of the original material, shortly after the announcement, and obtained more, they discovered that they could not replicate their own work, for a time. They had not known how sensitive the material was to exact manufacturing and treatment conditions.

(Few in the field have known it until very recently, but it is possible that the shift in material that makes the reaction possible is now known. It’s a phase change that was not known to be possible until 1993, when it was discovered by a metallurgist, Fukai, who was also, by the way, very skeptical about LENR.)

Most couldn’t, accused the pair of fraud, and dismissed the concept of cold fusion. Of the small number who could reproduce the results, a few, including Lewis Larsen, looked for alternate explanations.

Did “most” accuse Pons and Fleischmann of “fraud”? No. Such accusations were uncommon. Some accused Pons and Fleischmann of “delusion.”

It is an established fact that, as matters stand, most cold fusion experiments, commonly the first ones by a researcher, fail to show the effect. The conditions created by those early “negative repllicators” are now known to reliably fail!

It’s important to distinguish the effect from proposed explanations, i.e., the “concept” of cold fusion is a kind of “explanation.”  What is that? What is widely rejected — including by “cold fusion researchers” — is “d-d fusion.” However, until we know what is happening — and we don’t — no explanation is completely off the table, because there may be something that explains the apparent defects in a theory.

However, Koziol, here, has swallowed an implied myth: that Larsen was a LENR researcher who had confirmed the anomalous heat effect, who could “reproduce the results.” Larsen was (is) an entrepreneur, who apparently hired Widom as a partner in developing the W-L theory.

*Everyone* is looking for “alternate explanations” to what is loosely called “cold fusion,” which is explicitly, by Krivit, considered to refer to d-d fusion. That is, we will see references to “believers in cold fusion,” when that is *mostly* an empty set, at least among scientists. Whatever is happening is almost certainly not d-d fusion.

However, there are other kinds of fusion. LENR refers to all reactions without high initiation energy, other than ordinary radioactivity. It could refer to induced radioactivity, such as electron capture, since that takes no initiation energy, it’s chemical in nature. (i.e., some reactions require the presence of the electron shell, for an electron to be captured by the nucleus which then transmutes as a result).

The formation of neutrons could be thought of as the fusion of two elementary particles, a proton and an electron. It’s endothermic, by about three-quarters of a million electron volts per reaction, but fusion is fusion whether it is exothermic or not. And neutron activation can be thought of as the fusion of a neutron with a nucleus, i.e., fusion of neutronium (element number zero, mass 1) with the target element.

Larsen is one of the authors of the Widom-Larsen theory, which is one attempt to explain those results through LENRs and was first published in 2006.

A dozen years ago. No clear experimental verification of that theory has appeared in that time. Yes, it is one attempt, of easily dozens.

That theory suggests that the heat in these experiments is not generated by hydrogen atoms fusing together, as cold fusion advocates believe, but instead by protons and electrons merging to create neutrons.

One of the techniques of pseudoscientific polemic is to claim that those with different ideas are “believers” in those ideas, and to imply that anyone with opinions other than those of the author are “believers” in a “wrong” idea.

Who “believes” that the heat in LENR experiments is generated by “hydrogen atoms fusing together.” — taking this simply, i.e., d-d fusion? (Did he mean “deuterium atoms”?)

Protons and electrons merging together will not generate heat. It’s quite endothermic. Rather, the neutrons, if created with very low kinetic energy (that’s a major part of the theory, it purports to create “ultra-low momentum neutrons,” though that concept is another “miracle” in itself), will indeed fuse with almost any nearby nucleus.

That’s a problem for the theory, in fact. Neutrons are not very selective, though neutron capture cross-sections do vary.  If they fuse, and if the nucleus then emits a beta particle (an electron), the result is as if a proton had fused with the target nucleus. So this is fusion in result, and whether or not it is a fusion mechanism is merely a semantic distinction.

The electron, added to the proton, neutralizes the charge so that the proton can fuse. One could call this, then, “electron catalyzed fusion,” if the electron is then ejected (as it often would be), the problem being that the fusion of a proton and an electron is quite endothermic. One still has to come up with 750 keV, at an appreciable rate.

Here’s what’s going on, according to the theory. You start with a metal (palladium, for example) immersed in water. Electrolysis splits the water molecules, and the metal absorbs the hydrogen like a sponge. When the metal is saturated, the hydrogen’s protons collect in little “islands” on top of the “film” of electrons on the metal’s surface.

Electrolysis is one form of loading. Protons repel each other, so to allow these “islands” to form, there must be a high electron density. High electron density = high voltage. This is adjacent to a good conductor (the metal) and immersed in a good conductor (the electrolyte). The voltage in the electrolysis experiments is relatively low, and then there are gas-loading experiments, where there is no voltage applied at all. What would allow this proton collection in them?

Next comes the tricky bit.


The protons will quantum mechanically entangle—you can think of them as forming one “heavy” proton.

We can think of many impossible things. It is foolish, however, to confuse “conceivable,” especially with such vague conceptions, with reality, i.e., with what “will” happen. If quantum entanglement actually happens, then it could also create ordinary fusion, and the initiation energy necessary for an appreciable ordinary fusion rate would be lower than 750 keV. The ignored issue is rate.

Some theories that still consider d-d fusion do look at nuclear interactions like entanglement, in order to explain the missing gammas from d+d -> 4He.

The surface electrons will similarly behave as a “heavy” electron. Injecting energy—a laser or an ion beam will do—gives the heavy proton and heavy electron enough of a boost to force a tiny number of the entangled electrons and protons to merge into neutrons.

Tiny little problem: no laser or ion beam in most LENR experiments. And then what happens to the neutrons is a more serious problem. The behavior described has never been demonstrated. So this explains one mystery, one anomaly, with another mystery.

I have called W-L theory a “hoax” because it purports to be standard physics, but is far from standard. It merely avoids offending the thirty-year knee-jerk reaction against “cold fusion,” i.e., “d-d fusion.” There is at least one other theory that does a better job of this, Takahashi theory, and Takahashi happens to be an author for that paper cited at first. He developed his “TSC” theory — which is clearly a fusion theory, just not d-d fusion — from his experimental work (he’s a physicist), and the theory uses very specific quantum field theory calculations to show a fusion rate, 100%,  from what appear to be possible experimental conditions. (The total fusion rate would then be the rate at which those conditions arise, which would be relatively low.) His theory is one of those guiding the Japanese research, but, so far, I don’t see that the research clearly tests his theory as distinct from other similar theories, and the theory is incomplete.

Those neutrons are then captured by nearby atoms in the metal, giving off gamma rays in the process. The heavy electron captures those gamma rays and reradiates them as infrared—that is, heat. This reaction obliterates the site where it took place, forming a tiny crater in the metal.

A good hoax will incorporate facts that lead the reader to consider it plausible. Yes, neutrons, if formed and if they are slow neutrons, will be captured, probability of capture increasing with decreasing relative momentum.

Notice the sleight-of-hand here. What heavy electron? The one that was just generated is gone, merged with a proton (or deuteron). A different heavy electron will have a different location, not close enough to the gamma emission to capture it. This is an example of the WL ad hoc explanations that only work if one does not consider them carefully.

“Craters in the metal” are a possible description of some phenomena observed with LENR, but they are not at all universal in active LENR materials. Rare phenomena are asserted in a hoax theory as if routine, and if they create an “explanation” for not seeing what would be expected. It is not known if the active sites for LENR are destroyed by the reaction, or not. In order to destroy the material, the heat from more than one reaction is most likely necessary, and this then runs squarely into rate issues.

The heat from gamma emission due to neutron activation is not immediate (i.e., until the gamma is emitted, there is no heat). W-L theory requires the perfect operation of a mechanism that has never been clearly observed.

The Widom-Larsen theory is not the only explanation for LENRs,

True, but because it is a “not-fusion” theory, and, of course, because “everyone knows that fusion is impossible,” it has received more casual attention, from shallow reviews, than other theories that are more grounded in fact, but no theory can yet be called “successful.” It is likely that all extant theories are incomplete at best.

There is one partial “theory” that is essentially demonstrated by a strong preponderance of the evidence, and that is the idea that so-called “cold fusion” is an effect showing anomalous heat with little or no radiation, resulting primarily from the conversion of deuterium to helium. This idea does not explain hydrogen  LENR results, only the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect. It is testable. The ratio of heat to helium, measured to roughly 20%, so far, confirms that conversion, but does not completely rule out other alternatives, which merely become less likely. There may be, as well, more than one mechanism operating. Many, many unwarranted assumptions were made in the history of “cold fusion,” going back even before Pons and Fleischmann.

but it was reviewed favorably by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency in 2010.

That was eight years ago, when W-L theory was relatively new. It seems likely to me that Koziol had blinkers on. I just googled the authors of that document, “ullrich toton,” and the top hit was the paper, and the second hit was my review of that, Toton-Ullrich DARPA report.

Was this a “favorable review”? It relied almost entirely on information provided by Larsen.

I don’t see any clue that Koziol is aware that W-L theory is largely rejected by those familiar with LENR.

Two independent scientists concluded that it is built upon “well-established theory”

It appears that this was simply repeating the claims of Larsen, which have been, after all, commercial, i.e., not neutral, self-interested, not established by confirmation through ordinary scientific process.

and “explains the observations from a large body of LENR experiments without invoking new physics or ad hoc mechanisms.”

Which is obviously false or, at best, highly misleading. The “physics” asserted is not known, established physics, but an extension of some existing physics far outside what is known, as if rate and scale don’t matter.

However, the scientists also cautioned that the theory had done little to unify bickering LENR researchers and cold fusion advocates.

What about cooperative and collaborative LENR researchers?

As I point out again and again, what is meant by “cold fusion” by Krivit and Larsen and the like is not “advocated” by anyone. In a real science and with genuine and new theory, there will be vigorous debate, unless the theory truly is obvious (once pointed out).

Who are “LENR researchers”? Is Larsen a “LENR researcher”? Is Krivit? Am I?

(I call myself a journalist and an advocate for genuine science, and honest and clear reporting, as well as sane decision-making methods. “Researchers,” I would reserve for those who actually design, perform and report experiments, and this, then, does not include Krivit, for sure, but also Larsen. The only experimental paper I have seen with his name on it was not one where he appears to have participated in the actual research. He may have contributed some theoretical considerations. He’s also contributed funding on occasion.

There is no research successfully confirming W-L theory. What Krivit, Larsen, and some others do is to present it as if successful, as if creating an “explanation,” adequate to convince the ignorant that it is possible, is the standard of success. (And then Krivit, in particular, following Larsen, has gone over ancient LENR history and has developed “explanations” of those results, presenting them as if conclusive, when they are far from that.)

There is extensive opposition to W-L theory among researchers, and also among theoreticians (some people are both). The Ullrich-Toton report must be aware that there was opposition, but does not provide the arguments used. From the report:

• DTRA needs to be careful not to get embroiled in the politics of LENR and serve as an honest broker
 Exploit some common ground, e.g., materials and diagnostics
 Force a show-down between Widom-Larsen and Cold Fusion advocates
 Form an expert review panel to guide DTRA-funded LENR research

The conclusions were sound, except in some minor implications. This was not a “favorable report,” as implied, but one, unaware of the issues, can read it that way, and certainly Krivit has flogged this report as such.

A “showdown” would be what? A war of words? That has already happened, with a torrent of vituperation from Krivit about “cold fusion advocates,” far less from those critiquing W-L theory. But the entire field has traditionally been very tolerant of diverse theories, and that any critiques from LENR researchers and theorists appeared at all is unusual. Who are the “advocates” mentioned?

Identifying tests of theories, and in particular, of W-L theory, would be useful. If it is not testable, it is not “scientific.” “Cold fusion” is not a theory, it’s simply another name for LENR, often avoided because it implies a specific mechanism, and the one that normally is imagined — d-d fusion — is already considered highly unlikely for many reasons. Nobody who is anybody in the field is “advocating” it. All theories still on the table, under some level of consideration, involve many-body effects, not merely a two-body collision as with d-d fusion. The term “thermonuclear” is sometimes used, and I have seen a definition of “cold fusion” as “thermonuclear fusion at room temperature,” which shows just how incautious some writers are. That’s an oxymoron.

The formation of an expert review panel is something that I also recommend, or, probably more practical, a “LENR desk,” some office (it could be one person, hence “desk”) charged with maintaining awareness of the field and obtaining expert opinion, preparing periodic reports. This is what should properly have been done in 1989 and 2004, by the U.S. DoE. It would be cheap, and it was realized that the possible value of LENR was enormous, so even a small probability of a real and practically useful effect could justify the small cost of maintaining awareness and creating better research recommendations.

Both those panels actually recommended more research, but nothing was done to facilitate it. No sane review process for vetting research proposals was set up, it was assumed that “existing” structures would be adequate. But with what is widely considered “fringe,” they may not be.

Those panels were widely read as having rejected LENR. That is inaccurate, though some panelists at both reviews may have felt that way. The conclusions, even though flawed in demonstrable ways, were far more neutral or even encouraging (particularly in 2004).

The theory also hints at why results have been so inconsistent—creating enough active sites to produce meaningful amounts of heat requires nanoscale control over a metal’s shape. Nano material research has progressed to that point only in recent years.

WL theory does far less to explain the reliability problem than certain other ideas. What is clear is that the fundamental problem of LENR reliability is one of material conditions, the structure of the metal in metal hydrides.

We now know (first published in 1993 and widely accepted among metallurgists) that metal hydrides have phases that become the more stable phases at high levels of loading, but that do not readily convert from the metastable ordinary phases, because of kinetics. However, some conditions may facilitate the conversion, and if the “nuclear active environment,” which W-L theory is largely silent on, is only possible in the gamma or delta phases, and not the previously-known alpha and beta phases, then the difficulty of replication has a clear cause: the advanced phases were made, adventitiously or accidentally, generally through the material being stressed, often by loading and deloading (which also causes cracks) — or through codeposition, which could build delta phase ab initio, on the surface. It has long been known that LENR only appeared at loading above about 85% (H or D/Pd ratio), and 85% is the loading where the gamma phase becomes possible.

In spite of an initially favorable reception by some would-be LENR researchers, W-L theory has not led to any advances in the development of LENR as a practical effect. The Japanese researchers first mentioned include Akito Takahashi, who is a hot fusion scientist with a cold fusion theory, much closer to accepted physics, and that is around the work showing a level of success. It has nothing to do with W-L theory. The paper that led this story references only Takahashi theory. The references:

[20] Akito Takahashi, “Physics of cold fusion by TSC theory”, J. Physical Science and
Application, 3 (2013) 191-198.
[21] Akito Takahashi, “Fundamental of Rate Theory for CMNS”, J. Condensed Matt.
Nucl. Sci., 19 (2016) 298-315.
[22] Akito Takahashi, “Chaotic End-State Oscillation of 4H/TSC and WS Fusion”,
Proc. JCF-16 (2016) 41-65.

So, 12 years after WL theory was published, it is roundly ignored by the broadest current collaboration in the field, in favor of an explicitly “fusion” theory. But “TSC” is multibody fusion, two deuterium (D2) molecules in confinement, thus four deuterons, collapsing to a condensate that includes the electrons and that will form 8Be which would normally then fission to two alpha particles, i.e., two helium nuclei. The theory still has problems, but on a different level. My general position is that it is still incomplete.

As Ullrich and Toton pointed out, W-L theory has done “little” to unify the field. Actually, it’s done nothing to that end, and, because Larsen convinced Krivit, it has actually done harm, because Krivit has then attacked researchers, claiming, effectively, fraudulent reporting of data that was inconvenient for W-L theory.


I intended to look at one claim in the article, but neglected it. To repeat that paragraph

In September, Proceedings magazine of the U.S. Naval Institute published an article about LENRs titled, “This Is Not ‘Cold Fusion,’ ” which had won second place in Proceedings’ emerging technology essay contest. Earlier, in August, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory awarded MacAulay-Brown, a security consultant that serves federal agencies, US $12 million to explore, among other things, “low-energy nuclear reactions and advanced energetics.”

The first sentence I covered. That article had nothing to do with the lead story (the Japanese paper), and is, in fact, in contradiction with it, though Koziol did not actually explore the content of the new paper. It seems that Koziol considers it shocking news that someone takes LENR or “cold fusion” seriously. It is not shocking, and a level of attention to cold fusion, intense in 1989 and for a few years after that, has always been maintained and it has never been definitively rejected, just considered, in a few old reviews, “not proven.” Wherever the preponderance of the evidence was considered, cold fusion or LENR very much remained open to further research. The 2004 U.S. DoE review was evenly split on the question of anomalous heat, half of the reviewers considering the evidence for a heat anomaly “conclusive.” If half considered it “conclusive,” what did the other half think? What would a majority decide? That was after a one-day review meeting, with a defective process and many misunderstandings obvious in the reports.

It is true that many scientists looked for evidence of cold fusion, and did not find any. But if I look at the sky for evidence of comets, and don’t find any, what would that mean? (Obviously, I didn’t look at when and where comets can be found!) The first DoE report pointed out that even a single brief period of “cold fusion” — the term was never well-defined — would be of high importance. That was when it could still be argued that nobody had replicated. Within a few months, replications started popping up. And so the goalposts were moved. It happened over and over. Was there a conspiracy? No, just institutions with a few screws missing.

The next part of this paragraph is hilarious. This is the press release from MacB, the apparent source for the few google hits for this report:

MacB Wins $12M Plasma Physics Contract with the Naval Research Lab

DAYTON, Ohio August 27, 2018 – MacAulay-Brown, Inc.(MacB), an Alion company, has been awarded a $12 million Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Plasma Physics Division. The division is involved in the research, design, development, integration, and testing of pulsed power sources. Most of the work on the five-year SeaPort-e task order will be performed at MacB’s Commonwealth Technology Division (known as CTI) in Alexandria, Virginia.

Under this effort, MacB scientists, engineers, and technicians will perform on-site experimental and theoretical research in pulsed power physics and engineering, plasma physics, intense laser and charged particle-beam physics, advanced radiation production, and transport. Additional work will include electromagnetic-launcher technology, the physics of low-energy nuclear reactions and advanced energetics, production of high-power microwave sources, and the development of new techniques to diagnose and advance those experiments.

“CTI has provided scientific expertise, custom engineering, and fabrication services for the Plasma Physics Division since the 1980s,” said Greg Yadzinski, Vice President of the CTI organization under MacB’s National Security Group (NSG). “This new work will build on CTI’s long history of service to expand our capabilities into the division’s broad theoretical and experimental pulsed power physics, the interaction of electromagnetic waves with plasma, and other pulsed power architectures for future applications.”

At Alion, we combine large company resources with small business responsiveness to design and deliver engineering solutions across six core capability areas. With an 80-year technical heritage and an employee-base comprised of more than 30% veterans, we bridge invention and action to support military readiness from the lab to the battle space. Our engineers, technologists, and program managers bring together an agile engineering methodology and the best tools on the market to deliver mission success faster and at lower costs. We are committed to maintaining the highest standards; as such, Alion is ISO 9001:2008 certified and maintains CMMI Level 3-appraised development facilities. Based just outside of Washington, D.C., we help our clients achieve practical innovations by turning big ideas into real solutions. To learn more, visit www.alionscience.com.

For 39 years, MacAulay-Brown, Inc. (MacB), an Alion company, has been solving many of the Nation’s most complex National Security challenges. MacB is committed to delivering critical capabilities in the areas of Intelligence and Analysis, Cybersecurity, Secure Cloud Engineering, Research and Development, Integrated Laboratories and Information Technology to Defense, Intelligence Community, Special Operations Forces, Homeland Security, and Federal agencies to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world. Learn more about MacB at www.macb.com.

I have a suggestion for Mr. Koziol. If you are going to write a story about a “fringe” topic, discuss it with a few people with knowledge. And check sources, carefully, and consider how the story fits together. Do the parts confirm the overall theme, or are they merely a collection of pieces containing a common word or phrase? There is nothing about LENR or cold fusion in this press release, other than the name and a vague agreement to perform unspecified “additional work” relating to “the physics of low energy nuclear reactions” and something called “advanced energetics” (which probably has nothing to do with LENR). But the main focus of the contract is plasma physics, and expertise in plasma physics will tell a scientist nothing about LENR, which, as a collection of known effects, takes place in condensed matter, the opposite of a plasma. Hot fusion takes place in plasma conditions, such as the interior of stars, hydrogen bombs, or plasma fusion devices, at temperatures of millions of degrees. Condensed matter cannot exist at the temperatures required for hot fusion.  I predict that nothing useful will come out of that part of the MacB contract. (But we have no details, nor did this reporter attempt to obtain them, it appears. Like the rest of the story, this is shallow, a collection of marginally related facts or ideas. If the intention of that part of the contract were to ask for a physics review of, say, Widom-Larsen theory, it could be useful. We already have some reviews by physicists, totally ignored by Koziol.)
I’d be happy to respond to questions from Mr. Koziol or anyone, about LENR/cold fusion. I’ve read a few papers and I know a few researchers, and I sat with Feynman at Cal Tech, 1961-63 (yes, during those lectures) so I do have some understanding of what I’ve been reading, plus I collect all this stuff and am organizing it, to support students, making me familiar with the material, and I’ve been writing about cold fusion, now, for about ten years, in environments where people will jump on mistakes. Which I appreciate.
I decided to look for more about the contract.
http://www.macb.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Naval-Research-Lab_-New-TO-No.-N00173-18-F-3002.pdf#page=5 is the actual “Statement of Work.” There is no mention of LENR there. However, the customer is NRL Low-Temperature Plasma Group.  I think someone, preparing the press release, mislabeled that part of the research. This was not newsworthy on the topic of the Spectrum article. It probably has nothing to do with LENR. The context was weird, as I point out above. Plasma physics for LENR is more or less an oxymoron.


SUGAR: Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research
Phase II: N+4 Advanced Concept Development

(NASA contract)

January 5, 2012
Full text. (148 pages, 3.0 MB)
Selected pages relating to LENR

Abstract (emphasis added)

This final report documents the work of the Boeing Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research (SUGAR) team on Task 1 of the Phase II effort. The team consisted of Boeing Research and Technology, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, General Electric, and Georgia Tech.
Using a quantitative workshop process, the following technologies, appropriate to aircraft operational in the N+4 2040 timeframe, were identified: Liquefied  Natural Gas (LNG), Hydrogen, fuel cell hybrids, battery electric hybrids, Low Energy Nuclear  (LENR), boundary layer ingestion propulsion (BLI), unducted fans and advanced propellers, and combinations.
Technology development plans were developed. [. . .]

I came across this report studying Krivit’s treatment of Widom-Larsen theory and critics of it, covering it briefly on this page. Then I looked more closely at the report. It’s actually remarkable, showing that some government contractors have their heads screwed on straight. Boeing also was involved in an attempt to confirm Rossi technology, working with Industrial Heat. Same as Industrial Heat, they found nothing. Of course, the fuel for that attempt was prepared by Tom Darden for IH, and Rossi, quite likely, if he ever had a secret formula, did not not disclose it to Darden, thus violating the agreement. But that’s another story for another day.

This report does mention Rossi and Defkalion, and Krivit, of course, faulted them for it, though the mention was perfectly normal for the time, i.e., this was written in 2011. This page will look at the details of the report, with my comments. Take it away, SUGAR!

Page 15

Concept 8 (LENR) [. . . ] The group identified that the LENR concept could have tremendous benefits, but the technical risks are extremely high.

Right. Exactly. Quibble: the “LENR concept” sucks (more accurately, it is almost meaningless, it’s so vague), but the reality of at least some of the observed and confirmed “LENR effects” could lead to major breakthroughs in many areas. Or not. The evidence is already overwhelming that “something is happening,” and that heat is being generated by a nuclear process. That debate was actually over by the mid 1990s (when Miles heat/helium correlation was confirmed), as far as any reasonable examination, but Undead Science. There is still high risk. Reality is not automatically practicality.

Page 18

LENR-powered via heat turbines
• Flight weight
• Conversion of heat to mechanical power
• Electric generation via gas or steam turbine?
• Hot fluid transfer to heat exchanger in core?
• Possible need for radioactive shielding

Most LENR reports find very low radiation, probably below levels of concern. However, WL theory suggests the extensive involvement of neutrons, and if LENR devices are optimized for energy generation (instead of modest levels of transmutations as is the normal focus of WL theory), it is possible that there would be a larger radiation issue. Like most LENR issues, this is a bridge better crossed when we come to it.

It is extremely likely that practical LENR will involve gas-phase loading of active materials. The Rossi fraud purported to show reactions close to the melting point of nickel, and if energy generation at such high temperatures could be managed, flight applications might be possible. However, there is little or no confirmed work at high temperatures, but there is work at more modest temperatures. Even the electroytic approach might be more efficient at above the boiling point of water (using a pressurized system). The technology is not close to ready for practical work with commercial power levels.

Page 19

As with the Virtual East team, the West team identified that the LENR concept provided the highest payoff.

[. . . ]

The Onsite team also identified the LENR concept as the highest payoff, but with
an associate high risk.

Page 20

• LENR high payoff, but high risk [. . . ] 1) LENR – Very high payoff/very high risk. Recommend small study to set goals and watch
tech feasibility and development

This is getting closer to what I recommend. I’ll come to that, because they get even closer.

Page 21

• Study to set goals
• Watch tech feasibility and development
• Investigate system architecture options
• Develop baseline system design and system performance targets

For NASA, LENR is not worth high investment yet. But they did create some study efforts, I’ll get to that.

Page 23

Flying LENR
High power density LENR

LENR was high power density when first discovered, it was even higher than the estimate by Pons and Fleischmann because it it was a surface effect, whereas they believed they had found a bulk effect. However, high power density is not of much use unless it can be scaled and applied to generate high overall power.

Page 24

3.0 LENR Requirements Analysis
The idea of using a Low Energy Nuclear Reactor (LENR) was discussed at the N+4 Workshop, both as a ground-based source of energy to create electricity or hydrogen, and an aircraft-carried power source for primary propulsion. Given the potential of clean zero-emissions energy, further work was identified for both applications. Nuclear energy is a potential source of clean low cost energy that should be considered in a detailed energy study (see Section 4.0). In this section we will discuss the potential and requirements for a flying LENR application for aviation.

A hybrid technology approach is likely both for the short term and the long term. As a zero-emissions system, biomass used to create clean fuels for combustion would recycle carbon; solar electric can be used to generate hydrogen, and so clean energy technology is possible. At this point, the reviewers were looking at claims of kilowatt-level power from small reactors, i.e., Rossi’s e-cat. That device was not optimized for efficiency, and, as a result, had a relatively low COP, requiring continuous power input. My own speculation is that it was designed this way to provide excuses, because a different approach to control would have allowed operating at maximum efficiency.

(Rossi actually claimed to have a megawatt reactor, but this was actually a pile of much smaller reactors.)

Since a LENR is essentially a source of heat, a heat engine of some kind is needed to produce useful work that can create an integrated propulsion system for an aircraft. It was decided to do a relatively simple study to determine the range of LENR and heat engine performance that would produce an aircraft competitive to a conventional fueled aircraft

[. . .]

Since the power requirements are significantly different at cruise compared to takeoff and climb, we also investigated a hybrid case where batteries and an electric motor are used to supplement the heat engine + LENR at takeoff. This yielded significantly improved results (Figure 3.3) which required lower LENR and heat engine performance levels (Heat engine > 0.4 HP/lb, LENR > 1 HP/lb, & Batteries > 225 Wh/kg). These numbers are illustrative only, as other combinations could yield useful propulsion and power systems, and the results are dependent on cost and performance assumptions. However, the numbers should be useful in establishing initial system goals for LENR concepts.

Doncha hate it when an author mixes units like that? For batteries, the figure is 0.137 HP/lb. Their point is correct, I think, but something is off about how they have expressed it.

Page 82

6.2.3 Low Energy Nuclear Reactor Technologies
Goals and Objectives:
Develop technologies for Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) propulsion systems.
Performance Area and Impact:
Traditional fuel burn and emissions will be reduced or eliminated by using LENR energy.
Noise may be reduced by using LENR heat instead of combustion in the engines.

Well, consider the whine of the pseudoskeptics. “Impossible! Poppycock! Nonsense!”

NASA was hit by some of this. See

Where were we?

Technical Description:
LENR energy has the potential to eliminate traditional fuel burn and associated emissions. In the current concept, a LENR reactor generates heat that is distributed to heat engines that use the LENR heat instead of combustion. This concept is dependent on successful development of LENR technology, which has reportedly had some success in generating heat in a catalytic process that combines nickel (Ni) with hydrogen (H) gas(8).

8. Rossi, Andrea. Method and Apparatus for Carrying Out Nickel and Hydrogen Exothermal
Reactions. WO 2009125444 October 15, 2009.

In 2011, this looked possible. Rossi did have some success, not necessarily at extracting energy from nickel and hydrogen, but definitely money from investors. Evidence that became public at the trial (Rossi v. Darden, covered extensively on this site, see the case docket) makes it clear that, even if Rossi had something at one time, which is not impossible, he lied about it and nothing from him can be trusted. That was already apparent, by the way, but Rossi fully played the “eccentric inventor” card, and one hypothesis that was difficult to rule out was that he was deliberately trying to look like a fraud and a clown, in order to throw possible competitors off track. However, what we know for sure is that people with very deep pockets, seeing the potential value in spite of the risk, gave up all access to the technology, just to walk away, having invested $20 million. That makes no sense unless they, with years of experience with Rossi and testing his products, actually found there was nothing worth even completing the lawsuit over, a few million more for something that, if real, could be worth a trillion dollars.

This process is reported to produce safe byproducts, such as copper, with no radioactive materials used and no long-lasting radioactive byproducts generated.

Copper was reported by an analysis of Rossi ash. However, this was later retraced, and may have been salted, Rossi liked to plant red herrings to throw others off. Or it was contamination. Or it really is a product. “Reported to” was correct as to most reports in the field. “The process” is undefined. There are many processes, but this would then have been referring to Rossi (and Defkalion).

Upon further investigation, it is thought that low level radiation may be generated during active energy cycles, but that it could be easily shielded and would stop quickly after reactor shutdown.

Nobody participating in this report, as far as I know, is familiar with the LENR literature. “It is thought” is a passive statement that takes no responsibility. The description covers WL theory, and is generally true for most reports. There are wildcat reports of dangerous radiation, though, all unconfirmed.

For a long-term speculation, which is what this report is, as far as LENR is concerned, this is fine. Probably no radiation problems. The best-known effect, most widely studied, apparently converts deuterium to helium, with no significant radiation. There are indications that if the deuterium contains significant hydrogen, that some tritium is produced. That will need attention, but the levels of tritium generated are very low and not likely an issue.

Further development of LENR would be required to produce heat at a high enough temperature to support heat engines in a flight-weight installation. LENR physics analysis and evidence of high temperature pitting in LENR metal substrates indicate that temperatures appropriate for heat engines may have been achieved. It is thought that LENR would use very small amounts of fuel.

Uh, what LENR physics analysis? That pitting is with electrolytic LENR, where it appears that local temperature exceeded the melting point of palladium, creating micron-sized “volcanoes,” with frozen melt. This is transient. It does indicate that a high temperature was “achieved,” but not that such could be maintained. LENR probably depends on the physical structure of the catalytic material, which would disappear if the material melts, or even if it rises above a critical temperature.

Yes, fuel consumption in the known reactions is low. Deuterium conversion to helium is one of the highest-energy reactions known, per unit mass. Antimatter conversion could beat it. Good luck!

Initial LENR testing and theory have suggested that any radiation or radio-isotopes produced in the LENR reactions are very short lived and can be easily shielded. In addition, some prototypes(9) that may be harnessing the LENR process can be controlled safely within designed operating parameters and the reaction can be shut down in acceptable time frames. This heat generating process should reduce radiological, shielding and hazardous materials barriers to entry of aviation LENR systems

9. Defkalion Green Technologies. Products. Defkalion Green Technologies. [Online] [Cited:
January 28, 2012.] http://www.defkalion-energy.com/products.

The page as of January 18, 2012. It has a link to a spec sheet. I found it.

It was a carefully and beautifully prepared and formatted fantasy. Defkalion was going great guns, with Rossi-killer technology. Rossi claimed that they stole his secrets. What actually happened? Nobody who really knows is talking. But Defkalion, unlike Rossi, was in communication with the CMNS community. It looked good. The technology was more plausible than Rossi’s, though based on the same concept, hot NiH. Defkalion appeared to have more direct control.

In fact, they had an artifact, caused by a flow meter that was not designed to measure very low flow in the presence of “bumping,” where flow would momentarily reverse. So the flow was being over-reported, drastically. And Defkalion rejected attempts to confirm, until their European representative blew the whistle and they disappeared, literally vanished, almost overnight.

A cautionary tale. Essentially, nothing about LENR can be concluded from Defkalion claims. They had some remarkable results (variation of heat based on isotope of nickel used) that made no sense if the reactor didn’t work. So there we are: mystery. The world is full of them. Maybe they were straight-out lying. Maybe not. Maybe the Men in Black got to them. After all, trillion-dollar, disruptive technology!

In this field, commercial claims cannot be trusted. Period. Even straight-out scientific experimental reports, by credentialed scientists, should be confirmed before leaning on them.

Should LENR development prove successful, a few technology components will need to be developed for LENR-based aircraft propulsion. Heat engines, which run a thermodynamic cycle by adding heat via heat transfer instead of combustion, need to be developed. A system for distributing heat from the LENR core to the heat engines also needs to be developed. Additional systems may need to be developed for supporting the LENR core, including systems to deliver reactants and remove byproducts. The Ni-H LENR system would use pure hydrogen and a proprietary nickel and catalyst substrate. Hydrogen usage would be small compared to systems that combust hydrogen. Initially, hydrogen storage might involve cryogenics. The cold liquid hydrogen (LH2) fluid might be used in a regenerative system whereby cooling is supplied to super-conducting generators, electric feeders, and motors while the gas would be used as a fuel in the LENR reactor. The primary LENR byproducts that would require periodic removal from the aircraft are the catalyst and nickel that are contained within the reactor core. Through thoughtful design of the reactor core, preliminary information suggests that these can be easily removed and replaced. The reactor core might then be recycled at low cost, due to the absence of toxic products in the core.

Sure. Sort of. “Proprietary”? Why do they say that? Because someone with proprietary interests was feeding them BS. The technology may or may not be widely accessible by the time LENR is ready for applications. Actual implementations might be proprietary, to be sure. I’d imagine that a fuel core would be designed to be readily replaceable. It might contain enough hydrogen for a flight session. The cores might be light and many would be involved, quite likely, instead of depending on one. Nickel is toxic, but that’s easily handled. Nickel, by the way is the catalyst (for NiH). The involvement of other materials is speculative. Cryogenics will be totally unnecessary.

If WL theory is correct, there may be, from major power production, many transmuted elements, some of which could be toxic. Some will be valuable. Again, this is all way ahead of the actual state of the technology. The take-home is merely that LENR could have amazing possibilities. If.

Page 83

Technology Status:
Multiple coherent theories that explain LENR exist which use the standard Quantum
Electrodynamics & Quantum Chromodynamics model.

This would include any of the theories being advanced by physicists who know the field. It is commonly claimed, both by skeptics and by some “believers”  that if “cold fusion is real, then physics textbooks will have to be revised.” That is not known. I consider it quite likely that the physics involved in LENR will turn out to fit with known models, merely that certain circumstances had not been anticipated and studied. As an example, the Born-Oppenheimer approximation is a heuristic, a simplification to allow easy calculation in conditions that are, in fact, far more complex. It works. Usually!.

This is ironic: Pons and Fleischmann were not looking for a new energy source, that’s a myth that is propagated about them that does not match the history. They were seeking to test the B-O approximation! They knew that it was, indeed, an approximation, and therefore not accurate, so they were looking to see if they could see some deviation from it. They expected to fail. Then their experiment melted down, releasing energy that they could not explain with chemistry.

They did not understand what they had found. They made many mistakes. But . . . they looked where nobody had looked before. When we do that, we find things, some of which may never have been seen before. In fact, there is evidence that the FP Heat Effect had been seen, but never understood. It required very, very unusual conditions, difficult to set up. They were actually very lucky.

The Widom-Larson(10) theory appears to have the best current understanding, but it is far from being fully validated and applied to current prototype testing.

10. Ultra Low Momentum Neutron Catalyzed Nuclear Reactions on Metallic Hydride Surfaces. Windom [sic], Allan and Larsen, Lewis. 1, 2006, The European Physical Journal C – Particles and Fields, Vol. 46, pp. 107-111.

Indeed. And so “best” appears, to those who don’t actually review all the literature, but allow themselves to be led by the nose, by commercial actors with an agenda. The reviewers here, however, remained aware of the lack of validation and testing.

Limited testing is ongoing by NASA and private contractors of  nickel-hydrogen LENR systems.

My opinion is that the NASA work was premature. First of all, this is really DoE stuff. DoE should establish a LENR desk, to monitor the field on behalf of all the government agencies. Individual agencies might have a designated staff person, a “LENR coordinator” who works with the LENR desk to communicate special agency concerns. NASA is working, apparently, on hybrid fusion-fission reactors that use LENR as a neutron generator. Those don’t have to be cheap, the idea is to develop replacements for the plutonium RPGs that are used for long space missions. Even there I question the appropriateness, at this point, of a special NASA program. But maybe, and, after all, Pam Boss and Larry Forsley have a lot of experience. I.e., there, NASA IS working with contractors. AN overall LENR desk would provide some oversight and continuity. There are goats mixed in with the sheep.

Two commercial companies (Leonardo Corp. & Defkalion) are reported to be offering commercial LENR systems.

They were so reported. Lots of people believed them. Many were skeptical, both for unscientific reasons (“LENR is impossible!” isn’t science, because to know that something is impossible, one must know what it is, and nobody knows what is happening in LENR, beyond the simplest “deuterium is converted to helium,” — and that is merely one example of a whole class of effects that can be unexpected. Often we hear that “fusion” requires high temperatures, that it’s “impossible at low temperature,” but that’s an obvious error, because there is a known catalyst that can accomplish fusion at very low temperature, it’s routinely run at close to absolute zero. So could there be some other catalytic condition or other condition that allows low temperature fusion. This much is clear: this doesn’t happen much in nature, or else there would be effects that would very likely have been detected. WL theory, in fact, is being used to propose many common effects that are very, very unlikely. Again. Maybe. “Impossible” is not a scientific term.

Those systems are advertised to run for 6 months with a single fueling cycle.

That was speculation and hype and wishful thinking. Rossi did claim long operation for a reactor heating his warehouse. And Rossi lied about many things. Defkalion certainly had no reliability data to support this, unless it was based on that pump artifact. Yes, the pump fails to report accurate flow for 6 months! Very reliable!

Although data exists on all of these systems, the current data in each case is lacking in either definition or 3rd party verification.

Indeed. Rossi never allowed the collection of reliability data. He ran “demonstrations,” and they kept changing, so that results of one demo could not be compared with another. Possible artifacts would be found for a demo, and so the next demo was completely different, instead of testing for the artifact with the same system. Later, he set up what was called “3rd party verification” — maybe he read this report — but it was a complete fiasco. It wasn’t actually independent. In any case, the report here is totally accurate as to the time.

Thus, the current TRL assessment is low.

Yes. TRL-1. The base level, for the most speculative technology. That was completely appropriate.

In this study the SUGAR Team has assumed, for the purposes of technology planning and
establishing system requirements that the LENR technology will work. We have not conducted an independent technology feasibility assessment. The technology plan contained in this section merely identifies the steps that would need to take place to develop a propulsion system for aviation that utilizes LENR technology.

Right. I hope they didn’t spend a lot of money on this. Overall, NASA put about a million dollars, as far as we know, into LENR in the period of 2008-2012, see this information.

It is possible, though, that this was only for NASA Langley Research Center, there are other projects. For example, see this abstract from ICCF-21, (and audio), from Larry Forsley of Global Energy Corporation: “GEC has a second Space Act Agreement with NASA Glenn Research Center to develop a launch-compatible design, operating at the Plum Brook Station facility.” As well, see this abstract from Pam Boss ( and audio) on the basic experimental phenomenon behind this idea of a hybrid fusion-fission reactor.

I do keep in mind what I wrote above about commercial interests. . . . This is, nevertheless, quite interesting, and Pam’s experiment is one that I might be able to perform in my apartment. Maybe. So I looked up the price of uranium wire. Yikes! Uranium on the spot market is currently $23 per lb., but uranium as an item that one can buy as an individual is becoming unavailable. Could be $1000 for a gram.plus $500 for shipping. Pam’s experiment could use depleted uranium. It’s basically unavailable, even though it is not usable for nuclear fission weapons. Sigma-Aldrich doesn’t sell uranium wire any more. I found odd pieces of uranium, but if I wanted something like what Pam used, the pricing is utterly insane. As far as what I found. What I did find was uranyl nitrate, quite affordable, so it is possible that it could be plated onto a substrate wire (and then palladium would be plated over it. Will I do this? Probably not. But . . . sometimes we do things beyond what we think we will do. And I can dream. . . .

Page 85

Maturation Plan:
TRL 2 (a) Current
A concept for a LENR propulsion system has been generated
Basic principles of LENR are reported to have been demonstrated

That may have been a little optimistic. I will agree that some basic principles have been demonstrated, though not necessarily those needed for a “LENR propulsion system.” So this is a bit shaky.

Development of LENR reactor technology is assumed to be developed successfully in an
external program. An initial requirements assessment indicates that it is beneficial to develop a hybrid system to augment thrust at takeoff, so as not to oversize the LENR system for cruise conditions

Unless, of course, LENR systems are adequately able to supply peak power requirements. A green flight system might avoid high peak power. Techniques other than internal generation of high power to reach cruising altitude and speed might be used.

LENR technology is potentially game-changing to not just aviation, but the worldwide energy mix as well. This technology should be followed to determine feasibility and potential performance

Indeed. The skeptics who dumped on NASA as shown above are unaware that the Department of Energy reviews (both 1989 and 2004) recommended basic research on “cold fusion” or LENR under existing programs. In 2004, that recommendation was actually unanimous.

All they rejected was a crash program, which would still be a bad idea. The failure of the DoE was in not taking steps to monitor progress in the research, and to identify and support appropriate programs. Instead, the recommendation for further research was essentially ignored, and the DoE reviews were widely considered as complete rejections while, in fact, they were not.