subpage of iccf-21/abstracts/review/
My comments are in indented italics.
Investigation of the Nickel-Hydrogen Anomalous Heat Effect
Edward J. Beiting
Experimental work was undertaken at The Aerospace Corporation to reproduce a specific
observation of the gas-phase Anomalous Heat Effect (aka LENR). This task required the
production of a quantity of heat energy by a mass of material so small that the origin of the energy
cannot be attributable to a chemical process. The goal is to enhance its credibility by reproducing
results first demonstrated in Japan and later reproduced in the U.S. by a solitary investigator. The
technique heated nanometer-sized Ni:Pd particles (20:1 molar ratio) embedded in micron-sized
particles of an inert refractory of ZrO2. It was not within the purview of this work to investigate the
physical origin of the AHE effect or speculate on its source.
The goal was off from the beginning, stated as to “enhance its credibility.” That sets up an opportunity for confirmation bias. After all, engineers will keep working toward the goal until they reach it. Not speculating on the physical origin of anomalous energy, great, though speculating on possible artifacts would be completely in order, to test them and confirm or reject them.
An apparatus was built that comprised identical test and a reference heated cells. These thermally
isolated cells each contained two thermocouples and a 10 cm3 volume of ZrO2NiPd particles.
Calibration functions to infer thermal power from temperature were created by electrically heating
the filled cells with known powers when they were either evacuated or pressurized with 1 bar of N2.
During the experimental trial, the test cell was pressurized with hydrogen and the control cell was
pressurized with nitrogen.
An obvious problem: nitrogen and hydrogen have drastically different thermal conductivity. Calibration can be a major problem with hot hydrogen work. We will study how they did it.
After conditioning the cells, both were heated to near 300°C for a period
of 1000 hours (40 days). During this period, the test cell registered 7.5% more power
(approximately 1 W) than the input power. The control cell measured approximately 0.05 W of
excess power. The error in the excess power measurement was ±0.05 W.
Time-integrating the excess power to obtain an excess energy and normalizing to the 20 gram mass
of the ZrO2NiPd sample yields a specific energy of 173 MJ/kg. Assuming that the active material is
the 5.44g of Ni+Pd yields a specific energy of 635 MJ/kg. For comparison, the highest specific
energy of a hydrocarbon fuel (methane) is 55.5 MJ/kg. The highest chemical specific energy listed
[see Energy Density in Wikipedia] is 142 MJ/kg for hydrogen compressed to 700 bar. Based on
these results, it is unlikely that the source of heat energy was chemical in origin.
So here he is speculating on the origin, or, specifically, what is not the origin. Integrating power to determine excess energy can be quite sensitive to some systematic artifact, error would accumulate. Again, there is a show of precision in the numbers. What would be a standard error calculation? In SRI presentation of the Case experiment, where integrated energy was plotted against helium measurements, the error bars grow very large as the experiment proceeds. That shows the issue. Without error calculations, based on actual data variance, the significance of the result may be unclear.
(images can be seen in the original abstract) The full report (which will be reviewed below):
 E. Beiting, “Investigation of the nickel-hydrogen anomalous heat effect,” Aerospace
Report No. ATR-2017-01760, The Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo CA, USA, May 15, 2017.
Generation of High-Temperature Samples and Calorimetric Measurement of Thermal Power for the
Study of Ni/H2 Exothermic Reactions
Edward J. Beiting, Dean Romein
Instrumentation developed to measure heat power from a high-temperature reactor for experimental
trials lasting several weeks is being applied to gas-phase Ni/H2 LENR. We developed a reactor that
can maintain and record temperatures in excess of 1200o C while monitoring pressures exceeding 7
bar. This reactor is inserted into a flowing-fluid calorimeter that allows both temperature rise and
flow rate of the cooling fluid to be redundantly measured by different physical principles. A
computerized data acquisition system was written to automate the collection of more than 20
physical parameters with simultaneous numerical and dual graphical displays comprising both a
strip chart and complete history of key parameters.
Redundant measures, too often neglected. Nice.
The water inlet and outlet temperatures of the calorimeter are simultaneously measured with
thermocouple, RTD, and thermistor sensors. The water flow is passed in series through two
calorimeters and a Hall-effect flow meter. The first calorimeter houses a resistance heater of known
input power, which allows the flow rate to be inferred from the heater power and water inlet and
outlet temperature difference. Careful calibration of this system produces a nominal accuracy and
precision of ±1 W.
“Nominal accuracy and precision.” I.e., not measured. Not so nice. Was this correctly stated? The full report claims XP on the order of 1 W.
The reactor is constructed by tightly wrapping Kanthal wire around an alumina tube, which is
embedded in ceramic-fiber insulation (see Figures 1 and 2). The length of the alumina tube is
chosen so that its unheated end remains below 100o C when the interior volume of the heated end is
1300o C. During use the internal reactor temperature is inferred from two type-N thermocouples
fixed to the outside of the reactor using a previously made calibration that employed internal
thermocouples. Using external thermocouples have advantages: the thermocouple metals cannot
react with the reactants; the thermocouples are kept at lower temperatures (usually < 1000o C)
increasing the thermocouple’s life and accuracy; no high pressure/vacuum feedthrough is required;
no high temperature electrical insulation isolating the thermocouple from the reactants is necessary.
The design gives me a headache, trying to understand the implications of that drastic temperature gradient across the length of the alumina tube. The reasons all sound good, but the road to a very hot place is paved with good reasons. We’ll see how this is handled in the report.
This instrumentation is being used to study the gas-phase anomalous heat effect (aka LENR) using
nickel and light hydrogen. Tests are being undertaken using both LiAlH4 and bottled H2 as the
source of hydrogen. The results from these tests will be presented with special emphasis on the
morphology and the cleaning of the surface of the nickel particles, absorption of hydrogen by the
nickel, and excess heat or lack thereof.
All techniques and data will be presented in sufficient detail to allow reproducibility. Nothing will
be deemed proprietary. Source code and documentation of the data acquisition software resulting
from a significant development effort will be distributed on request.
Great. I think the better term would be replicability, i.e., the same techniques could be used. But will anyone actually do this? Results, then, might be reproducible. But what results? At this point my impression is that there were two runs, the second of which is described. What’s the variation or reliability of the result?
That is impossible to determine from such a small sample set. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, one theme of the conference, certainly that of Mike McKubre and myself, was correlation, that much more is needed to progress the field than Yet Another Anecdote, which, so far, this study seems to amount to. Was it a replication?
The first abstract has the goal as “reproducing results first demonstrated in Japan and later reproduced in the U.S. by a solitary investigator.” This would be a reference to Y. Arata and Y. C. Zhang, ‘Formation of Condensed Metallic Deuterium Lattice and Nuclear Fusion,” Proc. Jpn. Acad. Ser. B, 2002 78(Ser. B), p. 57 2, on the one hand, and, on the other, B. Ahern, “Program on Technology Innovation: Assessment of Novel Energy Production Mechanisms in a Nanoscale Metal Lattice,” EPRI Report 1025575, Technical Update, August 2012.
Crucial to experiments in this field is the exact material. See the review here of the similar work of the Japanese collaboration, lead author Akito Takahashi.
Arata used “ZrO2, · Pd powder . . . as metal specimens constructed with nanometer-sized individual Pd particles embedded dispersively into ZrO2, matrix, which were made by annealing amorphous Zr65Pd35 alloy.” However, the paper cited shows a 10 W result, with a “DS-cathode,” which is a technique Arata used to generate very high deuterium pressure. (Confirmed by SRI, long story). This is a very different technique, using different material.
While several research reports from Europe by Piantelli et al.  had indicated significant thermal energy output from nanotextured nickel in the presence of hydrogen gas, similar tests conducted under
this EPRI research project produced only milliwatt-scale thermal power release. Based on experimental calorimetric calibrations, the amount of thermal power being produced was estimated to be about
100 milliwatts per degree C of elevation above the value of the outer resistance thermal device (RTD).
In one experiment, researchers used 10-nm nickel powder from Quantum Sphere Corp. The inner RTD was 208o C hotter than the outer RTD (533o C versus 325o C) and represents roughly ~ 21 watts from 5 grams of nanopowder, based on the calibration. The powder maintained this rate of thermal power output for a period of five days when it was terminated for evaluation. There was no sign of degradation of the power output. Researchers, however, were not able to replicate this final experiment due to limited project funding.
Anecdote. So, perhaps Beiting was trying to replicate that high-output experiment? No. And I see this over and over in the field. Promising avenues are abandoned because they still are not good enough, and researchers, instead of nailing down and confirming what has come before, want to try something new, perhaps hoping that some miracle will cause their experiment to melt down. (and if it does, they won’t be ready for it!)
Beiting was using “Ni:Pd particles (20:1 molar ratio) embedded in micron-sized
particles of an inert refractory of ZrO2.” But that is not all that was in the mix. From the full report:
Because it was an internally funded modest program, the goal was not to create a research effort to study its origin but to demonstrate reproducibility of previous work. If demonstration was successful and convincing, the hope was that this work would stimulate a subsequent larger effort.
To this end, a review of the gas-phase AHE results was made when this project was initiated in 2013 to find
an observation likely to be reproduced. Three criteria were considered to increase probability of achieving
this goal: a complete description of material preparation was required; a simple triggering mechanism was desirable to reduce the experimental complexity; and at least one reproduction of the manifestation of
excess heat† of non-chemical origin using the method should be documented by an independent investigator. At the time of this survey, only the work by Arata and Zhang  in Japan as reproduced by Ahern  in the United States met these three requirements.‡
Only to someone naive about the history of LENR research. Experiments which are vaguely similiar are often considered “confirmations.” There is commonly a lack of extended experimental sets with a single variable. The Takahashi ICCF-21 report barely begins to address this, in parts. Not realizing the danger, Beiting bet the farm on a new and unconfirmed approach. My emphasis:
This method employs a simple heat-triggering mechanism on a powder of micron-sized particles of ZrO2 imbedded with nanometer-sized particles of a nickel (with a small admixture of palladium). The active material used in the work presented in this report differs from that of Refs.  and  by the addition of magnetic particles. This addition was made with the desire of increasing the probability of observing excess energy, based on reports by other investigators  and the initial experimental trial in this work. Other than these additional particles, the material used here was identical to that used by Refs.  and .
Sounds like multiple reports, eh? No, this was one paper by one working group, a private company, led by Mitchell Swartz, using a proprietary device, the NANOR. And they did not use ground-up magnets. I’ll come back to that.
The Arata and Zhang report experiment was not heat-triggered, and Ahern was not a replication of it. There were similarities, that’s all.
Ref 6 was M. Swartz, G. Verner, J. Tolleson, L. Wright, R. Goldbaum, and P. Hagelstein, “Amplification and Restoration of Energy Gain Using Fractionated Magnetic Fields on ZrO2-PdD Nanostructured Components,” J. Condensed Matter Nucl. Sci. 15, 66-80 (2015). Exactly what was found from the “fractionated magnetic fields” isn’t clearly presented, but the authors were obviously impressed. (Only two DC field data points with an effect are shown). Beiting did not do what they did, though!
In this case, it was discovered that high intensity, dynamic, repeatedly fractionated magnetic fields have a major, significant and unique synchronous amplification effect on the preloaded NANOR®-type LANR device under several conditions of operation.
No details were given, only vague hints. This must be proprietary information, not surprising for a commercial effort. I have no idea what “fractionated magnetic field” means. Much Swartz language is idiosyncratic. Google finds only the JCMNS article for the term.
The Beiting experiment was one-off, not replication. That is unfortunate, because the relatively weak results cannot then be strengthened by other reports. The original goal seems to have been lost in the shuffle.
I will continue study of the actual Beiting report, but am publishing this today as a draft, based on the abstracts and the single issue from the report about what the work was intended to confirm.