Koziol 2018

https://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/scientists-in-the-us-and-japan-get-serious-about-lowenergy-nuclear-reactions

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 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 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.

Understatement.

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.

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 practically an oxymoron.

The formation of an expert review panel is something that I also recommend, or, probably more practical, a “LENR desk,” some office 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. 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.

Update

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.”

ABOUT ALION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
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.

ABOUT MACAULAY-BROWN, INC., an ALION COMPANY
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, mislabled 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.
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7 thoughts on “Koziol 2018”

    1. No. Plasma physics is quite well understood and explored, and plasma reactions are not hidden, like those in condensed matter. There are two reasons why Greg might think what he wrote:

      1. Rossi’s claims. ’nuff said on that.
      2. plasma experiments by others that show LENR effects. These effects always involve a solid material, such as a gas discharge electrode, and the effects are observed in the electrode, generally. Plasma impact on an electrode surface is one of the conditions that might create SAV phases on the surface, if taking place with loaded material (hydrogen or deuterium).

      There is no credible experimental evidence for LENR effects in the plasma itself. Further, all LENR theory still standing (i.e., at least somewhat plausible) requires the presence of condensed matter, the opposite of a plasma. In a plasma, interactions are entirely or almost entirely two-body, so the Born-Oppenheimer Approximation holds.

  1. Abd – though this is a recent post, it doesn’t show up in “recent posts” and until you wrote this comment I wasn’t aware of it. Some WP error, maybe.

    It’s also longer by far than the article you’re analysing…. Yep, Koziol made somewhat of a mistake in using W-L theory to explain LENR to the masses, since it effectively predicts things we don’t experimentally see, and he also took Krivit’s biases and ideas as being correct. About par for the course for a popular science writer, since it wouldn’t take so long to take someone else’s opinion and rewrite it with a few collected pictures, and doing the digging that’s really needed would take a few months at least just to produce a reasonable overview. Your efforts so far have required years and will require years more. It takes work to produce useful articles on such a difficult subject.

    Still, it does seem to me that a lot of science tends to be subject to following the current paradigm. There’s a reluctance to chuck out theories even when there’s solid evidence that they have to be wrong – easier to ignore that and call it experimental error. That naturally produces Catch-22 situations, where in order to show an effect that is considered to be impossible we’d need to finance the experiments, and yet because it’s against current theory then few will finance the experiments. Experiments to try to confirm the current theory, however, will get well-financed (see the search for Dark Matter, for example, or the hunt for the Higgs boson) even if the experiments so far have not been convincing. For most of my life, hot fusion (at more than break-even) has been 20-30 years in the future. It probably still is, though Lockheed-Martin are promising it in 5 years.

    Koziol’s article propagates that old misinformation cascade, which is what is probably regarded as the consensus amongst people who haven’t actually studied the subject. Most people won’t however study it because it’s well-known to be fringe science and against theory (see Wikipedia articles, where a lot of people will get their information about it), so it must be experimental error of some sort. It’s a popular piece, repeating what is “common knowledge” amongst non-specialists, and may even have used Wikipedia as the source. It filled some column-space and kept him paid, and that’s about all.

    I expect mainstream article will keep regurgitating the same sort of information that Koziol does, until that paradigm-changing moment when someone (maybe because of Plan B) puts a solid stake in the ground that LENR is indeed real and not experimental error, or maybe someone such as Brillouin produces a commercial system that utilises it. Changing that paradigm needs a sufficient kick up the backside that it can’t be ignored. That’s often been the case in history, and I don’t see much chance now unless someone makes a breakthrough discovery of how to make it work both reliably and cheaply, and enough people either replicate or buy one that it can no longer be regarded as impossible.

    1. It doesn’t show up in Recent Posts because it is not a Post, it is a Page. I use pages to build content, and especially detailed examinations, though sometimes I also do that with Posts. Pages can be hierarchical, Posts not. Posts are “blogging.”

      Yes as to most of what you wrote.

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