Toton-Ullrich DARPA report

This is a subpage of Widom-Larsen theory

From Krivit:

The report was produced in March 2010, when two physicists, Edward Toton and George Ullrich, under contract with the Advanced Systems and Concepts Office, a think tank that is part of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, favorably analyzed Larsen and Widom’s theory.

Toton is a consultant with a long history in defense-related research, and Ullrich was, at the time, a senior vice president for Advanced Technology and Programs with Science Applications International Corp.

Toton and Ullrich summarized their evaluation with a question: “Could the Widom-Larsen theory be the breakthrough needed to position LENR as a major source of carbon-free, environmentally clean source of source of low-cost nuclear energy??”

Larsen spoke with the two physicists from 2007 to 2010 to help them understand key details of his and Widom’s theory of LENRs.

The authors summarized their evaluation in a slide presentation on March 31, 2010, in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Their slides were geared toward a technical audience and included, with acknowledgments, some information and graphics taken directly from Larsen’s slides, originally published on SlideShare.

Larsen tends to publish on SlideShare, which makes it more difficult to criticize. The Toton-Ullrich summary is not independent, it’s heavily taken from Larsen.

The Toton-Ullrich summary does an excellent job of distilling Larsen’s explanation of why LENR experiments produce few long-lived radioactive isotopes:

This is the problem: W-L theory appears to explain certain results, but not the full body of results, only selected phenomena. As well, the theory is often accepted based on superficial explanations that are not detailed and not backed by specific evidence.  Before I move on, to a detailed examination of W-L theory from 2013 (not some rehashed and uncooked evidence from 2010, as the Krivit report was), I do want to look at more of what Toton and Ullrich wrote, it was remarkable in several ways.

Krivit has this report here, but the originals are here: Abstract, Report.

As well, I’ve also copied the report: Applications of Quantum Mechanics: Black Light Power and the Widom-Larsen Theory of LENR 


• Determine the state of understanding of LENR theoretical modeling, experimental
 Confer with selected Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) proponents
 Survey and evaluate competing theories for the observed LENR results
• Catalogue opponent/proponent views on LENR theories and experiments
 Conduct literature search
 Seek consultations
• Review data on element transmutation
 Present alternative explanations
• Prepare assessment and recommendations
 Include pros & cons for potential DTRA support of LENR research
• Critically examine past and new claims by Black Light Power Inc: power generation using
a newly discovered field of hydrogen-based chemistry
 Investigate the theoretical basis for these claims
 Assess compatibility with mainstream theories and other observed phenomena

Did they do this, and how well did they do it? Who designed the task? First of all, mixing Black Light Power with LENR is combining radically different ideas and sets of proponents, as if BLP were claiming “LENR.” which they weren’t.

My emphasis:


• DTRA should be cautious in considering contractual relationships with
BlackLight Power
 Reviews & assessments performed throughout the BlackLight Power history
have generally revealed serious deficiencies in the CP theory
Experimental claims have not enjoyed the benefit of doubt of even those in the LENR field
 No substantive independent validations (BlackLight Power exercises
proprietary constraints)
• DTRA should continue to be receptive to and an advocate for
independent laboratory validation
 Contractual support for participation in independent laboratory validation
should be avoided – a full, “honest broker” stance is necessary should
promising results emerge in a highly controversial field

Yes. Obviously. Who made the suggestion that BLP has anything to do with LENR?

Then they move on to LENR. They start with a quotation of the 2004 U.S. DoE report:

The lack of testable theories for (LENRs) is a major impediment to acceptance of
experimental claims … What is required for the evidence (presented) is either a
testable theoretical model or an engineering demonstration of a self-powered
system …
2004 DOE LENR Review Panel

Basically, warmed over bullshit. “Testable theoretical model” is looking for a testable theory of “mechanism,” whereas what is actually testable is a theory of “effect.” Obviously both of these requirements could suffice, but the first one was satisfied (as to “effect”) by 1991, though it wasn’t understood that way, because it wasn’t a “theory of mechanism.” Rather it was what I have called a Conjecture: that the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect with palladium deuteride is the result of the conversion of deuterium to helium. That is (1) testable — and it’s been widely confirmed, with quantitative results — and (2) it’s nuclear, because of the nuclear product. The other alternative is well beyond the state of the art. Such requires a reliable reaction, and with present technology, that’s elusive. The preponderance of the evidence is clear, in fact, already, that the effect is real, and the 2004 review almost got there, the process was a mess; but a clear majority of those who were present for the presentation considered the effect real and probably nuclear in nature. Then there were those who just reacted, remotely, without literally giving the presenters the time of day. That took it to a divided result.

W-L theory here will be considered a “testable theory,” perhaps, but it was proposed in 2005 or so. Where are the test results? Sure, you can cob together various ad hoc assumptions and thus “explain” some results (mostly notably work by George Miley on transmutations — which is unconfirmed) but there are other results that it seems the theory predicts that are simply ignored, as if those aren’t “tests” of the theory.

Much of the information in this briefing has been drawn from various papers and briefings posted on the Internet and copyrighted by Lattice Energy, LLA. The information is being used with the expressed permission of Dr. Lewis Larsen, President and CEO of Lattice Energy LLC.

They took the easy way and we can see the influence.

On 23 March 1989 Pons and Fleischman [sic] revealed in a news conference that they had achieved thermonuclear fusion (D – D) in an electrochemical cell at standard pressure and temperature

I’m not completely clear what they claimed in the news conference. In their first-published paper, they actually claimed that they had found an “unknown nuclear reaction,” but the idea that if the FP Heat Effect was nuclear, it must be “d-d fusion” was very common, and we can see here how that is proposed as the Big Idea that W-L has corrected. Those who criticize W-L theory are considered in this report as “proponents of d-d fusion.” This was a totally naive acceptance of the Larsen story, as promoted by Krivit.

The Theoretical Dilemma posed by Cold Fusion

• D – D reactions and their branching ratios
 D + D -> 3He (0.82 MeV) + n0 (2.45 MeV) (slightly less than 50% of the time)
 D + D -> T (1.01 MeV) + n0 [sic] (3.02 MeV) (slightly less than 50% of the time)
 D + D -> 4He (0.08 MeV) + γ (23.77 MeV) (less than 1% of the time)

It is actually far less than 1%. It’s hard to find that branching ratio, but 10-7 comes to mind. The helium branch is very rare, and so the other two branches really are 50%. And then to make things even more obvious that this is not your grandfather’s d-d fusion, tritium shows up a million times more than fast neutrons (which are very rare from LENR). The second branch is also incorrect, it produces tritium (T) plus a proton (P), not a neutron. It’s hard to find good help.

• But the Pons & Fleischman [sic]* results did not indicate neutron emissions at
expected rates, nor show any evidence of γ emissions
• Subsequent experiments, while continuing to show convincing evidence for
nuclear reactions, have largely dispelled thermonuclear fusion as the
underlying responsible physical mechanism
• Some other Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) was likely in play

Which, in fact, Pons and Fleischmann pointed out. (“Unknown nuclear reaction.”)

A new theory was needed to explain “LENR”

Needed by whom and for what? Apparently, some people need a theory, and probably a deep one, to accept experimental evidence, but experimental evidence is just that: evidence, and simple theories can be developed, and have been developed, that don’t explain everything.  We will see:

* Pons and Fleischman [sic] reported detecting He4 but subsequently retracted this claim as a flawed measurement.

The reality is that they stopped talking about helium, and why they did this is not clear. By 1991, however, Miles had reported helium correlated with anomalous heat. Pons and Fleishmann had seen helium in a single measurement, and it is entirely possible that this was leakage. (Details are scarce.) That was not the case with later measurements and the many confirmations.

Did these researchers read Storms (2007). That was a definitive monograph on the field. They don’t seem to be aware of the actual state of the field, but followed Larsen’s explanations.

Observations from LENR Experiments

• Macroscopic “excess heat” measured calorimetrically
 Weakly repeatable and extremely contentious
 Richard Garwin says, “Call me when you can boil a cup of tea*”
* Largest amount and duration of excess heat measured in an LENR experiment was 44 W for 24 days (90 MJ) in nickel-light hydrogen gas phase system.

Who is supplying them with these sound bites? Because of the unreliability of the effect (sometimes it’s a lot of heat), experiments were scaled down (since before the 1989 announcement). It’s awkward if an experiment melts down, as the FP one did, apparently, in 1985. The scientific issue would properly be if measurements were adequate for correlation with nuclear products, and they have been, for one product: helium. They also correlate with conditions and with material. I.e., some material simply doesn’t work, others work far more reliably, with material from a single batch. And then a new batch, often, doesn’t work. But that can all be addressed scientifically with controlled experiments and correlations.

The “cup of tea” remark was from Douglas Morrison, the CERN physicist, and has been repeated by Robert Park, author of Voodoo Science. I don’t think Garwin said this, but maybe. These scientists are repeating rumors, from . . . it’s pretty obvious! That or shallow reading. They still end up with something sensible, just . . . off.

• Production of gaseous helium isotopes
 Difficult to detect reliably and possibility of contamination
 Observed by only a few researchers but most do not go to the
expense of looking for helium

Yes, helium at the levels involved with modest anomalous heat is difficult to measure, but it has long been possible, and has been done, with blind testing by reputable labs. The correlation, across many measurements, given the experimental procedures, rules out “contamination” and, in fact, validates the heat measurements as well. In experimental series, large numbers of cells had no significant heat and also no helium above background. Given that the difference between a heat-active cell and one with no significant excess heat may only be a couple of degrees C., if leakage were the cause, we would not see these correlations. The suggestion of “leakage” was made in the final report of the U.S. DoE panel in 2004, and it was preposterous there . . . but the presentation had been misunderstood, that’s obvious on review. Then, “leakage” gets repeated over and over. The field is full of ideas that came up at one time, thought plausible then, which have been shown to be way crazy . . . but that still get repeated as if fact.

This might as well have been designed as a trap to finger sloppy researchers and reporters, who repeat stuff merely because it’s been repeated in the past.

• Modest production of MeV alpha particles and protons
 Reproducible and reported by a number of researchers

Sloppy as well. “MeV alpha particles”? No, not many, if any. And there have been no correlations. The tracks reported by SPAWAR were almost certainly not alphas (except for the triple-tracks, which are alphas, from neutron-induced fission of carbon into three alpha particles, and which are found only at very low levels.) Again, there is little attention paid to quantity, which feeds into accepting W-L theory.

• Production of a broad spectrum of transmuted elements
 More repeatable than excess heat but still arguments over possible

This is not more repeatable than excess heat. Don’t mistake “many reports” for “replications,” but they do just that. Contamination is not the only problem.

If, say, deuterium is being converted to helium (which is clear, in fact, it is the mechanism and full pathways that are not clear), then there is 24 MeV per helium, energy released in some way. Because almost all this energy apparently shows up as heat, there would not be large quantities of “other reactions,” but such a reaction would very possibly and occasionally create some rare branches, or secondary reactions with some other element involved, thus low levels of other transmutations may appear, even though the only transmutation that occurs at high levels is from deuterium to helium. Larsen is not going to point this out! He does produce a speculated reaction pathway to create helium, but that then raises other problems. Why this pathway and not others? What happens to intermediate products?

 Difficult to argue against competent mass spectoscopy [sic]

Right. However, what it means that an element shows up at low levels can be unclear. In a paper presented a month ago at ICCF-21 in Colorado, a researcher showed how samarium appeared on the surface of his cathode. I think this was gas discharge work. The cathode is etched away, and he concluded that this process concentrated samarium on the surface, as it was not ablated. If it is not correlated with heat, it may be some different effect, and there can be fractionation, where something very rare is concentrated in the sample. That is quite distinct from the competence of the mass spectrometry.

There is a whole class of reports that show “some nuclear effect.” That, then, creates some big hoopla, because, we think, there shouldn’t be such effects at low temperatures. But “nuclear effects” are all around us, if we look for them. This is very weak evidence, unless there are correlations showing common causation. Large effects, that’s another story, but the transformation results are generally not so.

The Widom-Larsen (W-L) theory provides a self-consistent framework for addressing many long-standing issues about LENR

Some and not others.

 Overcoming the Coulomb barrier – the most significant stumbling block for thermonuclear “Cold Fusion” advocates

Who is that? “Cold fusion,” by definition, is not “thermonuclear.” It is looking like the considering of opposing views, part of the charge, was only as reported through Larsen.

 Absence of significant emissions of high-energy neutrons

This only requires the helium branch, and as pointed out, pathways through 8Be fission to helium with no neutrons. Yes, W-L theory avoids the “missing neutrons” problem. But so does the “gremlin” theory. Basically, we have known since 1990 that “cold fusion” wasn’t ordinary d-d fusion, period. That is where the “neutron problem” comes from. The missing neutrons are a problem for any straight “d-d fusion” theory, because muon-catalyzed fusion, even though it occurs at extremely low temperatures, still generates the same branching ratio. So something else is happening, that’s completely obvious.

 Absence of large emissions of gamma rays

W-L theory predicts substantial gammas, easily detectable. Just not that monster 24 MeV gamma from d + d -> 4He.

• The W-L theory does not postulate any new physics or invoke any ad hoc mechanisms to describe a wide body of LENR observations, including
 Source of excess heat in light and heavy water electrochemical cells
 Transmutation products typically seen in H and D LENR experimental setups
 Variable fluxes of soft x-rays seen in some experiments
 Small fluxes of high-energy alpha particles in certain LENR systems

The “gamma shield” proposed to explain the lack of neutron activation gammas is “new physics,” and so is the idea of “heavy electrons” with increased mass adequate to manage creating electron capture by protons or deuterons. W-L theory provides no guide to predicting the amount of excess heat, nor the variability and unreliability of the heat effect. (Other theories do, and I have never seen Larsen address that problem. Nor has he shown any experimental results coming out of the theory, nor has, in fact, anyone, in well over a decade since it was first proposed.)

The nature of W-L theory allows making up reactions to take place in series, with multiple neutron captures. That makes no sense once we look at reaction rates. That is, if a neutron is made, there will be a capture, which will create an effect. Because the effects in LENR are taking place at low levels compared to the number of atoms in the sample, the rate at which atoms are activated by neutrons must be low, so the chance of an additional capture on the same atom will be low. There is a way around this, but the point is that rate must be considered, something Larsen never does. Transmutations results are not consistent, as implied.

There may be soft X-rays, several theories predict them. No comparison is made in this report with other LENR theories, not that any of them are particularly good. Some, however, are more compatible with experimental observations, a crucial issue that the authors totally neglect. They are only looking at the “good points,” and not critically, as they certainly were with BLP ideas.

W-L Theory – The Basics

• Electromagnetic radiation on a metallic hydride surface increases mass of surface plasmon electrons (e-)
• Heavy-mass surface plasmon polariton (SPP) electrons react with surface protons (p+) or deuterons (d+)  to produce ultra low momentum (ULM) neutrons and an electron neutrino (ν)

What is completely missing here is how much mass must be added to the electrons. Peter Hagelstein took a careful look at this in 2013. It’s enormous (781 KeV), and the conditions required are far from what is possible on the surface of a Fleischmann-Pons cathode. There is no evidence for such reactions taking place, other than this ad hoc theory.

• ULM neutrons are readily captured by nearby atomic nuclei (Z,A), resulting in an increase in the atomic mass (A) by 1 thereby creating a heavier mass isotope (Z,A+1) .
• If the new isotope is unstable it may undergo beta decay*, thereby increasing the atomic number by 1 and producing a new transmuted element (Z+1, A+1) along with a beta particle (e-) and an anti-neutrino (νe )

Yes, that’s what cold neutrons would do. Too much, they would do this. Many results can be predicted that are not seen. Gammas, both prompt and delayed, as well as delayed high-energy electrons (beta radiation) would be generated. Radioactive nuclei (delayed beta emitters) would be generated, and be detectable with mass spectrometry. There is no coherent evidence for this. There are only scattered and incoherent transmutation reports at low levels, very very little that is consistent with the theory. If that’s not correct, where is the paper describing it, clearly?

• The energy released during the beta decay is manifest as “excess heat”

There would also be the absorbed gammas from the prompt radiation. Why don’t they mention that? Are they aware of those prompt gammas? Yes, at least somewhat, there was a note added to the above:

*It could also undergo alpha decay or simply release a gamma ray, which in turn is converted to infrared energy

However, the conversion of gammas to heat is glossed over here. Most gammas would escape the cell, unless something else happens.

W-L Theory Invokes Many Body Effects

This is quite a mess.

• Certain hydride forming elements, e.g., Pd, Ni, Ti, W, can be loaded with H, D, or T, which will ionize, donating their electrons to the sea of free electrons in the metal
• Once formed, ions of hydrogen isotopes migrate to specific interstitial structural sites in the bulk metallic lattice, assemble in many-body patches, and oscillate collectively and coherently (their QM wave functions are effectively entangled) setting the stage for a local breakdown in the Born-Oppenheimer approximation[1]

Embarrassing. These physicists are not familiar with LENR experimental evidence and what is known about PdD LENR, or they would not make the “interstitial structural sites” mistake.  The helium evidence shows clearly that the reaction producing helium is at or very near the surface, not anywhere deep in the lattice. The isotopes will not preferentially collect in “interstitial structural sites” (i.e., voids). There will be a vapor pressure equilibrium in such sites. W-L theory does not address the issue of the loading ratio of palladium, known to be correlated with excess heat (at least with initiation). (i.e., below a loading of about 90 atom percent, excess heat is not seen.)

W-L theory generally assumes the patches are at the surface, but is unclear on the exact location and local conditions, which would be an essential part of a theory if it is to be of practical utility.

• This, in turn, enables the patches of hydrogenous ions to couple electromagnetically to the nearby sea of collectively oscillating SSP electrons
• The coupling creates strong local electric fields (>1011 V/m) that can renormalize the mass of the SSPs above the threshold for ULM neutron production

Again, no mention of the magnitude of the renormalization, which must add on the order of 781 KeV to the mass-energy of the electron.

• ULM neutrons have huge DeBroglie wavelengths[2] and extremely large capture cross sections with atomic nuclei compared even to thermal neutrons
 Lattice Energy LLC has estimated the ULM neutron fission capture cross section on U235 to be ~ 1 million barns vs. ~586 barns for thermal neutrons

What is not said is why ULM neutrons are formed. They need ULM neutrons so that the neutrons don’t escape the “patch.” This, by the way, requires that the neutrons be generated in the middle of the patch, not near an edge.

It’s not just a two-body collision
[useless image]

[1]The Born-Oppenheimer approximation allows the wavefunction of molecule to be broken down into its electronic and nuclear (vibrational and rotational) components. In this case, the wavefunction must be constructed for the many body patch.

This is getting closer to many-body theory, such as Takahashi or Kim. “Must be constructed.” Must be in order to what? Basically, constructing the wavefunction for an arbitrary and undefined patch is not possible. This is hand-waving. It is on the order of “we can’t calculate this, so it might be possible.”

[2]The DeBroglie wavelength of ULM neutrons produced by a condensed matter collective system must be comparable to the spatial dimension of the many-proton surface patches in which they were produced.

They noticed. “Must be” is in order to avoid the escape of the neutrons from the patch. The “useless image” showed a gaggle of protons huddling together, with electrons dancing apart from them. That is not what would exist. Where did they get that image?

W-L Theory Insights

Insight 1: Overcoming Coulomb energy barrier
 The primary LENR process is driven by nuclei absorbing ULM
neutrons for which there is no Coulomb barrier

No, the primary process proposed is the formation of neutrons from a proton and electron, which has a 781 KeV barrier, which is larger than the ordinary Coulomb barrier. There is no Coulomb barrier for any neutral particle, which would include what are called femto-atoms, any nucleus with electrons collapsed into a much smaller structure. The formation of the neutrons is what is unexpected. Once they are formed, absorption is normal. But then there is a second miracle:

Insight 2: Suppression of gamma ray emmisions [sic]
 Compton scattering from heavy SSP electrons creates soft photons
 Creation of heavy SSP electron-hole pairs in LENR systems have
energy spreads in the MeV range, compared to nominal spreads in
the eV range for normal conditions in metals, thus enabling gamma
ray absorption and conversion to heat

Garwin was quite skeptical and so am I. There is no evidence for this other than what Krivit points out: that gammas aren’t observed. That’s backwards. This “gamma shield” must be about perfect, no leakage. The delayed gammas are ignored. What it means to have many heavy electrons in a patch is ignored. Where does all this mass/energy come from?

Insight 3: Origins of excess heat
 ULM neutron capture process and subsequent nuclei relaxation through radioactive decay or gamma emission generates excess heat

If we know where it is coming from, it is no longer “excess heat,” but that’s a mere semantic point. There is no doubt that neutrons, if formed, would generate reactions that would create fusion heat, that is, the heat released as elements are walked up the number of protons and neutrons (up to the maximum packing efficiency at iron). That’s fusion energy, folks. They are simply doing it with protons and electrons first forming neutrons, and then electrons are emitted, often. The gammas will also generate heat, if they are absorbed as claimed. A number of theories postulate low-energy gammas. (If it comes from a nucleus, it’s called a “gamma,” otherwise these are called “X-rays.”) If the gammas are low-enough energy, they will be absorbed.

Widom-Larsen theory, however, by postulating neutron absorption, predicts necessary high-energy gammas, which is why it needs the special absorption process. The delayed gammas are ignored.

– Alpha and beta particles transfer kinetic energy to surrounding medium through scattering process

High-energy alphas (above 10 – 20 KeV) would generate secondary radiation that is not observed. This could not be captured by the patches because those alphas are delayed.

– Gamma rays are converted to infrared photons which are absorbed by nearby matter

So that’s the second miracle.

Insight 4: Elemental transmutation  Five-peak transmutation product mass
spectra reported by several researchers
– One researcher (Miley) hypothesized that these peaks were fission products of
very neutron-rich compound nuclei with atomic masses of 40, 76, 194, and 310
(a conjectured superheavy element)
 According to W-L theory, successive rounds of ULM neutron production and
capture will create higher atomic mass elements consistent with observations
– The W-L neutron optical potential model of ULM neutron absorption by nuclei
predicts abundance peaks very close to the observed data

First of all, Miley has not been confirmed. Secondly, the transmutation levels observed in most reports are quite low. So successive transmutations must be far lower. By ignoring rate issues, W-L theory can imagine countless possible reactions and then fit them to this or that observation. I’m not sure what the “optical potential model” means. In fact, I have no idea at all. Did they?

W-L Theory Transmutation Pathways for Iwamura Experiments

Transmutation data from Iwamura, Mitsubishi Heavy
– Experiments involved permeation of a D2 gas through a
Pd:Pd/CaO thin-film with Cs and Sr seed elements placed on
the outermost surface
– 55Cs133 target transmuted to 59Pr141; 38Sr88 transmuted to
– In both cases* the nuclei grew by 8 nucleons

Others would notice that this is as if there were fusion with a 4D condensate, with the electrons scattering. That those transmutation are only +4D — four protons and four neutrons — is an argument against the complicated W-L process.

 W-L theory postulates the following plausible nucleosynthesis pathway

(see the document for the list of reactions.) I don’t find this plausible at all. 8 successive neutron captures are required for each single result. The four beta decays, clearly delayed, will also involve radiation, the material would be quite radioactive until the process is complete. Why only 8? Why not 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, etc?

* Iwamura noted that it took longer to convert Sr into Mo than Cs into Pr. W-L argue that this is because the neutron cross section for Cs is vastly higher than for Sr

This is what Larsen does: he collects facts that can be stuffed into his evidence bag. Instead of making a set of coherent and clear predictions that can be verified, he works ad-hoc and post-hoc. Widom-Larsen theory is not experimentally verified by any published experiments designed to test it. Of course, this is me looking back, after another eight years. To these physicists, before 2010, it looked better than anything they had seen. As long as they didn’t look too closely.

Neutron-rich isotopes build up via neutron captures interspersed with β-decay
− Neutron capture on stable or unstable isotopes releases substantial nuclear binding
energy, mostly in gamma emissions, which convert to IR

So there are twelve reactions that must happen to complete the observed transmutation. In one case, it’s eight neutron captures, then four beta decays. In the other, there are neutron captures mixed with beta decays. Why this particular sequence? As I mention above, why exactly that number of captures? And what about all the intermediate products? They all must disappear. Compare that complicated mess to one reaction with 4D.

4D fusion, to a plasma physicist, seems impossible, but … it is, in fact, simply two deuterium molecules that, Takahashi predicts, may collapse to a Bose-Einstein condensate and fuse (and then fission to form helium, no neutrons), but it seems possible in the Iwamura experiment that the condensate may directly fuse with target elements on the surface. It has the electrons with it, so it is a “neutral particle.” There would be no Coulomb barrier. The new physics is only an understanding of how a BEC might behave under these conditions, but that is a “we don’t know yet,” not “impossible.”

The Widom-Larsen Theory Summary

The Widom-Larsen (W-L) theory of LENR differs from the mainstream understanding in that the governing mechanism for LENR is presumed to be dominated by the weak force of the standard theory, instead of the strong force that governs nuclear fission and fusion

What is the “mainstream understanding of LENR”? W-L theory incorporates strong force mechanisms in the neutron absorptions. It is only the creation of neutrons that is weak force dominated.

 Assumption of weak interactions leads to a theoretical framework for the LENR
energy release mechanism consistent with the observed production of large amounts
of energy, over a long time, at moderate conditions of temperature and pressure,
without the release of energetic neutrons or gamma radiation

The analysis that leads to no gamma radiation being detected is one that makes unwarranted ad hoc assumptions about the absorption of gamma rays that, even if they made sense with regard to the prompt gammas expected — which they don’t, this is new physics –, would not cover delayed gammas that would clearly be expected.

• W-L theory is built upon the well-established theory of electro-weak interactions and many-body collective effects

The behavior assumed by W-L theory is far from “well-established.”

W-L theory explains the observations from a large body of LENR experiments
without invoking new physics or ad-hoc mechanisms

It is not established that W-L theory predicts detailed observations, quantitatively. The reactions proposed are ad-hoc, chosen to match experimental results, not predicted from basic principles. W-L theory is clearly an “ad-hoc” theory of mechanism, cobbed together to create an appearance of plausibility, if one doesn’t look too closely.

 So far, no experimental result fatally conflicts with the basic tenets of the W-L

Lack of activation gammas, and especially delayed gammas, is fatal to the theory.

 In fact, an increasing number of LENR anomalies have been explained by W-L

The theory is plastic, amenable to cherry-picking of “plausible reactions” to explain many results. What is missing is clear, testable prediction of phenomena not previously observed, and, in particular, quantitative prediction.

 In one case, W-L theory provided a plausible explanation for an anomalous
observation of transmutation in an exploding wire experiment conducted back in

I have not looked at this.

• Could the W-L theory be the breakthrough needed to position LENR as a major
source of carbon-free, environmentally clean source of source of low-cost
nuclear energy??

No. W-L theory has not provided guidance for dealing with the major obstacle to LENR progress, the design and demonstration of a “lab rat,” a reliable experiment. There is no sign that any experimental group has benefited from applying W-L theory, which seems to be successful only in that, as allegedly a “non-fusion theory,” it seems to be more readily accepted by those who don’t actually study it in detail and with a knowledge of physics and a knowledge of the full body of LENR evidence.

LENR State of Play

The Widom-Larsen theory has done little to unify or focus the LENR research community
• If anything, it appears to have increased the resolve of the strongforce D-D fusion advocates to circle the wagons

Again, who are these “strongforce D-D fusion advocates”? That’s a Steve Krivit idea, that researchers are biased toward “D-D fusion,” whereas the field is not at all united on any theory, but . . . the experimental evidence is strong for deuterium conversion to helium in the FP Heat Effect with PdD. Deuterium conversion to helium is possible by other pathways than “D-D fusion.” Key, though, is that the energy per helium would be the same. If there is no radiation leakage or other products, a neutron pathway could also produce helium, in theory, with the same energy/helium. That is, if the neutrons are produced from deuterium and the electrons are recovered. As I have explained, the electron becomes, as it were, a catalyst. The problem with this picture, though, is that neutrons generate very visible effects, which W-L theory waves away. There would be leakages (i.e., radiation or other products).

• LENR is an area of research at the TRL-1 level but the community is already jockeying for position to achieve a competitive TRL-8 position, which further impedes the normal scientific process

Technology Readiness Level. 

The TRL system does not easily apply to LENR. It is not designed to deal with a field that doesn’t have confirmed reliable methods. However, it could be considered to be spread across TRL-1 to TRL-3. W-L theory has not contributed to progress in this. TRL-4

• Without a theory to guide the research, LENR will remain in a perpetual cook-and-look mode, which produces some tantalizing results to spur venture capital investments but does little to advance the science

That’s a common idea, but there are “basic theories” that are established, and what is actually needed is more basic research to generate more data for theory formation. There are “tantalizing results,” that are never reduced to extensive controlled studies to explore the parameter space.

A “basic theory” is one like what I call the Conjecture, that the FP Heat Effect is the result of the conversion of deuterium to helium, mechanism unknown, with no major leakages (i.e., no major radiation not being converted to heat, and no other major nuclear products). That’s testable, and has been tested and widely confirmed. Another would refer to the generation of anomalous heat under some conditions by metal hydrides, and would look at the involved correlations. These are not theories of mechanism, but of effect.

• DTRA needs to be careful not to get embroiled in the politics of LENR and serve as an honest broker

This report is being used in the “politics of LENR.” It was inadequately critical, it did not point to critiques of W-L theory, but appeared to accept the proponent’s version of the situation.

 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

And here is where, in spite of the shortcomings, they settle on common sense. The failure of the DoE reviews was that they recommended research “under existing programs” but did nothing to facilitate that. And the cold fusion community, on its side, did not apparently request was would have been needed, something like what is suggested here. I called it a “LENR desk,” but it would maintain expert review resources. Was this done? We do know that DTRA has continued to be involved.

As to the “show-down,” what would that involve? The idea is presented as if there are two groups, “W-L” and “Cold Fusion.” In fact, the field is called CMNS and LENR. I use “Cold Fusion,” to be sure, because it is a popular name for the FP Heat Effect, and the main product of that effect is helium, a fusion product if the fuel is deuterium, even if you wave some “heavy electrons” at it.

There are some in the field stuck on “D-D fusion,” but it’s actually few.

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