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Wikiversity/Cold fusion/Theory/Chechin (1994)

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Critical Review of Theoretical Models for Anomalous Effects (Cold Fusion) in Deuterated Metals, V.A. Chechin, V.A. Tsarev, M. Rabinowitz, and Y.E. Kim lenr-canr.org convenience copy

One of the authors is still very active with cold fusion theory, Yeong Kim of Purdue University. The paper has:

Our review attempts to fill the need for an in-depth critical theoretical inquiry that is equitable to both sides of the issue. The problem of an adequate theoretical model of CF has turned out to be no simpler than the problem of its unambiguous experimental proof. Our paper deals with the following essential issues:
1) Is CF real or is it just due to artifacts?
2) What are the true properties and nature of CF?
3) If CF is real, what theoretical explanation(s) apply?
4) If CF is real, is ordinary physics sufficient to explain the mechanism or is extraordinary physics necessary?
Even if CF is real, it is premature to try to answer two more relevant questions which need to be addressed when more is known:
5) What new knowledge and benefits can we accrue from CF?
6) Can practical applications be derived from CF?

This was a careful and sober approach,

They then stated:

Although our paper raises the above questions and deals earnestly with them, the present state of knowledge does not yet permit definitive answers to even the first four. We will attempt to answer them within the limits of our ability combined with the availability of reliable experimental and theoretical knowledge. Of the multitude of hypotheses and models that have been suggested, we shall primarily focus on those that have a quantitative aspect to them in addition to their qualitative perspective. This will permit us to analyze the ramifications of their predictions, their internal consistency, and their consistency with established experiments and theory in other domains.

From a more recent perspective, with hindsight, the "reality" question would first need to distinguish between the basic results, common to many experiments and essentially confirmed, with results that are isolated or that are of unknown significance, and especially results that are not correlated with the main results of the Fleischmann-Pons experiment and the confirmations of the FP Heat Effect. So what did they consider "cold fusion"?

The paper does not begin well, from this future perspective:

Cold Fusion (CF) appears to have burst upon the scene in 1989 with the announcements of fusion at room temperature (Fleischmann and Pons, 1989; Jones et al,(1989) in palladium (Pd) electrolytic cells using heavy water (deuterium oxide).

Pons and Fleischmann actually announced two things, and one was quickly found to be artifact. In their first paper, they intended to ask a question, "Fusion?" but that question mark was dropped. What they actually claimed was two-fold: a previously unknown nuclear reaction, and they did not claim that it was fusion, and the production of neutrons at levels so low that the main reaction, producing the heat, could not be producing neutrons. In fact, the reaction was not clearly producing any neutrons at all. Pons and Fleischmann described, in their paper, the well-known fusion reactions, but it was obvious that these were not happening. Or else they would have been dead from the neutrons.

There is an idea that "cold fusion" is a defined and single thing, and that this single thing is producing all the effects that have been seen in highly loaded palladium deuteride. So, here, they link Pons and Fleischmann, and Jones, when the claims of Pons and Fleischmann and those of Jones were radically different. Jones was proposing what could be a laboratory curiosity, at most, if confirmed. Jones expected no measurable heat, and only looked for neutrons. Pons and Fleischmann only found heat, the neutrons they reported were artifact.

The paper has a section:

2. THEORETICAL OPPOSITION AND SUPPORT FOR COLD FUSION
It now appears likely that CF is a sporadic, non-equilibriumprocess. The initial expectation of a considerable number of theoretical publications was that CF is a continuous process associated with steady state conditions in a lattice. In this context, considerations were given to the difference in interatomic fields in a solid than in a plasma due to electron screening.

They still have not defined "CF." It's apparently assumed that everyone knows what it is, and it is that assumption that generally killed understanding. "It" is not the known fusion, period. The theoretical arguments that are given in "opposition" analyze the conditions in palladium deuteride and argue that even if conditions there might be more favorable to "fusion" than in other condensed matter situations, they are still nowhere close to what could allow the known fusion. And then there were theoretical efforst in "support" to show that maybe "fusion" could occur.

All of which was off the point. Pons and Fleischmann discovered anomalous heat. They did not have direct evidence that this was from fusion. It was a *speculation.* The direct evidence (helium production correlated with the heat) was not discovered until Miles (1991).

Perhaps the most notable theoretical support for CF comes from Julian Schwinger (1990a, b, c) who also contends d's encounter a relatively narrow Coulomb barrier allowing them to fuse into 3He in a highly deuterated lattice. He cites Einstein (1907) as pointing out "that the initial phase of a novel investigation can be hindered by an excess of realism".

It was characteristic of real scientists who looked at cold fusion that they were willing to consider new mechanisms. However, there is a huge problem with Schwinger's theory, and this was known by 1994. Tritium is produced at low levels, a million times down from helium, but that has never been correlated with the heat. It's like the situation with neutrons. There are reports of neutrons from palladium deuteride and other metal deuterides, but the levels are extremely low, a million times down from the neutrons. So any mechanism that produces tritium or neutrons is essentially absent, irrelevant to the production of heat and helium. Schwinger's "notable theoretical support" was no support at all, for the actual observed phenomenon, the FP Heat Effect.

Hundreds of experimental papers have been published on CF and there have been

a number of reviews (Tsarev, 1990,1992a,b; Bockris et al, 1990; Rabinowitz, 1990a; Storms, 1991; Srinivasan, 1991; Preparata, 1991a,b; Tsarev and Worledge, 1991). Our objective is different as it will focus on CF theoretical models, and not the experiments. Nevertheless, for completeness we will briefly cover the main experimental findings with an emphasis on new observations not covered in previous reviews. Many of the claims need further careful verification.

By mixing what was unconfirmed and what was present, if present, only at very low levels, the understanding of cold fusion was vastly confused. Chechin shows what the thinking was at the time. Consider this, which followed:

The term "cold fusion (CF)" represents fusion or other anomalous effects at ambient temperature of hydrogen isotopes embedded in a crystal lattice. Observations considered as evidence of CF can be divided into three groups:

Yes, the term is used that way. It became LENR, or low-energy nuclear reactions, with other variations being in use. However, there was a striking phenomenon, the elephant in the living room, heat beyond what chemistry could accomplish, and that's what Pons and Fleischmann actually found and claimed. Because of the magnitude of the heat, tritium production, also reported, was a total mystery. Only a tiny amount of tritium was made, at most. If there is a nuclear reaction producing heat, there will be an ash, the reaction product. What was it. It was obviously not tritium. But because tritium was reported, theorists rushed to develop theories involving tritium.

A. Data on direct "real-time" detection of products of nuclear fusion. These are mainly neutrons presumably from the reaction [d + d -> 3He + n].

Notice that the first evidence asserted is "mainly neutrons." Indeed, there was a lot of searching for neutrons, but the neutron evidence was essentially missing, the levels of neutrons could not explain the heat effect, and could only be, to the extent that they were significant at all, evidence of some very low level effect. I.e., maybe Jones was right, and maybe the fusion cross-section in PdD was somewhat enhanced. But not to the levels necessary to explain the FP Heat Effect. Not even close. Nor were significant levels of He-3 found.

B. Accumulation of 4He, and tritium (t) products ... Most groups report an unexpected preponderance of t (or 4He) over neutrons.

Helium is mentioned, but almost as a detail. "Most groups"? Nobody found significant neutrons, neutron reports were close on the edge of possible background, maybe a little higher. Tritium was reported a million times up from that, and helium a million times up from tritium. Nobody would guess this from the paper.

C. Indications of excess heat release ∆Q beyond the energy input into the sample when loading it with deuterium. This method is both the least specific as to the nature of the reaction, as well as being the least sensitive. If dd fusion reactions (4) and (5) are responsible for the xcess heat, then heat at the 1 W level corresponds to ~ 1012 reactions/sec; and for reaction (6) ~ 1014 reactions/sec since the γ's will likely escape. However, high energy γ's have yet to be detected.

So, what was *actually discovered*, and what *primarily needs explanation, is listed third. Helium, which was by this time reported to be correlated with heat, is almost a footnote. Instead, they are looking primarily at neutrons and tritium, and trying to explain them. No wonder they found nothing that worked.

They proceed to cover what they call Nuclear Mechanofusion, which we now call fracto-fusion. It is not cold fusion at all, it is simply hot fusion produced in a normally-cold environment, by the acceleration of deuterons. Naturally, it produces neutrons.

They report what they call "Nuclear Chemofusion," again considered fusion because of neutron findings. Including all this with cold fusion would, again, reinforce the idea that cold fusion is ordinary fusion, which is, of course, contradictory. The Nuclear Chemofusion results they report were unverified, so they were willing to report unverified results that were not at all clearly the same phenomenon as what was known as cold fusion, the results of Pons and Fleischmann, and confirmations.

Critique: High loading claims (d/Pd > 0.7) must be considered with caution as in some cases this may simply be due to the filling of voids and cracks that are created as the host lattice is forced to expand.

This is wild, but doubt about the high loading was common in those days. The "negative replicators" generally believed that loading above 0.7 could not be reached, so they did not bother to attempt it. The Fleischman-Pons Heat Effect does not appear until roughly 0.9. They are essentially claiming that chemists can't measure loading, and would be fooled by "voids and cracks." Hence my conclusion that this paper was written by physicists. (And what if there were an error here? I.e., maybe those "voids and cracks," filled with deuterium, are necessary for the effect.) I do not know to what extent the SRI work was available at this point. SRI did not publish in the journals, they were consultants retained by the Electric Power Research Institute (initially).

But then they have:

At the Third International Conference on Cold Fusion, held in Nagoya, Japan Oct.

1992, the results of about 30 new calorimetric experiments were presented. Many laboratories (McKubre et al, 1992; Storms, 1992; Kunimatsu et al, 1992) reported that one condition for excess power production is the formation of a highly loaded Pd-D system i.e. PdDx with x larger than ≈0.85 - 0.9, taken as an average over the entire cathode. This is clearly seen in Kunimatsu et al , where the excess heat generation becomes prominent around D/Pd≥0.85. This was first discussed independendently in 1989 (Pauling, 1989; Golubnichiy et al, 1989a,b ; Tsarev, 1992a), but Pauling ascribed a chemical non-fusion character to the effect. Yet, the ~ MJ excess energy over ~ 5 days seen at SRI by McKubre et al does not fit into any conventional chemical explanation. Ota et al (1992) report a possible influence of the mechanical treatment of the Pd cathode.

Basically, by 1992, some of the basic characteristics of cold fusion were known. But they keep getting confused by and with neutrons:

Especially impressive results were presented by the group from Osaka University (Takahashi et al, 1992). They started their CF experiments in 1989 with very modest results with the observation of very weak neutron emission at ~ 1 n/sec level, and gradually improved their technique and results. During the period of June 1990 to May 1991, their neutron signal increased up to ≈15 n/sec and they observed two energy components in the neutron spectrum: ≈2.45 MeV and ≈3 - 7 MeV. Later using a pulsed current mode of electrolysis operation, they observed t production with t/n ~ 105 - 106 and an excess heat at about 1 W/cm3. [Incidently, the possibility of stimulating CF by various methods including pulses or steps of "current shocks" was first suggested by Golubnichiy et al (1989a,b).] Finally they reached very large, stable and continuous excess heat generation at the 30 - 100 W level. For two months, they registered a net output energy of 160 MJ given an input energy of 410 MJ. The average input power was 50 W; ave. output power 82 W; and ave. excess power 32 W.

Again, notice that they lead with neutron evidence. It is not mentioned that the neutrons and tritium levels found would be, if classic fusion is taking place, completely inconsistent with the heat reported. There is a lot more heat than there is tritium, and the neutrons are still at very low levels. Physicists are interested in neutrons. Neutrons = "nuclear." Some physicists have claimed that no neutrons = not nuclear.

Critique: Of all the different kinds of measurements that have been made, one might expect the calorimetric measurement to

be the most direct and clear-cut as they nly involve a temperature measurement, but this is not the case. The possibility of a small systematic error integrated over a long period of time has not been conclusively eliminated. Transient or steady state hot spot s due to inhomogeneities rather than CF may give rise to erroneous temperature readings. Changes in the electrolyte may even be a source of energy. It is puzzling that the calorimetric excess energy is ~105 times higher than the fusion t energy which is ~ 108 times higher than the neutron energy.

Indeed it's "puzzling." That is because the discovered effect is one of heat, measured by experts in measuring heat. The "puzzle" arises when one tries to explain the heat by considering the known fusion reactions. But if one starts out to describe what is actually found, it was simple. Heat was found. Very little else. Yes, other things were found, but at miniscule levels by comparison. Then, with Miles (1991 and later), helium was found, with a ratio to the heat not far from, and very possibly within experimental error of, the deuterium fusion value. I.e, if deuterium is converted to helium *by any mechanism*, the resulting energy release must be 23.8 MeV/He-4. So do they report Miles? Yes.

Interesting results concerning simultaneous detection of excess heat and production of 4He have been reported recently by two American groups who have had their share of critics. Bush et al performed calorimetric measurements and analysis for 4He from the gases evolved in the electrolysis of D2O with LiOD added to the electrolyte (Bush et al, 1991; Miles and Bush, 1992). They found that the evolved gases contained 4He in those cases when a considerable heat release was registered. They observed an approximate proportionality between the excess heat ∆Q and the number density n(He) of 4He. In addition, they found a marked blackening of x-ray films placed in the vicinity of the operating electrolytic cells. A control expe iment with the electrolyte replaced with H2O + LiOH resulted in neither 4He nor film blackening.

Based on positive ∆Q and 4He correlation in 8 out of 8 experiments, and lack of 4He production in 6 out of 6 control experiments, the authors estimated the probability of a chance coincidence of this result for all 14 measurements as (0.5)14 = 6.1 x 10-5. They also claimed to exclude the possibility of atmospheric 4He contamination as an explanation of their data. Their estimate for the 4He production rate during electrolysis was about 4 x 1011 4He/sec/W of input [sic?] energy. They assert that this quantity of 4He exceeds the limit of sensitivity of their method by > 102. If the process d + d ∅ 4He + γ + 23.8 MeV is the source of heat release, then there is an order of magnitude correspondence between ∆Q and n(He).

Notice the gaffe. If the reaction is d+d -> He-4 plus gamma, much of the energy would escape through those gammas, plus the radiation would be at high levels and dangerous. This could not be the reaction. Rather, the correct way to state the relationship here would have been: "If the reaction is one which converts deuterium to helium with no gammas being generated, the generated heat expected from the measured helium production would be within an order of magnitude of that observed." In this experiment, the helium was only crudely measured, so "order of magnitude" is roughly the experimental error.

What is being done is to try to shoehorn results into a known fusion reaction. It was useless, it wasn't going to happen.

The paper, after reporting more strange results (results that nobody talks about today), goes into the models. They begin wtih:

As yet, there is no consistent theory of CF.

Nor was one likely. A massive pile of often unconfirmed results were being asserted as "CF." There was a lack of focus. Attempting to explain it all, no theory could succeed. Were the theorists of the time aware of the problem in assuming that all "CF results" were due to a single phenomenon. Obviously, there could be multiple effects. Palladium deuteride had not been very well explored at high loading. There had been anomalies noticed by researchers, passed of as something strange that might never be explained. Stuff happens.

So there could have been at least three or four effects, or more.

  1. Experimental error, artifact. Possibly many of these.
  2. The unknown nuclear reaction causing the heat in the FP heat effect.
  3. Secondary reactions or rare branches from (2).
  4. Lattice enhanced nuclear fusion (i.e, Jones, detected by neutrons).

Artifact can be ruled out as a universal explanation for results. Miles, in particular, showed correlated effects that should be independent if artifact. Cold fusion calorimetry has been very carefully reviewed, and controls show no heat (or very little). Indeed, in the 2004 review, half the reviewers, in an environment where some reviewers were obviously not going to recognize cold fusion if it bit them on the nose, considered the heat to be real, and two-thirds of those considered it likely nuclear in origin. And the reviewers mostly missed the significance of Miles et al, it's obvious from the reviewer reports. Only one showed a sign of having read Miles, and others clearly misread the McKubre Case replication report, thinking that control cells were experimental ones, not realizing that the correlation between heat and helium was strong in the results. In the manner in which they interpreted results, heat and helium were correlated weakly, if at all. So they did not know about Miles what was in this review ten years earlier, or they would have asked McKubre, who was there, about his results. I've been told that there were no such questions.

The second effect produces helium as the sole readily-measured product. It's the 800 lb. gorilla. The results from secondary reactions or very low-level fusion could be neglected with little impact on theory as to the main effect.