This is a subpage of Widom-Larsen theory
Electron mass shift in nonthermal systems
P L Hagelstein1 and I U Chaudhary2
Published 6 June 2008 • 2008 IOP Publishing Ltd
The electron mass is known to be sensitive to local fluctuations in the electromagnetic field, and undergoes a small shift in a thermal field. It was claimed recently that a very large electron mass shift should be expected near the surface of a metal hydride (Widom and Larsen 2006 Eur. Phys. J. C 46107). We examine the shift using a formulation based on the Coulomb gauge, which leads to a much smaller shift. The maximization of the electron mass shift under nonequilibrium conditions seems nonetheless to be an interesting problem. We consider a scheme in which a current in a hollow wire produces a large vector potential in the wire centre. Fluctuations in an LC circuit with nearly matched loss and gain can produce large current fluctuations; and these can increase the electron mass shift by orders of magnitude over its room temperature value.
arXiv copy. From the paper:
Our interest in this problem generally was stimulated by a recent paper by Widom
and Larsen . In this paper, the authors propose that a very large mass shift can be
obtained near the surface of a metal hydride under nonequilibrium conditions. According
to Widom and Larsen, the electron mass shift can be in the MeV range.
Of course, a mass shift this large is unexpected and unprecedented. To develop
such a large mass shift, intuition suggests that the electron must interact with the
local environment with at least a comparable interaction strength. Under the relatively
benign environment of a metal hydride, it is difficult to understand why such large
interactions should occur. If there existed such strong dynamical fluctuations, one
should expect multiphoton ionization as occurs in intense laser field; but generally no
such effects are usually observed. Consequently, we are motivated to examine the model
in order to better understand the problem.
4.5. Summary and issues
The notion that an electron bound to a proton in a metal hydride could acquire a
mass shift on the order of an MeV due to the motion of the proton as part of collective
oscillations seems highly unlikely. A simple way to view the effect in the Coulomb gauge
can be summed up as follows. The proton oscillates, creating a weak local magnetic
field. Fluctuations in the proton velocity then result in fluctuations in the associated
magnetic field. These fluctuations give rise to a small mass shift through Equation (7).
Since the local electrons can move much faster, the transverse fields developed by
surface plasmon oscillations have the potential to give rise to a larger mass shift. Even
so, such effects are tiny compared to other interactions that electrons experience in a
metal or metal hydride.
Krivit notes that Widom and Larsen replied with an arXiv paper.
Widom, Allan, Srivastava, Yogendra, N. and Larsen, Lewis (Feb. 5, 2008) “Errors in the Quantum Electrodynamic Mass Analysis of Hagelstein and Chaudhary,” http://arxiv.org/abs/0802.0466
[Hagelstein and Chaudhary did not respond.]
I am not qualified to assess the claims of Widom et al in response, but the basic issue, the magnitude of the electron “heaviness” seems to be ignored. Rather, very high short-range electric field strengths are asserted, which begs the question, because the issue is not the possible existence of such fields for short distances but the accumulation of such effects enough to create the claimed MeV mass shifts. The W-L response definitely began with irrelevancies. Bottom line, Widom et al failed to convince Hagelstein and Chaudhary.
J. Condensed Matter Nucl. Sci. 12 (2013) 18–40
Electron Mass Enhancement and the Widom–Larsen Model
Peter L. Hagelstein ∗
Widom and Larsen have put forth a model to describe excess heat and transmutation in LENR experiments. This model is the single most successful theoretical model that the field has seen since it started; it has served as the theoretical justification for a program at NASA; and it has accumulated an enormous number of supporters both within and outside of the condensed matter nuclear science community. The first step in the model involves the proposed accumulation of mass by electrons through Coulomb interactions with electrons and ions in highly-excited coupled plasmon and optical phonon modes. Historically for us this mass increase has been hard to understand, so we were motivated in this study to understand better how this comes about. To study it, we consider simple classical models which show the effect, from which we see that the mass increase can be associated with the electron kinetic energy. The basic results of the simple classical model carry over to the quantum problem in the case of simple wave packet solutions. Since there are no quantum fluctuations of the longitudinal field in the Coulomb gauge, the resulting problem is conventional, and we find no reason to expect MeV electron kinetic energy in a conventional consideration of electrons in metals. We consider the numerical example outlined in a primer on the Widom–Larsen model, and find that multiple GW/cm2 would be required to support the level of vibrational excitation assumed in the surface layer; this very large power per unit area falls short by orders of magnitude the power level needed to make up the expected energy loss of the mass-enhanced electrons. We note that the mass enhancement of an electron in a transverse field is connected to acceleration, so that the electron radiates. A similar effect is expected in the longitudinal case, and a very large amount of easily detected X-ray radiation would be expected if an MeV-level mass enhancement were present even in a modest number of electrons.
Yeah, I’d think so!
Krivit’s site does not mention this JCMNS paper. But:
Ciuchi, S., Maiani, L., Polosa, AD, Riquer,V., Ruocco, G., Vignati, M. (Sept. 28, 2012) “Low Energy Neutron Production by Inverse beta decay in Metallic Hydride Surfaces,” The European Physical Journal C, 72, p. 2193-6 (Oct. 26, 2012) (arXiv preprint)
It has been recently argued that inverse-beta nuclear transmutations might occur at an impressively high rate in a thin layer at the metallic hydride surface under specific conditions. In this note we present a calculation of the transmutation rate which shows that there is little room for such a remarkable effect.
In the response, Widom et al point to a paper purportedly confirming their calculations:
D. Cirillo, R. Germano, V. Tontodonato, A. Widom, Y.N. Srivastava, E. Del Giudice, and G. Vitiello Key Engineering Materials 495, 104 (2012). (ResearchGate copy).
Abstract. A substantial neutron flux generated by plasma excitation at the tungsten cathode of an electrolytic cell with alkaline solution is reported. A method based on a CR-39 nuclear track detector coupled to a boron converter was used to detect the neutrons. This method is insensitive to the strong plasma-generated electromagnetic noise that made inconclusive all the previous attempts to identify neutrons in electrolytic plasma environment by means of electric detection techniques.
Indeed it would be. A boron converter can be used to convert slow neutrons to alpha particles.
A modified Mizuno-type electrolytic plasma cell was used for the experiments. [. . .] The cathode was a tungsten rod. [. . .] The electrolytic solution was made of 0.5 M analytical-grade (Farmalabor) potassium carbonate, K2CO3, in 700 ml of double-distilled water (solution pH > 10). [. . .]
The CR-39 (allyl diglycol carbonate) detector (10 × 10 × 1 mm3 active volume) was inserted into a polystyrene cylinder (hermetically sealed) which was covered by analytical-grade boric acid grains, H3BO3, (Farmalabor, 99.9% purity, 0.5 mm average grains size), used as neutron converter (Fig. 2). The detector was positioned into the electrolyte, in proximity of the plasma discharge. Through the 10B(n,α)7
Li nuclear reaction [9-12], the neutron flux is converted by H3BO3 into α particles detectable by the CR-39 sample.
I was a little surprised to see ordinary Boron being used, since I have some 10B converter screen, which would be more sensitive. But only by a factor of five, perhaps, since natural boron is about 20% 10B.
The CR-39 detectors exposed to the plasma discharge recorded a significant number of tracks, while the ‘blank detector samples’, positioned far from the cell activity (> 5 m), but in the same room, did not detect any relevant tracks. The values of the track density measured after detector’s exposure to two plasma discharges under 290 V and 2.5 A, for 500 s, are similar to the density value measured after 50 min. exposure to the calibration flux of thermal neutrons (Fig. 3). From the calibration curve, an average thermal neutron flux of 720 n⋅s-1⋅mm-2 generated by the plasma discharge was estimated in the region of the CR-39 detector.
This was an interesting report, to be sure. However, this is not a confirmation of W-L theory, for a very simple reason: to be detected, the neutrons had to travel a substantial distance away from the presumed site of formation, the cathode surface, tungsten undergoing plasma electrolysis, out of the presumed “heavy electron patches,” the electrolyte, and then the detector container. These are not ULM neutrons.
There is another paper by Cirillo alone describing the experiment in more detail, a copy is hosted on Krivit’s site.
There was an attempt to confirm the Cirillo et al report.
Faccini, R., Pilloni, A., Polosa, A.D. et al. Eur. Phys. J. C (2014) 74: 2894. Search for neutron flux generation in a plasma discharge electrolytic cell, available as open access.
This was previously published on arXiv (October, 2013).
From the Faccini et al abstract:
At 95% C.L. we provide an upper limit of 1.5 neutrons cm−2 s−1 for the thermal neutron flux at ≈5 cm from the center of the cell. Allowing for a higher energy neutron component, the largest allowed flux is 64 neutrons cm−2 s−1. This upper limit is two orders of magnitude smaller than the signal previously claimed in an electrolytic cell plasma discharge experiment. Furthermore the behavior of the CR-39 is discussed to point out possible sources of spurious signals.
There was an arXiv response (November, 2013) by Widom et al, Analysis of an attempt at detection of neutrons produced in a plasma discharge electrolytic cell
and then further analysis by Faccini et al on arXiv (January, 2014):
I quote here from the Introduction:
Given the striking results obtained in Ref.  [Cerillo et al, 2012] and the fact that some experimental aspects did not convince us, we set up to reproducing the experiment and published the results in Ref.  [Faccini et al, 2013]: we failed to reproduce the original results and we identified potential weaknesses in the measurements technique. In absence of undestanding the underlying physical processes, it is virtually impossible to reproduce exactly the original experiment, since any unavoidable small change in the setup can be pointed out as a cause of failure to reproduce the experiment. This of course speaks against the reproducibililty of the experiment, and suggests that only performing further experiments together could clarify the situation. On the contrary, considerations about the effectiveness of the neutron detection in an experiment have much more solid grounds, the biggest uncertainty being the energy spectrum of the generated neutrons.
A small note published on arXiv  [Widom et al, 2013] by the authors of Ref.  asks for further details to understand differences in the experimental setup and moves objections to our conclusions about the neutron detectors. Here we provide further material about our experiment and further argumentations on the neutron detectors. We follow the same structure of Ref.  and respond point by point.
I notice here that Widom et al referred to Cirillo et al as evidence against theoretical critique. From Widom, Allan, Srivastava, Yogendra. N., and Larsen, Lewis (Oct. 17, 2012) “Erroneous Wave Functions of Ciuchi et al. for Collective Modes in Neutron Production on Metallic Hydride Cathodes”:
IV. CONCLUDING STATEMENT
No significant argument has been provided against our nuclear physics results. The experimental evidence of neutron production and nuclear transmutations in properly designed plasma discharge electrolytic cells [Cirillo et al, 2012] agrees with our theoretical analysis and belies the theoretical arguments given in [Ciuchi et al, 2012] against a hefty production of neutrons in hydride cells.
This sequence shows the hazard of citing unconfirmed research results, especially those with the theoretician as an author, to address theoretical objections, as if the cited research were conclusive. (The response by Faccini et al seems telling to me, however, and I notice that they used a Boron 10 conversion foil, instead of the weaker ordinary Boron compound used by Cirillo et al. As pointed out by Faccini et al, replication failure is not generally conclusive, but it can pull the rug out from under a claim if the mechanism of failure is clearly understood. None of this addresses the ULM neutron discrepancy.)
As to Tennfors, his article: Eur. Phys. J. Plus (2013) 128: 15
Abstract. The present article is a critical comment on Widom and Larsens speculations concerning lowenergy nuclear reactions (LENR) based on spontaneous collective motion of protons in a room temperature metallic hydride lattice producing oscillating electric fields that renormalize the electron self-energy, adding significantly to the effective electron mass and enabling production of low-energy neutrons. The frequency and mean proton displacement estimated on the basis of neutron scattering from protons in palladium and applied to the Widom and Larsens model of the proton oscillations yield an electron mass enhancement less than one percent, far below the threshold for the proposed neutron production and even farther below the mass enhancement obtained by Widom and Larsen assuming a high charge density. Neutrons are not stopped by the Coulomb barrier, but the energy required for the neutron production is not low.
The claim of Krivit that all these authors are making a mistake proposes a violation of the laws of thermodynamics.
As Larsen explained, the 0.78 MeV required to create the neutron in the Widom-Larsen theory does not come from a single proton and a single electron (as is typical with two-particle plasma physics), but from many protons and electrons that each contribute a small amount of their energy to only one electron.
It is not possible to create large energy by collection of small amounts of energy from many particles into one particle. This is like creating a hot spot by collecting energy in a system. (I can imagine a mechanical system to do this, once, with levers, but not a collection of atoms without mechanical connections.)
From Tennfors’ conclusions:
It is very unlikely the electron energy threshold for neutron production can be reached in a metal lattice system without a substantial energy input. Even if the threshold field is reached the high velocities of the relativistic electrons will severely reduce the reaction rate and make the reverse beta decay reaction very rare. The neutron scattering data used by the authors to demonstrate the concept rather demonstrate its failure. Their claim of obtaining low-energy nuclear reactions in metallic lattices and their other conclusions are based on a number of fallacies and an obscuring way of handling the equations.
That’s drastic. Yet it more or less matches what I’ve seen in this work: evidence collected and presented in a way to confuse rather than to clarify.
This NET directory page lists critical comments (and some responses).
As can be seen in the two responses called “Coward,” Krivit published responses specifically provided as “off the record,” without any necessity other than to defame. The fearless investigative journalist has no integrity, but we already knew that.
Here is the solicitation, which was sent to a private mailing list for CMNS researchers. I have redacted that address, because list moderators don’t want it published. Mail to the list is not to be published except with permission; however, Krivit has published this, my emphasis:
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2007 11:33:59 -0800
From: Steven Krivit <email@example.com>
Subject: Inviting critique of the WL Theory
Dear CMNS researchers,
I will be writing a short article on the WL Theory. If anybody wishes to submit a BRIEF critique of it, or identification of any related error or fault, ON THE RECORD, please submit that to me at firstname.lastname@example.org before Thursday, March 1. Naturally, if you have published any formal critiques or identified any related error in the scientific literature or in a formal scientific venue, I would very much like to know, and see that as well.
Steven B. Krivit
This was, on the face, a great idea. However, how Krivit handled it was awful. Storms responded, and here is how, publishing it, Krivit prefaced it, my emphasis:
[On Sept. 28, 2007, New Energy Times sent out the first of a set of queries to the CMNS researchers, at that time, 260 active researchers, that invited critique of the Widom-Larsen Theory. The invitation explicitly stated that comments would be on the record. New Energy Times published the responses in “The Widom-Larsen Not-Fusion Theory” on Jan. 11, 2008.
Storms, without discussing or obtaining any alternative advance agreement with New Energy Times, elected to send the following letter.
That letter began (my emphasis):
At 11:42 AM 12/21/2007, Edmund Storms wrote:Steve,I am telling you this off the record so that you can understand my attitude.
From: Talbot Chubb
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2007 20:13:30 EST
Subject: critique of Widom-Larsen
A .doc file of this letter is attached.
This is a private communication. Please don’t associate it with my name. This is NOT ON THE RECORD. I don’t want to discuss it with the authors.
Dr. Chubb was an NRL physicist, very well known in the CMNS field. He was, at the time of this email, about 84 years old. Storms was 76 at the time of his mail to Krivit, clearly intended to be private.
Contrary to his claim, Krivit did not make clear that any emails to him on the subject of W-L theory would be published. Rather, he wrote a conditional statement, repeated:
It came to the point, by years ago, that very few CMNS researchers would give him the time of day. He will ascribe this to his support for W-L theory, when the real cause is terminal rudeness and backstabbing, and, as well, his consistent misrepresentation of the general position of the CMNS community on what he calls “D-D fusion,” which has, actually, very little support in the community unless there is something very different about it. (I.e., Storms theory posits a collective resonance within a linear molecule, this is not just “two deuterons fusing,” but, unfortunately, it ends up with reduced-mass deuterons actually pairing up and fusing, but calling those reduced mass nuclear isomers “deuterons” is a bit misleading. They were deuterons, previously, but are, no longer. They are, in Storms theory, something else with lower mass. (And no, I don’t understand Storms “explanation” in the matter of mechanism.)
Hagelstein, in 2013, looked at this carefully and specifically, in his JCMNS re-examination,
Electron_mass_enhancement_and_the_Widom_Larsen_Model (mentioned above).
Widom has been quite silent on W-L theory of late, I have found no papers with him as co-author after the neutron report in 2012 mentioned above (and that paper did not actually discuss W-L theory), and the arXiv response to Ciuchi, also in 2012.
[I found this paper from 2017: Reaction products from electrode fracture and Coulomb
explosions in batteries… and there are others]
It looks like the torch is being carried mostly by Larsen and Krivit. Krivit is definitely not a physicist and often misunderstands physics and the writings of physicists. Larsen, in his LinkedIn bio, claims
Lewis Larsen is a theoretical physicist and businessman who serves as President and CEO of Lattice Energy LLC (Chicago, IL)
However, his education does not justify “theoretical physicist.” His MA is in business administration.
In early 1970s, completed coursework and part of dissertation for PhD in Biophysics at the University of Miami. Had to drop-out of program because of finding cuts in government block grant that supported my postgraduate work.
“Funding,” Larsen. There is no clue from his education that he would be able to follow complex quantum field theory. However, fools rush in where angels fear to tread. I open my mouth when I’m less than sure, (or think I’m sure) but . . . I actually do seek correction from those who know, and sometimes they are kind enough to point out my errors. And then there are those who don’t actually know, who presume superior knowledge. It takes all kinds.
Lewis dove into LENR by starting a company, Lattice Energy (an LLC formed in Delaware, February 7, 2000), and engaged Dr. Storms as a consultant. For stock, of course, see Storm’s letter to Krivit. This was business for him, clearly. Lattice Energy announced its plans on a blog, author “LEWIS,” in 2003, to commercialize a “proprietary technology,” appearing to have nothing to do with W-L theory, closer to George Miley’s ideas, perhaps.
In 2006, a slide show listed Larsen as “president and CEO” of Lattice Energy, with Allen Widom as “Consultant and Member of Lattice Energy LLC.”
At ICCF-21, one of the benefits was the opportunity to listen to stories about government contracting, how some have made a lot of money with essentially worthless technology through government contracts.
(An example being Ampenergo, by the way, which pulled of this trick at least twice, first with Rossi thermoelecric converters — ah, the stories! from someone who actually saw these in the U.S. and at Rossi’s facility in Italy — and then more money by reselling Rossi ECat rights to Industrial Heat for something like $5 million actually paid (which was in addition to and separate from the $11.5 million plus other expenses that went directly to Rossi) W-L theory has seen the strongest acceptance within certain government circles, and we can see the aggressive marketing in that 2006 slide show.
So, on that private list, Dr. Storms wrote (reproduced with permission), 7/8/2018 11:29 AM, with some redactions to avoid copying comments by others, and I’ve added links:
[addressed to Lewis Larsen]
[redacted] . . . I’m surprised you are still defending Widom’s theory. I thought by now you would have seen the flaws and explored a different approach. Apparently, the published critiques noted below were not sufficient to change your mind.
- S. Ciuchi, L. Maiani, A. D. Polosa, V. Riquer, R. Ruocco, M. Vignati, Low energy neutron production by inverse beta decay in metallic hydride surfaces. arXiv:1209.6501v1 [nucl-th] 28 Sep 2012, (2012).
- P. L. Hagelstein, Electron mass enhancement and the Widom–Larsen model. J. Cond. Matter Nucl. Sci. 12, 18-40 (2013).
- E. Tennfors, On the idea of low-energy nuclear reactions in metallic lattices by producing neutrons from protons capturing “heavy” electrons. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 128, 1 (2013).
In addition to these identifications of the problems, I have noted that your approach violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics, does not predict the observed He/energy ratio, has no evidence supporting the mechanism, and violates how electrons are known to behave. I do not have the time to discuss the details of these problems because such discussions in the past have been a waste of time, . . . [redacted].
[redacted] . . . you are trying to claim that calculated field strengths present during chemical reactions are able to accumulate enough local energy to allow a neutron to form by the reaction between an electron and a proton or deuteron. Changing the description to “mass-renormalization” changes nothing.
First of all, the idea of “effective mass” does not mean the actual mass of the electron has increased as result of accumulated energy. The concept only means that the behavior can be described when a larger value for the electron mass is used in the accepted equations. This is only a mathematical convenience, not a conclusion about the actual mass of the electron or its energy.
Also, energies in a chemical system are not absolute but are always relative to another state, usually to what is called a standard state. In your model, you need an energy of an electron greater than 0.74 MeV RELATIVE to a proton nucleus. Such a large directional energy simply can not exist in a chemical structure. Even if it did, there is no evidence such an energetic electron would react with a proton rather than lose its energy by the normal and observed paths.
Attempts to explain LENR are handicapped by a lack of rules and laws agreed to by everyone, as is common and necessary in other field of science. Consequently, people feel free to use their imaginations. The only question is how far outside of conventional understanding can these ideas go before the idea looks foolish and loses all respect by conventional science. I suggest the Widom idea has gone too far and your efforts to defend it look increasingly desperate.
The Ciuchi et al paper was also published as Ciuchi, S., Maiani, L., Polosa, A.D. et al. Eur. Phys. J. C (2012) 72: 2193. https://doi.org/10.1140/epjc/s10052-012-2193-9. (direct link.) … So this was also in a peer-reviewed mainstream journal, as was Tennfors. Hagelstein was publishing in the specialty journal, which is also peer-reviewed but which is not considered “maintream,” though, in fact, the ideas are considered “mainstream” in the DTRA review covered above.
Storms only lists a few of the problems with W-L theory. There are more.
There was another review of W-L theory that has been suppressed by NET, at one time it was more prominent. Looking for it, I found this blog coverage of W-L theory, which certainly starts out with promise. The author wants to get to the bottom of this. Scanning it for now, I find many of my arguments and facts there. I intend to look later. Meanwhile, what I was looking for was Vysotskii, which he cites.
Vysotskii is a Russian physicist with a substantial reputation in that field. He was treated like s*** by Krivit.
The paper, published in JCMNS, 2014, On Problems of Widom–Larsen Theory Applicability to Analysis and Explanation of Rossi Experiments
The “sin” of Vysotskii, for Krivit, was to refer to Rossi claims as “important,” which was not a scientific judgment, necessarily, but at the time, many scientists were considering those claims important. This was after the Lugano Report, but before the relationship with Industrial Heat fell apart and Rossi deceptions became completely clear. Before that, Krivit had announced Rossi as a fraud, often adding “convicted felon,” which was misleading, though also not completely wrong. Krivit apparently expected everyone else to accept his yellow journalism, and if they didn’t, they were not to be considered scientists. Vysotskii wrote:
Theoretical explanation of important Rossi–Focardi (R–F) experiments (e.g. [1,2]) is usually associated with Widom–Larsen (W–L) theory (see [3–8]).
In fact, this was generically true for nickel hydride results in general. At the time, though, Rossi was very, very prominent, unfortunately. Krivit had looked at an earlier version of this article, on Infinite Energy, V.I. Vysotskii, Critique of the Widom–Larsen theory, Infinite Energy 105 (2012) 37–41.
I see that I wrote extensively on these issues in the past. I used to use the mailing list email@example.com as a blog, more or less. These topics are apropos here:
Critique of Widom-Larsen theory Message 1 of 2 , Feb 27, 2013
Re: CMNS: Critique of Widom-Larsen theory Message 1 of 2 , Feb 27, 2013
Re: FW: CMNS: Critique of Widom-Larsen theory Message 1 of 2 , Mar 1, 2013
Covering up the history of New Energy Times Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2013
Lewis Larsen, Allan Widom vision — QM ball of surface electron plasmons couple with lattice nuclei as very slow massive “neutrons” Mar 18, 2013
Re: [nVo] Critiques of W-L theory Message 1 of 10 , Apr 9, 2013
Larsen on Lithium battery fires and LENR Message 1 of 3 , Aug 7, 2013
Zawdony on W-L theory, 2011 Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2013
Recent paper by Widom et al Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25, 2013
Krivit: LENR Researcher Biberian Has Limited Answers for Cold Fusion Mar 23, 2013
New Energy Times (non)coverage of W-L LENR theory criticism Mar 20, 2013
That last one is what I was looking for, it covers the Vysotskii affair. Vysotski wrote a very specific critique of W-L theory for Infinite Energy, and it was later published in JCMNS as well, as linked above. Yet this is not, as I noted in 2013, in the place devoted to critique of the theory, even though in the subdirectory, there are many ad hoc critiques not published elsewhere. It is here: (at the bottom of the long page)
Attempts by “Cold Fusion” Proponents to Discredit Work That Conflicts with The Hypothesis of “Cold Fusion”
Three works are listed. Two of them are foundational works in the field, one (Vysotskii) is simply a critique of W-L theory. None are arguments for the “hypothesis of cold fusion,” as such, unless it is understood very, very generally (which would include W-L theory, by the way).
(Source: New Energy Times)
Speculations for the Non-Existence of Energetic Alpha Particles in LENR
Hagelstein, Peter L., “Constraints on Energetic Particles in the Fleischmann–Pons Experiment, “Naturwissenschaften, DOI 10.1007/s00114-009-0644-4, Feb. 9, 2010
The Hagelstein paper was published in Naturwissenschaften, probably the most prestigious journal ever to publish LENR papers. It is the source for the “Hagelstein limit” which is not a simple speculation, it is an analysis of known particle physics, something which Krivit obviously does not understand. It does not claim that “energetic alpha particles” to not exist in LENR experiments, but that there is a limit on the energy of such, if they are copious. Rare particles might well exist. As W-L theory does predict a few energetic alphas under some conditions — we’d need to look at specifics — Krivit obviously thinks that the “target” is W-L theory, and so he wants to discredit the paper. But he does not have, even remotely, any excuse. I’ve listened to Peter in person many times. He simply does not think in oppositional terms. He looks for understanding and explanations, and one can see his effort in his latest work on W-L theory.
This paper is actually evidence of the acceptance of LENR in a major mainstream journal, because it assumes LENR is real. This is one of the papers that I would have anyone new to LENR read, because many people, not familiar with the evidence, come up with ideas in conflict with the Hagelstein limit. I often propose that the limit is not totally rigid, that there might be some wiggle room. But not much.
The Hagelstein limit creates major difficulties for any “d-d fusion” theory, in fact. It is not a major obstacle, in itself, for W-L theory. But, of course, Hagelstein has written another paper focusing on issues with W-L theory, and Krivit’s world is full of “bad guys,” i.e., the enemies of Truth and W-L theory, and if they are Wrong about one thing, then they must be wrong and badly motivated about everything.
Vladimir I. Vysotskii, “Critique of the Widom-Larsen Theory,” Infinite Energy, 2012
[Ed: On request from New Energy Times in 2012 , Vysotskii was unable to provide any scientific reference to support his assertion of “important Rossi-Focardi experimental results.” This paper, therefore, has no factual basis and is presented as an example of unscientific skepticism.]
That’s totally crazy, as I wrote back in 2013. The paper uses that phrase as an introduction to why there was interest in W-L theory, because it has been used to support nickel hydride reactions as plausible. If that phrase and all reference to Rossi is removed, nothing about the paper changes except that explanation. It was not a “scientific statement,” so it needed no “scientific reference.” Again, I’ve heard Vysotskii in person many times, and this is one of the smartest people in the field, and often published under peer review. He has substantial credentials as a physicist, and is one of the people who would be qualified to assess the physics of W-L theory. I am not qualified to validate his physics — but I would be far more qualified than Krivit. (and his discussion does look plausible, and clearly does attempt to understand W-L theory. He does not reject it because of any attachment to “d-d fusion,” or what Krivit calls “cold fusion.” He does not actually reject W-L theory, but terms it “inefficient.” He states that it might find some applications. His objections match those of many other physicists who have critiqued the theory.
Krivit is reacting primitively, using a blatant excuse to get rid of what he doesn’t like. And then, last:
The Science of Low Energy Nuclear Reaction: A Comprehensive Compilation of Evidence and Explanations, by Edmund Storms, World Scientific Publishing Company, ISBN 9-8127062-0-8, (July 2007)
This is the best book in existence on LENR at this point. It is what the title claims. It is not promoting any particular theory, but is appropriately skeptical of all of them. The offense of this book is apparently that there is brief coverage of W-L theory, which was relatively new at the time. In this two-page consideration, Storms raises many of the obvious objections, but, in context, he raises such issues for many theories.
It is possible to raise objections to some of what Storms writes (i.e., W-L theory is ad hoc and has many tacked in “explanations” to address some of the obvious objections, and Storms could not possibly cover all this in depth in two pages). LENR is an experimental field, and theory at this point plays a minor part, only the most primitive theories can be said to be widely accepted, but none are universally accepted.
In 2010, Storms was invited to submit to Naturwissenschaften a review of the entire LENR field, and it was published as Status of cold fusion (2010). (preprint). This article mentions W-L theory very briefly, in a discussion that, as before, considers no theory fully satisfactory:
Addition of neutrons, as several authors have suggested (Fisher 2007; Kozima 2000; Widom and Larsen 2006), is not consistent with observation because long chains of beta decay must occur after multiple neutron addition before the observed elements are formed. The required delay in producing the final stable element and resulting radioactivity are not observed.
Again, there are many other objections to W-L theory that he did not mention, but he, as an experimentalist, focuses on apparent conflict with experimental observation.
Krivit, for his part, submitted a comment on the 2010 Storms review in Naturwissenschaften, which was published in 2013. Krivit has self-published the as-published version, ignoring the clear instructions from NW (which he reproduces). (Many publishers, including Springer, allow authors to put up as-submitted versions, not the as-published version, which incorporates publisher work product. Krivit routinely ignores copyright law — but has been swift to claim copyright violation by others). He covers his comment here:
The essence of this is two alleged “significant errors” in the Storms review. He lists them in his blog post:
“Storms’ paper, although replete with excellent experimental evidence, contains two significant errors. The first error is that Storms writes that, except for helium-4, all other nuclear phenomena in LENRs are a ‘side issue.’ They are not.
Krivit has taken the statement out of context. “Side issue” is not a crisply defined term. A “side issue” remains an issue. Here is what Storms wrote:
Initially, the claim that a nuclear process is involved was based on the unusually large magnitude of the observed anomalous energy. A search for the required nuclear product was rewarded with helium production being identified as the major reaction. In addition, tritium and neutrons were also occasionally reported long with various transmutation products, showing on some occasions abnormal isotopic composition changes. These nuclear products, while important, are roughly 1010 less abundant than helium, making their production a side issue to understanding the main cold fusion process. Radiation with the expected energy and intensity has not been found, although enough radiation of various kinds has been detected to demonstrate unexpected nuclear processes. Just how the observed radiation relates to the measured nuclear products and heat production is still not clear.
This is not controversial in the field. This basic fact (that helium swamps all the other products found) is generally ignored by W-L theory presentations, including those by Krivit. What Storms wrote was not an error, but “side issue” is a matter of interpretation and context, not fact. What are the levels reported? Mass spectrometry can find extraordinarily small levels of unexpected isotopes! (Helium is more difficult to measure because of the presence of D2+ with mass almost the same.)
“Storms writes that ‘a search for the required nuclear product was rewarded with helium production being identified as the major reaction.’ His conclusion about helium-4 is not defensible because most experimentalists made no attempt to analyze for all possible products.
As McKubre has well explained, it is a practical impossibility to “analyze for all possible products,” though it is obviously desirable. However, while, then, the Krivit statement is true about “most,” it is not true for “some,” i.e., the products claimed by W-L theory have been sought and would have been observed. What is truly different about helium is the correlation with heat. No other product has been found and confirmed to be correlated with heat. As to a confirmed product, with a ratio to heat as predicted by the laws of thermodynamics, it’s really the only game on the table, so far. If W-L theory is to be successful, it must not only explain the theoretical prediction but also the actual results. What Krivit has done, in extensive blogging, is to attempt to tear down the best research in the history of LENR, the work that discovered and confirmed the heat/helium correlation and ratio.
That conclusion is not only defensible, it was defended, by me, in a peer-reviewed review of the heat/helium work, in Current Science in 2015, which, as far as I know, Krivit has ignored.
Those who did found other energetic phenomena that could also explain the excess heat.
There is one paper, by Miley, as I recall, that may have done that. Unconfirmed.
“Storms’ second error is that he gives examples in which researchers found no excess heat with normal hydrogen, but he omits other hydrogen experiments that did.”
Again, context is lost. Storms mentions light hydrogen. Talking about reasons for failure to see the effect:
Failure to apply electrolytic current for a time sufficient to achieve the required
deuterium composition and presence of unwanted impurities known to stop the effect,
such as light hydrogen, are two known reasons for failure.
Talking about a specific set of experiments:
Arata and Zhang(1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000) at Osaka University (Japan) pioneered a study of nano-sized palladium powder by placing it in a sealed tube of palladium through which D2 diffused while the tube was electrolyzed in D2O, as described in the section about heat production. Helium was detected in the D2 gas
contained in the tube and in the Pd-black. Use of light hydrogen produced no helium. This method has also been found to produce tritium.
With regard to the Case protocol:
No helium or heat is produced when H2 is used
However, he does point out, with no specific examples:
Ordinary hydrogen (protium) may even be a source of nuclear energy under certain conditions.
For continued progress, reviews of the LENR field should include examples of a representative breadth of the experimental research. Storms excluded crucial research in his review, apparently in order to promote “cold fusion.”
At that point (2010), work with light hydrogen was not extensive. It was well-known that Pons and Fleischmann, who were often criticized for not running hydrogen “control experiments,” had found that light hydrogen did not produce a “clean control.” Storms had done work showing that 1% light hydrogen was enough to apparently poison the reaction. That does not mean that no energy would be produced, but that the level went down enough that it was more difficult to detect. Other circumstances, and in particular, other catalysts than palladium (which was the catalyst in all the work where light hydrogen produced no heat), hydrogen heat might be significant, and far more work is being done in this area now, than before. Storms, I can guarantee, did not “exclude” crucial confirmed work available at that time, for the purpose Krivit imagines. In his Comment, Krivit went on:
The significance of which nuclear phenomena occur in LENRs, and at what rates bears directly on and either supports or refutes proposed theoretical explanations. The purpose of this comment is not to engage in a discussion of theory; however, for readers who are unfamiliar with the topic, there are two dominant schools of thought in LENR theory: one based on neutron capture concepts (Widom and Larsen 2006) and another based on proton (or deuteron) fusion concepts (Schwinger 1990).
I know of no serious researcher in the field who is still following W-L theory. Nor are Schwinger’s ideas prominent. This bifurcation of the field into “W-L theory” and “fusion” is highly misleading. Most workers in the field are what McKubre calls “theory agnostic.” No theory is satisfactory, more experimental evidence is needed before theory formation can be much more than wild speculation. There is currently some success in Japan, following Takahashi theory, which is not, at all, a “d-d fusion theory,” something that Krivit ignores. My assessment of that work, though, is that theory is not yet a critical part of it.
Storms makes a pervasive representation in his paper that light hydrogen does not produce excess heat in LENRs.
He does not. He points out that certain light hydrogen experiments did not produce heat or helium, and his focus was, in fact, on the correlation between heat and helium in the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect, which uses palladium and deuterium, and sometimes hydrogen as a control. In those experiments, that hydrogen produces no effect, or reduces the heat down to noise levels, is a nuclear evidence of a kind, that’s why it’s important.
At the time, only a few experiments were showing light hydrogen LENR. It was, then, a minor part of the field. Storms clearly mentions light hydrogen results in his 2007 book, which could obviously be more thorough.
As shown in the examples provided here, Storms’ representation is contradicted by experimental facts.
No, what he stated was simply an important set of experimental results, and not represented as complete. However, by the end of the first decade of this century, Krivit’s theme had become scientific fraud, that there are people trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the world, out of personal bias or worse.
Mengoli et al. also performed a useful survey of excess heat results in light water (Mengoli et al. 1998).
At the end of his paper, Storms did provide a single, vague sentence, but no data and no references, to suggest the possibility that ordinary hydrogen may produce excess heat in LENRs. This does not sufficiently inform the reader of the significance of normal hydrogen as a reactant in LENRs and
its potential bearing on theory.
The problem is that light hydrogen would be expected to produce different products, and we have no confirmed experimental verification of such products from light hydrogen, as we do with helium. For long-term practical application, if light-hydrogen LENR can be made to work reliably, it could obviously be very important. But the 2010 Storms review was not about projecting into the long term, and at that point, many in the field were skeptical of light hydrogen results, which enjoyed nowhere near the same level of confirmation as those with deuterium.
Krivit ended with:
The data cited by Storms to support his conclusions argue
in favor of the D+D→4He+24 MeV(heat) hypothesis; by
contrast, the data omitted in Storms’ paper, as shown above,
Storms does not state the named hypothesis. He does use language which I long have argued was unfortunate, because the data is persuasive as to the “conversion of deuterium to helium and commensurate heat,” and that is mechanism — i.e., specific pathway — independent. Storms himself later supported a theory that involves a “reaction between deuterons,” i.e,. a resonance of a linear deuterium molecule, and he generalizes to all hydrogen isotopes, but that was not published until aboud 2013; it’s mentioned in his response to Krivit.
The data Krivit presents does not “disprove” anything. Krivit is not a scientist and doesn’t understand how science operates. There is an assumption made by some that only one phenomenon is involved in LENR, and Storms does incline to that, but he is aware that it’s an assumption. The existence of data not predicted by some theory does not disprove the theory, because something entirely different may be happening. LENR history is full of mysterious results, and no theory explains all of them. Not so far, anway. But W-L theory is strongly in contradiction to what is known. Yet I would not say that W-L theory is “disprove” by this or that particular experimental result.
In LENR history, often, attempts to replicate some report failed. That is well known as not proving that the original report was wrong, because there can be uncontrolled variation in conditions. Indeed, this comes up in what I covered back in 2013 on newvortex, about that last paper with Widom as co-author. Replication failure!
However, all this was relatively harmless and actually tends to strengthen the impact of the Naturewissenschaften review. Was the Krivit comment the best they received? If so, LENR skepticism is largely dead.
Now, Krivit has cited “errors” in this review which he believes might guide an explanation in the wrong direction. He notes that heat, detected using light hydrogen and when transmutation occurred, was frequently overlooked in this review. In addition, in his opinion, the claim for d + d = 4He being the major source of heat is not supported by the cited evidence.
Storms did summarize the evidence in the 2010 review. So he provided a very brief summary here:
Although many studies resulting in heat production using deuterium did not attempt to measure helium, over 16 independent studies using numerous samples found that helium was present when energy production was detected and some measurements found no helium when no extra energy was detected. Three independent studies measured the energy/He ratio, which can be summarized as 25 ± 5 MeV/He. All other known reactions that produce helium result in less energy/helium atom. For example, the proposed reaction of 6 3Li + 2n = 2He + e− produces only 13.4 MeV/He. Readers must decide for themselves if this is enough evidence to go forward in search for an explanation based on helium as the major nuclear product before additional studies are made.
I covered the evidence in my 2015 Current Science review, which focused on heat/helium correlation as being the ‘reproducible experiment’ that was long sought. It’s been done many times, and the results — focusing only on PdD work, the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect — have been consistent and confirmed by many, as Storms points out. Storms’ estimate of the ratio is obviously approximate, because the issue is complicated by only part of the helium generated being released in the outgas (which is where it has been measured in most experiments). However, two experiments (SRI M-4 and Apicella et al Laser-3) took extra steps to release helium from being trapped near the surface, and found results within that Storms estimate. Krivit never understood that work, and attacked both experiments, demonstrating terminal cluelessness.
Then Storms turns to the other major issue:
All isotopes of hydrogen, presumably, are involved in the cold fusion process. Most information comes from the use of deuterium because this isotope is most studied. In addition, many different nuclear reactions, including tritium formation (Storms 2007) and transmutation (Srinivasan et al. 2011) are observed. Although important, these are “side issues” to heat production because they have not been found to occur at a rate sufficient to make detectable power. Recent use of H2 + Ni to generate large power begs the question of how protons might generate energy by fusion or how transmutation of nickel might be the source. Proposed explanations have been published (Storms 2013) but are too complex to discuss here. Although changes in isotopic ratio are occasionally reported and elements not previously detected are found after power is made, none of these observations have a quantitative relationship to power production.
Yes. I wrote my comments on the Krivit document before reading Storms’ response. Basically, what Storms wrote is common knowledge for anyone who has long studied LENR. There is no general denial of light hydrogen reactions. Notice that “Recent use of H2 + Ni to generate large power” was a reference to Rossi,his were the only consistently large power claims in the field and were fraudulent, we now know, as many long suspected, making NiH work even less important. But NiH study is proceeding, with results in the 10W range, the Japanese are hot on the trail.
Storms finished with (my emphasis for response):
In conclusion, numerous efforts to find an explanation are underway and are being tested. The phenomenon has novel features, it is not in conflict with any law of nature, and it is not caused by the well-known mechanism that produces hot fusion. An explanation must at least be consistent with laws known to apply to a chemical system and it must explain all observed behavior. Most explanations fail these two requirements and many others. A new window into understanding nuclear interaction has opened and must be explored using the best information available, which the review under discussion attempted to provide.
I have bolded that phrase because it can be misleading. “Explanations” may be mentally satisfying but what is actually needed is theory that can be used to predict behavior (whether it “explains” the behavior or not). We have “little theories” that already do this, within defined conditions. Explaining every observed effect in thousands of experiments with many, many anomalies may never happen. So making full explanation of all behavior a “must” can miss the value of partial models. Storms and I have often appeared to disagree on this, but his own theory includes many sub-theories or conjectures that generate explanations consistent with experimental results. It is quite likely at least partially correct. Many of his ideas can also be adapted to other theories, but that is beyond the scope of this study.
At this point the Naturwissenschaften interchange was complete. Storms responded on the issues of weight. But Krivit is on his usual self-satisfied rampage.
Storms’ Oct. 30 reply offers no facts that invalidate my comment.
That’s BS, because Krivit had claimed, to repeat:
Storms’ paper, although replete with excellent experimental evidence, contains two significant errors (Storms 2010). The first error is that Storms writes that, except for helium-4, all other nuclear phenomena in low-energy nuclear reactions (LENRs) are a “side issue.” They are not.
Storms writes that “a search for the required nuclear product was rewarded with helium production being identified as the major reaction.” His conclusion about helium-4 is not defensible because most experimentalists made no attempt to analyze for all possible products. Those who did found other energetic phenomena that could also explain the excess heat.
Storms responded on both points, and this does negate the sense of the Krivit comment. Krivit, however, believes that Storms is wrong; whether Storms is right or wrong, he did answer, on point. (But what he wrote is entirely consistent with the literature in the field, and is generally accepted. Krivit is out on a limb.)
However, in his reply, Storms published new factual errors on which he bases his claim of the erroneous concept of cold fusion.
The “erroneous concept of cold fusion” is Krivit’s fantasy, his misunderstanding of what others actually think. Where does Storms make the claim Krivit posits? Krivit has been attempting for years to discredit the most carefully done and most widely-confirmed evidence in the field, in a mistaken belief that this will somehow further acceptance of Widom-Larsen theory.
Storms wrote, “Over 16 independent studies using numerous samples found that helium was present when energy production was detected, and some measurements found no helium when no extra energy was detected. Three independent studies measured the energy/He ratio, which can be summarized as 25±5 MeV/He.”
Storms’ statement is incorrect for two reasons.
One of the signs of someone arguing from ignorance and attachment is that they will take a statement that is almost completely and simply correct and call it “incorrect,” without explaining how it is also correct.
The Storms comment was a very brief summary of what he knows. It’s missing details, and because of missing details, Krivit will call it incorrect. But the details do not support Krivit’s position.
First, it fails on logic. Storms tries to make a quantitative comparison between heat measured from LENR experiments and atoms of helium-4 produced in those experiments. The mathematical assertion is 24 (or 25) MeV heat per each 4-He atom.
The quantitative comparison, showing clear correlation, was first made by Miles in 1991, and was noticed by Huizenga in the second edition of his book on cold fusion. The correlation has been widely confirmed, and part of the correlation is a consistent result: if there is no heat, there is no anomalous helium found. Then, as a distinct issue, there is the value of the ratio. Krivit has written a great deal on this, and much of it shows his extensive ignorance of the experimental work and the conditions, how helium behaves in relation to a palladium lattice.
23.8 MeV/4He is the theoretical value, required by the laws of thermodynamics, for any conversion of deuterium to helium if there are no leakages (i.e, radiation that escapes measurement of heat) or other products generating heat. That’s all understood.
In proposing such a ratio, Storms, as well as many of his peers who continue to promote cold fusion, asserts that LENRs emulate the third branch of thermonuclear fusion and therefore validate his assertion that LENRs are some kind of “cold fusion.”
That’s, again, BS. Storms makes no such assertion. The problem that Krivit desperately wants to avoid is that there are no other known products which have been correlated with heat. The transmutation products that Krivit desperately needs to assert are found at very low levels, and, with the exception of an unconfirmed report from George Miley, have never been correlated with heat. Thus the likelihood is that as the heat/helium ratio is measured with increased precision, the value will tighten toward 23.8 MeV/4He. But what I want and what everyone interested in the science wants is real measurement of the value, period, which could then place limits on what is possible. What real scientists do is run experiments and report the results, regardless of what theories those results might support — or disconfirm.
The first error in Storm’s reply is that he does not know the true denominator in the equation (24 MeV/4-He) because the researchers who have measured the excess heat and helium-4 never performed a full assay of other nuclear products and effects that could also make contributions to the measured excess heat.
Again, Krivit demonstrates his ignorance. The value that Storms gives is an estimate based on experimental data plus an estimate of how much helium is retained by the cathode and not released in the outgas. The experimental values are simply the amount of anomalous heat measured divided by the number of helium atoms measured in the outgas or in the headspace of the experiment, in some cases. For this measurement, whether or not there are other sources of energy is irrelevant. That, however, affects the application of theory. That is, if there are no heat sources other than deuterium being converted to helium, and no leakages, the ratio must be 23.8 MeV/4He. Contrary to Krivit’s claim, this is not the same as “thermonuclear fusion., because in the “third branch,” much less energy will remain in the apparatus, as a hot gamma ray is emitted and it will escape.
Krivit is making a relatively simple experimental result into something complicated, by imagining massive transmutations creating massive energy without helium formation. There is no evidence that such exist.
Second, Storms’ statement fails on data. Even if the researchers had performed full assays, the value of 24 MeV/4-He is not representative of the entire body of published experimental measurements of excess heat per 4-He atom.
There are problems, to be sure. “The value of 24 MeV/4-He” is a red herring. Most results are uncorrected for palladium retention of helium, which is well-known. What is shown in the bulk of the studies is correlation, with the Q being much higher than 24 MeV/4He, because of an estimated 60% retention. In two experiments, steps were taken to release all the helium, and in both experiments, the value moved to close to the theoretical value for pure deuterium to helium conversion.
I performed a precise tally of the published data. Although proponents of cold fusion cite this 24 MeV number as an established fact, it is not. Here are the three most commonly cited sets of excess heat versus helium-4 measurements, in MeV:
SRI International: 31 (Case Experiment), 38.34, 34.45, 22.85 (M4 Experiment)
U.S. Navy – China Lake: 39, 25, 44, 88, 83, 52, 62
ENEA Frascati: 103, 88, 124, 103, 103
Notice that Krivit doesn’t point to anyone “citing the 24 MeV number as an established fact.” Krivit is confusing experimental data and analysis with theory. When I cite what is known, it is always that heat/helium measurements are “consistent with” that Q, which requires an understanding of the problems involved. Krivit has not, to my knowledge, reported on the work under way in Texas to improve precision in the measurement of the heat/helium ratio. I have often pointed out that Storms’ actual figure (25 +/- 5 MeV/4He) is an estimate, not a measurement, though it is based on many measurements, as adjusted for, again, an estimate of retained helium.
Krivit trusts his own analysis, no surprise. It was here, July 10, 2008,
One particular myth is overdue for review. The myth is that “cold fusion” experiments have empirically demonstrated 23.8 (or 24) MeV of energy per helium-4 atom formation.
I came into the field in 2009. At that point, I found helium strangely not emphasized. This was the only identified nuclear product that had been correlated with heat. I was quickly aware that “23.8” MeV was a theoretical value for deuterium conversion, not a measured value, that the measured values were all higher, presumably because of differences in how much helium was captured. Where did Krivit get the “myth” from? Perhaps someone told him and he believed it.
Krivit gives what he thought were examples of the myth.
Julian Brown, “cold fusion” theorist with Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford University, wrote in an e-mail last year, “Haven’t the [ENEA] Frascati people demonstrated a quantitatively correct correlation of exothermy with He4 yield? In fact, it was this result that turned me into a cold-fusion believer, and I suspect the same is true of many other people as well.
Indeed. For historical context, that the heat/helium ratio as measured by Miles — quite crudely — was within an order of magnitude of the theoretical value was considered astonishing by Huizenga. Given what we know about helium behavior, and given that the FP Heat Effect is a surface effect, we would expect something more than 50% would be released in the gas phase, i.e., something less than that would be “missing,” unless this is released.
It was the heat/helium correlation that convinced me that cold fusion was more than the file drawer effect. Krivit was convinced because it was being advocated by “PhDs.” And then he switched favorite PhDs, though . . . Larsen is not a PhD. Widom is, for sure, but he’s AWOL.
Bob Smith, one of the conference volunteers for ICCF-14, the 14th International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science, when asked why transmutation research was not listed (it was added later, in response to inquiries) as part of the official conference scope, responded, “As far as why [the conference organizers] want to keep it to the [Martin Fleischmann-Stanley Pons] effect, my opinion is that they want to minimize the competing effects of getting excess heat and turning it into power. This is the main reason for [focusing on] the Fleischmann-Pons effect: the 23.8 MeV that is produced from the ‘fusion’ of deuterium.”
I’m not convinced I understand that statement; however, this is fact: of the various reactions that might be producing the effect, deuterium conversion is the most energetic. That’s just a fact, and Smith simply mentioned the number. This is basic physics, and has not been measured in LENR experiments; rather there are many measurements “consistent with it,” i.e., within experimental error and understanding of the retention ratio.
The Web site for ICCF-14 states the 23.8 MeV assumption as fact: “Associated with this heat in many experiments is the production of helium-4 at levels that account for the heat, if each atom of helium is associated with about 24 million electron volts of energy.”
Again, that’s a statement of fact. The levels of helium found in many experiments are adequate to “account for the heat.” It’s just more complicated than Krivit apparently understood.
It has taken me four years to see this as the myth that it is.
Krivit still doesn’t understand. Reading on, he was told lots of things that were not quite correct, and my guess is that he wasn’t hearing accurately, he was jumping to conclusions, etc. I encountered all kinds of incorrect and incomplete explanations in my journey into LENR, it’s par for the course, and many people are often not careful to be precise in expression. Krivit had apparently written something which was correct, and Mallove yelled at him. Krivit’s original comment was correct, actually, as stated, but Mallove didn’t like part of how it was expressed, my guess, and Krivit did not really understand the evidence, or he’d have seen all this. Krivit was actually uninformed. As a journalist with advisors, however, he could still do a lot of useful work. Until he turned on the scientists who were his advisors and went for someone he liked better. By 2009 he was becoming a yellow journalist, focusing on scandal.
In any case, this is Krivit’s spreadsheet.
It is unfortunately headed with:
LENR Excess Heat Measurements per 4He Atom Production
Cold fusion proponents erroneously assume D+D -> 4He (~24 MeV) Heat and no other reaction products in system
That is “erroneous.” Calling researchers “proponents” is what pseudoskeptics do. What researchers actually do, because of the accumulated evidence, is use the theoretical ratio as a standard for comparing actual results. Krivit thinks this is an assumption, but it’s not a fixed one. The ratio is obviously expected if there are no other heat-producing products and no radiation leakage and all the helium is captured.
Each set of experiments has its own conditions. To really assess these results, it is needed to know the precision of each measurement. A scatter plot of Miles data shows that, as his excess heat measurements increase, the heat/helium ratio settles to a closer value (I don’t recall the exact settling, but it is something like 60% of the theoretical helium that would be found at 23.8 MeV/4He.) De Ninno looks like she had a helium leak, was capturing much less helium than expected from the heat. What is most interesting here are the SRI results. First of all, the Case study was never actually published and much of the data has never been reported. Only one experiment in a set of 16 has a published heat evolution result, and that’s the one that settles on 31 MeV/4He. But this was using the Case catalyst, and something weird happened with helium in that experiment. Levels declined after having increased. But levels were higher than ambient.
The full Case series was 16 cells, and 8 were deuterium-loaded and 8 were controls of various kinds, not expected to produce heat. It appears that only five cells produced any heat, and those showed helium. 3 of the experimental cells showed no heat, as well as all the control cells, and none of those showed helium.
So the correlation with Case was actually spectacular. But there is no extensive experience with the Case catalyst, no knowledge of how it behaves with helium, so I focus on the FP Heat Effect, with PdD electrolysis, for what I have written on heat/helium. Even though I used the Case heat/helium plot (from one experiment) for eye candy.
The error bars in the Case data are horrific. That’s not a reliable figure, and using Case in the 2004 U.S. DoE review was probably a mistake. Had the correlation been presented clearly, though, it might have been quite good. But it wasn’t.
Krivit is quite correct that the data — with one exception — does not show “24 MeV/4He.” What is shows is generally “consistent” with that value. It looks like Krivit never understood the difference and was then shocked that he’d been “misled.” He’s done that with many situations, blamed others for his lack of understanding.
So, the SRI M4 data. He shows M4 as three results. In the first part of that experiment, helium accumulated in the reactor headspace and was sampled, which samples were then converted to estimates of the full amount of helium. Based on the 23.8 MeV ratio, and the measured heat, McKubre found, at two points in time, 62% and 69% of the expected helium. Quite normal. Then he “sloshed” the deuterium in and out, extensively, attempting to release all the helium.
Krivit later looked much more closely at M4 and was skeptical, and he was right to be skeptical (though not with the viciousness that also appeared).
Sloshing apparently does nothing. But what Krivit did not notice was that, in addition to sloshing, McKubre also used brief periods of reverse electrolysis, which will etch away the palladium surface. The result was that McKubre recovered much more helium, and came up with a value of 104% of expected. He estimated error at 10%, so this is within his estimated experimental error of the theoretical value. Unless they have done better in Texas (I hope!), this is the most precise measurement of the heat/helium ratio to date. Larsen has predicted 30 something MeV/4He from one of his imaginative W-L theory reaction sets, and I would not yet consider that ruled out.
Back to Krivit’s response to Storms:
My source references and data are shown in this linked document. Two years later, in 2010, I reported that Michael McKubre of SRI International had manipulated the data from experiment M4 and that therefore no meaningful conclusion could be drawn from the data I published (38.34, 34.45, 22.85), which was based on the data McKubre published.
Yes, by 2010, Krivit had gone completely off the rails, accusing McKubre (and also Violante) of data manipulation. What appears to have actually happened is that McKubre found an error in the original M4 data, an incorrect figure for the headspace, the enclosed volume, and so he recalculated. Krivit’s conclusion was entirely unwarranted. In one year, at the ACS Conference, Krivit was on the panel. By the next hear, he was asking hostile and demanding questions — making statements, really — clearly no longer on speaking terms with his former co-editor, Marwan.
McKubre was the most reliable of all CMNS researchers, and claims to be “theory agnostic.” Krivit doesn’t like his data, bottom line, and Krivit’s behavior with Violante, of ENEA, was atrocious. As it was, by the way, with Fleischmann and Dardik and many others.
In Naturwissenschaften, Storms responded to Krivit and that’s done. Krivit is ranting on his own blog as if somehow this is superior to what is in peer-reviewed journals. He’s still got credibility, with some, but his time is running out.
I just checked and Krivit has never corrected his disastrous attempt to analyze Violante’s work.
He completely misunderstood the paper, not realizing that the helium levels shown were not generated helium, but total helium, including ambient. So when he “corrected” it, he was making garbage out of it.
It was Krivit’s analysis, however, that pointed me to the note added in a later version of the Violante report, “Anodic erosion of Pd.” So I followed up. First, I reread the M4 work and noticed that the “sloshing,” the attempt to flush out helium, was also accompanied by reversal of cell polarity, which will etch the palladium, dissolving the surface. This is a technique used to rejuvenate a cell that isn’t performing well, it gives new surface. I think that Laser 3 was reversed for a time to attempt to stimulate more heat production, since this was the poorest performer of the three shown in that report. So the result that the helium value moved toward 100% of expected was an accident! However, that is also what happened with M4. I confirmed the reversal with Violante. It appears nobody had noticed the coincidence before, even though it might seem obvious that etching the surface this way could release all the helium.
Krivit thinks that this contradicts “100 years of experimental evidence.”
“Anodic erosion of Pd,” incorrectly implies that the large underlying difference between the researchers’ theoretical prediction and their experiment for Laser-3 is coherently explained by the helium retention hypothesis invented by SRI and MIT researchers. Unfortunately, in the previous article, “The Emergence of an Incoherent Explanation for D-D “Cold Fusion,” we showed that hypothesis to be unsupported and contradicted by more than 100 years of experimental evidence.
That’s all Krivit yellow journalist story. Violante did not argue as he claims, but Krivit obviously realized at least some of the implications, and then imagined that this was some deliberate deception. “Anodic erosion” is just a description of what Violante had done, and, yes, it explains the result, amazingly well, in fact, and Krivit would have seen that if he hadn’t totally confused himself by thinking that the chart was wrong. He might have discovered how to recover all the helium for heat/helium work without taking the cell apart. Instead, I may be the first person to have published this, and so I was told by the Texas people that I’ll be credited. So thanks, Steve. I got to make a difference because of you.
About the efforts to drive out the helium:
However, these actions were redescribed by SRI and MIT authors in 2000/2004 papers. The authors stated that the 1994 researchers performed some or all of these actions in efforts to heat the cathode to release trapped helium.
But nowhere in the detailed, step-by-step explanations of the 76-day experiment did the authors of the 1998 paper state anything about a retained helium hypothesis, let alone mention efforts to drive the helium out of the palladium.
Basically, in the EPRI report, McKubre described what they did. Later, he added an explanation of why he did it. It was just an idea and it was mostly just a stab at the problem. Since 1991, helium had been on the table as a correlated product, but nobody had fully measured it. So maybe, just maybe, they could coax the helium to come out. They were clearly thinking that the movement of deuterium in and out might raise the recovery rate. It was already known that this was unlikely to work, from the Morrey collaboration, which took helium-implanted cathodes, which were electrolyzed, and the helium didn’t budge. But, again, maybe. Sometimes an experimental scientist just tries stuff. Anodic reversal may have been used to speed up deloading. It was only a little, by the way, Violante used much more current. It looks like it doesn’t take much!
(We do not know how deeply helium is implanted, but the penetration depth for alphas will be very low. Helium will not enter the lattice if it’s outside, but once it enters, it will diffuse until it comes either to the outside or to a grain boundary. It is trapped in grain boundaries and will stay there, apparently forever, unless the palladium is heated sufficiently to drive it out. Or is dissolved.)
By the way, I just noticed this blooper:
Then there’s another problem. The authors also deliberately blurred the distinction between cathodic heating and resistive heating in an electrolyte. Heating a cathode by running current through it is precisely what causes the excess-heat effect. To suggest that this form of heating was unequivocally not contributing to a possible heat effect and “releasing dissolved helium” is unsupportable.
Cathodic heating is not a major phenomenon in CF experiment because palladium is a good conductor. the “Joule heating” — “resistive heating in the electrolyte” — is much greater. I’m not sure what Krivit was talking about here. SRI was generally set up to measure loading by measuring the resistance of the cathode, and if they heated the cathode with a current, this could indeed help drive out helium, but I doubt that, they would be able to get the cathode hot enough to drive off helium. Boiling wouldn’t do it, though it might increase diffusion out a little. Now, to the meat:
Helium Is a Noble Gas – It Does Not Dissolve Into Palladium
The helium retention hypothesis has two more problems.
The first problem is that helium does not dissolve into a metal or get absorbed directly into an intact metallic lattice structure, as do hydrogen isotopes, which form metallic hydrides.
Krivit does not understand how helium would become trapped. He is quite correct, helium will not enter the lattice. However, if helium is deposited into the lattice, it can diffuse (as if “dissolved”) through the lattice, and will move until it either reaches the exterior or finds a grain boundary. The boundary gives it a little relief from the pressure, and it remains trapped. This has been studied experimentally by loading palladium with tritium, which decays by beta emission to 3He, which is chemically very similar to 4He. The helium stays trapped, it’s been studied for years.
Now, Krivit ought to realize this, because W-L theory does predict that some energetic alphas (i.e., helium ions) will be generated. What happens to them? If they are generated at or near the surface, which is where W-L theory also predicts the reactions will take place, whether they end up trapped or not depends on the energy vector of the alpha particle. (I’m not sure, but I think a helium ion can also penetrate palladium a little easier.) Basically, if helium is created with some energy, it can and would sometimes enter the lattice. Because some of the helium that penetrates the lattice will escape to the outside, less than 50% will be retained.
Now, given that no other product has been correlated with heat, an operating assumption that the known, correlated product, is the only product, is quite reasonable, though certainly not proven. And if helium is the product, and deuterium is the fuel, then the Q of 23.8 MeV/4He is absolutely to be expected. And if the helium has some birth energy, we would expect some of it to be trapped.
“Neither argon nor helium is able to pass through any one of these metals, even at fairly high temperatures,” Ramsay and Travers wrote.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. They were not exactly correct. Once inside single-crystal palladium, helium can indeed “pass through.” It’s getting inside that isn’t easy. Those researchers were not ion-implanting helium!
The second problem with the helium retention hypothesis is that, because helium isotopes do not dissolve in metals, they can move through metallic structures only in voids or cracks or grain boundaries of micro- or macro-scales. Thus, imperfect metallic structures can exhibit high permeability to helium isotopes, which assures rapid release of helium, especially in cases of thermal-mechanical disturbances that occur on the surfaces of palladium cathodes in electrolytic or gas-phase cells. 
While helium can in theory move along grain boundaries, it tends to collect and the experimental work with 3He from tritium shows that, at modest temperatures, helium simply does not escape.
Returning to basics, the strong preponderance of the evidence is that heat and helium are correlated, and that the ratio is not far from the theoretical value for deuterium/helium conversion. The Violante work that Krivit so badly mangled shows both results: without anodic erosion and with it. The result matches SRI M4. Most other work makes no attempt to release trapped helium, and the levels found are then clustered around 60% or so of the theoretical value. Again, all this is subject to verification with increased precision. The difficulties of measuring helium have mostly prevented this work from being done, but there was an additional problem. Pons and Fleischmann did apparently have helium measurements that they did not release. Why not?
I suspect because they (1) didn’t believe that the product was helium and (2) believed that the reaction was in the bulk, not a surface reaction. So they did not understand the helium results and did not want to complicate an already complicated situation, politically. I’d call that an error.
Human beings make mistakes.
And so do I, being one of those creatures, so, please, comment below or otherwise to me if you find errors or gaffes.
Looking for more coverage of WL theory, not mentioned by Krivit:
Maiani, L., A. D. Polosa, and V. Riquer. “Neutron production rates by inverse-beta decay in fully ionized plasmas.” The European Physical Journal C 74.4 (2014): 2843.
Recently we [Ciuchi et al, 2012] showed that the nuclear transmutation rates are largely overestimated in the Widom–Larsen theory of the so-called ‘Low Energy Nuclear Reactions’. Here we show that unbound plasma electrons are even less likely to initiate nuclear transmutations. [. . .]
. . . the authors of Ref.  [Widom et al, arXiv, 2013, Weak Interaction Neutron Production Rates in Fully Ionized Plasmas] have argued that nuclear transmutations should most likely be started by unbound plasma electrons.