On LENR Forum, Jed Rothwell wrote:
OK, I can reformulate it like “if you believe you have an overunity, just construct self-looped selfrunner”.
That would be complicated and expensive.
That depends on unstated conditions.
Zephir AWT’s original comment was better:
Accurate measurements are necessary only, when you’re pursuing effects important from theoretical perspective. Once you want to heat your house with it, then the effect observed must be evident without doubts even under crude measurement.
What is happening, rather obviously, is that general principles are being claimed, when, in fact, there are no clear general principles and the principles are being advanced to support specific arguments in specific situations. Some of these general principles are, perhaps, “reasonable,” which means that “reasonable people,” (i.e., people like me, isn’t that the real meaning?) don’t fall over from the sheer weight of flabber.
Let’s see what I find here.
- Science may develop with relatively imprecise measurements; in real work, by real scientists, measurement precision is reported. If an effect is being reported, then, how is the magnitude of the effect, as inferred from measurements, related to the reported precision? Is that precision itself clear or unclear? To give an example, McKubre has estimated his experimental heat/helium ratio for M4 as 23 MeV/4He +/- 10%. See Lomax (2015) and references there, and this is complicated. “10%” is obviously an estimate. It is not likely calculated from the assemblage of individual measurement precisions. Nor is it developed from variation in a series of measurements (which is not possible with M4, it’s essentially a single result).
- Based on a collection of relatively imprecise results, under some conditions, reasonable conclusions may be developed, estimating (or even calculating) probabilities that an effect is real and not an artifact of measurement error.
- Systematic error can trump measurement error, easily. That is, a measurement may be accurate and real, but an accurate measurement of something being created by some unidentified artifact can lead to erroneous conclusions.
- “Unidentified artifact” is certainly a possibility, always. By definition. However, it is less likely that a large error will be created by such, and it is here that imprecision, combined with relatively low-level effects, can loom larger. There is a fuzzy zone, which cannot be precisely defined, as far as I know, where measurements reasonably create an impression that may deserve further investigation, but are not adequate to create specific certainty.
- There is a vast body of cold fusion research, creating a vast body of evidences. Approaching this is difficult, and to take the necessary time requires, for most, that the investigator consider the probability that the alleged effects are real be above some value. A few may investigate out of simple curiousity, even if the probability is low, and some are interested in the process of science, and may be especially interested in unscientific beliefs (i.e., not rooted in rigorous experimental confirmation and analysis), whether these be on the side of “bogosity” or the side of “belief.”
- For a commercial or practical application, heat cannot be merely in the realm of confirmed by measurements — or claimed to be confirmed –, showing “overunity,” but must be generated massively in excess of input power (or expensive fuel input, whether chemical or nuclear in nature).
- Demands for proof or conclusive evidence are commonly made without identifying the context, the need for proof or evidence. For different purposes, different standards may apply. To give an example, if a donor is considering a gift of millions of dollars for research, it may not be necessary that the research be based on proven, clear, unmistakeable evidence. It might simply be anecdotal, with the donor trusting the reporter(s). However, I was advising, before 2015, that the first research to be so funded would be heat/helium confirmation, because this was already confirmed adequately to establish the existence of the correlation, such that the research could be expected to either confirm the correlation, perhaps with increased precision as to the ratio, or, less likely, identify the artifact behind these prior results. Both outcomes could be worth the expense. To justify a billion-dollar investment in developing commercial applications, based simply on that evidence, could be quite premature, with some expected loss (for lots of possible causes).
- Overunity must be defined as output power not arising from chemical causes or prior energy storage, or it would be trivial. A match is an overunity device, generating far more energy than is involved in igniting it.
- What is actually being discussed is what would be, the idea seems to be, convincing in demonstrations. Demonstrations, however, in the presence of massive contrary expectations, are utterly inadequate. Papp demonstrated an over-unity engine, it would seem. Just how convincing was that? It was enough to create some interest, but in the absence of fully-independent confirmation of some “Papp effect,” it has gone nowhere.
- Overunity, self-powered, has been seen many times, for periods of time. In fewer cases, this has been claimed to be in excess of all input energy, historically. Jed is correct that “unidentified artifact” is not a “scientific argument, but so is “unknown material conditions usually causing replication failure.” Neither of these can be falsified. However, social process — and real-world scientific process is social — uses “impressions” routinely.
- “Self-powered”, if the expression of power is obvious, and if it is sufficient power to be useful, would indeed create convincing demonstrations. If a product is available that can be purchased and tested by anyone (with the necessary resources), that would presumably be convincing to all but the silliest die-hard skeptics.
- “Self-powered” is theoretically possible with some claims. The alleged Rossi effect is one. There are levels of “self-powered.”
- First of all, there tend to be fuzzy concepts of “input power.” Constant environmental temperature is not input power, at least not normally. Yet in studies of the “Rossi effect,” input power generally includes power used to maintain an elevated temperature. If it includes power that is varied, modulated, to cause some effect, that could be input power, but if it is DC, constant, there is no input power and it is theoretically possible to create “self-sustained” from even reasonably low levels of heat generation. All that is needed is to control cooling, to reduce the steady-state cooling to a low level, so that the temperature is maintained without input power. Because no insulation is perfect, there must still be heating power to create constant temperature, but … if this necessary input power is low enough, it may be supplied by internally generated power. If there is any.
- In a Rossi device, the reaction is controlled, it’s been common to think, by controlling the fuel temperature. Because the nature of the devices appears to have the fuel temperature be far in excess of the coolant temperature — there must be poor heat conduction from fuel to coolant — an alternate path to reaction control would be controlled cooling. Over a limited range, coolant flow would control temperature. Beyond that, other measures are possible.
- A standard method of calorimetry is to maintain an elevated temperature under controlled conditions, such that the input power necessary for that purpose can be accurately measured, and then measure the effect of the presence of the fuel on that required power. If it can be reduced significantly, that would indicate significant heat. Because we expect chemical processes in an NiH fuel, one of the signs of good calorimetry would be that this effect is quantifiable.
- If the goal is convincing investors, then the primary necessity (outside of fraud) is independence of those who can control the demonstration or experiment.
- Jed is correct that creating a self-powered demonstration, i.e., one that generates heat could be “complicated and expensive.” For standard cold fusion experiments, it would be outside of what they need to generate useful results. However, with some approaches, it could be cheap and easy, if there are robust results. Without robust results (even if the results are scientifically significant), it could be practically impossible.
- Yet consider an “Energy Amplifier.” It requires input power, but generates excess heat at some significant COP. If the COP is high enough, if the heat is in a useful form, then various devices could be used to generate the input power, and only start-up power would be needed, and that could be supplied by, say, capacitative storage that would clearly limit the total energy available. The big problem is that COP 2.0 would not be enough for this, given conversion efficiencies. Yet a COP 2.0 Energy Amplifier, if it were cheap enough, and if the total sustained power were adequate, could be used to reduce energy costs.
- For most cold fusion experiments, what it would take to be self-running would be a fish bicycle or worse.
- For some, particularly efforts claimed to generate commercial levels of power at COP of 2.0 or higher, achieving self-power should be relatively simple and might be worth doing. Key in demonstrations that could legitimately convince investors would be independence, with robust measurement methods. An inventor who places secrecy first may not be willing to do this.
- For this reason, I’d suggest avoiding such inventors. A secretive inventor who allows black-box testing, where independent experts measure power in and power out, showing energy generation far above storage possibilities, might allow an exception. The Lugano report shows the remaining hazards. Basically, the Lugano authors were not experts with regard to the needed skills, they were naive.