In a couple of other threads we’ve touched on “cold fusion” or LENR as it is now commonly called. (It would seem that the US patent office will not issue any patent related to “cold fusion” but if you claim “low energy nuclear reactions” that’s OK. The difference? Well…)
OK, the most interesting one I’ve seen so far is the Patterson Cell (h/t Gene Nemetz):
The CETI Patterson Power Cell is a power cell invented by James Patterson which some have claimed to be generating more energy than it uses. It is one of several cold fusion cells which have been the subject of some media interest but no independent, objective testing.
Yet it is asserted that they are selling “kits” and there are many reports of independent confirmation.
The cell is composed of a non-conductive housing filled with thousands of small plastic beads coated with thin film layers of nickel and palladium, as well as a solution of a conductive salt in water through which an electric current is run. Its proponents claim that the device uses about 1.4 watts and yet is capable of generating hundreds or thousands of times this amount of power which is released as heat after a brief “warm-up” period. This supposedly happens as hydrogen or deuterium nuclei fuse together to produce heat through some form of cold fusion, although Patterson himself avoids the term. However, the byproducts of nuclear fusion have not been detected from this device, e.g. a tritium nucleus and a proton or an 3He nucleus and a neutron, leading a vast majority of experts to conclude that no such fusion is taking place. Scott Little and Hal Puthoff made an independent test and they were unable to measure any excess heat from the cells, but they didn’t publish their results outside of their website.
It is further claimed that if radioactive isotopes such as uranium are present, the cell somehow enables the hydrogen nuclei to fuse with these isotopes, transforming them into stable elements and thus ‘neutralizing’ the radioactivity. This claim has not been verified and, to date, this effect has only been achieved through intense neutron bombardment in a nuclear reactor or large scale high energy particle accelerator. The public demonstrations didn’t check if the beads had become radioactive after the test, which would mean that they had simply absorbed the uranium ions.
On February 7, 1996, ABC News shows Good Morning America and Nightline featured stories about the Patterson Power Cell. Good Morning America followed up the story one year later, on June 11, 1997.
So, not a particularly “glowing” endorsement…
At any rate, in the video there is a claim of very significant excess heat from the ‘beads’ and I’ve found references that say that glass beads give less than plastic beads.
What could be causing this?
IMHO, it’s about the structure of the metal crystal lattice. For the particular metals used; the crystal structure is typically a cubic one. What happens when a cubic structure is bent over a spherical surface? It ought to have defects. Similarly, a plastic surface ought to be more prone to such irregularities than a glass one (as the plastic molecules are larger, so at the molecular level ought to have more sharp discontinuities from one to the next one over).
The Smith Cell
OK, I have no idea if there really IS cold fusion or not, or if the Patterson Cell really “works as advertized”… but that doesn’t stop the mind from thinking… and it thought..
Is there an easier way to make a slightly irregular metal crystal surface on a curved substrate? Do you really need tiny beads?
OK, my idea is this:
Plate the metal onto carbon fibre. There are already established ways to make nickel plate onto carbon fibre (as I found out when I went looking for how to plate nickel onto carbon); so it ought to be reasonably possible to simply buy a carbon fibre mat already plated.
At that point, one ought to be able to roll it up, stuff it into a plastic tube, attach electrodes and add solution, then run it.
As the Patterson patents are largely for the spherical balls, this ought to dodge the patent issues.
So, as my gift to the world as a “prior art”, The Smith Cell, using plated carbon fibre (or other fabric mats) with a variety of metals (including the indicated nickel, but also palladium, silver, copper, tungsten, titanium; and I’d even suggest trying aluminum. The method lends itself to testing all the various metals.)
This patent describes one of the ways to nickel plate carbon fibre (or other fibres):
If anyone ever makes it “go” and makes $Billions on it, I’d appreciate a “footnote” and an “emeritus” roll giving speeches ;-)
What I think will be found at the theoretical level is that it depends on the dislocations in the crystal lattice giving odd cases of just a little excess energy to a proton and thus getting “better” results than in pure crystal structures. As the crystal structure is rarely described in the existing work, I have to suspect it is the cause of the variation in what works and what does not.
Also note, this same ‘plated fabric’ approach ought to work with the “odd metals” where things have been seen (such as the difficult to machine tungsten) and with various forms of “loading” be it electrical, sonic, or other methods.
An Hour Of Good Video
Here are two videos that were posted in comments on the other thread. Both are well worth the time to watch:
One More Step
I’d even take this just one step further.
As Carbon Fibre is made by taking a plastic and in essence burning out the hydrogen and nitrogen (if any); it ought to be possible to make a carbon fibre where the surface is pre-loaded via a metal containing coating such that the ‘heating’ step that makes the carbon fibre, leaves a metal coated surface behind in one step.
If done with very fine fibres, this ought to give a very cheap, very efficient, method of production of a high surface area of ultrathin metal films with significant crystalline defects. To the extent that my speculation that “that matters” is correct, this ought to yield a very good reaction substrate.
Similarly, as some plastics are electrically conductive, I could see an easy path to metal coated fibres via a ‘spinnerette’ making conductive fibres directly into an electroplating bath. The fibre would begin to plate as quickly as “spun” and the yarn would then exit the bath with the desired coating thickness.
So there you have it. Several ways to “metal coated fibres”, and the whole works “copy left” and given to the world…
Why, if I think this idea valid, “give it away”?
Simple, really. Someone is going to think of it sooner or later. The time it would take me to make a test bed, test it, several times, then get it confirmed, then published and accepted. THEN to try to make any money off of it… Well, that’s a very long time and a lot of work. Most likely more time, money, and effort than I have left to give.
However, if someone ELSE does that, I might just end up as an interesting footnote to history AND would get a lower electric bill… I’m “good with that”… (Free dinners and travel would be a ‘nice to have’ too ;-)
So, there you have it. Anyone want to start a LENR company and build a Smith Cell?