Looks like the folks at the Space and Naval Warfare Command have been playing around with Cold Fusion.
This is a long video (about an hour) but well worth it. Hard science and it pretty much answered every “conditional” I’d put on the Cold Fusion field. Repeatability. Neutrons demonstrated. Fast production method. Characterization of operational parameters. Clear excess energy. Just a well done bit of science.
All in all, it looks to me like it’s time to start taking the Cold Fusion / LENR folks seriously.
In following up some videos of the Rossi E-Cat I found one that asserts his nickle powder at temperature method can not be patented due to a prior patent. That prior patent describes substantially the same absorption of hydrogen to inside the atomic radius and eventual fusion as I had described in my musings about how this might work; with two very important distinctions:
1) It has, rather than a direct nuclear fusion, the formation and expulsion of a modestly high energy Proton that then causes fusion when it impacts other parts of the electrode.
2) The physics is much more detailed and much more likely to be accurate.
Of particular note is that it asserts just about any transition metal ought to work. Even Lead.
What caught my eye was that the metal had to be heated to above a critical temperature to work (which explains why Rossi has heaters in the E-Cat) and that temperature varies by metal. The Debye limit.
Inspection of the table shows several metals with quite low limits, so ought to work at room temperature.
Aluminium 428 K Beryllium 1440 K Cadmium 209 K Carbon 2230 K Cesium 38 K Chromium 630 K Copper 343.5 K Gold 170 K Iron 470 K Lead 105 K Manganese 410 K Nickel 450 K Platinum 240 K Silicon 645 K Silver 215 K Tantalum 240 K Tin (white) 200 K Titanium 420 K Tungsten 400 K Zinc 327 K
So anything below about 300 K ought to be fairly easy to ‘make go’. This also explains why the ones using, for example, Tungsten electrodes work best once they are glowing and / or steaming at the electrodes.
The need for lots of surface area, crystal defects, et. al. all imply that bulk metal powders, sponges, and irregular chemical depositions ought to be beneficial. I’d pondered using carbon fiber mats with an electroplate over them to get lots of surface area from not much metal. That would likely still work, but the range of metals usable is likely quite large.
In particular, using a chunk of Tin solder ( Debye Temperature point 200 K ) ought to make a readily available electrode material that is easily plated and / or deposited from solution ( i.e. poor / rough tin plate), cheap, and relatively low toxicity and that ought to start working at below room temperature.
IMHO, it looks like a simple electrolysis cell to make hydrogen and then an equally simple electrochemical cell to react it made from common metals ought to be “doable” as a test case.
But Wait, There’s More
The implication of that video and the patent is that there ought to be all sorts of unexpected places where a mix of hydrogen ions and metal atoms in a crystal might produce neutrons, protons, and fusions; including rocks in the Earth and potentially be part of the process of how the sun works. This could explain some of the “odd” occurrences of neutrons from various rock pressurization / electric discharge processes.
If, as some have proposed, the sun is an Iron Sun at some depth but with a hydrogen atmosphere, that hydrogen ought to be getting fused via the metal hydride formation process. That it would then spit out a load of protons and we have a high energy solar wind full of protons is curiously attractive…
The video states that one of the likely reactions (to make the neutrons vs heat work out) is likely a more direct fusion of Deuterium into Helium. That would depend on other processes in the metal crystal lattice. I found the physics a bit deep as it was discussing something discovered long after I learned the physics I know, but it looks like the vibration modes of crystals may be highly important. While I hate saying “crystals and vibrations make it work” as that sounds so “new age” ;-) the fact is that the Phonon theory looks to be well attested and important to making actual devices that do unexpected things. Like sound driven heat engines and heat pumps and gigahertz sound “lasers” called SASERS (which they talk about as important for a variety of benign uses and I immediately thought “Wouldn’t a sonic welding of your innards make a messy kind of weapon?…)
At any rate, it looks to me like defect heavy and small metal particles lets the H or D easily enter the crystal spaces. The application of an external electric field drives the ionized H or D into the metal crystals and into the metal ions and then vibrational modes of the crystal may cause some atoms to be smashed together while others get whacked with decent energy protons and the odd neutron. Part of “the deal” is heating the metal to the point where the metal crystals start to ‘get sloppy’ (above the Debye temperature) but many metals are at / below room temperature Debye Temps so ought to work better / easier in test cells.
Just get over the vision of a crystal as a static lattice and visualize it more as a mini-destruction derby and it all makes sense ;-) Oh, and the smallest lightest cars get crushed together by the big “cement truck” metal ions ;-)
Oh, one other note, several cell types use K2CO3 as a special facilitating salt in the reactor (the tungsten / potassium carbonate cells http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/CirilloDtransmutat.pdf ) so I’d bet that the “special secret catalyst” used by Rossi is in that family. Either Potassium Carbonate or perhaps, given his “cheap materials” approach of Nickle and Hydrogen instead of Palladium and Deuterium, he might have tried plain old Sodium Carbonate. I’d give Lithium Carbonate a try too.
If the Tungsten is run hot in those reactors to get above the 400 K ( 260 F ) Debye Temperature and the carbonate helps facilitate things, perhaps it helps other metals too and might be useful in colder cells run with lower Debye Temp metals. So maybe just a bit of sintered / co-deposited tin and some carbonate of soda could make a reactor that works without the external heating needed by Rossi. Put an Iron wire cage around a deposited tin electrode, add carbonate solution and perhaps added hydrogen for prolonged runs. Put a small bias voltage on it and stand back… Ought to be all it takes.
Now if only I had a spare shipping container or an empty garage to try this…
One Rossi video stated a 20 or 30 to one ratio of heat out to electricity in and a 1 Cent / kW (thermal) production cost. Might be nice in winter ;-) While it looks like a poor way to make electricity (due to the low temperature steam ) it does look like a nice heater.
So maybe the future is looking better for the folks who think new technologies can give us all a better life with more energy; and maybe the Green Running Out Paranoia has yet another hurdle in front of it.
When guys from a U.S. Navy lab say they got results, and have material evidence and peer reviewed publications to back it up, I think it is time to be mildly optimistic.