I've suggested (& published in 21 journal papers) a new theory called quantised inertia (or MiHsC) that assumes that inertia is caused by relativistic horizons damping quantum fields. It predicts galaxy rotation, cosmic acceleration & the emdrive without any dark stuff or adjustment. My Plymouth University webpage is here, I've written a book called Physics from the Edge and I'm on twitter as @memcculloch

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Low Energy Nuclear Reactions & QI: 1

Fusion is a process by which two atoms/nucleii of hydrogen (a proton, possibly with neutrons attached) fuse to form an atom/nucleus of Helium (two protons, perhaps with neutrons). Since the two nucleii to be fused are positively-charged they repel each other, and to get them to fuse they have to be at a very high temperature. One hundred million degrees Kelvin or so is needed to give them enough kinetic energy to randomly collide. The sun's centre is hot enough, and it is a huge fusion reaction turning hydrogen into helium, and only avoids exploding and destroying the Solar system because of its own self-gravity, which holds it in.

Fusion releases a lot of energy, so for 70 years people have been trying to make it happen on Earth, in close confinement. So far 25 billion dollars have been spent on this (Storms, 2012) and the focus has been on huge machines that use magnetic fields to confine plasma: magnetic versions of the Sun (The so-called ITER project). Imagine the surprise then, when in 1989 Martin Fleischmann (then one of the world's experts in electro-chemistry) and Stanley Pons, claimed they had produced fusion in a little test tube! Their experiment is shown below.

They put an electrolyte containing heavy water in a test tube (heavy water is just like water H2O, but the hydrogen H is replaced by deuterium D, which has an extra neutron, so D2O). They put two electrodes in, the cathode (negative charge) made of palladium and the anode (positive) of platinum, and passed a current between them (electrolysis). The D2O separated into oxygen, which being negative headed for the anode and bubbled off, and deuterium which, being positive, packed itself into the palladium cathode, since palladium has this odd property of soaking up deuterium like a sponge. Several scientists over the past 50 years had predicted that the deuterium could fuse in palladium being in such a packed state. Apparently it did, releasing a lot of heat, see the orange-red 'star'. The announcement of that thrilled the world with the possibility of having such a FusionCell in every home. Virtually limitless cheap energy.

But revolutions are never pretty and this was the usual hysterical mess, because very soon it was noticed that if the deuterium was actually fusing, it should be emitting neutrons and gamma rays and whatever was happening wasn't doing that. A bonus for safety, but because the observations did not fit standard theory, cold fusion was classified as fringe. A few brave souls continued to investigate, and instead of cold fusion, they now call the field LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions). So far there have been about 200 independent replications of the excess heating effect so something odd and potentially very useful, is certainly happening, but why?

I was persuaded to look at LENR recently by twitterer B.McIntyre who pointed out that my 2017 paper on the proton radius anomaly (link to blog entry) might have implications for LENR. His tweet exploded in my head during a tutorial the following day. A few days later I calculated the size of the effect on the train to St Andrews and it was too small, but then on the train back from St Andrews I read Ed Storms' summary (see below) and found out that LENR happens whenever there are tiny cracks in the palladium. See the gray mottled pattern on the palladium in the schematic - cracks in the palladium where the fusion happens. I have applied QI to confined cavities/horizons before (the early cosmos, emdrives, sonoluminescence..) and it changes the physics in intriguing ways..


Fleischmann, M., S. Pons, M. Hawkins, 1989. Electrochemically induced nuclear fusion of deuterium. J. Electroanal. Chem., 261, 301-308.

Storms, E., 2012. A students' guide to cold fusion. http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/StormsEastudentsg.pdf


Analytic D said...

So the next step is to use advanced lithography to manufacture palladium chips with precisely sized gaps/channels.

Mike McCulloch said...

AnalyticD: Yes :) we need engineered gaps of order a nanometre. Electron lithography can get down to about 10 nm.

Simon Derricutt said...

At this moment no-one has a theory that explains why LENR (or Cold Fusion) happens. It's not even certain that it's Deuterium that's fusing with itself - best evidence there is that the ratio of heat to Helium tends to the right value for that (Miles), but there's quite a bit of error-bar there and the D-Li6 => He4x2 + 22.4MeV is a possibility since LiOD was used as the electrolyte.

Though the F+P experiment seems conceptually simple, it seems that people who tried replicating it found it very difficult, and since the reaction can be killed by traces of Na or K then handling the prepared cathodes needs extreme care - no fingers on it or breathing on it. The precise alloy of Palladium used, and its crystal state, also seems important (Fleischmann used an alloy from Johnson-Matthey that was intended as a filter for purifying Hydrogen, and this was made by hand in small batches using a process that is no longer done). Less-skilled people trying to replicate F+P using pure Palladium and insufficient care failed to get a result.

Miles' experiment is being re-done at the moment to get a more-accurate measure of the ratio of heat to Helium production. This may provide better clues as to what's actually happening.

It ought to be obvious that the situation in a matrix of energy-wells is different than that in a plasma and thus that the rules we know for plasma-based fusion may not necessarily apply in the Cold Fusion environment. Different pathways for energy-release should become possible since we're no longer talking about two-body interactions, and the momentum and energy have more bodies to go to. The mainstream science response is however that LENR is theoretically impossible, and we should have seen some dead grad-students from nuclear radiation.

It does seem likely that the cracks are important, and the Johnson-Matthey Palladium alloy was actually developed to reduce the cracking problem in order to extend the life of their Hydrogen filters. The Silver in the alloy may also be important (around 23%), and there are also some other elements that were added. Though it's stated as Palladium, it's actually somewhat more complex. Those alloying components may be pinning the movements of dislocations and forming cracks of a specific shape and size that depends on both the atoms present and the previous heat-treatments or mechanical treatments of the cathode.

Cold Fusion produces a few neutrons above background and also it has been seen to produce some Tritium - both many orders of magnitude down on the He4 production. The difficulty of the experimental process, and the problem that even cathodes cut from the same billet of the right alloy don't produce equivalent results, makes working out what is happening somewhat difficult.

It may be a bit early to try to apply QI to Cold Fusion to try to explain what's happening, since we're not yet certain enough about what is actually happening. There should however be a bit more information next year from the Austin experiments.

Laurence Cox said...


One way to test your idea about sonoluminescence would be to use a different liquid. If you could use liquid Argon, then there should be almost no absorption at wavelengths longer than the electronic transitions, so measuring the emission would be much easier.

Best wishes,

qraal said...

Hi Mike
Intriguing. Have you had a look at Leif Holmlid's work on ultradense deuterium? The conversion process itself produces excess heat, then fusion reactions can happen in UDD with quite different kinetics to the usual thermonuclear reactions. Friedwardt Winterberg and George Miley have both looked at it as the enabler of LENRs and your Horizon Mechanics surely has implications in such extreme materials.

Peter Andrews said...

For me, the Widom-Larsen theory seems most logical. Rather than assuming fusion, it posits that collective resonance of many electrons with a nearby by proton allows a weak nuclear interaction to create an ultra low momentum neutron. Such a slow moving neutron has a very large absorption cross section which, combined with its neutral charge, allows for easy incorporation into nearby atoms, thus pushing them up on isotopic number. A series of these will lead to unstable isotopes and decay which generates observed heat.

A good resource is Steven Krivit's New Energy Times: http://www.newenergytimes.com/v2/sr/WL/WLTheory.shtml

Zephir said...

The general cold fusion theory aka the broad view of LENR The motivation of the above theory is rather straightforward and it follows Lipinski experiments consisting of
shotting of deuterons into a surface of molten lithium, during which the huge evolution of heat and stream of deuterons is generated - i.e. the classical fusion apparently runs there... What makes this reaction ever more spectacular is, that the fusion runs only in very narrow
range of temperature few dozen degrees above melting point of lithium (which would indeed make the practical utilization of such reaction a bit problematic). Which is really something: we can control the nuclear reaction releasing 20 MeV just be temperature changes in few milielectronvolt regime (1 ,
2 , 3 ,
4 , 5 ,
6 , 7)

Mike McCulloch said...

Thanks all for the very useful comments so far. I'm on a steep learning curve for LENR at the moment. Particularly interesting are reactions like the Lithium ones that produce no high energy products (Simon), liquid Argon for sonoluminescence (Laurence) (but it has to be at -173degC!), UDD (qraal), Peter (Widom-Larsen theory), and lithium again (Zephir). Lots to investigate :) Lithium is intriguing to me because there is a cosmological Lithium problem and it is the 3rd simplest element. It seems also that Rossi's E-Cat transmutes lithium, as shown by the Lugano report, Levi et al., 2014:


Simon Derricutt said...

There's a bit of a problem with the Widom-Larsen theory, in that the products you'd expect from ultra-slow neutrons don't happen (they'd drop into any nucleus, so there would be a lot of isotopes produced of all available nuclei in the system including the casing) and also that the gamma-shielding would logically only stop gammas in one direction so you'd only reduce gammas by half. It would also be easy to test the gamma-shielding effect with external gammas, and though Larsen has a patent on this he hasn't demonstrated it operating - and it would be of great commercial worth.

Unlike Zephir, I rate Rossi's demonstrations and claims as lies. It's just about possible that he's had some successes in the past (since he started by trying to replicate Piantelli), but his measurement methods are so bad that it's hard not to postulate that they are deliberately bad. The demonstrations are spectacularly bad. The Lugano report gets the radiance wrong, so probably shows the output as being exactly the input power within the error bars. The earlier Ferrara report was more-convincing, but given the Lugano report and the errors in the temperature-measurements there it seems more likely that the Ferrara report was wrong in some way too. Same people, same errors.... The photos show something at around 800-900°C (by eye and colour-temperature) and it's measured at around 1400°C (which would be white-hot) where the internal type K thermocouples (used in the control system) would have melted. The measurements are thus wrong.

Rossi-replications (or to be precise they are attempts at replications with guesses at the materials) such as Parkhomov deliver smaller results the better they are measured.

Mizuno's Pd/Ni/D experiments look good, though when Mizuno worked with IH he couldn't replicate them himself. This may thus be real or may be some systematic error, and it's hard to tell. Getting a reliable experiment that always works would fix that, of course, but we'll have to wait. So much seems to depend on having the materials precisely specified, and maybe having the right impurities in the right quantities, and then treating it correctly - a chain where one error stops it working and we don't know why.

Simon Derricutt said...

For Lithium work, maybe also worth looking at http://newenergytimes.com/v2/library/2006/2006Ikegami-Ultradense-Nuclear-Fusion-ER2006-42W.pdf which has multiple reports from the different people involved. That Lithium anomaly (far less of it around than the cosmologists say there should be) is tantalising.... Still, that's not LENR but instead hot fusion.

Leif Holmlid has a totally different approach, and it seems it should have the same number of neutrons and radiation as would hot fusion. It may work, but no-one has replicated it that I know of. Along this line of research, all the papers are either by Holmlid or he's the lead author. I hope he's right, but don't know.

Brillouin seem honest and their system has been tested by SRI and shown to work. I think they have a problem in scaling-up and they're still at the few watts level. Their theory also implies that they should have a lot of intermediate products that don't show in the data, so the theory must be wrong.

Finding the reason for LENR, and why it seems to mainly produce just heat and not neutrons and gammas, would be a major gain. Getting experimental data that can be trusted is however difficult. There are a lot of papers at lenr-canr.org (Jed Rothwell's library) detailing both successes and failures, and it's a lot to read and understand. By now, nearly 30 years on, what works and what doesn't is a bit clearer, but why it happens isn't clear. For Pd/D the Miles experiment proves that LENR happens without any reasonable doubt - unless there is some previously-unexplained correlation of errors in measurement of the Helium produced with the heat measured when the Helium measurements were double-blinded. For Ni/H the Thermacore measurements seem valid, but again no-one that I know of has managed to replicate it. Brian Ahern has tried to replicate their melt-down event, but didn't succeed (or to be precise hasn't yet succeeded).

Definitely a steep learning-curve....

Peter Andrews said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Andrews said...

Unified Gravity Corporation is interesting as well. Unfortunately they have reverted their website to be fairly uninformative. The archived version has more interesting content: https://web.archive.org/web/20171116023636/http://www.unifiedgravity.com/

They believe they are having hot fusion with an unexpected low resonance voltage that allows tunneling on protons into lithium with on 226eV. I suspect that they are doing LENR. Regardless, their patent (submitted 2014, granted March 2017) is very detailed and interesting and reports a Q value in the THOUSANDS for their #25 set of experiments.

Peter Andrews said...

Here is a better, text searchable, link to one of the Unified Gravity patents (they are all similar): https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/3a/b6/bd/8f4f2321d7cf34/EP3000112B1.pdf

qraal said...

Hi All
One thought on LENR which leaves me *cold* is that it seems to be a solid-state effect. Thus, in thermodynamic terms, it's inherently efficiency limited. Run too hot and it shuts down. While for terrestrial applications that's fine, for space applications (my interest) that require high specific power, LENRs don't seem to promise anything better than RTGs.

Simon Derricutt said...

Qraal - no problems with LENR being relatively low-temperature providing you get electricity from it. Electricity has no thermodynamically-defined "temperature" and can be used to drive an ion-drive (if you want traditional mass-ejection to provide thrust) or an EMDrive if it can be made to work better. I'm also somewhat heretical in thinking that thermodynamics has a flaw in the derivation that will allow us to use any heat energy (from a single heat sink) to produce electricity (see http://revolution-green.com/work-and-play/ if you're interested) and thus that any heat source can be used in a space drive if there are enough joules produced by it. Even the RTG could be used if I can get the devices actually made and tested. I may be fairly close to that, but no promises until the data is in.

Zephir said...

/* and also that the gamma-shielding would logically only stop gammas in one direction so you'd only reduce gammas by half */

This is why I consider that cold fusion results from linear collisions of multiple atom nuclei, not just electron orbitals (as Widom/Larsen consider). The resulting dense "rod" of atom nuclei server like waveguide for released neutrons and gamas and it absorbs them. One indicia for this assumption are occasional runaways of cold fusion, which are followed by release of neutrons. Once the atoms move too wildly, they cannot keep as line after collisions, so that some neutrons get radiated into an outside.

The gammas wouldn't be such a problem for Widom/Larsen theory, because they could be also absorbed by electrons within bottom orbitals, but the neutrons cannot be captured by electrons so easily.

Zephir said...

This explanation also leaves some space for application of dark matter models in LENR theory: i presume that the collinear nuclei shield longitudinal waves of vacuum in similar way, like it happens with Allais effect during solar eclipses (and with hungarian boson, tetraquarks and many similar cases). It's essentially Cassimir/Yukawa force on steroids. The dense area of dark matter formed along their connection line serves as a waveguide for energetic particles and gamma rays. It also enables to overcome Coulomb barrier, as it weakens the electromagnetic forces.

Ireland as seen from America said...

As I see it, the problem with LENR and E-Cat the political problem in science. It has been relegated, unfairly, to quackery. If researchers want to get funding, they have to toe the line and not say anything which might embarrass colleagues and/or sponsors.

Laurence Cox said...


Another reason for suggesting liquid argon is that liq Ar detectors are already used in particle physics for neutrino detection, so there is the expertise around for handling it in bulk for scientific experiments.

Best wishes for 2018,

Peter Andrews said...

Just a small comment on a tangent. Simon mentioned the lithium anomaly (less found than theory predicts). The Unified Gravity Corporation claimed success is based on lithium having a much lower than expected resonance with hydrogen at 226eV so that it fuses to beryllium and then decays to 2 helium-4. As I mentioned, I believe this could be LENR rather than straight up fusion.

Mike McCulloch said...

Peter: Lithium is very anomalous in many ways, but would you say it is a common factor in LENR? (ie present in all the successful results?)

Mike McCulloch said...

Laurence: Many thanks. Happy New Year to you too, and to all who have commented here.

Peter Andrews said...

Lithium is not necessary but is quite commonly used. Here is an interesting thread where AlainCo at the bottom definitively states that non-lithium LENR has occurred (AlainCo is well known in LENR community).

That same thread has interesting comments about unspecified variation in lithium isotopic percentages that could explain some of the replication difficulty.

William E. Smith said...

AlainCo - please clarify 4 MikeMc : would you say it is a common factor in LENR? (ie present in all the successful results?)

Alain Coetmeur said...

Best is to as to Edmund Storms (who nearly read and reviewed all on LENR that desere be read), or Jed Rothwell (who read and archived all that was written).

My position is based on exchange and lurking.

F&P implied some Li as electrolythe (LiO2 as I remember).
But there was LENR is molten salt without lithium, various salts.

To confirm, best would be to study the 153 peer reviewed papers listed there (page 18+)

Note that Fralick 8 experiment of gas permatation at 300c in Pd filter, replicated by Uni Tsinghua2005, Biberian2007, Nasa GRC 2008 and Fralick 2012, does not imply any electrolythe or Li.

Iwamura thin film, replicated by Takahashi and some other I forgot, does not imply any Li

mikenyc said...


Laurence Cox said...


This is something that has been known for several years, but as the measurements get better the difference between the Hubble constant derived from models of the CMB and from supernovae is getting more (statistically) significant. A useful summary on measurements of the Hubble constant as of 2015 can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5253801/