An Engineer in Wonderland – Cold fusion
I want cold fusion to work because I like the idea of easy energy for free.
But when evidence for it was first claimed, no one could repeat the results and the overall effect was worse that a damp squib.
It made scientists look a bit mad.
PICTURE – The US Navy says these three tracks are evidence of cold fusion
High temperature superconductors were much better – they clearly worked.
Although I do remember claims from some research groups at the time that they had superconduction at close to 0[deg]C – which turned out to be rubbish.
Luckily, these excessive claims were lost in the noise.
Now there is a claim once a gain for cold fusion – now named low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR) – this time from the US Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego.
Sadly, I do not have the scientific knowledge to tell the rest of this story from an April Fool trick, but I am going to assume the American Chemical Society and the US Navy are above such things.
Anyway, according to the ACS, the Navy put a nickel or gold wire into a solution of palladium chloride mixed with deuterium.
Researchers passed electric current through the solution, “causing a reaction within seconds”, said the Society.
CR-39, a neutron-detecting plastic, was used to hunt for emissions and – lo and behold – clusters of three adjacent pits that appear to split apart from a single point were found.
The researchers say that the track marks were made by sub-atomic particles released when neutrons hit the plastic.
According to the ACS, this is not the first evidence for LENR found recently.
Apparently, Dr Tadahiko Mizuno of Hokkaido University in Japan, has reported the production of excess heat and gamma rays from a device that uses the hydrocarbon phenanthrene as a reactant.
And Dr Antonella De Ninno of New Technologies Energy and Environment in Italy has demonstrated the simultaneous production of excess heat and helium gas. Helium is created in some nuclear reactions.
As I said, I do hope these are true.
Although, even if one or more of them turns out to be true, I am not convinced that a machine whose energy output is only very slightly bigger than the input is ever going to be any use to anyone.
But my fingers are crossed.
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