11) Bottom Line

Ludwik Kowalski, <kowalskiL@mail.montclair.edu>
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, N.J., 07043


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What is the main difference between hot fusion and cold fusion communities? In both cases the goal was to build a device whose energy output exceeds the energy input, without consuming chemical fuel. The hot fusion community has been trying to achieve the "break-even" point for five decades and it knows exactly why reaching it is so difficult. The cold fusion community, on the other hand, started by building break-even devices without understanding what was going on and why.

This calls for an elaboration. The hot fusion pursuit started in the 1930's when cloud chambers were used to visualize tracks resulting from d+d collisions. The QM tunneling theory was used to anticipate what should happen at extremely high temperatures; hydrogen bombs confirmed these predictions. Practical attempts to use nuclear fusion for peaceful purposes have been guided by sophisticated theoretical investigations since the 1950's.

The so-called 'cold fusion' pursuit is much younger. It started in 1989 when Fleischmann and Pons discovered that unexplained thermal energy is generated in palladium loaded with deuterium. The first method of loading was electrolytic but excess heat was also observed with other loading methods (for example, by placing palladium chips in deuterium gas under high pressure and in glow discharge tubes). Those who discovered the effect believed in its nuclear origin but they had no evidence. That antagonized many scientists and the entire field was declared unscientific. This opinion prevailed and US funding agencies cut their support for 'cold fusion' research.

Fortunately, many researchers were not discouraged and continued to investigate the phenomenon with very limited means. They soon realized that nuclear processes, if any, responsible for the excess heat in solids, are totally different from those occurring in very hot ionized gases. The field, however, is still treated as pseudo-science by founding agencies. Several theoretical attempts to explain the mechanism of generation of anomalous heat have been undertaken but, so far, none of them has been generally accepted. The entire field is still at the fact-gathering stage. The absence of a theory is not a good reason to disqualify an emerging field of research.

What are the main issues in the CF area? In my opinion they are as follows:

1) The name "cold fusion" is highly inappropriate; it perpetuates an early misinterpretation of the phenomenon. The name anomalous energy (AE), used by many authors, is much more suitable. What is wrong with saying "the AE effect?"

2) All factors influencing generation of anomalous energy should be clearly identified. Great progress has been made in this area, and the reproducibility of experimental results, by qualified scientists, is much better today than it was thirteen years ago.
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3) Experimental evidence for nuclear processes taking place in solids loaded with deuterium is badly needed. At least one such process should be identified and confirmed by several investigators. This is more important, at this early stage, than showing that the rate of the process is commensurable with the rate at which the AE is generated inside a solid. Confirmation of a nuclear process, or of enhanced radioactivity, caused by a chemical structure would already be a great step forward.

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