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186) Transmutations of radioactive isotopes?

Ludwik Kowalski (November 15, 2004)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043



At the last international cold fusion conference in Marseilles (ICCF11, November 2004) I was exposed to new claims that radioactivity can be destroyed very rapidly by microbial and pyrolytic processing. Microbial processing was described by Ukrainian scientists (1) while pyrolytic processing was announced by a businesswoman from Canada, E. Anderson (2).

According to (1), the half-life of 137Cs, known to be 30 years, was reduced to less than one year. This has been accomplished by metabolically active microorganisms. “The process involved transmutation of long-lived active nuclei to non-radioactive isotopes during growth and metabolism of special microbiological MCT.” The initial activity of 137Cs was reported as 18,000 bq (0.49 microcuries) and the process was conducted at room temperatures. Measurements of radioactivity, in closed flasks, were made with Ge detectors every five days. Half-lives of 154Eu, 155Eu and 241Am were also affected by microbial action.

Unfortunately, most conference participants were not biologists and the report did not receive the scrutiny it deserves. In my opinion, it should be presented at a conference for microbiologists. It should also be submitted to government agencies responsible for dealing with radioactive waste. They should be interested because 137Cs is a major contributor to radioactivity of spent fuel after it is removed from a nuclear reactor. Ability to transform large amounts of 137Cs into non-radioactive substances would be highly beneficial. My personal reaction to the report was to imagine a metabolic process through which bacteria turn cesium into a gaseous compound escaping from the flask. But I am neither a biologist nor a chemist; the authors of the report probably investigated that possibility and ruled it out on the basis of experimental data.

According to (2), a Canadian company is about ready to start destroying radioactive waste on an industrial scale. She said that the apparatus built for the company is able to destroy 50% of radium, whose half-life is known to be 1620 years, in only 3 days. It also changes thorium into lead. What would Marie Curie think about this claim? She and her husband tried many ways to change the half-life of radium but were not successful. This was about one hundred years ago. According to Coleman (2), the senior science consultant to Monti America Corporation, “With the gradual disappearance of the Ether (Relativity) the Physical Space in which to place the Atom and rebuild its structure also disappears.” This strange statement [is there a typing error somewhere in this sentence?] is backed by references authored by R. Monti and G. Monti. Outlining the short history of the transmutation of the waste project Coleman continues: “In 1992 R.A. Monti was given the opportunity to pursue Low Energy Nuclear Reactions at Texas A&M University [with Lin and Bockris]. The goal of the sponsors of this research . . . was to produce noble metals on an industrial scale. This goal was not achieved. The cost of gold and silver produced by transmutation of Lead and Mercury exceeded the ordinary market price. When the Philadelphia Project failed R.A. Monti decided to take another direction in his research. The possibility to cause nuclear fission of stable isotopes by ordinary chemical reactions had suggested immediately that it should also be possible to do this with radioactive materials.

A series of experimental tests made from 1993 to the present have shown that this is indeed the case. Unstable isotopes can be transmuted into stable isotopes. In 1993 R.A. Monti informed the Italian National Research Council about the possibility to get rid of nuclear waste but they rejected the idea. From 1994 to the present, ongoing research has been funded by a group of Canadian companies which ultimately led to the formation of Monti America Corporation in 1998. A proprietary formula for transmuting Lead and Mercury into silver was used as a driver for the transmutation of radioactive elements. R.A. Monti observed that Thorium . . . can be transmuted into stable elements with 80% success rate, based on total input weight in the right season of the year. [Does the “right season of the year” phrase refer to temperature, humidity, winds, etc. or to factors linked with astronomy?]

During 1995 and 1996 over 50 experiments were conducted . . . The years from 1997 to 2004 have been used to conduct validation tests at independent research facilities and to demonstrate the process internationally. Monti America Corporation is currently working on constructing a pilot plant to prove the commercial viability of the process.

The experimental results of the tests made from 1992 to 1996 were so astonishing that they were by and large rejected out of hand by the scientific community. As a matter of fact the papers . . . do not appear in the Proceedings of these [Cold Fusion] Conferences (rejected by Ikegami, Passell, McKubre, Fleischmann ) . . . In 2000 (ICCF8, Lerici, Italy) the paper . . . was rejected by Scaramuzzi (13). Finally, the paper was published in 2004 by Hal Fox (6).” My attempt to obtain a general explanation of the proprietary process from Monti, who was present at the conference, produced nothing more than a statement that the process is “pyrolytic.” I remember that this term was used by Bockris, a recognized authority in electrochemistry who was the first to report cold fusion transformations.

By the way, I was not aware that Monti’s claims were rejected by leading cold fusion researchers. This fact , however, did not prevent a company from investing heavily in Monti’s technology. I talked with Mrs. Anderson and with the president of Monti America Corporation. They are not scientists. But they are totally convinced that their large investment will soon become profitable. To begin with, the company plans to concentrate on low level radioactive waste from petroleum products, and from other industrial operations. They plan to move to highly radioactive waste later. I said that I would like to come and observe the pyrolytic device in operation. They said that they would invite me, probably in several weeks. I hope this will happen; I would be happy to write a unit on the first industrial application of what is, according to Monti, a cold fusion transmutation process. Will they allow me to make some measurements? This remains to be seen. Will they be able to destroy the waste ready to be stored under Yucca mountain? Probably not.

I am convinced that destroying highly radioactive waste by neutrons (from a very strong spallation source) is scientifically possible and practically desirable. This, however, has nothing to do with approaches based on microbial activities or on a pyrolytic process. My advice to potential investors is to wait until such processes are confirmed by recognized experts. Biological experiments with radioactive substances are very recent and scientists performing them are not promising anything useful, as far as I know. The technology developed by Monti, on the other hand, is a promise of something useful. But that promise, as indicated above, is not taken seriously by recognized experts, even within the cold fusion community. That situation would certainly change if Monti America Corporation suceeded in destroing (rather than dispersing) even on radioactive isotope.

The presentation of the paper (2) ended with the following statement. “We have been asked not to release the full details as this involves a private research project on the verge of becoming a commercial interprise. We have been, however, authorized to attach a letter of opinion from a Canadian learned society which gives a general summary of the demonstration.” Before showing that letter (see below) let me mention a videotape of the demonstration; it was shown at the conference. I was not convinced by its content. Three other existing videotapes were mentioned in a handout:

1) “Gold from Mercury according to Gabber,” by R.A. Monti and G.A. Cesarano Monti.
2) “Gold (light and energy) from Naples,” by D. Cirillo and V. Iorio.
3) “Transmutation of nuclear waste in Stockholm” by Monti America Corporation

I hope the contents of these tapes will have more scientific information than the videtape shown at the conference. What follows is the July 24, 2004 letter from the Canadian learned society (The Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Inc.) to Ernest Bauer, President of Monti America Corporation. The abbreviation NORM/NONS, in that letter, stands for Naturally Occuring Radioactive Materi/Naturally Occuring Radioactive Substances.

Dear Mr. Bauer,
The following constitutes our opinion about your achievements to date associated with Monti Process and its application within your Kamloops, British Columbia facility.
As you know, our Association, the Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Inc., is a Canadian learned society that has developed an international, independent, collaborative network of advanced scientifIC thinking since 1975, under the leadership of the late Canadian scientist Senator, the Hon. Chesley W. Carter.

Our network has been peer reviewing, extensively, and on an international scale, progress with the Monti process, since the 1990s. We continue to do so and consider it as one of the top systems worldwide for the rapid, affordable and efficient decontamination of a variety of nuclear waste materials, including NORM/NONS (which are, as you know, present in rocks, soils, building materials, consumer products such as fertilizers, and a variety of by-products of such common technological activities as the petroleum, the fertilizer, the pulp and paper and the mining industries). Recently we made a presentation before a Canadian Senate Committee, which was received with considerable interest, supportive of the Monti Process for widespread application throughout Canada.

In a step of a series of review procedures that our network has taken to review and facilitate the Monti Process *(footnote), we have attended, in the form of several of our members, and have followed a number of demonstrations and controls in May of this year at the newly established Kamloops facility.

*(footnote) The Monti Process has been tested many times in the past, including at ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technology, Energy and The Environment, at the Royal Institute of Technology and Science in Stockholm, Sweden, in Taiwan, and at a previous demonstration in Kamloops, B.C., all of which were monitored by independent scientific observers. In all instances, the results were positive, demonstrating that the Monti process could effectively deplete the radioactivity by up to seventy five percent within three to four days. *(end of footnote)

This facility was established for the purpose of rapidly depleting Naturally Occurring Nuclear Substances (NONS) with the Pyrolytic Monti process. Present at this demonstration as independent scientifIC observers were: John Coleman, BS, MS, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (retired) Domina Eberle Spencer, Ph.D., University of Connecticut Andrew Michrowski, Ph.D., President, The Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Inc. Monique Michaud, M.ScA, CGD, The Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Inc. Mark Porringa, P. Eng., Atomic Energy Canada Limited Philippe Duport, Ph.D., Director, Institute ofthe Environment, University of Ottawa John R. Johnson, Ph.D., IDIAS Inc., University of British Columbia Trevor Beniston, P. Eng., Stuart Hunt & Associates (radiation safety consultants, petroleum industry)

During the May 2004 demonstrations, gas mantle ash containing thorium oxide was used as sample for the rapid reduction of radioactivity. The radioactivity level was reduced by over 50% within 3 days. Measurements for the radioactivity were obtained with sophisticated, state-of-the-art monitors, under fIXed, pre-determined geometric configurations to ensure valid comparisons between measurements made on input material and after the Pyrolytic reactions. The remaining radioactive materials were processed a second time to obtain further depletion of radioactivity.

The independent observers confirmed that no deleterious gases escaped and that the remaining sludge is essentially inert. The metal buttons that remain after firing and cooling are totally inert within 4 days after firing.

We conclude with the recommendation that the Monti Process facility in Kamloops is ready to commence processing radioactive filters from the petroleum industry. We understand that Dr. John Johnson, nuclear safety expert, is currently advising his contacts in various committees, including the ANSI-N13 committee, which is developing a standard for Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) as it affects the radioactivity issue associated with gas and oil production filters. He, being deeply aware of the Monti Process, is indicating that the industry may now submit filters for "ashing", for a practical-size "start-up" run at the Kamloops facility.

We are pleased with the cleanliness, simplicity and rapidity of the process that is now in place for dealing with various NORM/NONS - truly a world first.

We also concur with Dr. Johnson's position regarding the readiness of your facility to deal with certain types of radioactive wastes, indicating that it is in an unique position to resolve the storage problems for the petroleum industry NORM/NONS as well as a solution to eliminate the long-term liability to the industry. The widespread application of the Monti process, in our view, will contribute to the safeguarding of the environment for both present and future generations.

We haw no objection to your showing this letter of opinion to potential users in the hopes that they will consider the advantages offered by the Monti Process and your facility.

Yours sincerily,
Dr. A. Michrowski,
President

References:
1) V.I. Vysotskii, A. Odintsov, V.N. Pavlovich, A.B. Tashirev and A.A. Cornilova; “Experiments on controlled decomposition of water mixture of different long lived active isotopes in biological cells.” That was a paper presented at the ICCF11.

2) E. Anderson, from Monti America Corporation was reading (at ICCF11) a paper of J.W. Colman, R.A. Monti and G.A. Cesarano Monti: “Transmutation of nuclear waste by low energy nuclear reactions.”

P.S. After posting the above I went to Google and typed “Roberto A Monti” This generated a lot of items worth reading. They show the scientific side of Monti. I hope that his contribution to mankind will be real. But I am glad that my money is not invested into his technology. The rule should be "science first, costly applications later." Yes, I know that this rule has often been violated. That is why I remain open-minded.

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