353) From my ICCF14 notes

Ludwik Kowalski (8/17/08)

Montclair State University


This unit is based on what I wrote while listening to several ICCF14 presentations. Many sessions of the conference were named to match the CMNS subfields. The names were (a) Heat Results, (b) Measuring heat (calorimetry), Materials, (d) Gas and gas loading, etc.

1) What is FPE?
It is interesting that both David Nagel (conference chairman) and Dennis Lett (one of the presenters) defined the Fleischmann-Pons Effect (FPE) as “electrochemical excess heat.” I like this definition because it does not refer to the origin of excess heat. Most scientists of my generation would probably say that FPE is a “nuclear reaction of some kind, triggered by electrolysis.” Fleischmann and Pons speculated about nuclear origin of excess heat but they had no evidence for it. It is not hard to imagine how different history of our field would be without their premature speculations. No one would object to their isoperibolic calorimeter data and only highly qualified electrochemists, such McKubre, Szpak, Miles and Boss, would continue studying the new effect. First they would demonstrate reproducibility, then they would test interpretational predictions. Premature speculations of F&P were responsible, at least in part, for the tragic situation in which one field of research was unjustly pronounced as unscientific.

2) Superwaves

I was impressed by the report of S. Lesin (Israel). He described electrochemical experiments in which excess heat, at the power level between 0.5 and 1.0 watts, was observed (in more that 20 experiments) at levels of reproducibility between 75% and 80%. In all of these experiments the electric current was periodic (superwaves) and cathodes were bombarded with ultrasound. This should not be confused with rare experiments yielding much more spectacular results. In the best of these experiments, lasting 40 days, the excess power was said to be 32 watts. Multiplying 32 watts by the duration of the experiment one gets the total excess energy of 110 MJ. But reported value was 35 MJ. That probably means that 32 Watts was the highest power, not the mean power. The mean power was probably close to 10 W, which is spectacular.

That spectacular result was obtained by using superwaves (but without bombarding the cathode with ultrasounds). The idea of using superwaves, suggested by Dr. I. Dardik, an Americal medical researcher, has been used in Israel for many years. According to T. Zhilov, a large number of tests have been made (in the past) to show that cells powered by superwaves produce more reproducible results that identical cells powered by constant currents. According to another scientist, superwaves are also used to influence solidification of metals. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any quantitative theories explaining superwaves. Let me also mention that Preparata medal was awarded to Irving Dardik, for introducing superwaves.

3) A pectacular results to be confirmed
Another set of spectacular excess heat results were described by a Russian scientist, A. Karabut. (Unit 13, by the way, was also devoted to his results). He used an electrolytic cell powered by “periodic input” current (rather than d.c.). I suppose that periodic current consisted of nearly rectangular pulses separated by zero current, as in another paper presented by Karabut. That would be equivalent to superwaves--short pulses consist of many frequencies. The cell was made from quartz, two kinds of palladium (pretreated and not pretreated) were used as cathode and the electrolyte was made by using light water. Unfortunately, chemical composition of the electrolyte is not specified in the paper. The meaning of the “pretreated” and “not pretreated” is not at all clear. How can anyone try to replicate the experiment without such information?

But reported results are indeed spectacular. Excess heat produced with the “pretreated” palladium was produced at the rate of ~300 W for nearly 3 hours. The amount of excess heat produced was 8.1 times higher that what was used. Excess heat produced with “not pretreated” palladium, was produced at the rate of ~100 W for 6 hours. The amount of excess heat produced was 3.1 times higher that what was used. The results were said to be reproducible on demand. Potential differences between the anode and the cathode, in these experiments, were between 800 V and 1000 V.

In both cases the electrolysis was turned off when the temperature of the electrolyte reached the level of 80 C. Does it mean that generation of excess heat, at the rate of 300 W, would continue if excess heat was efficiently removed from the cell, for example, to produce electricity? I do not know haw to answer this question. But I am surprised that no replications of Karabut’s results were made by other Russian CMNS researchers.

4) Working against all odds
During the medal-award ceremony (8/13/08) Irving Dardik referred to us as “a community of dedicated people working against all odds.” This is a profound observation. How can it be interpreted? One can say that, due to unfortunate circumstances in 1989, a situation was created in which the level of scrutiny for CMNS claims is much higher than for claims in other areas of research. This can be summarized by the well known rule formulated by Carl Sagan -- “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs.” How can one disagree with such rule? But the rule has often been abused. Scientific journals should not refuse sending CMNS manuscripts to referees and granting agencies should support proposals formulated by reputable scientists.

Added on 8/19/08)5

Another spectacular claim of A. Karabut

This claim has to do with generation of X rays during the glow discharge. It is not a new claim; I listened to an earlier version of it in Albuquerque (Summer 2002). But new results are much more impressive. I am not sure that the term “glow discharge” is appropriate. In a private conversation I learned that the setup operates on the right side of the Pashen curve, far away from the minimum. I would say the system operates in the controlled electric arc region. The high voltage pules are so short that the arc does not have time to develop.

On one illustration I see pulse-periodic waveforms: (3500 V and 200 mA lasting 2 ms), followed by zero volts and zero mA (lasting 8 ms). In other words, the period of repetition is 10 ms. Most laser-like beams of X-rays, presumably emitted from monocrystals embedded in cathodes, exit during the 2 ms, when the voltage is applied. But some exit when the voltage is zero. Should this be called X-ray emission after death?

In addition to laser-like X-rays (coherent and mono-directional) Karabut observed incoherent X-rays. Their intensity decreases with the distance according to the 1/r^2 law. Energies of all X-rays are between 0.5 keV and 10 keV. In other words, some photons have much more energy than one would expect at 3500 volts. The only way to understand this is to assume that multiple excitations of atoms take place at very high currents. Some of the excited levels must be long-lived, to allow for the “inverse population” of levels, a precondition for lasering.

By the way, Pamela Boss, in a presentation honoring a SPAWAR scientists, Stanislaus Szpak, reminded us that X-rays with broad energy distributions, with occasional peaks (at 20 keV and between 8 and 12 keV), were observed in electrolytic experiments as early as in 1996. The peaks were attributed to known energy levels in Pd and Ni. Presence of keV-level photons, in a low voltage cell (probably less than 10 V) could not possibly be due to chemical reactions. The same is true for production of tritium in low voltage cells, as reported by SPAWAR researchers, in 1998.

Karabut’s impressive X-rays investigations, conducted at “FSUE Luch” laboratory (near Moscow), involved a large number of cathode materials (Al, Si, Ti, Ni, Nb, Zr, Mo, Pd, Ta and W) and several gasses (H2, D2, He, Kr, and Xe). How many other Russian scientists tried to replicate his spectacular results?

6) A good overall review of CMNS
I was very impressed by a paper presented by Mike McKubre. He promised to send me excerpts from his paper. I will insert them here, as soon as they arrive.

7) Iwamura-type transmutations.
Iwamura transmutations, occurring when D2 gas permeates through a Pd multilayer complex, offer the most convincing evidence of a nuclear process due to a chemical process (in this case accumulation of deuterium ions near a CaO layer in palladium). According to the progress report, presented by Y. Iwamura, highly collimated beams of X-rays were used to study distributions of nuclear reaction products. Evidence of hot spots (places where reaction products are concentrated) was obtained. This investigation is still going on.

Two other Japanese teams of researchers presented reports on ongoing Iwamura-type projects. According to one team (T. Yamaguchi et al.), no evidence of transmutation products was found “up to now.” The other team (T. Hioki et al.) did confirm appearance of molybdenum but its isotopic distribution was not the same as in Iwamura's experiments. This weakens our confidence that molybdenum was produced from strontium. These two negative reports made me think about the dilemma facing anyone whose results, or interpretations, do not agree with positive CMNS claims made by other researchers.

One has to be brave to present a negative CMNS report at a formal gathering of CMNS researchers. Most attendees want and expect positive results and convincing interpretations. Reporting something negative is likely to produce discomfort and personal friction. What fraction of CMNS researchers prefer to report nothing instead of reporting negative results? I hope that this fraction is small; reporting negative results is just as important as reporting positive results. We all know this. But how does this influence what we actually say, and not say, in public? Friendship and other considerations (“that is bad for CMNS reputation”) might play a role, in practice. That, hovewer, would be bias.

8) To make future conferences more effective
ICCF14 was great; a lot of interesting papers were presented, both orally and in the form of posters. Unfortunately, most of us are not able to penetrate contents of papers heard for the first time. Our conferences (including the next one in Rome, September 2009) would probably be more productive if papers, to be presented orally, were submitted ahead of time and posted at the conference website several weeks in advance. In that case formal presentations could be shortened and more time could be devoted to open discussion, after each presentation.

Conferences would also benefit from dedicated Internet discussion lists. Suppose a list is created in connection with each conference. It would be a perfect forum for post-conference comments and debates. Many people are not able at attend faraway conferences but would like to participate. Posting papers before each conference, and offering a forum to discuss them after the conference, would be a big help for them. In fact, all would benefit from broader participation.