Click to see the list of links
412) Summary of a Recent Discussion
"The phenomenon called LENR has several basic features that have to guide a model and were, ironically, the cause of its rejection. These features are:
1. The mass-energy is released in small quanta rather than as energetic particles, as is the normal case by nuclear reactions and hot fusion in particular.
2. The phenomenon is very rare on a geological time scale and difficult to replicate in the laboratory.
3. The nuclear products are not the expected ones based on experience with the hot fusion process.
4. The process only occurs in condensed matter, especially in certain solids.
5. The process does not require applied energy to be initiated although extra energy will increase its rate.
These features do not need additional demonstration or experimental detail to be accepted as real by a knowledgeable observer. The challenge is to create a logically consistent model that does not conflict with what is known about "conventional" nuclear reactions and is consistent with what is observed. The need for such an explanation, even thought it is incomplete, flows from the fact that this phenomenon is too complex to investigate successfully using trial and error. In fact, all experiments in science are guided at some level by an explanation, which is sometimes informal and based on current observed behavior but more often is based on established laws of Nature. The best model is the one that is consistent with the largest number of observations and makes accurate predictions about previously unseen behavior. These models are not designed to or are required to justify belief that the phenomenon called LENR is real. They are required to guide effective research that might eventually provide the required justification for acceptance.
To do this, a few assumptions are required. These assumptions must be consistent with the laws or rules known to apply to the chemical systems in which the LENR effect occurs. Agreeing on which assumptions are consistent with the required rules (laws) and which are not, has been the basic cause of conflict and argument about the proposed models.
Before listing the assumptions, we need to acknowledge that several nuclear processes and reactions can occur in a material at the same time. For the discussion to be clear, we need to focus on only one reaction at a time. Initially the discussion will focus on the most active reaction that results in the major amount of detected heat energy.
Several models propose processes other than fusion. These models involve either creation of neutrons or their release from a stabilized form in the material. The resulting neutrons then interact with nuclei to form the observed nuclear products. This discussion is not focused on this claim other than to note that the observed behavior is not consistent with this process and many parts of the model conflict with basic laws of nature. Therefore, this path will not be explored here. The present discussion focuses only on fusion of hydrons as the process called LENR.
Three basic processes have to occur at the same location and at the same time. No significant delay may separate these three events. These events are:
A. Two or more hydrons must occupy the same location at the same time in the material.
B. Two or more hydrons must overcome the Coulomb barrier separating them.
C. The resulting reduction in mass-energy must be converted to heat-energy.
The basic assumptions used here are:
1. The behavior involves only one basic mechanism that occurs at the same basic location in the active material being examined.
2. The nuclear process can involve any isotope of hydrogen.
3. The entire process must be consistent with all known laws of physics and chemistry, although gaps in knowledge are accepted.
The above assumptions and observed behavior alone allow a useful model to be proposed. To start the process, the location of the nuclear process in the material must be identified. I call this location, the Nuclear Active Environment (NAE). Consequently, a new assumption is introduced that says:
4. The NAE is a new physical structure having no connection through quantum mechanical processes or the laws of thermodynamics with the atoms that form the lattice structure.
This assumption eliminates a number of proposed models from consideration, which is discussed later.
I have explained previously why I propose that the nuclear reaction occurs in cracks of a critical size, so I will not repeat this argument here. Once the crack forms, the three basic processes (A, B, C above) must take place in this structure. The model now must describe how this series of events happens.
First, the hydons that are present in the surrounding lattice as H+ or D+ must enter the crack and create a structure that is able to reduce the coulomb barrier. The only way this process has been seen to occur is either by applying enough kinetic energy to force the two nuclei together (hot fusion) or by insertion of a muon between two D. Both methods produce the typical and expected energetic particles. Use of ion bombardment has revealed that the electrons normally present in a material are able to reduce the magnitude of the Coulomb barrier for the conventional hot fusion process. Consequently, the logical implication is that electrons are also involved in the LENR process, but in a different way.
Regardless of their involvement, the Coulomb barrier reduction process must take place in a manner to allow the mass-energy to be released gradually in small quanta before the fusion process is complete. Otherwise, if mass-energy remains in the final structure, it must result in gamma emission to be consistent with known behavior. At this point in the model, we are faced with a dilemma. What process can be proposed that satisfies the observed behavior but does not conflict with known and accepted concepts in physics? All of the proposed models are faced with this dilemma while attempting to solve the problem different ways. The only question is which of the proposed methods (theories) provides the most logical description of observed behavior and best predictions, because they all contain the consequence of this dilemma. Can we focus the discussion on this dilemma?
Click to see the list of links