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416) Reproducibility


Ludwik Kowalski; 9/19/2013
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, 07043

CMNR researchers are well aware of the frustrating problem of irreproducibility of experimental results. This has been recognized in many posts at the CMNS forum to which I belong. Let me share the most recent posts on this subject; the authors are veteran CMNR researchers.

X1 wrote:

The problem has a temporal component, there are setups that were reproducible in the past, but we need systems that are reproducible NOW. Patterson is a very tragic example.

X2 responded:

I keep hearing about reproducibility, but the concept seems ill defined. Do you mean reproducible with the same material in the same device by the same experimenter, materials from different sources, attempts by different experimenters with different systems and different materials??? How long does the experimenter try till they give up?

Do you mean just blindly going through similar motions without regards to such things as (I have seen all these problems-) disregard as to handling cathode surfaces, leaving D2O open in humid environments, connecting to constant voltage instead of constant current, loading at high currents to "speed things up", disregard as to the temperatures when loading, not anodize cleaning, having electrical joints inside of cells, venting to the humid atmosphere directly instead of through bubblers.

It is nearly impossible to tell people everything they shouldn't do. It is like going into McDonald's and saying I don't want a pizza, I don't want spaghetti, I don't..... How many things would you have to say not to do? You tell them what you do want and hope that they are "skilled in the art" and have done 20 years of their homework.

I will admit that I cannot just take a random raw piece of Pd or Ni and get identical results. But if you let me screen them, I can get better success ratios. Such selection criteria has been around since '94 - ICCF-4, and at least one protocol on cold working and cathode prep. since '04 - ASTI-5.

Perhaps the most forgiving approach seems to be co-deposition onto Au or Au plating. But I know I was saddled with trying to do a project where they wanted me to follow a specific co-dep protocol that called for co-dep on Cu. Disaster. I think they wanted failure for political purposes. But if you want a high level of success I would say start with co-dep of Pd (or even better Pd with additives) onto Au in D2O and with a Pd anode.

The next point is that some comments above seem to tout "significant levels of power". I don't really know what that means to others. I guess people have been looking at the claims of kW and MW by some. To me significant levels is just 5 or more sigma above your error bars.

So to me the arguments concerning "reproducibility" are just red herrings. Even if I get 1 out of 5 systems to give heat after carefully screening and handling materials and get 4 or 5 sigma signals, I think that is very significant. Many great technologies started with much less. (say early rockets, early transistors- I remember going to the old TI quonset huts, where DFW airport is now, and going through barrels of out of spec transistors to make my shortwave radio).

The problem is not reproducibility; it is that people choose to not believe. There is enough data out there for those who look.

X3 responded:

Nice post X1. The apparent irreproducibility simply means we do not recognize, acknowledge, understand or control all important input parameters to the effect (or effects) we are studying. There is no magic here, our systems are causal, what comes out is conditioned and determined exactly and completely by what goes in. This speaks to the need for more science, more research, to specify completely all relevant input variables. In some ways the apparent irreproducibility is comforting since systematic errors tend to exactly reproduce. But as Peter (G) suggests, it is tiresome and an impediment to the engineering scale up desired both for practical reasons and to persuade those who choose not to look at data already generated.

If we cannot control everything that is needed (in part because we do not know what they all are), one thing is to ensure that a multiplicity of desired input configurations are present, while ensuring that none of the known undesirable conditions occur, and that a multiplicity of potentially relevant stimuli are provided. Such an experiment is your " co-dep of Pd (or even better Pd with additives) onto Au in D2O and with a Pd anode" to which I would add "stimulated by as wide a range of frequencies and modes as you can launch and accurately measure". Co-dep is guaranteed to be irreproducible - what you are relying on is that the necessary input configuration is present in sufficient quantity (somehow and somewhere) to observe an effect. I "know" (i.e. strongly suspect) that the effect we are seeking is multi-resonant so i want to provide a trigger with as many frequencies and amplitudes present as possible.

X1 might say that this is cheating. The proposed experiment is intended to achieve an artificial statistical reproducibility by acknowledging a basic lack of knowledge of what we need to construct and how we need to stimulate it. But given such statistical reproducibility we could begin to refine the deposition process to see how particular morphologies perform, and hone our inputs to see which are effective, preferably by interrogating the system and using feedback. It is not so hard. What you acutely state is correct: knowing what not to do (and then not doing it) is the key.

X4 responded:

Reproducibility means that a new sample can be made the same way and produce the same behavior. It means that this can be done at will. The electrolytic method has become increasingly reproducible, as you describe, but only in the hands of an expert. However, even using these methods, success is not assured. As you say, many ways to screw-up are available. Nevertheless, a reproducible method is one that can be described easily and works in the hands of an idiot while producing a result at a magnitude that cannot be ignored by an idiot.

The gas loading method is not reproducible except perhaps in Rossi's hands. Z1, Z2, Z3 and Z4 have provided public demonstrations, but at such low power levels that the result can be easily rejected as error or chemical effect. On the other hand, you have seen the difficulty Rossi has had in demonstrating even a kW of power. Yes, people do not want to believe the effect is real. Even certain people in the field do not want to believe basic science is involved. If we want conventional scientists to believe, we need to act like conventional scientists and use the knowledge conventional science accepts as being true and correct, or give a very good reason why expectations are violated. This is not being done.

Significant level of power means a level that can be easily measured, perhaps in excess of 1 watt. It also means a level that does not require an excessive amount of time to collect detectable He or tritium. The exact numbers are unimportant since the levels generally are not close to what is required for effective study anyway.

Let's assume you are an industrialist who whats to fund a study. He comes to your laboratory and sees one or two people working in what can be called a hobby level. You show him a device you say is hotter than it should be. So he asks questions:

1. How do you know it is hot? How do I know you have measured correctly?
2. How hot should it be? How do you know that?
3. What is making it hot? How do you know this?
4. Can it be scaled to useful levels? Have you tried?
5. Can you provide 50 pounds of the active material for my people to study at my company?

Can you answer all of these question in a way that can be understood by a person who only has a degree in business administration?

X1 added (responding to X2)

m
I have has some success using white noise stimulation.

I do have a problem with the term reproducible. I think that people tend to use it as having heat a large ratio of times for attempts and not reaching a point where you have reproducible results= same ratio of heat vs. attempts. That is to say: is it reproducible if you do 10 sets of 10 runs each and you get 3 out of 10 excess heat events on all 10 sets of 10? That is reproducible results- always getting 33% of them giving you heat. OH well. Again, no one seems to ever define what the mean by reproducible and I have asked.

m- I often "cheat" these days with multiple frequencies (white noise or shot noise) and having samples with thousands of different sites. (I am still using the Pd or Ni in powdered C with mesopores- I still think you need a lattice). I figure that having an array of sizes and sites and using a range of frequencies mean I will have better odds of getting something each attempt. The levels may change but there is something each time. - also I tried sparking through a fluidized powder system. It increases my success/trial but not the average excess level/event. (which is reproducible??) That seems to work "most" of the times but my control and input measurements are the pits.

Right now I am using solid state (packed loaded C and gas) with fast rise time current. (fast rise time short duty cycles seem to help) - I will just say : interesting. Right now I am playing with Ni and it is looking like that adding a little D to the H is useful. Like what we found with CETI- some D2O in there with the H2O helps.

Step 1 - load cold and slow.
Step 2 - treat your chemistry with respect
Step 3 - add heat and some B field
Step 4 - establish some non-equilibrium conditions for the D or H.

Or as I said in Boston - fill and slosh.

I have basically given up on the "prove it to me" route. I have also given up on the make electricity to charge something (car, light,....) I am now in make a heater and heat the lab mode. It may just be COP 1:1.25, but I will try. My wife says: you are having to heat the lab with electrical power already, just go ahead and heat it with CF- have fun.

D2
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp... Or what's a heaven for? - Browning

X5 responded:

X1 wrote: "Perhaps the most forgiving approach seems to be co-deposition onto Au or Au plating. But I know I was saddled with trying to do a project where they wanted me to follow a specific co-dep protocol that called for co-dep on Cu. Disaster. I think they wanted failure for political purposes. ... " I worked on the same co-dep project as X1 describes above. The directive I received from one of the project managers was to “test the known protocol but produce XP if you can by any reasonable means”. This is a paraphrase.

Like X1, I didn't see excess power from bare copper cathodes but found when I plated gold over the copper cathode and then plated palladium over the gold I observed excess power on every test.

I also had to modify the original Szpak-Boss protocol slightly to use a lower concentration of PdCl2 at a higher initial current.


X1 added:

I so wish they had told me "any reasonable means" instead of stating a specific protocol in my "contract".

I never could get the original recipe on Cu to work. I could see some chemical loading events but never any sustained activity.

I would recommend that any one trying to do the co-dep to try to plate onto Au or Au plated surfaces. I also could get co-dep to work on Ag plates.

I also had higher excess in co-dep devices when I used additives with the Pd and when I used Pd anodes.
For me, I got the most "reliable" excess (for co-dep systems) when I used DC pulses at around 400 Hz and 10% duty cycles(but keeping about a 1V bias to prevent de-loading, higher temp runs (but loading at 10-15C).


X6 responded:

From this POV, X2 is so correct. 

 What X1 sees as a 'problem', is not.  It reflects that presumptuous demands might be part of the problem.

Those of us who are actually working in the field of CF/LANR, and who have given, or are giving, open demonstrations cannot just drop what we’re doing (probably working on improvements) and answer the same kinds of questions and demands, repeatedly.

  The fact is that an open demonstration takes more than cahones, requiring also money, time, energy, persistence,  and in a larger amounts (and requiring longer times) than "Monday morning quarterbacks" may realize.

  Also, if X2 had not moved on from his earlier demo, he would be stalled and not doing further R&D, and he may not have developed his system(s) and learned and discovered, even more, which he did.

  So, to summarize, it is not really a 'problem', but a probably the result of the experimentalist considering the risk/benefit ratio of continuing the 'same old thing' vs. trying something(s) excitingly, and interestingly, new with 'shift' and 'drift' of engineering and design and diagnostics, etc. etc. .

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