NASA on LENR, Again

There have been a number of articles showing up on various blogs this week talking about NASA’s work on LENR — specifically the work of Joseph Zawodny. I had been trying figure out why the story was showing up all of a sudden, and a kind reader pointed me to an article on NASA’s Global Climate Change site entitled “The nuclear reactor in your basement” written by Bob Silburg of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The article contains quotes from Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center, and Joseph Zawodny, senior scientist there. We have discussed their work in the past, and it seems their interest in LENR is still strong.

Zawodny is interested in the theoretical side of LENR rather than doing blind experimentation, explaining that LENR is very complex, and experiments could be dangerous. He says:

“There are a lot of people who are trying to just build something without understanding anything . . . It worked for Edison and the light bulb, but it took him a long time and that was a simple system. This is very complex. And if they make something that just barely works, and accidentally one in a thousand works really, really well, it’s going to take down a house with their trial-and-error method.”

Zawodny and Bushnell seem to be focused on trying to find out if the Widom Larsen theory of LENR can be verified. Zawodny says, “All we really need is that one bit of irrefutable, reproducible proof that we have a system that works,” Zawodny said. “As soon as you have that, everybody is going to throw their assets at it. And then I want to buy one of these things and put it in my house.”

  • Swaldo

    From the Forbes article “Several labs have blown up studying LENR and windows have melted,” Bushnell writes, “indicating when the conditions are right prodigious amounts of energy can be produced and released.”

    and another statement

    “It has the demonstrated ability to produce excess amounts of energy, cleanly, without hazardous ionizing radiation, without producing nasty waste,” said Joseph Zawodny, a senior research scientist with NASA’s Langley Research Center.

    these statements seem to directly contradict-

    “NASA researchers are working on producing the reactions by vibrating lattices of nickel saturated with hydrogen ions at high frequencies. Right now, those vibrations require more initial energy than the reactions produce, the same problem that has stymied efforts to produce fusion reactors.”

    This demonstrates a reoccurring theme with NASA scientists, they always seem to throw in a disclaimer that really seems to contradict their optimism and the positive results being achieved in the LENR field.

    In my opinion, they have to provide plausible deniability to the rest of the media to not cover the LENR field. NASA and other Media sources can make reference to this one statement to justify not reporting on LENR. Since Nasa scientists haven’t even been able to produce as much energy as has been put in, then they have nothing and it isn’t even worth the attention of the mainstream media.

    So Nasa researchers are doing experiments with vibrating lattices of nickel but in their experiments, they’ve had to put in more energy than they are getting out. Gee, doesn’t seem like that experiment is working out. How many other experiments are they working on? It doesn’t say, maybe 10, maybe 200. So maybe they’re just taking an experiment that is producing negative results and using it for their disclaimer statement.

    • Gerrit

      The several blown up labs were not nasa labs, if that is what you are asking.

      • SWaldo

        No, I wasn’t asking any question. I was pointing out how NASA scientists add statements to interviews that can be referenced by others or themselves to construe there really isn’t anything as of yet to LENR but they are looking into it. These “disclaimer like” statements contradict other statements in the interview. The whole interview can be very positive for LENR except for this one statement. I believe these “disclaimer statements” though they may be factually true, are misleading and purposefully stated out of context to allow NASA or the rest of the media and government to ignore LENR. These NASA interviews are in reality just facilitating the rest of the media to ignore LENR. When challenged about the lack of coverage about LENR, the media, government, etc., can just reference this one statement by NASA and claim there isn’t enough to LENR to warrant media attention, government funding, etc.

    • Private Citizen

      “Several labs have blown up studying LENR and windows have melted,”

      If paranoid speculation is allowed on this site, I’d venture to wonder if they weren’t getting a bit too close to success and succumbed to the Eugene Mallove effect.

  • georgehants

    As usual the situation is very simple —-
    Is there enough Evidence to put Cold Fusion into the situation where a fair, open-minded, competent, unbiased scientist (if one could find such a thing) would conclude that further Research was needed and advisable.
    Then because of the profound implications if Cold Fusion can be successfully utilised for everyday use, failure to respond to such a analysis would in all cases be incompetent, corrupt, or both.
    There, in science can be no further opinions etc. just Research, Research, Research.
    The answer will only come from Research and Evidence, everything else is hogwash and fairy’s.
    Every delay, for any reason, is criminal to the degree that people are harmed by inaction.
    Mr. Rossi has nothing to do with this situation as, if he is not genuine, nothing changes the above, if he is genuine then he will leapfrog the entire scientific World overnight.

  • georgehants

    From NBC
    White House tells agencies to widen access to federally funded research
    The White House directive seeks to make federally funded research easier to get to.
    By Alan Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News
    Responding to calls for more open access to publicly supported research, the White
    House has directed a wide range of federal agencies to come up with
    plans to make the studies they fund freely available within 12 months of

  • Gerrit

    Forbes brings the story too and adds Bushnell’s observations:

    – Something real is happening.
    – The weak interaction theories [including Widom-Larsen] suggest what the physics might be.
    – There are efforts ongoing to explore the validity of the theories.
    – There are continuing Edisonian efforts to produce devices mainly for heat or in some cases transmutations.
    – There are efforts to certify such devices.
    – NASA LaRC has begun LENR design studies guided by the Weak Interaction Theory

  • Rene

    From the article: “It turns out that the frequencies that we have to work at are in what I call a valley of inaccessibility,” Zawodny said. “Between, say, 5 or 7 THz and 30 THz, we don’t have any really good sources to make our own controlled frequency.”

    I find that interesting because the Rossi eCat supposedly uses some kind of RF excitation. I cannot find mention of the frequencies used. Generating terahertz RF is a difficult task.

    • Peter Roe

      He has spoken of ‘RF’ but I don’t think there has ever been any real info, and this may be a ‘red herring’. It’s possible he makes use of low frequency oscillation from AC mains – either as an EM field from a coil, or as current flow through the nickel matrix.

      • Omega Z


        I have info somewhere if I didn’t lose it that mentioned Ultra high frequency. I’ll try to find it, But no promises.

  • Peter Roe

    OT but interesting. MIT have apparently invented a LED that operates at 200% efficiency, at least relative to the electrical power input. It seems that as well as converting electricity to light, it is somehow able to draw on local heat energy and convert this to light as well, producing a cooling effect. So the laws of thermodynamics aren’t broken – just bent a little out of shape. This is not my area, but I assume that this new device is fairly closely related to the ‘Peltier effect’. I’m not sure where the physics behind this will figure in the new energy scene – but I’m pretty sure that it will figure.

    The abstract of the paper by Santhanum et al. is here:

    • Pekka Janhunen

      Right, the paper says “ acts as a reversible Carnot-efficient heat pump operating between the lattice and the photon field”. The effect was apparently predicted a long time ago.

      • Omegga Z

        So in about 5 or 10 years will have a light bulb that puts out the equivalent of a 100w using only about 5w. Cool.

        • Pekka Janhunen

          In the infrared it might work, but it’s more difficult in visible light where photons have so much higher energy than room temperature.

          But in the future I think we’ll be wearing night vision goggles so that lighting can be phased out.

          • Peter Roe

            I find having to keep track of my glasses a pain – let alone needing night vision goggles to find my way around the house at night. I’d end up spending hours groping around unlit rooms looking for them. Hopefully LED or LCD lighting will mean we can splash around the few Watts they need (or good ol’ tungsten filament lights if CF means cheap power).

  • theBuckWheat

    When the inventor of a LENR device doesn’t fully understand why it works, he can’t fully understand either why it suddenly stops working or worse- why it suddenly starts working too well and has a runaway reaction.

  • Poulsen78

    Good news about the NASA research. Sadly i also bring some bad news that have been published yesterday.

    According to the Swedish Defence Materiel Agency. they weren’t able to detect any excess of heat energy:
    “No abnormal heat generation could be perceived.”

    “1. Summary

    The energy situation in the world demands that all possible new energy forms should be investigated. The Swedish Defence

    Materiel Administration, FMV has therefore financed some very
    rudimentary experiments with nickel and hydrogen, trying to
    experimentally reproduce the excess heating power clashed by Andrea
    Rossi and Sergio Focardi and described e.g. in the Swedish technical
    newspaper Ny Teknik.

    Four different reactor chambers were built, in which different forms
    of nickel were tested in contact with hydrogen at different pressures
    and temperatures. Some of the nickel samples also contained other metal
    as “catalysts” like lithium, potassium and irons. In some of our samples
    the nickel was e.g In micrometer large crystal grains, In other samples
    the nickel was In the form of nanometer grains embedded in zirconium
    oxide. Contacts were taken with many active researchers in the field,
    including Andrea Rossi, asking for guidance to find a functioning
    solution. Andrea Rossi could not reveal his catalyst for us but thought
    that we would get a small indicative response using just pure nickel and
    hydrogen. He also mentioned that a hydrogen pressure of at least 200
    bar and a temperature of 500 °C was necessary in order to see any effect
    without the catalyst. Piantelli, who is another researcher in the field
    has stated that “No catalyst is necessary. The trick is In the
    preparation of the nickel”.

    Neither significant excess heats nor any radiation indicating nuclear
    reactions, have however been detected in our experiments. We can though
    not completely exclude that a reaction, resulting in a very small power
    output, took place.

    While searching for information over the Internet we stumbled over
    the aneutronic reactions. They are not on the main line for research
    about future nuclear power, but the field could possibly be explored at a
    reasonable price.

    One such aneutronic reaction IS e.g. lithium liquid bombarded by protons

    7Li + 1p -> 2 4He + 17.35 MeV

    Lord Rutherford’s students Cockcrow and Walton verified
    experimentally such reactions in 1932 and the yield for each reaction
    could be 100 – 500 times more energy output than the energy input
    invested in the bombarding particle. The problem using lithium In its
    solid state was though the low probability for a nuclear reaction to
    occur (low CrOSS section). The same processes, then using liquid
    lithium have however been claimed lo produce a much higher reaction
    probability . If it is large

    enough fur practical nuclear energy purposes remains to be proven,

    For a more common use of nuclear energy the aneutronic reactions have the advantage of not creating large amounts of

    radioactive waste. Some more thoughts about this are at the end of
    this report (Chapter 5). If other independent researchers cannot repeat
    the Focardi/Rossi”

    • Ged

      Huh, weird they couldn’t conclude a small reaction -didn’t- take place. That should be priority one of the research, and easy to establish. Peculiar. Wish we could see their full experimental details (why the nickel properly loaded with hydrogen? How long did it run, etc?)

    • Am I right, this research was done in 2004?

      • Sergio

        No it wasn’t. See sections 3.4.1 and 3.4.2, and numerous references… It’s very recent.

        • RobiD

          Not enough to know that the US NIF program (see pag 21) to produce nuclear energy with hot fusion has failed. 😉

    • Peter Roe

      If they gave up at that point, it would be as if Edison had concluded after four experiments that the electric light bulb was not feasible.

      • Pekka Janhunen

        Rossi has said that he made thousands of experiments. At a rate of one per day, doing 1000 experiments takes three years.

      • yamal

        bad analogy. edison wanted to build a light source and practically all of his experiments succeeded in giving off light. the problem was durability. i’m sure if the swedes had seen any convincing evidence of excess heat or radiation at all and the only problem was that it stopped or blew up after some time, they would have continued.

    • RobiD

      Did they used the same apparatus Piantelli uses to prepare the nickel thin film?
      I don’t think so.

    • Sergio

      Funny. They’ve used an entire page of text to say what could’ve been said in 3 sentences, like this: We have recently attempted to replicate excess heat experiment with hydrogen and nickel in a way that Andrea Rossi claims to have done it. Unfortunately, Andrea Rossi did not tell us his secret, and we were not able to figure it out ourselves, so we failed. Nonetheless, we cannot exclude the very real possibility that excess heat can be obtained after careful readjustment of the experimental parameters.

      On the other hand I do like their overall report, and the fact that they published it. I’m going to read it fully tonight, seems well written.

      • Peter Roe

        Good summary. You do have to wonder why they chose to publish a negative outcome from this very limited set of experiments, or indeed why Poulsen78 thinks it is ‘bad news’.