Neil Irwin of the WonkBlog at the Washington Post announces that cold fusion/LENR was the big winner of the recent Crowdsourced Wonkblog contest where readers voted for the most promising new energy technology in terms of economic and environmental benefits. Irwin quotes two comments from CF proponents (Peter Roe or ‘fortyniner’ is one of them) as examples of support for cold fusion. In his analysis of the results Irwin states correctly:
It is obvious why the possibility would be attractive: A successful LENR technology would allow practically unlimited energy production without carbon emissions or the nuclear waste that results from fission-based nuclear reactors.
I think he’s wrong in the next sentence, however:
It’s also the case that there is no such technology on the immediate horizon; researchers are far from turning cold fusion from a conceptual idea into a workable energy source.
It may well be that Irwin hasn’t heard of the E-Cat, or if he has, he may have dismissed it as quickly as many others who have come across it as an unproven technology — which would not be a terribly unusual reaction for someone in his position.
Rather predictably, in the comments below the article the debate that we have seen for the last few years continues with cold fusion skeptics doing their best to pour cold water on the topic, and LENR proponents (some who are regular commenters here) stepping up to defend the LENR case.
It’s hard to say how much influence the results of the contest might be. The Washington Post is of course a major establishment newspaper with a wide international readership, so the Wonkblog coverage could have the effect of generating some new interest in CF/LENR. My personal opinion is that the skeptics’ case will over time (hopefully soon) become increasingly less tenable once working E-Cat products start to become visible in commercial settings.