Fusion: Moving From Hot to Cold

I was interested to read a letter to the editor in the Washington Post today written by former Princeton Plasma Physics Lab physicist, and now US Representative from New Jersey, Rush D. Holt in response to George Will’s recent Washington Post editorial urging support for the US fusion program.

Congressman Holt writes in favor of Will’s position on fusion, saying:

With strong, sustained investments in alternative energy sources such as fusion, we as a society could have a nearly limitless source of energy. Mr. Will mentioned that the race-to-the-moon space program had a military immediacy and a fire-in-the-sky glamour that kept the public’s and the government funders’ attention, but achieving practical fusion energy would be even more significant in terms of science, engineering and relevance to our quality of life. If we want to be true to the United States’ historical greatness, we must return the word “investment” to our political vocabulary, and we must commit to long-term investments in important programs such as fusion, as the United States used to do.

There has been plenty of scorn heaped on the field of LENR/cold fusion by proponents of hot fusion over the decades, but I can’t help thinking that at some point things will change if the case for LENR becomes undeniable. I can’t imagine that the entire physics community will be in a state of permanent hostility to LENR/CF. Surely honest, intelligent and well-trained scientists will be able to recognize the reality of a new discovery, and will want to get involved in understanding, exploring and developing a new field of research.

I wonder would a new realization would do to current national and international government programs? Would they adapt or disband to the new reality? Rush Holt speaks above about the importance of government investment in programs that would be able to enhance citizens’ quality of life. I would expect there would be a high level of interest and excitement from the public if LENR/CF is finally recognized as a viable and superior source of energy production, and if so, there will surely be a clamor for bringing it forward rapidly so it can make a real difference in people’s lives. If the key research and development is taking place in private industry will there be a place for government involvement — and what might that be?

There are far more questions than answers here, but I think it’s interesting to consider how a transition from hot to cold fusion might go.

  • LENR G

    The Carnot efficiency measures the efficiency of converting thermal energy to electrical or mechanical energy. Because of the laws of thermodynamics you can never get 100% efficiency for this conversion. Top of the line plants (chained conversion engines, so waste heat is almost completely captured and used) can get about 60%, diesel engines are around 50%, coal plants generating electricity can get 40% and car engines are usually below 35%.

    In the case of the HotCats the trick is to extract as much thermal energy as possible and convert it to mechanical energy (via a turbine) without destabilizing the reaction itself, which is apparently difficult to control and has a strong dependence on temperature. What Rossi is telling us is that they’ve been able to engineer a solution that rivals the efficiency of coal power plants.

    Answering your questions about how much can that heat, we would need more information about the device to answer reliably. In a broader sense though the answer is that heat generators at those temperatures can be used to heat homes and neighborhoods with a small footprint. While the WarmCat plants are 1 MW shipping containers, HotCat 1 MW plants might be more like room-sized — 1 MW can power and heat about 100 homes.

    The 1/4 on and 3/4 self-sustain operation cycle simply means that they’ve tweaked the controls well enough at this point that they only need to feed power to the device one quarter of the time and the rest of the time it just stays really hot in a kind of positive feedback loop. The positive feedback loop is not allowed to get out of control (and melt the device)… it’s kept just below that level. Can’t stay at that level forever though, so every so often you have to turn the input power back on to recreate the conditions where that positive thermal energy feedback loop reaches near critical levels again. Think of it as goosing the system as much as necessary (but not more) to get it to stay at those near critical levels. He also says that even when they are feeding energy into the system they get more out than they put in. So the overall COP of the system should be quite high. For example, if the device requires 1 kW input energy for 15 minutes and outputs the same for that period, but then outputs 5 kW energy for the remaining 45 minutes, then the overall COP (energy out divided by energy in) would be (1+5+5+5)/1 = 16. It would be interesting to know what the actual numbers are.

  • LENR G

    An important communication from Rossi just posted on his journal. Key points are:
    * US Partner validation expected to be published in (by?) March 2014
    * HotCats operating at 1000 deg C (before cooling) and 40% Carnot efficiency
    * Targeting an operating cycle of 1/4 time with input energy (but still excess output energy) and 3/4 time self-sustaining.
    * He’s really digging his relationship with his partner. Has everything he needs and they have taken his dream and multiplied it.
    * Theory on Rossi effect may be published in 2014 but no promises. Sounds like business protection of IP may hold this back for awhile.

    • bachcole

      Although I am a believer in the 2013 Levi-Elforsk Report, this is “Rossi says”. I am not saying that it isn’t true. I am not saying that it is true. I remain neutral until we get confirmation. It is exciting and wonderful, but it is “Rossi says”.

      • LENR G

        Of course. The main thing here is that we might get additional non-Rossi-says validation (and importantly, finally know the identity of the US Partner) within a few months time. He did not lie about the existence and timeline of the Levi validation so there is some cause for optimism that March 2014 might be a big deal.

        Perhaps coincidentally March 23, 2014 is the 25th anniversary of the initial P&F cold fusion announcement.

        • bachcole

          I do not accuse Rossi of lying. “Rossi says” is no more a lie than a doctor telling a woman that she is pregnant and that she is going to have a baby in January. There are all kinds of reasons why the baby doesn’t arrive in January. I trust “Rossi says” to the point that I know that Rossi is excited about something that he thinks/hopes will come to fruition soon. But leave us not count our chickens until they hatch. (:->)

          • LENR G

            Continuing your baby metaphor… if Rossi’s partner really is pregnant we might expect to see some growing excitement and preparations. If March is the timeline for the big reveal, um delivery, then the circle will have to widen at some point and preparations will have to commence. Gotta get the nursery ready, pack for the hospital and get the baby seat.

            If we pay close attention we may be able to figure out who is pregnant and who is not before the water breaks.

            • bachcole

              The “water”, so-called amniotic fluid, is basically 9 months of recycled baby pee. It is extremely pure pee, but in any case I am hoping that it will break in the faces of skeptopaths and LENR deniers.

    • Bernie Koppenhofer

      I got only the answer not the question, did anyone get the question?

      • LENR G

        Rossi explains in his answer that he accidentally deleted the post with the questions.

        • Bernie Koppenhofer

          Yes I know but if Steven Karels could give us the question it would be helpful. Thanking him in advance.

  • Christina

    No. Do not buy! The only persons/company known to sell cold fusion is Andrea Rossi and he’s selling to companies to heat their plants. I believe I got that right. He seems to be working on electrical production according to the knowledgeable people on this blog. Now, I’m telling you this thinking you’re an individual and not representing a company. If you are representing a company, make very certain that the people you’re talking to have cold fusion and are connected to one of the various companies discussed here, especially to Andrea Rossi. If they are not are not related to Andrea Rossi, you’d better decline any offer they give you.

    I do not want you to be cheated; however, if what you’re being offered seems true, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH because I bet there are a lot of people out there trying to make a money from people who think cold fusion is here and who will disappear after they receive your money.

    Again, from what has been determined on this site, if it’s not through Andrea Rossi and his company, it’s not real. Admin, wouldn’t you say that is true?

  • Zavod

    I wrote a summary of the work Lawrenville Plasma Physics Lab has done over the years that uses the material they have posted online. It is easier to read than to search for all those postings they have. It has the approval of the Chief Scientist Dr. Eric Lerner. http://deadstickarizona-zedshort.blogspot.com/2012/06/alternate-path-to-cleaner-brighter.html

  • GreenWin

    “Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the
    censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage
    is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet
    it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a
    world which yields most painfully to change.”
    Robert F. Kennedy, 1964

    • Iggy Dalrymple

      Fewer men are willing to brave the disapproval of the “goodfellas”,
      after their family has been ushered into national office by them (the mob).

  • Sanjeev

    Not every one of us 7 billion need to be convinced to start the growth of CF. It does not work that way. Mostly it takes only few pioneers and capable people to create a revolutionary product. The fools refuse and deny, as usual, but a handful of smart ones grab the opportunity. When they finally start producing useful things, others try to mimic their success and so it spreads all over the world. The governments and established cos are the last to react, not the first, and its mostly a kind of damage control reaction to keep themselves in a profitable position.

    Why do we see the govs and powerful people advocating hot fusion? Because a centralized system is easy to control and its so huge and complicated that we won’t see a home version in next 500 years. So the profits are assured, they can charge anything they wish. If you control the resources, you control the people. Techs like solar place the power in the hands of 99% and takes away the control from the hands of 1%, that’s the reason for failure of solar, a 100 year old, truly free energy tech where the generators are nothing but sand. No ruler and corporation would want that to succeed.

    CF has taken the first step- useful power generation and investment by capable people. Now the second step is a product, that’s when things start to become interesting. Till then common people, even brilliant scientists, govs, cos, etc etc no one is going to pay any attention, however loud you shout the name of CF.

    • Fortyniner

      Exactly right in all respects. This whole thing will play out at a business/corporate level before science and politics (and so nominally, ‘the people’) have any involvement. 500 years seems a bit harsh, but I don’t think that anyone currently over about 30 will see LENR in homes or vehicles, barring some major collapse of the current PTB.

  • Babble

    We see DARPA pushing the limits of R&D in many fields such as robotics and AI. I wonder why they have not invested in the LENR field? I think this is one way the government could get a benefit while making it available in the open market once it has a safety profile. One problem with government backing is that it is public money so there needs to be public benefit and that may stop the few small companies from accepting it. They have a tightly controlled process and don’t want it in the public domain.

    Here is an interesting article about using lasers for fusion, apparently there is a problem.

    • Omega Z

      Am aware of this zeitnews article..
      It’s a little foggy, but I think I read recently where this problem has for the most part, been overcome.

  • Alain Samoun

    “many technical hurdles for ‘Focus Fusion’ remain”

  • bitplayer

    One of the most important and frequent functions that the human mind performs is to make assessments about the degree to which the information it receives corresponds to something that is a concrete, objective reality. This function operates from the most basic sensory processing to the most abstract philosophical conjectures. Everything else follows from and depends on these assessments of the reality behind the information, including emotions, action performance states, logical inferences and intuitive derivations.

    Scientists, which for a working definition we might say means people who are formally engaged in the practice of institutional scientific research, are, at least in Western thinking, almost by definition occupiers of the social role that specializes in determining what is and what is not real. In some sense that is one of the primary purposes of science.

    As such, scientists are by disposition and training highly, no let’s say extremely, no, let’s say hyperbolically skeptical of all information they receive, in a particularly adversarial way. That attitude is an essential tool of the trade, so to speak. This is reflected in the anecdotal evidence that the most prevalent conversational objective among any group of science undergrads is to prevent anyone from establishing any point about anything.

    Add the fact that scientists typically have their mental capacities completely consumed with their own area of research, AND have an acute material reliance (grants => mortgages) on the paradigm in which their research is accepted, and it’s not particularly surprising that it’s hard to get most scientists to look beyond the bounds of their latest grant proposal, let alone be open minded about information that violates the current paradigm.

    • Bernie Koppenhofer

      You are right, our economy/banking/stock market is all run on debt. Individual scientists are not immune to this debt slavery, and it has to affect their professional judgement.

  • Zedshort

    I suspect most scientists have no idea that there is research into cold-fusion and are much like Dr. Duncan, very busy with their work. It would be interesting to see a pole of physicists who when presented with: “If you were offered data that shows cold-fusion to produce an anomalous heat effect would you look at that data?” I suspect most would give a direct “no” or refuse to answer. Research requires money and that involves politics. With respect to research money, it is a zero sum game.

  • BroKeeper

    Several contributors within this E-Cat World have used the words paradigm or paradigm shift to describe the difficulties people have changing their view of reality.
    Thomas Samuel Kuhn an American physicist, historian, and philosopher of science wrote a controversial 1962 book ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’. In it he wrote “For well-integrated members of a particular discipline, its paradigm is so convincing that it normally renders even the possibility of alternatives unconvincing and counter-intuitive. Such a paradigm is opaque, appearing to be a direct view of the bedrock of reality itself, and obscuring the possibility that there might be other, alternative imageries hidden behind it. The conviction that the current paradigm is reality tends to disqualify evidence that might undermine the paradigm itself; this in turn leads to a build-up of unreconciled anomalies. It is the latter that is responsible for the eventual revolutionary overthrow of the incumbent paradigm, and its replacement by a new one (or “a new field of research” – emphasis mine).”
    We all like to believe we have an open mind but it appears we humans like to keep everything as-is, not to disrupt the norm of thinking. “Transition” thinking not only takes extra effort to except a new reality but also makes us uncomfortable to accept the fact we have been wrong.
    So what will it take to convince the public of Cold vs. Hot fusion? I propose to follow the course of the current process (what else can we do?). The “undeniable” truth with evidence will eventually percolate to the top minds that have strong influence on the norm then quickly morph into the rest of society.

    • Fortyniner

      As you say, this is a human failing rather than being limited to scientists – but as a group they do seem to exhibit an almost unique resistance to new facts when they contradict groupthink theory. The history of science is littered with examples that Max Planck was referring to in his famous quip, “science advances one funeral at a time”.

      A glaring current exemplar is the still unwavering belief among astronomers that redshift equates to cosmological distance (a shaky precept that supports the whole ‘standard model’ pack of cards) 30-odd years after Halton Arp gave reasonable evidence that it ain’t so and more than a decade after definitive proofs of this fact became available.


      • BroKeeper

        Thanks 49’r and Mr. Arp for destroying my view of the universe! Maybe I’ll go back to the ancient understanding that a brass dome with holes covers the earth to filter out starlight and rain.

        • Fortyniner

          There are probably some astonomers out there still trying to determine whether the dome is made of brass or bronze…

      • bachcole

        I have to correct Max Planck and say that science advances one retirement at a time. When someone retires, they lose their power. But often it frees them to think outside of the box.

        On your other point, right on!!!

    • Job001

      A paradigm is the way someone sees something like the picture of the young girl-old hag or the rabbit-duck illusions. A dogma is established group assumptions. Some religions have thousands of dogmas and these are influenced by cultural goals and values.
      Science groups have goals like “getting funded” and heuristic(often true) guidelines like; I.Occams razor Paraphrase(Use the simplest explanation until the data forces one to a adopt more complicated model).
      II.Coulomb barrier energy requirement(Bad assumption if there is no coulomb barrier.)
      III.That particles fly around at random for hot fusion so they also do so in a lattice(Huge possible impact upon the probability of collisions – yet unknown with proposed theories).
      IV.That gamma radiation must be a result of a yet unknown process. Obviously it is false logic to assume a specific result when an actual process is yet not known.
      V.That fundamental science law was violated. Again, without an established model this is false logic. An enormous number of possible pathways exist for yet unknown processes.

      Since “funding Bias” and poor group assumptions and heuristics were present, made and used, a dogmatic description appears more apropos than a paradigm description.

      • BroKeeper

        “Money is just one of the forces that blind us to information and issues which we could pay attention to – but don’t …… We wouldn’t be so blind if our blindness didn’t deliver rewards; the benefit of comfort and ease.” — Margaret Heffernan

      • Allan Shura

        I read that Ben Franklin described electricity as subtle particles that permeated common matter. It
        took more than a full century before any scientist would speak of electricity in those terms.

    • Bernie Koppenhofer

      Or, give a certain number of scientists, who have proven their loyalty to seeking scientific truth, a debt free life with an independent source of income so they can pursue truth in their field without financial pressures. Google is coming close.

      • Iggy Dalrymple
      • independence of income is not a bad idea, but the real problem against LENR is not money, but peer-pressure, desire to keep power and recognition.
        the book “excess heat” of Charles Beaudette explain how the physicist were the starts of science after Manhattan project, squatting all powerful position of advisors in the government…
        having cookers, euh chemist, to take their comfortable position was too painful and unfair.

  • theBuckWheat

    Above all, there is no excuse to not make future reactors and the storage of their spent fuels, “walk-away safe”.