Peter Hagelstein on Problems Surrounding Cold Fusion (Video)

An interesting video has been posted recently on the Serious Science website which features Dr. Peter Hagelstein, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT talking about cold fusion, and why it is such a problem within the scientific community. Dr. Hagelstein is in a very small minority among American academics — he has long been a researcher and teacher about cold fusion, and takes it very seriously.

He talks about how the experimental results obtained in Fleischmann and Pons’ research reports went against the accepted understanding of physics, and also was not easily replicated, and therefore experimentalists who have reported positive cold fusion results were dismissed as being incompetent — and still are.

The major problem that cold fusion runs into from the point of view of most nuclear scientists, according to Hagelstein, is that if you have a nuclear reaction, what happens to the energetic particles that are supposed to be present in such reactions? If they are not present, accepted theory dictates that no nuclear reaction has taken place — and therefore cold fusion is dismissed.

Below is a video of the interview:

  • CyberianGinseng

    Can someone explain to a layman why hydrogen control cells wouldn’t show this exact same artefact of AC Burst Noise?

  • Barry Kort

    If you want to work out the math to one more decimal place, it goes like this:

    H₂ MW=2 Density=0.09 g/l
    D₂ MW=4 Density= 0.18 g/l
    H₂O MW=18 Density= 1000 g/l
    D₂O MW=20 Density= 1111 g/l

    H₂O/H₂ = 11111
    D₂O/D₂ = 6172

    11111/6172 = 1.8

    So hydrogen gas in ordinary water is 1.8 times as buoyant as deuterium gas in heavy water.

    Are you happy now?

    And Ron Maimon still can’t use ordinary water as a control unless he is using a model that accounts for the difference in their buoyancy.

  • Barry Kort

    Ron, the model of AC transients arising from fluctuating resistance applies during the portion of the experiment when there is a high level of drive current, after the Pd lattice is fully loaded (or nearly fully loaded).

    The “heat after death” phenomenon is due to an unrelated mechanism, namely the exothermic reaction when deuterium ions bleed back out of the Pd lattice and recombine chemically to form D₂ gas molecules on the surface of the Pd lattice.

    There are many different kinds of phenomena underway in these cells. Some phenomena (like transient AC power) are operating when the cells are powered. Other phenomena (like self-discharge) operate when the charging current is shut off.

    Batteries, capacitors, and other materials that are capable of being charged up will slowly discharge internally, returning the stored electrical power back to chemical energy and/or heat. Here, in the case of “heat after death,” we have the D⁺ ions that were jammed into the Pd lattice bleeding back out to the surface where they combine exothermically to form molecular D₂ gas.

    • Ron Maimon

      The effects you claim are controlled by using light water. You simply are talking nonsense out of your ass, and pretending you know. Read and be responsible, don’t just blurt out the first thing that comes to your mind.

  • AlainCo

    I found the paper in which McKubre answers that question

    page 116

    it was answered by bd ul Rahman Lomax in that blg

    “Moulton assumes very high noise levels. I couldn’t find any reports of how significant bubble noise would be, but I’d assume that any researcher who saw 2V P-P noise on a 5 volt signal would know that he had a problem, and that would only, Moulton’s calculations, produce a 5% error; 5% is at the low end of what’s considered significant in CF work lately.
    As to the fact, however, control experiments with hydrogen and dead cathodes (inactive palladium) show that this supposed noise problem doesn’t exist. They would equally be affected by bubble noise.

    Add to that the confirmation of calorimetry of excess heat by the measurement of helium from the same cells, and it’s iced. While individual experiments may be subject to various errors, the overall work isn’t.”

    this story is old ans solved.

  • Barry Kort

    My own curiosity (both as a practicing scientist and engineer and as a science educator) led me to follow up on an otherwise unexamined assumption that Richard Garwin identified as a likely source of systematic error in many CF experiments.

    As near as I can tell, Peter Hagelstein has not yet taken a look at the analysis of transient AC burst noise in Cold Fusion electrolytic cells.

  • AlainCo

    For you and the readers, I relay the answer of Jed Rothwell who know well the results of McKubre

    https:[email protected]/msg99331.html

    “McKubre never reported a 3% gain. Even with his calorimeter that would be in the margin of error at the bottom of the scale, although he can detect the difference between, say, 40% and 43%. As I recall, McKubre reported gains ranging from 20% to 300% with input power, and infinity without input power, in heat after death. He once remarked that for the entire run, the gain was ~3%. I wish he had not said that. It is a meaningless number. It is like reporting the average speed of your car including the times it is parked, or waiting at a red light. The only meaningful number for “gain” or “COP” is when excess heat is clearly present.

    The effect of bubbles in electrochemical cells is well understood and it has been easy to observe at least since oscilloscopes were invented. It cannot possibly produce an error on this scale. Not even 1%. People who speculate about such things have read nothing and know nothing.

    This notion is somewhat similar to the claim that cells might be “storing” chemical energy and releasing it. Ignorant skeptics come up with this several times a year. You need only glance at the data to establish that: 1. Nothing is being stored; there are no endothermic phases, and 2. Continuous, uninterrupted bursts of heat far exceed the limits of chemistry. A calorimeter can detect an endothermic reaction as well as it can detect an exothermic reaction. If this was chemical storage, the endothermic phases would show up as clearly as the exothermic phases that follow them, and the two would balance. This is exactly what you see for the small amount of energy that is stored and release by palladium hydrides.”

    • Barry Kort

      I see where Bob Higgins wrote, “Most DAQ systems do not sample simultaneously and have an input capacitance that provides averaging. Thus, you will always be reading average current between samples and average voltage. Computing power from average current and average voltage will always be in error if there is any variation.”

      Indeed, this error is the one Dieter Britz and I independently modeled from first principles in AC circuit analysis.

      Specifically, if the ohmic resistance is fluctuating R±r, then PAC ≈ α²PDC, where α = r/R.

      Alain, do you happen to know the magnitude of the voltage fluctuations that McKubre mentions (but does not disclose in his published reports)?

      • AlainCo

        it seems that first the current is stabilized in that kind of experiment to avoid the current to swing with resistance change.
        the second is that the excess heat is 20-300% while it happens, and that this cannot be a tiny artifact like bubbles causing tiny AC component over DC that cause huge anomaly …

        the fact that this anomaly depend on deuterium, on metallurgy, on loading, in crease the doubt on that theory.

        • Barry Kort

          Alain, do you have enough depth in AC circuit theory to independently examine the mathematical model that Dieter Britz and I came up with? Note that all the AC power is in the transient associated with the slew rate of the power supply. That’s why the voltage and current have to be sampled at a Nyquist rate that is faster than the slew rate of the regulated power supply.

          • AlainCo

            usually I try to stay at higher level, but since electronics is my domain, and it is quite simple I finally found the key argument, that McKubre probably used.

            your model is that the electrolithic cell is so complex that some internal resistor (water and bubbles) may change very quickly. It is a rational hypothesis, at least to a minor degree, and why not big.

            however there is simple way to solve the problem, it is to use a current source. If the current is stabilized, then the average electric power is simply the average voltage multiplied by a constant current.

            The current source should have a good bandwidth, but today it is cheap like a linear regulator, and professional current sources can have very high bandwidth and impedance.

            so the best solution is current source.

            It is possible in theory to make the dual setup, with a voltage source, measuring the average current. however the energy balance is easier because gas production is proportional to the current.

            the lesson is that to make power computation simple, a solution is stabilize either voltage or current, and measure the average values.

            only when both voltage and current both evolve, is power integration complex.

  • Barry Kort

    About a year after CBS 60 Minutes aired their episode on Cold Fusion, I followed up with Rob Duncan to explore Richard Garwin’s thesis that McKubre was measuring the input electric power incorrectly.

    It turns out that McKubre was reckoning only the DC power going into his cells, and assuming (for arcane technical reasons) there could not be any AC power going in, and therefore he didn’t need to measure or include any AC power term in his energy budget model.

    Together with several other people, I helped work out a model for the omitted AC power term in McKubre’s experimental design. Our model showed that there was measurable and significant AC power, arising from the fluctuations in ohmic resistance as bubbles formed and sloughed off the surface of the palladium electrodes. Our model jibed with both the qualitative and quantitative evidence from McKubre’s reports:

    1) McKubre (and others) noted that the excess heat only appeared after the palladium lattice was fully loaded. And that’s precisely when the Faradaic current no longer charges up the lattice, but begins producing gas bubbles on the surfaces of the electrodes.

    2) The excess heat in McKubre’s cells was only apparent, significant, and sizable when the Faradaic drive current was elevated to dramatically high levels, thereby increasing the rate at which bubbles were forming and sloughing off the electrodes.

    3) The effect was enhanced if the surface of the electrodes was rough rather than polished smooth, so that larger bubbles could form and cling to the rough surface before sloughing off, thereby alternately occluding and exposing somewhat larger fractions of surface area for each bubble.

    The time-varying resistance arising from the bubbles forming and sloughing off the surface of the electrodes — after the cell was fully loaded, enhanced by elevated Faradaic drive currents and further enhanced by a rough electrode surface — produced measurable and significant AC noise power into the energy budget model that went as the square of the magnitude of the fluctuations in the cell resistance.

    To a first approximation, a 17% fluctuation in resistance would nominally produce a 3% increase in power, over and above the baseline DC power term. Garwin and Lewis had found that McKubre’s cells were producing about 3% more heat than could be accounted for with his energy measurements, where McKubre was reckoning only the DC power going into his cells, and (incorrectly) assuming there was no AC power that needed to be measured or included in his energy budget model.

    I suggest slapping an audio VU meter across McKubre’s cell to measure the AC burst noise from the fluctuating resistance. Alternatively use one of McKubre’s constant current power supplies to drive an old style desk telephone with a carbon button microphone. I predict the handset will still function: if you blow into the mouthpiece, you’ll hear it in the earpiece, thereby proving the reality of an AC audio signal riding on top of the DC current.

  • Fortyniner

    Interesting UK-centric ‘alternative’ site – thanks. Lots of interesting stuff.

    If in doubt where to post, there’s the ‘always open’ thread where pretty much anything goes.

  • clovis ray

    I personally didn’t care for his summary , he wanted you to leave with the idea that lenr, is magic fantasy, and hokem. he was so afraid he would make his pay check go away he could not be honest, sad.

    dr. rossi is the lead researcher, and knows what to do about it, he’s not setting around trying to confuse people. mit altered their test and he knows it, again sad.

    • MasterBlaster7

      You misunderstand. Hagelstein is a theorists. He has been working for the last 25 years on a ‘theory’ of how ‘cold fusion’ works. He has gone through some 180 models and thrown them all out. It is a very very hard problem. The problem is…how do you take a 24MeV gamma ray….lets call that Godzilla….and turn it into meV….lets call that a billion mice (thermal radiation). Hagelstein BELIEVES in the cold fusion experiments that ARE producing results (without the 24MeV gamma).

      Rossi is NOT a theorist. Rossi IS an advanced experimentalist. I would take any ‘theory’ that Rossi has on his ‘experiment’ with an extreme grain of salt. He is exploiting a phenomena…which all the experimentalists are doing.

      I’m not sure which MIT experiments you are referring to. But if you are talking about the 200 or so experiments that were done in 1989 to discredit F&P…they were not altered….they were flawed. All of the 200 non results were loading their palladium at between .70 and .85. You need a loading of, at least, .90 to .98 for the reaction to work. .95 loading is about at what the modern ‘working’ ‘repeatable’ LENR experiments are running with today. This has to do with a high enough loading to get the 2 atom molecule of Deuterium to form and to occupy the special void spaces (missing palladium atom in lattice).

  • GreenWin

    FUD Mary. Mike McKubre just told us there are four major players in commercial LENR. It matters little what name it is given or even that Mills, pragmatically demurs from cold fusion – it is all excess heat and nuclear products. And Mills did Ni+H work going back to Thermacore in 1991 for Wright Laboratories USAF.

    Slowly, surely, the standard FUD scripts are being flagged, bagged… and shredded. 🙂 (smile, not a smirk JN)

    • bkrharold

      Mills is not working with Ni/H like Rossi McKubre and Hagelstein. Mills is an opportunist hanging on the coat tails of these genuine hard working scientists. His so called theory of hydrinos does not make sense, but is complicated enough to fool people. This is typical behavior of a scamster. Wisdom Larsen has published a peer reviewed paper describing his theory to explain LENR. He invokes the weak nuclear force, which involves no new physics. Mills theory is preposterous has never been published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

  • Zeddicus Zul Zorander

    This is a video that I could look at very well. Sterling Allen should take a good look at this and try to replicate he quality. No questions from the interviewer, but the answers have been so clear that the questions must have been good too. Sterling himself is too present in his current video’s. Also a static camera was used for very good picture quality and a second camera for some different cuts. Sound is good too, so all in a very good video.

    Peter Hagelstein comes across as a very fine and well spoken gentleman. I had no trouble following his story and I do agree with his points completely. I especially agree with his point of the value of having experimental data conflicting with existing theory to check our understanding of the current theoretical model. Science seems arrogant enough to think that we know everything that is going on at the microscopic level, but CF shows that we do not and may have missed other important evidence.

    It’s also clear that some very fundamental questions still exist about how this all could work. All in all, nice summary.

  • Pekka Janhunen

    I get the feeling that he wanted to concentrate hard on his primary problem (to understand how it could work) and therefore wanted to clear distractions from his mind, including applications.

    Many smart guys have thought about it in vain for 25 years. If Rossi has a clue which helps forward, it’s another incredible achievement from him. Of course, getting reliable experimental data might help a lot. For example, if the Japanese praseodymium results are reliable, then it means that more than one deuteron can enter a nucleus at once, which is very hard to accept but also a strong clue, if true. If true.

    • clovis ray

      Sounded to me like he was trying real hard to cover his on a_s, and that he does not understand lenr at all, he seems to think if it’s not putting off radiation it’s just can’t work, typical hot fusionist, well he will come around, he will have to when the rest of the world starts to leave him behind, he will then get with the program, after he quits kicking and screaming, lol.

      • Pekka Janhunen

        Hagelstein believes that the phenomenon is true and is trying to understand it theoretically. I must have missed the kicking and screaming part.

        • clovis ray

          pekka i respect your opinion greatly. but i must say he has had 20 something years , how darn long does it take to understand something that you went to school all your life to study, sand bagging is the only explanation.

  • Pekka Janhunen

    Yes. I was being ironic, but was obscure. Never mind.

  • Fortyniner

    Maybe – but if he *IS* able to demonstrate excess energy over and above any chemical reaction, then it will be up to the physics community to come up with a better explanation.

  • bitplayer

    Yeah well MS bought Nokia! But I agree with you entirely on LENR.

  • Donk970

    Seems to me that the whole cold fusion thing was a huge academic blunder. It’s my understanding that Fleischmann and Pons didn’t want to publish because they they weren’t anywhere near ready. They published anyway because the university demanded that they publish regardless. Clearly, as is frequently the case in experimental science, there is an element of black magic in the experiments. I can’t tell you how many times as a lab tech I had to track down the original person to do an experiment to find out what they didn’t think to put in the paper. On top of the black magic many of the researchers who attempted to reproduce the experimental results were hot fusion people who had a vested interest in not being able to reproduce Fleischmann and Pons’ results. There were billions in funding riding on Fleischmann and Pons being disproven. It was a foregone conclusion that all the really important people in the field would be unable to replicate those experiments.

  • GreenWin

    Which is reason for more funding for “new physics.” Hello, Dr. Moniz?

    • artefact

      one day you will find him but not this time imho.

  • GreenWin

    Good on you Barry. I look forward to your impressions. In particular, what is the emotional tenor of the attendees? Is there a feeling that a lot is happening in commercial LENR? You’re an artist. Science is a derivative of art. We could use your insight!

  • Fortyniner

    IF Mills is able to demonstrate a significant release of energy, his process might attract more attention from establishment research directors than P&F did. The reason being that no matter what the actual underlying source of excess energy is, the system will LOOK like hot fusion – massive ‘starter’ input, hydrogen fuel, superconducting magnets, hot plasma etc.

    That makes it eminently adoptable by the hot fusion fraternity, who could be pretty sure that the differences would pass over the heads of the general public, at a time when due to lack of results the HF gravy train is running out of track. The construction technology would be pretty similar too, meaning that existing HF research facilities would be able to easily adapt.

    Billions have been squandered on failed magnetic confinement fusion devices, and a whole herd of politicians and academic administrators need something to cover their rear ends, while the researchers need a new trough to feed from. BLP’s process could be ideal.

    • Pekka Janhunen

      Perhaps Mills is “poor man’s hot fusion”: works the same and costs only 80 million:-)

      • Fortyniner

        I’m sure the HF boys could spin it way beyond that – a few billion at least, spread over a decade or more! Forget table-top devices – the reactor would have to look like something out of a James Bond movie, take years to build and be housed in a vast cavern festooned with cables, pipes and mysterious boxes, so slack-jawed politicians could be shown around to see the magnificent physics bling their (our) money was buying..

        • GreenWin
          • Fortyniner

            Yep – that’s what it would need to look like. Obviously worth at least half a billion of anyone’s currency – even if it doesn’t actually do anything useful at all.

            • GreenWin

              Amuses that pathos shout about “illusions, delusions, trickery, magic, etc.” Here is a bunch of fancy $B hardware that does little more than your common Whack-A-Mole game. NIF = aNother Ignition Fail.

    • GreenWin

      Ah, but… The herd leaders would need to reckon with “hydrino.” An entire generation of physicists would blanch at the thought their precious model may have been incomplete all this time. On the other hand, since public perception is molded by sycophantic media, the head sheep could claim (as they do with AGW) to have “predicted” the low ground state of hydrogen – as a part of hot fusion theory. Total BS, yes. But, for old school to go to the grave with some kind of legacy intact, the story tellers need a creative spin.

      This however, is at the heart of the problem. Scientists and politicians unable to say, “We were in error.” Because our culture is taught that to admit error is failure. Like it or not, superior power sources are here and going public. There is nothing humans can do to prevent that. But they can readily lead the way. For example, IF Adam Cohen, Stewart Prager and Michael Zarnstorff at Princeton PPPL quietly introduce a “Nano-plasma” or “Low Temperature Plasma” department. No need to bang the drum – just get out ahead of the train wreck.

      It might take the urging of the Administration and DOE Secretary Ernie Moniz. But DOE has already acknowledged LENR in their ARPA-E program. And as you point out, the HF gravy train is running out of track.

  • Omega Z

    Ever Notice that- In all the other areas of main stream science should they come up against something that doesn’t fit
    “Their Laws of Physics…”

    They merely say- We may need to Revise And/Or Expand on the current Laws of Physics…

    The Laws of Physics seem only to be “Sacred” when it involves those working on the fringe.

    • GreenWin

      The “Laws” are conceived and Perceived by man. At some point hopefully soon, science will begin to grok the idea that intent, and consciousness play a major role in the appearance of any “law.”

      • AlainCo

        in fact I am shocked by both position about laws.
        Some consider as laws what are not laws, and some don’t accept that some laws are hard to criticize.
        The real laws are based on essential symmetries of physics equations… CoE, CoM,Entropy=Heisenberg, LightSpeed,charge.
        Those laws, when changed are a revolution… like the relativity, quantum mechanics…

        on the opposite there are some laws that are simply indirect consequence of laws in a given context… for example the emission of gamma in nuclear reaction… and some simply observations…

        the way you make a tiny revolution is by breaking some assumption of little laws, to make something that seems to break a great laws , but is not…

        I start to be convinced that EmDrive is real, but I’m not ready to dump CoM… there is a trick for sure… like in LENR, the trick which is probably collective phenomenon and intrications of multiple particles…

  • Andre Blum

    Judging from Hagelstein’s soft smiling and tap dancing, apparently banging on tables and pointing at experimental results while swearing and releasing a lot of spit was not the style that took you safely through the last 24 years of cold fusion research funding.

    I personally would not have made it in that field, I am sure.

    Really, I found this an unconvincing chat. Why isn’t he able to talk with much more confidence, give more detail, leave a better impression on who is working in the field, how often the experiments have been replicated, and that this has happened at renowned institutes around the world?

    • atanguy

      Andre,you are missing the main point: Hagelstein saying that the Fleishman Pons effect exists and has been replicated in hundreds of experiments and that experiments are the source of theoretical physic,so theoretical physic has to explain it.
      It’s a big deal for somebody teaching at MIT. and it’s showing his courage and being a real scientist.

    • Zeddicus Zul Zorander

      I agree with atanguy.

      I do not think you have listened to the video closely enough. He speaks clearly, suggesting that the people being accused incompetence in the past may in fact be the competent people of the past and the accusers the incompetent. That includes people that worked at MIT also, so he’s quite courageous.

    • clovis ray

      He never said lenr very much it was always cold fusion, shows how far behind he is.

      • MasterBlaster7

        Um…Hagelstein has been working in this area since 89…he knows more about it, from an academic standpoint, than all of the LENR companies do. Hagelstein is at the top of the (very small) field along with McCubre and Sorms (from an academic standpoint). Point is…if any of those 3 talk…you listen.

  • Daniel Maris

    Yes, he seems a very principled man.