New Report from Attendee of MIT Cold Fusion Seminar

I didn’t want this comment from ECW reader Frechette to get buried, so I thought it deserved its own post. Thanks so much Frechette for this very interesting report — coupled with Barry Simon’s earlier reports, it helps give us a nice picture of what went on at MIT.

From my point of view the MIT Seminar on LENR was well worth attending. It provided an excellent overview of LENR as well as progress that has been made by researchers at MIT and elsewhere since the original Pons and Fleischmann experiments were announced in 1989.

The attendees came from the US, Europe and even one from Japan. Folks I spoke with were all very pleased having taken the time to be a part of it. The backgrounds of the attendees ranged from engineers, scientists, and investment types.

Although my academic and working background is in Electrical Engineering I did take several courses in nuclear and condensed matter physics while in graduate school. This allowed me to follow to some extent Peter Hagelstein’s and Mitchel Swartz’s technical presentations. As you probably know Peter Hagelstein and Mitchel Swartz are theoretical and experimental physicists, respectively. Both are extremely competent in their fields. They were very forthcoming by answering all questions put to them by the audience and were also very open about their work.

The first four days were dedicated to a discussion of the anomalous heat effect observed in the Pons and Fleischmann electrolysis cell. The morning sessions covered the description of a physics model underlying excess heat. Prof. Hagelstein has been developing his model for the last 12 years. He is able to account many of the observations reported by experimentalists over the years.

The bottom line is no new physics is required nor does quantum theory need to be ditched to explain the experimentalists’ observations. Hagelstein’s model posits deuteron – deuteron fusion reactions based on the detection of He4 when excess heat is produced. This is a highly exothermic nuclear reaction which should also generate ~ 24 Mev gamma radiation. In the Pons Fleischmann experiments no such radiation nor neutrons were detected. The question naturally arose where is the missing gamma. Based on condensed matter physics Hagelstein is able to show that the radiation shows up as coherent phonon coupling of the palladium lattice. This is no small feat due to the high (24 Mev) quantum energy. His model also explains how the Coulomb force is overcome thus making deut eron fus ion possible.

The afternoon sessions were given by Prof. Swartz. They dealt primarily with experimental work he has done over the years. He has been able to work out the experimental conditions required for successful heat generation such as the degree of deuteron cathode loading, as well as, the optimum operating point (sweet spot) in terms of cathode current for maximum power output. The data presented for the experimental runs were carefully done with controls so that there can be little doubt about the validity of the measurements. The maximum COP shown in the presentation overheads reached 80.

His measurements demonstrated that excess heat was generated when the deuterium loading exceeded a well defined threshold. Typically it needed to be up around 90%. Mike McKubre at SRI had also shown this to be the case. One reason why many early experiments resulted in false negatives is due to this threshold behavior which was unknown to early experimenters. Prof. Swartz pointed out that loading to such high levels causes the palladium crystal lattice to expand which could result in surface damage if not carried out carefully. Therefore the loading has to be done at low cathode current density over a fairly long period of time measured in weeks. Again, not taking this into account would necessarily lead to false negatives.

Prof. Swartz also demonstrated on video a small Stirling engine powered by an LENR device. Again made use of a control. This video was quite impressive in my opinion. It’s a first for converting excess heat into mechanical energy.

On the final day, Friday, the topic changed to the nickel hydrogen system and nano powders. It was pointed out that the amount of hydrogen loading of nickel is much more difficult than is the case for palladium. In the case of nickel the hydrogen forms tight clusters. It does not occupy the voids in the lattice as in palladium. This may explain the higher temperatures which are observed with the Hot Cat. (my conjecture)

  • Mr. Moho

    (I posted this in the previous CF 101 @ MIT report blogpost, but since this one is newer, I’m putting it here as well)

    All lectures from the Cold Fusion 101 Class at MIT have been posted on the Youtube channel.
    I would suggest everybody to watch at least the video segments featuring Mitchell Swartz as they are easy to follow and focus on the experimental side (NANOR) which most people here might be probably interested in.

    January 27: (MS at 2:01:29)
    January 28: (MS at 2:06:10)
    January 29: (MS at 2:02:40)
    January 30: (MS at 2:03:30)
    January 31: (MS at 2:14:50)

    I learned that the latest NANOR devices are nickel-based and use no expensive palladium. However they are preloaded with deuterium, not hydrogen (heavy water, which contains deuterium, is worth several thousands dollar per liter). At low input (a few dozen milliwatts) these NANORs show an energy gain of about 27x, but they can be driven at a higher input power (1 watt) at which the gain drops to about 3x. They have a bell-shaped gain curve, of which he calls the peak “optimal operating point” (OOP). My observation is that since the gain is higher at low input, if we wanted the same gain with a higher output power there would have to be more active material / bigger NANOR devices. The ones shown only weight about 50 milligrams.

    Swartz is currently working on the version “8″ of these devices, focusing on scaling them up using different materials. Apparently he is having very good results and very high gain, which he won’t disclose yet. Regarding how they’re made, there’s much information he can’t talk about yet due to the patent status (rejected because “cold fusion”). He hopes to be able to during the next Cold Fusion 101 class next year (so, 2015).

    I must be honest here: after watching these videos my confidence in these NANOR devices increased ten-fold. If he’s going to give them to other researchers/labs for testing (his IP is in the active material preparation – apparently a very lengthy process – not the actual materials used), there’s no way that LENR will not soon become mainstream.

    This is possibly bigger than Rossi and the others working on kilowatt-scale excess power.

    • ecatworld

      Thanks so much, Mr. M! — I just made a separate post of this comment/

    • artefact

      Thanks for the summary!

  • Buck

    I agree . . . but they choose to ignore the facts which don’t bring in grants (LENR) and to pursue the rich field of Hot Nuclear science that does bring in grants and prestige.

    I’m willing to bet that when a fully functional LENR device suitable for running a retrofitted power plant becomes commercially available, the music will begin to change because the flow of money will begin to change.

  • GreenWin

    Thank you Frechette – very interesting report and progress. One must wonder at what point do DOE and MIT cut their losses in the face of thousands of positive LENR experimental results. It is hard to deny the appearance of He4 and anomalous heat in D+D experiments – it’s been very well documented and replicated around the world. The real question is does MIT continue to dig the grave of ignorance and bury itself? Is there even ONE scientist (Hagelstein aside) that sees the fusion train wreck headed their way? Is there ONE Administrator with the courage to step up and correct 25 years of deception and skulduggery?

  • E_man

    Does enybody explain “…Typically it needed to be up around 90%” ?
    Thanks for answers.

    • Doug Cutler

      I’m no scientist, but my understanding is that hydrogen – being a very simple molecule – is absorbed under pressure directly into the metal’s collective atomic structure or lattice, be the metal palladium or nickel. I think the metallic absorption of hydrogen itself was a previously known phenomenon. What I believe they’re saying is that the absorption of hydrogen into the metal needs to reach a certain threshold before a reaction occurs. 40% or 50% of maximum absorption won’t do it but 90% will. Someone with greater skill could correct me or enhance the explanation.

      • E_man

        Thanks Dough.
        Could be density 1 atom H to 1 atom Pd or Ni could be 100% !?

        • Doug Cutler

          All right, so I need to lose a few pounds. Don’t rub it in.

          As for your follow-up question: I’m afraid I’m already out of my depth. But I really hope this whole Cold Fusion/LENR thing pans out. I still prefer plane old Cold Fusion title though. Its way catchier.

  • Allan Shura

    If Jet could make available the mass manufacturing of nanors at a low cost soon then at least the heating devices
    could be rolled out by start ups and the general population. A good question would be their behavior as temperature
    increases and if they do go over boiling point or not.

  • Bob

    Thank you for the report. Very interesting. I wish I could have attended.

    Was there any talk (by the professors or others attending) about how MIT as an institution viewed this course and LENR/Cold fusion in general? It seems that “MIT” was one of the big early critics of cold fusion and even recently canceled grants to Prof. Hagelstein. (From what I have heard, this was almost criminal!)

    MIT is a nameless entity, so I do not know who “the powers that be” there are. However, based upon your report, it seems that COP of 80 and over unity is replicated almost at will by Prof. Swartz. How can “MIT” NOT be on the band wagon if this is true? Did Prof. Swartz indicate that he has demo’d / proven these results to “the powers that be” there?

    If I were them, I would load the truck with my stuff and head to the University of Missouri. They would probably love to have this stuff! Probably Prof. Linn and Purdue as well. Was there any mention of working with MFMP to be a third party validator?

    COP of 80 and seemingly very repetitive! This should be the golden goose we have all been waiting for!

    • Buck

      Great questions. However, I find it hard to imagine that Hegelstein would stray from being diplomatic about MIT and Cold Fusion. I still recall how he looked in his recent interview: he was a man who had been living under stress for decades, chose his words carefully, and focused upon staying with the facts and avoided the politics.

      I’m just very happy that MIT allowed the seminar to be scheduled. There is hope for them still.

      • GreenWin

        It is good to see MIT not countering their own rules on independent study. As for hope – there always is hope. But MIT has addicted themselves to guv’ment funding and influence, yet produced no useful energy result. This is not the behavior of leading scientists or administrators. The blowback on MIT when commercial LENR goes public will be devastating… and deserved.

        • Buck

          I think MIT’s behavior has shown misplaced values . . . Mallove made it very clear what was done to P & F and history has cemented that as MIT has not really changed or redeemed themselves in any large way. Certainly, they have not taken the path of McKubre with all of his supported research into CF.

          However, the hope is vested in Hagelstein’s lab. MIT’s behavior towards Hagelstein has been execrable, but they leave the door open to having him prove them wrong. I truly look forward to that day as MIT will deserve every single slur upon their reputation.

      • Buck

        I stand corrected. I’ve just started watching the Hagelstein/Schwartz video for Friday. The very first slide reads as follows;

        “Working in this field at this time can destroy your career.”

        “Being interested may damage your personal and professional life.”

        My respect Hagelstein grows considering what he must have to go through on a daily basis at MIT.

        • bachcole

          He has an inner strength that most yogis only dream about. You can tell by his unwillingness and disinclination to lash out. If I were him, I would already be in prison. (:->)

    • GreenWin

      MIT’s Plasma [Hot] Fusion Center funded by US taxpayers, is run by Director M. Porkolab, who reports to MIT VP Claude Canizares. The Nuclear Science & Engineering division still list Ronald Ballinger and Ronald R. Parker on staff – the two guys who accused Pons & Fleischmann of fraud in the Boston Globe in 1989. Ballinger & Parker are two principles Dr. Gene Mallove claimed were involved in MIT’s CF experiments made to appear negative. The whole sordid tale is here:

  • Buck

    Frechette, thank you for making the time to write out a summary of your observations. As you can well imagine, it is greatly appreciated.

    • Daniel Maris


      • Bruce Williams

        Yes indeed Frechette, many thanks for your time.

  • Mr. Moho

    Any detail about their latest NANOR devices? Meaning: how they perform, when commercialization / distribution to other labs and researchers will start, patent status, when official presentation / disclosure will happen, etc?

    • curious

      Admin, those would be good questions for Swartz