Should There be Public Funding of LENR Research? [Update: Rossi Says Why Not]

It has been interesting to look at some of the recent comments on the Journal of Nuclear Physics where readers are discussing the public funding of LENR. Most commenters seem to be in favor of putting taxpayer money into the LENR research, citing examples of public funding for fundamental research, space programs and the nuclear industry as a way to boost research and development in areas that can promote the public good.

Andrea Rossi, however is decidedly against the idea. Some of his comments on the subject:

I am totally contrary to public funding of LENR. It is a high risk field, that must be funded by enterpreneurs, not by taxpayers. Taxpayers must not be exposed to industrial risks.

Yes, I agree about public funding of basic and foundamental research: without it the CERN could not exist. But the case of LENR is totally different.

Yes, the cases you cited are right [space programs, nuclear industry], but LENR are a totally different thing.

Maybe Rossi is thinking that because there is so little consensus among researchers about the theoretical basis for LENR that there could be a lot of wasted money expended in barking up the wrong theoretical tree. Perhaps that will all changed once there is an accepted theory for LENR.

Rossi has made it a matter of pride that he has never taken any government funding for the development of the E-Cat and has often said that he does not believe in taking the money of small investors to support his work. I think he values his independence, and probably does not want to be in a position to be accused of squandering the public’s money if things should go awry.

But I would imagine that if the value of LENR becomes widely recognized and seen to be a technology that has much potential to serve the public good, there will be people pushing for state-funded research and development — and likely even state-supported industrialization of LENR products.

UPDATE (July 15, 2014) This a post from Andrea Rossi today explaining why he is opposed to public funding:

Daniel De Caluwè:
If a LENR system works, it does not need public funding. If anything that works well needs funding, money arrives from investors. Think to Microsoft, Apple, etc. There are things that need public funding because they are important but do not produce profit, or the perspective of profits are too much distant in time to make them appealing for capital investments; in those cases is necessary that governments make funding: for example CERN, the conquer of Space, things like these. But it is not the case of LENR.
This is my opinion, obviously it can be wrong.
Warm Regards,
A.R.

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