Lowell Wood and LENR

It was interesting to see that Bill Gates had with him on his visit to the ENEA labs in Italy, Lowell Wood, who is an astrophysicist and has served as a member of the director’s technical staff at the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (UCLLNL). He is currently working as a professor at the University of Houston. Gates apparently trusts Wood’s judgement as he has advised him on various subjects.

Wood has a long history of working in various outside-the-box science projects, including geoengineering (to reduce the impacts of climate change), and missile defense systems. Since we have been looking at the possibility of Bill Gates supporting cold fusion, I have tried to see what I can find regarding Lowell Wood’s history with cold fusion.

Below are some excerpts from various articles

“[Peter Hagelstein] was flying out to visit the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California when the news of cold fusion hit in 1989, and he met with Teller and Lowell Wood, another prominent Livermore scientist, the next day. Both men encouraged him to work on cold fusion. (Teller died last year, but Wood continues to support cold fusion and attends the conferences.) ” (Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54964-2004Nov16_2.html)

“Wood is infamous for championing fringe science, from X-ray lasers to cold-fusion nuclear reactors, as well as for his long affiliation with the Hoover Institution, a right-wing think tank on the Stanford campus.” (Rolling Stone: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/can-geoengineering-save-the-world-20111004

“At the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, Edward Teller, the aging “father of the H-bomb” and an almost mythic hero to conservatives, had declared soon after the Salt Lake City press conference that cold fusion “sounds right.” His protégé, Lowell Wood, anxious to prove his mentor correct, attempted to reproduce the Fleischmann-Pons experiment. Unfamiliar with electrochemistry, Wood set off an explosion in his laboratory when hydrogen, liberated by electrolysis, ignited. The blast shattered his apparatus and ended his quest for cold fusion.” (New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/p/park-voodoo.html)

Dr. Edward Teller’s associate, Dr. Lowell Wood of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (a nuclear weapons research facility), attended both ICCF7 and ICCF8. At the latter conference, Dr. Wood seemed impressed with the quality of papers and appeared convinced of the reality of the phenomenon.(Infinite Energy: http://www.infinite-energy.com/iemagazine/issue44/iccf9.html)

This still doesn’t tell us exactly what was discussed during Bill Gates’ visit to the ENEA labs, but it does let us know that Wood is familiar with LENR, and that could have been one reason he was invited to make the trip to Italy with Gates.

Lowell Wood (darker blue shirt) with Bill Gates talking to Dr. Vittorio Violante — Photo source: ENEA Facebook page
  • Fortyniner

    The tallish bloke at the rear left is Federico Testa, Commissioner of ENEA (political appointee, non-scientist).

  • Bob Greenyer

    It is surely a problem of skewed analysis and wilful avoidance of the cumulative evidence. The development of LENR has not happened in the fresh blue skys of no existing nuclear technology, like Fission in the early part of the last century. Bill Gates repeatedly highlights that his nuclear company is full of old men and fresh graduates – this is because pretty much everyone from the cold war through the 90s were distracted by consumerism and easy money from financialism and unearned wealth that came from ponzi asset inflation. We were told that nuclear was done or a bad thing and that only trying to do something that the sun does is an option. (but in a very different way – because we don’t have the gravity on earth – note this different is acceptable).

    When I took myself, on my own ticket, to the peak conference in Cork Island in 2006, there was a guy who worked at Cern there, during his presentation, he said that they are aware that the Russians liked to joke that the Tokamak was given to the west as a way for us to waste all our research resources.

    The many transmutations seen throughout the field of LENR are evidence enough for its reality, but not necessarily of useful excess heat. Whilst our own findings of up to 12.5% excess heat evidence with Celani wire are not awe inspiring, I would think a lot of people this winter would be happy if their heating bill dropped by even a third of that.

    The MFMP is set up to

    1. Show to the world there is a new practical primary energy source we call the New Fire
    2. Once shown, help develop peoples understanding of what the New Fire is
    3. Help promote the development and uptake of the New Fire in all its various guises

    In the first two years of operation, our external funding receipts would be insufficient to support one UK average salary. Most of that is captured in tools that are in labs now that can continue to do research this field.

    Our approach is to work to find something that is incontrovertible and have it multiply and publicly replicated. During the process we can educate and encourage and connect. Of course, the volunteers would like things to happen in 5 minutes, then we can get back to our real lives, but development of real things takes much longer.

    Many of the researchers involved in LENR have discovered other things of great importance, like Fleischmann’s discovery of SERS – despite it being useful and starting a whole field of study no one really knows how it works.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surface-enhanced_Raman_spectroscopy

    Francesco Celani discovered bacteria living in fission reactor cooling pools that can be used to recover/concentrate radioactive Co and Cs from spent nuclear fuel.

    Sergio Focardi was respected for his physics and mathematics publications.

    It is only when these individuals started reporting findings in LENR do the wider community draw into question their work.

    The really interesting thing about Bill Gates’ ENEA visit is that he is passionate about nuclear and is not phased by the established order. Here is a man that REALLY knows the ACCEPTED nuclear approaches and having invested in one option for many years, he is willing to keep an open mind on the faint possibility that he does not already know everything yet.

    So many individuals have spent so much of their lives saying this is not true and sticking in that camp that regardless of all the jobs it would make a farce of, there is special inertia to its acceptance.

    We will only know when LENR is accepted after the fact, what we might be witnessing in Bills’ engagement, is another step in that direction.

  • GordonDocherty

    Thanks for the catch – changed it to a dollar a year. Still, doubling that to two dollars a year (“a steal at twice the price”), would allow for many more avenues of research and development to be explored. Yet, no such move is made. Instead, our governments gamble on two, very restricted approaches that have, to date, produced not a single Joule of useful, excess energy. Worse yet, while the approaches claim to replicate the conditions found in the Sun, this is just not the case. To do so would require recreating the Sun – a little impractical for a “compact” energy source here on Earth. Instead, what these approaches are actually doing is attempting to engineer conditions such that the likelihood of fusion events occurring within a small volume much increases. This is a very different proposition, not so clear-cut or black-and-white, and is one that in reality assumes large scale engineering is up to the job of recreating very high energy extreme conditions in a small volume in order to increase the likelihood of fusion events occurring – engineering that then also has to be up to the job of removing the high energy ejecta that results from such high energy collisions. LENR, in contrast, seeks to create a “fusion-friendly” (or, at least, a “transmutation-friendly”) environment at the nano- to micro-scale, so allowing the whole to remain relatively cool even as the NAE sites themselves “boil and seethe”, albeit a few atoms at a time. As any engineer would say, the LENR approach (with its nano- to micro-scale) NAE sites makes much more sense than a macroscopic seething, boiling fast-moving plasma ocean or a rolling set of glass beads that must be repeatedly rolled in, held stationary, compressed by super-powerful laser beams, energy collected, and then tidied out of the way ready for the next bead all in the space of only a few microseconds. At least, in terms of engineering, the Dense Plasma approach makes much more sense. So, the intelligent, open-minded person has to ask themselves, “why is this the case?”

    • GreenWin

      Gordon, FYI, kemosabe is a hot fusion fanatic aka popeye in other forums. It is a waste of time to engage, IMO.

  • Sanjeev

    I wouldn’t lose my peace of mind on a skeptopath.
    kemosabe is a living example of a skeptopath here. Its incredible how he goes on repeating that there is no evidence for lenr or that mainstream does not accept it (whatever mainstream means for him, I find that all physicist and chemists involved in CF are mainstreamers having same education and PhDs as others). Yet he will not Google it for himself.
    Usually the main intention of such comments is to seed doubt in the minds of readers using empty arguments. It works …unfortunately.

  • Sanjeev

    You are assuming too much. First of all Gates deals with matters totally different from software nowadays (like malaria). You are assuming that he is a software guy and will not understand fusion enough to decide if its worth investing. Even a layman can understand that if he is getting more heat out then in, its a profitable thing. Second, you are assuming that he will depend solely on Wood’s advice. Usually a big investment means that a working group is formed which studies and advices the investor, its never a single person unless its a small investment.

    By your logic all advices would result in lost credibility for any project, since the advisers are mostly experts in their own field (which means they advocate their own field). I never heard anyone not taking the advice of their doctor, since the doctor advocates medicines. 🙂
    A smart investor also listens to skeptics and then takes a calculated risk. So if Gates invests in CF, I would logically assume that he did hear both positive and negative about it before investing. It would give more credibility to CF, not less.

    Your argument skills are not good enough. You need some very solid argument to claim that Bill Gates’s investment will not mean anything for cold fusion. Same goes for other points. Your H-bomb example is incorrect, we are talking about controlled fusion here. You could have given the example of Sun, the most useful fusion device we have currently. I can counter that by citing many cold fusion meltdowns during experiments, the most famous being the ITP1’s last year. But I’m guessing that you never heard of it or of any other lenr experiment for that matter, so I will leave you here.
    I learn’t nothing from your negative statements.

  • Sanjeev

    You can understand my response if you read the original commentator’s point # 1 above. The argument is that since they do not claim success they are honest and ethical, and since cold fusion guys claim success they are not. This does not compute.

    To claim success (which is excess energy), the hot fusion gang must demonstrate it publicly and if they can not then their source of funding will be gone or will be reduced greatly. So they do not claim absolute success, just keep adding minor things while spending billions, always keeping their success at least 2 decade in future.

    This is a telltale sign of a scam.

    The hot fusion program started with good intentions but it is now fallen into the hands of corrupt and greedy people.

  • Sanjeev

    Probably yourself and common men do not know that LLNL fudged the numbers so that it appeared as if it achieved breakeven. This was then reported by BBC, which was picked up by the “educated” reporters in the mainstream.

    They used energy of laser shot instead of using the total energy consumed by this monster setup to calculate the gain, intentionally misleading the public. There was a good debate about it on slashdot (mainstream dominated) and elsewhere. People were not convinced.

    Michael Campbell, a former director of NIF, said that the gain was over-hyped. In fact it was not even close to 1, it was 0.0077 !

    Here is the complete article (again a mainstream site, not against hot fusion at all).
    http://news.sciencemag.org/physics/2013/10/fusion-breakthrough-nif-uh-not-really-%E2%80%A6

    After all this, who will believe them?

  • GordonDocherty

    There are many researchers who have carried out experiments and published results that :

    a. show LENR phenomena (note, the plural) are quite real
    b. show LENR+ is a source of excess power over an extended period – that is, energy, where total energy out exceeds total energy in by a factor of at least 3 to 1 (that is, a COP of at least 3:1)

    The problem, so far as I can see it, however, is that you don’t believe these researchers due to :

    1. a lack of replication, that is, researcher A has experimental apparatus different from researcher B, but both claim (useful) excess power where total energy out exceeds total energy in.
    2. a lack of the products of the fusion process as you see it, namely gamma radiation, fast neutrons and energetic alpha particles

    Well, looking at 1 for a minute, the ITER and NiF approach to hot fusion have not produced a single Joule of useful excess energy, so, logically, you would have to hold the same view about ITER and NiF, which you clearly do not.

    Now, looking at 2, you are missing the significance of the little phrase “as you see it”. LENR is not claiming to be hot fusion at 20 degrees Celsius (that would, indeed, be an oxymoron). It is, instead, claiming that transmutation and even fusion can be achieved by a combination of effects that change the environment and behaviour (including motion) of the active agents involved, so as to increase the probability of nucleii fusing – or, at least, transmutation taking place – at average temperatures in a large volume far below 10 million degrees Centigrade. As far as “the common man” is concerned, if you start with Hydrogen and end up with Helium, fusion has occurred, even if you got there by transmutation.

    What’s really important, however, is not whether LENR is Hot Fusion at 20 degrees Celsius or not (it is not, no one is arguing that,), but rather whether it is a safe and useful source of energy. Now, LENR+ (as it is called), has already shown it can be (at least, according to the results published), whereas ITER and NiF have not shown any useful energy production yet at all – in fact, the energy required to charge the lasers used by the NiF mean that it is currently inconceivable that such an approach will ever work, while even by their own admission, the massive ITER won’t actually be a useful, commercial source of energy, something that would require a facility whose projected size just staggers belief. Yet, the public spend “a dollar a day” on the likes of ITER and NiF, while spending nothing at all on LENR/LENR+.

    Finally, there are two more research initiatives that you did not even mention, where I am equally at a loss to understand why governments are not pursuing them as a matter of life-and-death. One is the work being done by Lawrenceville Plasma Physics and its Aneutronic Dense Plasma Fusion reactor (fortunately, ARPA-E have now changed their funding requirements, but such funding comes with strings attached, so that is a mixed blessing). The other is development of the LeClair effect, where it was observed that from a supersonic jet of water travelling over a sculpted aluminum surface under pressure inside a steel containment vessel, that not only were copious amounts of gamma radiation, fast neutrons and energetic alpha particles produced, but, from the water alone, every element up to Californium was produced and found to coat the aluminum surface (and, therefore, including elements such as gold and phosphorous, now in short supply). Now, why are governments around the world not “moving Heaven and Earth” to support this line of research, especially as phosphorous is required for fertilizers and hence healthy crop yields…and, I’ve heard gold is quite valuable too…joking aside, being able to produce gold (and titanium) would be very useful for off-world activities and planting flags and stuff, while healthy crops is a “no brainer”. Yet, “not a penny” of public funds invested in such promising lines of research. The intelligent, open-minded person has to ask themselves, “why not?”

  • Axil Axil

    You have fallen for the line of bull Edward Moses spouts. I too waxed poetic about the prospects of laser based inertial fusion. But when I did, I was rebuffed by those
    who worked for Moses and new the truth. They told me that the man was the head of a project that could not succeed and all who worked on it , knew it. But it wrote their paychecks and so it goes on and on and on.

  • Sanjeev

    Your mainstream once believed that the earth is flat and executed people for saying that the earth goes around the sun. Mainstream is a bunch of fearful guys protecting their money, not a very reliable source of truth.

    You seem to worship mainstream guys and ignore the truth. Are you incapable of judging it yourself ?

    I guess you are an ignorant troll, never bothered to read the reports and papers that show solid evidence of nuclear reactions and excess energy in many experiments involving cold fusion. You are simply parroting pathoskeptics or have some delusion that cold fusion cannot work.

    Your logic of scale does not work. Does that mean, the bacteria should have been discovered thousands of years before elephants? May I ask what is your educational qualifications ? You cannot even think straight.

  • Sanjeev

    Lets accept that the hot fusion projects are the greatest scams in the history of mankind. People like you are responsible for this and should be punished by law.

    1. Of course the hot fusion parties do not claim success, because then they must show it to all and they can not because there is no success. It makes more sense to keep its status “ongoing” or “promising” with tiny improvisations to keep the billions of $ flowing into it.
    2. Your math of multiplying delay with the scale of energies involved would get you a nobel prize for sure. Why don’t you apply ? I almost died laughing. Is this ridiculous justification all you have ? Hot fusion looks already very bad to me, don’t need to wait for a millennia. Cold fusion is already here, perhaps that explains your anxiety to defend hot fusion delays with special kind of logic you just invented.
    3. Nuclear reactions can be produced easily even by a child, the game is to produce excess energy. Perhaps you cannot understand that and think hot fusion is “magic”. Hundreds of people are involved in cold fusion and will produce the evidence of excess heat in your choice of units. Just repeating that there is no proof will not make the proof vanish. I suggest you read the papers and visit the labs personally to get the proof, attend ICCF and read ECW regularly to educate yourself.

    I’m sad that you decided to contribute to hot fusion scam but its your money, just don’t ask others to give their money to hot fusion.

  • JedRothwell

    Dr. Wood has attended several ICCF conferences.

  • GreenWin

    “IGNITION FAILED
    How America’s latest attempt at fusion power fizzled” – Science News, April 2013
    Hot fusion research promised “Clean unlimited energy” sixty years ago. We’re still waiting. Projects like NIF, ITER, PPPL, Alcator Mod C – all failed to achieve ignition or produce even ONE WATT useful energy. In spite of receiving taxpayer investment of $250B over the past 60+ years. These are in fact white collar welfare projects for scientists trained to ignore LENR evidence aka “Forbidden Energy.”

    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ignition-failed

  • jousterusa

    Great research,Frank!

  • kemosabe

    If Bill Gates’ interest is merely a reflection of Lowell Wood’s interest, and Wood has had an interest in it for a long time, then this event, by itself, doesn’t confer any greater credibility on the field.

    Of course, Gates’ money changes the dynamic, and if he really does fund cold fusion experiments generously, then the pressure will be on for cold fusion researchers to deliver. A stamp of approval from Gates, along with his money will neutralize the standard excuses about funding and stigma. If they don’t produce something really unequivocal, and make a real impact in mainstream science in a few years, they will have to find new excuses, or admit failure.

    • GreenWin

      ” If they don’t produce something really unequivocal, and make a real impact in mainstream science in a few years, they will have to find new excuses, or admit failure.”
      That scheme has worked just fine for hot fusion as they’ve taken $250B tax dollars and 62 years to produce not ONE WATT useful energy. Hot fusionist’s poster child ITER is already 300% over budget and 10 years behind schedule. Just another costly boondoggle in six decades of hot fusion “research.”
      What makes LENR credible is it has accepted little taxpayer money and produced hundreds of confirmations of excess energy. All in a mere 25 years.

    • Bob Greenyer

      Harsh, but Bill Gates knows what it is like to try and make real technology from a research platform.

      It is over six years since he first invested in Terrapowers’ travelling wave reactor, has it produced real impact – no, has he stopped investing in it, no

      • kemosabe

        Actually, the sort of impact I was talking about was made for fission in 1941, just 2 years after Einstein’s famous letter to Roosevelt. The very first fission reactor worked according to plan, and the particular reactions were understood in considerable detail. The evidence was unequivocal, reproducible, consistent, and robust.

        The traveling wave reactor is just a special kind of breeder reactor, which *has* made an impact in mainstream science. The principle and concept is fully accepted throughout the community. Reducing this particular design to practice is a major undertaking, but that’s not what I was referring to.

        Cold fusion doesn’t have to heat a garage or have any kind of practical implementation to have a real impact in mainstream science. It just has to prove it’s real. The world would have patience with cold fusion if they accepted proof-of-principle … if mainstream science accepted it as a real phenomenon. And *that* should not take more than a few years with any amount of funding, but certainly not with backing from Bill Gates.

        Moreover, if such proof-of-principle were to be established, considering the scale of the experiment compared to that of fission reactors, it’s reasonable to expect rather more rapid progress toward a practical application.

        • Sanjeev

          ” It just has to prove it’s real.”

          I have seen many papers and presentations that prove that it is real. These are by reputed scientists and companies, you can as well call them mainstream.
          How many papers on LENR have you read ?

        • Bob Greenyer

          The reality in energy tech is very different from one you present, humans have a tendency to go with the first thing that does the job and stick to it, particularly when that requires LONG term commitment. Moreover, companies will actively sell well packaged old technology because it brings them on-going revenue and always the opportunity of an upgrade (and no I am not talking about Apple).

          – motor tech barely advanced for the first 80 years until the ultra motor, developed during the cold war in Russia, it is MUCH better but barely deployed – I owned 2 Ultra motor based e-bikes in India and at 250W it ran for 50% longer with more torque than the competition – the company has struggled because they wanted to create a 125cc class e-bike with their partners Hero (worlds largest 2-wheeler manufacturer) and Hero realised, once they sold an e-bike there was NO aftermarket. So they pulled out of the co-development strategy. As an example, I bought 2 e-bikes, they cost $500 a piece, I charged them using 1 days power from my solar array and that provided 5 days transport to/from work. In the first 3 years, my business partner and I spent just over $1 in total to maintain both our bikes (50c each). Hero saw NO aftermarket and so they definitely did not want the same in their biggest market segment.

          https://www.linkedin.com/company/ultra-motor-india

          – battery tech really stagnated until the advent of mobile computing devices and e-vehicles.

          – When they got Nuclear working, they kept building the same reactors basically all over the world, because it was easier to do what was known rather than build any of the much better designs.

          The existence of a better technology will not ensure its deployment or even awareness. Those that hold the keys to the money making old technologies will have the ears of the less-than-aware politicians.

          Sanjeev is right in saying that there has been proof LENR is real for a long time.

          From PD + D LENR systems

          ENEA replicated P&F (this is why they are a good candidate for Bill)
          BARC replicated P&F
          NASA replicated P&F
          SRI replicated P&F

          Most of these were around 2 decades ago – but – the excess heat was not practically useful. Improvements have been made since and that is what Bill was likely exploring.

          From LENR transmutation

          Mitsubishi Industrial replicated Technova (part of Toyota) – work that was undertaken nearly 14 years ago – was finally awarded a patent.

          From Ni+H

          Sienna university replicated Piantelli and the work has been peer reviewed and journal published.

          The point is, most people/governments don’t want to know their gas boiler/car/electricity/transport infrastructure supply could be revolutionised when what they have something that already works and was an expensive long term investment.

          To create real change requires visionaries to lead the willing and resources to do the hard work necessary when all others are saying “what is the point, I’m fine”.

    • Sanjeev

      You mean Bill is a kid who will do whatever Wood said? You assumption shows your immature thinking, nothing else.

      I do not know why you decided to impose a “few years” deadline on them on your own. Is this a rule? Is admitting failure a norm in the area of research funding ? Or you have invented these new “standards” especially for LENR, like most of the pathoskeptics do ?

      Has hot fusion made an impact in mainstream science ? Has it produced something unequivocal ? Have they admitted failure? Has anyone imposed a deadline on them?

      Why double standards?

  • Julian Becker

    Does anyone think Professor Wood would be available for an interview regarding his new interest in LENR? I found his website with contacts….

  • EEStorFanFibb

    very interesting. thanks Frank! good work.

  • Curbina

    As many still doubt what was the visit to Frascati about, I think that denying that LENR was “the main course of the menu” is just being stubborn.

  • bkrharold

    Lowells long history and continued interest in LENR are an indication he still considers it a viable alternative energy source. I doubt Bill Gates attended the event in Italy out of mere idle curiosity. Lowell must have encouraged him to attend. This is all very positive, I hope to see something tangible come out of this.