The Peak Oil Crisis: Update on ‘Cold Fusion’

September 17, 2013 6:30 PM36 comments

The “cold fusion” story which has been creeping along at a snail’s pace for nearly 25 years seems to be picking up steam. For those of you who are coming late to this story, which admittedly has had close to zero play in the mainstream media, there are now three companies who say they are close to having commercially useful devices that can inexpensively extract unlimited amounts of clean energy from the nuclei of hydrogen atoms. Two of these organizations, Andrea Rossi’s Leonardo Corporation and the Greek-Canadian company Defkalion, are heard from frequently so those following the numerous cold fusion blogs have some idea of their progress and goals, if not the minute details of their technology.

The third company which claims to be making substantial progress towards a post-carbon world is Brillouin Energy from out in California. Brillouin Energy has been developing its products well below the radar and only emerges every year or so to enlighten those interested as to their progress. Last week the two principal leaders of Brillouin, Robert Godes who developed the process and Robert George, the CEO and financial manager, were interviewed for an hour on an alternative energy web site as to their progress and plans for the future.

Godes claims that Brillouin alone among the dozens of organizations working on cold fusion understands the physics underlying the reaction which has now been observed hundreds of times around the world. The phenomenon of heat being produced from loading hydrogen in metal lattices under the proper conditions has now been reproduced so many times before so many reliable witnesses that to deny that the effect is real only reflects on the deniers these days.

Brillouin calls its heat-producing effect a “Controlled Electron Capture Reaction” and maintains that other researchers are forcing electrons to combine with protons to produce neutrons inside a metal lattice — whether they know it or not. In recent years the most successful researchers in terms of quantities of heat produced are using powdered nickel as the medium in which to force hydrogen, capture electrons to produce neutrons and initiate the reactions that yield helium in addition to prodigious amounts of heat.

To date few say publicly they agree with the Godes thesis that cold fusion is really an electron capture reaction. However, his success in controlling the prototypes he has built has convinced the management and scientists at the prestigious research lab now known simply as SRI to partner with him in commercialization of his process. Those who remain skeptical that the “cold fusion” phenomenon is for real usually start with some version of the assumption that we already know all that will ever be known about nuclear physics and that another way to extract energy from an atomic nucleus is impossible. It sounds a lot like the skepticism that greeted the Wright Brothers’ first flights.

For those interested in the details of what could turn out to be the predominate energy source of the 21st Century and beyond, the Brillouin Energy web site does an admirable job in explaining the basics of the thesis. While Brillouin’s Controlled Nuclear Capture Reaction may or may not ultimately prove to be correct, it is remarkably easy to understand. Hydrogen is loaded into a metal matrix, a controlled proprietary electro-magnetic pulse is sent through the metal and a series of reactions take place which ultimately result in the production of helium, lots of heat, and almost nothing else.

The real question, of course is how quickly this reaction will come to be commercialized and recognized for its significance to many aspects of life on earth ranging from carbon emissions and climate change, to adequate food and water to one of the biggest economic stimuli the earth has ever seen.

In the course of their interview, Godes noted some of the progress that was being made on the new hot tube boiler which is being developed at SRI. Their current plan is to develop a prototype by the end of 2014 which then can be demonstrated and licensed to existing boiler and heating plant manufacturers. One of Brillouin’s early goals is to use their heat-producing technology to replace the boilers in existing coal-fired power plants thereby eliminating the emissions problems not to mention the expense of the coal. In Godes’ view, this is the low-hanging fruit and could easily be expanded to provide the heat source for existing natural gas and even nuclear plants. Remember that this reaction produces only helium and heat, not the radioactive wastes that come from fission reactors.

Brillouin Energy, however, is not the only game. Andrea Rossi and his Leonardo Corp which revived interest in “cold fusion” three years ago by demonstrating, amid much skepticism, that he could produce commercial amounts of heat. Rossi says he now is in partnership with a major US corporation and is hard at work verifying and preparing his technology for market.

The Greek/Canadian company, Defkalion, demonstrated their latest device to a conference this summer and say they will be ready to start marketing or licensing their technology soon. Godes of Brillouin notes that Defkalion seems to have adopted a version of his electronic pulse technology as a means of initiating and controlling the heat-producing reaction. There are also other companies with less ambitious plans working on device for market and who knows what may be going on in China where there is a desperate need for cheap clean.

We have now heard recently from what appears to be the three most advanced players in the field and they all report good progress that could culminate in useful heat producing devices in the next year or so. Engineering a new science into products is a slow process; it was 20 years after the Wright brothers before commercial air travel came into widespread use and about the same for the automobile. From what we know of “cold fusion” however, it is really a rather simple and cheap technology to implement so it could come quicker than many believe.

  • Christopher Calder

    We desperately need Low Energy Nuclear Reaction devices because the renewable energy fad has brought us nothing but higher costs for food and energy, larger budget deficits, and greater unemployment.

    For scientific details, please Google *THE RENEWABLE ENERGY DISASTER*

  • Roger Bird

    Excellent article. I will be sending a link to this article to all my friends in order to update them.

    • psi2u2

      Yes, an excellent article, very well informed and credible – just good journalism.

      • Roger Bird

        Tom Whipple should get a raise.

        • psi2u2

          Yep.

          And watch out when Roger Bird and I agree on something! : )

  • Tim Rickets

    problem with Robert Godes is he likes bashing other scientist, whoever does business with Robert Godes is going to have to keep him on a tight leash – caveat emptor.

    • psi2u2

      Exactly.

  • http://MrEnergyCzar.com/ MrEnergyCzar

    The real question is what the EROEI or net energy is for the entire process? If its still negative, I’m not sure why anyone would be investing in these companies.

    So what’s the real EROEI of the process?

    Thanks,
    MrEnergyCzar

    • Roger Bird

      Not sure, but let me guess. Very little overhead compared with so many other energy sources. Nickel is very plentiful. Hydrogen is easy. Nano-sized nickel particles is a slight problem, but not a big deal. Compare that with coal with it’s mining, transportation, and scrubbing. Ethanol, LOL, excuse me for bringing it up. Natural gas, transportation is small, mining is big. Solar and wind, big upfront costs and space issues. Both are intermittent and interrupted. So solar and wind have BIG storage problems. Nuclear, LOL, excuse me for bringing it up. The clean-up is horrendous with nuclear. The upfront costs are dreadful, and they won’t be any less with hot fusion.

      I see no reason why the overhead with LENR would be as much of a problem as it is with ALL other energy sources. But there is overhead, however slight. And given the Brillouin is talking about years between maintanance, I think that including overhead we have a HUGE winner with LENR.

      • http://MrEnergyCzar.com/ MrEnergyCzar

        So do you know the EROEI roughly? Not the overhead. From what you listed, Ethanol is the worst at about 1 to 1. You mentioned having to use Nickel which has to be mined and Hydrogen is a huge net energy loser no matter how you make it so I’m guessing the process is a net energy loser, otherwise they would say it.

        • Roger Bird

          According to Robert Godes at Brillouin, the nickel is never used up. The hydrogen is turned into helium with a HUGE net increase in energy. Rossi and Defkalion admit to producing copper from nickel, but we think that that simply represents a dirty or clumsy form of the reaction. But even still, we are talking about a gram of nano-powder nickel and tiny amount of hydrogen to heat one’s house for 6 months.

          This is a PROVEN power source: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1305.3913.pdf The ragone chart is best represented here: http://phys.org/news/2013-05-rossi-e-cat-energy-density-higher.html

          • Leif

            If it is proven, then why isn’t anyone making any money from it?

          • Roger Bird

            Leif, that is exactly the route to proof that all three of the leading companies are taking. You can wait until it is sold at Home Depot, or you can have enough trust to examine the evidence yourself. The big issue now for most people such as yourself is “Is this convincing enough for me to want to apply my scientific thinking (and time) to see if it is real?”. I am not going to try to convince you since the evidence stands on it’s own. I am, however, trying to get you to look at the evidence.

          • Leif

            Be my guest and invest in it.

  • Lexi Mize

    Unfortunately, Robert George came right out and explained why the interview, and why now – they need more money. Whether their technology warranted fresh news was secondary to their need to drum up more funding.

    Looked down from on high Brillouin does appear to be a more honest contender. They seem to at least have the exposure to those (SRI) who would quail at scandal. So keeping their nose as clean as possible is paramount. This cannot be said of the other two players, Rossi and Defkalion. Scandal and disrepute follow those two like ridicule follows Kim Jong-un.

    Frankly, the whole business has begun to stink from all the sour scuttlebutt that permeates the topic. The barrel full of ‘Rossi Says’ and empty DGT’s promises makes for a foul base off of which Brillouin needs to raise capital. I wish them luck.

  • http://www.libertynewspost.com/ Liberty Newspost

    Looks like Brillouin Energy has a funding gap between the 3 million they spent on scaling up the model and getting control of the reaction and engineering their commercial model for real world installation and testing. Getting funding at this point should be very attractive to the right sized investor. Problem is the really big boys have put their money on a more exotic form of Tri-Alpha fusion reactors and Plasma Fusion.

    LENR is a Black Swan event that appears to have totally surpassed their expectations or.. they have something else already and don’t care. In any case they are not acting like companies that want to get “there” sooner than later. Lets hope Brillouin receives the investment they need as soon as possible.

    http://lawrencevilleplasmaphysics.com/

    http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/the-secret-us-russian-nuclear-fusion-project/19039

    • kdk

      I may have tipped off some people who have said resources… one can hope. Brillouin have convinced me that they have the best long term prospects, among those in the running, anyway. One can only go so far w/o a very firm grasp of what is happening.

      My guess is that the closer this gets, the more sound and fury we’ll hear.

      The investors and larger players in this game have only continued to get more serious. Soon, we may be hearing from Rossi about his pilot hot-cat in operation, leased, in Sweden. Not soon enough.

  • Steve Bannister

    EROEI may be not calculable, or not worth calculating. Probably only H is consumed. The Nickel-Hydrogen folks including Brillouin are working to control the reaction (a Rossi/Leonardo test last fall melted the steel container (~1490C) and an outer ceramic container (~2000C).
    And Godes is a slick talker; I am not yet sure his physics is credible. May be, but not yet sure. In any case, there is no accepted theory, which hampers engineering and scientific acceptance. But great progress is being made on all fronts.

  • wadosy

    this operation needs more publicity

    maybe some spokeman like tom should get on alex jones… he’s got a pretty big audience…

    and he’s got lots of credibility, too… just look at the success he’s had with the chemtrail awareness campaign

    • Leif

      LOL.

  • http://MrEnergyCzar.com/ MrEnergyCzar

    Cold fusion tries to apply a chemical reaction to a nuclear process. Chemical and Nuclear processes are completely different from each other. One deals with electrons, the other deals with the nucleus of the atom. In reality, these two things are about as far apart as Pluto is from the sun. The analogy would be changing Pluto’s orbit and having that change the nuclear fusion going on in the sun. It just does not really have much of an effect.

    Unless they discovered something that changed the laws of physics, its the same old shell game. If it was real, it would be the biggest story of the century already and the US govt would be all over it. The energy produced in the fusion reaction would be in the form of extremely high energy photons, gamma rays. Fusion power does not mean clean power. It will still irradiate whatever contains it. It just does not produce large quantities of spent fuel like fission and the reaction cannot run away (melt down). The Govt would be very interested in something that produced gamma rays.

    Investors beware.

    MrEnergyCzar

    • AlainCo

      The problem is that experiments disagree with you vision, which is not even theoretical, but simply a rule of thumb.

      It works, it is real, reproduced, now more reliable, at leaset much more than transitors at the begining, the reason it does not work are now nearly all understood.

      LENR, whatever is the theory (whether nuclear of fairy powder, it works), produce few radiation… Defkalion reactor produce gamma in the 30-500keV range and just around background for a 10-30kWth…

      now like many pretended scientist you can say that laws are more important than experiments (even if it is not even laws, but using free space physics inside a latice), try to read that longer argumentation

      http://lenrnews.eu/evidences-that-lenr-is-real-beyond-any-reasonable-doubt

      jed rothwell have been even more bleeding in that wiki-rejected article which shows how anti-scientific is such critics

      http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/cf/293wikipedia.html

      Yeong E Kim of Purdue made this quote :

      “I clearly recognized that the conventional nuclear scattering theory at positive energies cannot directly be applied to nuclear reactions involving deuterons bound in a metal, which is a negative-energy bound-state problem. Quantum scattering theory describing the Coulomb barrier problem is applicable to scattering experiments with nuclear beams.When they were being criticized at the APS meeting, I was frustrated that I could not rebuke public criticisms by my nuclear theory colleagues, since I did not have an appropriate alternative theory, even though I realized that their theoretical arguments are premature.”

      which is an evidence for me, since I have basic knowledge in semiconductors quantum physics.

      the others arguments like lack of reproducibility at early stage, make me laugh, as I know from my engineering culture how is technology at the beginning….

      so many preposterous arguments agains the acceptance of experimental results, make me think there is something more “human factor”…

      I blame most on disdain of physicists against chemist. of fear of losing the leadership. of vexations .
      I blame it on “circle the wagon” effects of physicist against “free energy fan”.
      I blame it on the submission of a dependant community to the uninformed opinion of fund-influencers like Gary Taubes.

      anyone knowing how strange can be quantum physics in a lattice, like in semiconductors, superconductors, should be , like yeong e kim, modest, thus following the experimental results, not dismissing them..

      there is no theory, so what?
      we used fire before knowing covalent bounds binding energies.

      • Leif

        If it really worked, somebody would be rich already.

        • AlainCo

          it takes time. for now they strangely have funding , not for tiny garage labe, but for serious labs and offices…

          anyway to gain their first money they have to finish the industrialization, get certification,… It take time. It is only less than 2 years since the first serious claims (Rossi was earlier but he only work professionally since 2012… guess why, because of external funding and direction)…

          xanthoulis is still not banckrupt… despite big investment in labs and offices
          Brillouin is still not backrupt, despite the big investment in R&D…

          they are not yet rich, but clearly some investors seems to trust them.

          You can wait 1-2 years to see in WSJ…
          or maybe just this fall for TSX IPO.

          • Leif

            “We’re still not bankrupt” sounds like an appropriate sales pitch.

  • SomeGuy

    The device has been demonstrated to invited audiences several times, and
    commented on by various academics and others, but no independent tests
    have been reported by sources independent of Rossi, and no peer-reviewed
    tests have been reported in scientific publications. Steve Featherstone
    wrote in Popular Science
    that by the summer of 2012 Rossi’s “outlandish claims” for the E-Cat
    seemed “thoroughly debunked” and that Rossi “looked like a con man
    clinging to his story to the bitter end.”[12]
    Cold Fusion isn’t picking up any steam. It’s just caused a spike in noise and believers, like it has many times before.

    • AlainCo

      false.
      It was tested by an independent team sent by Elforsk, the Swedish research consortium for electric industry.

      They were enough satisfied to make a press release saying the test was positive.

      Rossi was enough confident not to be present, to allow them to unplug the cables, to install their own instruments, to touch the reactor and install thermocouple so they can calibrate IR cam…

      I don’t know where someone honest can find a hole.

      Of course some says the test was not independent because the result was said by people who accepted it may be positive. which is the sign they were not prepared to deny evidence as they should. because everybody know it is impossible, and only accomplice may recognize it is real.

      Maybe the term honest is the only point.

  • Leif

    Cold Fusion is Snake Oil. My apologies to snakes…they do not deserve such an ill-mannered comparison.

    • AlainCo

      what are your arguments ?

      how do you dismiss the work of ST Microelectronis, US Navy Spawar, Elforsk, NASA GRC (98/2008), NRL, ENEA, CEA/Longchampt, BARC, …

      they all did bad job…

      and strangely your best argument is that it is theoretically impossible, which is theoretically a a factual error, based on misuse of free space physics in lattice/surface context… it is also based on absurdity, with historical counter example like transistor, claiming that is something is not reliable it is not real.

      you just parrot an absurdity, based on anti-scientific behavors, on conspiracy theory, on well identified logical and physics fallacies.

      I just hope that you don’t understand what you parrot.

      I’m sure you did not read that

      http://www.lenrnews.eu/evidences-that-lenr-is-real-beyond-any-reasonable-doubt/

      answer to all those points, then
      (you have to prove that LENR is impossible… and that at the same time prove how all experiments can have been wrong. good luck)

      answer to all point raised by those article

      http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/cf/293wikipedia.html
      (prove me that the mainstream behavior is not anti-scientific, and the arguments nor absurds)

      and then explain using business psychology why many corps and startup agree more with me than with you, despite the fact thay what you say is the same consensus as “subprime crisis as described by Roubini is absurd”…

      http://www.lenrnews.eu/lenr-summary-for-policy-makers/

      (prove me how they are crazy, and how they did not do due diligence in a domain where fraud is the official theory)

      I’m sorry to repeat and repeat and repeat, but to give an opinion you have to know the situation, and not parrot what you heard parroted from people who heard from dishonest well introduced incompetent administrators of science (like Taubes).

      There is a moment when delusion is so clear.

      give me the extraordinary evidence of you conspiracy theory.

      • Leif

        Where is the product? If it isn’t snake oil, then why isn’t someone running a factory with cold fusion and making a tidy profit?

        • Anthony Richards

          That’s like someone asked the Wright Brothers why they hadn’t built a 747

      • Leif

        Tell you what. Give me 100,000 thousand dollars, and I will generate more power than “US Navy Spawar”.

        • AlainCo

          Spawar is not the best power result. they just proved production of energetic particles. NRL rather proven heat production with SRi and ENEA, and better understanding on the required conditions, and on the causes of failures observed.

          About the cost of creating a reactor, it seems that few million is more rational like what Sunrise securities funded for Brillouin.
          You should ask Alexandros Xanthoulis how much it costed them to get their first prototype…

          It is not so easy… strangely all easy things are already discovered… but yes it is cheaper than a Tokamak or NIF.

      • Leif

        I don’t have a conspiracy theory. My argument is based on pure common sense. Where is the product? Where is the prototype of that product?

  • Super Sloth

    This is not cold fusion but low energy nuclear reaction, which is a different thing. LENR has been shown many times and I think that this energy source will play a big role in our future. I can see electricity production, desalination, and heating as the most important applications for LENR.
    Anyway, I hope Godes is right and we’ll be able to see some working devices in a few years. Of course it’s gonna take a lot of time for this technology to become commercially available to common people, but I think that we can be optimistic about it.

  • Tom Colbert

    Soon a “Mr. Fusion” for my Delorian!

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