Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.

If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


Nuclear Power

Cold fusion died 25 years ago, but the research lives on

Scientists continue to study unusual heat-generating effects, some hoping for vindication, others for an eventual payday

by Stephen K. Ritter
November 7, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 44


Credit: James Krieger/C&EN
Some 7,000 people attended a hastily organized cold fusion session at the ACS national meeting in Dallas in 1989, hopeful that word of the newly announced phenomenon was true.

Howard J. Wilk is a long-term unemployed synthetic organic chemist living in Philadelphia. Like many pharmaceutical researchers, he has suffered through the drug industry’s R&D downsizing in recent years and now is underemployed in a nonscience job. With extra time on his hands, Wilk has been tracking the progress of a New Jersey-based company called Brilliant Light Power (BLP).

In brief

In 1989, the scientific world was turned upside down when two researchers announced they had tamed the power of nuclear fusion in a simple electrolysis cell. The excitement quickly died when the scientific community came to a consensus that the findings weren’t real—“cold fusion” became a synonym for junk science. In the quarter-century since, a surprising number of researchers continue to report unexplainable excess heat effects in similar experiments, and several companies have announced plans to commercialize technologies, hoping to revolutionize the energy industry. Yet, no one has delivered on their promises. In the pages that follow, C&EN explores several possible conclusions: The claims are correct, but need more time to develop; those making the claims are committing an elaborate ruse; or it really is junk science that won’t go away.

The company is one of several that are developing processes that collectively fall into the category of new energy technologies. This movement is largely a reincarnation of cold fusion, the short-lived, quickly dismissed phenomenon from the late 1980s of achieving nuclear fusion in a simple benchtop electrolysis device.

In 1991, BLP’s founder, Randell L. Mills, announced at a press conference in Lancaster, Pa., that he had devised a theory in which the electron in hydrogen could transition from its normal ground energy state to previously unknown lower and more stable states, liberating copious amount of energy in the process. Mills named this curious new type of shrunken hydrogen the hydrino, and he has been at work ever since to develop a commercial device to harness its power and make it available to the world.

Wilk has studied Mills’s theory, read Mills’s papers and patents, and carried out his own calculations on the hydrino. Wilk has gone so far as to attend a demonstration at BLP’s facility in Cranbury, N.J., where he discussed the hydrino with Mills. After all that, Wilk says he still can’t tell if Mills is a titanic genius, is self-delusional, or is something in between.

This story line is a common refrain for the researchers and companies involved. It all got started in 1989, when electrochemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons made the stunning announcement at a press conference at the University of Utah that they had tamed the power of nuclear fusion in an electrolysis cell.

When the researchers applied a current to the cell, they thought deuterium atoms from heavy water that had penetrated into the palladium cathode were fusing to form helium atoms. The excess energy from the process dissipated as heat. Fleischmann and Pons said this process could not be caused by any known chemical reaction, and the nuclear reaction term “cold fusion” was attached to it.



From hopes raised to hopes dashed: the story of cold fusion’s rise and fall, told in headlines ripped from the pages of C&EN.

Click to expand the full list. ▼

April 3, 1989: "Nuclear Fusion: Utah Findings Raise Hopes, Doubts”

April 10, 1989: “Cold Fusion: Race to Clarify Utah Claims Heats Up”

April 17, 1989: “Cold Fusion: ACS Session Helps Shed Some Light”

April 24, 1989: “Fusion Confusion: New Data, but Skepticism Persists”

May 1, 1989: “Fusion Controversy: Congress Excited, but Doubts Grow”

May 8, 1989: “Fusion Donnybrook: Physicists Assail Utah Claims”

May 15, 1989: “Utah Chemists Back Off Some Claims”

May 22, 1989: “Hopes for Cold Fusion Diminish as Ranks of Disbelievers Swell”

June 5, 1989: “Conflicting Cold Fusion Reports Deepen Mystery”

July 17, 1989: “Federal Panel Advises No Cold Fusion Funding”

Aug. 14, 1989: “Utah Panel Votes Funds for Cold Fusion Institute”

Nov. 6, 1989: “Cold Fusion Anomalies More Perplexing than Ever”

March 1990: “Sociology of Cold Fusion Examined”

April 1990: “Opposing Camps Tussle Over Cold Fusion”

April 1990: “Advocates, Skeptics Alike Still Puzzled by Cold Fusion”

April 1990: “Pons Demands Retraction of Cold Fusion Paper”

June 1990: “Cold Fusion Dogged by More Controversy”

November 1990: “Cold Fusion: Utah R&D Faces Go/No-Go Decision”

December 1990: “Utah Cold Fusion Institute Research Deemed Sound”

1991: “Cold Fusion: Utah Pressures Pons, Fleischmann”

1991: “New Evidence Claimed For Nuclear Process In ‘Cold Fusion’ ”

1991: “Cold Fusion Lab Dies, but Fusion Research Goes On”

1992: “Cold Fusion Fiasco”

1992: “Cold Fusion Experiment Blast Kills Researcher”

1992: “Cold Fusion Takes a Licking but Keeps on Ticking”

1992: “A Chemist Debunks Cold Fusion”

1993: “Latest Cold Fusion Results Fail To Win Over Skeptics”

1995: “Cold Fusion Session Smaller than Expected”

1995: “Cold Fusion Believer Turned Skeptic Crusades for More Rigorous Research”

1996: “Cold Fusion Lives—Sort Of”

1996: “ ‘Cold Fusion’ Device Hits The Market”

2002: “Hubbub over ‘Bubble Fusion’”

2003: “Science, Religion, and The Art of Cold Fusion”

2004: “DOE to Reconsider Cold Fusion Research”

2005: “Tabletop Nuclear Fusion Device”

2007: “Cold Fusion Makes Its Case In Chicago”

2008: “Bubble Fusion Burst”

2009: “Cold Fusion Lives”

2010: “Targeting Fraud”

2012: “Reviving Cold Fusion”

2012: “Proper Terminology”

2012: “Unlikely Cold Fusion“

Click to collapse. ▲

After months of investigating Fleischmann and Pons’s puzzling observations, however, the scientific community came to a consensus that the effect was inconsistent or nonexistent and that the scientists had made experimental errors. The research was summarily condemned, and cold fusion became a synonym for junk science.

Cold fusion and making hydrinos both hold the holy-grail promise of generating endless amounts of cheap, pollution-free energy. Scientists were frustrated by cold fusion. They wanted to believe it, but their collective wisdom told them it was all wrong. Part of the problem was they had no generally accepted theory to guide them and explain the proposed phenomenon—as physicists like to say, no experiment should be believed until it has been confirmed by theory.

Mills has his own theory, but many scientists don’t believe it and think the hydrino improbable. The research community has stopped short of the public dismissal it gave cold fusion and has tended to just ignore Mills and his work. Mills has reciprocated by trying to stay out from under the shadow of cold fusion.

Credit: SRI International
In a photo from 2012, Michael McKubre, one of the original cold fusion researchers, inspects a component of SRI International’s Micromass 5400 mass spectrometer, an instrument dedicated to measuring 3He and 4He produced in palladium-deuterium and palladium-hydrogen LENR.

In the meantime, the field of cold fusion was rebranded as low-energy nuclear reactions, or LENR, and survives. Some scientists continue to try to explain the Fleischmann-Pons effect. Still others have dismissed the notion of fusion but are investigating other possible processes that can explain the anomalous excess heat effects. Like Mills, they’ve been lured in by the potential commercial opportunities. Their primary interest is in generating energy for industrial, household, and transportation needs.

The handful of companies that have emerged in the attempt to get these new energy technologies to market have a business model the same as any technology start-up: Identify a new technology, attempt to patent the idea, raise investor interest and secure funding, build prototypes and have demonstration events, and announce timelines for when working devices might be available for sale. In this new energy world, however, expired promises are the norm: None have made it to the last step of delivering a working device as advertised.

A new theory

Mills grew up on a Pennsylvania farm, earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Franklin & Marshall College and a Harvard University medical degree, and studied electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While a student, he began developing what he calls “The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Physics,” which he says provides a new model of atoms and molecules that shifts away from quantum theory and is based on classical physics.

“If hydrinos existed, they would have been detected by others in laboratories or in nature years ago.”

Howard J. Wilk, synthetic organic chemist

It’s commonly accepted that hydrogen’s solo electron is whizzing around its nucleus in its most energetically favorable, ground-state atomic orbital—you simply can’t bring hydrogen’s electron closer to its nucleus. But Mills says you can.

Erik Baard, a journalist who has written stories about Mills, once noted how shocking it is to say the model of hydrogen is up for debate: “Telling physicists that they’ve got that wrong is like telling mothers across America that they’ve misunderstood apple pie.”

One of those physicists is Andreas Rathke, a former research fellow at the European Space Agency, who is described on the agency’s website as having “debunked a high number of crackpots.” In 2005, Rathke analyzed Mills’s theory and published a paper in which he concluded it was flawed and incompatible with everything physicists knew (New J. Phys. 2005, DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/7/1/127).

Currently a researcher at Airbus Defence & Space, Rathke says he hasn’t followed the Mills story since about 2007 because there was no unambiguous sign of excess energy in reported experiments. “And I doubt there have been any experiments published at a later time that pass scientific scrutiny,” Rathke tells C&EN.

“I think there is general agreement that the theory Dr. Mills has put forward as the basis for his claims is inconsistent and not capable of making experimental predictions,” Rathke continues. “Now, one could ask the question, ‘Could he have been lucky and stumbled upon some energy source that experimentally just works by following a wrong theoretical approach?’ ”

In the 1990s, a few researchers, including a team from the National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s Lewis Research Center, did report independently replicating the Mills approach and generating excess heat. The NASA team wrote in a report that the results “fall far short of being compelling” and did not mention anything about hydrinos.

The researchers offered possible electrochemical processes that might explain the heat, including irregularities in the electrochemical cell, possible unknown exothermic chemical reactions, or the recombination of split-apart hydrogen and oxygen atoms of water. These are the same arguments made by scientific critics of the Fleischmann-Pons experiments. However, the NASA team did say that researchers should leave the door open, just in case Mills really was on to something.

Mills is a mile-a-minute talker who can go on forever spilling out technical details. Besides predicting the hydrino, Mills says his theory can perfectly predict the location of every electron in a molecule using his bespoke Millsian molecular modeling software, even in molecules as complex as DNA. With standard quantum theory, scientists struggle to predict the exact behavior of anything much more complex than a hydrogen atom. Mills further says his theory also explains why the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, something cosmologists have yet to fully wrap their arms around.

Mills also says hydrinos are created from burning hydrogen in stars such as our sun and are evident in the spectral lines of starlight. Hydrogen is recognized as the most abundant element in our universe, but Mills goes further to claim that hydrinos are the missing dark matter in the universe. Those proposals come as a bit of a surprise to astrophysicists: “I have never heard of a hydrino,” says the University of Chicago’s Edward W. (Rocky) Kolb, an expert on the dark universe.

Mills has reported isolating hydrinos and characterizing them using standard spectroscopic methods such as infrared, Raman, and nuclear magnetic resonance. In addition, he says hydrinos can react in the way hydrogen might to form new types of compounds “with amazing properties.” These include conductive materials that Mills says would revolutionize electronic devices and batteries.

Even though popular opinion is against him, Mills’s ideas seem less far-fetched when compared with other unusual components of the universe. For example, a muonium is a known, short-lived exotic entity made of an antimuon particle (a positive, electronlike particle) and an electron. Chemically, muonium behaves like a hydrogen isotope, but it’s nine times as light as hydrogen.

The hydrino SunCell

No matter where hydrinos fit in on the scale of believability, Mills told C&EN a decade ago that BLP had moved past the scientific verification stage and was interested only in discussing commercial applications. Over the years, BLP has collected more than $110 million from investors to see what it can do.

“There are results that you just can’t explain away. Whether it’s cold fusion, low-energy nuclear reactions, or something else—the names are all over the place—we still don’t know.”

David J. Nagel, professor, George Washington University; former research manager at the Naval Research Laboratory

BLP’s approach to creating hydrinos has taken on different manifestations over time. In an early prototype, Mills and his R&D team used tungsten or nickel electrodes with a lithium or potassium electrolyte solution. An applied electric current splits the water into hydrogen and oxygen, and under the right conditions, lithium or potassium then acts as a catalyst to absorb energy and collapse hydrogen’s electron orbit. The energy released in going from the ground atomic state to a lower energy state comes off as a brilliant emission of light in a high-temperature plasma. The associated heat is then captured to create steam to power an electric generator.

BLP is currently testing a device called the SunCell in which hydrogen (from splitting water) and an oxide catalyst are introduced into a spherical carbon reactor along with dual streams of molten silver. An electric current applied to the silver ignites a hydrino-forming plasma reaction. Energy from the reaction is then trapped by the carbon, which acts as a “blackbody radiator.” When the carbon heats up to thousands of degrees, it reemits the energy as visible light that is captured by photovoltaic cells, which convert the light to electricity.

Credit: BLP
The latest of BLP’s prototypes, called the SunCell, which debuted on Oct. 26, produces hydrinos from hydrogen in the spherical carbon reactor (at top) and traps the energy using photovoltaic cells (not shown) that surround the sphere to produce electricity; the reactor and photovoltaic array will be covered by a housing. According to Mills, “the power can be extraordinary, bursts of millions of watts in a volume of a coffee cup.”

When it comes to commercial development, Mills at times comes off looking paranoid and at other times like a shrewd businessman. Mills has trademarked “Hydrino.” And because his issued patents claim the hydrino as an invention, BLP asserts that it owns all intellectual property rights involving hydrino research. BLP therefore forbids outside experimentalists from doing even the most basic hydrino research, which could confirm or deny hydrinos, without first signing an IP agreement. “We welcome research partners; we want to get others involved,” Mills says. “But we do need to protect our technology.”

“Why would anyone have continued research or scientific interest after 27 years on any topic that was reported to be a mistake?”

Melvin H. Miles, electrochemist

Mills instead has commissioned validators who say they can corroborate that BLP’s inventions work. One of the validators is Bucknell University electrical engineering professor Peter M. Jansson, who is paid for his evaluations of BLP technology through his consulting company, Integrated Systems. Jansson says that being compensated for his time “does not in any way cloud my judgment as an independent investigator of scientific discoveries.” He adds that he debunks most “new discoveries” he checks out.

“BLP scientists are doing real science, and to date, I have found no errors in their scientific methods or approaches,” Jansson says. “Over the years, I have witnessed many BLP devices clearly capable of creating excess energy at meaningful levels. I think it may take some period of time for the scientific community to absorb, digest, and accept the possibility of lower energy states of hydrogen. I think Dr. Mills has made a compelling case.” Jansson adds that commercial viability remains a challenge for BLP, but the way forward is being held up by business issues, not scientific ones.

Meanwhile, BLP has hosted several demonstrations of its latest prototypes for investors since 2014, posting videos on its website after the fact. But these events do not provide clear evidence one way or the other as to whether the SunCell is legitimate.

In July, after one recent demonstration, the company announced that the anticipated cost of operating the SunCell is so low—about 1 to 10% of that for any other existing form of power—that the company “intends to provide autonomous individual power for essentially all stationary and motive applications untethered to the grid or any fuels infrastructure.” In other words, the company plans to build and then lease SunCells or other devices to customers and charge a per diem usage fee, allowing people to go off the power grid and stop buying gasoline or diesel while paying just a fraction of what those things now cost.

“This is the end of the age of fire, the internal combustion engine, and centralized power and fuels,” Mills says. “Our technology is going to make all other energy technology obsolete. Our concerns about climate change are going to be eliminated.” He adds that it looks like BLP could be in production, at first with megawatt stationary units, and generating revenue by the end of 2017.

What’s in a name?

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Mills and BLP, their story is just one part of the ongoing new energy saga. After the dust settled on the original Fleischmann-Pons announcement, the two researchers began figuring out what was right and what was wrong. They were joined by dozens of other collaborators and independent researchers.

Many of these scientists and engineers, often using money out of their own pocket, have been less concerned about commercial opportunities but rather have focused on basic science: electrochemistry, metallurgy, calorimetry, mass spectrometry, and nuclear diagnostics. They continue to rack up experiments showing excess heat gain, defined as the ratio of energy put out by a system to the energy required to operate it. In some cases, nuclear anomalies such as producing neutrons, α-particles (helium nuclei), isotope shifts of atoms, and transmutation of one element to another have been reported.

But in the end, most of these researchers are just looking for an explanation and would be happy if even a modest amount of heat generated turns out to be useful in some way.

“LENR is real experimentally, and not understood theoretically,” says David J. Nagel, an electrical and computer engineering professor at George Washington University and a former research manager at the Naval Research Laboratory. “There are results that you just can’t explain away. Whether it’s cold fusion, low-energy nuclear reactions, or something else—the names are all over the place—we still don’t know. But there’s no doubt that you can trigger nuclear reactions using chemical energy.”

Nagel prefers to call the LENR phenomenon “lattice-enabled nuclear reactions” because whatever is happening takes place within the crystal lattice of an electrode. The original branch of the field focuses on infusing deuterium into a palladium electrode by turning on the power, Nagel explains. Researchers have reported such electrochemical systems that can output more than 25 times as much energy as they draw.

“We were willing to be wrong. We were willing to invest time and resources to see if this might be an area of useful research in our quest to eliminate pollution.”

Thomas F. Darden, CEO, Cherokee

The other main branch of the field uses a nickel-hydrogen setup, which can produce greater than 400 times as much energy as it uses. Nagel likes to compare these LENR technologies to that of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a multination high-temperature fusion experiment based on well-understood physics—merging deuterium and tritium—being carried out in southern France. At a cost exceeding $20 billion, this 20-year project has set a goal of generating 10 times as much energy as it consumes.

Rossi (kneeling) works on one of the modular units of a 1-MW Energy Catalyzer designed to power large buildings.

Nagel says the LENR field continues to grow internationally, and the biggest hurdles remain inconsistent results and lack of funding. For example, some researchers report that a certain threshold must be reached for a reaction to start. The reaction may require a minimum amount of deuterium or hydrogen to get going, or the electrode materials may need to be prepared with a specific crystallographic orientation and surface morphology to trigger the process. The latter is a common issue with heterogeneous catalysts used in petroleum refining and petrochemical production.

Nagel acknowledges that the business side of LENR has had problems too: Prototypes being developed have been “relatively crude,” he says, and there has yet to be an LENR-based company to offer a working product or make any money.

Rossi’s E-Cat

One of the notable examples of attempts to commercialize LENR comes from engineer Andrea Rossi of Leonardo Corp., based in Miami. In 2011, Rossi and his colleagues announced at a press conference in Bologna, Italy, that they had built a tabletop reactor, called the Energy Catalyzer, or E-Cat, that produces excess energy via a nickel-catalyzed process. To substantiate his discovery, Rossi has held E-Cat demonstrations for potential investors and members of the media and commissioned independent validation tests.

Rossi posits that his E-Cat features a self-sustaining process in which electrical power input initiates fusion of hydrogen and lithium from a powdery mixture of nickel, lithium, and lithium aluminum hydride to form a beryllium isotope. The short-lived beryllium decays into two α-particles with the excess energy given off as heat; some of the nickel is reported to turn into copper. Rossi says no waste is created in the process, and no radiation is detected outside the apparatus.

Rossi’s announcement initially gave many scientists the same queasy feeling as did cold fusion. One reason many people are having trouble believing Rossi is his checkered past. In Italy, he was convicted of white-collar criminal charges related to his earlier business ventures. Rossi says those convictions are behind him and he no longer wants to talk about them. He also once had a contract to make heat-generating devices for the U.S. Army. But the delivered devices did not work according to specifications.

In 2012, Rossi announced completion of a 1-MW system that could be used to heat or power large buildings. Rossi also anticipated that, by 2013, he’d have a factory annually producing 1 million 10-kW household units about the size of a laptop computer. But neither the factory nor the household units have materialized.


In 2014, Rossi licensed his technology to a company called Industrial Heat, which was formed by private equity firm Cherokee, a company that focuses on buying real estate and has a goal of cleaning up old industrial sites for redevelopment. In 2015, Cherokee Chief Executive Officer Tom Darden, who trained as an environmental scientist and a lawyer, described Industrial Heat as “a funding source for LENR inventors.”

Darden said Cherokee started Industrial Heat because the investment firm believed that LENR technology was worth pursuing. “We were willing to be wrong. We were willing to invest time and resources to see if this might be an area of useful research in our quest to eliminate pollution,” he said.

In the meantime, Industrial Heat and Leonardo have had a falling out, and both are now suing each other in court over violations of their agreement. Rossi would have received a total of $100 million if a yearlong test of his 1-MW system was successful. Rossi says he completed the test, but Industrial Heat disagrees and has expressed concerns that the device doesn’t work.

George Washington’s Nagel says that Rossi’s E-Cat brought a groundswell of hope to the LENR field. Nagel told C&EN in 2012 that he didn’t think Rossi was a fraud, “but I do not like some of his approaches to testing.” Nagel thought Rossi should have been more thorough and transparent. Yet, at the time, Nagel also said he thought LENR devices would be offered for sale by 2013.

Rossi continues his research and has announced development of other prototypes. But he gives away few details about what he is doing. Rossi tells C&EN that the industrial 1-MW plants are in construction already and he has obtained the “necessary certifications” for selling the systems. The household devices are still waiting for safety certification, he notes.

Credit: Courtesy of Melvin Miles
In July, Miles used his kitchen as lab space to run an experiment similar to the original Fleischmann-Pons experiment. In the setup shown, which includes a palladium wire cathode in deuterated water and potassium nitrate solution nested inside a homemade copper calorimeter, all sitting in a constant-temperature water bath (Walmart-purchased aquarium at left), Miles observed excess heat generated that is associated with deuterium fusion.

Nagel says now that the excitement from Rossi’s initial announcement has died down, the LENR status quo has returned. The likely availability of commercial LENR generators is now at least a few years away, Nagel says. Even if a device clears the hurdles of reproducibility and usefulness, he adds, its developers face an uphill battle of regulatory approval and customer acceptance.

But Nagel remains optimistic. “LENR might be commercialized well ahead of its understanding, as were X-rays,” he says. For that reason, Nagel has just outfitted a lab at George Washington to start a new line of nickel-hydrogen experiments.

Scientific legacies

Many of the researchers who continue to work on LENR are accomplished scientists and are now retired. It hasn’t been easy for them because, for years, their papers have been returned unreviewed from mainstream journals and their abstracts for talks at scientific conferences have tended to go unaccepted. They are becoming more anxious about the status of the field because they are running out of time—whether to secure their legacy in scientific history if LENR proves correct or just to have peace of mind in knowing their instincts haven’t failed them.

“It was unfortunate that cold fusion was initially publicized in 1989 as a new fusion energy source instead of simply as a new scientific curiosity,” says electrochemist Melvin H. Miles. “Perhaps research could then have proceeded normally with more careful and accurate studies of the many variables involved.”

A retired researcher at the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, Calif., Miles at times collaborated with Fleisch­mann, who died in 2012. Miles says he thinks Fleisch­mann and Pons were right all along. Yet, even today he doesn’t know how a commercial energy source could be constructed for the palladium-deuterium system, despite his many experiments that have produced significant excess heat correlated with helium production.

“Why would anyone have continued research or scientific interest after 27 years on any topic that was reported to be a mistake?” Miles asks. “I am convinced that cold fusion will eventually be recognized as another important discovery that was very slow to gain acceptance, and a new theoretical framework will emerge to explain the experimental results.”

Nuclear physicist Ludwik Kowalski, an emeritus professor at Montclair State University, agrees cold fusion got off to the wrong start. “I am old enough to remember the effect the initial announcement had on the scientific community, and on the general public,” Kowalski says. At times, he collaborated with LENR researchers, “but my three attempts to validate the sensational claims yielded only negative results.”

Kowalski thinks the social stigma against the research created as part of the initial fallout developed into a bigger problem, one that is unbecoming to the scientific method. Whether or not the claims of LENR researchers are valid, Kowalski believes a clear yes or no answer is still worth seeking. But it will not be found as long as cold fusion researchers “are treated as cranks and pseudoscientists,” Kowalski says. “No progress is possible, and no one benefits from not publishing results of honest investigations and not independently testing them in other laboratories.”

Time will tell

Even if Kowalski gets a yes to his question and LENR researcher claims are validated, the path to commercialization is fraught with challenges. Not all start-up companies, even ones with sound technology, are successful for reasons that are not scientific in nature: capitalization, cash flow, cost, manufacturing, insurance, and competitive energy pricing, to name a few.

A clear yes or no answer is still worth seeking. But it will not be found as long as cold fusion researchers “are treated as cranks and pseudoscientists.”

Ludwik Kowalski, emeritus professor, Montclair State University

For example, consider Sun Catalytix. The company spun off from MIT is one example of a start-up built on strong science that fell victim to commercial pressures before it hit its stride. The company was created to commercialize an artificial photosynthesis process developed by chemist Daniel G. Nocera, now at Harvard, to economically and efficiently convert water into hydrogen fuel with sunlight and inexpensive catalysts.

Nocera envisioned that hydrogen generated in this way could power a simple fuel cell to provide energy to homes and villages in poor regions of the world without access to a power grid, making modern conveniences available and improving quality of life. But the process needed significantly more capital and more time to develop than the company initially thought. After four years, Sun Catalytix abandoned its commercialization effort, turned to making flow batteries, and then was bought in 2014 by Lockheed Martin. Sun Catalytix no longer exists.

It’s unclear whether the companies pursuing LENR and related technologies have stuttered primarily because of similar business hurdles. For example, Wilk, the organic chemist who has been following Mills’s progress, is becoming a little bit obsessed trying to sort out if BLP’s commercialization efforts are based on something real or make-believe. He simply wants to know, does the hydrino exist?

In 2014, Wilk asked Mills if he had ever isolated hydrinos, and although Mills had previously written in research papers and patents that he had, Mills replied that he hadn’t and that it would be “a really, really huge task.” But Wilk doesn’t see it that way. If the process generates liters of hydrino gas as he has calculated, it should be obvious. “Show us the hydrino!” Wilk pleads.

Wilk says Mills’s world, and by extension the world of others involved in LENR, reminds him of one of Zeno’s paradoxes, which suggests that motion is an illusion. “Every year they make up half the remaining distance to commercialization, but will they ever get there?” Wilk can think of four possible explanations for BLP: Mills’s science is actually right, it’s a complete fraud, it’s just simply bad science, or it’s what Chemistry Nobel Laureate Irving Langmuir called pathological science.

Langmuir coined the term more than 50 years ago to describe a psychological process in which scientists unconsciously veer away from the scientific method and become so engrossed in what they are doing they develop an inability to be objective and see what is real and not real. Pathological science is “the science of things that aren’t so,” Langmuir said. In some cases, it is embodied in areas of research like cold fusion/LENR that simply will not go away, even when given up on as false by a majority of scientists.

“I hope they’re right,” Wilk says about Mills and BLP. “I really do. I’m not out to debunk them, just to get at the truth.” For the sake of the argument—“if pigs could fly,” as Wilk puts it, he says he’ll accept their data, their theory, and other predictions that can be derived from them. But he has never been a true believer. “I think if hydrinos existed, they would have been detected by others in laboratories or in nature years ago and would be used by now.”

All the discussions about cold fusion and LENR end that way: They always come back to the fact that no one has a commercial device on the market yet, and none of the prototypes seem workable on a commercial scale in the near future. Time will be the ultimate arbiter.  



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Tom Parsons (November 7, 2016 6:10 AM)
Nice article! Unfortunately you associate Mills and the hydrino to cold fusion but the energy is chemical in nature and not nuclear. If you had done a little research you would have known this.
Gregory Smith (November 7, 2016 9:43 AM)
Good Grief. Surprised and disappointed you are even covering this.

The one thing Mills is unarguably good at is finding optimistic investors.

For anyone still tempted to invest in this... If someone has already spent $100 million over 25 years with no net effect other than increasing their own bank account, why would you want to trust them with more money?
MoreMoneyThanSense (November 7, 2016 1:41 PM)
It's not mentioned in the article, but Mills recently demonstrated a working prototype that not only produces 2MW (over 500x input power) fueled by ordinary hydrogen, but, astonishingly, even self-sustains a plasma in the absence of an ignition current. Plasmas in the absence of a source of charged particles has never been shown terrestrially. Maybe those investors know something you don't?
Kahuna (November 8, 2016 1:51 PM)
A slight correction. Mills has not demonstrated the 2MW of power from the yet, that is only the expectation for the SunCell design and theoretically will happen within the next few months. The plasma part of your statement appears correct however, and it would seem to be the most difficult part of the job IMO. When the SunCell can "close the loop" with no external power source and produce prodigious energy for extended periods, I suspect many more folks will pay attention to Mills and BrLP.
Mary Yugo (November 9, 2016 12:41 PM)
Not "when"... IF. And based on Mills' history, it seems exceedingly unlikely.
MoreMoneyThanSense (November 11, 2016 9:02 AM)
Well-meaning people can disagree on whether the 2MW was "proven". Four independent experts representing top research universities have separately concluded via differential water bath calorimetry that up to 2MW of power was being generated at over 500x gain. I personally communicated with many of them. Dr. Mills described the glove box continually alarming due to the inability to vent the excess heat being generated. We also have evidence of thick tungsten electrodes and solid molybdenum liners being wrecked in seconds. I spoke to a lab tech who experienced these effects. So yes - I think we do have evidence of unprecedented power being created.
Becktemba (November 7, 2016 6:25 PM)
Money talks, B.S. walks. Keep on walking.
Russ Nelson (December 26, 2016 9:33 PM)
Many businesses based on working technology will fail. A failure to make money is not a failure of the technology.
Steve Katinsky - LENRIA (December 1, 2016 5:21 AM)
Some efforts require more than $100M to develop. Also, time is often a function of money.

A mere $200 million towards LENR since inception is a drop in the bucket in relative terms. Many single satellites, individual drugs, navy ships, bridges and tunnels, and single buildings utilize far, far more resources than this. Many of them more than an order of magnitude more, and some nearly two orders of magnitude greater.

These mundane examples return many orders of magnitude less economic return than the possibility if LENR were developed to become a useful energy contributor.

A quick though experiment to put things into perspective Let's estimate the value of future LENR energy in today's terms. We can justifiably assign a value of $2 trillion a year once it were mature. Also, let's be very conservative an apply a total value of future LENR energy for our purposes to be calculated over a short 10 year period. This short value period can offset and mitigate any disagreement over other probabilities we are about to assume below. We shall also ignore the economic value of positive environmental impacts on this exercise that may be incalculable.

The above assumptions provide us with a total value of $20 trillion for LENR energy for our exercise.

Let's now assign some placeholder probabilities for our thought experiment. This is arbitrary, but none-the-less an effort has been made to be conservative to balance the beliefs of those within and outside of the field.

For the probability that the large but diffuse body of LENR research has in fact observed excess heat beyond that can be explained by chemical energy, we shall assign 20%. Many think the evidence is incontrovertible, while others that it is pathological science.

Then, let's say the if observations of excess heat are found to have been true, the second order probability that the science can lead to a useful and meaningful source of energy generation is 10%.

For the purposes of our thought experiment, then let's ask under the aforementioned conditions, what amount of investment is warranted from an economic standpoint, or from a alternate perspective, how much would a prudent gambler bet on LENR research?

It is a simple calculation that shall be left to the reader. However, $200 million might be seen as an irresponsible and reckless response. Stunningly so.

Our future activity and investment of resources in this realm must be proceeded by the idea that we are willing to be wrong. Once we get past this hurdle, the numbers can be our compass absent any other agreement or collective intellectual commitment.

End though experiment.
Bernhard Piwczyk (December 27, 2016 4:23 PM)
I applaud the carefully thought out thought experiment By Steve Katinsky ! - It is pure logic and common sense given the situation in the World. - I have been studying LENR for two yeas and followed it off and on ever since F and P.- It is imperative that we unconfuse the situation and focus on one preferred system to demonstrate the existence of LENR so we can all agree and proceed with proper funding by uniting as many of our experts. The World condition is so desperate at this time that only LENR may save us from impending disaster. We must listen to S. Hawkins recent plea to cooperate and not get lost in silly argument over minutia.
Kirk Shanahan (November 7, 2016 10:53 AM)
David Nagel’s comment “LENR is real…” is misleading. Non-nuclear explanations exist for all but a few of the observations made by cold fusion (CF) researchers. Of course, those explanations negate the likelihood of ‘saving the world’, and the knee-jerk response of the CF community is to reject them out-of-hand. In fact, a group of 10 prominent authors recently responded[1] to my critique of CF[2] by using a ‘strawman’ argument, i.e., they misstated my arguments and then ‘proved’ that ‘my’ argument was wrong. It is that kind of response and the adoption of such obviously flawed arguments that easily characterizes the bulk of the CF research as ‘pathological’.

[1] J. Marwan, M. C. H. McKubre, F. L. Tanzella, P. L. Hagelstein, M. H. Miles, M. R. Swartz, Edmund Storms, Y. Iwamura, P. A. Mosier-Boss and L. P. G. Forsleyi , “A new look at low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR) research: a response to Shanahan”, J. Environ. Monit., 2010,12, 1765-1770
[2] Kirk L. Shanahan, ‘Comments on ‘‘A new look at low-energy nuclear reaction research’’ ‘, J. Environ. Monit., 2010, 12, 1756–1764
Christopher Calder (November 7, 2016 11:51 AM)
Both Mitsubishi and Toyota have reported experimental success in transmuting one element into another. Excess heat may be difficult to measure. Transmutation of elements requires fusion by definition, and is pretty solid evidence something has happened. That said, we all need a working product that makes useful amounts of energy to feel confident that LENR can work for us in a productive way. The world does not need small amounts of energy from small lab experiments. The world needs vast amounts of energy that can be delivered 24-7-365 on demand. I think the mathematical odds suggest that there is something very real going on, but we do not know yet if it will ever be anything of value. Accurately measured lab experiments trump old theory. If you feel that only experimental results that can be explained by old theories are correct, then how can new and better theories ever be born? It's called "progress".
Kirk Shanahan (November 8, 2016 8:59 AM)
Heavy metal transmutation claims are not well supported. Basically, 'transmutation' products can be found as contaminants in the starting materials, materials typically in use in the laboratory, or just flat out contamination from spilled chemicals. There is a Web site that deals with this in a pro-cold fusion-biased fashion at See the article and references on David Kidwell's work. I also made some direct comments in the paper I mentioned before:
Kirk L. Shanahan, ‘Comments on ‘‘A new look at low-energy nuclear reaction research’’ ‘, J. Environ. Monit., 2010, 12, 1756–1764
Christopher Calder (November 8, 2016 12:52 PM)
You charge contamination, but with no proof or evidence of any kind. You criticise others who have done real work because you say their evidence is not good enough. Then you make a baseless charge with no evidence at all. Why should we believe you? It is easy to criticise, but difficult to do real work that creates new science.
Kirk Shanahan (November 8, 2016 3:10 PM)
No Chris, I suggest contamination to explain the evidence they
present, which I essentially believe but believe is
misinterpreted. Contamination is the 'go-to' explanation for unusual elements showing up in one's sample. When it was first reported that a Pd-CaO thin film structure 'transmuted' into other elements, the fist thing I did was find on-line a Certificate of Analysis and look at it. Amazingly enough, one of the primary contaminants was what was being observed. Likewise, another claimed transmutation (producing Mo I think) was challenged by the Toyota group I believe as a peak mis-identification of sulfur. Interestingly the analytical technique employed uses ultrahigh vacuum technology, which requires high T bakeouts, which in turn require the use of thread lubricants such as MoS2 to prevent galling. And then we have 'wild' Pr in the lab where the samples were made. And yes, the researcher there claimed cross-contamination couldn't have happened, but we chemists know better. 'They' on the other hand, forego the normal explanation and instead suggest a new, ground-breaking nuclear reaction(s) to explain the appearance. And I agree, it is difficult to do real science, but I also like the Feynman quote about the easiest person to fool being yourself.
Robert Godes (November 8, 2016 1:35 PM)
I agree with Christopher Calder. Further you ignore incredibly strong evidence from world class researchers like John Bockris, who came out squeaky clean after numerous attempts to discredit his experiments that produced tritium. Tritium can only be produced by a nuclear reaction. 1 vindicating piece of evidence was the fact that John proved that Trina levels decayed much faster than the natural half-life of tritium in cells that were active. With a half-life of approximately 12 years there was no evidence a reduction in tritium of cells that have not shown activity before the test. Kirk, you should really stick to plain chemistry.
Kirk Shanahan (November 9, 2016 10:49 AM)
This would be the Robert Godes of Brillouin Energy Corp.?

“… ignore incredibly strong evidence from world class researchers like John Bockris, who came out squeaky clean after numerous attempts to discredit his experiments that produced tritium.”
Squeaky clean? Well, not really. I think you refer to the brouhaha that Taubes fostered which I discount. There are several problems in that arena. Probably not space here to discuss adequately.

But Bockris did claim to do heavy metal transmutation in carbon arcs under D2O. I loved the result from Bhabba though, where they replicated him, then added a dust cover and cut their yield in half.

“1 vindicating piece of evidence was the fact that John proved that Trina levels decayed much faster than the natural half-life of tritium in cells that were active. With a half-life of approximately 12 years there was no evidence a reduction in tritium of cells that have not shown activity before the test. “ I assume ‘trina’ is supposed to be 'tritium' and not 'Toyota Research in North America'. Again, lots of problems with what you suggest, not enough space here.

“Kirk, you should really stick to plain chemistry.” Thanks for the advice, I shall do so. Probably much better than sticking to LENR…
Mary Yugo (November 7, 2016 12:33 PM)
When considering Andrea Rossi's claims, please be sure to read his extensive criminal history in Italy best summarized by Steven Krivit here: and carefully detailed on his web site with extensive citations from Italian news sources of the period. Search "Krivit Rossi Criminal" in Google (no quotes).

There are innumerable other reasons not to believe any of what Rossi says, including major deficiencies in each and every test of his claims, performed by Levi, Lewan, and a group of Swedish scientists. The main issue with the tests is a woeful lack of proper calibration and a complete lack of independent replication.

Rossi is also a prolific liar, making claims on his blog (JONP) of robotic factories, mysterious anonymous military customers and dozens of sales of megawatt devices starting in November 2011, none of which have ever been heard from since.

Whatever you think about LENR and cold fusion, Rossi is a clear case of deception as was Defkalion, a company which tried to steal Rossi's non-existent technology, which lied to investors, and which disappeared without a trace about two years ago. No investor money was ever recovered in the Defkalion case.

As for Mills, he has been making the same grandiose claims for more than 20 years including claims that industrialization was within 2 years made repeatedly more than two decades ago. He has never had proper and complete independent replication. His current experiments seem to involve the dumping of huge amounts of electrical power into a small volume. Of course it makes a bright flash!

People need to be skeptical and require properly performed and carefully calibrated fully independent testing before giving people like Rossi, Hadjichristos and Xanthoulis (Defkalion), and Mills millions of dollars! So far, many have been gullible and undiscriminating about what constitutes adequate due diligence for investments. In my opinion anyway.

Ed Wall (November 8, 2016 11:32 AM)
Mary, you are right about Rossi. There is generally a small group of people with scientific backgrounds who are willing to give anything the benefit of the doubt, at least at first, even a criminal like Rossi. I've seen plenty of fraud in the "new energy" field, too. Krivit is to be commended for revealing it and other fraud, which is a thankless job, bringing much needed accountability to this stuff.

You are wrong about Mills. He has not been making the same grandiose claims for 20 years. He made the reasonable assumption that if scientists objectively studied his theory, and the evidence that supported it, the projections he made would be realized. Instead, he has been lumped in with people like Rossi and those scientists who have no actual theory to guide their experimental design. He has progressed through experiments that consistently showed excess heat and anomalous spectroscopic data, which match his theoretical predictions. What you call "huge amounts of electrical power" is in the range of 10 kW, producing output light power measured in the MW range. This is not a carnival sideshow.

I had the same skepticism toward Mills and his GUTCP I had held for years, until I read Holverstott's stuff:
Particularly his recent book. 'Randell Mills and the Search for Hydrino Energy' It might be the best $8 you spend this year.
Mary Yugo (November 9, 2016 12:45 PM)
Of course, the issue is not power but energy, a common error among free energy crooks. I think this is indeed a carnival side show and a profitable one for Mills. And excess heat claims are often simply the result of bad measurements.

Let me know when the device can be disconnected from power for extended periods. And let someone independent of Mills inspect the equipment and set up. There are lots of ways to cheat in those types of demos.
Ed Wall (November 15, 2016 1:41 PM)
The cynical 'let me know when I can get one at WalMart, then I'll believe it' negates the whole impetus for curiosity. If Mills produces a unit running "closed loop", critics can simply say it is fake. Maybe power is beamed in by a maser, or the system overlords are messing with our heads. If he gets 10 PhDs to sign affidavits attesting to the validity of the test, critics can say they were bought off with favors on Jeffrey Epstein's famous island. No facts required.

Did you even look at Holverstott's accountability link (above)? Have you even read the introductory sections for the GUTCP? Have you even studied chemistry or physics? If you are just trying to save people from their own gullibility, your work is like pushing on the tide.

I worked for Eugene Mallove for 2 years. I have a BSEE. I designed and built many calorimeters and ran many experiments with them. Although my first calorimeter was to investigate Mills' claims, the only thing I accomplished with it was to learn how difficult calorimetry tends to be. I also worked with Krivit.

I considered Mills to be a medical student who wandered too far from school. His lack of a degree in physics made me think he was way off track, particularly in condemning quantum mechanics. I certainly no longer see things that way. I underestimated his intellect several times, and I do not intend to do that again.
Mary Yugo (November 28, 2016 1:19 PM)
Let me know when Mills has a truly independent test by a renown commercial test lab like UL or CR or a government lab like Sandia or ORNL.

Until then, remember that he has been making the identical claims to marketability for more than twenty years without a shred of production. His current demo consists of dumping kilowatts into a tiny volume of fluid for short periods. Of course it causes a bright flash! That does not mean he produces energy from the claimed reaction. Show me proper calorimetry done by someone highly reputable and completely independent of Mills... and published in a main line peer reviewed journal, please.
sam north (November 11, 2016 5:34 PM)
Steve Krivit was invited to
Italy to see Rossi work.
He managed to get himself
kicked out of A.R. lab after
one day.
Not too bright when he had
a chance to do a better
investigation of A.R. work.
Barbara Emerson Ph.D. (November 15, 2016 10:30 AM)
In 1995, Dr. Robert Park, then the spokesperson for the American Physical Society, gave a talk and explained that "when a charlatan is exposed, the outrage of his victims is most frequently aimed at the one who strips away the mask."

In the case of Steven Krivit's 2011 investigation of Andrea Rossi, Krivit went to Bologna, interviewed Levi, Focardi and Rossi. Krivit filmed Rossi's E-Cat in "action" and revealed the piddly amounts of steam trickling out of the black hose. (This was after Krivit made three requests for Rossi to pull the hose out of the wall.)

Krivit interviewed Rossi at the end of his second day there. But until Krivit began to publish the results of his investigation, Rossi was all warm and cheery with him. The videotaped interview concludes with Krivit asking "Any final comments you'd like to make?" Rossi responds "Well, my final comment is that you made a very good job. Very, very highly professional. Congratulations."

Links to the transcript and video tapes are here

Krivit left Rossi on good terms. A day later, Krivit published that video on YouTube for all to see the plain truth: Rossi's E-Cat was a hoax. Predictably, Rossi's attacks on the messenger began. Krivit has done the LENR field a tremendous service by exposing this nonsense.
Steve Ritter (November 16, 2016 2:39 PM)
Steven Krivit tells C&EN: I was scheduled weeks in advance to be in Rossi's garage for two days. I was there for two days. I did not need more than two days to do my investigation. I did not get kicked out of Rossi's garage. I left when I was done, a few hours in advance of my scheduled train. I left on good terms with Rossi. At the end of my last interview, on the second day, Rossi thanked me for doing a very good and professional job.
Christopher Calder (November 9, 2016 3:29 PM)
Mary Yugo,

You make some very valid points, and there is no doubt that Andrea Rossi has a history of lying about his work, but then again so did architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who did accomplish a few positive things despite his growing Pinocchio noise. I have never trusted what Rossi has said himself, but look at the odds of him fooling so many hands-on helpers and fellow scientists he sought for advice. Scientist Sergio Focardi was a wonderful and honest man who went to his grave stating that Rossi's device was real and had a actual top limit COP of 200. He made those statements because of experiments he conducted himself, not just because of what Rossi told him. What has happened with Rossi could mean that the entire E-Cat phenomena is a fraud, or it could mean that Rossi is withholding key informations from Industrial Heat to avoid Industrial Heat handing over his industrial secrets to his competitors. After his break up with Defkalion, you could understand that fear. You may turn out to be 100% correct, but at this point in time I do not think we can say that fore sure.
Barbara Emerson Ph.D. (November 16, 2016 10:06 AM)
There is no evidence that Sergio Focardi did those experiments himself. When Krivit interviewed Focardi, and asked him what his contribution had been to Rossi's work, he replied (translated from Italian) "I think the most important thing has been about the security. I always made recommendations to Rossi about the problem of neutrons." But what about the basics, Boyle's law?

Videos and photos of their early cells reveal that they were not instrumented with temperature or pressure sensors inside the chamber. Can you imagine a qualified scientist or engineer heating up a sealed metal vessel by several hundred degrees without such safety precautions? Rossi's own words about Forcardi, from Krivit's interview with Focardi: "I must emphasize that he does not know how the reactor is built..." Can you imagine a qualified scientist operating an experiment for which he had no knowledge about its construction?

No, the elderly and ailing Focardi did not do those experiments himself. He went along for the ride, for the fame and to satisfy his pride. Rossi manipulated him, as the video shows, answering questions for Focardi (who was fluent in English), and putting words in his mouth. It's called credibility by association and Rossi knew exactly what he was doing.
Eric Hermanson (November 7, 2016 12:41 PM)
I'm a 4-year student of Mills' theory. It is well thought out, derived from first principles, and most importantly Brilliant Light's experimental data, which has been validated by Bucknell U, Rowan U, and University of North Carolina, matched what's predicted in the theory. Mills' theory is correct, and the SunCell works. It's not their fault it took so long; changing the world isn't easy.
Kirk Shanahan (November 8, 2016 8:38 AM)
Well, I am not a student of Mills, but I do know Mills has used calorimetric methods to bolster his claims in the past. However he makes the same mistakes the classic cold fusion people do, so I have very little. Doesn't give me a lot of confidence in him.
Kirk Shanahan (November 8, 2016 2:58 PM)
Ummm...last part should read...
"so I have very little confidence in him"

I need to do a better proofreading job before hitting "Submit"
robert carlson (November 17, 2016 9:18 PM)
if there were a lower energy version of hydrogen it would show up in the emission lines of stars or hydrogen gas clouds, but all emission lines have been accounted for, and no hydrino appears. mills racket reminds me of the spin bomb where you could pack a nuke into a hand grenade size device that explodes when all the uranium inside reverts to a homogenized spin state.this hoax also collected millions in funding from the DOD no less. strangely muon initiated cold fusion is possible but you need a source of muons that is energeticaly expensive so the result is moot.
Mike Lynch (November 7, 2016 2:51 PM)
I liked this piece, but you could have included more about the history of Mills' efforts. See my piece
Bing (November 7, 2016 4:24 PM)
"BLP is currently testing a device called the SunCell in which hydrogen (from splitting water) and an oxide catalyst are introduced into a spherical carbon reactor along with dual streams of molten silver. An electric current applied to the silver ignites a hydrino-forming plasma reaction. Energy from the reaction is then trapped by the carbon, which acts as a “blackbody radiator.” When the carbon heats up to thousands of degrees, it reemits the energy as visible light that is captured by photovoltaic cells, which convert the light to electricity."
Sounds obsurd. If there are heat generated, why not simply heating up water to generate steam, which in turn powers a steam turbine? What kind of efficiencies to convert heat to light and then from light to electricity?
Francis Stillman (November 8, 2016 10:18 AM)
I believe the idea is to eliminate as many moving parts as possible thereby increasing the longevity of the device. The efficiency with CPV cells can get into the 30- 40% range. What is the best one can achieve with a spinning turbine and generator? Besides, when the input (water vapor) is basically free, who really cares about efficiency?
Kahuna (November 8, 2016 2:08 PM)
You obviously have not any research into the SunCell at all. Your question has been asked and answered many times and with good logic given the questionable assumptions of Mill's theories being right. Its probably worth the time to do a little research before commenting on relative Carnot Cycle vs. CPV power generation efficiencies in this application.
Kyle (November 8, 2016 8:47 PM)
What kind of efficiencies do you get from heating up water, then using the pressure to turn a gigantic turbine, which drives a generator for electricity.

The way Mills is doing it requires no moving parts and no pressurized steam, and no gigantic turbine and generator.

The way Mills is doing it is as efficient as the solar panels are, and those are increasing in efficiency all the time, i mean you could use a pressurized co2 turbine which is way more efficient and smaller than a typical turbine but its still much larger and more complex and more expensive than just turning the thing into a giant lightbulb and using non moving parts and panels.

When they start getting the 10,000 suns intensity capability solar panels with multiple junctions and reflect any light that escapes back into the blackbody radiator, again all with non moving parts, then we're laughing. Goodbye turbines.
kyle (November 8, 2016 8:54 PM)
And its not just heat to light...the reaction creates heat AND mostly uv and ultra uv light, which is absorbed by the graphite radiator, which becomes hot. When it reaches blackbody temperatures and becomes incandescent it releases 5million watts per square meter in light energy (depending on temp. and emmissivity (Sp?))

You're saying to at that point , heat water, drive turbine to drive generator, pump back to radiator to heat it up again...

Well the radiator is off instead of all that previous stuff why not just surround it in pv? done.
Andrew Moore (November 7, 2016 5:54 PM)
Dr Randal Mill's Brilliant Light Power isn't producing hard to measure anomalous heat it's producing millions of watts and has contracts with significant engineering companies to produce a commercial product as well as multiple third party validation. It's also nothing to do with cold fusion other than the very detailed theory produced by Dr Randall Mills can explain this phenomena.
Dr. Melvin H. Miles (November 7, 2016 9:51 PM)
Despite the title of this article, cold fusion never died for those who found experimental evidence in their experiments. Various critics tried to initially kill this field with their faulty experiments and unscientific ridicule. For a review of experimental results on the palladium-deuterium system, see the chapter on cold fusion in the recent Wiley book: "Developments In Electrochemistry: Science Inspired By Martin Fleischmann", Editors Derek Pletcher, Zhong-Qun Tian and David Williams, ISBN: 9781118694435, 2014, pp.245-260.
Dr. Melvin H. Miles
Kirk Shanahan (November 8, 2016 9:28 AM)
Classic cold fusion certainly did not die as Dr. Miles has correctly stated. What did happen is it went 'underground' so to speak. Cold fusion researchers primarily stay within their self-defined community, holding their own conferences (they just had the 20th International Conference on Cold Fusion,, publishing their own journal (J. of Condensed Matter Nuclear Science,, forming their own scholarly society (, and so forth. However, their participation in what would be called 'mainstream' science is minimal, and often fraught with errors (see esp. the references I made in my earlier comments). Their biggest problem is the apparent requirement that "it must be nuclear" to be considered valid by them. This adversely polarizes their behavior and fosters an "us vs. them" attitude, which they then reflect back. To be fair, the 'mainstream' does the same to them. What has been lost was the stance of "they probably found something, but it likely isn't what they claim" that I found prevalent back in 1989/90. For the record, my first paper in this field delineates what I think is the alternate explanation. Unfortunately, if I am right, it isn't going to 'save the world', or even win a Nobel prize...

Shanahan, "A systematic error in mass flow calorimetry demonstrated", Thermochimica Acta, 387 (2002) 95
Joseph M. Fine (November 7, 2016 9:57 PM)

Another possible explanations of the excess Heat produced by LENR, including Heat Generation within the Earth and a potential stucture of dark matter are the postulated composite particles - known as Tresinos - that were proposed by Dr. Frederick Mayer and the late Dr. John Reitz.

These are not electrons in lower orbits of a Hydrogen or Helium atom, such as the Hydrinos of Dr. Mills, but stable combinations of electrons and protons orbiting each other. It is extremely fortuitous that electrons don't randomly collide into protons and, poof, turn into neutrons - or the Universe, this magazine and your readers would never have come into existence. Rather, several of these electrons and protons can clump together into neutral or charged clusters and turn into charged Tresinos (when composed of three particles) or neutral Quattrinos (when composed of 4 particles). Due to the small size of this comment box, I'm constrained to leave several links. Thank you for your effort at reporting this story.

Dr. Friedrich Menges (November 8, 2016 3:26 PM)
Whether you think Mills is right on Hydrinos or a total crackpot, there is a new book covering Mills' story and also giving a long list of (published) papers, artcless and books. It's from author Brett Holverstott and simply called "Randell Mills and the Search for Hydrino Energy". Certainly worth a read and you might be better positioned to make up your mind about all this afterwards...
carl page (November 8, 2016 8:36 PM)
Good article, on an important topic. If LENR can be made to work reliably it has big economic consequences. Because there is heat release beyond chemical, yet no controlled materials or dangerous radioactive waste or radiation.

The LENR field in some ways is a battle between chemists and physicists, or between experimentalists and theoreticians. Excess heat is readily observable. The radiation is one million times below fusion. (See best quantitative study on LENR from Miles, China Lake.)

Unfortunately this story concentrated way too much time on the most flamboyant and less scientific researchers. Randy Mills and Andre Rossi are both characters I try to not spend too much time studying as I evaluate the field because of the quality of their measurements and the lack of serious 3dr party evaluation let alone replication.

There are plenty of patient researchers with solid data, who invite replications, and have been replicated. for example. Solid repeatable results. Scientifically measured. Investor engineers invited to make their own measurments. SRI engaged to make their own independent measurements. And even independent replication by a guy at Los Alamos who simply read their patent and used it to make tritium. (A better tuned reactor doesn't accumulate tritium because it should be used up in the next step.)

Other respectable solid companies include Lattice Energy (Lewis Larsen) and Mitchel Schwartz who makes the NANOR demo device which has been repeatedly demonstrated at MIT in the Cold-Fusion 101 not-for-credit course Peter Hagelstien offers. (A theoretician with the Spin Boson Polarity with Losses explanation of LENR.)
Nobody at MIT has ever been able to find a problem with the measurements in that nearly ideally simple NANOR device.

NASA does claim that LENR work is at "Technical Readiness Level 4" which means real, but not commercialized. So they are busy writing papers on how to use it for airplanes and space travel. And all the aerospace companies have research teams, though many of them are in stealth, unlike Airbus and sometimes Lockheed.

This field has many sociological and political obstacles. When it isn't dismissed as pseudoscience, it is besieged by high expectations and competitive fears. Recently at ICCF20 in Sendai Japan, neither Russian nor Chinese researchers showed up. Russian participants had their visas pulled by their government. Chinese researchers were welcomed instead to a Chinese Satellite Symposium in their own country.
Paul Maher (November 9, 2016 12:04 AM)
The one outfit that you omitted is Brillouin Energy. It is interesting to note that the founder of Red Women of All Nations and spokeswoman for the Standing Rock Sioux has aligned her First Nation Tribe with the "Green Heat", the gift from "Mother Earth" that the two Roberts at Brillouin have developed. Do not dismiss Phyllis Young, she may be channeling Mother Earth, or a pretty endearing spokeswoman at any rate.
Several pieces on you tube. Here's a pretty good one.

May The Weak Force Be With Us ALL,
Dr David J.Fisher (November 9, 2016 11:45 AM)
Why not leave it to the community of physicists to decide? There is a long history of those (chemists, electrical engineers) who have been taught physics only on a 'need-to-know' basis coming to ridiculous conclusions because they are unaware of the vast variety of phenomena that may be producing 'anomalous' results. It is also a common observation that an inventor who has a 'perpetual motion' machine, also has an anti-gravity machine in his workshop. Guess who has applied for a patent on (what amounts to) an anti-gravity machine.
Kirk Shanahan (November 11, 2016 8:15 AM)
That might be fine if they learn chemistry. After all, if it isn't fusion, but shows systematic trends indicating that *something* is going on, then it must be chemistry, right? The physicists missed that from the start. Why not just let the *whole* field of science examine the claims and evidences...I find your arbitrary assigning of competence somewhat disturbing...
Ludwik Kowalski (November 9, 2016 5:46 PM)

We do have institutions, such as NSF, DOE, etc., responsible for spending tax money wisely. Why are we still waiting for a definite "yes no” answer about a NSF, puzzling discovery made 28 years ago?
Edward Wall (November 15, 2016 2:39 PM)
Ludwik, I frequently wonder the same thing. How hard can it be to establish a simple fact that significant anomalous energy exists or not? Thermacore established in many runs of many experiments, including a massive nickel & light water experiment yielding 50W of excess heat, that the claims of Mills had some serious basis. What about the supporting work of Dr. Jonathan Phillips of LANL, who published papers that ended his teaching career at UNM, further establishing the claims of Mills in the spectroscopic data and by finding inverted populations of ions in an Evenson cell? How to explain inverted populations, except with a source of great energy at extremely short wavelengths? How to explain the broadened spectral lines? How to get such powerful extremely short wavelengths generated with microwaves and hydrogen? All of these data are supported by GUTCP, not QM.

Our government institutions may be responsible for spending tax money wisely, but my 23 years working for the federal government would not lead me to expect wisdom to have much influence. Politics is all about expedience, generally opaque. We should all save our cynicism for the next elections, not waste it on Mills.
Kirk Shanahan (November 21, 2016 10:38 AM)
Ludwick, The answer is simple. Those involved in the research will not consider non-nuclear explanations. Funding orgs and outside scientists see this and recognize the pathological nature of the work, and refuse to spend more money and time on it. But the so-called 'true believers' keep on with their work *without incorporating criticisms*, meaning they just produce more of the same inconclusive data and flawed conclusions, which is rightly rejected as 'nothing new'. So the wheels keep spinning (as on ice), and no progress is made.
Kees de Vos (November 14, 2016 1:56 AM)
I might be a mediator and addressing this mostly to Kirk Shanagan. Everyone could be blamed for failing to discover a major mistake in Physics. Just recently I had it confirmed by EricPDollard's youtube movie (I expect everyone to be familiar with) for the first time since 1977 when I discovered it. About everyone wrongly interpretes the repelling electrical forces which have to be explained only by how the fieldlines go (attracting forces). Funny enough you can see in the same video that this "mental \\ visual" misinterpretation again is being twisted towards a "physical reality". Even Mr. Dollard doesn't seem to see the full importance of this anomaly. Repelling exists or does not and the concept once in the math never gets out the system and that includes quantum mechanics. This same problem shows up in the theory of magnetism. It means that you have to consider basics again. If you want to join first consider the fact that what we all are trying to measure and discover intimate details in physical reality without really being conscious of the other fact that every damn electron knows all this before during and after all that has happened at almost any moment.
So I mean to get real serious about this if you want to start understanding what's going on.
Tom Jones (November 16, 2016 1:37 PM)
Having read this story, I looked at the calendar twice--and it turns out today is NOT April 1st. But it certainly feels so...
Meindert Ackermann (November 17, 2016 1:27 PM)
As Steven Krivit points out, there are serious problems with Ritter's article:
Steve Ritter (November 23, 2016 2:01 PM)
Others have commented on Steven Krivit's Internet posting: More discussion of LENR is available at this forum:
Meindert Ackermann (December 4, 2016 1:33 PM)
I've been following Steven Krivit's site for years, and I noticed he has read your link above and replied to it:
Steve Ritter (December 13, 2016 11:32 AM)
Thanks for pointing this out. Steven Krivit offers one viewpoint on this unsettled topic. Additional perspectives about cold fusion/LENR and related topics are found on these public forums (a number of private forums also exist):
Charles Fraser (November 23, 2016 7:24 AM)
Regarding the isolation of Hydrinos:


Mills, He, et al, "Comprehensive identification and potential applications of new states of hydrogen" International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 32 (2007) 2988 – 3009.
Steve Torstveit (November 28, 2016 1:18 PM)
Please read the comments at this link:
wizz33 (November 28, 2016 8:27 PM)
you might also like this
Gregory Goble (December 1, 2016 7:53 AM)
Excellent article… thanks. In a follow-up you might ask Andreas Rathke, the Airbus Defence & Space researcher you interviewed, if he is aware of these three recent Airbus LENR patents, the first one filed has been granted.

'Method and apparatus for continuous production of LENR heat' (Patent granted)

German -

English translation -

'Method and device for generating and for fusing ultra-dense hydrogen'

German -

English translation -

"Material assembly for a fusion reactor and method for producing the same"

German -

English translation -
Abd ulRahman Lomax (December 4, 2016 6:02 PM)
Thanks for this article, which may have stimulated some useful conversation, even though mixing Mills and cold fusion was confusing. I wrote an extended and detailed commentary on the discussion here, at
Steve Ritter (December 7, 2016 7:52 AM)
Abdul: Thanks for taking time out to add your perspective by commenting on the comments at Other discussions about the science and developments noted in the C&EN article are on these forums:
Ciccio bello (December 6, 2016 2:30 PM)
House Armed Services Committee Issues Defense Authorization Report - Title II (RDT&E) (Part 2 of 3)

Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) Briefing

The committee is aware of recent positive developments in developing low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR), which produce ultra-clean, low-cost renewable energy that have strong national security implications. For example, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), if LENR works it will be a "disruptive technology that could revolutionize energy production and storage." The committee is also aware of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) findings that other countries including China and India are moving forward with LENR programs of their own and that Japan has actually created its own investment fund to promote such technology. DIA has also assessed that Japan and Italy are leaders in the field and that Russia, China, Israel, and India are now devoting significant resources to LENR development. To better understand the national security implications of these developments, the committee directs the Secretary of Defense to provide a briefing on the military utility of recent U.S. industrial base LENR advancements to the House Committee on Armed Services by September 22, 2016. This briefing should examine the current state of research in the United States, how that compares to work being done internationally, and an assessment of the type of military applications where this technology could potentially be useful.
Steve Ritter (December 7, 2016 7:41 AM)
The U.S. House Armed Services Committee was required under the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act to hold a briefing (informal session) on LENR. It was specified to occur by Sept. 22 this year. It does not appear that the briefing took place, although it may have and gone unreported; if it did not occur, it is unclear if it will. Information on the requirement is in this report:
Chris Broan (December 6, 2016 4:57 PM)
There is a conceptually straightforward method of determining if LENR is in fact a nuclear fusion process, albeit one that would require a well-funded laboratory to execute: The deuterium-tritium fusion process has a substantially lower energy barrier than deuterium-deuterium fusion, and also produces neutrons with a different energy. Addition of even 0.01% tritium to the system would be expected to yield a measurable increase in heat output & a change in the neutron spectrum.

Of course, the cost of handling the rather radioactive solution, & the cost of disposing of it & the contaminated cell afterwards, means that you would need to be fairly confident the experiment was worth doing, which requires better quality data from the deuterium-only system first...
Quincy (February 28, 2017 12:12 PM)
Anyone claiming 25 years and $100 million of private money is enough for a handful of dedicated people to bring to market some tech based on a revolutionary phenomenon that had no prior scientific indication, please explain how an entire cottage industry mired in conventional theory spends tens of billions (at least) of taxpayer dollars over 60 plus years, hot fusion comes to mind, and accomplishes absolutely nothing? Say what you want about Randell Mills, but make sure you add that he's not asking for any of the taxpayer's money, while many of his detractors are in the continuous business of doing just that.

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment