Volume 95 Issue 6 | p. 3 | Letters
Issue Date: February 6, 2017

More on cold fusion

Department: Letters
Keywords: letters

In contradiction to the recent letter by Steven B. Krivit (C&EN, Nov. 28, 2016, page 3) about the story “Cold fusion lives on” (C&EN, Nov. 7, 2016, page 34), there is ample experimental evidence that helium-4 is the major product resulting from cold fusion experiments. Therefore, deuterium-deuterium nuclear fusion is the likely process.

My experiments in 1990–95 at the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, Calif., showed a strong correlation of the excess heat produced and the measurements of helium-4 in the electrolysis gases. Later experiments at several other laboratories gave similar helium-4 results.

I worked closely with Martin Fleischmann on several cold fusion publications, and he always attributed the excess energy to a deuterium fusion reaction producing helium-4.

Krivit promotes the Widom-Larsen theory and always attacks experimental results which do not conform with his pet theory. This is shades of 1989, when cold fusion was rejected mainly because it did not fit with the nuclear fusion theories of physics. There are presently many competing theories explaining cold fusion. I do not know which theory, if any, is correct, but I like the variable mass theory first proposed in the 1930s (Fock and Stueckelberg) that Mark Davidson claims can explain nearly all the experimental cold fusion effects, including deuterium fusion to form helium-4 (J. Phys. 2015, DOI: 10.1088/1742-6596/615/1/012016).

Melvin H. Miles
Ridgecrest, Calif.

I read with interest the article on cold fusion. I have been following this topic since the Pons and Fleischmann report in 1989.

I was intrigued by the letter by Greg Konesky in the Nov. 28, 2016, issue. In his commentary, Konesky suggests that there may be a role for muons in low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR) effects and suggests that there may be a muon-catalyzed fusion effect, which of course depends on altitude, with a pronounced effect at high altitudes and with a lesser effect (but still an effect, as muons are known to actually penetrate into subterranean spaces) when carried out underground.

Assuming that there is a hypothesis available to explain how muons might have an effect on LENRs, one nice way of proving this would be an experiment on board the space shuttle or the International Space Station—of course, if there were an entity willing to finance this project?

Anthony Burke
Evora, Portugal


Corrections:

Jan. 23, page 26: In the feature story about how thin films helped detect gravitational waves, LMA was referred to as a French specialty coatings firm. It is a specialty coatings research center based at Claud Bernard University Lyon 1 in France.

Jan. 23, page 28: The multipart cover story package on machine learning contained the following errors: The introduction incorrectly stated that GlaxoSmithKline is partnering with a pair of government labs. The firm is partnering with more than two government labs. In the piece on deep learning, Mark Murcko is listed as chief scientific officer of Relay Pharmaceuticals. He is CSO of Relay Therapeutics. In the piece on machine learning, the reaction scheme is credited to Chematica. It should be credited to ChemPlanner.

 
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Comments
Steven B. Krivit (Mon Feb 06 17:31:22 EST 2017)
The bulk of Dr. Miles' letter consists of his opinions about his own work and his opinions of my work. He is entitled to his opinions. He is not, however, entitled to his own facts. For the sake of the historical scientific record, one point deserves correction. A careful examination of the Fleischmann and Pons' preliminary (1989) paper "Electrochemically Induced Nuclear Fusion of Deuterium," and their seminal (1990) paper, "Calorimetry of the Palladium-Deuterium-Heavy Water," reveal that Fleischmann did not "always attribute the excess energy to a deuterium fusion reaction producing helium-4." In fact, neither the word helium-4, nor its symbol 4He appear in either of the papers, not even once.
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax (Mon Feb 06 17:45:10 EST 2017)
Helium was not known to be the reaction product correlating with the anomalous heat until Miles did his research, announced in 1991. Before that, there were only hints of helium, and Pons and Fleischmann decided not to pursue them, because they were already embattled. Helium would not have been mentioned in the two papers Krivit points to because they did not know about Miles' work before those were published. The fact that Krivit reports, no mention of helium in the papers, is true, but does not in any way negate what Miles reported from his personal knowledge of Fleischmann.
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax (Mon Feb 06 18:00:13 EST 2017)
Miles' work on the heat/helium ratio has been extensively confirmed, see http://www.currentscience.ac.in/Volumes/108/04/0574.pdf. Those who would like to see the endless debate come to a resolution may be pleased to know that there is work under way to repeat this with increased precision, as a collaboration between Texas Tech, with Robert Duncan, and ENEA, the Italian alternative energy agency, and that this has been well-funded.

The extant work shows that helium is the only identified product of the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect found at levels commensurate with the measured heat. The ratio is consistent with that which would be produced by deuterium fusion if there were no other product than helium, and if all energy released ends up as heat. However, for many reasons, the reaction is unlikely to be "deuterium-deuterium fusion," but another process that converts deuterium to helium, which must show, by the laws of thermodynamics, the same ratio to heat.

For example, Akito Takahashi has studied multi-body fusion and found that, using quantum field theory, he could predict that two deuterium molecules in a particular physical configuration will collapse into a Bose-Einstein Condensate, followed by fusion to Beryllium-8 through tunneling within a femtosecond, and Be-8 would be then be expected to fission into two helium nuclei, with the energy being kinetic, i.e., heat. However, there are problems with this theory (high energy helions are not seen) and the bottom line is that nobody knows, for sure, what is happening, other than the reality of Miles' comment: deuterium is being converted to helium, mechanism unknown. It's a mystery.
Kirk Shanahan (Tue Feb 07 09:58:24 EST 2017)
Dr. Miles, as well as Steven Krivit and Abd Lomax, continue to make the same
intellectual error by ignoring the fact that a systematic error has been demonstrated
in the calorimetric method. The analysis that demonstrated this showed that
significant apparent excess heat signals can be produced in the absence of any true
excess heat. Thus, the correlation of anything to this supposed excess heat signal
is nothing but an example of serendipitous statistics.

As well, the He signals reported by Dr. Miles were in the single digit parts per
billion range. Considering that the He level in the Earth's atmosphere is roughly
5 ppm, and further that He has been reported several times in lab air at much
higher levels (tens to hundreds of ppm), ppb measurements do not especially inspire
much confidence. It seems likely that a leak could be the cause, if the He
numbers can be believed.

Dr. Miles did report some results where no excess heat was detected and no He was
detected as well. If his data is reduced to binary Heat/He Yes/No form, there might
seem to be a correlation where detecting excess heat would imply He would be detected
as well. However, a non-nuclear mechanism was proposed to produce apparent excess
heat signals, termed the Fleischmann-Pons-Hawkins Effect, which has the potential to
offer an explanation of why a He leak would be expected in the presence of the FPHE.
However, the cold fusion community, which includes Miles, Krivit, and Lomax,
systematically fail to consider non-nuclear explanations of their observations, so
it is unlikely that that option will ever be investigated. This illustrates the
problem of forcing a conclusion onto a set of experiments, which is generally
considered to be an indicator of pathological science.

Of course, the nuclear explanation could be shown to be true if a reproducible set
of experiments demonstrating that could be presented. Unfortunately, we have been
waiting for that since March 23, 1989.

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