Talk:Cold fusion/Storms (2010)

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Please place fact or alleged fact, if believed to be noncontroversial, on the resource page. Please discuss here. --Abd 19:55, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

What did P&F "discover"?[edit]

P&F observed a curious phenomenon which they called "cold fusion" but it remains unsettled whether their observation establishes the existence of the (claimed) phenomenon of cold fusion as a confirmed scientific fact. To say they discovered cold fusion is to assume that which remains to be demonstrated. —Caprice 20:29, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

I see that I placed the wrong link to the review. I've fixed that. Thanks for commenting, Caprice.
That is an abstract, approved by the peer reviewers, and the abstract asserts:
The phenomenon called cold fusion has been studied for the last 21 years since its discovery by Profs. Fleischmann and Pons in 1989. This is an undeniable fact. There is a "phenomenon." The sentence does not state what the phenomenon is, and "cold fusion" is just a name for the phenomenon. While it implies that fusion is involved, the language is careful and does not state that, in this sentence. Controversy is over the cause of the phenomenon. "Experimental error" has gotten quite thin!
P&F did not call the reaction "cold fusion," that was done by the media. At the famous press conference, apparently F did mention "fusion," and later wrote or told an interviewer he regretted that. In the first paper, it was called an "unknown nuclear reaction."
However, the review goes on: The discovery was met with considerable skepticism, but supporting evidence has accumulated, plausible theories have been suggested, and research is continuing in at least eight countries. This statement may indeed be controversial, but it does represent the conclusion of the author, and it is presented in Naturwissenschaften as a Review, on the first content page of that journal for September, AFAIK. The reviewers and the managing editor, who was certainly, from what I've heard, involved in the decision, approved of this. So at least some experts consider that "supporting evidence has accumulated," and that "plausible theories have been suggested," and that "research is continuing" is certainly true. From all the signs I've seen, it is accelerating.
The evidence supports the claim that a nuclear reaction between deuterons to produce helium can occur in special materials without application of high energy. This reaction is found to produce clean energy at potentially useful levels without the harmful byproducts normally associated with a nuclear process. This is the core of the paper. It's indeed a conclusion, but you will note that it does not claim that the reaction is "fusion." Rather, it is what I've more simply called "the conversion of deuterium to helium." Process unknown -- but there are "plausible theories," and, for more detail, none explain all the known phenomena, none are complete enough to predict rate, for example.
Further, the statement is cautious: "The evidence supports the claim." However, the next sentence backs a bit away from the caution, with "is found."
What is being done here is to claim that the peer reviewers at Naturwissenschaften don't know what they are doing. That they would allow a claim like that without, indeed, supporting evidence, is preposterous, for a journal like that.
This is not a Wikipedia article! It is a peer-reviewed secondary source, featured as such. It's making a statement that many might disagree with. I've been watching for critical comment, there has been only (on blogs and the like) which disregards the evidence almost entirely and focuses on the person, Storms. He is a cold fusion researcher, it's noted -- and it's true! -- and, therefore presumed to be biased. But the peer reviewers are not biased, and Springer-Verlag will have egg all over their venerable mainstream face if they allowed a biased review like this to be published, let alone featured as they did this, if the evidence is not reasonably convincing.
The evidence is covered in the paper, of course. --Abd 20:59, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
By the way, the noncontroversial fact placed on the resource page here is that what is quoted is the abstract of the paper, not the conclusions of the author reported in the abstract. --Abd 21:05, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
  • To my mind, it's a sign of possible self-delusion when a provocative label like that is attached to an otherwise inexplicable experimental outcome. It occurs to me that what P&F discovered was that it's foolhardy for anyone claiming to be a scientist to announce a discovery at a press conference when it's not clear what, if anything, has actually been discovered. —Caprice 23:30, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
  • The press conference was forced by the U of Utah for legal reasons, there was an impending announcement, thought to be competing, by w:Steven E. Jones. However, they were quite clear that they had discovered a nuclear reaction, because the energy density they saw was impossible, they believed, for chemical reactions. And they were experts on chemical reactions. They did not know what kind of nuclear reaction, and the paper didn't specify it. The press conference did mention fusion. But "Cold fusion" was not their term. Whatever it was, they knew that it wasn't the standard d-d fusion reaction, that was obvious. They were not ready to announce for entirely different reasons, cells were still unreliable. In any case, it's easy to call the press conference, in hindsight, foolhardy, but that view did not become popular until later, when it looked like, for a short time, that nobody could replicate. And none of this has anything to do with the topic of this resource, which is a paper published in September of this year, 2010. F&P could have been complete boobs and it has no bearing on this resource, because the evidence does not depend on the skill or wisdom of P&F, who represent a tiny percentage of the work done and the papers published. Yet they were basically correct.
  • Please, let's focus on this paper. It's the most authoritative publication in a peer-reviewed journal in many years, probably ever. There are no negative reviews of anything like this depth in the entire history, unless you call Huizenga, which was clearly polemic, in 1993 and 1994 a "review." At some point we might cover Huizenga, he's been, in turn, reviewed, not so favorably, even by at least one skeptic, Hoffman. In the last five years, there are about sixteen positive reviews of the science in mainstream journals, see Cold fusion/Recent sources, none negative, but Storms is deeper than any of them and was published in the journal of the highest reputation. Let's take a look at it. --Abd 02:43, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Why is the phenomenon still being called "cold fusion" in light of the overwhelming skepticism (and lack of compelling evidence) that any of the observed phenomena is nuclear fusion? By calling it cold fusion, the authors buy into the sophomoric fallacy of assuming that which remains to be demonstrated. By labeling an otherwise unexplained experimental outcome "cold fusion" it becomes all too easy to assert there is evidence for cold fusion, when all there really is here, is evidence for unexplained outcomes that some people think might possibly be cold fusion, except that there isn't any viable theory to support that imaginable (dare I say imaginary) explanation. To my mind, what we have here is evidence for delusional beliefs, in which people bamboozle themselves into assuming or believing something that remains to be demonstrated, explained, and replicated in a consistent manner, in accordance with the protocols of the Scientific Method. —Caprice 03:27, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
  • It's called cold fusion because
  • This is the popular term, used in almost all nontechnical sources. I.e., even the skeptics -- especially the skeptics, for years! -- call it "cold fusion."
  • The evidence for "fusion" is compelling. "Fusion" refers to result,' the production of a higher-Z nucleus from lower-Z nuclei, and represents the relationship between fuel and ash. Fusion does not refer to mechanism, per se. If we say "nuclear fusion," we have not specified the reaction itself.
  • Caprice is ignoring the actual evidence presented, and continues to argue (here and in email with me) as if that evidence is absent, when this is quite what the paper takes pains to present. Yes, the title represents that conclusion, but this is not something new. The paper is merely a deeper review of what has been largely known for better than a decade. That many scientists ignored the evidence and continued to believe the premature rejection is not the responsibility of Storms, nor of the peer-reviewers and editors at Naturwissenschaften, and they chose, finally, not to pander to it by using the pussy-footing name of "Low Energy Nuclear Reactions," Or the even more indirect "Anomalous effects in palladium deuteride," which was the title of the Hagelstein review presented to the DoE in 2004.
  • The field of "cold fusion" covers many different experimental approaches and observed effects. However, what Storms chooses to put the most examination upon is the heat/helium evidence, which is what clearly establishes that the Occam's razor hypothesis has become that there is some reaction taking deuterium and converting it to helium. Fusion, in a word. Storms claims that no theory adequately explains how this happens, but that it does happen is no longer in serious question among those who are familiar with the literature. That abstract is shocking to those who have been accustomed to sitting in the belief that this was all bogus and unverified, and, I assume, it is deliberately so. I quite assume that Springer-Verlag, the publisher of Naturwissenschaften, is satisfied that they can take this risk.
  • The simultaneous determination of excess heat and helium in the same experimental runs with palladium deuteride is the "reproducible experiment" that has long been demanded. It was first done with major success in something like 1991, as I recall, by Miles. It's been repeated, even neglecting the famous "negative replications," -- which confirm Miles, partially, and do not negate Miles, at all -- by what Storms shows, a dozen research groups, with four "particularly careful" studies being used to estimate the heat/helium ratio at 25 +/- 5 MeV, compared with 23.8 MeV expected for any kind of deuterium fusion to helium. (Note that, however, if gammas were produced -- they are not --, the energy found would be less, because of all the energy that would escape as gamma rays.)
  • Heat/helium correlations bypass the experimental problem that the heat produced by many approaches is not well controlled. It turns, in fact, that variation into experimental evidence for fusion.
  • The time is past when skeptics on this can get away with merely proposing "prosaic explanations" that have no experimental evidence behind them and that do not even match the experimental reports. Those won't pass peer review in the journals where the reviewers are familiar with the evidence, and we will see if anything else appears. It has not appeared, over the last five years, while there are 16 positive reviews in that period in mainstream journals. I expect to see, within a year, some kind of response to Storms, an attempt to refute his conclusions, but I doubt that it will have any experimental basis. Shanahan wrote a letter that was published in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring, a couple of months ago, attempting to refute the review of cold fusion by Marwan and Krivit in that journal the previous year. The editors treated it as if it were a fringe view, which it has become.
  • suppose a publication sees evidence that So-and-So died in his hotel room. Now, it might be argued that this was not So-and-So, maybe it was a double, or perhaps the medical examiner lied and the person wasn't dead and perhaps.... We may not know how So-and-so died, we may have no "theory," but ... we would not fault a newspaper for publishing a headline "So-and-so dead at 66!" Instead of "Police report Apparently dead man, with ID of So-and-So, found in hotel room." They might even say, "Murder suspected because there was a knife stuck in his chest." But that would not explain exactly how the knife got there, would it? Perhaps he fell on it. But we would not get terribly upset at a newspaper for irresponsible reporting, if they headed it, because of the knife report, "So-and-so murdered."
  • The title is appropriate, and clear, and that there is controversy is certainly noted. But what is asserted in the abstract is true, it is the conclusion of the paper, presented in the abstract, and that's totally normal. --Abd 15:15, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
The title leads me to concluded that Storms is assuming that which remains to be demonstrated. No viable theory is offered to support the claim that Deuterium fusion took place. All that is observed is Helium + Heat. No gamma rays, no neutrons. And Helium is well known to be produced by alpha decay of scores of potential isotopes, any number of which would be expected to be found in Heavy Water recycled from decommissioned nuclear plants. The evidence is compelling not for fusion, but for pathological science (as defined by Langmuir):
Pathological science, as defined by Irving Langmuir, is a psychological process in which a scientist, originally conforming to the scientific method, unconsciously veers from that method, and begins a pathological process of wishful data interpretation (see the Observer-expectancy effect, and cognitive bias). Some characteristics of pathological science are:
  • The maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity, and the magnitude of the effect is substantially independent of the intensity of the cause.
  • The effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit of detectability, or many measurements are necessary because of the very low statistical significance of the results.
  • There are claims of great accuracy.
  • Fantastic theories contrary to experience are suggested.
  • Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses.
  • The ratio of supporters to critics rises and then falls gradually to oblivion.
Caprice 10:30, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
It occurs to me that the evidence points the other way. Storms notes that a number of unexpected contaminants were found in the apparatus after the experiment was completed. To my mind, the most obvious explanation is that the Deuterium was not the reagent, but the solvent that carried all those contaminants into the cell. Almost surely those contaminants were in the heavy water from which the Deuterium was manufactured, and ended up as impurities in the Deuterium. See the next section for more details on how one or more of those contaminants would have been the most likely source of Helium + Heat through simple alpha decay of radioactive elements carried into the cells via the Deuterium. —Caprice 19:00, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
This is a hypothesis which is only tenable if we completely neglect the quantities of "contaminants" involved. The use of the term "contaminants" here assumes that the substances were present prior to the experiment, whereas, in fact, these elements are not present in controls, including analysis of the heavy water before the experiment. That is so basic that it's surprising that one might think this testing was not done. --Abd 20:56, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
  • What controls? The contaminants were not present before the experiment, but were found afterwards. As far as I know, only two materials were introduced into the cells — the electrolyte and the deuterium. Nowhere in the Storms paper does one find any analysis of the deuterium to see if it's the source of the contaminants. It shouldn't be that hard to analyze the various grades of deuterium from the various suppliers to see if it contains xenon, radon, or other suspicious contaminants. Deuterium manufactured by electrolysis from heavy water would almost surely contain such contaminants if the manufacturer were using heavy water procured from nuclear plants. What do we know about that? —Caprice 21:19, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
This is a review we are talking about, not a primary source. Storms is not reporting these things for the first time, he is reviewing the reports. Caprice, you are assuming that these are "contaminants," rather than "substances created by transmutation." If there were some radioactive substance present in the cell as a contaminant, and even if there were no specific prior analysis of the deuterium, the element would show up in the analysis as the actual contaminant, and only the far, far smaller amount of ash would be present. Now, if the material in question is short half-life, sure. You might get more ash. But that, then raises further questions. I have D2O in stock. It's been sitting on the shelf for a year. If there were radon present, it's gone. Most labs would have D2O that was older than would be expected to have significant radon left, given the 3.8 day half life. So radon contamination could only have a tiny effect, if any at all. In a six or eight week experimental run, radon contamination, even if the radon contamination were fresh and thus present in significant quantities, the effect would fade with time, whereas the production of excess heat and helium increase with time, generally, as higher and higher loading is reached. Loading cannot affect the concentration of a contaminant in the palladium, because pretty much the only things that can enter that lattice are hydrogen and deuterium. Even helium is largely immobile. It's a metal!
There are many known characteristics of the P-F effect that are inconsistent with a theory of radioactive contamination. To list some:
  • Excess heat increases with loading ratio attained. If loading stays below about 90%, there is no excess heat, even if the electrolysis continues for a long time, and no helium is found.
  • Excess heat is measurable with a calorimeter. To get measurable heat from natural radioactivity takes a lot of radiation! Heavy water, sitting there, doesn't warm up. Blank cells with deuterium but no electrolysis don't warm up. Radiation is not detected from the heavy water used in these experiments, there are no reports of that. There is suspicion of very low tritium contamination from the suspected entry of recycled heavy water from nuclear reactors. Those suspicions are generally rejected. The possible contamination asserted was to explain the detection of tritium, not to explain excess heat. Tritium produces only 5.7 KeV beta emissions. Even significant tritium contamination would not have an effect on anything but tritium detection, and possibly increased secondary emissions D-T fusion.
  • No radioactive contaminant has been identified at significant levels, in any cell materials, which includes the heavy water.
  • One or two percent of light water poisons the reaction (levels are reduced enormously, if not entirely). This would not occur if the effect were caused by radioactive contamination.
  • Cells with heavy water but no electrolysis don't show excess heat effects and do not produce helium. If the source were a radioactive alpha-emitter contaminant, there would be as much heat without electrolysis as with it.
The statement about materials introduced into the cells is inaccurate. This is what is in a typical CF cell. There are variations.
  • palladium cathode
  • platinum anode
  • cell material (glass, acrylic plastic, typically)
  • heavy water
  • lithium chloride or another salt to increase conductivity
  • In addition, there may be trace amounts of other materials, such as materials in gaskets, etc.
I have read that "all cell materials" have been tested for the possible presence of radioactive contaminants. It would be some work to track down the references, but "cell materials" includes heavy water, it would be preposterous to exclude it, as Caprice seems to casually assume. This becomes very important when searches are being done for radiation. It's not an issue for excess heat/helium because the levels of radiation necessary would be quite high, the contaminant would be easily detected because of the radiation. --Abd 00:56, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
Most researchers, I'm sure, don't have their deuterium analyzed, but buy it from a reputable source which would not sell them radioactive heavy water, beyond the tiniest quantities of trace elements perhaps detectable only with the most sensitive methods. Excess heat is an effect that would require far larger quantities of radioactive material, easily detected, than could possibly be present in commercial heavy water. Likewise, even if there were such contamination, the heat/helium ratio would not be larger than perhaps 5 or 6 MeV/He-4 at the most. It is five times that. Etc.
There is a great deal of controversy over the transmutation reports that Caprice is depending on here. Some researchers have claimed that the detected materials have migrated to the cathode from other cell materials, and in some cases evidence has been found that this has actually occurred. This is a huge red herring, besides the heat/helium evidence. There is no observed ash from alpha decay that would be expected, unless the ash were another of the cell materials. This starts to become quite a Rube Goldberg hypothesis, but there is no experimental evidence at all to support it. --Abd 01:04, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Note: This discussion thread continues here.

The Evidence[edit]

Discussion of radioactive contaminant theory for excess heat and helium, moved to its own page, see below

The evidence, as reported in the Storms paper, is that a number of contaminants were found in the experimental apparatus, after the experiment was completed.

Among the contaminants found, Storms lists Lead, Curium, Arsenic, Gallium, Antimony, Tellurium, Iodine, Hafnium, Rhenium, Iridium, Bromine, and Xenon, several of which had abnormal isotopic ratios.

Very likely these contaminants were introduced via the Deuterium and/or the electrolyte. Deuterium is manufactured by electrolysis of Heavy Water. It is very likely that some or all of these contaminants were dissolved salts or gases in the Heavy Water from nuclear plants, used to produce Deuterium, and ended up as impurities or contaminants in the Deuterium.

Of these contaminants, Xenon (a noble gas) is probably the most interesting, as it almost surely would have been mixed in with the Deuterium. Note that Radon, however, is missing as a contaminant. Yet if there is Xenon, why is there not also Radon?

Simple. Radon has a half life of just 3.8 days. It decays into Lead through a series of alpha and beta decay steps. After a few weeks, any Radon present when the Deuterium was manufactured would have decayed to Lead, producing Helium as the ash.

It occurs to me that the most likely interpretation of the evidence is that the Helium + Heat is the result of simple alpha decay of contaminants, of which Radon is a prime suspect.

Caprice 17:47, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

I will introduce evidence from the paper and other sources, but this is a preliminary comment on this theory. Yes, abnormal isotopic ratios is an indication that the "contaminant" was produced by a nuclear process, which would include radioactive decay, but which could also be from nucleosynthesis in the cell, such as by neutron activation or absorption of alpha particles, or, as well, by various processes whereby a deuteron or collection of deuterons might fuse with heavier nuclei. There is, for example, some significant evidence for the addition of three deuterons to various nuclei -- which could be four with emission of an alpha.
The problem is that the levels of these transmuted nuclei are very far below the levels of helium found. If there is decay from, say, element X -> (X-2) + 4He, then we would expect to find as much (X-2) as 4He. This is far from the case, unless X is 4, thus the decay is to two 4He. Further, the energy of alpha decay is well below the energy from fusion, perhaps 5 MeV. (If Be-8 formed by 4D fusion immediately decays, however, this is not a ground state decay, and would produce 23.8 MeV. That energy is not observed. Commensurate heat, though, is observed).
This is why Storms does not consider radioactive decay, per se, as a source of the energy. It is not in the ball park. The main reason is that the "ash" from contaminants is not present in the required quantities, the secondary reason is that candidate decays, if produced from a "radioactive contaminant" do not produce enough energy to account for the heat/helium ratio being as high as it is measured to be. Storms does list "3-6? from alpha" in his table. He means that if some transmutation reaction is taking place that generates alphas, this process could release 6-6 MeV. A third reason is that the materials in these cells are not radioactive when examined separately or in control cells.
With hydrogen controls, of course, one could argue, as is done here, that the contaminant is in the heavy water. However, controls where heavy water is used, but a different cathode material, or no electrolysis to produce deuterium gas for loading, do not show the effect and do not show helium. (Nor do they show excess heat.) If we postulate that the electrolysis process or other cell process is causing radioactive decay, we have found a "chemically aided nuclear reaction." CANR is one of the names used as a rough synonym for LENR.)
I thank Caprice for raising these issues. --Abd 21:23, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Where does Storms believe the Xenon came from? If, as I suggest, the Xenon was present in solution in the heavy water from which the deuterium was extracted by electrolysis, then would there not also have been Radon dissolved in that water too? Given the very short half-life of Radon (3.8 days) and its well-known decay process, where is the analysis that would estimate how much Radon would have been present alongside the Xenon, and compare that to the amount of anomalous Lead found deposited onto the Cathode after the fact? If that's in the review by Storms, I didn't see it. Instead, I saw that he expressly ignored radioactive decay as a possible explanation of the production of Helium + Heat. —Caprice 22:08, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Suppose that Radon were the sole contaminant in the Deuterium gas and responsible for 100% of the Helium production through alpha decay. With a half-life of just under 4 days, one Radon atom would decay to Lead producing three Helium atoms and 23.9 Mev of heat, or 8 Mev of heat per Helium. That is remarkably close to the magic number of 23.8 Mev per Helium reported in the literature. How can you say that it's preposterous to consider Radon contamination of the Deuterium gas as one of the likely culprits? —Caprice 00:42, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

That is not remarkably close, it is more than double the estimated error away. Further, unless there is some source renewing the Radon, that heat would be declining rapidly with time; after normal storage, it wouldn't be there at all. This would require radon contamination far higher than ambient radon, and the heavy water would be dangerous. So where is this hypothesis coming from? Helium production in the cells increases with excess energy measured, and does not show an exponential decline as radioactive heat would, with such a short half-life. Further, CF cells typically show a long period with no excess heat at the beginning, followed by a rapid increase in excess heat. This is totally unlike the behavior of radioactive heat.

By the way, 23.8 is not "reported in the literature." Various figures are reported, because varying amounts of helium have been recovered. Considering the most careful experiments, four series, Storms estimates 25 +/- 5 MeV/He-4. Most researchers writing on this summarize their data as "consistent with 23.8 MeV/He-4" --Abd 01:29, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Storms ignores radioactive decay from pre-existing radioactive contaminants because it is so far from explaining the experimental behavior that it is not worth discussing, that's the bottom line, except for learning purposes. --Abd 01:29, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

You don't seem to understand. If there is Radon contamination in the Deuterium gas, that Radon gas will enter the cell along with the Deuterium. Whatever Radon enters the cell will then decay with a half-life of 4 days, producing three Helium atoms inside the cell along with 23.9 Mev of heat from the decay sequence. In addition, the decay products will react chemically with the Deuterium to form metal deuterides, releasing some additional amount of exothermic heat. —Caprice 01:57, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
To respond, I find myself forced to imagine cell procedures that are entirely different from reality. First of all, it is common that cells are sealed, and the evolved deuterium and oxygen are recycled, using a recombiner catalyst. In other words, there is no new deuterium oxide being added to the cell. In any case, cells where helium is being measured are often not open cells, but if the gases are allowed to escape, nevertheless there is may be sufficient heavy water in the cell for the entire run. Adding deuterium would obviously provide a pathway for atmospheric helium to enter. The exact setup varies among the research groups reporting heat and helium. However, if a research group were, indeed, adding deuterium oxide to replace it when lost through electrolysis, it would normally be added from the same stock. For example, I have 10 bottles of 100 grams each D2O, all a year old since I purchased it, and probably packaged long before that. This material would have no significant radon in it being so far beyond the half-life of 3.8 days. It probably has helium at levels comparable to ambient, plus any helium resulting from original radon contamination, which is almost certainly some (very small) level. I assume that most labs have a certain stock of D2O, and they don't open new stock until the old is exhausted. So, usually, it would be the same material, and usually it would not be fresh enough to have significant remaining radon contamination, even if it had unusually high levels initially.
So "entering the cell along with the deuterium" means that when the deuterium is poured into the cell, the radon would be with it. If the cell is then sealed, that's that. A recombiner is used to recycle the deuterium. If it's an open cell, if more deuterium is added, it is almost always from the same batch. The radon levels in the cells will be declining much more rapidly than the level of heavy water in the cell. To give an idea, with a 25 g. initial cell charge, it is not by any means certain that I will need to replenish the deuterium oxide at all during a two or three week run. The highest currents are only at the end of the run, for a few days.
Bottom line: any heating and evolved helium would be long gone from almost all heavy water stocks before being used, and even if present at the beginning of an experiment, would not increase during the experiment, but would only decline due to the short half-life of radon. The length of electrolysis might be more than three weeks. If there were some effect from radiation in the first four days, by the end of twenty days, more than five half-lives, the effect would have declined by a factor of more than 32. Yet most experimental runs show peak heat well into the period, not at the beginning as would be expected from this radioactive contaminant theory.
I'll point to some papers by Miles. While Miles was not the first to detect helium as a product, he did become the first to show helium from a substantial series of cells. Later work was done by others that was more accurate in the helium collection and measurement and that was possibly more accurate in the calorimetry.
See Miles' cell histories, in the 1993 paper, showing the history of excess heat. It looks nothing like the steady decline that would be expected from a radioactive source.
Cold fusion experiments of the P-F type typically show no excess heat for long initial periods. That inconsistent with the radioactive heat theory. On the other hand, codeposition cells are reported to show excess heat almost immediately, because they can form highly loaded thin layers of palladium deuteride from the start. Thus the heating is related to the manner of formation of palladium deuteride and not to possible radioactive contamination in the heavy water.
I'm proposing to start a page where you can work on this theory of radioactive contamination if you wish, Caprice. I suggest, if you wish to continue to explore it, that you take some time to gather evidence and to look at the issues that have been raised.
Because the theory is original with you, apparently, it should not, until recognized in some independent publication, be given high prominence. I'll link a page from the page above this to show it as your study, where you can edit and modify it to make the presentation as clear as possible, removing early errors or whatever. We can continue to discuss this theory on the attached Talk page, but we should, here, turn to the Storms review itself, what it reports and claims, rather than what it does not report and does not claim. Clearly, Storms does not respond to a claim that has been made nowhere in the literature, AFAIK, so debating that claim is not relevant to study of the review, per se. See what I do and if it meets with your approval. --Abd 03:21, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
Are you saying that the cells are loaded not with gaseous Deuterium but with Heavy Water? I understand both systems have been used. In either event, the issue is the purity of the Heavy Water from which the Deuterium gas is evolved through electrolysis. If the Heavy Water is recycled from a nuclear reactor (many of them have been decommissioned in the past fifteen or twenty years), then that Heavy Water would be expected to be full of contaminants. Whether bottled Deuterium gas or bottled Heavy Water is used, any radioactive contaminants would leave their telltale ash behind. At the bottom of the ash heap is Lead.
Earlier you asked where a resupply of Radon might come from. As you know, Radon is produced continuously from the slow decay of Radium, which is in turn produced continuously from the slow decay of Uranium. That's how it shows up in your basement. If the Heavy Water is recycled from nuclear plants, it probably has salts or deuterides of irradiated materials in it. A telltale ash would be plumbane, the gaseous deuteride of lead. All those metallic deposits found afterwards on the cathode are strongly suggestive that the Heavy Water is contaminated with radioactive decay products from the Radium Series. As you know, Heavy Water comes in many grades, and the least expensive grade would be that obtained from decommissioned nuclear plants. The CF literature warns about contaminants, and for obvious reasons.
Again, the most disturbing contaminant listed by Storms is Xenon, an inert gas. Where did it come from? And what were the traveling companions that rode in alongside the Xenon?
Caprice
This is a question better pursued under Cold fusion/Storms (2010)/Radioactive decay of contaminant, or the attached Talk page. However, I'll answer the general questions about CF research.
The vast bulk of work has been done by generating deuterium in situ, by electrolysis of heavy water. It is not clear what other effects that electrolysis has besides the generation of deuterium, but with electrolysis, the movement of deuterium into and out of the cathode can be controlled to a degree. The reaction is clearly related to current density, and appears to be triggered by changes, some kind of stimulus or shock or the removal of same.
That the heavy water for researchers all over the world is "heavily contaminated" is based on no evidence, other than analysis of the after-electrolysis composition. I do believe, but cannot off the top of my head cite, that heavy water used in these experiments has been analyzed by similar means and does not show these elements before electrolysis or other reaction.
Some experiments use gas-loading, and heavy water is not involved, but rather deuterium gas is added to the cell, typically containing some sort of palladium or palladium alloy powder.
The possible usage of heavy water recycled from nuclear power plants has been asserted, but never shown. It would be unethical to sell heavy water that was contaminated, without disclosure, and might even be illegal, and some researchers use ultrapure heavy water. They claim better results, not worse, as would be expected from the radioactive contamination theory. I'm using 99.9% atom percent heavy water, which is more or less the norm, only a little more expensive than 99%.
Xenon would either be present as a contaminant in cell materials at the start, perhaps migrating to a cathode through electrolysis, or would be produced in the cell, probably by secondary reactions. If fusion is going on, it may produce local energy some percentage of the time that would produce some level of transmutation. Any theory that xenon contamination is taking place should look at actual amounts found, not the bare presence, because sensitive analysis can find almost anything anywhere. The issue would be change from initial conditions, not absolute presence or absence, and to review that would require looking at the primary sources, Storms has only given a bare outline of the voluminous material on this. Storms does present some transmutation theory, that should be studied. In particular, there seems to be a preference for +6 AMU transmutations. I could outline a possible reason why, but it would be original research that I don't care to do. --Abd 13:47, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Cold fusion/Storms (2010)/Radioactive decay of contaminant[edit]

I've set up the subject page to study the hypothesis of the production of heat and helium by radioactive decay as was proposed here by Caprice. Since this discussion is not really about the review by Storms, the subject of this resource, I request that development and expression of that theory be done on that page, with discussion of it on the attached Talk page, and I moved the discussion from here to there, allowing Caprice to work on that page without interruption. For here, let's see if there are other questions about Storms' review. --Abd 03:33, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Edmund Storms writes:

Radioactive decay is a slow process and one that makes detectable heat only when a very large amount of the radioactive material is present. In this case, the element would have to be an alpha emitter. The alpha emitters exist only at high mass numbers and these elements are very rare in the normal environment. If enough were present to make detectable heat and helium, their presence would be clearly visible from the energetic radiation they would generate. In addition, the rate at which heat and helium are produced would slowly decrease as the material decay away. None of these consequences of radioactive elements being the source of heat and helium have been seen.

Please check my math here...

It takes 1 kilo-calorie to heat a liter of water 1 degree celsius.

1 kilo-calorie = 4.2 kilo-joules = 2.6 x 1016 Mev.

One D-D fusion event produces about 24 Mev, so we would need the heat from 1015 D-D fusion events to heat a liter of water one degree celsius.

A liter of heavy water contains 6 x 1026 molecules of heavy water, so if one molecule in a trillion were used for the D-D fusion, that would suffice to raise the temperature 1 degree celsius.

But a single Radon decay also produces about same amount of energy, so if Radon were present at one part per trillion, and all of it decayed, that would also raise the temperature of a liter of water 1 degree celsius.

If Radon were present at one part per billion, only 1/10th of 1 percent of it would have to decay to do the job.

The half-life of Radon is 4 days or 5760 minutes. If half of it decays in that time, then 1/10th of 1 percent of it would decay in about 12 minutes.

So, if my math is correct, Radon present at one part per billion would warm the water 1 degree every 12 minutes, or 5 degrees per hour.

The impurities listed in the purest Deuterium are listed in parts per million.

It occurs to me that as little as 200 parts per trillion of Radon impurity would suffice to heat the water 1 degrees celsius per hour.

Is there a mistake in my math?

Caprice 18:16, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Edmund Storms writes:
I don't know if the math is right or not, but the logic is flawed in several ways. First, radon is part of the decay chain of uranium and has a half-life of 3.8 days. Once removed from the source, i.e. uranium, radon will quickly disappear. Therefore, no radon would be in any heavy-water older than a month. Second, heavy-water is carefully purified. The few impurities are carbon based sulfur compounds that are hard to remove by distillation. Third, direct measurement show that heavy water contains no radioactive element other than a small amount of tritium. What is the point of making an assumption and subsequent calculations for which very good counter evidence exists? —Edmund Storms 19:19, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

How was it determined how freshly manufactured the heavy water was when it was used by the various researchers around the globe when they conducted their various experiments over the past 21 years? How was it determined how pure the fuel was, as procured from the many suppliers around the world, over the years?

After a month, about 1/2 of 1 % of any original radon would still be present. If you started with 200 parts per trillion, after a month, you'd still have 1 part per trillion. Most of it would be gone, but there would still be a trace, plus 199 parts per trillion of lead. In other words, lead residue is one way of estimating how much radon had been present originally when the heavy water was manufactured. Moreover, it would be a specific isotope of lead.

The point of the exercise is to illustrate how a scientist would evaluate an hypothesis and construct a model to account for any effects or residue from any given contaminant. Since part of the study involves measuring lead residue from various possible sources, it's important to account for the proportion of lead explained by each possible source.

Caprice 23:50, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Control Experiments and the Null Hypothesis[edit]

This suggestion was moved from the resource page as it is in the nature of discussion. --Abd 15:46, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

The original unmodified text of this suggestion by Caprice is here. The entire original comment is italicized below, new detailed comment interspersed. --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

One of the ways to resolve the question of whether an effect is real (not an artifact of noise or bias in the measurements) and caused by one experimental variable (and not another) is to design a pair of experiments which are matched in every way possible, except for one or two variables which are the experimental variables.

  • Yes, standard procedure. Such a study is best, if possible, when the results are not known in advance (though they might be expected). However, studies may also analyze existing data, subject to the hazard of cherry-picking, on the one hand, or of random association, on the other. A correlation between initial conditions and experimental result may exist by chance. A new finding, then, will normally call for confirmation by an independent study. --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

An experimental variable might be one hypothesized to be responsible for an effect, or it might be one that is hypothesized to have no effect on the observation. In the first case, the difference in outcome between the experimental case and the control is expected to demonstrate and conform to a model that predicts the effect as a function of the experimental variable.

  • This is narrowing procedure to that which tests models. A study may purely look for correlations. This would be an investigational study, and for such, a predictive model may not be necessary, though one might consider, in some cases, a model of "no correlation." Finding a small correlation is normal when there is, in fact, no real causal correlation. Finding a significant correlation is indicative of causal relation (i.e., one variable causes another, or two variables are caused by the same underlying cause). The role of model is dependent upon existing theory ("models"). --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

In the second case, the difference in outcome between the experimental case and the control case is expected to be negligible as the (presumably irrelevant) experimental variable is changed.

  • Yes. "Negligible" means "statistically not significant." And then there are marginal cases. Due to random variation, a certain level of marginally significant findings will appear even without any causal connection.
  • To relate this to cold fusion, and because most early attempts to replicate the Fleischmann-Pons effect failed, it was asserted that later findings of excess heat represented such phenomena, combined with confirmation bias, i.e., the possibility (probably true) that reporting of negative results was repressed.
  • However, as an assumption, this is countered by the high statistical significance of many of the findings, with the signal being orders of magnitude greater than the noise, and later correlation of results (i.e., heat correlated with helium) should have dispelled this criticism. By 2004, it was entirely reasonable to consider excess heat as confirmed, leaving the question of the origin of the heat. The heat/helium correlation very strongly points to fusion, but there is no satisfactory model that predicts the observed fusion rate. Fusion, at this point, is simply an Occam's Razor hypothesis. --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

How can we use either of these ideas to settle questions about the difference between heavy water vs. ordinary water, and the effects (or non-effects) of any trace impurities in either of the two kinds of electrolyte?

  • Trace impurities are not a prosaic explanation of the excess heat, for reasons Dr. Storms explained on the resource page. Many controlled studies have been done which would have had different results if trace impurities were anything other than a chaotic contribution to catalysis. I.e., trace elements present in the materials might chaotically affect the formation of Nuclear Active Environment (NAE), which is a rare condition and thus which might be vulnerable to "impurities," and they might also participate in secondary reactions, thus explaining rare phenomena such as tritium formation or neutron radiation, but they could not be primary reactants. The only reaction product found and confirmed by many groups is helium, and it is found in quantities "commensurate with" the anomalous heat, orders of magnitude higher than other possibilities; only if a product were one of the major "contaminants" could it be a reaction product, and then the heat from it would need consideration.
  • Light-water controls are common in CF experiments. One of the criticisms of P&F was the lack of original report on light-water controls. Fleischmann later explained that they did not see the "clean baseline" that they expected from light-water controls. To my mind, this should definitely have been reported! What is generally known is that in a P-F type experiment, light water produces results that are, as I recall, about three orders of magnitude down from results with heavy water. With good calorimetry, this remains detectable. Conversation with Dr. Storms revealed that, in his opinion, light water experiments are more efficient at producing tritium and effects other than deuterium to helium fusion. It's apparently a different reaction! (And also quite unexpected!) I do not consider light water results to have been confirmed on the same scale as heavy water results, and the field generally suffers from lack of exact replication. That, indeed, is the inspiration for my own work, to facilitate exact replication of certain experiments.
  • Caprice writes with an apparent assumption that controlled studies have not been performed, which is far from the case. Many kinds of controls have been and continue to be used. Light water controls suffer from two basic problems: first, light water, while chemically similar to heavy water, is not precisely the same, and differences in result might result from differences in these properties. Second, there may be some reaction (the same or different) that takes place with light water. Nevertheless, the difference between hydrogen and deuterium in results is of interest, and the strong difference in results is an indication of a nuclear process. But not a proof, unless chemical and physical process difference is ruled out. (As an example of this, Storms notes that the thermal conductivity of deuterium and hydrogen are quite different, so calorimetry calibrated with hydrogen gas, in gas-loading experiments, and then run with deuterium, may produce apparent excess heat. However, it would be a bonehead error to assume that calorimetry calibrated with hydrogen would be valid for deuterium. I've never seen a report that did this, but possibly Dr. Storms was aware of one, or simply wanted to warn people. --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

To test the question of whether anionic cationic residues on the cathode are caused by trace impurities that are being electroplated onto the cathode and not by alchemical transmutation of the metal, it should be possible to build experimental and control cells which are identical in every way except the one variable being studied.

  • This has been done many times. However, my preference is to focus on the main reaction first. "Alchemical transmutation" is not the primary CF effect, and if one is unconvinced of the primary effect (deuterium fusion), consideration of the possible secondary effects, many orders of magnitude lower, is largely useless. The secondary effects, however, do confirm the primary one, because they require nuclear reactions to be taking place. If deuterium is fusing to helium, that process could make the energy available to cause the secondary effects through normal nuclear processes. Another possibility is that the same process that allows fusion could cause some direct effects. As an example, suppose that Takahashi's condensate forms. This could be charge neutral, and is very small in size. If it managed to reach a palladium or other nucleus before fusing and breaking up, there would be no Coulomb barrier. This is all irrelevant to one who doesn't accept the primary model: deuterium fusion by unknown mechanism. Fusion is a result, not a model of mechanism, assuming that it was a mechanism was one of the original errors.
  • Thus, entirely independently of any theory of mechanism, the experimental question is three-fold: is there excess heat and how much? Is there helium and how much? And are these results correlated at a value consistent with the fusion value, which results from the conversion of deuterium to helium regardless of mechanism? --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Alchemical transmutation is a function of the metal in the cathode.

  • Maybe. It may be a function of an oxide formation on the surface of the cathode. The transmutation appears to take place at the surface, not deep within the cathode. Same with NAE. --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

So build a cell with multiple cathodes, of varying materials.

  • It's been done. I might even do it. But it's not as simple as Caprice might think. Different metals as cathodes will have different behavior elecrochemically, so the gas may not be evolved the same from each. That could be compensated by using a different voltage for each cathode, so that current through each matched. However, voltage may have an effect on NAE. It's not a single variable!
  • Relevant to my work, SPAWAR has done "co-deposition" work with three cathodes connected, differing in base metal: silver, platinum, gold. They are all plated with palladium and loaded with deuterium, electrochemically generated. These experiments are not looking for excess heat; the "multiple cathode" approach could not discriminate between heat from one cathode or another, nor helium the same. (However, about half the helium is trapped in the cathode, routinely, so later cathode analysis could determine a difference.)
  • Storms pointed out to me not only the electrochemical difference, but also another effect that might contribute to the huge difference in neutron radiation between silver and gold (high neutron count with gold, practically none with silver, and intermediate results with platinum): silver is an efficient neutron absorber.
  • (Experiments using solid state nuclear track detectors -- like CR-39, SPAWAR, or LR-115, my work in progress -- can show the origin of radiation on a very fine scale. The images published by SPAWAR of a three-cathode experiment are quite striking, the radioautographs of the cathode wires are clear.
  • (I should explain that "high neutron count" is on the order of one neutron or a few neutrons per minute generated, many fewer detected. But background is, by comparison, for the detection area, far lower.) --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Say, for example, you build a cell with both a Nickel Cathode and a Palladium cathode. In the control experiment, apply voltage only to the Nickel cathode, and leave the Palladium cathode disconnected from electrical power. In the experimental case, put voltage on the Palladium cathode and leave the Nickel cathode disconnected. Use the same electrolyte in both. Assay the anionic cationic residues in the two cases (or four cases if one runs the experiment once with ordinary water and once with heavy water). If the residues are coming from anions cations in the electrolyte, they should plate out on the active cathode. If the residues are the result of alchemical transmutation, they should be different depending on which cathode is the active one, and independent of any (presumably irrelevant) trace impurities in the electrolyte.

  • I plan on making cell kits available that would allow this kind of controlled experiment, just add one's own wires or ask for them (Nickel wire is cheap, and I'd consider buying palladium wire for just this purpose.) Lots of work has been done comparing nickel with palladium, though. This is only an investigational approach for transmutation, though. I suspect that Caprice has no idea of how much care and thought and work (expensive work!) has been done. I'm not, however, reviewing the literature to see exactly what has been done on the transmutation question, because it is such a subsidiary one. Caprice is welcome to do it. storms provides in his book a huge pile of references. --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

To test for trace impurities, use two Nickel cathodes and/or two Palladium cathodes. Call the first cathode the "sacrificial cathode" and use it to plate out any impurities in the electrolyte. After the sacrificial cathode has been used to cleanse out most of the anionic cationic impurities, switch to the second cathode (the "experimental cathode") which is now operating in an electrolyte that has been (mostly or at least partially) depleted of any anionic cationic impurities. If transmutation is the explanation, the experimental cathode should show the residues. If impurities is the explanation, the residue should be found mostly on the first cathode (the "sacrificial cathode") but not on the experimental cathode.

  • There is an assumption here: that NAE has been set up in one case and not in the other. Given how difficult it is to set up NAE, how would Caprice know the difference? As described so far, there is no other sign of NAE than (apparent) transmutation. I agree with the approach, it's quite reasonable. There are, in fact, hundreds or more "reasonable approaches." Experimenters can generally only check one of them at a time, unless they have heavier funding and more available labor.... --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

To deal with criticism of calorimetric calibration error, begin by loading the cell in the normal manner until the cathode is maximally saturated. At this point, the CF model predicts that D-D fusion becomes active.

  • There is no "CF model" that predicts, well, when fusion becomes active. High loading is required -- which is difficult to achieve -- but is apparently not sufficient. --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Since the cathodes are now saturated, it is no longer necessary to keep the charging current at high levels. It is only necessary to keep a small trickle charge going, sufficient to replace the D as it is being consumed.

  • Only a negligible amount of deuterium is "consumed." Rather, deuterium will leak from a loaded cathode unless constantly replenished. Some cathodes will show what's called "heat after death" (HAD), i.e., anomalous heat that appears after the electrolysis current is shut off. Others won't. The best work, in my opinion, studies the difference between active cathodes and inactive ones, because, as I've been describing them, it's not predictable which specific cathodes will show excess heat (with palladium). Instead of trying to control a very-difficult-to-control variable (which probably relates to nanostructure of the material), use the variation as the control/experimental variable, typically no-heat is considered the control, and heat then is the variable. Measure some consequence which should be independent if there is no nuclear reaction, such as radiation, helium, or other transmutation products. This is a fairly common approach, and it is the approach used with the King of Transmutation Products, helium. The correlation is so significant, and so close to the expected value for deuterium to helium transmutation, that, within the field, this is no longer considered controversial except for fringe opinion. As Storms points out, helium is now being used as a primary indicator of NAE.
  • Unless HAD shows up, whatever reaction was taking place before will cease as the deuterium loading declines. Frequently, however, the reaction doesn't show up until high loading has been maintained for some time. Basically, the approach is quite likely to find nothing. As did many "clever approaches" that did not adequately take into account how fragile the effect apparently is. This field is famous for frustrating attempts to design controlled experiments. An experimenter would find some excess heat (the normal sign in the early days). The experimenter would change a single variable a little, trying to explore the "parameter space." The effect would disappear. Cool! Then the experimenter would return to the original setup and find nothing, the cells were dead. Working with cold fusion was not for the impatient! Rather obviously, there were uncontrolled variables. If we knew what those variables were, we'd be way ahead of the game. But we only know some of them. The main one that whacked most early replication efforts was high loading. A Bayesian study has been done of the early work, and from variables in the experimental reports, the researchers were able to predict, 100%, whether the work would find excess heat or not. One of the variables was whether or not the report showed that loading ratio was being measured. If not, no results. The lack of report shows a probably lack of concern about loading ratio! (This would not be a fair criticism of those workers, because the importance of high loading, and high loading as a necessity, wasn't understood for some years, and I've seen it said that loading beyond 70% was impossible. It's not impossible, merely difficult, requiring the palladium be just so.) --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

The trickle charge would be of the order of microamps. Since the cell is no longer being subjected to high charging current, it no longer needs to be cooled. Switch to adiabatic mode, so that the temperature of the cell is now allowed to rise in proportion to any hypothesized CF reaction and in proportion to the (now tiny) trickle charge. In adiabatic mode, the heat flow through the calorimeter is as close to zero as possible, so that any calorimetric calibration error becomes nulled out. Now the excess heat comes from only two sources, the hypothesized CF reactions and the trickle charge, which is of the order of a microwatt.

  • Unfortunately, the described conditions will usually produce nothing. What will have been demonstrated is the dependence of excess heat on current density. Now, this is quite in line with some "battery" effect. There is an obvious battery effect: the cathode has absorbed massive amounts of deuterium. If this starts oxidizing, we will have HAD (or other local excess heat during calorimetry). However, any decent calorimetric analysis will consider unoxidized deuterium, and the anomalous heat often found is far larger than such oxidation could explain.
  • On the other hand, the experimenter might observe HAD. This effect, in fact, which is not common, is what convinced many workers that there was something very, very unusual going on, and the magnitude of it, when it happens, convinced many that it must be a nuclear reaction. Only finding the ash, however, made this a solid conclusion. The missing ash was one of the main objections of the early skeptics; but they were assuming tritium and He-3 as ash, since the helium branch, for d-d fusion, was so rare, and, in addition, the gamma ray expected from fusion to helium was absent. Obvious conclusion: whatever the reaction is, it is not simple, uncomplicated, d-d fusion. Probably not d-d fusion at all, though there are still some possible explanations. All unconfirmed, all require new, otherwise-not-observed phenomena. So far. --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

The CF reaction, if present, should now be the dominant heat source, and the temperature of the cell should rise, accordingly. Given the rate of hypothesized D-D fusion events, the cell should be able to run in adiabatic mode for weeks, as the temperature rises from 20 C to 70 C. This would yield a much more reliable assessment of excess heat above electrical power input, while minimizing any confounding effects from calorimetry calibration issues. Caprice 17:17, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

  • Has it occurred to Caprice that researchers normally terminate the electrolytic current, but continue to observe the cell for quite some time? If HAD were common, it would have been all over years ago. It isn't, so it wasn't.
  • On the other hand, gas-loading does not depend upon any external power source at all. A cell containing some palladium or palladium alloy/composite, having been baked in a vacuum, is loaded to some pressure with D2 gas. H2 controls are common. There are multiple reports from this work: the H2 control temperature rises rapidly as the gas is added, then settles back to ambient temperature fairly rapidly, perhaps an hour. (this would depend on thermal conductivity to the environment; Arata did these experiments with a double-walled cell, with thermocouples inside the inner cell, in the wall space, and another for ambient; the wall thermocouple shows intermediate temperature). A D2 cell shows a higher heat in the loading phase, then declines to about 4 degrees C. above ambient, and stays there for 3000 minutes, whereupon the experiment is terminated and the cell contents sent to be analyzed for helium. In Arata's work, accurate calorimetry was not done. Storms is doing calorimetry on this kind of cell, as well as prompt helium analysis in situ. I have not seen Arata's helium results, and it's possible they were not published, or they were published only in Japanese.
  • It is tempting to assume that the substantial initial higher heat from deuterium is due to a fusion contribution at that point. However, this could easily be due to the difference in thermal conductivity of hydrogen and deuterium that Storms pointed out in his preprint. That would not explain the sustained heat, though.
  • So, a question for Caprice: would helium measurement, correlated with excess heat, within experimental error, suffice for adequate control for this entire class of experiments? There are a few possible explanations for correlation that have been informally proposed: besides Caprice's suggestion of radon contamination, ruled out for many reasons, there has been an suggestion that helium is a contaminant in the cathode, and heat in the cathode, whatever the origin, might drive it out. This effect, however, would not show the time-dependent behavior observed; helium increases with the net excess energy, rising above ambient in many cases, and this continues to proceed with no exponential slowing that would be expected from either ambient leakage or a reservoir of helium in the cell; to not show this behavior, the level of stored helium would have to be high, and control cells (hydrogen) don't show the helium at all. Nor does analysis of the cell materials show the helium, beyond expected trace levels well below the levels found after a run with excess heat.
  • It's also been suggested that a heated cell would leak more, due to expansion around seals. That's a wild speculation, negated, again, by two experimental facts: the continued rise of helium above ambient, the strong correlation at the expected value for fusion, and the lack of argon that would be expected to accompany helium leakage around seals. Leakage through glass remains possible, but this would show up with hydrogen controls as well as deuterium experimental cells. The cells generally maintain positive pressure as well, inhibiting leakage. Stainless steel cells also show the heat/helium ratio.
  • I'll also ask Caprice if he can find recent peer-reviewed negative coverage of cold fusion, after 2004. I'm aware of some criticism of results, but all of it has been from within the field, i.e., specific criticism. Not anything like a general rejection. Whatever he can find, we can add to the Cold fusion/Recent sources page. Interestingly, there is a review, mentioned by Mu301, of some "piezonuclear" results, purported cavitation-induced accelerated nuclear decay or transmutation of a radionucleide to a non-radioactive element, which demonstrated the proper use of "null hypothesis" to show non erat demonstrandum. This is a LENR paper, a negative review, last year. Of specific work. Not of the whole field. And the original finding remains possible, merely not shown to be conclusive, due to paucity of evidence. Both the reviewer and the original author agree that more research is necessary. This is science, as it should have been practiced from the beginning. --Abd 18:10, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
  • There is no "CF model" that predicts, well, when fusion becomes active. High loading is required -- which is difficult to achieve -- but is apparently not sufficient.
As near as I can tell (partly by reading between the lines), the sought-for effect requires that the cathode be fully charged and the charging current kept on high amperage, and the operating temperature of the cell be elevated. All of those factors combine to maximize rate at which D2 and O2 are evolving, circulating, and recombining while maximizing both Pin and Pout (hence maximizing any systematic error from the calorimetry calibration constant). When I propose to minimize these confounding variables, those "in the know" assure me the sought-after effect will surely vanish, so (from their point of view) there is no point in even trying to run a cell in those conditions.
  • Would helium measurement, correlated with excess heat, within experimental error, suffice for adequate control for this entire class of experiments?
To my mind, an adequate control is one in which the experimental error in measuring excess heat is minimized by 1) minimizing the charging current after the cathode is fully loaded, and 2) running the cell adiabatically after it's loaded so as to minimize any contribution from calorimetry error.
  • I'll also ask Caprice if he can find recent peer-reviewed negative coverage of cold fusion, after 2004.
With the possible exception of Kirk Shanahan, I'm not aware of anyone even interested in doing a critical review of the work any more. The mainstream journals no longer accept papers on CF and the non-mainstream journals that specialize in transactions on CF don't seem to have the level of editorial independence that independent reviewers look for when shopping for peer-reviewed journals in which to publish. That's why I think your best bet is to let the impasse be a case study for science education. There may not be a commercial market for CF, but there is always a market for better science education.
Caprice 19:04, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
  • This discussion is an educational resource. The comment below is long, not predigested to extract the most important parts, not yet made into hypertext, but, eventually, that may happen.
  • ... high amperage ... No. Not exactly. The most reliable results are with maintained current, or, to throw in a monkey wrench, with current that is constantly varying, this is what "SuperWave" fusion is about, the McKubre replication I mentioned, that toward the end, was up to roughly three watts of average input power. The average input power for the whole experimental period was 1 W, and in the cell I mentioned (the most striking result), average output power was 34 watts. In the whole series, the large majority of cells showed excess power, not that high, but excess power in the range of input power (i.e., 80% excess would mean that measured heat was 180% of input power). I wish I had helium results for that series, but maintaining the experimental conditions to allow uncomplicated helium measurements is difficult.
  • Yes, those conditions increase possible calorimetry error. But when you realize that calorimetry error is apparently many orders of magnitude lower than the heat involved, that calibrations performed during the experiments confirm the accuracy of the calorimetry, etc., and, -- you aren't getting this! -- shutting down the current usually shuts down the excess heat, you might see why the suggestion isn't likely to be followed. Battery storage, as you have insinuated with your cute phrase "battery charger," would not shut down! If the excess heat is being caused by current power input, how could it exceed current power input? In any case, the judgment of calorimetry is a very complex business which experts can get wrong, sometimes, and especially "experts" who have an axe to grind. Either way.
  • In other words, Caprice, you have been told by Storms and myself (anyone else?) that the experiment you wish has already been done, many times, and results are known. In summary: shut down the current and the effect usually shuts down, though, if I'm correct, not immediately. In a few cases, though, the excess heat increases when the current is turned off. These episodes often show large excess "heat after death."
  • Behind your concern is an assumption that it's impossible to accurately measure heat under CF conditions. That's preposterous. It is complicated, to be sure, but not impossible. I can easily understand why you'd want to have an adiabatic control, but you should know that adiabatic controls do exist, and have shown phenomenal excess heat, they are simply very difficult to call up on demand! Is it possible that there is a physical effect that is difficult to reproduce unless you get all the necessary elements of complex conditions present at the same time? Is Nature designed to facilitate our design of controlled experiments? You do know that under some conditions, fully controlled experiments are impossible, right? In particular, if we do not understand all the intricate details of a specific environment -- consider the human body and experiments in biology or medicine -- we cannot completely control and exclude confounding variables. This is what Storms was talking about when he wrote you that work in chemistry (condensed matter environment, with sometimes very complex conditions, the actual nature of the surface of an electrochemical cathode is ridiculously complex, both chemically and structurally) was different from that in physics, aside from the field of "condensed matter physics," which is relatively primitive, compared to plasma physics, where the conditions are far easier to precisely control. Under plasma physics conditions, fusion is well-studied, and this kind of fusion, d-d fusion, is what was considered impossible, and almost certainly is impossible.
  • Would helium measurement suffice? The question was not answered. Instead, you've focused on what you'd like to see, and the technology to do what you want does not yet exist, not to do it with reliability, except for gas-loading, which does show adiabatic excess heat. If that's what you want, why not look at that work? However, it is not anywhere as widely confirmed as basic P-F type electrolytic CF work, and, I suggest, the most fruitful place to look for primary evidence of fusion is heat/helium. After all, calorimetry alone says very little about where the heat is coming from. Is this a new type of high-energy-density battery? Hydrinos? But once an ash has been identified, the picture changes, as was recognized more than 15 years ago by at least one major skeptic, Huizenga. He didn't jump on the CF bandwagon because (1) he expected that it would not be confirmed -- even though it was itself a confirmation, more extensive and more solid, of what had been previously claimed by Fleischmann, and Bush & Lagowski, and (2) no gamma rays. Huizenga's book must say "no gamma rays" dozens of times.... that is rejection of d-d fusion, not of any other fusion process. It is as if nobody even thought, at that point, that there might be another process!
  • Run one of these experiments as you suggest, and, from prior work, you'd see maybe one cell in a hundred with excess heat during the adiabatic period, rough guess. Does anyone have the time and funding to waste on that, at this point? You're missing the point: helium is a marker of a nuclear reaction, and it's much more straightforward, though still expensive, to measure helium, than to measure heat. At this point the default hypothesis is that the reaction has deuterium as a fuel and helium as ash. Mechanism unknown, but this is a testable, falsifiable hypothesis.
  • That's why Storms, while I was there, was building a $14,000 mass spectrometer into his apparatus. He can immediately confirm that he's got a reaction by finding helium in the gas, and it only takes a little sample. He's actually got two mass spectrometers, the very high resolution one, he just obtained, which is good up to atomic mass number 4 only, and one good up to higher mass numbers, but which cannot, then, well resolve D2 (common, obviously!) and He-4. It's still there to detect argon, which would indicate leakage from ambient. The He-4 signal can still be seen, enough to estimate He-4, but to get accuracy, the narrower resolution equipment was needed.
  • Storms is still measuring heat, with the device he described in the paper you read. In your writings on this, you seemed to assume that there was a "cathode" and that there was some kind of electrolytic power being put in. Nope! Have you recognized this yet? Storms' paper was written for people who already know a great deal about gas-loading.... He never mentioned, in it, a cathode, or electrolytic power, but ... did you assume it? Why would this not serve as the adiabatic experiment you are looking for?
  • Nobody "even interested in doing critical work." What about the reviewers at peer-reviewed journals who are publishing the work of researchers in the field? What you have found, if you have asked around, are people who are convinced, from old evidence, most of it assumed rather than actually published, that this is totally bogus. This is not science, Barry, it's assumption and dogma. Publication in cold fusion reached a nadir of about one paper in a mainstream journal, every two months, in 2005 or so. It's now up to roughly two papers per month. Actual negative reviews of the work have not been published for many years. You mistook that theoretical review from 1994 as being negative, which was an error. It was carefully neutral and cautious, but Kim, at least, one of the authors, is a recently published cold fusion theorist, and I haven't checked about the others.
  • You've spoken about "scientists" who come to contrary conclusions than Storms, alleging that they are following some different interpretation of the scientific method. This is quite a bold assertion, unless you can show that these are considering the same evidence. The crucial heat/helium evidence was only available in depth, beginning about 1992 or 1993, and continuing to be confirmed and deepened after that. Where are the negative reviews of it, showing consideration of correlation? (Every negative dismissal of heat/helium that I've seen has harped on possible calorimetry error, or possible helium leakage, which is problematic on two fronts, most notably on the matter of correlation at the expected Q value for fusion. I've seen not one paper published under peer review that's addressed this. Barry, you are assuming a literature and a body of work that does not exist.
  • Storms has been accused of reporting only positive results as to heat/helium. He would, I am certain, report negative results, but they do not exist at any level that would negate the fusion conclusion. (He does report three individual cells with anomalous results, i.e., excess heat and no helium, but there are ready explanations for that, and more careful studies later don't show those exceptions, to my knowledge). As well, the early "negative replications" confirm heat/helium, because they found no heat -- or, if later re-analysis is correct, only a little heat -- and no helium, expected from little or no heat. No reaction, so, of course, no heat and no helium.
  • You are making here the standard argument that there is no negative review because, presumably, anyone with enough knowledge of nuclear physics would stay away. That can only go so far! Surely, if there are sixteen positive reviews of cold fusion in mainstream journals since 2005, as there are, see Cold fusion/Recent sources, there would be a few negative reviews submitted!
  • It appears that some are being submitted but not published. So the situation has flipped!
  • Note that, in describing sixteen reviews, I'm only covering reviews in mainstream journals, not conference papers, or other documents, which exist in much higher quantity. And there are, in fact, plenty of nuclear physicists involved with the field, there always have been. Most of the actual researchers have been chemists, because the methods are those of chemistry. The physicists are working on theory, such as Hagelstein at MIT. Have you met him yet?
  • Are you claiming, Barry, that w:Naturwissenschaften is not "mainstream," that it would not have access to qualified reviewers, or that Elsevier, publisher of the Encyclopedia of Electrochemical Power Sources is not mainstream, or likewise the other journals that are publishing in the field? Sure, Science and Nature and Scientific American and JAPS, have, more or less, a blackout on articles, though I'm sure that will fall soon. They heavily committed themselves, years ago, to the proposition that papers on cold fusion were equivalent to papers on perpetual motion, though there was never a scientific reason for that. Takes organizations like that time to shift course. Notice, Barry, the top two scientific publishers in the world (Springer-Verlag and Elsevier) have committed themselves to publishing material on cold fusion. The LENR Sourcebooks are being published by the American Chemical Society, the largest scientific society in the world, co-published with Oxford University Press. Why are these venerable organizations willing to risk having egg all over their faces? And where is the egg that we'd expect to be tossed? Shanahan's letter to Journal of Environmental Monitoring was, I suspect, the last gasp of the skeptics. He's fringe within fringe, now, as far as mainstream journal publishing is concerned. The editors appear to have published his letter to allow the questions to be asked that they believed many readers were asking, then they arranged for an unusual response: not just by the authors of the original review, Krivit and Marwan, but instead by Marwan (a scientist, Krivit is a writer and reporter only) and a list of top CF scientists, and they then did not allow Shanahan any further response, he's been complaining about that.
  • I'll answer my question. They are willing to take the risk because they consulted with experts, their peer-reviewers, and probably more, and I'm quite certain they took extra precautions. In the past, there were attempts to fire editors who had approved cold fusion papers, you really might be interested to read the history, it got pretty bad. You might like to read Robert Duncan, who is a strong promoter of the scientific method, who, when he gave cold fusion a positive review on CBS last year (much to his surprise, he's said), found himself being privately attacked, and there are signs that there were attempts to damage his reputation at his university.
  • Cold fusion was teetering on acceptance by 2004, as can be seen in the Cold fusion/2004 U.S. Department of Energy review. Many of the reviewer comments are available, and a common comment that made it into the final report was that skepticism remained because of the "lack of theory to explain the results." And this betrays the loss of scientific objectivity, since "excess heat" does not depend on any theory beyond the principles of thermodynamics behind calorimetry, and the same with helium as to measurement techniques, and thus the same about a fusion conclusion. If excess heat and helium are correlated, this is an experimental fact that depends on no theory other than measurement theory. The problem of theory is, in fact, one for other people than the experimental chemists who generally report these results. Not fusion? Great! What is it? I have seen no plausible explanations other than fusion, so far. Those working on theory are mostly physicists, as would be proper. Sorry, "experimental error," though it's a kind of theory, isn't testable, per se, until some specific error is hypothesized, and there is no end to the number of possibly hypotheses. The major ones, the most plausible ones, have been investigated to death already.
  • But it's possible that someone could come up with a new one. I don't particularly expect it, however, to come from someone who is not familiar with the existing work, there are too many obvious red herrings lying about.
  • Shopping for journals. That's, again, a standard skeptical speculation, that researchers, faced with rejection by certain journals, then keep submitting the same paper until it's published. It's probably true in some cases; however, Storms' review was solicited. He submitted a paper to NW on heat/helium alone, and they suggested, instead, a review of the field, which he's probably better-qualified to write than anyone else in the world. It's quite true that researchers have learned what journals are likely to publish their papers, and what journals are likely to reject a paper without even submitting it to peer review (which has been fairly common in cold fusion with some journals, regardless of the quality of the paper, did you read Bauer? and you should read Undead Science. Some of these authors could have written on almost anything, having won, say, a Nobel Prize in physics, but cold fusion? Too bad about him, eh?, must be getting dotty in his old age....)
  • To state that there were sixteen positive reviews since 2005, I used the Britz database, which only reports mainstream journals, but I excluded the Journal of Scientific Exploration since, by definition, they report "neglected" fields. The number would be much higher if I'd included that. Note, as well, that this doesn't include documents like the Navy review that you quoted to show the usage of the term cold fusion, nor the recent DARPA review. What is wrong with all these reviews? I can easily say it.
  • The editors or responsible bureaucrats somehow imagine that the proper people to write a review are those who know the field, and they don't normally go out and find someone ignorant and ask them to figure it out. So they engage or allow people with knowledge of the field, which skeptics then call "cold fusioneers" or "believers." But selecting someone ignorant (but knowledgeable in physics) is just what CBS did, they retained Robert Duncan, a highly reputable physicist, and he read the material, now being paid to do so! And he visited Energetics Technologies in Israel. And then, after the CBS Sixty Minutes special aired, he then hosted a LENR colloquium at the University of Michigan. And he's arranged for Energetics Technologies to move there. The signs are all over, Barry, that the shift already occurred, but those who shut their eyes and went to sleep twenty years ago haven't realized it.
  • let the impasse be a case study for science education. It's not an impasse, Barry, one side sat down in their armchair and fell asleep. It's not my job to wake them up. Let them sleep! But, yes, this is a stunning case study, though not quite what you seem to think. I'm quite happy to let the very well-documented history speak for itself, once it's presented and organized for ready perusal. This is one of the best-documented cases of massive but false "scientific consensus" I've seen, where theory was allowed to reject experimental evidence, the very opposite of the scientific method. By all means, skepticism was appropriate, but not belief that the results were artifact. Rather, real science would have involved replicating the effect -- after all, 153 research papers have shown that and, published under peer review (as of 2009, I think) -- and then showing the origin of it as error or artifact, as was done with N-rays and polywater. Or confirming it.
  • There was a special kind of confirmation bias going on here. Those who tried to replicate the effect and failed often became seriously skeptical. But among them were some who kept trying, long enough to see it. And they became what the rest called "believers" and "cold fusioneers," or worse. "Quacks and charlatans," I've heard. Remind you of the IDCab?
  • There may not be a commercial market for CF, but there is always a market for better science education. Indeed. First of all, there is no commercial market for CF at this time, per se, but there is a market for research into CF. Storms is adequately funded, as are others, and while no statistics are being kept, funding appears to be increasing. Pcarbonn, when he was banned from Wikipedia as a "civil POV pusher," allegedly motivated by "battleground mentality," (that wasn't true), proceeded to get a job as a researcher in the field. I expect this expansion to accelerate as the realization spreads that the scientific evidence is, in fact, conclusive that fusion is taking place (it's solid enough to bet dollars to donuts on, easily, if a donut is $1, and given the potential of some way of making the effect practical and reliable is found, probably $100 to $1 would be a decent bet if someone could afford to lose the $100. I'd estimate the odds, now, as a million to one that cold fusion is real. I've put every penny I could raise into my work, plus $3000 from a kind Wikipedia editor, a scientist.
  • The problem is that "cold fusion is real" doesn't translate into a practical product or application.
  • There is a limit to this funding. The Japanese spent many millions of dollars trying to scale up the effect and make it reliable. Those projects were shut down because they were not "seeing what they expected." That's been interpreted by skeptics to mean that they didn't see anything. No, it's rather obvious: they were seeing results, from what has been published, but nothing that indicated scale-up and reliability were in sight. What's needed is primary scientific research into the mechanism, otherwise attempts to scale it up are mostly expensive stabs in the dark. This is worth serious funding for basic science, but not serious engineering, not yet. I can tell you, though, that Storms is on a track; he's predicted results from his own private concepts of how the effect works -- which is not a complete theory, he's not a physicist -- and if he gets them.... well, he doesn't need money, he's quite well established as it is, but, my guess, he'll be offered lots of it. If not, he'll still find interesting stuff along the way. He's a scientist, not an entrepreneur, searching for fabulous wealth by pursuing a long shot. And, Barry, you may not have been able to see it, because your own personality got in the way, but he's following the scientific method. His work is rigorous, but, remember, he's an experimental scientist. He is primarily interested in what conditions produce what results, not so much in theory. He works on cleaning up his measurement techniques, reducing error from artifact, etc.
  • And what I'm investing in, myself, is education and research, not "cold fusion." I'm facilitating replication of a notable experiment which doesn't even show the effect called "cold fusion," though it is presumably associated with it. CF, the main reaction, doesn't produce neutrons, and I'm looking for neutrons. I'm not doing calorimetry beyond the very coarse kind that simply measures temperature; I'm thinking of tossing a calibration resistor in the cell to measure the heat transfer coefficient, that would be cheap, through crude. I'm not sure that I'll see any temperature effect at all, these are small-scale experiments.
  • My target market is students, especially high school students, in the original concept. But I found that there is also a market with grad students, working with professors who would like to see them replicate certain experiments. I'm drastically cutting the cost of doing that, through my approach. I've also sold LR-115 to an independent researcher, small quantities can be obtained from me, much more cheaply (for the small quantity!) than from the manufacturer, who will sell someone a hundred times what they need. And the stuff gets old, i.e., will gradually fill up with background tracks from cosmic ray neutrons, plus, of course, radon tracks. It's used for radon testing, in fact....
  • I'm dedicated to honesty and full report. And none of this has anything to do with "cold fusion theory." If these experiments show neutrons, what does that tell us? It sure doesn't prove "cold fusion," but ... if you can figure out a way to get perhaps a thousand charged particle tracks, on a protected detector that could only be reached by neutrons, in a region where control tracks are perhaps one or two, let me know. I'd love to try to set up controls to check out this alternate hypothesis! (As long as it's cheap! I'm trying to keep the cost of a cell below $100, batteries not included. Accessory equipment, though, that could be borrowed, might be okay.) --Abd 00:20, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Yes, those conditions increase possible calorimetry error. But when you realize that calorimetry error is apparently many orders of magnitude lower than the heat involved, that calibrations performed during the experiments confirm the accuracy of the calorimetry, etc., and, -- you aren't getting this! -- shutting down the current usually shuts down the excess heat, you might see why the suggestion isn't likely to be followed.
Yes, I am not getting this. The reason I am not getting this is because I am obliged to not bypass the part of the scientific method where unexamined assumptions or assertions are made. I am trying to find out the distribution of the heat involved, by modeling the recombination process underway at the catalytic recombiner — to find out the temperature distribution of the head space and the distribution of gases and steam in the atmosphere. I then want to understand how the calorimetry calibration constant varies as a function of the composition and distribution of gases and steam in the atmosphere. As near as I can tell, this is not an easy model to construct. You have to model conduction, convection, and radiation in a space with a significant temperature gradient from top to bottom and from inside to the walls of the Dewar flask. I frankly don't see how anyone can do this with any confidence under the extreme operating conditions of a fully loaded cell running at peak input current and peak operating temperature. Caprice 07:40, 21 December 2010 (UTC)