Starts With A Bang

Is cold fusion feasible? Or is it a fraud? (Synopsis)

A device designed to simulate a working cold fusion reaction, but that was in fact a deliberate deception. Image credit: Juan-Louis Naudin, 2003.

“Between cold fusion and respectable science there is virtually no communication at all. …because the Cold-Fusioners see themselves as a community under siege, there is little internal criticism. Experiments and theories tend to be accepted at face value, for fear of providing even more fuel for external critics, if anyone outside the group was bothering to listen. In these circumstances, crackpots flourish, making matters worse for those who believe that there is serious science going on here.” –David Goodstein

The dream of free, unlimited, clean energy depends only on our ability to find a reaction that’s safe, efficient, with abundant reactants, that produces more energy than is required to activate the reaction. Our Sun is a prime example of this, as all it requires is hydrogen — the most abundant element in the Universe — and it produces, through nuclear fusion, an incredible amount of energy each and every second.

A fusion device based on magnetically confined plasma. Image credit: PPPL management, Princeton University, the Department of Energy, from the FIRE project at http://fire.pppl.gov/.

But an even bigger dream would be to harness this type of fusion reaction here on Earth. While inertial confinement and magnetic confinement fusion, the two most common “hot fusion” scenarios on Earth, have yet to reach the fabled break-even point, there are claims that cold fusion, or Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR), has done exactly that. Should those claims be taken seriously?

Andrea Rossi and Sterling Allan, during a 2011 demonstration of the E-Cat. Image credit: Sterling D. Allan with Hank Mills of Pure Energy Systems News. Via http://pesn.com/2011/10/28/9501940_1_MW_E-Cat_Test_Successful/.

Perhaps. And if we want to do it right, here’s exactly the kind of scientific robustness we’d require in order to do so!