Cold Fusion Conspiracy Ebook – Chapter 2: The History of Cold Fusion

Chapter 2: The History of Cold Fusion

[ N.B: This article is a short abstract of the Ebook: "Cold Fusion Conspiracies" : if you own a website related to Cold fusion/Lenr and you want a full copy to redistribute to your visitors, please write to ebook[at]coldfusion3.com . Thank you ]

When did the idea of cold fusion come about and why?

So, where and when did the idea for cold fusion begin? Well it was claimed by Fleischmann in a talk he gave in 1998 that he came up with the idea for his hypothesis way back in 1983. This was when he and his partner Stanley Pons were working together as researchers at the University of Utah, and they came up with a belief that nuclear fusion could be created at room temperature. At this time Fleischmann was protective of the idea and did not want to go public with it too soon.

Perhaps he foresaw the incredibly negative reaction that was to take place. Initially the scientist had wanted to publish his hypothesis in a small journal that would not garner too much public attention. Even now, Fleischmann holds true to the claim that it was not him but the university officials who decided to put his work out there in such a high profile manner. Surely this shows that Fleischmann was aware that his experiments were not fool proof and that there were flaws to his theory that needed to be worked out. Indeed, it goes without saying that Fleischman and Pons were most likely conscious that going public could end disastrously in terms of their careers.

But we will shelve that idea for the moment, because what concerns us here is when the theory of cold fusion really came about, and it dates back a long time before its announcement to the world the 1980’s. It is thought that the original idea came from the Austrian scientists Friedrich Paneth and Kurt Peters who had been working at the Berlin University Institute of Chemistry in the 1920’s. The two had been carrying out experiments that would discover a nuclear reaction that would not produce radiation. However this was not the original intention of their experiments.

What the scientists had been seeking to do fundamentally was to create a fusion of the elements hydrogen and helium, in essence fusing hydrogen into helium. This was most likely due to the high demand for helium at the time in the creation of air ships or zeppelins, which required lifting gas in order to become airborne. Hydrogen had been used most commonly to lift airships, but there were concerns over its flammability, and so, helium was considered a safer option. Unfortunately it was not readily available in countries outside the USA, as there had been a ban on importing helium that had been in operation since World War I.

This need for helium also accounts for an aspect of the reasons why theories of cold fusion came about. Obviously in this case it was not the focal point of the experiments, but merely an accidental finding, however this does not take from the fact that scientific theories are thought up in times of need, after all, necessity is the mother of invention. In the 1920’s helium was needed for airships, but in the 1980’s people were newly becoming aware of the effects of global warming, and so, a less harmful way to produce energy was required if such environmental damage was to be avoided. Fleischmann and Pons thought they had discovered this much needed new way of creating energy without the production of harmful by-products, and it was so important because it was something that the world urgently needed.

To return to Paneth and Peters, by 1926 the two were successful in discovering a way of fusing hydrogen into helium with the use of Palladium, a rare chemical element that comes in the form of a shiny, silvery white metal. In their paper it reads, “The basic idea for our work is therefore to test whether hydrogen, without adding energy, can be transformed into helium if one brings it together with a suitable catalyst. We thought from the beginning of Pd (palladium) as a catalysing substance.” (Paneth & Peters, 1926) Paneth then claimed that they had created an impossibly large amount of helium after having treated hydrogen with palladium. This discovery seemed to be an added bonus for Paneth, since he had already achieved his original goal of creating helium.

Unfortunately, just like what was to happen with Fleischmann and Pons in 1989, the experiment was studied in greater detail in regards to the excess helium production and errors were identified. It was concluded that the helium had come from the environment instead of being a result of the fusion of hydrogen and palladium. This was because the permeability of glass for helium was higher when heat was added. And so, the excitement that Paneth and Peters had accidentally discovered something that would change the world disappeared, and the two scientists could do nothing else but retract their publication “On the Conversion of Hydrogen to Helium” that was to report their findings in relation to the presence of excess helium.

In fact, this same paper was translated from German into English at the height of the excitement over cold fusion when Fleischmann and Pons first announced their discovery in ’89. The fact that Paneth and Peters’ 1926 paper was brought back into the spotlight in the eighties further stabilizes the notion that the experiments conducted by Fleischmann and Pons were an advancement on what had occurred in the twenties. If this is the case then there must be reason to believe that cold fusion is not a myth, but that the true formula for creating it simply continues to evade scientists the world over.

Be that as it may, Paneth and Peters were not the only ones to contribute towards theories of cold fusion in the twenties. John Tandberg, an employee of the Electrolux Research Laboratory in Stockholm had also been working with hydrogen and palladium. In his experiments, Tandberg was searching for a metal that would seal hydrogen gas in refrigerators. His work lead him to discover, just as Paneth and Peters had, that the element palladium had some very special characteristics. From this discovery, Tandberg wanted to come up with a method for the release of atomic energy. He went on to build an electrolyte cell that would split ordinary water, and in this he used palladium as one of the electrodes in order to concentrate hydrogen at the palladium surface.

Tandberg went on to try to patent his experiments in what he titled, “A Method to Produce Helium and Useful Energy”. Unfortunately Tandberg’s application was rejected, this was obviously a huge setback for him, but it did not prevent him from continuing his work and trying again. The chemist was determined to keep working on his experiments with palladium and helium and decided to join forces with his work colleague Torsten Wilner in order to improve on what he had already achieved so far. The problem that came when the two tried to patent the work a second time was not due to the idea being lacking, but rather it was because it had not been explained to a standard satisfactory to those reviewing it.

However, perseverance was a theme that predominated Tandberg’s career and he went on to spend many years completing further experiments pertaining to his idea while working at the Electrolux Laboratories. One of the variants he tried later in his career was to electrochemically charge a palladium wire with deuterium, also known as heavy hydrogen, which he hypothesised would create electrochemical CNF, or cold nuclear fusion. This experiment was carried out in 1932, and Tandberg, who was still working alongside Wilner at the time, thought it would be possible to compress the deuterium even further if he electrically exploded the charged wire. Funnily enough, it is said that Tandberg requested his work partner leave and go home while he tried out the charged wire experiment, just in case he accidentally created a dangerous explosion. Sadly, the idea proved fruitless, however it was valuable in that it had laid the ground work for the discovery of laser induced fusion, as well as the proposal for a mini hydrogen bomb.

Another variation Tandberg tried later on was to bombard a palladium sheet saturated in deuterium with deuterium ions, or deuterons. This experiment was very important in terms of the results recorded by the chemists, which was the creation of helium 3 and neutrons, and this would go on to make up a part of the deuteron + deuteron fusion reaction. It’s amazing to think how each scientific discovery, no matter how small, can go on to be the catalyst for another, which seems to have been the case with the majority of Tandberg’s work. The invention of the hydrogen bomb has always been closely connected to creating nuclear fusion. In fact, you could say that the ability of scientists to create hydrogen bombs also made them ever more determined to find a way to realise controlled nuclear fusion. In other words, they wanted to discover how to create nuclear energy through hot fusion, and in turn scientists such as Fleischmann and Pons would begin to theorise about cold fusion, the interconnecting pattern of ideas can be seen to flow over history.

The road to the discovery of the possibility of cold fusion is both long and varied. A significant theory closely connected to that of cold fusion is Luis Alvarez’s discovery of muon-catalyzed fusion in the 1950’s. This idea began with the work of F.C Frank at the University of Bristol in 1947. Frank’s idea was that the muon, a fundamental particle similar to an electron, could potentially be a catalyst in creating fusion in hydrogen isotopes at room temperature. The value lay in the fact that the muon would remain unaltered at the end of the fusion and so could continue to make more and more fusions thereafter. This was undeniably a radical discovery and many more scientists went on to research it in the following years.

However, it was not until 1956 when Luis Alvarez, an inventor and experimental physicist, who was working at the University of California that the idea was consolidated. Alvarez had been working with a team in conducting bubble chamber research, which is when an object is filled with a superheated transparent liquid, normally hydrogen, in order to detect electrically charged particles moving through it. During this research Alvarez reported some unusual findings in relation to muons, he found they had stopped inside a vessel that contained deuterium and liquid hydrogen. In the end it was discovered that this was in fact muon catalysed fusion in action.

As you would expect, much tension and excitement ensued as the group became aware that they might have discovered the ultimate solution to global fuel needs. But then, as seems to be the legacy of cold fusion breakthroughs, problems arose. It was concluded that despite the initial findings, the lifespan of the muon was so limited that it would not last long enough to facilitate more than two fusions at a time. Therefore, in order to generate the muons necessary to make this happen it would require far too much energy as well as money. And so, another instance of hope in the history of cold fusion was foiled yet again. Thankfully though, all was not lost for Alvarez, as he went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1968 for his work on nuclear magnetic resonance.

Any experimentation or research into cold fusion stopped in the next two decades, until the 1970’s when a group of scientists in Russia began working with tritium and deuterium. These scientists theorised that resonance would occur if you mixed together deuterium and tritium under special conditions. Resonance is a theory in physics where a system will oscillate at a higher amplitude at certain frequencies. This theory was significant because it would facilitate over 100 fusions per muon if it were to work. And this is where the work on cold fusion begins to connect back to Fleischmann and Pons.

Steven Jones, the physicist whose work on cold fusion was published at the same time as Fleischmann and Pons, saw the reports of this theory and was excited by the possibilities it presented. Jones wanted to see if the prediction would work, and so by the early eighties he had assembled his research group to carry out a series of experiments. These same experiments were funded by the US Department of Energy, which shows just how much confidence there was in what could be achieved by Jones and his group. Over the next couple of years some positive results were found during these experiments, but not enough to cement the legitimacy of the idea. The problem again lay with the muons, and the fact they were not catalysing as many fusions as was predicted. So at this time it seemed that the muon was not going to be the breakthrough catalytic element to facilitate cold nuclear fusion.

Jones began to think that perhaps there were other ways to get the results he was looking for, and pushed aside the idea of muon catalysed fusion in search of another method. This was when he encountered the geophysicist Paul Palmer of Brigham Young University who had a theory of his own. Interestingly enough, Palmer was also the man who came to coin the term “cold fusion”, but that was all in the future. At this point Palmer’s idea centred around helium 3, a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium, which is found in unusually large amounts in volcanic gases, rocks and liquids. As well as this, Helium 3, or tralphium, occurs with deuterium + deuterium fusion and hydrogen + deuterium fusion. So Palmer theorised that maybe there was already some kind of cold fusion occurring in the earth and that this occurrence might be replicated by scientists in their labs.

Needless to say, Jones was completely taken with this new idea and suggested that perhaps if tritium could be found in emissions from volcanoes then it would prove that cold fusion was taking place naturally here on earth. From here Jones used a report from 1972 of a tritium monitoring station near a volcano in Hawaii which stated it had found a correlation between tritium and volcanic activity. This is what drove Jones to continue his work on cold fusion which would come to a head with the work of Fleischmann and Pons in 1989.

So, now a picture has been drawn of the history of cold fusion, from its beginnings in the 1920’s, through to its revelatory if unsuccessful reveal to the world in the late eighties. If we look at the evidence it is clear that a lot of insights into the theory came about by accident, with scientists making discoveries about it whilst carrying out experiments into other areas. However, this is not to suggest that the reason why it was discovered was all to do with chance, and certainly the enthusiasm of those scientists lucky enough to make breakthroughs shows how very vital this means of creating energy was, and still is, to the world. Cold fusion was a theory that brought hope, and that is why it will surely continue to garner attention from researchers, scientists and indeed the general public the world over for many more years to come.

[ N.B: This article is a short abstract of the Ebook: "Cold Fusion Conspiracies" : if you own a website related to Cold fusion/Lenr and you want a full copy to redistribute to your visitors, please write to ebook[at]coldfusion3.com . Thank you ]