Since Pons and Fleischmann posited their work on cold fusion, the topic has been one of controversy . The two scientists claimed to have produced a fusion reaction where more energy was produced that applied to the experiment. Results around the world were mixed and the work went on to be ridiculed. However, advances continued with a fresh look at the technology in 2009 when Navy scientists in San Diego presented results suggesting cold fusion [2, 3].
The main challenge with fusion is getting the heavy hydrogen molecules close enough (read nuclear distance). The tried and proven method has been using high energy approaches such as nuclear weapons and using lasers to force the proper proximity. From a physics 101 view point, electrolysis (used in the experiments) forces heavy hydrogen (deuterium) ions in the palladium electrode. On the surface, this looks like a reasonable description of how we could get the proper nuclear distance. What we may be faced is we simply don’t know what we don’t know. Consider that Edison tried thousands of combinations before he came up with a consistent implementation that resulted in a patent for the light bulb.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A Edison
Have the Department of Energy conduct more applied research to further explore the potential for cold fusion (low energy fusion). While this may be a long shot, we should not overlook any research that could help us reduce our dependence on imported oil.
1. Sarasota Herald-Tribune/AP, ‘Cold-Fusion’ Researchers Attack Criticism by Scientific Journal, May 1, 1989.
2. Harmon, Katherine, Scientific American, After 20 years: New life for cold fusion?, March 23, 2009.
3. Johnson, R Colin, EE Times, Cold fusion experimentally confirmed, March 23, 2009.