New Energy Research Laboratory Device
and Process Testing Update
Published in IE Issue #36, March/April
by Eugene Mallove
"Hot" Cathode Emerges
A platinum cathode in a heavy water electrolysis
system has once again been made to produce excess energy (see discussion
in report on ICCF-8, IE No. 32, p. 28). Dr. Edmund Storms
reported to us recently from his Santa Fe, New Mexico laboratory
that a platinum cathode was caused to make excess energy on purpose
by applying a special surface coating. Three samples have been made
to work at excess power levels up to 400 mW. The nature of the "active
region" on the new cathode is still not understood, but it clearly
is not consistent with previous experience and theories in the cold
fusion field, Storms says. In private discussions with NERL, Storms
said he believes the method is very reproducible and can be made
to produce higher levels of excess power than he is obtaining at
this time. At the moment, the power ratio is very modest. Input
power to the electrolysis ranged from 10 to 25 watts when excess
heat was present. Excess power is apparently proportional to current.
If this turns out to be a viable, reproducible cathode
methodology, it would be expected to offer great benefits to the
cold fusion field. We'll keep readers posted on what develops from
this new direction.
Miley Thin Film Cathodes
Dr. Storms began testing the thin film cathodes
that were prepared by Prof. George Miley's group at the University
of Illinois. So far he has found no evidence of excess heat, but
to be fair, the batch of cathodes seems to embody a basic problem:
cracking of the thin metallic films on the glass or quartz substrate.
"It is very clear to me that the films are breaking up and becoming
detached from the substrate during electrolysis," Storms wrote upon
viewing SEM photos provided by the Miley group. No excess power
was produced over a wide current density range. In Dr. Storms' opinion,
the behavior of the as-received Miley cathodes indicates that loading
causes damage, which leads to de-loading, especially in the region
near the anode wire. These samples all show the same basic behavior,
hence they need to be replaced by samples which do not show this
effect before any more studies are done.
Dr. Storms will have time to test some new samples
on the road to laying to rest the influence of cracking, as found
in the first batch of thin-film cathodes delivered to NERL. Storms
has demonstrated that using the open circuit voltage as an analysis
tool provides a quick method to identify cracking, thereby allowing
him to sort through samples prepared by different methods rather
easily. Using this technique, he could help Dr Miley's group identify
the proper conditions so that the supplied samples would be more
Storms wrote to us: "The
main problem is not with the location of the anode, but with the
characteristics of the thin films. These films are destined to come
apart when they load. The end near the anode loads most, hence comes
apart first and most rapidly. If loading were uniform, the entire
sample would come apart at the same time. By having non-uniform
loading, hopefully some part of the sample would achieve a sufficiently
high loading to make heat before it also came apart. Of course,
this is a bad design if the sample were expected to make heat over
its entire surface.
"A basic materials problem exists. Palladium must
expand when it loads. The Ni also will expand, but in a different
amount. The glass remains fixed so something has to give. By making
the glass rough and by making the layers very thin, expansion would
not cause the layer to delaminate-this may have been the thought.
Presumably, Miley has achieved success in this respect."
Dash Titanium Cathode Cell Testing
With minimal changes to its set up, Dr. Storms
tested a cell that had been designed and built by Ed Wall here at
NERL to reproduce the work of Prof. John Dash with titanium cathodes.
Storms filed this report with us:
"I have finished the study of the Ti sample within
the cell you sent. The Seebeck calorimeter was used with D2O+H2SO4
electrolyte and this was calibrated after the Ti study using a dead
Pt cathode. The results are as follows:
||Excess power, W (±0.05W)
"The sample lost 0.00674g (10.3%) during the study
and a copper colored solid precipitate was found floating within
the electrolyte. Because the cell was not gas tight, I could not
measure the amount of D taken up by the sample. However, the shape
of the precipitate suggests that a thin layer was removed more or
less intact from the surface as a result of hydride formation.
"I believe no excess energy was made and the slight
negative bias resulted because the cell had to be disturbed in order
to insert the Pt cathode for calibration. This could have been avoided
if an internal heater had been installed."
First Gate Energies Reactor
In November, we acquired from Roger Stringham
of First Gate Energies a sonofusion reactor of the general type
that has been described in some articles about this technology in
the magazine.1,2 Eugene Mallove initially visited Stringham
in his California laboratory to observe his methods of power measurement,
data collection, and analysis. Calorimetric measurement of the thermal
losses from the external oscillator circuit for the ultrasonic transducers
determines the input electrical power to the reactor transducers.
Calibration of the reactor proper with an internal joule heater
allows determination of output power during experiments.
The overall conclusion of the site visit was that
measurements were being properly made and analyzed, such that at
least a two-fold amplification of input electrical power to the
transducers appears to be achieved by Stringham, e.g. 10 electrical
watts input, 20 watts thermal output. However, the excess heat power
"rides" on top of an additional 50 watt input from joule heating,
required in the present configuration to raise the temperature of
the argon gas-pressurized heavy water high enough for the cold fusion
effects to appear. In principle, this drawback could be eliminated
by insulating the reactor. We will evaluate Stringham's reactor
at NERL, first confirming its performance to our satisfaction using
his protocols and then working with First Gate Energies to create
a user-friendly demonstration device.
1. Benson, T. 1995. "A 'Micro-Fusion' Reactor:
Nuclear Reactions 'in the Cold' by Ultrasonic Cavitation," Infinite
Energy, 1, 1, 33-37.
2. Stringham, R., Chandler, J., George, R., Passell, T.,
and Raymond, D. 1998. "Cavitation in D2O with Metal Targets Produce
Predictable Excess Heat," Infinite Energy, 4, 19, 41-44.