Sidney Kimmel Institute at the University of Missouri
Sidney Kimmel, a philanthropist who founded The Jones Group—which encompasses fashion industry pillars such as Jones New York, Anne Klein, Nine West and Gloria Vanderbilt—made the largest donation ever given by a non-alumnus to the University of Missouri (MU). The $5.5 million is to be used to create the Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance (SKINR), which will study effects related to low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR).
At the time of the donation, Kimmel stated, “Very much like my commitments to cancer research, I believe in investing for America’s future generations. I chose the University of Missouri for this important gift because it is a comprehensive university, experienced in using its deep scientific research capacity across many fields with its firm commitment to serve the public good. This may be futuristic, but when it comes to energy, our future is now.”
How did this extraordinary support of future energy technology research come to pass? Kimmel has funded the work of Energetics Technologies for a number of years. The Sidney Kimmel Foundation office advises that, “The interest grew as there was progress in the energy field, as dependence on foreign oil became more prevalent. The move of Energetics from Israel to MU was prompted by the growing relationship with Rob Duncan, and the need to find a bigger platform than was apparently available from the configuration in Israel.”
Kimmel’s introduction to the field began with the LifeWaves Cycles Exercise® Program originally based on the work of Irving Dardik. Dardik is the subject of a book, Making Waves: Irving Dardik and His SuperWave Principle, by science writer Roger Lewin. After participating in the LifeWaves® program, Kimmel experienced a new-found vitality and was interested in learning more about the business side of the program. He began working with Alison Godfrey, who was running LifeWaves, to help grow the business. Simultaneously, discussions about utilizing the SuperWave in other areas arose that resulted in Kimmel supporting its application in cold fusion research, with the formulation of Energetics Technologies in Israel. Energetics had important experimental results, which were reported upon in 2009 by “60 Minutes” (see http://www.cbsnews.com/).
Kimmel’s office further advised that his “involvement began with Irv Dardik’s introduction of Herman Branover. Herman was a very engaging personality and had the seed of an idea. It caught Mr. Kimmel’s fancy.”
Long-time LENR researcher Michael McKubre, of SRI, also appeared on the “60 Minutes” program; he credits Kimmel with making a brave series of investments into research that caught his attention even before a groundbreaking presentation at ICCF10 in 2003. McKubre said, “I’d been aware of Energetics before [ICCF10], but they’d been very secretive. I was blown away by progress they’d made. I called it the best paper of the conference, which was about glow discharge experiments with SuperWaves. I was more than a bit suspicious, as they were in my territory loading hydrogen into palladium with these funny looking wave forms. It was strange, but you could not deny results. I wanted to know what they were doing and how they were doing it. I talked to Shaul Lesin of Energetics and Herman Branover, who was brilliant in his time, one of the world leaders in magnetohydrodynamics. He talked to me about the use of SuperWaves in the stirring of liquid metals. I had not met Irv at this time. Branover said, ‘It’s hard; no one thinks cold fusion is real but if it’s true we should be able to test it in a physical system if it is.’ Magnetohydrodynamics is governed by something called the Navier-Stokes equations, which were well known, well understood and well characterized. Branover set the SuperWaves as a boundary condition to the Navier-Stokes equations to see what would happen. Lo and behold, there were very significant advantages in stirring metals that way.”
Stirring metals and the use of this technology in steelmaking is a technology Energetics is still involved in. Kimmel continues to work with the LifeWaves® program for his health.
Robert Duncan, vice chancellor of research at MU, believes that Sidney Kimmel’s philanthropy and his prior business investments in this field are outstanding. “He is visionary, and courageous, as he invests his wealth and efforts in important ways that are advancing our knowledge of the origins of these anomalous heat effects. At a time when most investments in energy research have been centered on making incremental improvements to improve the efficiency of well understood energy sources, Mr. Kimmel has boldly invested in the search for entirely new energy opportunities that we do not yet fully understand. Historically this more exploratory investment strategy has shown great returns to society. Retrospectively, the technology that drives many trillion-dollar a year markets today is based upon scientific discoveries that have been made only within a human lifespan. As an example, much of our modern telecommunication technology—our minimally invasive medical and dental technologies, and even our methods of surveying and inventory control today critically depend on laser technology, which was based on the science of stimulated photon emission and coherent optics—was discovered by Charles Townes and others only about 60 years ago. Mr. Kimmel has shown the wisdom to invest ‘off the beaten path’ in emerging new science that may someday revolutionize our energy technologies. History has shown that this higher-risk investment strategy is essential to the rapid improvement of the human condition.”
Involved in the complexities of research, Duncan made it clear that even initial definitions were subject to scrutiny and different points of view. “I personally like to refer to these extreme heat releases from metals loaded with hydrogen isotopes as the anomalous heat effects (AHE), since we still do not understand their origin. While this has been called ‘cold fusion’ historically, there are alternative theories that predict that conventional nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes is not the origin of the AHE. Hence some refer to these effects as ‘low-energy nuclear reactions’ (LENR). Furthermore, the anomalous heat from hydrogen loaded metal nanoparticles appears to be different in both size and character as well, and this much smaller anomalous heat that these nanoparticles produce is close to the levels of heat release that may be associated with known chemical reactions. So, since it appears that there may be many different new and yet unknown phenomena at work here, I prefer to refer to these phenomena as AHE until we clearly understand the physical origins of these very interesting effects,” Duncan declared.
Duncan also appeared in the “60 Minutes” segment and was approached by Kimmel after the broadcast. Duncan credits the prior work of Kimmel, who was the lead funder of Energetics in Israel and its work at MU. “Energetics Technologies has contributed profoundly to this research,” Duncan said. “They have developed effective dynamical methods to attain very high deuterium loading in palladium that go well beyond the concentrations that can be maintained in equilibrium. Dr. Mike McKubre of SRI has shown how important these high levels of loading are to achieve these anomalous heat effects.”
Duncan said, “While this loading issue has been solved by Energetics Technologies, this is not the only technology that must be mastered in order to make the AHE a reliable new source of energy. It appears now that the nanoscale structure of the palladium surface may be important in determining the amount of heat that is released when the palladium is heavily loaded with deuterium, for reasons that we don’t yet understand. We will strive within SKINR to understand what the nanoscale features are that cause these high levels of heat release, and we intend to use this and other data from these systems to help infer the physical origin of these effects.”
The inner workings of SKINR are not completely defined yet, as the donation has only recently been announced. But, Duncan and others are hard at work on configuring the center. Duncan said, “My focus has been on my administrative duties, on structuring and on providing initial leadership for the Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance (SKINR) at MU, and on detailing our scientific agenda based in part upon collaborative discussions with other laboratories that are doing very careful work in this field.”
In a statement, Kimmel’s office noted, “Goals are unspecified. We understand that this is a very long process, and to establish goals like one might in business would only run the risk of setting a false standard. This is a situation where we just have to let the science (and the scientists) take its course.”
“Seven different major research groups in two colleges and in two major inter-disciplinary centers at MU are planning to participate in this effort to determine the physical origin of the AHE,” Duncan elaborated. “We will use a wide range of measurement systems that have not been conventionally used in these studies to determine the physical origin of the AHE. Our approach is adaptive, in that we will follow the Scientific Method as we design new experiments based upon our experimental results to test future hypotheses. Simply stated, we will go where the data from well-controlled experiments lead us, and that direction is impossible to predict until we have the data.”
Duncan said, “Our initial effort is sharply focused on determining the physical mechanism(s) that is (are) responsible for producing the AHEs. Our more applied research will commence once we understand the basic science that we are applying. R&D groups elsewhere are attempting now to develop engineered systems that utilize these empirical AHE results, and they may succeed in their efforts to bring new products to the market place. Nonetheless, our focus at MU will remain on determining the underlying mechanism systematically, and then later on applying this new knowledge to optimize engineered systems once we really understand what is going on. We will collaborate closely with other labs in this effort, and we will encourage open communication of results in this field along the way. We will not seek media attention, concentrating instead on the science and the technical communication of our scientific results in refereed journals.”
Will SKINR and MU collaborate with other government, institutional or privately funded programs? Duncan replied, “While these austere financial times present real challenges for the start of any new sponsored research program, I do hope that a publicly funded research program will emerge to support the study of these AHEs, and I will continue to be an advocate for this outcome. Any such program should make funding decisions competitively, based on peer review of the scientific merit of the proposals that the funding agency receives in response to broadly distributed public announcements of each funding opportunity. A public research funding strategy can, and in my opinion should, mandate that the scientific results be published openly. This allows scientists to engage each others’ work, check each other and build rapidly on each others’ results.”
Duncan expounded, “No such collaborative agreements exist at this time, but we are meeting with many different universities and major companies over the next few months that have expressed a strong interest in working in this field. We will always position ourselves collaboratively with other research groups whenever possible, since there is so much to do. To my knowledge there are no federally funded programs that actively solicit proposals to conduct research in this area. I hope that competitive, peer-reviewed funding will soon become available in this field, but until it is there will be no federally funded program to which investigators can apply in the United States, unfortunately.”
What effect has the attention garnered by such inventors as Andrea Rossi and announcements about continued work in the area by such companies as Defkalion Green Technologies had, not only on public perception but on possible directions SKINR might take? “I have never met the inventors, and I have no ties to them in any way, but I understand that they have announced their intentions to commercialize products, that they state are based on LENR, very soon,” Duncan responded. “Hence their accomplishments will soon be gauged by the level of satisfaction of their customers. So all we need to do is wait and see what happens. I take no opinion on this either way, neither pro nor con, since I have no independent data to base an opinion on, and since no opinion from me is necessary. These issues will resolve themselves very soon naturally once these inventors deliver their products to the marketplace. Our goal at MU is to determine the physical mechanism that is responsible for the observed AHE, and our scientific effort will stay focused on determining this mechanism, regardless of the outcome of these early commercialization results. Clearly these commercial results may have a profound influence on the level of public support for this field, so I hope all goes well for them, but the scientific search for the underlying physical mechanism will continue either way.”
McKubre commented on the background of Kimmel’s involvement in the field, and future significance of the support: “Sidney Kimmel deserves a huge amount of credit for his vision and tenacity in this field; this gift to the University of Missouri is a testament to his character. When the cold fusion/LENR issue is finally resolved, the world cannot or should not fail to recognize the contributions of the Energetics team supported by Sidney Kimmel, based on the ideas of Irving Dardik, and spearheaded by Herman Branover, Ehud Greenspan and the whole Energetics team. It has been a privilege to work with this group of individuals and a lifetime learning experience for me. Matching the vision of Dardik, the engineering energy and skill of the Israeli team, and the scientific focus and research prowess of Rob Duncan and the professionals at the University of Missouri, was an inspired choice and decision by Sidney. The consequences of this might very well change the world of energy, and energy is the currency of the world.”