NEW ENERGY FOUNDATION-CONCORD, NH
March 20, 2004
U.S. Department of Energy Will Review
15 Years of "Cold Fusion" Excess Heat and Nuclear Evidence
Exciting news that has circulated for about a month
in the low-energy nuclear reactions field (LENR, a.k.a. "cold
fusion") has now been confirmed. The U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) has agreed to perform a review of the entire "cold fusion"
(LENR) question. The DOE has made a startling reversal of its past
refusal to evaluate with a fresh look the large body of experimental
evidence that now supports highly anomalous non-chemical magnitude
excess heat phenomena in some hydrogen systems, plus associated
nuclear anomalies. The details of how the review will be conducted
and when it is to begin have not yet been released formally, but
it is expected to be completed by the end of 2004.
News of this major DOE reversal comes at a time of
growing concern about present and future energy resources, as well
as debate over funding for controlled thermonuclear fusion research,
that is, "hot" fusion. It also comes at a time when much
discussion of the "hydrogen economy" and fuel cells fills
the media. LENR research suggests, by contrast, that orders-of-magnitude
more powerful energy reserves are associated with hydrogen than
conventionally understood chemical energy models would allow. This
ought to please open-minded environmentalists and others concerned
about the future of the energy-environment problem and potential
impacts on the global climate.
Just as after the the original announcements by chemists
Drs. Martin Fleischmann and B. Stanley Pons at the University of
Utah on March 23, 1989 and by physicist Steven E. Jones at Brigham
Young University subsequently, this disclosure by the U.S. DOE is
certain to prompt intense controversy and expectation. The great
difference this time, however, is that a much larger body of excellent
published experimental work now exists from researchers around the
globe, which the DOE should be compelled to examine in its review.
By right, this review should have happened a decade ago but better
late than never. In our view, the body of supporting evidence for
large magnitude excess heat and nuclear products in "cold fusion"
is so solid at this time that it would essentially be intellectually
impossible for an objective DOE panel to come to other than a very
positive conclusion about the evidence and the prospect of technological
applications. Of course, it is quite possible that bureaucratic,
unethical machinations will again occur that will preclude such
a reasonable outcome. We hope that does not happen.
Another difference between now and 1989: there are
now operational experimental electrolytic and other excess energy
cells in various laboratories in the U.S. and abroad; these are
producing repeatable, verifiable excess energy that cannot possibly
be explained by ordinary chemical reactions. In some cases, for
example, one watt of electrical input power goes into a closed cell
and an output power of 3 to 4 watts of heat occurs for a prolonged
time. Much more powerful cells have also been operated. There is
evidence of helium-4 and helium-3 production, tritium production,
low-level neutron emissions, charged particles, light emission spectral
anomalies, the formation of unusual chemical compounds, and even
the transmutation of heavy elements in what seems to be a mix of
fusion- and fission-like reactions. Laser radiation, ultrasonic
activation, and magnetic fields, among a variety of other stimuli,
have been found to enhance LENR reactions. It appears that an entirely
new realm of physics and chemistry is suggested by the expanding
body of experimental evidence. There are almost certainly implications
for biology and medicine too. Many of the scientific papers from
the LENR field and other historical materials can now be freely
downloaded from the websites: www.lenr-canr.org
and from www.infinite-energy.com.
The confirmation of the DOE review came first in a
draft article by Physics Today science journalist Toni Feder.
This draft was circulated to several LENR scientists, critics, and
others who gave input to Ms. Feder. New Energy Foundation provided
input to Ms. Feder and welcomed receipt of the draft article from
her. The article is to appear in Physics Today's April 2004
issue, which should be out by the first week of April. Physics
Today is published by the American Physical Society, an organization
which by-and-large has not been open to the study of LENR phenomena,
though it has allowed small sessions on the subject to be organized
at its national meetings. In fact, the late LENR theorist, Nobel
laureate Julian Schwinger, resigned from the APS in the early 1990s
because the APS journals refused to publish his theories about the
possible mechanisms of cold fusion.
The first popular journal to publish the news of the
impending DOE review is, however, the UK-based New Scientist.
In its March 20, 2004 issue (which was received in the mail on March
20 at New Energy Foundation) freelance journalist Ben Daviss reports
in a short article in the "Upfront: News in Perspective"
section (p. 6), that James Decker, deputy director of the DOE's
Office of Science, "has pledged to review evidence from the
past 15 years of research in the controversial field." Daviss
also writes, "The study could be completed by January 2005
and might open up the possibility of funding for cold fusion research
There is additional high-level scientific support
for the DOE review: Former DOE Office of Science Director, Dr. Mildred
Dresselhaus (an MIT Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer
Science) is quoted in the Physics Today article: "I
think scientists should be open-minded. Historically, many things
get overturned with time." Prof. Dresselhaus was on the original
ERAB (Energy Research Advisory Board) Cold Fusion Panel in 1989,
which rendered a highly negative and very premature report on November
1, 1989. Though over the years she has not been one of the highly
antagonistic critics of LENR with which that panel was packed, she
did not assist approaches to the DOE for LENR reconsideration, during
her brief position at the DOE in the Clinton Administration years.
This is a welcome turn-around for MIT Prof. Dresselhaus, for which
we commend her.
The initiative that helped launch the impending review
was a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham from MIT Professor
Peter Hagelstein, a cold fusion theorist since 1989. Prof. Hagelstein
chaired ICCF10, the Tenth International Conference on Cold Fusion,
which was held in Cambridge, MA and in part at MIT, August 24-29,
2003. Solid demonstrations of excess power in electrolytic cells
were exhibited on the MIT campus by two scientific groups. It was
shortly after ICCF10 that Prof. Hagelstein wrote to Spencer Abraham.
New Energy Foundation's magazine, Infinite Energy, published
Hagelstein's letter in its November/December 2003 issue (Vol.9,
#52, p. 46).
Prof. Hagelstein told the U.S. Secretary of Energy
that Wall Street Journal reporter Sharon Begley, who had
attended ICCF10 for a few days, concluded in her "Science Journal"
column of September 5, 2003, "that perhaps most problematic
about the conference was not what was presented and discussed at
the conference, but the lack of interest on the part of the scientific
community." The Begley column was titled: "Cold Fusion
Isn't Dead, It's Just Withering from Scientific Neglect." The
door to the DOE was evidently further opened by Randall Hekman,
who is an MIT graduate (1969), a former judge, and an energy entrepreneur
(Hekman Industries). Hekman knows Spencer Abraham and Republican
Congressman Vern Ehlers from Michigan, who is a physicist. Ehlers
is quoted in the Physics Today article that it is time for
a new review "because there is enough work going on and some
of the scientists in the area are from respected institutions."
One potential minefield for an honest review of the
LENR evidence, apart from the bias and well-known hostility of the
pathological skeptics, is the raising of the straw man of the alleged
"requirement" for comprehensive microphysical explanation
of LENR phenomena before the experimental data can be accepted.
That is a well-known anti-scientific tactic that the pathological
skeptics have employed for years. There have been many proposed
theories to explain the evidence both the excess heat and the nuclear
products but no single theory appears yet to encompass all the evidence.
That is not an unusual condition on the frontiers of physics and
science in general, which the critics pretend to forget. So, our
strongest advice for a fundamental ground rule for the DOE review
is that the review should focus primarily on determining this key
finding: the validity of the evidence for non-chemical magnitude
excess heat and nuclear anomalies as well as any other physical
anomalies associated with the systems, such as anomalies in light
emission. Involved judgments about how the verified phenomena operate
should be reserved for the future.
In May 1991, Eugene Mallove, president of the New
Energy Foundation, wrote in Fire from Ice: Searching for the
Truth Behind the Cold Fusion Furor (John Wiley & Sons):
After reviewing mounting evidence from cold fusion
experiments, I am persuaded that it provides a compelling indication
that a new kind of nuclear process is at work. I would say that
the evidence is overwhelmingly compelling that cold fusion
is a real, new nuclear process capable of significant excess power
generation. . .There is yet no proved nuclear explanation for
the excess heat. That excess heat exists is amply proved. (From
the Preface, p. xv)
This conclusion of 1991, in the first book in the
world which presented a positive evaluation of the discovery, was
based on already very, very solid evidence. Now the DOE review panel
has much more evidence to back up that same conclusion. It remains
valid in 2004 as it was in 1991. Another excellent book, which reviews
the entire cold fusion saga, is by MIT-trained engineer Charles
Beaudette (MIT 1952), Excess Heat: Why Cold Fusion Research Prevailed
(2002 edition, available in the
Furthermore, it is the view of the New Energy Foundation
(perhaps not shared by many in the LENR field) that the DOE review
as part of its task should examine other significant New Energy-related
research that has been published, beyond what is ordinarily confined
within the LENR field (www.lenr-canr.org).
This research is almost certain to shed significant light on what
has been found within LENR proper. In particular, there are three
primary websites where such closely-related technical information
and can be obtained:
(New Energy Foundation)
(BlackLight Power Corporation)
(Labofex and Aurora Biophysics Research Institute)
As an additional assist to the prospective DOE review,
a Memorandum to the White House from New Energy Foundation president
Eugene Mallove (requested by President Clinton's staff in February
2000, following the urging of our supporter Sir Arthur C. Clarke)
has been posted at www.infinite-energy.com/resources/memotowhhouse.html.
Review panelists and concerned citizens should examine this document.
It provides a concise historical and technical overview of the scientific
problem of energy from water, titled "The Strange Birth of
the Water Fuel Age." Unfortunately, neither the Clinton Administration
nor the present Bush Administration acted on the suggestions of
this Memorandum, until the present impending review, which was separately
prompted by Professor Hagelstein's letter. We sincerely praise U.S.
Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham for facilitating this landmark
decision to launch a review.
Concerned citizens (and especially MIT graduates)
should also examine the 55-page report about the events at MIT in
the early days of the cold fusion controversy a downloadable
pdf-file at www.infinite-energy.com/images/pdfs/mitcfreport.pdf.
As a final note: Though we very much appreciate that
the DOE will be carrying out a review of the LENR evidence, we do
not need the DOE's imprint and approval to realize that we are dealing
with a critical frontier of scientific and technological research
that has been validated long ago. Funding for New Energy research
is needed now, not in nine or ten months! The DOE review is in some
sense at best a corrective to a severe "political problem"
that has occurred within the house of official science and in mainstream
scientific publication. Therefore, we urge readers of this message
to consider charitable contributions
to the New Energy Foundation (a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation).
These contributions already have made possible scientific research
grants to New Energy investigators especially within LENR,
as well as ongoing scientific publication efforts: books, magazines,
video tapes, DVDs, etc. For example, New Energy Foundation helped
fund the ICCF10 conference in Cambridge, MA last August, which helped
lead to the DOE review breakthrough. ICCF11, which will be in Marseilles,
France October 31-November 5, 2004 (www.iccf11.org)
is also in need of financial support from the New Energy Foundation.
New Energy Foundation
P.O. Box 2816
Concord, NH 03302-2816
Response to the DOE Review (Charles Beaudette).
10, 2004 - DOE
Cold Fusion Review Summary Posted Online
Read a summary of the DOE's December 2004
review of low-energy nuclear reactions.
25, 2005 - IE
Editor Scott Chubb Comments on the DOE Re-Review