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Press Release
NEW ENERGY FOUNDATION-CONCORD, NH
March 20, 2004

department of energy
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 projects."

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 on-line store).

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:

www.infinite-energy.com (New Energy Foundation)
www.blacklightpower.com (BlackLight Power Corporation)
www.aetherometry.com (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
Phone: 603-485-4700
Fax: 603-485-4710

 


Follow-up Links

May 22, 2005 More Response to the DOE Review (Charles Beaudette).

December 10, 2004 - DOE Cold Fusion Review Summary Posted Online
Read a summary of the DOE's December 2004 review of low-energy nuclear reactions.

February 25, 2005 - IE Editor Scott Chubb Comments on the DOE Re-Review



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