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infinite energy

Infinite Energy Device Update
Progress in Les Case's Catalytic Fusion
Published in IE Volume 4, Issue #23
by Gene Mallove July, 1999

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Latest Experiments
Well the situation basically is this. This is the vessel. It's a modified oxygen tank and in it is a thermo-well, this is a gas inlet and outlet, and this is simply a port for putting solids in or out. Now in the bottom of this vessel, which is heated in this jacket, there are about 40-50 grams of standard chemical catalyst. It's been contacted now with deuterium gas for six or seven weeks and, using hydrogen in this vessel under exactly these conditions, I got a steady state temperature of 181.5°C. Now, when I switched to deuterium it started off about 180°C, slowly rose over the space of two or three days, and finally levelled out at about 220°C, maybe a little bit more than 220°C. Right now it's about 215°C, almost 35°C hotter with deuterium inside than it was with hydrogen. This is excess heat, which is apparently occurring due to deuterium fusing to helium-4.

So, inside this vessel now for six or seven weeks, we have had deuterium fusing to helium-4 and giving this excess temperature of about 35°C, which is big— a really big effect compared to previous effects of practically unmeasurable temperature increases. This one is now continuing and maybe will continue for some weeks or months still. The idea is to test the reliability of the catalyst. The catalyst must work for some months or it's not a viable commercial process. You have to be able to load up your reactor and have it generate the heat for months without having to re-do the catalyst, because it's expensive and too much of a problem. So this is rather encouraging. It looks like it may be totally stable, or at worst, over the space of many months drop 10, 20, 30% in activity, which is acceptable.

Helium Measurements
Now, when this experiment is concluded for one reason or another, a gas sample is going to be taken off through here and analyzed for helium-4. With any luck, it may even read over 100 ppm of helium-4, maybe 200 or 150 parts per million. It won't be going up to a thousand parts but it's going to 50 or 100 or more. This is very very significant, because the helium-4 content of air is 5.2 ppm. So anytime you get above 5.2 ppm you're making it. So this vessel is sitting here making, as we watch, helium-4 at a temperature of 215°C. Now this is a very novel concept: that you can have nuclear fusion occur at 215°C and one atmosphere pressure. Those are very, very mild conditions compared to what they're doing in plasma fusion and the H-bomb.

I had run this experiment several times before and obtained samples which I had analyzed at the OakRidge National Laboratory by the kind people at Lockheed Martin. I had some trouble with leakage and sent some bad samples and one or two fairly decent samples. One sample was contaminated after I adjusted the leakage and measured something like 100 ppm of helium-4. But they were able to analyze a good sample at something like 91 ppm of helium-4. Now the equipment is not ideal, because it's a big magnetic sector instrument and it separates out helium-4 from deuterium, which also has a mass of 4 by a very small difference in mass— something like 1%. That's the only way they do it, they don't trap out the deuterium. Because the helium is at a very low concentration, they see the helium-4 peak as just a bump on the side of the deuterium peak. So it's very iffy.

Now, some of the people at Vancouver [ICCF-7], at least, saw this as not particularly reliable, but certainly interesting. They began to try to reproduce this rather quickly in May. Certainly by June other people were trying to reproduce this result. One of the people who tried to reproduce it was a man named Russ George who has an association with SRI International in Menlo Park, California. He set up their equipment, apparently with permission of the group, and tried to reproduce this. The way he originally set it up, it didn't work. He got no [excess] heat and, of course, no helium. We had a brief consultation about it and I explained to him that you can't run the apparatus that way. I made a couple of suggested changes and it immediately took off with heat generation. Then he used their mass spectrometer instrument to analyze for the helium produced after 24 or 28 days, and he got a helium content up to about 11 ppm, which is far above anything that can be explained from leakage in from the air. And, because it had started at zero and went up to 11 parts per million in a monotonic way, that is, always a rising function, it clearly was coming from inside the vessel and not from contamination.

Now, those data aren't considered by the people at SRI to be definitive enough to be published. They are very, very strongly indicative that there is helium-4 generation by this fusion under these conditions. Now that result is going to be re-confirmed by SRI in a much more careful and definitive fashion. When the data are finally very very firm and unassailable, "bullet-proof," they call it, that will be published in a definitive paper saying this is now proof that we are getting helium-4 generated and we get a correlation between the helium-4 generation and the heat output. This clearly is a catalytic fusion, it really is working and, in fact, it is a new branch of physics.

My objective always has been not to play around scientifically, because I'm not really a physicist, but to head towards commercialization. I really want to go to a 100-megawatt reactor within two to three years, which is really compressing the time scale, but it may be possible. So the idea is to scale it up. Now I wanted to scale it up, but other people want me to have it so it can sit there and, for instance, unplug this electric heater and it stays hot— self-sustaining heat or, as Gene Mallove says, "Life [sic] after death" [heat after death]. It will stay hot without any heat input from the outside.

Well, I'm trying to achieve both a scale-up and self-sustaining heating by bringing it up to a larger scale. This one has 40 grams of catalyst in it. This is a much larger vessel, this happens to be a modified stainless steel dewar, which is an insulating vessel. In this I will have one kilogram of catalyst, which is 25 times as much as in here. But the heat loss is not 25 times as much as the bigger vessel. The heat loss is maybe three or four times what the smaller vessel has. So if I had three or four times this heat loss and 25 times the heat generation, then presumably this one might self-sustain.

Maybe I'll get 250, approximately 250 watts of heat output from the catalyst inside this larger vessel. So this is a model scale up of the same reaction in this flask. The stainless dewar is as it came from a cryogenics apparatus. This is the cover and these are steam tubes. This is a heating device. The heat comes into this immersion heater, which is transferred to this aluminum fillet, which is transferred through this inner tube. I call this a "hot finger," the heat is being transferred into the hot finger and then it goes into the deuterium gas. If necessary, I will take some heat out using the steam tubes. There's a pressure gauge here and a gas inlet and outlet. I have two thermo-wells. I can use a thermocouple and stick it into either of these two thermo-wells. One of the thermo-wells is dipping into the catalyst layer, the other is out in the gas phase. However, it isn't that easily constructed. Inside there are some tricks to the way it's been defined and the way it's going to run. But the hope is that this, which will be run within a few days— I finally got it ready to go, work in progress, you know. Within a few days it may reach self-sustaining heating. And then, of course, the idea is: OK, so this is 250 watts, now let's go to 5 kilowatts. Once I go to 5 kW then I'm going to ask someone for some money to design 5 megawatts, or something of the sort.

It is critical the way you have the gas in contact with the catalyst, that's clear. That's been shown by the previous experimenters. With careful scale-up and changing the way the thing is done there's no reason why it can't go to 25 megawatts and 100 and then maybe 1,000 megawatts. I'm going to stop there. A thousand megawatts— that's big enough.

There are very many implications of this for society. One of them is that there's enough deuterium in the oceans to satisfy all the world's energy needs for a hundred million years. So there's more potential energy in the deuterium in the oceans than there is in all the fossil fuels combined by a factor of, what, a million or something, maybe ten million. But that isn't all. It isn't just that there's an unlimited supply of future energy. This is very cheap energy, because deuterium from the oceans compared to the amount of energy it produces is very, very cheap. The fuel cost is very much lower than fossil fuel. Deuterium as a fuel is surprisingly much cheaper than coal, and this is a big shock to people to contemplate an energy source much, much cheaper than coal. As a matter of fact, it may be more than two orders-of-magnitude cheaper than coal.

That isn't the end of it. The byproduct or, rather the product, of this reaction is helium-4, that's pretty clear. Helium-4 is totally inactive and benign. If you want to you can vent it to the atmosphere. It doesn't make a bit of difference. So this has the promise of getting rid of the greenhouse effect [threat]. When you substitute deuterium fusion for fossil fuel combustion, you start cutting down to the extent that you do that substitution. You cut down on air pollution, you cut down on the greenhouse effect, you cut down global warming. So, ultimately, in ten years or so, we will have totally defeated the greenhouse effect and global warming and air pollution— all at the same time. The public needs to really understand that. It's critical to develop this as quickly as possible to cut down on these horrendous problems of global warming, the greenhouse effect, and air pollution.

Dispersed Power Generation
It is going to be possible, I believe, to design a passive non-moving source to maybe 5 kilowatts or 10 kilowatts, using the technology represented by this, assuming that it works. But it's not going to be possible to scale up to megawatts. It's going to be possible to go to a few kilowatts. Now a few kilowatts is sufficient for a house, and it would make steam and electricity at the same time using a small co-generation unit, or it could be made slightly larger for an apartment or for a location such as a mountain top villa or something of that order. But I cannot conceive of scaling this up, this type of technology, to megawatts. So there will have to be a fundamental redesign of the reactor. I have some strong ideas on how that should be done. Also, you are going to have to change the catalyst. This depends on palladium or platinum metal. There is a very definite limitation on the amount of palladium and platinum metal that's available for the world. If you were to use palladium catalysts of the type that's now in sight to built a 100 megawatt plant as a small commercial-sized power plant, you need something like 5% of the world's palladium supply in one power plant. You can't build very many power plants a year without severely impacting the palladium market. So there will have to be a change of the catalyst.

I have some far-distant ideas on that. So there will have to be a way to use titanium or nickel or some other metal— a non-platinum group metal as the catalyst— as one scales up and goes commercial. That may take some years, but that clearly is the way for the future.

This is the key to the whole thing. I discovered that using certain standard commercial catalysts, one could get this fusion to occur under reproducible, mild conditions. This is the catalyst that I've set upon as being about the most effective that I currently have available. This is a standard palladium on activated carbon catalyst. One-half percent by weight of palladium loaded on this activated carbon— this is the key. You change this just a little bit and it doesn't work— at all! But if you stay within the approved ranges, it works basically all the time. This is my contribution to find that that specific catalyst, within a certain limited range, operates under these standard conditions.

(End of Les Case's account.)

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