What happened to the promise of cold fusion and its virtually limitless, clean energy? That sounds like what we all want, but maybe the results aren’t there. Actually, they are, and go figure, we aren’t all concerned with solving energy crises forever.
Once, this tech was branded with the name Cold Fusion. A more appropriate term would be a Low Energy Nuclear Reaction or LENR for short. The idea is that a low-yield, low-temperature nuclear energy source can potentially bring limitless energy. If you’ve seen the movie The Saint starring Val Kilmer, you might have heard about it.Cold Fusion, or LENR, will be commercialized before we understand the science behind it.Click To Tweet
David J. Nagel, an electrical and computer engineering professor at George Washington University told the Scientific American, “LENR is real experimentally, and not understood theoretically. There are results that you just can’t explain away. Whether it’s cold fusion, low-energy nuclear reactions, or something else—the names are all over the place—we still don’t know. But there’s no doubt that you can trigger nuclear reactions using chemical energy.”
Now, it is worth mentioning at this point that our good friend LENR has a bit of a spotty history and that we would be remiss if we didn’t point and laugh at its past embarrassments.
It’s Called LENR now
Our story begins with cold fusion, or at least, the idea of it. The term was first used in 1956 by physicist Luis Alvarez, but it really took off circa 1989, when physicists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons claimed to have successfully harnessed the nuclear power in an electrolysis cell.
That announcement sent waves throughout the scientific world; waves that would soon hit the seawall of a skeptic scientific community. There they would be summarily debunked and branded ‘junk science.’ For a lot of the scientific community, that brand is still quite deserved.
But fear not, cold fusion fans, because there exists a slew of confirmed replications of the Fleischmann and Pons (P&E) effect throughout the 90’s and early 2000s that fly in the face of the scientific community, proving that scientists are good at two things: doing the impossible, and arguing about it.
Along the way, the science got re-branded as LENR, and today we have two notable figures that are supposedly producing LENR reactors.
The Stars of Today’s Show
There are two notable products that I wish we had more information on when talking about LENR.
First, we have the SunCell being produced by the company Brilliant Light Power (BLP). BLP’s founder, physicist Randell L. Mills, claims to have discovered a theoretical type of hydrogen that he calls a “Hydrino“. According to Mills, the Hydrino can be harnessed for a lot of power using a relatively small reactor, which is where the SunCell design comes in. To put this into scale for you, Mills claims that millions of watts can be derived from a ‘volume no greater than a coffee cup’. It sounds great, but it is hard to verify.
While the SunCell may be a solution to some of our future energy problems, we can’t confirm or deny it. BLP is incredibly secretive about their technology, and everything related to Hydrinos is patented so as to preclude anyone else even doing research on the elusive type of hydrogen molecule. BLP has collected $110 million USD from investors to work on harnessing hydrinos.
Our second notable generator is the E-cat, which was designed by Andrea Rossi with Leonardo Corp. According to Rossi, a tabletop reactor could put out millions of watts, but we have yet to see a public test of his designs. To their credit, Leonardo Corp. has issued public statements about bringing in a third party to verify their testing, but the need for this alone is sketchy and doesn’t exactly inspire confidence from the world at large.
Which is kind of the problem with LENR technologies. The idea is old relative to its lack of success, making it a bit of a commercial landmine. That said, there is no shortage of investment in the idea, which is probably due to the potential benefit of the technology.
But with LENR’s potential contribution to the whole of humanity, and the speed with which scientists have been able to produce it on a commercial basis, the whole thing stinks of conspiracy.
The scientific community is at odds, the stakes are high, and there are even possible leaks of government involvement hidden within the infamous Podesta emails hosted on Wikileaks. What kind of involvement could the government have? To enhance or to hinder?
Conspiracy, as always, is unprovable, highly unlikely, and usually rather interesting until it’s not.
But the specter of conspiracy is exacerbated by the fact that LENR-like reactions work in experiments, but not necessarily in theory. This would seem to throw a monkey wrench into the scientific method. But David Nagel asserts that, “LENR might be commercialized well ahead of its understanding, as were X-rays.”
At the end of the day, I think it behooves us to pay attention to Rossi’s E-cat and BLP’s SunCell. And if Nagel is correct, Cold Fusion will be commercialized and installed before anyone understands what happened.
If the oil and gas industry shows itself as an opponent to advances in LENR technology, an abrupt commercialization might be exactly what Cold Fusion needs.