LENR; Cold Fusion & Muon-catalyzed fusion

Cold fusion is a hypothetical type of nuclear reaction that would occur at, or near, room temperature. This is compared with the “hot” fusion which takes place naturally within stars, under immense pressure and at temperatures of millions of degrees. There is currently no accepted theoretical model which would allow cold fusion to occur.

In 1989 Martin Fleischmann (then one of the world’s leading electrochemists) and Stanley Pons reported that their apparatus had produced anomalous heat (“excess heat”), of a magnitude they asserted would defy explanation except in terms of nuclear processes. They further reported measuring small amounts of nuclear reaction byproducts, including neutrons and tritium. The small tabletop experiment involved electrolysis of heavy water on the surface of a palladium (Pd) electrode. The reported results received wide media attention and raised hopes of a cheap and abundant source of energy.

Many scientists tried to replicate the experiment with the few details available. Hopes faded due to the large number of negative replications, the withdrawal of many positive replications, the discovery of flaws and sources of experimental error in the original experiment, and finally the discovery that Fleischmann and Pons had not actually detected nuclear reaction byproducts. By late 1989, most scientists considered cold fusion claims dead, and cold fusion subsequently gained a reputation as pathological science. In 1989, a review panel organized by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) found that the evidence for the discovery of a new nuclear process was not persuasive enough to start a special program, but was “sympathetic toward modest support” for experiments “within the present funding system.” A second DOE review, convened in 2004 to look at new research, reached conclusions similar to the first. Support within the then-present funding system did not occur.

A small community of researchers continues to investigate cold fusion, now often preferring the designation low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR). Since cold fusion articles are rarely published in peer-reviewed mainstream scientific journals, they do not attract the level of scrutiny expected for science. See complete Wikipedia Cold Fusion entry at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_fusion

Muon-catalyzed fusion (μCF) is a process allowing nuclear fusion to take place at temperatures significantly lower than the temperatures required for thermonuclear fusion, even at room temperature or lower. It is one of the few known ways of catalyzing nuclear fusion reactions.

Muons are unstable subatomic particles. They are similar to electrons, but are about 207 times more massive. If a muon replaces one of the electrons in a hydrogen molecule, the nuclei are consequently drawn 207 times closer together than in a normal molecule. When the nuclei are this close together, the probability of nuclear fusion is greatly increased, to the point where a significant number of fusion events can happen at room temperature.

Current techniques for creating large numbers of muons require large amounts of energy, larger than the amounts produced by the catalyzed nuclear fusion reactions. This prevents it from becoming a practical power source. Moreover, each muon has about a 1% chance of “sticking” to the alpha particle produced by the nuclear fusion of a deuterium with a tritium, removing the “stuck” muon from the catalytic cycle, meaning that each muon can only catalyze at most a few hundred deuterium tritium nuclear fusion reactions. So, these two factors, of muons being too expensive to make and then sticking too easily to alpha particles, limit muon-catalyzed fusion to a laboratory curiosity. To create useful room-temperature muon-catalyzed fusion reactors would need a cheaper, more efficient muon source and/or a way for each individual muon to catalyze many more fusion reactions.

See complete Muon Wikipedia entry at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muon-catalyzed_fusion

LENR paper by NASA

Low Energy Nuclear Reactions(LENR) Phenomena and Potential Applications