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Power Science

Successful Cold Fusion Experiment? 387

An anonymous reader writes "The italian economic journal 'Il sole 24 ore' published an article about a successful cold fusion experiment performed by Yoshiaki Arata in Japan. They seems to have pumped high pressure deutherium gas in a nanometric matrix of palladium and zyrcon oxide. The experiments generates a considerable amount of energy and they found the presence of Helium-4 in the matrix (as sign of the fusion). I was not able to find other articles about this but the journal is very authoritative in Italy. Google translations are also available."
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Successful Cold Fusion Experiment?

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  • Neutrons anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomasd ( 1294992 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @05:48AM (#23526238)
    Shouldn't they been using neutron detector to prove that nuclear fusion tuck place?
  • Hype much? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2008 @06:01AM (#23526288)
    Apparently the original peer reviewed article in Japanese is here: http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jhts/33/3/142/_pdf
    Now, i don't understand much about Japanese or high temperature physics but as far as i can see, there isn't even a mention of Helium-4 in the article's English abstract or the picture and graph subtitles. This makes me wonder quite a bit about who put this hyperbolic spin on the story. Maybe the He-4 discovery is just a recent and unexpected find they decided to (too) eagerly emphasize?

    Could someone who knows Japanese and some physics post his/her views on the article?
  • by Ricin ( 236107 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @06:43AM (#23526482)
    I was thinking this too. Judging from the possible reactions (and assuming this is the set we should be considering):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_fusion#Criteria_and_candidates_for_terrestrial_reactions [wikipedia.org]

    You can see that the reactions with the "slower" neutrons (~2 MeV) are needed to produce the D+n->T transumtation that the article mentions. I don't think you can get ~14MeV neutrons sufficiently slowed down in this small geometry for them to contribute much to the transmutation. Now this is mentioned specifically, so it seems that the tritium involved doesn't get created by fusion (d+d->t+p) but instead through transmutation by neutrons that are a byproduct of d+d->He(3)+n(2.5MeV)

    So (2ii) to (6i), as numbered in the wikipedia article, are the reactions they claim to see (with the neutrons being high energetic, assumingly too high to be significantly useful to create tritium, hence the talk about transmutation), or at least one or more of them.

    So as I understand it, they argue that the metallic Pd/Zr configuration acts as some sort of catalyser similar as (surface-)catalysers in chemical reactions do.

    What you'd want to detect are both high and "low" energy neutrons AND PROTONS, right?
  • So-called geeks! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Terri416 ( 131871 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @06:46AM (#23526494)
    Firstly, let's remember that so far, cold fusion has been a con. A rip-off. A fraud. Call it what you will. Treat it with major-league skepticism.

    Secondly, remember the Nuclear Physics. Any useful reactor is going to produce prodigious amounts of radiation, neutron and gamma. That means lots of heavy and bulky shielding. This is not going to appear in a home or car near you.

    Thirdly, remember thermodynamic efficiency. If the hot side of the reactor is 100C and the cold side is - say - 40C, then your *maximum* efficiency is about 15%. For every kW you extract, there's about 7kW of waste heat (assuming that everything else is 100% efficient). If you want to make the thing efficient you have to raise the temperature of the hot side to - say - 800C, with a cold side of about 100C. That's much more practical, but has a maximum efficiency of only 50% and requires a strange definition of cold.

    If all you want is to warm the planet up, cold fusion might help. Provided it's not a con. Again.
  • Re:Elium-4? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bargainsale ( 1038112 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @07:03AM (#23526556)
    Latin "h", originally pronounced like English "h", eventually ceased to be pronounced at all; in the modern languages descended from Latin it is has been lost and is found, if at all, only in words borrowed from other languages.

    So Latin "homo" "person" but Italian "uomo", Rumanian "om" and so on.
    (The "h" in French "homme" has never been pronounced and is only there in the spelling by analogy with the Latin word).

    In the time of the later Roman Republic and early Empire (when most of the famous Latin literature comes from) whether "h" was pronounced was a class thing; dropping "h"s was supposed to be a mark of ignorance or low status.
    People insecure about their status would put in "h"s where they didn't belong (the poet Catullus has a whole poem mocking somebody who does this).

    Even those who prided themselves on their education were already getting it wrong by then, though, and some of their mistakes got perpetuated:

    "humerus" "upper arm" should be "umerus"
    "anser" "goose" should be "hanser"

    We can deduce a remarkable amount about how Classical Latin was pronounced; there's a good book about it:
    "Vox Latina" by W Sidney Allen
  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @07:03AM (#23526558)
    There appears to be something happening - but as long as we don't know the mechanism there is nothing to be said about kinetics.
    From the article (and some other links in the comments), and assuming fusion really takes place, I would guess that this is some surface-related mechanism. Some unknown mechanism where the D-atoms are first adsorbed on the Pd, and then fusion takes place. If so it can very well be a relative slow process. I have not read the articles in much detail, I'm a chemist, not physicist. The articles also mention that imperfections in the Pd crystals appear to play a major role - again limiting the available area where such a reaction could take place.
    And on top of it all, this reaction takes place at much lower temperature than most fusion reactions, thus the movement of the atoms is slower.
    All in all, don't let the very slow kinetics put you off the idea that atomic fusion may take place, the most interesting fact reported is that the experiment produces energy over a long period of time and that I think is worth further investigation. First of all of course reproduction of the very experiment by some other scientists, and then improving the efficiency and figuring out what REALLY is going on.
  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Saturday May 24, 2008 @07:19AM (#23526616)

    It seems likely that this will turn out to be a poorly-understood conventional exothermic chemical reaction. It might still turn out to be useful and/or enlightening. If nothing else, it serves to remind us that there's quite a lot of fairly basic chemistry that we haven't quite figured out yet.

  • by elpapacito ( 119485 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @07:48AM (#23526748)
    Setting aside the fact that a journal being more or less "authoritative" doesn't add nor subtract anything to the experiment itself , you are correct when saying it's quite a journal in Italy.

    In Italy, in which an university professor of mathematics publicly pointed out that some articles published on the paper don't report factual lies, but they don't necessarily tell the whole story as well or report it very accurately.

    Particularly, when it comes to articles that may or may not suggest some people to invest in privately owned pension funds, a good faith omission may quickly turn into a financial disaster for the little investor.

    Nobody is saying that anybody is being paid or rewarded for emphasizing only some aspect of reality and not others, not at all! That would be so unethical that many of the prestigeous writers on IlSole would never sell out for money! Never, professionals don't sell their integrity for money.
  • by bakarocket ( 844390 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @07:49AM (#23526756)
    It says that during the experiment they took out the background spectra, so the Deuterium probably wasn't naturally occurring stuff. And the guy who did the experiment seems to have published in quite a few proper journals, so he's probably not a complete quack.
  • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @09:27AM (#23527156)

    As shown in the link I posted to Wikipedia in my original post, you'll see that 2H + 2H --> 4He does not happen with any significance. In other words, that reaction doesn't happen enough to make it a significant source of the reaction. Nuclear physics doesn't exactly work like arithmetic.

    This table has to do with the probability of reactions of high-energy particles randomly smashing into each other.

    The physics of cold fusion (if it exists) is unknown. As a wild speculation, the palladium nanomatrix may be acting like a kind of catalyst to guide the reaction in a controlled fashion. And if this is the case, it could be that it happens to be "tuned" in just the right way so that only the 2H + 2H --> 4He reaction occurs.

  • by Ex-MislTech ( 557759 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @09:39AM (#23527222)
    Watch "The war on cold fusion"

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5214938694909002743&q=the+war+on+cold+fusion&ei=Exo4SOt6iJzhAsyLxN8D&hl=en [google.com]

    Also watch the US Navy SPAWAR experiments:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2843914499166355574&q=spawar+%22cold+fusion%22&ei=4hk4SNzaMIvS4QLYy53pAw&hl=en [google.com]

    It may not be "cold fusion" but they have proof of excess
    heat and other signs of nuclear process.

    Some of the scientists involved are well respected too.

    Consider all evidence before passing final judgement.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @10:09AM (#23527386) Journal
    I don't have any problem believing that platinum or palladium could somehow arrange hydrogen atoms in a particular orientation that makes the likelihood of fusion increase. A proton isn't a sphere. It is a trio of quarks, like a Triomino game piece. Maybe if you get the right orientation of the quarks, fusion can take place. To the best of my knowledge we have not done a lot of study on how subatomic particles behave in low energy situations. We just build trillion dollar particle accelerators and smash them together as hard as we can.

    Of course, I also don't have any problem believing that platinum or palladium could have absorbed helium like a sponge from somewhere, and the hydrogen is merely driving it out and replacing it.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @10:38AM (#23527586) Homepage Journal
    I hate to tell you this sparky but we do have a large amount of cheap energy. Not as cheap as it was just a few years ago but we do have a lot even now.

    They restict you making alcohol fuels at home because you can drink it and they tax that a lot.
    They don't at least in most places in the US restrict bio diesel or even cooking oil use.

    Anyway cheap energy would be great and the goverment would love it.
    You give me enough super cheap electricity and I will make you all the oil you want from water and air.
    Not only that but I will make you all the fresh water you want as well.
  • by Dr. Cody ( 554864 ) on Saturday May 24, 2008 @11:54AM (#23528304)

    The only thing these videos bring to the table are constant allegations of conspiracy theories. These do not qualify as evidence worth considering before passing judgment. They are merely pop science.

    Tell me, if all of this was immediately confirmed and replicated across the world, why haven't I heard of it? I'd expect better evidence to the contrary than an episode of a tv series on the paranormal.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kesuki ( 321456 ) on Sunday May 25, 2008 @12:44AM (#23533705) Journal
    although a successor to the 'fusor' called a polywell design, combines inertial electrostatic containment and magnetic containment, needs only Deuterium (heavy water), quite abundant and cheap, especially if you can use fusion power to get you to jupiter, and use giant fusion plants on jupiter to ship the stuff back in bulk.. they spent $2 million on the 'last' research leg of the polywell, and if the final testing stages prove that the design works, then it will cost 150-200 million to build the first test commercial sized polywell fusion plant.

    really interesting stuff, the inventor of the original TV set designed the first 'fusor' which lead to the polywell design, which made a hybrid approach, because earlier attempts at purely electrostatic containment required parts that would wear out quickly and didn't scale to full sized fusion plant sized units...

    very cool, if fusion power becomes 'real' by 2010 it will all be because scientists decided to use a combo containment field using both inertial electrostatic containment and magnetic containment. if i read the wiki correctly the inertial electrostatic approach 'fixes' a problem with pure electromagnetic designs eg: how to get the fuel into the core predictably... deliver the fuel stream with one approach, and contain the core with another. using superconducting electro magnets (only the full size $150-200 mil version uses superconductors) means you loose no electricity creating the magnetic field (although keeping it in liquid nitrogen might use a small bit of power, it's far less, than a full sized fusion reactor would output)

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