|Congress Is Suddenly Interested in Cold Fusion |
Author Copy Created with Sketch. By David Hambling May 13, 2016
Cold fusion is rising again, thanks to allegedly successful experiments and demonstrations. Now interest in the field, also known as low energy nuclear reactions (LENR), has reached the highest levels, as the House Committee on Armed Services has asked the Secretary of Defense to provide "a briefing on the military utility of recent U.S. industrial base LENR advancements" by September 22.
The Committee quotes a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) assessment that says if cold fusion works, it would be a disruptive technology that could revolutionize energy production and storage. That is putting it mildly. Commercial cold fusion as claimed by Andrea Rossi and others, outlined in our April article, would remove dependence on oil or other fossil fuels, domestic or imported. In military terms, it would enable ships, aircraft, and tanks to continue indefinitely (or at least for months) without refueling, with abundant power for lasers or other directed-energy weapons.
The biggest advantage would probably happen for unmanned systems, which are better suited to long-endurance missions. The Committee also mentions the DIA's view that at "Japan and Italy are leaders in the field and that Russia, China, Israel, and India are now devoting significant resources to LENR development."
The Secretary's report to the House might be a dismissive one-liner. It might state that cold fusion is a crazy idea and always has been, and that its proponents are either misinterpreting experimental results or are the victims of fraud. That would certainly reflect the view of most mainstream scientists.
Yet even in the military there are some who suspect there may be more to it than smoke and mirrors. This is especially true of the Navy, which quietly permitted cold fusion research for some time. A 2015 presentation by Louis DeChiaro of US Naval Sea Systems Command concludes that "Low Energy Nuclear Reactions appear to be real; are probably attributable to something like nuclear fusion." DeChiaro lists ten entrepreneurs active in this field, including Rossi.
There is another wild card that might appear in the report. In 2011 Andrea Rossi staged what he described as a public demonstration of a one-megawatt E-Cat cold fusion reactor. Supposedly this was for a secret U.S. military customer, who was supposedly satisfied with the demonstration ( unlike many other observers who complained there was no way of telling whether the device was getting power from an external source). Of course, there is no way of verifying whether the customer even existed, one of the many ghosts shadows in this case.
If the device was really bought by DARPA or by the U.S. Navy—who have long wanted a portable, fuel-free energy source for their Expeditionary Power system—they should be able to say whether LENR really works, or whether they were scammed out of a million dollars (Rossi's price for the E-Cat) by a clever con artist and an idea that is just as crazy as the scientists say.
It should be one interesting report.