|From: FUBHO||5/15/2016 1:22:41 PM|
|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.
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|From: FUBHO||8/31/2016 6:57:50 AM|
| Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Continues Efforts to Commercialize LENRs|
July 13, 2016 – By Steven B. Krivit –
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries continues to make progress in its efforts to commercialize low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR) research, according to a December 2015 company technical review. The company is developing a LENR-based nuclear transmutation method that uses nanostructured multi-layer thin films.
Although Mitsubishi researchers have published their LENR research for two decades, this appears to be the first time in a decade that the company has issued a corporate document discussing the research. Furthermore, the Mitsubishi review reports that its researchers obtained significantly larger results between 2010 and 2012.
“So far,” the review says, “transmutation from cesium (Cs) to praseodymium (Pr), from barium (Ba) to samarium (Sm), from strontium (Sr) to molybdenum (Mo), etc., has been observed. If this technology is established, it is expected to contribute to society in the field of detoxification treatment of radioactive waste, including the transmutation of radioactive cesium into a harmless nonradioactive element in the future.”
Mitsubishi’s LENR method was developed by Yasuhiro Iwamura, who now leads a LENR research group at Tohoku University, in Sendai, Japan. In the early 1990s, Iwamura developed this multilayer thin-film methods using electrolysis. In 2000, Iwamura switched to the gas-permeation method with thin films in order to reduce questions of potential contamination from electrolysis.
Although the gas-permeation method succeeded in convincing many more scientists about the credibility of the results, the gas method had a downside: It did not allow researchers to pump as much deuterium through the samples, which resulted in lower transmutation yields.
In October 2010, the Mitsubishi researchers switched back to the electrolytic method and increased the magnitude of their transmutation yields, on average, by a factor of 100.
The Mitsubishi review identifies the staff members who are continuing research. They are the following: Shigenori Tsuruga and Kenji Muta, chief staff managers in the Electricity and Applied Physics Research Department of the Research and Innovation Center at the Technology and Innovation Headquarters; Yutaka Tanaka, chief staff manager at the Research and Innovation Center; Tadashi Shimazu, manager in the Advanced Nuclear Plant Designing and Fuel Cycle Engineering Department in the Nuclear Energy Systems Division, Energy and Environment; Koji Fujimori, manager in the Nuclear Project Department in the Nuclear Energy Systems Division, Energy & Environment; and Takehiko Nishida, director in the Electricity and Applied Physics Research Department of the Research and Innovation Center.
News of the Mitsubishi technical review was first published on Slideshare by LENR theorist Lewis Larsen.
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|To: FUBHO who wrote (206)||8/31/2016 6:58:16 AM|
| Latest NRL Salvo Attacks Validity of Mitsubishi LENR Research|
U.S. Navy Researcher David Kidwell
May 12, 2016 – By Steven B. Krivit –
On May 6, 2016, David Kidwell, a scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory, released his latest attack criticizing the work of Japanese LENR researchers. In an email to an invitation-only but public Google discussion group, Kidwell wrote, using his NRL e-mail account, “eventually, we will get to that the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries data is not real.”
Since 2008, Kidwell has criticized the heavy-element transmutation results reported by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in its long-standing low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR) research program.
Two days earlier, on May 4, 2016, as reported by New Energy Times, a U.S. congressional committee took the unprecedented step of requesting from the Department of Defense a national security briefing on the implications of LENRs.
The Naval Research Laboratory, along with the Office of Naval Research, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and possibly the Department of Energy’s national laboratories likely will be among the participants preparing the DOD briefing for Congress.
Because Kidwell is one of several government researchers working in LENRs, his recent comments raise questions about his objectivity in evaluating the broader range of progress in LENR research, specifically in results indicating isotopic shifts (changes in isotope ratios) and heavy-element transmutations.
New Energy Times sent an e-mail to Kidwell and asked for information on how he reached his conclusion. He responded but did not answer the question.
Since 1993, Mitsubishi researchers have reported isotopic shifts and a half-dozen heavy-element transmutation pairs in their LENR experiments. In such pairs, source elements gradually decrease and, at the same time, target elements gradually increase. In 2002, the Mitsubishi LENR experiments were published in the peer-reviewed Japanese Journal of Applied Physics.
In one group of the Mitsubishi experiments, researchers observed the gradual decrease of cesium and the gradual increase of praseodymium. The results of the LENR experiments suggested to Mitsubishi a potential way to remediate radioactive waste and make it harmless by transmuting it into benign, stable elements. Mitsubishi is a major military contractor, a manufacturer of nuclear fission reactors. A radioactive isotope of cesium is a common byproduct of operating such reactors.
The Mitsubishi experimental results were independently confirmed and replicated in several laboratories in Japan, including at Osaka University in 2003 and later at the Toyota Central Research and Development Laboratories. Toyota’s results were also published in the Japanese Journal of Applied Physics.
Between 2002 and 2005, in a collaboration with Mitsubishi, Kidwell and his colleagues at NRL made attempts to independently confirm and replicate the Mitsubishi results, but NRL was unsuccessful each time.
The Mitsubishi experiments were developed and performed by Yasuhiro Iwamura and his colleagues. In 2015, Iwamura accepted a position to lead a new LENR research group at Tohoku University. The NRL replication attempt couldn’t have worked, according to Iwamura.
“NRL didn’t do a precise replication,” Iwamura said. “They didn’t have suitable equipment.”
Kidwell first participated in the LENR community in 2008 when he presented his paper at the 10th International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science, in Washington, D.C. He did not present successful results of his own but focused on criticizing the work of other LENR researchers, particularly two Japanese research groups.
Kidwell tried to discredit the isotopic shifts previously reported for the Arata-Zhang LENR experiments. Those data were reported in 2003 by Thomas Passell, a former program manager for the Electric Power Research Institute.
“Probably the greatest revelation in this work,” Passell wrote, “is the possibility that trace elements may be significant participants in nuclear reactions in solids such as palladium, [and therefore], focusing entirely on [the idea of] deuterium-deuterium fusion is not necessarily the only path forward in understanding these phenomena.”
In 2008, a nondisclosure agreement between NRL and Mitsubishi was in effect, and Kidwell was legally limited in what he could say publicly. Nevertheless, he laid the groundwork for his upcoming criticisms of the Mitsubishi research. He said at the 2008 conference that researchers who were observing heavy-element transmutations in LENR experiments should be embarrassed about making such claims.
“If you have what you think you’re making all over your room, do you really have it?” Kidwell said. “Or are you just fooling yourself from some random event?”
In 2009, at the 15th International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science, in Rome, Italy, Kidwell continued his attempt to discredit the Mitsubishi heavy-element transmutation results. He said that the praseodymium measured in all the Mitsubishi LENR experiments that transmuted cesium to praseodymium was the result of pre-existing contamination of the Mitsubishi research laboratory with praseodymium.
Kidwell also suggested that a former Mitsubishi employee used “lucky tweezers” to spike the experiment with praseodymium. However, Mitsubishi researchers said they never had used praseodymium in that cleanroom laboratory. Mitsubishi found praseodymium in the lab only after Kidwell, who visited the Mitsubishi lab as a guest, performed a surprise environmental survey after the other NRL guests had gone back to the U.S. Funding for this portion of Kidwell’s work came from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Kidwell’s 2009 statement about the Mitsubishi researcher who used “lucky tweezers” implied that the Mitsubishi researcher, either by fraud or by incompetence, placed the rare element praseodymium in the multilayer substrate composing the experiment.
In his rebuttal ( Slides, Transcript), Iwamura explained that, because of multiple aspects of the experimental protocol, Kidwell’s claimed scenario was virtually impossible as an explanation for the reported transmutation data.
Iwamura had filed for a U.S. patent on Oct. 19, 2001. A week before the 2009 conference, Kidwell applied for the first of two LENR-based patents. Funding for this part of Kidwell’s work came from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
There were strong similarities between the ideas discussed in the patent applications of Iwamura and Kidwell. Each method for triggering LENRs used nanometer-sized particles placed on a metal-oxide support mechanism, subjected to pressurized deuterium gas.
The biggest difference in experimental data used to support claims in the respective patent applications is that Iwamura analyzed only for transmutation products whereas Kidwell analyzed only for excess heat. Kidwell did not cite Iwamura’s application, which publicly disclosed Iwamura’s earlier ideas.
Iwamura went through an unsuccessful 10-year ordeal with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent examiner handling Iwamura’s patent application cited Kidwell’s claim of contamination in rejecting the application. However, the examiner cited a paper written by Kirk Shanahan, who, in turn, had cited Kidwell’s contamination accusation.
Shanahan is a scientist who works at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River National Laboratory, in South Carolina, and who has been an outspoken opponent of LENRs for many years. Funding for Shanahan’s paper came from the Department of Energy under contract DE-AC09-08SR22470.
The patent examiner cited Shanahan rather than directly citing Kidwell because, although Kidwell gave an oral presentation at the 2009 ICCF-15 conference, it never published as a paper in the proceedings. Kidwell’s NRL colleague, Kenneth Grabowski, also gave an oral presentation on the Mitsubishi-NRL collaboration. That presentation, too, was not published as a paper in the proceedings. The examiner was thus unable to cite either Kidwell or Grabowski directly.
In fact, Iwamura told New Energy Times, to his knowledge, Kidwell has never published a critique of the Mitsubishi cesium-to-praseodymium LENR transmutation results in any peer-reviewed journal, or even distributed a preprint of such a critique.
Iwamura was not awarded a patent in the U.S. He did, however, obtain a LENR patent for Mitsubishi in Japan, 04346838 (P2001-201875), and two related Japanese patents, 0434726 (P2005-142985) and 04347262 (P2005-142986), all on July 24, 2009. He was also awarded a European LENR patent, EP1202290B1, on April 12, 2013.
Both Iwamura’s and Kidwell’s applications used similar methods for triggering LENRs. However, Iwamura filed claims involving nuclear transmutations, and Kidwell filed claims involving only excess heat. Kidwell attacked only LENR transmutations, the basis for Mitsubishi’s claims.
Over the Top
In July 2013, at the 18th International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science, in Missouri, Kidwell continued battering the Mitsubishi LENR claims. He had been invited by the conference organizers to deliver the keynote presentation. A businessman who attended ICCF-18 sent the following report toNew Energy Times.
“Kidwell was over-the-top brutal at ICCF-18 in his keynote speech regarding Mitsubishi,” he wrote. “Kidwell directly attacked Iwamura and, per several ICCF veterans, added nothing new to his contamination argument. Iwamura was very upset and confronted Kidwell during the question-and-answer session. I personally witnessed both Kidwell and his NRL colleague David Knies making attacking arguments during the poster sessions. For someone like me who doesn’t have a dog in the fight, their behavior seemed mission-oriented and goes way beyond an argument about science.”
Iwamura told New Energy Times that, in fact, nobody has published any critical peer-reviewed comment on either his group’s 2002 paper or the Toyota group’s 2013 paper in the Japanese Journal of Applied Physics.
After ICCF-18, Kidwell asked Tatsumi Hioki, the lead researcher at the Toyota LENR group, if he could come to Toyota to look at their apparatus. Hioki refused.
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|To: FUBHO who wrote (207)||8/31/2016 6:58:55 AM|
| Cherokee Investment’s Darden Says Rossi’s Claims Are Fraudulent|
Andrea Rossi (Photo: Mats Lewan)
Aug. 9, 2016 – By Steven B. Krivit –
Thomas Francis Darden II, the manager, president, and director of Industrial Heat, has concluded that Andrea Rossi’s Energy Catalyzer (E-Cat) claims are bogus, according to recent court filings.
Darden is also the founder and chief executive officer of the $2 billion private equity fund Cherokee Investment Partners, the parent company of Industrial Heat.
On Aug. 6, the law firm Jones Day, on behalf of Darden and his associates, filed a complaint against Rossi and his company Leonardo Corp. in federal court in Miami, accusing Rossi of fraudulent misrepresentations.
Rossi’s track record includes a string of failed energy ventures. He has served time in prison twice and been convicted of fraud. In one of his scams, called Petroldragon, he claimed he could turn industrial waste into fuel. It produced not one drop, instead leaching toxins into the groundwater in northern Italy.
In another scam, he told the U.S. Army that he could make thermoelectric generators that were superior to any other such device on the market. Rossi had claimed the devices would produce 800-1,000 Watts each. After the Army funded Rossi’s research, it learned that Rossi’s devices could produce only 1 Watt of power.
Despite this history, Darden and a dozen other investors gave Rossi an initial $11 million in the belief that Rossi had invented a low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR) power source that could produce excess heat at a rate of one megawatt. In the history of the field, no scientist has ever been able to repeatedly demonstrate excess heat at any level. Sporadically observed excess heat has been at the level of about 1 Watt.
Darden not only ignored Rossi’s past but also ignored the first New Energy Times Rossi investigation. In June 2011, I went to Italy, interviewed Rossi and filmed a demonstration of his copper-pipe contraption. Twenty-four hours later, New Energy Times reported serious concerns about how Rossi was measuring heat output. Six days later, I posted a video on YouTube.
In response to the video, experts from around the world sent technical and engineering analyses to New Energy Times, and I published their reports in July 2011. It was obvious then that Rossi’s claimed excess heat was a fraud.
Darden was still promoting Rossi in September 2015, according to an interview in Fortune magazine. Darden warned readers about shady operators in the field.
“Cold fusion has such a checkered past and is so filled with hypesters and people with a gold-rush, get-rich-quick mentality,” Darden said. “We need to be calm, prudent and not exaggerate.”
In October 2015, Darden told Triangle Business Journal reporter Lauren K. Ohnesorge that the reason for the controversy surrounding Rossi was that scientists didn’t understand how his contraption worked. Ohnesorge wrote that, despite what Darden characterized as “online attacks” against Rossi and Industrial Heat, Darden was still committed to investing in Rossi.
By March 2016, the relationship between Rossi and Industrial Heat had gone cold. (March 10, 2016, Industrial Heat’s E-Cat Exit; March 29, 2016, Industrial Heat Goes Cold on Rossi; April 6, 2016, Convicted Fraudster Rossi Accuses Licensee Industrial Heat of Fraud; April 8, 2016, Industrial Heat Says Goodbye to Rossi).
A month later, on April 4, 2016, New Energy Times published a report by Luca Gamberale, an independent LENR researcher, that exposed how Defkalion Green Technologies, a former affiliate of Rossi’s, used similar methods to deceive scientists and business professionals.
In the August 6, 2016, complaint, Darden and his associates wrote that Rossi’s device was never “independently validated by a scientifically reliable methodology to produce the energy” that Rossi claimed. Industrial Heat was never able to produce any measurable excess energy from Rossi’s device.
The complaint raises problems similar to the bait-and-switch tactic Rossi used when NASA visited him in September 2011. For example, the complaint says, “The validation protocol required the flow of heated fluid from the E-Cat reactors to be measured during the validation test. However, these measurements were not taken during the validation test. Furthermore, the validation protocol required that 24 consecutive hours of testing be done on Unit A. However, less than 24 consecutive hours of testing was done on Unit A. There are various other examples of the Validation Protocol not being followed during the validation test.”
The complaint also says that Rossi fabricated a business in Miami, Florida, to use the claimed heat produced by his device — along with a fictional employee — for the purpose of deceiving Industrial Heat. The complaint described the scam as “unconscionable and deceptive practices [which] are further evidence that the testing in Miami was nothing but a sham designed to create the illusion” that the E-Cat performed at the claimed levels.
The Jones Day attorneys say in the complaint that Rossi deceived representatives from Hydro Fusion, with whom he had a licensing agreement. Rossi wanted to get out of the agreement so he could be free to license his technology to Industrial Heat. Rossi explained to Darden what he did in a Sept. 10, 2012, e-mail.
“After receiving your last text at the end of August,” Rossi wrote, “I decided to go ahead with you, therefore I had to get rid of this engagement. The only way out was to invite them to a test, ask them to bring with them their consultant. I made the test abort, maintaining the temperatures below the starting limit. Then I made up some discussions, I said they made a wrong test, they escaped, I am free.”
Rossi was proud of how he manipulated Hydro Fusion to cancel the agreement with him, as he wrote to Darden.
“I got rid of the European big license I had to sign. I made a masterpiece making them go voluntarily,” Rossi wrote.
In other recent news, U.S. patent application (US20160225467) for a LENR power-generation device published on Aug. 4. Inventors Bernhard Kotzias, Ralf Schliwa and Jan van Toor, German scientists with Airbus Defence and Space GMBH, claim their LENR invention is based on room-temperature fusion and on principles “already put into practice by number of companies – Leonardo Corporation, Defkalion Green Technologies [and] Brillouin Energy.”
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|From: FUBHO||9/14/2016 7:56:40 PM|
|A report from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) claimed government researchers had confirmed the existence of a cold fusion nuclear reaction. The report was allegedly authored by scientists from Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and the University of New Mexico.|
DTRA’s report includes several questionable statements unlikely to appear in an official U.S. government document, such as, “many U.S. military actions this century, and the most costly in the 1990’s, have been driven by, or consequences of, the geopolitics of oil.” The report also contains fewer headings than most government publications and uses an unusual type style. The report also claims the agency plans no follow-up research.
DTRA has confirmed the documents are authentic.
Independent scientists told TheDCNF a cold fusion breakthrough is plausible, but the report is far from conclusive.
“My instinct is to ascribe these results to cosmic ray deuterons interacting with the palladium deuteride. I would be want this potential background to be addressed before I could interpret this as a finding of new physics.” Dr. Jeffrey Eldred, a particle accelerator physicist, told The DCNF. “Isotope effects on superconductivity have been demonstrated prior to these results.”
Cold fusion is a nuclear reaction that occurs at relatively low temperatures, rather than at millions of degrees. These types of nuclear reactions are plausible, but previous claims by scientists of the discovery of cold fusion have always been unable to be replicated by other teams of scientists. Most government research into the process has been cancelled as a result.
Companies have been trying to create fusion reactors — not necessarily cold fusion reactors — for decades, since such power would be “too cheap to meter” and drive other sources of electricity out of business. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works group claims to be developing a compact fusion reactor small enough to fit in a truck, which could generate enough electricity to power 80,000 homes.
U.S. research teams claimed in January to have discovered a way to initiate nuclear fusion reactions in a process called “fast ignition” using a high-intensity laser.
German engineers from the Max Planck Institute successfully activated an experimental nuclear fusion reactor and managed to suspend plasma for the first time in December, 2015. The German reactor took 19 years and cost $1.1 billion to build. The reactor passed the major technical milestone of generating its first plasma at a temperature of around one million degrees Celsius. It could demonstrate the first stable artificial nuclear fusion reaction sometime later this year.
Other fusion power projects have been subject to repeated cost overruns, like the plan to build the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) fusion reactor in France.
ITER was originally expected to cost approximately $5.7 billion, but cost overruns, design changes and rising raw material prices saw the amount almost triple to $ 14.9 billion. The project could end up costing $20 billion.
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|From: FUBHO||12/1/2016 7:37:03 AM|
|Cold Fusion Lives: Experiments Create Energy When None Should Exist |
Stephen K. Ritter,Chemical & Engineering News
Dr. Martin Fleischmann, right, an electrochemist at England's Southampton University, and Stanley Pons, chairman of the University of Utah's chemistry department, appear before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee 4/26/1989 to discuss their controversial and still disputed work in the field of cold fusion. Credit: Bettmann Getty Images
Howard J. Wilk is a long-term unemployed synthetic organic chemist living in Philadelphia. Like many pharmaceutical researchers, he has suffered through the drug industry’s R&D downsizing in recent years and now is underemployed in a nonscience job. With extra time on his hands, Wilk has been tracking the progress of a New Jersey-based company called Brilliant Light Power (BLP).
The company is one of several that are developing processes that collectively fall into the category of new energy technologies. This movement is largely a reincarnation of cold fusion, the short-lived, quickly dismissed phenomenon from the late 1980s of achieving nuclear fusion in a simple benchtop electrolysis device.
In 1991, BLP’s founder, Randell L. Mills, announced at a press conference in Lancaster, Pa., that he had devised a theory in which the electron in hydrogen could transition from its normal ground energy state to previously unknown lower and more stable states, liberating copious amount of energy in the process. Mills named this curious new type of shrunken hydrogen the hydrino, and he has been at work ever since to develop a commercial device to harness its power and make it available to the world.
Wilk has studied Mills’s theory, read Mills’s papers and patents, and carried out his own calculations on the hydrino. Wilk has gone so far as to attend a demonstration at BLP’s facility in Cranbury, N.J., where he discussed the hydrino with Mills. After all that, Wilk says he still can’t tell if Mills is a titanic genius, is self-delusional, or is something in between.
This story line is a common refrain for the researchers and companies involved. It all got started in 1989, when electrochemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons made the stunning announcement at a press conference at the University of Utah that they had tamed the power of nuclear fusion in an electrolysis cell.
When the researchers applied a current to the cell, they thought deuterium atoms from heavy water that had penetrated into the palladium cathode were fusing to form helium atoms. The excess energy from the process dissipated as heat. Fleischmann and Pons said this process could not be caused by any known chemical reaction, and the nuclear reaction term “cold fusion” was attached to it.
After months of investigating Fleischmann and Pons’s puzzling observations, however, the scientific community came to a consensus that the effect was inconsistent or nonexistent and that the scientists had made experimental errors. The research was summarily condemned, and cold fusion became a synonym for junk science.
Cold fusion and making hydrinos both hold the holy-grail promise of generating endless amounts of cheap, pollution-free energy. Scientists were frustrated by cold fusion. They wanted to believe it, but their collective wisdom told them it was all wrong. Part of the problem was they had no generally accepted theory to guide them and explain the proposed phenomenon—as physicists like to say, no experiment should be believed until it has been confirmed by theory.
Mills has his own theory, but many scientists don’t believe it and think the hydrino improbable. The research community has stopped short of the public dismissal it gave cold fusion and has tended to just ignore Mills and his work. Mills has reciprocated by trying to stay out from under the shadow of cold fusion.
In the meantime, the field of cold fusion was rebranded as low-energy nuclear reactions, or LENR, and survives. Some scientists continue to try to explain the Fleischmann-Pons effect. Still others have dismissed the notion of fusion but are investigating other possible processes that can explain the anomalous excess heat effects. Like Mills, they’ve been lured in by the potential commercial opportunities. Their primary interest is in generating energy for industrial, household, and transportation needs.
The handful of companies that have emerged in the attempt to get these new energy technologies to market have a business model the same as any technology start-up: Identify a new technology, attempt to patent the idea, raise investor interest and secure funding, build prototypes and have demonstration events, and announce timelines for when working devices might be available for sale. In this new energy world, however, expired promises are the norm: None have made it to the last step of delivering a working device as advertised.
A new theoryMills grew up on a Pennsylvania farm, earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Franklin & Marshall College and a Harvard University medical degree, and studied electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While a student, he began developing what he calls “ The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Physics,” which he says provides a new model of atoms and molecules that shifts away from quantum theory and is based on classical physics.
It’s commonly accepted that hydrogen’s solo electron is whizzing around its nucleus in its most energetically favorable, ground-state atomic orbital—you simply can’t bring hydrogen’s electron closer to its nucleus. But Mills says you can.
Erik Baard, a journalist who has written stories about Mills, once noted how shocking it is to say the model of hydrogen is up for debate: “Telling physicists that they’ve got that wrong is like telling mothers across America that they’ve misunderstood apple pie.”
One of those physicists is Andreas Rathke, a former research fellow at the European Space Agency, who is described on the agency’s website as having “debunked a high number of crackpots.” In 2005, Rathke analyzed Mills’s theory and published a paper in which he concluded it was flawed and incompatible with everything physicists knew (New J. Phys. 2005, DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/7/1/127).
Currently a researcher at Airbus Defence & Space, Rathke says he hasn’t followed the Mills story since about 2007 because there was no unambiguous sign of excess energy in reported experiments. “And I doubt there have been any experiments published at a later time that pass scientific scrutiny,” Rathke tells C&EN.
“I think there is general agreement that the theory Dr. Mills has put forward as the basis for his claims is inconsistent and not capable of making experimental predictions,” Rathke continues. “Now, one could ask the question, ‘Could he have been lucky and stumbled upon some energy source that experimentally just works by following a wrong theoretical approach?’?”
In the 1990s, a few researchers, including a team from the National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s Lewis Research Center, did report independently replicating the Mills approach and generating excess heat. The NASA team wrote in a report that the results “fall far short of being compelling” and did not mention anything about hydrinos.
The researchers offered possible electrochemical processes that might explain the heat, including irregularities in the electrochemical cell, possible unknown exothermic chemical reactions, or the recombination of split-apart hydrogen and oxygen atoms of water. These are the same arguments made by scientific critics of the Fleischmann-Pons experiments. However, the NASA team did say that researchers should leave the door open, just in case Mills really was on to something.
Mills is a mile-a-minute talker who can go on forever spilling out technical details. Besides predicting the hydrino, Mills says his theory can perfectly predict the location of every electron in a molecule using his bespoke Millsian molecular modeling software, even in molecules as complex as DNA. With standard quantum theory, scientists struggle to predict the exact behavior of anything much more complex than a hydrogen atom. Mills further says his theory also explains why the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, something cosmologists have yet to fully wrap their arms around.
Mills also says hydrinos are created from burning hydrogen in stars such as our sun and are evident in the spectral lines of starlight. Hydrogen is recognized as the most abundant element in our universe, but Mills goes further to claim that hydrinos are the missing dark matter in the universe. Those proposals come as a bit of a surprise to astrophysicists: “I have never heard of a hydrino,” says the University of Chicago’s Edward W. (Rocky) Kolb, an expert on the dark universe.
Mills has reported isolating hydrinos and characterizing them using standard spectroscopic methods such as infrared, Raman, and nuclear magnetic resonance. In addition, he says hydrinos can react in the way hydrogen might to form new types of compounds “with amazing properties.” These include conductive materials that Mills says would revolutionize electronic devices and batteries.
Even though popular opinion is against him, Mills’s ideas seem less far-fetched when compared with other unusual components of the universe. For example, a muonium is a known, short-lived exotic entity made of an antimuon particle (a positive, electronlike particle) and an electron. Chemically, muonium behaves like a hydrogen isotope, but it’s nine times as light as hydrogen.
The hydrino SunCellNo matter where hydrinos fit in on the scale of believability, Mills told C&EN a decade ago that BLP had moved past the scientific verification stage and was interested only in discussing commercial applications. Over the years, BLP has collected more than $110 million from investors to see what it can do.
BLP’s approach to creating hydrinos has taken on different manifestations over time. In an early prototype, Mills and his R&D team used tungsten or nickel electrodes with a lithium or potassium electrolyte solution. An applied electric current splits the water into hydrogen and oxygen, and under the right conditions, lithium or potassium then acts as a catalyst to absorb energy and collapse hydrogen’s electron orbit. The energy released in going from the ground atomic state to a lower energy state comes off as a brilliant emission of light in a high-temperature plasma. The associated heat is then captured to create steam to power an electric generator.
BLP is currently testing a device called the SunCell in which hydrogen (from splitting water) and an oxide catalyst are introduced into a spherical carbon reactor along with dual streams of molten silver. An electric current applied to the silver ignites a hydrino-forming plasma reaction. Energy from the reaction is then trapped by the carbon, which acts as a “blackbody radiator.” When the carbon heats up to thousands of degrees, it reemits the energy as visible light that is captured by photovoltaic cells, which convert the light to electricity.
When it comes to commercial development, Mills at times comes off looking paranoid and at other times like a shrewd businessman. Mills has trademarked “Hydrino.” And because his issued patents claim the hydrino as an invention, BLP asserts that it owns all intellectual property rights involving hydrino research. BLP therefore forbids outside experimentalists from doing even the most basic hydrino research, which could confirm or deny hydrinos, without first signing an IP agreement. “We welcome research partners; we want to get others involved,” Mills says. “But we do need to protect our technology.”
Mills instead has commissioned validators who say they can corroborate that BLP’s inventions work. One of the validators is Bucknell University electrical engineering professor Peter M. Jansson, who is paid for his evaluations of BLP technology through his consulting company, Integrated Systems. Jansson says that being compensated for his time “does not in any way cloud my judgment as an independent investigator of scientific discoveries.” He adds that he debunks most “new discoveries” he checks out.
“BLP scientists are doing real science, and to date, I have found no errors in their scientific methods or approaches,” Jansson says. “Over the years, I have witnessed many BLP devices clearly capable of creating excess energy at meaningful levels. I think it may take some period of time for the scientific community to absorb, digest, and accept the possibility of lower energy states of hydrogen. I think Dr. Mills has made a compelling case.” Jansson adds that commercial viability remains a challenge for BLP, but the way forward is being held up by business issues, not scientific ones.
Meanwhile, BLP has hosted several demonstrations of its latest prototypes for investors since 2014, posting videos on its website after the fact. But these events do not provide clear evidence one way or the other as to whether the SunCell is legitimate.
In July, after one recent demonstration, the company announced that the anticipated cost of operating the SunCell is so low—about 1 to 10% of that for any other existing form of power—that the company “intends to provide autonomous individual power for essentially all stationary and motive applications untethered to the grid or any fuels infrastructure.” In other words, the company plans to build and then lease SunCells or other devices to customers and charge a per diem usage fee, allowing people to go off the power grid and stop buying gasoline or diesel while paying just a fraction of what those things now cost.
“This is the end of the age of fire, the internal combustion engine, and centralized power and fuels,” Mills says. “Our technology is going to make all other energy technology obsolete. Our concerns about climate change are going to be eliminated.” He adds that it looks like BLP could be in production, at first with megawatt stationary units, and generating revenue by the end of 2017.
What’s in a name?Despite the uncertainty surrounding Mills and BLP, their story is just one part of the ongoing new energy saga. After the dust settled on the original Fleischmann-Pons announcement, the two researchers began figuring out what was right and what was wrong. They were joined by dozens of other collaborators and independent researchers.
Many of these scientists and engineers, often using money out of their own pocket, have been less concerned about commercial opportunities but rather have focused on basic science: electrochemistry, metallurgy, calorimetry, mass spectrometry, and nuclear diagnostics. They continue to rack up experiments showing excess heat gain, defined as the ratio of energy put out by a system to the energy required to operate it. In some cases, nuclear anomalies such as producing neutrons, a-particles (helium nuclei), isotope shifts of atoms, and transmutation of one element to another have been reported.
But in the end, most of these researchers are just looking for an explanation and would be happy if even a modest amount of heat generated turns out to be useful in some way.
“LENR is real experimentally, and not understood theoretically,” says David J. Nagel, an electrical and computer engineering professor at George Washington University and a former research manager at the Naval Research Laboratory. “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.”
Nagel prefers to call the LENR phenomenon “lattice-enabled nuclear reactions” because whatever is happening takes place within the crystal lattice of an electrode. The original branch of the field focuses on infusing deuterium into a palladium electrode by turning on the power, Nagel explains. Researchers have reported such electrochemical systems that can output more than 25 times as much energy as they draw.
The other main branch of the field uses a nickel-hydrogen setup, which can produce greater than 400 times as much energy as it uses. Nagel likes to compare these LENR technologies to that of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a multination high-temperature fusion experiment based on well-understood physics—merging deuterium and tritium—being carried out in southern France. At a cost exceeding $20 billion, this 20-year project has set a goal of generating 10 times as much energy as it consumes.
Nagel says the LENR field continues to grow internationally, and the biggest hurdles remain inconsistent results and lack of funding. For example, some researchers report that a certain threshold must be reached for a reaction to start. The reaction may require a minimum amount of deuterium or hydrogen to get going, or the electrode materials may need to be prepared with a specific crystallographic orientation and surface morphology to trigger the process. The latter is a common issue with heterogeneous catalysts used in petroleum refining and petrochemical production.
Nagel acknowledges that the business side of LENR has had problems too: Prototypes being developed have been “relatively crude,” he says, and there has yet to be an LENR-based company to offer a working product or make any money.
Rossi’s E-CatOne of the notable examples of attempts to commercialize LENR comes from engineer Andrea Rossi of Leonardo Corp., based in Miami. In 2011, Rossi and his colleagues announced at a press conference in Bologna, Italy, that they had built a tabletop reactor, called the Energy Catalyzer, or E-Cat, that produces excess energy via a nickel-catalyzed process. To substantiate his discovery, Rossi has held E-Cat demonstrations for potential investors and members of the media and commissioned independent validation tests.
Rossi posits that his E-Cat features a self-sustaining process in which electrical power input initiates fusion of hydrogen and lithium from a powdery mixture of nickel, lithium, and lithium aluminum hydride to form a beryllium isotope. The short-lived beryllium decays into two a-particles with the excess energy given off as heat; some of the nickel is reported to turn into copper. Rossi says no waste is created in the process, and no radiation is detected outside the apparatus.
Rossi’s announcement initially gave many scientists the same queasy feeling as did cold fusion. One reason many people are having trouble believing Rossi is his checkered past. In Italy, he was convicted of white-collar criminal charges related to his earlier business ventures. Rossi says those convictions are behind him and he no longer wants to talk about them. He also once had a contract to make heat-generating devices for the U.S. Army. But the delivered devices did not work according to specifications.
In 2012, Rossi announced completion of a 1-MW system that could be used to heat or power large buildings. Rossi also anticipated that, by 2013, he’d have a factory annually producing 1 million 10-kW household units about the size of a laptop computer. But neither the factory nor the household units have materialized.
In 2014, Rossi licensed his technology to a company called Industrial Heat, which was formed by private equity firm Cherokee, a company that focuses on buying real estate and has a goal of cleaning up old industrial sites for redevelopment. In 2015, Cherokee Chief Executive Officer Tom Darden, who trained as an environmental scientist and a lawyer, described Industrial Heat as “a funding source for LENR inventors.”
Darden said Cherokee started Industrial Heat because the investment firm believed that LENR technology was worth pursuing. “We were willing to be wrong. We were willing to invest time and resources to see if this might be an area of useful research in our quest to eliminate pollution,” he said.
In the meantime, Industrial Heat and Leonardo have had a falling out, and both are now suing each other in court over violations of their agreement. Rossi would have received a total of $100 million if a yearlong test of his 1-MW system was successful. Rossi says he completed the test, but Industrial Heat disagrees and has expressed concerns that the device doesn’t work.
George Washington’s Nagel says that Rossi’s E-Cat brought a groundswell of hope to the LENR field. Nagel told C&EN in 2012 that he didn’t think Rossi was a fraud, “but I do not like some of his approaches to testing.” Nagel thought Rossi should have been more thorough and transparent. Yet, at the time, Nagel also said he thought LENR devices would be offered for sale by 2013.
Rossi continues his research and has announced development of other prototypes. But he gives away few details about what he is doing. Rossi tells C&EN that the industrial 1-MW plants are in construction already and he has obtained the “necessary certifications” for selling the systems. The household devices are still waiting for safety certification, he notes.
Nagel says now that the excitement from Rossi’s initial announcement has died down, the LENR status quo has returned. The likely availability of commercial LENR generators is now at least a few years away, Nagel says. Even if a device clears the hurdles of reproducibility and usefulness, he adds, its developers face an uphill battle of regulatory approval and customer acceptance.
But Nagel remains optimistic. “LENR might be commercialized well ahead of its understanding, as were X-rays,” he says. For that reason, Nagel has just outfitted a lab at George Washington to start a new line of nickel-hydrogen experiments.
Scientific legaciesMany of the researchers who continue to work on LENR are accomplished scientists and are now retired. It hasn’t been easy for them because, for years, their papers have been returned unreviewed from mainstream journals and their abstracts for talks at scientific conferences have tended to go unaccepted. They are becoming more anxious about the status of the field because they are running out of time—whether to secure their legacy in scientific history if LENR proves correct or just to have peace of mind in knowing their instincts haven’t failed them.
“It was unfortunate that cold fusion was initially publicized in 1989 as a new fusion energy source instead of simply as a new scientific curiosity,” says electrochemist Melvin H. Miles. “Perhaps research could then have proceeded normally with more careful and accurate studies of the many variables involved.”
A retired researcher at the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, Calif., Miles at times collaborated with Fleischmann, who died in 2012. Miles says he thinks Fleischmann and Pons were right all along. Yet, even today he doesn’t know how a commercial energy source could be constructed for the palladium-deuterium system, despite his many experiments that have produced significant excess heat correlated with helium production.
“Why would anyone have continued research or scientific interest after 27 years on any topic that was reported to be a mistake?” Miles asks. “I am convinced that cold fusion will eventually be recognized as another important discovery that was very slow to gain acceptance, and a new theoretical framework will emerge to explain the experimental results.”
Nuclear physicist Ludwik Kowalski, an emeritus professor at Montclair State University, agrees cold fusion got off to the wrong start. “I am old enough to remember the effect the initial announcement had on the scientific community, and on the general public,” Kowalski says. At times, he collaborated with LENR researchers, “but my three attempts to validate the sensational claims yielded only negative results.”
Kowalski thinks the social stigma against the research created as part of the initial fallout developed into a bigger problem, one that is unbecoming to the scientific method. Whether or not the claims of LENR researchers are valid, Kowalski believes a clear yes or no answer is still worth seeking. But it will not be found as long as cold fusion researchers “are treated as cranks and pseudoscientists,” Kowalski says. “No progress is possible, and no one benefits from not publishing results of honest investigations and not independently testing them in other laboratories.”
Time will tellEven if Kowalski gets a yes to his question and LENR researcher claims are validated, the path to commercialization is fraught with challenges. Not all start-up companies, even ones with sound technology, are successful for reasons that are not scientific in nature: capitalization, cash flow, cost, manufacturing, insurance, and competitive energy pricing, to name a few.
For example, consider Sun Catalytix. The company spun off from MIT is one example of a start-up built on strong science that fell victim to commercial pressures before it hit its stride. The company was created to commercialize an artificial photosynthesis process developed by chemist Daniel G. Nocera, now at Harvard, to economically and efficiently convert water into hydrogen fuel with sunlight and inexpensive catalysts.
Nocera envisioned that hydrogen generated in this way could power a simple fuel cell to provide energy to homes and villages in poor regions of the world without access to a power grid, making modern conveniences available and improving quality of life. But the process needed significantly more capital and more time to develop than the company initially thought. After four years, Sun Catalytix abandoned its commercialization effort, turned to making flow batteries, and then was bought in 2014 by Lockheed Martin. Sun Catalytix no longer exists.
It’s unclear whether the companies pursuing LENR and related technologies have stuttered primarily because of similar business hurdles. For example, Wilk, the organic chemist who has been following Mills’s progress, is becoming a little bit obsessed trying to sort out if BLP’s commercialization efforts are based on something real or make-believe. He simply wants to know, does the hydrino exist?
In 2014, Wilk asked Mills if he had ever isolated hydrinos, and although Mills had previously written in research papers and patents that he had, Mills replied that he hadn’t and that it would be “a really, really huge task.” But Wilk doesn’t see it that way. If the process generates liters of hydrino gas as he has calculated, it should be obvious. “Show us the hydrino!” Wilk pleads.
Wilk says Mills’s world, and by extension the world of others involved in LENR, reminds him of one of Zeno’s paradoxes, which suggests that motion is an illusion. “Every year they make up half the remaining distance to commercialization, but will they ever get there?” Wilk can think of four possible explanations for BLP: Mills’s science is actually right, it’s a complete fraud, it’s just simply bad science, or it’s what Chemistry Nobel Laureate Irving Langmuir called pathological science.
Langmuir coined the term more than 50 years ago to describe a psychological process in which scientists unconsciously veer away from the scientific method and become so engrossed in what they are doing they develop an inability to be objective and see what is real and not real. Pathological science is “the science of things that aren’t so,” Langmuir said. In some cases, it is embodied in areas of research like cold fusion/LENR that simply will not go away, even when given up on as false by a majority of scientists.
“I hope they’re right,” Wilk says about Mills and BLP. “I really do. I’m not out to debunk them, just to get at the truth.” For the sake of the argument—“if pigs could fly,” as Wilk puts it, he says he’ll accept their data, their theory, and other predictions that can be derived from them. But he has never been a true believer. “I think if hydrinos existed, they would have been detected by others in laboratories or in nature years ago and would be used by now.”
All the discussions about cold fusion and LENR end that way: They always come back to the fact that no one has a commercial device on the market yet, and none of the prototypes seem workable on a commercial scale in the near future. Time will be the ultimate arbiter.
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|From: FUBHO||12/11/2016 12:52:50 PM|
Confirmation of the topology of the Wendelstein 7-X magnetic field to better than 1:100,000
, S. Lazerson3
AbstractAbstractFusion energy research has in the past 40 years focused primarily on the tokamak concept, but recent advances in plasma theory and computational power have led to renewed interest in stellarators. The largest and most sophisticated stellarator in the world, Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), has just started operation, with the aim to show that the earlier weaknesses of this concept have been addressed successfully, and that the intrinsic advantages of the concept persist, also at plasma parameters approaching those of a future fusion power plant. Here we show the first physics results, obtained before plasma operation: that the carefully tailored topology of nested magnetic surfaces needed for good confinement is realized, and that the measured deviations are smaller than one part in 100,000. This is a significant step forward in stellarator research, since it shows that the complicated and delicate magnetic topology can be created and verified with the required accuracy.
Fusion has the potential to cover the energy needs of the world’s population into the distant future. Lawson showed in 1957 that magnetic confinement fusion based on deuterium–tritium fusion can work as a net energy source if one achieves a sufficiently high triple product, ?keV?m-3?s for the plasma, approximately valid for ion temperatures Ti in the range 10–40?keV (ref. 1).
Here ni is the ion density, and is the energy confinement time, which for a typical operating point in magnetic fusion reactor studies is a few seconds.
A promising approach to meeting this challenge is the use of a magnetic field that creates toroidal magnetic surfaces.
Of these concepts, the tokamak has so far shown the best confinement properties, but the stellarator is not far behind, and there is reason to believe that it can catch up. In a stellarator, nested toroidal magnetic surfaces are created from external magnetic coils, see Fig. 1. Each magnetic field line meanders around on its magnetic surface; it never leaves it. In general, if one follows a field line from one point on a magnetic surface, one never comes back to the same exact location. Instead, one covers the surface, coming infinitely close to any point of the surface.
Figure 1: Layout of W7-X.
Some representative nested magnetic surfaces are shown in different colours in this computer-aided design (CAD) rendering, together with a magnetic field line that lies on the green surface. The coil sets that create the magnetic surfaces are also shown, planar coils in brown, non-planar coils in grey. Some coils are left out of the rendering, allowing for a view of the nested surfaces (left) and a Poincaré section of the shown surfaces (right). Four out of the five external trim coils are shown in yellow. The fifth coil, which is not shown, would appear at the front of the rendering.
The stellarator is different from the other toroidal magnetic surface concepts in that both the toroidal and the poloidal field components—which together create the magnetic surface topology—are created from currents in external coils. In the tokamak and the reversed-field pinch 2, a strong toroidal current driven within the plasma is needed to generate the poloidal magnetic-field component. The stellarator’s lack of a strong current parallel to the magnetic field greatly reduces macroscopic plasma instabilities, and it eliminates the need for steady-state current drive. This makes it a more stable configuration, capable of steady-state operation. These are important advantages for a power plant.
The stellarator was invented by Lyman Spitzer in the 1950s (ref. 3). So why did it fall behind? And why do some believe that it is about to have a comeback?
Plasma confinement in early stellarators was disappointing. This was due to poorly confined particle orbits—many of the particle trajectories were not fully confined, even though the magnetic field lines were. If each guiding centre (the point around which the particle performs its rapid gyration) were to stay exactly on the magnetic field line it starts out on, the magnetic surfaces would guarantee good confinement. But for all toroidal magnetic systems, the orbits deviate from the field lines, since the guiding centres drift perpendicular to the magnetic field. This is due to the field-line curvature and magnetic field strength inhomogeneities inherent to the toroidal magnetic topology. In a magnetically confined fusion plasma, the drift is on the order of 10,000 times slower than the particle velocity, but, at 100?ms-1, it will lead to particle losses in less than 1/10 of a second, if the drifts do not average out or stay within the magnetic surface, but instead carry the particle from the inner to the outer magnetic surfaces. This was the case in early stellarator experiments. The tokamak and the reversed-field pinch do not suffer from this problem since their toroidal symmetry makes the particle drifts average out for all the particles and therefore only cause minor excursions from the magnetic surface.
Advances in plasma theory, in particular in the 1980s and 1990s, allowed the development of stellarator magnetic field configurations that display greatly improved confinement (see refs 4, 5), reducing the drift orbit losses to a level sufficiently small so that it is predicted to be compatible with an economically feasible fusion power plant. The optimization itself, as well as the associated design of coils that realize the optimized magnetic fields, requires computer power that only became available in the 1980s. The first generation of optimized stellarators started operation in the 1990s, and confirmed many of the expected improvements 6, 7. These devices were, however, too small to reach the high ion temperatures where the optimization really comes to its test. Moreover, they were built with copper coils, which are adequate for proof-of-principle studies but incompatible with steady-state operation at high magnetic field strengths. The Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) stellarator experiment is the first representative of the new generation of optimized stellarators, and aims to show with its superconducting coil system and relatively large size (major radius 5.5?m), quasi-steady state operation with plasma parameters, including ion temperatures, close to those of a future fusion power plant 8, 9. The sophisticated computer optimization of W7-X came at a price, however: the coils have complicated three-dimensional (3D) shapes, reminiscent of sculptures, Fig. 1. With today’s 3D design and manufacturing techniques, complex 3D engineering has become feasible, albeit still challenging 10. Strict requirements for the manufacturing and assembly accuracy of the coils add to the engineering challenge, which was in fact viewed by some as unrealistic. High engineering accuracy is needed because small magnetic field errors can have a large effect on the magnetic surfaces and the confinement of the plasma.
The measurements that are presented in the following sections confirm that the engineering challenges of building and assembling the device, in particular its coils, with the required accuracy, are met successfully. To explain how this was done, we first describe a few key concepts.
Hamiltonians and magnetic surfacesThe equations governing magnetic field lines can be written in Hamiltonian form. It is curious that this simple, but little-known, fact was discovered only half a century ago 11, but thanks to it, the entire arsenal of Hamiltonian chaos theory can be applied to magnetic fields. For instance, the celebrated Kolmogorov–Arnold–Moser (KAM) theorem 12, 13, 14 guarantees that small perturbations to an otherwise integrable magnetic field preserve the topology of most field lines, and break it by generating so-called magnetic islands only at well-defined locations. As we shall see, these islands can be measured and visualized directly in W7-X and offer the opportunity to detect field perturbations smaller than dB/B~10-5. To our knowledge, it is the first time that the topology of a magnetic field has been measured so accurately. For more information on the theory of shaped magnetic fields and their role in plasma confinement, we refer to two recent reviews 15, 16.
A magnetic surface is not only characterized by its shape and enclosed volume, but also by its rotational transform, ?. This is a measure of the poloidal rotation (‘twist’) of the field lines as one follows them around the magnetic surface; ?=1/2 indicates that the field line moves halfway around a magnetic surfaces in the poloidal direction for each toroidal turn it makes. Thus, for ?=1/2, the field line bites itself in the tail after two toroidal transits. Since there are many more irrational than rational numbers, ? is typically irrational, and a magnetic field line generally does not close on itself, it densely traces out a two-dimensional surface.
Measuring the magnetic topologySince the magnetic surface topology in a stellarator is created entirely from external coils, it can be measured in the absence of a plasma. This is done using an electron beam injected along the magnetic field. It follows and therefore maps out the magnetic field lines, and thus allows confirmation of the magnetic surface topology, providing a flux surface map. As mentioned earlier, the motion along the field is much faster than the guiding-centre drifts. This is even more so for the relatively low-energy electrons used in magnetic-surface mapping. Owing to the launch of the electrons parallel to the magnetic field, and the much smaller mass of electrons relative to any ion, its ratio of parallel velocity to guiding centre drift velocity is of order 1 million. Thus, the beam follows the magnetic field lines to a very high accuracy. The source of the electron beam is an electron gun, a small negatively biased and heated thermionic electron emitter surrounded by a small electrically grounded cylindrical structure. This electron beam alone can visualize the magnetic field line on which it is placed, through collisional excitation of a dilute background gas inside the vacuum chamber. This way, striking images can be made of the 3D structure of the magnetic surfaces; see Fig. 2 and refs 17, 18.
Figure 2: Experimental visualization of the field line on a magnetic surface.
The field lines making up a magnetic surface are visualized in a dilute neutral gas, in this case primarily water vapour and nitrogen (pn˜10-6?mbar). The three bright light spots are overexposed point-like light sources used to calibrate the camera viewing geometry.
A two-dimensional cross-sectional image generally provides clearer information though, just as Poincaré phase-space maps do for other Hamiltonian systems. Such a Poincaré plot of the magnetic surface is realized experimentally by intersecting the electron beam with a rod covered with a fluorescent, here a special zinc oxide powder (ZnO:Zn). When the rod intersects the magnetic surface on which the electron beam circulates, it fluoresces at the one or usually two locations where the rod intersects the magnetic surface and therefore collides with the electron beam. As the rod moves through the surface, all points on the latter will eventually light up. In a long camera exposure of this sweep motion, the entire cross-section of the magnetic surface appears, as shown in Fig. 3. The motion of the rod itself is often invisible on such an image, since the light sources (other than the fluorescence) are kept as weak as possible. After an exposure, one can move the electron gun to another field line that defines another magnetic surface, and repeat the process. This way, the nested, closed magnetic surface topology, which is illustrated in Fig. 1, can be experimentally verified 19, 20, 21, 22, and if any magnetic island chains exist, they will show up in the Poincaré plot, as explained in the following.
Figure 3: Poincaré section of a magnetic surface.
The Poincaré section of a closed magnetic surface is measured using the fluorescent rod technique. The electron beam circulates more than 40 times, that is, over 1?km along the field line.
Island chains and error fieldsAn island chain can appear on any magnetic surface with a rational value of ?: a direct confirmation of the small-denominator problem in KAM theory 12. In practice, island chains with a detectable and operation-relevant size only appear for low-order rational values of ?, and only if there is a Fourier component of the magnetic field that has matching (that is, resonant) toroidal and poloidal mode numbers, n and m, so that ?=n/m.
W7-X is designed to reach ?=1 at the outermost flux surface. It is a fivefold periodic device, with a pentagon-like shape, and thus has an n=5 Fourier component to its magnetic field, so that an n=m=5 island chain appears at the plasma edge. We denote unwanted field components error fields, and describe them in relative terms, bmn=Bmn/B0, where B0 is the average magnetic field strength in the confinement region, and Bmn is the amplitude of the Fourier component of the error field. In the search for error fields, we focus on the toroidal n numbers since only n=5 and multiples thereof should be present, whereas a broad spectrum of poloidal m numbers is present in W7-X. The n=1 through 4 components are to be avoided as much as possible, to ensure symmetric heat load distributions onto the 2 × 5=10 divertor units to be installed at the vessel wall in future operation phases 23. For the symmetry-breaking n=1 through 4 error fields, deformations due to electromagnetic forces do not play a major role and the bmn’s are largely independent of the magnitude of B0, in contrast to the effects discussed in the ‘Discussion’ section. Of particular concern is the n=1 component, which would create an n/m=1/1 island chain, and would result from, for example, a slightly misplaced coil module.
When minimizing the error fields, the main engineering challenge is the geometrical precision during coil manufacturing and coil assembly. The 3.5 × 2.5 × 1.5?m-size non-planar coil winding packs with their five different geometries (cf. Fig. 1) are particularly critical 24. The construction of W7-X required, for the first time, industry to manufacture superconducting coils with a highly complex shapes, with tolerances in the ±1?mm regime. This was accomplished by using specialized winding devices combined with precision metrology 25.
It was even more challenging to maintain the precision, and keep track of it, during installation of the coils: Positioning of the coils, machining of the contact elements, welding of mechanical supports and bolting to the massive central support ring, all sums up to create an additional contribution to the error field. It was only possible to keep deviations during installation and assembly into coil groups under control by intensive use of laser-based metrology tools, systematic adjustment procedures, as well as advanced welding and machining technologies. The largest coil placement errors were less than 4.4?mm, resulting in an expected largest Fourier coefficient of the magnetic perturbation error of b11˜1.2 × 10-4 (ref. 26).
Measuring error fieldsMagnetic flux surface mapping, in particular of island chains 27, allows for detailed error field detection and correction 19, 28. Island chains are sensitive indicators of small changes in the magnetic field topology, since they are physical manifestations of resonances in the magnetic topology. The radial full width w of an island chain is related to a resonant magnetic field component through ref. 16
The width of an island chain depends on the square root of the resonant field component, Bmn, with ?=n/m, and the magnetic shear dt/dr, as well as the poloidal mode number m and the size of the device (via the major radius R0=5.5?m in W7-X). In W7-X, the rotational transfrom ? is nearly constant from the inner to the outer magnetic surfaces, then d?/dr is small, and a sizeable island chain will result from even a very small resonant error field.
With field-line mapping, island chains can be detected, and thus, ? can be determined at a specific radial location, and resonant error fields, if present, can be measured.
We show in the following that effects due to slight deformations of the magnetic coils are clearly visible, and that an important error field component in W7-X has been measured to be less than 1 in 100,000. To our knowledge, this is an unprecedented accuracy, both in terms of the as-built engineering of a fusion device, as well as in the measurement of magnetic topology.
Adjustment of ?The magnetic topology used for initial plasma experiments in W7-X was chosen so as to avoid island chains at the plasma edge 29.
The rotational transform ? varies from 0.79 in the centre to 0.87 at the outer magnetic surface that just touches the graphite limiters installed to protect in-vessel components by intercepting the plasma heat loads.
The ?=5/6˜0.83 resonance is located inside the confinement region—and is thus unproblematic for the plasma-facing components. It creates a prominent island chain, because of the built-in n=5 component in W7-X. This island chain is indeed clearly visible, as seen in Fig. 4 showing a measurement performed at the field strength B=2.5?T later intended for plasma operation. The island chain location was detected almost exactly at the position expected from calculations taking the elastic deformation of the superconducting coils into account. These deformations, due to the electromagnetic forces between the magnets, cause a roughly 1% decrease in ?, thus shifting the location of ?=5/6 a few centimetres outward from where they would be without coil deformation. This was confirmed by repeating the measurements at =0.4?T and observing that the island chain indeed appears those few centimetres further inward, Fig. 5. At B=0.4?T, the electromagnetic forces are (2.5/0.4)2˜39 times smaller than at B=2.5?T. The actual change in the angle of the magnetic field vector detected in this way is only about 0.1%. Nevertheless, it shows up in Fig. 5 as a clearly visible radial shift of the island chain. A more detailed analysis of these data can be found elsewhere 30.
Figure 4: The natural 5/6 island chain.
The 5/6 island chain is visible in a poloidal-radial Poincaré plot created by an electron gun and a sweep rod, as a set of six ‘bubbles’, reflecting the m=6 poloidal mode number. A thin background gas in the chamber creates a visualization of the field lines that create the x-points of the island chain.
Figure 5: Island chain shifts at higher field.
The 5/6 island chain is shown in cyan for B=0.4?T, and in yellow for B=2.5?T. Although nominally one might expect them to be identical, the 5/6 island chain is about 10?cm further out at high field strength, due to small deformations of the magnet coils under electromagnetic forces.
Evaluation of an important error field componentFor the first measurements of the n=1 error field, a special magnetic surface configuration was used 31, where ? varies slowly and passes through the resonance ?=1/2, see Fig. 6.
Figure 6: Profile of ? for error field studies.
The ? profile is shown for the special configuration developed for field error detection. The ? varies only minimally around the resonant value of 1/2. The x axis is a measure of the minor radial size (in meters) of the magnetic flux surface, that is, a pseudo-radial coordinate.
In the complete absence of error fields, a small n=5, m=10 island chain would appear at the ?=1/2 location at around 25?cm distance from the innermost magnetic surface, but in the presence of even a small n=1 error field, an n=1, m=2 island chain, visible in a Poincaré plot as two ‘bubbles’, will appear.
The B21 error field is too small to create an island structure large enough to be measured clearly. This is in part due to the good news that it is small, and in part due to ? being so close to 1/2, that the electron beam comes very close to its launch position (the electron gun) after two toroidal transits, thus running the risk of hitting the back of the electron gun and disappearing.
It is nevertheless possible to indirectly measure the B21 field error, despite this shadowing problem, by adding an n=1 error field with a well-defined amplitude and phase, using the set of five large external coils 32, four of which are shown in yellow in Fig. 1. The primary purpose of these coils is to trim away the unwanted n=1 error field components, but the trim coils are used here to create an extra n=1 error field, and thus generate an n/m=1/2 island chain wide enough to be measurable.
Light fibres installed in the vessel along with detailed measurements of their location allow the pixels of the image plane to be mapped to physical dimensions. In this way, the width of the island in physical units can be inferred from a measurement in pixels. Error bars account for both the physical width of the flux surface traces and the step size going from outside the island chain to inside it. A best attempt is made to report the maximum width of the magnetic islands.
By scanning the phase and amplitude of the imposed, well-defined error field, measuring the island phase and width ( Fig. 7), and comparing with equation 1, we find that an n/m=1/2 island with a width of 4?cm must be present, even in the absence of trim-coil induced fields.
Figure 7: Measured island chains for different coil current settings.
For the special ?˜1/2 configuration, the n=1, m=2 island size and phase can be measured by the Poincaré section method. Here two conglomerate images a and b with several nested surfaces are shown for two different phases of a purposely added n=1 field structure with the same amplitude. Although the shadowing problem leads to gaps, the trained eye can still detect the changes in size and phase of the m=2 island.
The configuration has d?/dr˜0.15?m-1 at the ?=1/2 location, so using equation (1) again, we arrive at B21˜5.4 × 10-6. This value is well within the range that can be corrected with the trim coils 32. The careful and accurate metrology described earlier in this article is validated by our flux-surface measurements: The as-built coil forms and their as-installed locations have been implemented numerically in our codes, and then used to calculate the size, phase and location of the intrinsic 1/2 island chain resulting from the B21 component. These data agree very well with our fully independent direct measurements of the magnetic topology. The agreement regarding amplitude is shown in Fig. 8. Good agreement is obtained not only for the amplitude of the island chain but also its phase.
Figure 8: Comparison with metrology-generated numerical model.
The measured island widths are compared directly with those predicted from numerical calculations that take the as-built as-installed geometry of the W7-X coil set into account. Excellent agreement is seen. The offset from zero in the linear fits indicate the intrinsic 4?cm island width. If no intrinsic error field were present, the points would have lined up with the dotted lines. The island widths are determined from the real or synthetic images by use of an image processing software programme developed for these purposes. Since it was not always possible to image the edge of the island chain exactly, and even when so, the electron beam gives a certain width to an island chain or a magnetic surface, the island width has some uncertainty. The error bars indicate the largest and smallest possible island size consistent with the data.
The now experimentally validated numerical model of the coil system allows us to identify the primary source of the measured error field. The measured field error is caused primarily by imperfections in the placement and shapes of the planar coils. For the special magnetic configuration chosen here, the planar coils produce a much larger fraction of the magnetic field than they do in configurations used for plasma operation; in fact the one major configuration that has ?=1 at the plasma edge has no planar coil current. Therefore, we plan to measure the B11 error field in a configuration whose magnetic field is overwhelmingly dominated by the non-planar coils with ?˜1 (ref. 33). Since the B11 and the B21 components should be roughly of the same order of magnitude, and since the B21 error is reproduced by our numerical models, the b11 error is also expected to be small, likely close to or somewhat below the aforementioned estimate of 1.1 × 10-4, thus well within the correction capabilities of the W7-X coil set.
The need for complex 3D shaping and high-accuracy requirements have been viewed as major problems for optimized stellarators. Wendelstein 7-X demonstrates that a large, optimized, superconducting stellarator can be built with an accuracy sufficient to generate good magnetic surfaces with the required topology, and that experimental tools exist to verify the magnetic topology down to and below errors as small as 1:100,000. These results were obtained using magnetic field-line mapping, a sensitive technique to measure the detailed topology of the magnetic surfaces. To reach the other goals of the device, and provide an answer to the question ‘is the stellarator the right concept for fusion energy?’, years of plasma physics research is needed. That task has just started.
Data availabilityThe data sets generated and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Additional informationAdditional information
How to cite this article: Pedersen, T. S. et al. Confirmation of the topology of the Wendelstein 7-X magnetic field to better than 1:100,000. Nat. Commun. 7, 13493 doi: 10.1038/ncomms13493 (2016).
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
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|From: FUBHO||3/7/2017 2:54:00 PM|
|Brillouin Energy Closes $7.75 Million Series B Round|
James Farrell Joins Company Board of Directors
March 01, 2017 10:15 AM Eastern Standard Time
BERKELEY, Calif.--( BUSINESS WIRE)--Following the successful replication of “over-unity” amounts of thermal energy from its LENR renewable energy technologies, Brillouin Energy Corp. announces the closing of $7,750,000 in its Series B round. The lead investor in the round, James (Jim) Farrell, has also joined the Company’s Board of Directors.
@BrillouinEnergy closes $7.75 MLN Series B Round following replication of “over-unity” thermal energy in LENR tech
Tweet this“I’m convinced that Brillouin Energy is positioned to accelerate our R&D efforts this year and that we have the best team and experience to execute our plan to develop commercial-level LENR technologies,” said Jim Farrell, Managing Director of Beyond Carbon Energy LLC. “Since joining the Board in 2016, Brillouin Energy has made significant progress towards commercializing the development of our LENR technologies.”
Brillouin Energy enters 2017 with an aggressive research and development program aimed at building on its significant progress toward commercializing LENR technologies. The Company is in the process of finalizing a $15 million Series C round offering, which it intends to launch later this month.
“This kind of financial support allows us to continue to build on the significant progress we have made toward commercializing the development of Brillouin Energy’s LENR technologies,” said Robert W. George II, Brillouin Energy’s CEO. “We’re excited that so many new and current investors value the opportunity ahead for Brillouin Energy as much as we do. Together, we’re going to make ultra-clean, low-cost renewable energy a global reality.”
About Brillouin Energy Corp.
Brillouin Energy ( www.brillouinenergy.com) is a clean-technology company based in Berkeley, California, which is developing, in collaboration with SRI International ( www.sri.com), an ultra-clean, low-cost, renewable energy technology that is capable of producing commercially useful amounts of thermal energy from LENR. Brillouin Energy’s technology includes a method of electrical stimulation of nickel metal conductors using its proprietary Q-Pulse™ control system. Using Q-Pulse™, the process stimulates the system to catalyze LENR reactions, which generate excess heat in a controllable process. The excess heat produced is a product of hydrogen and a nickel metal lattice. There are no (zero) toxic or CO2 emissions of any kind. For further information about Brillouin Energy, please visit the Company’s website and contact us directly through the contact page.
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|From: FUBHO||10/29/2017 4:05:01 AM|
|Cold Fusion - Real, But Is It Ready?|
MIT Professor Peter Hagelstein
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Dinner 6:30-7:30pm; Program 7:30-9:30pm
DLA Piper LLC
2000 University Avenue
East Palo Alto, CA 94304
$20 MITCNC members / $30 non-members
Please log in for access to MITCNC member pricing
Join the Club! Buy your MITCNC membership HERE (MIT alums only)
Since 1988 when Professors Fleischmann & Pons from University of Utah first discovered “cold fusion”, there has been controversy as to whether the effect was an experimental artifact or whether it could be used to provide safe and inexpensive clean energy. The results claimed were not in agreement with the then-known laws of physics and skeptics drew attention to the many early negative experimental results to argue that the experiment could not be replicated. When their early experiments couldn’t be validated, most researchers concluded F&P’s results were “junk science”—and there has subsequently been little government sponsored research in the US.
Nevertheless, over the last 30 years, researchers around the world have found out why the initial results weren’t easily duplicated and some experimental configurations have been consistently able to generate net power. Largely ignored by the traditional physics establishment in the US, research efforts continue in Japan, China, Russia, India and Italy, with governmental support ramping up in Japan.
Cold fusion experiments produce little of the dangerous reaction products (neurons, gamma rays, or radioactive isotopes) that are seen in fission or traditional fusion reactions. Furthermore, the conditions necessary for cold fusion are modest compared to traditional hot fusion or fission, supporting much lower cost, high energy density implementations.
So, even though it has been demonstrated to be relatively safe and inexpensive to implement, the phenomenon is not theoretically understood yet and much work remains to convert experimental results to useful products.
Professor Hagelstein will trace the early history of cold fusion, highlighting important results and implications along the way. He will then review the theoretical issues and present his own model of what is going on, followed by a discussion of an experimental effort to test the model, with some preliminary results. Finally, he will discuss what he considers to be the necessary future directions in order to achieve commercialization.
Peter L. Hagelstein is a principal investigator in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) and an associate professor at MIT. He received a BS and MS degree in 1976, then his PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1981, all from MIT. He was a staff member of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1981 to 1985 before joining the MIT faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1986.
Hagelstein's early work focused on extreme ultraviolet and soft X-ray lasers, receiving the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award in 1984 for his innovation in X-ray laser physics. While working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory he pioneered the work that later produced the first X-ray laser, which helped stimulate the US Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) program.
In 1989 he started investigating cold fusion (also called low-energy nuclear reactions) and has written more than 50 papers on cold fusion while collaborating with key experimental researchers in the field. Hagelstein is the co-author of the textbook Applied Quantum and Statistical Mechanics and chaired the Tenth International Conference on Cold Fusion in 2003.
Date & Location
Time: 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
Location: DLA Piper, East Palo Alto
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|To: FUBHO who wrote (213)||3/9/2018 10:50:29 AM|
|Nuclear fusion on brink of being realised, say MIT scientists|
The dream of nuclear fusion is on the brink of being realised, according to a major new US initiative that says it will put fusion power on the grid within 15 years.
The project, a collaboration between scientists at MIT and a private company, will take a radically different approach to other efforts to transform fusion from an expensive science experiment into a viable commercial energy source. The team intend to use a new class of high-temperature superconductors they predict will allow them to create the world’s first fusion reactor that produces more energy than needs to be put in to get the fusion reaction going.
Bob Mumgaard, CEO of the private company Commonwealth Fusion Systems, which has attracted $50 million in support of this effort from the Italian energy company Eni, said: “The aspiration is to have a working power plant in time to combat climate change. We think we have the science, speed and scale to put carbon-free fusion power on the grid in 15 years.”
The promise of fusion is huge: it represents a zero-carbon, combustion-free source of energy. The problem is that until now every fusion experiment has operated on an energy deficit, making it useless as a form of electricity generation. Decades of disappointment in the field has led to the joke that fusion is the energy of the future – and always will be.
The just-over-the-horizon timeframe normally cited is 30 years, but the MIT team believe they can halve this by using new superconducting materials to produce ultra-powerful magnets, one of the main components of a fusion reactor.
Read More – The Guardian
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