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Infinite Energy Device Update
Les Cases' Progress in Catalytic
Published in IE Volume 4, Issue #23
Conducted by Ed Wall and Gene Mallove
Progress in Catalytic Fusion
Birth of a Revolution in Cold Fusion?
To the delight of many at the Seventh International
Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF-7) in Vancouver, BC last April, a
new approach to cold fusion emerged. Dr. Les Case, an experienced
chemical engineer with four degrees from MIT, announced what he is
calling "catalytic fusion" to distinguish it somewhat from the original
electrochemical approach. He had concluded that the electrochemical
method of Fleischmann and Pons was going to continue to be limited
by materials issues palladium cracking, composition, etc. and the
inherent difficulties of working with electrochemical systems. Furthermore,
he wanted to achieve the higher temperatures that are allowed by gas-phase
The story of Dr. Case's discovery of catalytic fusion
is exciting, including his travel to Europe and Japan in search
of the proper path forward. In the account below, we let Dr. Case
tell the Edisonian story of discovery in his own words. It turns
out that relatively simple catalysts off-the-shelf "hydrogenation"
catalysts used in the chemical industry seem to catalyze deuterium
(heavy hydrogen) gas to helium-4 in a heat-releasing nuclear reaction
that is millions of times more energetic than any conceivable chemical
reaction. These catalysts are typically activated carbon that has
been doped with precious metals such as palladium. Other catalysts
may emerge as a result of this line of investigation, ones that
perhaps will not require any precious metals. Unlike high temperature
plasma fusion (hot fusion), there is no harmful radiation from the
process. Thus, the original promise of cold fusion may now be realized
in more robust and repeatable experiments. Ultimately, these could
be commercialized in relatively straightforward ways that make use
of chemical engineering practice.
At the moment, catalytic fusion studies are proceeding
at Dr. Case's own lab in New Hampshire, at SRI International in
Menlo Park, California and at the Pacific Northwest Laboratory,
(a U.S. Department of Energy lab, under contract with Russ George's
Saturna Technologies, Inc.). In our own facility (New Energy Research
Lab NERL) here in Bow, New Hampshire, we saw the positive results
of a Case experiment first hand shortly after ICCF-7 (see IE No.
19). We are beginning a second round of work to demonstrate the
process with a relatively simple calorimetric dewar set up. We hope
that these efforts help catalyze new work by others in an area of
We are pleased to present the following progress reports
on catalytic fusion, in the words of Dr. Case and Dr. Michael McKubre. EFM
How I Discovered Catalytic Fusion
I was going to be a chemical engineer
and then head a large corporation. I went to MIT and I got three
degrees in Chemical Engineering through the Sc.D. Also, along the
way, I took a side degree in Business Administration. I went to
DuPont to their Central Research Station, the Plastics Department,
or something of the sort. I worked there and it became clear that
they didn't want to do business the same way I wanted to do business,
so then I taught school for ten years.
I started my own laboratory, studying improved plastics
and polymers and I had, for fifteen or twenty years in Nashua, New
Hampshire, my own company and my own building, but it never went
commercial. I did a lot of research and development, got a lot of
patents, and then my wife got very ill. I spent a fair amount of
time concentrating on keeping her well. So the laboratory there
went inactive. Then when my wife died in 1987, I had a lot of things
to do to get the estate together and so forth. I was then following
scientific developments, which were then current. I became quite
interested in high temperature superconductivity. In fact, I went
to the Beijing Conference on Rare Earths and presented a theoretical
paper providing the background, what I thought was the chemical
background for the physical phenomenon of high temperature superconductivity.
For a while I began to play around with the idea of getting a useful
device based on high temperature superconductivity.
At just about that time, the cold fusion hubbub erupted.
I followed it with some interest, but I could not see how it would
go commercial. The original conception obviously was a scientific
curiosity, but it wasn't at any point in the reasonable future heading
towards a commercial operation. So I followed that at arms length
until I saw some work by Dr. Yamaguchi at NTT in Japan, in which
he had obtained an 800°C-plus exotherm [exothermic reaction]
with, he thought, big bursts of neutrons. So I went to visit him actually
in Tokyo at his laboratory and looked at his equipment. Beautiful
stuff! Very careful work. Clearly, he had obtained a result which
was very, very definite. And, incidentally, at this time, which
was about 1993 or so, it was still highly controversial as to whether
or not anything related to cold fusion had ever really been seen
in a definitive fashion. There was no question that he had seen
a very definitive result. He'd obtained 800°C-plus.
Well then, I thought, "OK, this is something that
needs to be refined and scaled up." And because he was working with
palladium and everybody else was working with palladium and platinum
primarily, it became sort of obvious to me that probably some sort
of catalytic effect was involved. I am a chemical engineer and chemical
engineers use chemical catalysis all the time. Platinum and palladium
are the preferred catalytic metals. So I then embarked on trying
to follow up Dr. Yamaguchi's work in my own fashion. I was initially
concentrating on the neutrons as being something important. I then
spent, I think, over a year trying to find a laboratory, equipped
to deal with neutrons, which would cooperate with me in which I
could sponsor some work and try to work out my ideas.
Off to Europe
There was no laboratory in the United States
that I could find that would work with me. After all, it was cold
fusion, or something related to cold fusion and most scientists
wouldn't touch it even for money. I finally determined that because
all Eastern Europe is known to be very low wage scale low price
scale that there were some Eastern European neutron laboratories
that were of possible interest. So I got myself a plane ticket to
Berlin and took the train going east to Warsaw.
I went to the Department of Nuclear Science or something
of the sort in the Physics Department in the University of Warsaw.
I met a nice lady there and there was a possibility of doing some
work. We agreed to meet a little later on my trip to Budapest, for
dinner and further consultation. Then I looked at the train schedule
and considered going to Lotz. It's not very approachable, so I skipped
directly to Prague, which was a lucky shot. I went to Prague and
I knew about Charles University there, which is a very famous old
university, and went downtown to the old town square to the main
campus and tried to find the Physics Department. It wasn't easy,
because I don't speak Czech and many of the Czechs don't speak English.
I finally found somebody there and she told me, "Oh, you want to
go the Physics Department. That's on the other campus, across the
So I got the directions to go to the other campus.
It's a tower building there and the Department of Nuclear Science
was on, I think, the tenth floor of this tower building. So I had
the taxi driver let me off and I went to the tower building, found
the elevator, and went up to the 10th floor. I walked out the door
and there was a sign that said "Nuclear Science." I went in and
there was a very efficient scientific looking gentleman with white
hair, sitting there talking to, I guess, the secretary. It turned
out he was the Director of the operation.
I explained to him I wanted to do this kind of research
and he said: "We'll do it!" I said "Really, who has to approve it?"
and he said: "We'll do it!" So I hooked up with the Department;
actually it's the Nuclear Center, Department of Physics and Mathematics
at Charles University. For I guess over a year, maybe about two
years, I was doing experiments in their nuclear laboratory, which
is associated with CERN. It's a serious nuclear laboratory. It is
by no means equivalent of CERN...
Shooting in the Dark
It was empirical work and I was trying to find
an effect the idea was to find some sort of temperature [rise].
I was using the temperature gradient for a catalyst active versus
a blank. I had a big vessel, and I had four samples inside the big
vessel. One of these four samples was the blank and the other three
were potential candidates. I would change the hydrogen or the deuterium
gas over the sample, change the nature of the samples, and look
for temperature differences. With neutrons or without neutrons.
We also had to measure the neutrons I might be making, so it was
empirical. I made a whole bunch of runs, oh, on probably three
or four different trips, and with minimal results for maybe the
first two trips. One of the times I started with a plated palladium-on-copper
tubing, and I thought that might be catalytic, but it wasn't. I
tried some titanium tubing, but it wasn't catalytic, and I finally
ended up thinking: "If it's catalytic, you better use catalysts."
So I ended up scanning through several dozen available samples of
Finally, some of these catalysts I was modifying I
actually had some platinum and palladium acetonate, and I was modifying
the surfaces all of a sudden we started seeing temperature differences
in one or two of the samples. That is, we were beginning to find
active catalysts that would really show a temperature gradient over
the inactive catalysts. And I can remember very clearly, one day
it was, I think 1.2°C or 2.1°C above the background in a
particular catalyst sample. The physicist that was working with
me was amazed, because as far as physicists are concerned, 1 or
2°C might as well be a million degrees, because it's clearly
an effect and we were measuring it immediately versus an adjacent
He said. "Well, how did you select this material
to do this experiment?" And I said: "Because that's the one that
works!" This is what happened: I had scanned through with many different
experiments through all the various candidates that I had received
from three to five different sources of catalyst, until I found
a catalyst, a chemical catalyst that was off the shelf, that actually
worked to give some sort of effect with deuterium compared to hydrogen
and compared to the other blanks. So it was strictly an empirical
result, just blindly following my nose. Changing the conditions,
changing the pressures, changing the temperatures, and so forth
until I finally found a catalyst that gave me a result...
What happened was as follows. I have always been
very protective of this. Well, not always, but for the last five
years or so very protective of the results not disclosing them
to anybody. I have a series of U.S. patent applications, about eight
or ten of them, a basic one which was totally speculative and wrong.
I kept filing continuations and amendments to them. Finally, I began
to get these results, and then with all of our three or four patent
applications prior to my current ones, I began to get results. I
kept improving them.
Finally, I got to a set of results which defined
the field, basically. With that patent application, I filed for
foreign applications and that was published in November 1996. I
expected that there would be a very big response when this was published,
but there was no response whatever. Nobody was paying any attention.
So finally I decided to take the bull by the horns and I appeared
at the Cold Fusion Conference unannounced, in Vancouver in April
of this year. At this April Cold Fusion Conference, ICCF-7, I gave
a brief talk, saying that I had developed an experimental procedure
for reproducibly generating a heat effect with deuterium and that
it's catalytic. As I say, I can reproduce it and I can scale it
up. It created quite a stir at the conference, because people were
looking. A lot of people were looking for this: some sort of basic
real approach, not just playing around, but a concept of something
that made it work reproducibly. The concept I introduced was contacting
a certain limited range of standard chemical catalysts with deuterium
under standard conditions, and it would work.
Well, there's a little bit more to it than that,
but this was new because nobody previously had ever used a standard
chemical catalyst. They were always making their own special material
and practically nobody thought of a catalyst. It was their particular
equipment, and sometimes it was very elaborate. But I was able to
buy, off the shelf, standard chemical catalysts which did work.
Gene Mallove and I met at that conference. This is how Gene and
I came together at the conference in Vancouver.
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