New Energy Research Laboratory Device
and Process Testing Update
Published in IE Volume 6, Issue #34, November,
by Ken Rauen and Eugene Mallove
Thin-Film Cathodes and John Dash Cells
In 1999, Cold Fusion Technology, Inc. contracted
with Prof. George Miley's group at the University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana
to design and produce ten thin-film cathodes that might be suitable
for excess heat production in educational kits. These we hoped to
market, after determining whether such cathodes really did produce
adequate excess heat-the main objective of such a hoped-for commercial
Professor Miley's group and students prepared a significant
report of the project's results and transmitted this to us. These
results have been discussed, in part, by Professor Miley at the
American Physical Society meeting last March in Minneapolis, as
well as last May at ICCF8, the Eighth International Conference on
Cold Fusion. In recent months we obtained from the Miley group ten
initial "first cut" cathodes, thin films of palladium and nickel
deposited on a special glass substrate structure. We hope that these
cathodes prove themselves.
At this time, we have contracted with Dr. Edmund Storms
to test these cathodes in his very well-equipped Santa Fe, New Mexico
laboratory. Storms has decided to employ a Thermonetics calorimeter,
which Jed Rothwell (out of his own personal funds) had acquired
for Dr. Storms. This is of the same design that Ed Wall had been
using at NERL here in Bow, New Hampshire to begin testing prototype
cells fashioned after the designs of Professor John Dash and Jon
Warner at Portland State University.
In early September, Ed Wall decided to leave NERL
for other pursuits, one of which is the study of patent law, possibly
on the road to doing patent agent work. This, in part, explains
why we have decided at this time to allow Dr. Storms to perform
definitive tests on the Miley thin-film cathodes, as well as Ed
Wall's initial design of a Dash cell replication. Ed Wall's two-year
effort here at NERL helped us to significantly upgrade various capabilities,
such as data acquisition and other infrastructure, in addition to
his tireless work on experiments. His dedicated role will be missed.
NERL is hopeful that in 2001 new projects and funding will lead
to additional staffing opportunities for technically trained individuals.
The Hydrosonic Pump still awaits mounting and
alignment. NERL is now staffed by only one scientist, Ken Rauen,
which forces us to prioritize projects. A local machinist was hired
to help with the installation and alignment.
Mobberley Electrodeless Arc Discharge
The Eighth International Conference on Cold Fusion
in May, 2000, presented a surprise. A newcomer to the field of low-energy
nuclear reactions, Peter Mobberley of England, astonished some at
the conference by announcing a new form of underwater electric arc
discharge. He developed a new technique to get around the electrode
decomposition problems experienced by Mizuno and Ohmori (see IE
No. 20, IE No. 28, IE No. 32, and Device and Process
Testing Updates in IE Nos. 22, 26, and 32). The arcing is
removed from the electrodes by concentrating the electric field
through the holes in a commercial, ceramic pepper shaker ("pepperpot"
in British parlance). The arcing occurs at the ceramic holes instead,
providing the electrodes have enough surface area. One electrode
is inside the shaker, and the other is outside the shaker and inside
the cell's electrolyte container, such as a beaker. Mobberley claims
excess heat is released in this system, as much as 70% excess. The
arc, which is said to produce the excess heat, changes from a typical
bluish white arc to a lilac pink arc. NERL could not resist these
claims and the seeming simplicity of the apparatus.
Ed Wall performed an initial "quick and dirty" experiment
in June to produce the pink arc and to roughly estimate the heat
released by temperature rise to the solution's boiling point. Seventy
percent excess should be easy to observe. The pink arc was not seen
then. It was difficult to arc at all, and when it did arc, it was
a white arc. On top of that, it spattered and splashed terribly.
The Mobberley project is now handled by Ken. A new
apparatus was needed, because the open beaker method splashes hot
lithium-hydroxide all over the place; significant water vapor is
lost even before the solution reaches the boiling point; and hot
hydroxide solutions are excellent carbon dioxide scrubbers that
form lithium carbonate, a limestone-like precipitate that makes
a terrible mess of the test vessel.
A stainless steel, dewar-like flask was chosen as
the reaction vessel. The metal construction provides the outer electrode.
The inside of the double-walled flask is not evacuated like a true
dewar; it is ported with hose barbs that are used as a water circulation
jacket, providing the means to do calorimetry by temperature rise
of water passing through the jacket. The stainless steel vessel
was capped by a clear polycarbonate window, sealed by an O ring.
Mobberley specified concentrated LiOH. The initial solution used
by Ed Wall was most likely not concentrated enough, because it takes
a long time for hydroxides to dissolve.
Power input was from a 208 VAC (alternating current
is a new twist by Mobberley) source through a variac, and the electricity
delivered to the cell was monitored by an Amprobe voltage and current
data-logger. Heat output was measured by water jacket temperature
rise multiplied by cooling water mass flow and specific heat capacity.
Temperature was measured by 30 gauge type-J thermocouples on plastic-hose-isolated
brass fittings at the inlet and outlet jacket ports, connected to
a Hewlett-Packard data logger. Flow was measured by total water
weight for the test period. The heat capacity of water is 1 calorie
per gram-°C. Actual electrolyte solution temperature was monitored
by a mercury thermometer through the polycarbonate plate; the thermometer
bulb being placed in the solution, near to the inverted ceramic
shaker. Three layers of aluminized bubble-wrap and 2-inches of fiberglass
insulated the entire test vessel. A tiny clearance around the thermometer
and inner electrode allowed steam to escape without soaking the
Visual testing in a clear glass beaker verified the
lilac-pink arcing above 85 °C and above 155 VAC rms. Calorimetric
testing in the stainless steel vessel at 208 VAC rms and solution
temperatures around 95°C produced 88.5% and 88.2% output/input in
two runs. Steam evolution carried away a significant amount of heat.
Weight loss by the solution as steam (spattering problems were solved
and no droplet entrainment occurred) adjusted the efficiencies to
104% and 101%, plus or minus 2% error. We think these results are
not significant, and certainly are far from Mobberley's claim of
70% excess. We await Mobberley's comments before continuing this
investigation. Mobberley has yet another way of performing such
experiments, which employs a small water pump to suspend the arc
at the tip of an underwater electrolyte jet.
Of Special Note
It may seem odd that this regular report in Infinite
Energy is so relatively sparce. This may give the entirely misleading
impression that NERL does not do a lot of work. The reason that
so little is said is not that we do so little, but that we have
many other projects which are proprietary (at least for now) or
in preliminary stages. We are investigating claims by some inventors
under non-disclosure agreements. We also have projects of our own
for which we expect to apply for patents. In time, these obscure
activities, should they come to fruition, will be made public. Of
course, there are some false leads that are also on our table, and
these you might not hear about, though as many readers realize,
we do not shrink from publishing negative results. There are even
inventors who show up, receive our assistance, then for a host of
bizarre reasons leave the scene never to be heard from again. But
please keep in mind that the new energy tree will bear fruit in
due season. That is ever our goal.