New Energy Research Laboratory Device
and Process Testing Update
Published in IE Issue #36, March/April
by Ken Rauen and Eugene Mallove
First Gate Energies' Sonofusion Reactor:
Initial Validation at 50% Excess Heat
Success is especially sweet when one has been
trying for a long time, without much success, to identify and develop
a robust demonstration device for cold fusion phenomena- excess
heat and nuclear effects. Such a device now appears to be close
at hand in the sonofusion reactor of Roger Stringham and his colleagues
at First Gate Energies. In mid-February Ken Rauen, as lead investigator,
succeeded in reproducing the approximate excess heat results that
Stringham had obtained in the same reactor when it was in his California
lab (see IE, No. 35, p. 21, p. 70). Figure 1 is a sample
of one stretch of excess power, varying with the unknown conditions
on the surface of a copper foil target in heavy water. This was
under pulsed acoustic dual-transducer activation with approximately
40 kHz wave packets.
Figure 1. Sample of one stretch of excess power. The exess heat
line is marked with an arrow and appears darker than the adjacent
lines. The "Ref" line on the Y axis is zero watta
excess heat. Vertical scale is 2 watts/division. The cyclic
fluctuations are due to furnace cycling to keep the lab warm,
as it is winter in New Hampshire.
With a margin of error in the preliminary
result that we believe to about ±0.5 watt (certainly no more than ±1 watt), we have high confidence that excess heat has been
faithfully reproduced. We have confidence in the joule heater
calorimetric calibration of both the input acoustic signal oscillator
electronics and the reactor itself, which has a built-in joule heater
calibration. Given the experience of Stringham in producing similar
results on demand over many years, we believe this is an excellent
candidate to be a robust demonstration of cold fusion phenomena.
Many new experiments need to be performed, including attempts
to reduce or zero the excess heat by employing ordinary water and
some other metals, reducing argon pressure, lowering input power
below a critical value, etc. (The excess heat is said to be so frequently
part of any such sonofusion reactor work, that in this instance
the best "null" is found by cross checks on the calorimetry; we
have already carried these out.)
Though much work remains to be done in getting onto market with
this scientific demonstration device, First Gate Energies has agreed
to allow NERL to be the exclusive developer, marketer, and distributor
of scientific demonstration educational kits based on Stringham's "M3S" sonofusion reactor. (Those who would consider obtaining such
a research kit are asked to contact NERL as soon as possible, to
establish priority and help us anticipate production runs. Note
well: We will not distribute such kits until we are certain that
we can guarantee excess heat results on demand.)
Figure 2a. Set-up schematic of sonofusion
The road to successful confirmation was
not easy. After Eugene Mallove's visit last fall to the First Gate
Energies laboratory in California, Roger Stringham sent to NERL
in Bow, New Hampshire the M3S sonofusion reactor, its Plexiglas
test stand, and its transducer electronics calorimeter. The set-up
can be seen schematically in Figures 2a and 2b. A picture of the full system at NERL with
our Toshiba laptop computer data acquisition system appears in Figure
3 while it was producing excess heat on February 17. The reactor
seals had developed leaks from prolonged use by Stringham and perhaps
from the transport. During various stages of replacing seals, leaks
and input power losses occurred, in one case due to ultrasonic power
absorption in soft-rubber replacement seals; we reverted to Teflon
Our data acquisition system software is BenchlinkTM
(by Agilent/HP), which allows up to twenty-two channels of thermocouple
and input power measurements via an Agilent/HP 34970a Data Acquisition
Switch Unit, which periodically scans all input channels.
2b. Set-up schematic of sonofusion reactor.
The very first run of the sonofusion reactor,
with the new teflon gaskets, produced excess heat with good confidence.
The excess power was initially 2.5W, with about 5W of ultrasonic
energy into the reactor (5 watts in, 7.5 watts out). From the calibration runs and from two control tests during
the run, we are confident that the error margin of this experiment
is about 6 0.5W.
As a confidence check, Ken Rauen turned off the oscillator electronics
and moved the oscillator cooling loop thermocouple from the calorimeter
box to the piece of steel which houses the ambient temperature recording
thermocouple; there was a mere 0.15°C difference. The associated
excess heat error is no more than +/- 0.2W, as expected in this
zeroing of input. Later, after a day or more of operation, the excess
heat increased to a higher level-up to 8 watts, but it also dipped
periodically, though never approaching zero. We know that for an
unknown reason reactor calibration changed, so our confidence in
the 100% figure is not good.
The thermocouple was then replaced into the oscillator electronics
calorimeter with oscillator power off. The oscillator calorimeter
without its circulation fan cools very slowly. It was allowed to run overnight to see
if the temperature difference would drop to zero. It went to 0.2°C, which results in about
0.5W of excess heat calculated. We discount this zero check, as the offset is not an offset
in the heat calculation; the equation is nonlinear. The placement of the two thermocouples in the same environment
is a better check of the system in our opinion. The next step was to increase the reactor heater power to
reach temperatures seen by Roger Stringham as necessary for good
performance. The first excess heat run was about 95
to 100°C, possibly too cold for optimal cold fusion. Better results
were found at 108°C.
We intend to redesign the system for the educational kit such that
an accurately known bias joule heater power of over 50 watts is
not required to keep the reactor at operating temperature. This
can be done by appropriate insulation to make the reactor self-heat.
We also intend to perform gas sampling in order to detect the helium
that Stringham has previously reported emanating from this reactor.
Scientific demonstration kits will have gas sampling facility provided
with them so that gas can be sent for testing for helium at centers
with quadrupole mass spectrometers that are suitable for such refined
Figure 3. Stringham set-up.
Figure 4. Thin copper target showing hole.
A curious phenomenon occurred in initial
testing, before we detected excess heat. The thin copper target
that Stringham had provided to us developed a small hole in it! Such holes had previously been reported in sonofusion targets,
but usually with attendant visual evidence of melting. This target
(5 mil thickness) had rough edges under microscopic examination
that were unlike those in simple tearing of copper sheet of the
same thickness (see Figure 4).
Later, we observed the central perforation of the copper target
with which excess heat was detected. This time there was evidence
of surface thermal and mechanical damage. Fertile ground for investigations
of many kinds.