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infinite energy

Issue 82
November/December 2008
Infinite Energy Magazine

Release of Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions Sourcebook and More Thoughts on ICCF14


Scott Chubb


A new book, Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions Sourcebook (Jan Marwan and Steven B. Krivit, eds., American Chemical Society, 2008, Hardcover, 406 pp, $175), has just been published which documents important ideas that were presented during an invited symposium of the American Chemical Society in March 2007. This book is historic because it is the first peer-reviewed book from an established scientific society (published by the American Chemical Society, but available from Oxford University Press). The book includes sixteen invited papers. Two of them (Steven Krivit, Martin Fleischmann) are introductory and of a general nature. Fleischmann’s paper  has been reprinted from his article in the ICCF10 Proceedings. There are four papers (X.Z. Li et al., Akito Takahashi and Norio Yabuchi, Edmund Storms, and myself) that explicitly deal with “theory.” There are five papers that deal with excess heat and calorimetric calculations and measurements (Antonella DeNinno et al., Melvin Miles and Martin Fleischmann, George Miley and Prajakti Shrestha, Michael McKubre et al., and Peter Hagelstein and Irfan Chaudhary). The Hagelstein/Chaudhary paper actually involves theory. There are three papers associated with “nuclear ash and transmutations” (Tadahiko Mizuno, Vladimir Vysotskii et al., and Pamela Mosier-Boss et al.). The final two papers, associated with metal hydride systems and material science, are by Dennis Letts et al.  and Jan Marwan.

LENR Sourcebook

This book is unique. At once, it presents important information about some of the most important developments in condensed matter nuclear science, but its focus involves well-documented work. My only criticism about this involves theory and its representation. Edmund Storms presents a very specific description about theory that really does not cover theory. In his description, he explicitly cites Randell Mills’ work but does not provide details or a well-constructed analysis of Mills’ work. The other criticism I have is purely formal: the Hagelstein/Chaudhary paper should have been included in the theory section. Besides these minor criticisms, I must recommend this book as necessary reading for any serious student or researcher of condensed matter nuclear science. Krivit and Marwan must be congratulated for their work in organizing the material associated with this book and going through the necessary steps for it to be published.

In Issue 81, my colleague Bill Zebuhr wrote a wonderful editorial, “A Celebration of Effort.” In it, he presented a fresh perspective about what has been taking place in cold fusion, in the context of broader issues involving new science and technology. Infinite Energy magazine presents facts and opinions about this subject; we try to bring to the forefront new ideas that seem “obvious” to us and additional ideas that are “not-so-obvious.” Within the context of conventional nuclear physics, during ICCF14 truly remarkable results were presented that are “not-so-obvious” at all. It is worthwhile to examine some of these, since space limitations did not allow me to cover these in my ICCF14 review in Issue 81. Herein I will present my impressions about some of the “not-so-obvious” interesting talks that occurred during ICCF14, which might have value to mainstream physicists but because of their nature might not appear to be related to the dominant effects (excess heat and the production of helium-4) associated with cold fusion.

David Kidwell (Naval Research Laboratory) spoke about a very real and important issue: contamination and understanding low-level effects. In my review of ICCF14, I did not focus on issues associated with this because I emphasized larger, more relevant effects in cold fusion which involve excess heat. There is a very real difference between transmutation claims and claims involving excess heat. I do believe that understanding the relevant science associated with both sets of effects is important.

It would be nice to believe claims involving transmutations and excess heat are related and associated with some form of novel, grandiose new effect. But there are clear differences between the transmutation and excess heat claims. Kidwell’s presentation was important because it underscored the very real differences between the two sets of claims. Key points associated with this involve the magnitudes of the effects. In possibly the most compelling “transmutation” experiments (Iwamura et al.), the signal that is observed (associated with the “transmutation” of Cesium-Cs- into Praesodynium-Pr- which involves the extraordinary possibility that four deuterons could combine with a Cs nucleus without any high energy process being involved) is extremely small. It involves the detection of changes in the numbers of nuclei (atoms) that occur at the level of one part in a billion. Kidwell correctly pointed out that minor changes (such as in the environment, even with clothing and what is in our pockets) potentially could alter the external environment in such a way that particular forms of measurement involving conventional mass spectroscopy could provide inconclusive results. For example, he noted out that all dollar bills are contaminated with cocaine at levels that are significant, relative to background levels of outside impurities. He mentioned this fact not to suggest that the presence of cocaine could be significant in measurements associated with transmutation but to emphasize the delicate nature of the measurement process.

In the case of the Iwamura experiments, in fact, conventional mass spectroscopy has played a secondary role in the process of verifying the effects that have been observed. The “transmutation” process that has been claimed has resulted from an analysis of X-ray photoemission spectra (XPS), involving a decrease in the amount of 133Cs that is present (based on measurements of characteristic X-rays resulting from exciting core level electrons in each Cs atom), accompanied by a comparable increase in the amount of 141Pr (again, inferred from core-level induced X-rays) and in a second situation in which (from a similar analysis) the amount of 88Sr that is present is accompanied by a comparable increase in 96Mo. It is of course true that the associated correlation between decreases in one species (Cs or Sr) accompanied by increases in a second species (Pr or Mo) could be coincidental. But it is also true that Kidwell’s observations, although very relevant in situations involving conventional mass spectroscopy, might not be directly relevant to what has been observed. However, his observations are quite important in the context of earlier reports associated with transmutation claims.

During ICCF14, Iwamura and his co-workers reported that they have conducted more refined XPS and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry measurements. Iwamura presented a seminar at the “Spring-8” advanced synchrotron facility in February 2006 about the ongoing work associated with using more sophisticated forms of XPS. He alluded to this work and to additional collaborative efforts involving the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Institute. Efforts, at this point, are preliminary. The important points that Kidwell raised do not apply to these efforts. Other efforts in Japan have also focused on diagnostic procedures that use XPS, XRF, and a new technique, Positive Ion X-ray Emission (PIXE), that potentially can provide valuable correlations between species that appear to decrease, accompanied by species that appear to increase. Yamaguchi, Sasaki, Nohmi, Tanikke, Furuyama, Kitamura, and Takahashi presented results from a preliminary study that focused on performing PIXE measurements. This new technique apparently provides important information that can be used to understand details related to the surface deposition procedures that are used. In particular, Yamaguchi focused on details about Sr, its density in regions associated with deposition, and with possible increases in Mo. What was presented certainly is not conclusive. The techniques, however, are very important. The focus of the effort is also important because it involves trying to understand possible changes in atomic species, at the 1 part in a billion level, that Kidwell pointed out is so difficult to understand using novel forms of measurement that involve X-rays, that are not directly prone to errors associated with random fluctuations in background levels of contaminants.

Beam experiments by Kasagi and others clearly are useful because of the underlying science. Considerable confusion exists about what is and is not possible, based on “conventional” particle-particle collision nuclear physics experiments. Jiro Kasagi has played a seminal role in identifying potential forms of nuclear reactions at lower energies in solids that can result in very different forms of reaction than is expected in conventional nuclear physics. Within this context, the existing description involves measurements of an effective screening potential, based on conventional ideas about the Coulomb barrier. Kasagi has applied these ideas in a number of very different environments, including liquid Li metals, where dramatic effects have been observed. Huke, and his collaborators from the University of Berlin and the University of Szczecin, Poland, have carried out additional experiments involving d+d reactions in a Zr target, again with anomalously high screening potential results. Czerski (also in collaboration with Huke) carried out a theoretical analysis associated with a simplified picture of what might be taking place.

There were other important ideas presented during ICCF14, including theoretical speculations about nano-structure materials. Michael Melich summarized a talk that Andrei Lipson was not able to present. It is not clear if this talk, which seems to be related to cold fusion, actually is related to it at all. Lipson’s work involves accelerated particles and possible effects associated with them.

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