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									COLD FUSION –Voodoo Science
(Breakthrough in energy production?)

Two chemists, Pons and Fleischmann, respected professors at the University of Utah
reported at a press conference(March 23, 1989):

During the electrolysis of heavy water (water in which ordinary hydrogen is replaced by
its isotope deuterium. The latter contains a neutron in addition to the single proton found
in the nucleus of ordinary hydrogen), deuterium nuclei are squeezed so closely together
in a palladium electrode that they fuse, releasing large amounts of energy. Since
deuterium is a naturally occurring isotope of hydrogen present to the extent of 0.014% of
all hydrogen atoms in the ocean, the supply of deuterium is inexhaustible! This “cold
fusion” process appears to be similar to the process of energy released in the sun.
However, the latter occurs in hot plasma gases under extreme conditions. The Cold
Fusion at Utah occurred in a lab in a bench top” test tube” under ambient conditions.

In a fusion process, the excess energy should be carried away by nuclear radiation,
mainly neutrons ejected from the hot helium 4 nuclei formed during fusion, resulting in a
lighter helium 3 isotope which is more stable. Both the helium and energetic neutrons
are unambiguous evidence that fusion has taken place.

Both Pons and Fleischmann, as well as the U. of Utah, by-passed the peer review process
and directly reported their findings at a hastily called press conference and “leaks” to the
Wall Street Journal in New York and the Financial Times of London. All scientific details
were shrouded in secrecy! None the less, this caused a “buzz” in scientific circles and
many groups both in the USA (Yale U and BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL Lab) and
Europe and elsewhere tried to reproduce the data of Fleischmann and Pons, but were
unsuccessful. Theoretical physicists were skeptical as it did not fit theory and
experimentalists were unsuccessful. Repeated attempts by the scientific community to
clarify discrepancies in the results of Pons and Fleischmann were disregarded by the two

Futhermore, the levels of radiation, if any, were far below those for a fusion process;
No helium was discovered during the analysis of the palladium electrode. This
pointed towards unreliable results of the Utah cold fusion discovery! The clincher
was that similar results were obtained during the electrolysis of ordinary water, i.e.,
the release of energy. Seems to have been a simple chemical process that occurred
rather than the exotic nuclear fusion claimed by the Utah scientists.

Other recent cases of Voodoo science

   1) Bell Labs. (results published in Science etc, i.e., peer reviewed articles slipped
      through the established norms and protocols)
   2) Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Highly respected DOE lab.
Some background (Chapts 4 and 8, Chemistry in Context)

Energy is the capacity to do work.

Heat is a form of energy; flows from a hotter body to a colder body; temperature
determines the direction of heat flow. Heat is measured in calories, defined as the amount
of heat necessary to raise the temperature of exactly one gram of water by 1 deg C. The
Joule is the more common unit. 1 kcal is equal to 4.184 kJ,

The first law of thermodynamics: energy is neither created nor destroyed, consevation
of energy. Energy is often transformed as it is transferred, but the energy of the universe
is constant. However, energy sources such as coal, oil and natural gases are

Combustion: is the combination of fuel with oxygen to form product compounds. In such
chemical transformations, the potential energy of the reactants is greater than that of the
products. Because energy is conserved, the difference in energy is given off as heat,
examples, natural gas methane and hydrogen:-

       CH4(g) + 2 O2(g)  CO2(g) + 2H2O(g) + energy

               2H2(g) + O2(g)  2H2(g) + energy

(called an exothermic process)

Transforming energy: heat into electricity
Energy & efficiency: always less than unity

The second law of thermodynamics: it is impossible to completely convert heat into
work without making some changes in the universe. Increasing chaos also called

“Old Fuels”: Coal, petroleum, natural gas

“Newer Fuels”: Oxygenated gasolines (MTBE), ethanol from biomass, hydrogen;
garbage incineration as a fuel source.



In a fuel cell, the chemical energy of a fuel is converted directly into electricity
without burning the fuel
Anode reaction:             H2  2H+ + 2e- (oxidation)
Cathode reaction:        1/2O2 + 2H+ + 2e-  H2O (reduction)

Net reaction:                H2 + 1/2O2  H2O

Fuel cell converts > 45% of energy released into electrical energy

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