Weird Science – Cold Fusion


Nothing explains the shortcomings of the modern academic system than the saga of cold fusion, an excellent lens through which to understand the world.

Cold Fusion is the idea of creating energy from hydrogen without nuclear materials or nuclear waste, the ultimate energy source, and a solution for all of the world’s energy problems. 

In 1989, two scientists from the University of Utah had a press conference and announced they had accomplished the task using a low-cost reactor that could sit on a tabletop.  The announcement was on the front page of most newspapers and caused a giant stir.  Many people’s knee jerk reaction was that it was not possible, and that they were frauds.  But the two scientists, Fleishman and Pons, were seasoned experts in the methods used in Cold Fusion experiments and had no reason to create a public controversy. 

Immediately, a number of universities started trying to replicate the experiment to see if it was indeed possible to create a clean power source on a tabletop.  MIT and Caltech, both having hot fusion programs, were particularly interested as billions in hot fusion funding was potentially compromised. Fleishman and Pons did not publish the reactor system and the other universities attempted to reverse engineer it by using photos of the reactors that they had presented at the press conference. 

When their haphazard experiments did not show the same effect, a young scientist from Caltech announced his own press conference and stated that they did not see the success of cold fusion in their experiments, and Fleishman and Pons had committed scientific fraud.  The media immediately recoiled and ran months of articles about the fraud of cold fusion, regardless of the fact that MIT and Caltech had a conflict of interest and did not even operate the experiment over enough time to get positive results.  After this fiasco, cold fusion became a dirty word and career suicide for academics. 

Regardless, large corporations like Toyota, Mitsubishi, and military branches, particularly the Navy, and other institutes such as NASA and Stanford Research International started their own programs, announcing positive results in triggering nuclear reactions without the risk of nuclear materials.  The Navy was particularly active, operating over 20 years in the field of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions or Cold Fusion.  Navy researchers have not only had positive results, which they discuss openly, but they have collaborated recently with Google on commercial Cold Fusion research. 

At the University of Missouri, philanthropic funding has created the first Cold Fusion graduate program, with this university possessing a strong nuclear research program and its own nuclear reactor on campus.  In 2010, this graduate program, as well as a number of commercial entities announcing success with Cold Fusion commercialization, reignited interest in the space. 

While the media and the academic community considers the case of Cold Fusion closed, some of the most advanced and respected research groups in the world carry forward, and results are improving rapidly.  Cold Fusion was a missed opportunity in 1989.  Vested interests, ego and small minds caused it to become highly political, but a new energy source produced by a commercial company will be the final vindication.

For more information, LENRproof.com is an excellent resource to review the history and evidence for cold fusion.

Gregory Swan is an independent researcher, having a formal training in analytical chemistry with experience running biotechnology companies. He has been involved with studying COVID19 and assisting a number of commercial companies with research and business operations.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in our Science Matters column are the personal views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions held by the Wet Tropic Times, its Editor, or staff.

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