This is the story of ‘cold fusion‘ and how high-energy physics researchers’ political clout stopped funding and publication to protect their budgets. For 25 years. Fraudulently*.
From the beginning, there has been zero doubt that the phenomena was real for anyone who looked at the evidence with an open mind. Despite the opposition, it was quickly replicated and now standard research setups exist that reliably produce power and aren’t expensive. There is a lot of research by serious people around the world, but most of the well-funded attempts are outside the US.
The promise of this technology is that it could produce as much power as you want, locally and with no pollution. It should be a conservative’s dream, as it moves political power to the periphery : If my village doesn’t need so much from outside, autonomy and independence will follow. It should be a Green’s ideal also : zero pollution and low cost, poor people everywhere will benefit.
I am not a physicist and haven’t delved into the research deeply, but my sense is that this work is still very early stage. It is just past the first stage of trying a lot of wild ideas to see what can work, has routine replications of some of them across laboratories. Thus, a solid base to start the exploration from and rapidly-improving results in all dimensions should follow. Thus, the big improvements are yet to come.
Deuterium is cheap, some materials don’t need more than ordinary hydrogen, different methods of charging the metal matrix need to be explored, very few substances have been tried as the ‘containment vessel’ to replace nickel or palladium — there are literally billions of crystalline forms possible that bring metals into close proximity and could allow hydrogen to be fused. Materials people are not yet working on that problem as they have been with high-temperature superconductors or semiconductors.
It is easy to believe that 3D printers and the ability to print different metals will allow home inventors to get involved. I personally know one physicist who has set up a cold-fusion experiment at home.
I predict that the first Nobel Prize for Cold Fusion will be given for a theory explaining it. Some High Energy physics guy will get it, and won’t mention P&F in their speech.
Stephen E. Jones is blamed for Pons and Fleishman going public early, that violation of scientific protocol being the excuse the HE people used in denigrating the entire line of work. I just made the connection, he is the same guy who published the 9-11 chemistry for the nano-thermite. (Solid work, I believe.) Obviously a contrarian by nature.
HE physics’ hot fusion spends $5B a year and is always 30 years from a working reactor. It is good to have 30-year plans.
*Fraudulently because of the transition from ‘my experimental conditions did not show an excess heat event, here are all of the possible differences in our experimental setups that may account for that’ to ‘the concensus of the scientific community is that there can be no effect’, neglecting to add the critical phrase ‘based on existing theory’. That was the slight of tongue that protected their budgets.