The many discussions of theory have encouraged me to summarize what is known about LENR having relevance to theory, and what a theory requires to explain.
A theory in conflict with any one of these essential requirements, I suggest, is not worth discussing. On the other hand, many details about each of the requirements need to be ignored until more information is obtained. Nevertheless, the basic requirements can be used to eliminate many ideas and reduce the discussion to a few possibilities.
For those who believe theory is not important or useful, I would like to point out that we presently have theories being used to explain behavior and to design experiments. If these theories are wrong, the conclusions being reported will be wrong. Agreeing on the basic characteristics of LENR would help prevent such mistakes.
LENR has a few basic and well established behaviors and many unknown features. We can debate the unknowns, but the well known behaviors must be acknowledged by any effective explanation.
Of course, imagination can provide all kinds of exceptions to any condition, but an effective search best focuses on the more plausible and more likely possibilities.
The well known LENR behaviors include:
1. LENR is initiated only with great difficulty. Many materials have been subjected to a wide range of conditions without LENR being produced.
2. Once a material is “activated” the LENR effect is robust and sustained with a possible rate in excess of 10^11 events/sec.
3. Helium, tritium, and a variety of transmutation products are formed.
4. Each of these nuclear products are found produced in the surface region when the location can be determined.
5. Helium production is the source of most observed heat energy.
6. Very little energetic radiation is detected outside the apparatus.
7. Because LENR takes place in a chemical structure surround by normal atoms, the mechanism causing the nuclear reaction must be consistent with this environment.
Normally, any mechanism able to initiate a nuclear reaction will also cause significant chemical changes in the surrounding material. Such changes are not observed when LENR occurs.
1. The behavior identified as #1 implies that a rare and novel condition must form in the material in order for the LENR process to occur. I call this region the nuclear active environment (NAE). This region is not present in most materials and can not be easily created.
This characteristic eliminates vacancies of any type, dislocations of any kind, impurities of any kind, and large cracks because each of these features is normally present in common materials.
2. The characteristics listed in #2 show that the NAE is stable once formed and can be present in significant concentration. The NAE is not the result of a minor impurity or an occasional flaw in the material.
3. Helium and tritium formation can be attributed to reactions between isotopes of hydrogen but transmutation is difficult to explain. The explanation of transmutation must account for two types, one that adds helium to a nucleus without fragmentation and another type that results in fragmentation of the target after hydrogen is added.
4. The nuclear products are found associated only with the surface region. Consequently, the NAE is not expected to form in the bulk material.
5. Most of the heat energy results from He4 formation when deuterium is used. An effective theory must explain how helium is formed while producing the amount of energy expected to result from D+D fusion.
6. The huge mass-energy released by a nuclear reaction must be communicated to the surrounding material as heat energy. This process must not destroy the NAE or create significant energetic radiation. Consequently, a narrow range is placed on the rate at which energy is released and the type of the energy release process.
7. Creation of the NAE and the nuclear process must be compatible with the chemical conditions known to be associated with the material in which LENR takes place.
Are there additions or clarifications?
Can these requirements be used to eliminate the bad theories?