How To Evaluate LENR Theory?

It has been posed that a major criterion for evaluating theory is “comparison with the observations we expect it to ‘explain'”, such as

1) A failure to observe intense penetrating radiations.
2) A failure to observe secondary hot reactions (recoil etc.)
3) Why the reaction takes place mainly outside the bulk.
4) How tritium / neutrons are produced.
5) How energy is transmitted to the lattice as heat.
6) How the above can occur in both light and heavy hydrogen systems.
7) Iwamura’s transmutations.

I have studied LENR now for 26 years. I found the difficulty in creating the effect very frustrating. Most of my attempts failed. When a sample made energy, it seemed no different from the samples that did nothing. Finding an explanation for this difference became my goal. Use of trial and error was not practical because I did not have the resources to run the required large number of experiments.

I turned to the explanations that were being proposed and found that they ignored the unique conditions required to initiate the nuclear reaction and focused on the nuclear process using selected behavior. In other words, they were useless in showing me how to make success more reliable.

Having a chemical background, my first question was, “What was unique about the material that could cause a nuclear reaction”? After all, for over 100 years, scientists failed to detect any indication that a nuclear reaction could be affected by the chemical environment no matter how extreme the conditions and no matter how hard they looked. Clearly, a very rare and unique condition had to be created. In 1996, I identified this condition as the nuclear active environment (NAE).

Once the NAE is accepted, the question has to focus on where in the material this rare and unique condition is located and how can it be created.

Obviously, the condition is not part of the structure normally present in all materials, such as vacancies or dislocations. If these common conditions were the NAE, LENR would be much more common and much easier to replicate.

An answer to this quandary is basic to explaining LENR.

The second problem involves the mechanism. The mechanism must only affect a nuclear reaction. The process must have no effect on the chemical behavior. After all, chemists have been studying Pd/D for over 100 years and have detected nothing unusual about its chemistry. The material acts like any other hydride, except it is more reactive to H than most other elements.

A mechanism involving electron energy levels would affect the chemical conditions. Chemistry has failed to find such a mechanism. Simply put, DDL, neutron formation, and any other mechanism involving the electrons can be eliminated from consideration, at least at first.

Nevertheless, electrons are required to reduce the Coulomb barrier to a level permitting the observed reaction rate. This means electrons are involved, but how?

Finally, LENR creates helium rather than fragments of helium, as does hot fusion. Somehow a mechanism must overcome the barrier while at the same time dissipating the nuclear the energy. In the case of hot fusion, these two events are separated in time. In LENR, the two events must occur at the same time and be part of the same basic process. This requires a very unique mechanism.

In conclusion, LENR requires a unique and rare condition in the material and a very rare and unusual mechanism must operate in this condition. This path immediately eliminates most explanations and forces the discussion to ask different questions. I asked these questions in my book The Explanation of Low Energy Nuclear Reaction, and provide detailed answers to each of the questions posed, along with many others.

Requirements LENR imposes on a theory

For LENR to take place, two or more hydrogen nuclei (I use the word hydrogen to mean any isotope of the element called hydrogen.) must come to the same location and occupy this location for some period of time.

For a fusion rate of 10^11 times/sec to occur when 1 watt is measured, the number of these fusing assemblies existing at any time must be comparable to this rate. This requirement is based on the fact that these assemblies do not form instantaneously but require the atoms to diffuse from sties located at some distance from the growing active sites.

As the hydrogen are fused, replacements must diffuse from even greater distances.

In addition, something about this particular nuclear active location and the resulting assembly must allow the Coulomb barrier to be significantly lowered and, at the same time, the assembly must have a way to dissipate the resulting mass energy without the need for the resulting nuclear product to fragment.

These are the requirements that LENR impose on the process. These requirements severely limit what can be proposed as an explanation

To met these requirements within the lattice structure, the hydrogen nuclei must spontaneously rearrange from the known stable arrangement and assemble in these very unusual clusters of hydrogen nuclei.

The laws of thermodynamic require Gibbs energy be created for this to happen. No one has identified this source, nor is such a source to be expected given what we know about the chemical properties of PdD, which is the compound of interest. So, in my way of description, I state that formation of such an assembly violates the laws of thermodynamics.

Some theories propose mechanism to get around this problem. These mechanisms themselves violate natural law, in my opinion. Let’s explore a few examples.

BEC: The BEC is a structure that forms as result of quantum interactions that are very weak, hence the structure is only observed to form between atoms near absolute zero. Nevertheless, the structure is proposed to form at room temperature and above at a rate consistent with the observed production of heat from LENR, as noted above. This idea is justified by assuming local regions in a material spontaneously acquire a temperature near absolute zero in which the BEC form long enough for it to fuse. Ignored is the fact that hydrogen nuclei must diffuse through the lattice and reach this site before it again returns to the normal temperature. Because this region is cold, the diffusion rate will be very small as the site is approached, thereby preventing rapid assembly of the required number of nuclei. This limitation combined with the required assumption that a BEC can actually experience fusion and dissipate the energy without fragmentation of the nuclear product violates basic logic and the law of thermodynamics that prohibit such cold spots from forming.

Metal atom vacancies: Vacancies in the metal sublattice are proposed to form in PdD as the D/Pd ratio approach 1 and some of the D are proposed to move into these sites and accumulate. The previously vacant metal atom sites are not proposed to fill randomly by individual atoms, but instead a certain number of the sites can acquire a large number of D. These large assemblies are then proposed to experience occasional fusion between some of their members and the mass-energy then leaks out of the cluster as phonons. Once again the process of assembling the nuclei is ignored as well as the Gibbs energy required to allow the process to take place.

Creation of sub-Bohr orbit structures: If the electron associated with the hydrogen nucleus could get close enough to the nucleus in a stable orbit, the structure would act neutron-like without having to pay the high energy cost of actually forming a neutron. Furthermore, the electron is proposed to hide the Coulomb barrier just long enough for the neutron-like structure to approach another nucleus and then go on its way after fusion has occurred while effectively adding a d or p to the target nucleus. These neutron-like structures are proposed to form spontaneously, diffuse through the lattice without causing any observed chemical effect until they find a another nucleus with which to react. Even though the Dirac equation can be used to justify formation of the structure and even though Mills has published independent justification, no evidence exists to support the idea. The idea seems to be justified only by LENR being possible. To me, this is an example circular reasoning.

There is a tendency for many theories to ignore the real and well understood conditions that exist in a chemical structure. This is done by applying an arbitrary chosen collection of mathematical equations that hide the required real-world process that must take place.

Theories must begin with what can be actually seen to take place, and apply what is known to be consistent with the known behavior of LENR while also being consistent with the known chemical properties of materials in which LENR takes place.

We need to bring the large number of conflicting explanations together into a common logical structure. I do not believe this can be done as long as the theories are based on LENR taking place in the chemical lattice itself. That is why I moved my thinking to the crack structure where the rules change and conditions exist that can be used to explain LENR.

I admit, when I say laws of nature have been violated, this may be too strong but it captures the universal problem I’m trying to emphasize.

This problem results because many of the present theories start with a model based on a chosen mathematical description and then look for behavior as justification.

In contrast to the present theories, I start with what is known and use this to create a logically consistent model. I’m tying to encourage use of this approach.

Examples of how nature dissipates nuclear energy

I’m trying to encourage use of known behavior to evaluate the possibly explanations for LENR.

One of the goals of scientific theory is to improve application of the phenomenon being explained. A theory is not “useful” if does not actually describe how LENR works so that the theory can be used to improve the ability to produce LENR at commercial rates. When this definition is applied, the present theories are not useful.

A great deal is known about nuclear behavior in general and LENR in particular. This information is being ignored in preference to using imagined processes having very little relationship to what is known or is possible based on logic. We need to start by acknowledging and agreeing on some basic conclusions. We need to apply these conclusions consistently to every effort to explain LENR. We can fill in the details as we go along, but not at the start of the process.

The lesson provided provided here involved a universal characteristic of all nuclear reactions, with one apparent exception. Normally, when a nuclear reaction of any kind occurs, the energy is released as KINETIC energy contained in emitted particles, including photons.

When fusion takes place at any temperature under any condition, except LENR, the nuclear product fragments into two particles.

Release of nuclear energy [.ppt]

Nuclear energy is normally released by fragmentation, but LENR is different.
Nuclear energy is normally released by fragmentation, but LENR is different.

This conclusion leads to another.

Muon fusion shows that simply bringing two D close together, even at low temperature, results in the normal fragmentation of the product. This means that any imagined process that simply forces the D to get close enough to fusion can be expected to release energy by the normal fragmentation mechanism. Clearly any process that brings the two D close enough to fuse during LENR also must involve a process that releases the energy in a manner different from what nature normally uses because the hot fusion products are not detected during LENR.

In the case of LENR, the nuclear products do not fragment. This result is most clearly seen in the production of helium created in numerous studies and the transmutation products created by Iwamura et al. Tritium production is less clear in this regard but is nevertheless consistent with this conclusion.

Helium can result from two deuterons combining into a single nucleus. This reaction produces more energy/He than any other possible source of helium. The amount of energy/He measured during LENR is close to the amount resulting from D-D fusion and is significantly greater than the amount resulting from any other source of helium.

The process of helium production shows no evidence for the energy being released as the kinetic energy of particles or fragments resulting from the process. In other words, the helium results from a mechanism that is very different from the mechanism normally used by nature to dissipate nuclear energy.

If we agree on these facts, we can conclude that LENR requires a process that both lowers the Coulomb barrier and at the same time dissipates the resulting energy in a novel manner using an unusual mechanism. The only challenge is to find a mechanism that combines lowering of the barrier with energy dissipation in a consistent and logical way. In other words, we need to stop looking for individual mechanisms for these two processes that act independently of each other. We must look for a single unifying mechanism.

Let’s move on to examine some of the proposed processes, starting with the “breathers” idea.

Several people have proposed a spontaneous temperature change can occur in a material such that some local regions can get cold enough of a BEC to form or hot enough for normal fusion to occur. Although this concept violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the event is proposed to be brief and random, which are considered exceptions to the Second Law.

Let’s start by imagining the sequence of events. First a D atom gets suddenly very cold by losing energy to its surroundings. We will not be concerned how this happens just yet. For a BEC cluster to form, other D atoms have to move from their present locations some distance away from the cold spot to the cold spot while the spot remains cold. To move, a D must have kinetic energy. So, the process is imagined to result in energetic D accumulating together into a structure that does not have energy.

Where does the energy go that each added D brings to the growing BEC? Now an energy extracting mechanism must be proposed such that as energy is brought to the site by each D, a mechanism removes the energy to the warmer surroundings. This is no longer a random process and it must continue long enough for many D to diffuse from sites located at increasing distance from the growing BEC. To repeat, the D has to move by diffusion, which requires energy. Once it joins the BEC, it has to dump this energy into the surrounding atoms. This event has to occur hundreds of times as this BEC grows on its isolated site. In addition, millions of other isolated sites within the lattice have to grow similar a BEC. This process has to take place for weeks in order to continue producing energy at the observed rate and duration.

Consequently, we have to imagine conflict with three basic requirements: violation of the Second Law, the violation of Gibbs energy requirements, and creation of an energy extracting mechanism not know to exist. This idea seems to require a high level of conflict in order to justify a process that has no reason to exist other than to explain LENR. This level of conflict is too high to apply this idea to LENR.

Reason for writing the book: “The Explanation of Low Energy Nuclear Reaction”.

The phenomenon called “cold fusion” or “low energy nuclear reaction” has suffered from reasonable initial skepticism that, unfortunately, has continued for 25 years.  Much of this skepticism is justified based on how the process is thought to occur. This lack of a plausible and useful explanation has resulted in much confusion about the reality of the claims and difficulty in replicating the behavior.  Nevertheless, the accumulating evidence shows overwhelming support for nuclear reactions being initiated by a process much different from the cause of conventional hot fusion reactions.

After reading most experimental papers and the major explanations, I  have tried to provide a better explanation.  The complexity of this effort required a book to show how such an explanation could be justified and applied to the observations using accepted laws of nature, all without using math.  As a result, many observations previously explained only by ad hoc assumptions  can  now be  understood while, at the same time, many testable predictions can be made. 

Hopefully, the approach used in the book will help more people understand how cold fusion might function as a real phenomenon and will show how the phenomenon is now too important as a potential source of ideal clean energy for rejection to continue.

Edmund Storms