The search for the Nuclear Active Environment, the set of material conditions that causes LENR is a now a thirty-year pursuit and condensed matter nuclear scientists still debate where exactly the reaction takes place in the material to generate heat and transmutations.
To this day, few agree, and yet, without knowing the location of the reaction, engineering efforts are stymied in finding a recipe that both initiates and scale the effects.
Undoubtedly, the sheer number of LENR effects adds confusion. Is there one LENR mechanism able to explain all the different observable phenomenon? The preponderance of LENR models and theories certainly challenges this idea.
“Nature would not go about creating a variety of mechanisms to cause something so extraordinary and so rare,” says Edmund Storms. “Indeed, nature is known to be very stingy in finding the fewest number of ways of doing something and getting the job done. It’s called Occam’s Razor. The idea is that the simplest explanation is probably the more correct one.”
Dr. Edmund Storms spoke about the search for the NAE – and more – with Ruby Carat on the Cold Fusion Now! podcast.
“It’s very obvious that some unusual characteristic of the material has to exist in which the nuclear reaction will occur, and that particular condition is rarely formed. That’s what makes LENR so difficult to reproduce,” says Dr. Storms. “It’s really difficult to create the unique condition on purpose, especially if you don’t know what it is – with there being a number of conditions that would qualify. “
Super Abundant Vacancies as the NAE?
The idea of vacancies, places where atoms or nuclei should be but aren’t, is one of these candidates for the NAE. If an empty spot exists in a hydride where hydrogen is missing, perhaps that could be the location of the reaction. A large number of such vacancies might account for the large amount of excess heat energy produced by these system
“People who favor the idea of a vacancy as the NAE find the Super Abundant Vacancy SAV concept particularly attractive because it contains lots of vacancies. The difficulty in creating SAVs is consistent with the difficulty in making cold fusion work”, says Storms.
“Furthermore, Peter Hagelstein, who is a firm advocate of the vacancy idea, has a complicated and highly mathematical description of how a vacancy would achieve a nuclear reaction. So he and his followers of this particular view are encouraged by having a possible structure containing even more vacancies than would normally be present.”
Two types of vacancies in Pd-D
“Vacancies are a characteristic of all materials. But, some materials have the ability to make vacancies of a certain kind, and other materials favor other types of vacancies. The concept of a vacancy is ambiguous”, describes Edmund Storms.
So far, the SAV model has been developed for systems that use the metal palladium and isotopes of hydrogen.
“In palladium-deuteride, which has been studied the most and has the most information, we know of two kinds of vacancies. A vacancy can form in the deuterium sublattice. In other words, positions are present where a deuterium should be located, and there are positions where it should be located but it is not present, which is called a vacancy.”
“Vacancies can also form in the palladium atom positions.”
The figure shows a lattice structure with all the atom positions filled, with the green balls representing palladium.
“The number of vacancies in a material is sensitive to the thermodynamic properties of that material, and the thermodynamic properties are sensitive to temperature, pressure and composition. ”
“So if vacancies were in fact where the action was, then it should be possible, very conveniently and with foreknowledge, to create them in palladium-deuteride, because we know enough about that material and its basic thermodynamic and crystallographic properties to know how to create vacancies.”
“Unfortunately, that information does not allow the cold fusion reaction to be caused with any reliability. In fact, no relationship seems to exist between the presence of vacancies, which can be determined, and whether or not excess energy can be made.”
“So there’s no proof,” says Storms, “there’s no feedback from nature to show you that particular viewpoint is correct.”
Just having vacancies in palladium deuteride does not guarantee LENR. Something else is required.
“The cold fusion reaction has been found to occur in a variety of materials, not just palladium-deuteride. Those materials have entirely different characteristics involving the ability to make vacancies. These vacancies seem to have no relationship to the ones in the palladium-deuteride. Yet, we still see the same nuclear effects.“
“We have to be very careful in imagining where this nuclear reaction actually occurs. In palladium, the reaction only occurs very near the surface when electrolysis is used. However, the surface region of the palladium cathode is not pure palladium. It’s a very complex alloy and is also very complex metalgraphically. So, a lot is going on in the material without a relationship to how people imagine palladium to behave.”
When analyzing palladium-deuteride theoretically, Edmund Storms says that “People don’t realize they’re not looking at something ideal as is described in the literature. They’re looking at a moving target. They’re looking at material that’s changed every time they do something to it. “
“Every time palladium is reacted with hydrogen or deuterium, then remove, and react again, the material is changed. The characteristics are changed – thermodynamically, the shape, the size, the hardness- they’re all different. So how can a moving target be studied?”
Dr. Storms believes no correlation exists between the various materials producing LENR and the presence of vacancies because he sees no physical evidence relating vacancies with LENR.
“The idea of vacancies simply does not fit with the way this reaction behaves.”
“On the other hand, one characteristic that is universal and would fit is cracks or gaps in the structure. Those are totally universal and a correlation between their presence and LENR can be seen, so that’s where I focus my attention.”
Evidence for nano-cracks is universal
After years of experimental work, Dr. Storms became frustrated by failure, and wanted a direction for research. He looked to the theoretical models for guidance. Sadly, little of the mathematical machinations could tether to the reality of experimental procedure.
“I needed a guide to figure out how to treat a material to encourage it to produce the LENR effect, so I looked around at the various suggested unique features of a material, trying to figure out which one might be important.”
“After a considerable amount of trial-and-error, and logical deduction, I came to the conclusion that the only feature that made any sense were cracks.”
In 2014, Edmund Storms published The Explanation of Low Energy Nuclear Reaction An Examination of the Relationship Between Observation and Explanation, a book surveying the theories proposed to model LENR with critiques that systematically matched experimental evidence to each model’s conclusions. Together with logical deduction in thermodynamical arguments, he appraised their viability. In the end, he proposed one of his own models developed primarily from LENR observational data.
See article on Progress Report #6
When the right-sized nano-crack forms in Pd-D, Dr. Storms imagines “the hydrogen atoms would try to go into these cracks and fill them, and there would be a chemical relationship created between the deuterons occupying this crack.
“And then the question is, what would that chemical interaction do from a nuclear point of view.” Following the logic, Storms bumped up against the unknown.
“I was encouraged to believe that once this chemical structure formed, which could be described as a linear molecule of deuterons stuck together, one after another, this would start to resonate and the resonance would move the nuclei closer together periodically. “
“As the distance shorted, the nuclei in the molecule would suddenly discover they were on the way to a fusion reaction – not all the way, but with a possibility that energy could be released from their nucleus if they just did a couple things we don’t yet understand at this point.”
Storms’ idea of a nano-space filled with hydrogen creating some unique type of chemical structure is not far-fetched. Nano-technologies have uncovered many strange new phenomenon, where quantum effects are prominent and little understood. In this case, a linear hydrogen molecule is proposed to resonate to some stimulus, and engage in a new nuclear process of a gradually progressive fusion.
“I imagineas this structure resonated, the energy would be given off in small bits – not all at once as it is the case for hot fusion. In hot fusion, the energy goes off instantaneously. In cold fusion, the energy would go off slowly. I describe hot fusion as being fast fusion and cold fusion being slow fusion.”
See the full documentary HYDROTON A Model of Cold Fusion on the Cold Fusion Now! Youtube page.
Storms believes that slow fusion has been happening all along in various environments, but was overlooked by scientists in early fusion research because everyone was applying energy to the nuclei in order to overcome the Coulomb barrier by brute force, which automatically makes the fusion energy come off instantaneously.
“But within a linear molecule in a nano-gap, this new mechanism could exert itself, and so I imagined a resonance process would initiate a new kind of nuclear reaction. This has always been possible but people never applied the right conditions for it to manifest itself.”
“This new phenomenon of nature might be a good source of energy and, because this is an entirely new kind of nuclear interaction, understanding might be rewarded by a Nobel prize.”
Detectable features of the Hydroton model
Dr. Storms believes the full explanation will be years in the making, and dozens of graduate students will have opportunities to get that prize. For now, finding a mathematical description for an unknown nuclear reaction remains a difficult next step. Conventional science won’t pay attention to the behavior unless a working LENR device is produced or a mathematical framework is accepted as a model.
“At this point I do not know – nor does anybody else know – how to describe the Hydroton model mathematically in a way that would make this acceptable to mainstream scientists.”
Still, some features of Storms’ nano-NAE might provide quantitative parameters. Elaborating on the “slow” fusion process, Storms explains how smaller bits of a nuclei’s mass can turn into energy, and justifies the reasoning with observed experimental data.
“I believe the mass is converted to energy and the energy appears as a photon of a frequency (or wavelength or energy) which is not as large as a normal nuclear reaction would produce, but is large enough so that the energy contained in that photon is able to move away from the source, and be deposited and turned into heat as it passes through matter further away in the apparatus.”
Somehow, resonant nuclei are proposed to lose only a tiny bit of mass as they move closer, with that little bit of mass being converted into two photons going in opposite directions, as is required to conserve momentum. Both photons have enough energy to leave the nano-gap, with the energy being turned into heat elsewhere in the apparatus. But the photons do not have enough energy to leave the apparatus, as evidenced by the lack of radiation detected outside the apparatus.
“We know precisely how the energy of a photon is converted to heat as it passes through matter. That’s well known. And these photons are no different than any other photon, so they just simply pass through matter, and lose energy as photon energy is converted to heat energy, which is called a phonon.”
“Nevertheless, some do have sufficient energy to get to a detector and are detected. A little bit of radiation is in fact seen experimentally. But it is not nearly enough to explain the amount of heat that is being given off. And I argue that’s because 99% of the photons that are made, are absorbed before they get outside to the detector.”
Storms estimates that the photon energy is “probably somewhere around 10keV. When the phonons are very much more energetic than that, they would be detectable.”
While heat is the main LENR effect, transmutation products are also found. Storms requires the Hydroton model to address this LENR effect as well.
Fusion and fission can occur simultaneously
“The linear molecule, that I call a hydroton, can attach itself to other atoms that happen to be nearby, such as impurity atoms that happen to be out of place in the NAE, for example in the crack with other debris.“
“When the fusion reaction takes place, those other nuclei that are attached chemically to the Hydroton experience ambiguity about their nuclear state. The energy being generated by the fusion reaction is re-directed to force one or more of these hydrogen nuclei into the nuclei of this attached atom. In other words, fusion precedes and is required for transmutation to take place.”
Talking about the Pd-D systems, Storms says, “Normally, palladium contains some platinum. But after the LENR reaction has occurred over a period of time, many other elements are present as well. A couple of these elements are heavier than palladium. Obviously something has gone into the palladium nucleus and stayed there. “
“On the other hand, most of these nuclear products are lighter than palladium, but when the weights of two of these products are added, the sum nearly equals the weight of palladium. In other words, the Pd nucleus seems to have split into two unequal parts after some D or H have been added to the nucleus.”
“It’s fascinating that this is a combination of fusion and fission taking place simultaneously in the material. That’s an entirely new concept in its own right. ”
But Storms believes that “this process requires fusion of hydrogen to provide the energy to overcome the Coulomb barrier, which would stand in the way of such a thing happening normally.”
All of the hydrogen isotopes (protons, deuterons, and tritons) will all fuse with each other. The mechanism that causes fusion is the same in each case, but the nuclear products of each of those reactions if different. Likewise, the transmutation products are all different but the same mechanism causes the process.
Testing LENR models requires a reaction to work
The only way to determine whether or not SAVs or nano-cracks are where the reaction takes place is to test the ideas. However, testing LENR theories requires the ability to make a reaction happen on demand, and that difficulty is part of the problem in determining which model fits best.
Says Edmund Storms, “To learn, the reaction needs to happen. Negative results aren’t very useful because millions of events can cause the reaction not to occur. Only a couple conditions may be required to make it work. So, when the reaction doesn’t happen, which of the many ways failure might be caused is difficult to identify. There are just too many of them.”
“But if it works, then the conditions that apply can be identified. But, it works so seldom the information has accumulated only very slowly over the last thirty years.”
“When the unique condition is identified, than active material could made with reliability. That’s what we’re striving to accomplish at this point. We have to know the cause of the nuclear process. The only way of finding out is to explore using the right tools. Unfortunately, very few people have access to those tools.”
Impurities are the key to making nano-cracks
Edmund Storms’ is currently working in his private Kiva Labs treating palladium in various ways trying to encourage the production of nano-spaces within the metal.
He says “It’s very clear why impurities are important. When people have attempted to study very pure palladium, they’ve failed. Successful palladium has identifiable impurities in it. The problem is, we don’t know what those impurities are doing – their true concentration or their interaction.”
“Impurities at a grain boundary make a grain boundary weaker and, therefore, more susceptible to cracking. But, a lot of little cracks are required, not a few big cracks. Big cracks don’t work, and big cracks actually prevent the formation of small cracks. Making a large number of small cracks is difficult because Nature wants to make large cracks.”
“So, trying to get the material to form a lot of little cracks is the challenge, although using suitable impurities seems to improve success. However, the number of possible impurities and their combinations is close to infinity. Consequently, finding the right combination by trial and error becomes a matter of luck!”
“I describe what I do as simply buying a lottery ticket and waiting to win. Every once in a while, I win a small prize, but so far, I have not won the lottery.
I buy a ticket, and see if I’m going to win, and if don’t, I buy another ticket.”
Edmund Storms is hopeful that a solution will be found, either by a lab in the U.S., or in one of the many countries around the globe desperate for energy.
“I’m optimistic that a solution will be found. However, this particular phenomenon of nature is one of the more difficult ones to figure out. It’s difficult because it has no theory behind it, it is not something science can conveniently understand, but also a very negative attitude is being applied by conventional scientists.”
“Fortunately, a few individuals with a lot of money have set up laboratories in the US. If they persist, I expect they will figure it out.”
“I know this is happening in other countries as well. For example Japan has a very active program that is making progress in understanding. I suspect China also has a program, with both of these countries having a huge incentive to figure out how this works; the United States, not so much.