Report from the World Sustainable Energy Conference 2012 in Geneva,
10-12 Jan 2012
Thanks to the invitation of conference chairman Gustav Grob, Francesco
Celani and I, representing the International Society for Condensed
Matter Nuclear Science, had the opportunity to introduce the state of
research in the field, recent developments regarding Rossi/Defkalion,
and offer a glimpse into a possible future where energy is provided by
Francesco told how he and his group tried to disprove CF in 1989, found
neutrons, decided to spend some time to see what is happening, and over
time became convinced that it's neither fraud nor error, instead
something difficult but quite solid. After a very turbulent beginning
with poor reproducibility of experiments, the field had by now improved
the quality and reproducibility of the results obtained and the most
innovative experiments were cross-checked by other groups. He criticized
that a confirmation of energy production by NASA in 1989 was not
immediately made public, because publication could have helped the feld
gain support and funding.
The occurence of transmutations was reported and work by Iwamura's group
at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which has developed a method for the
controlled transmutation of elements, was stressed. But the presentation
was focussed on energy production.
A history of excess heat production and breakthroughs was given. Two
different systems have been studied extensively: the Palladium/Deuterium
system, pioneered by Fleischmann/Pons, and the Nickel/Hydrogen system,
pioneered by Francesco Piantelli. Both systems have been shown to have
potentially large power densities. In designing a working reactor, the
materials issue is central. The biggest breakthroughs, according to
Francesco, were the use of nano-particles and alloys, both pioneered by
Yoshiaki Arata. Excess heat production using a ZrO2-Pd alloy (Arata) was
independently reproduced by Akito Takahashi/Akira Kitamura, even though
the latter used material from a different, industrial provider. This is
remarkable because in CF not all materials behave similarly, not even
from the same producer.
Recent important results include the finding by NASA that heat was
produced not just when Deuterium was loaded into Palladium, which is
expected, but also when it was unloaded. Takahashi/Kitamura found a
temperature dependency of excess heat prouction using Cu-Ni-Zr alloy.
Francesco reported own work in progress that excess heat production in a
thin, micro-nano coated Cu-Ni wire was positively correlated with a
slight decrease in electrical resistance at room temperature but with a
strong decrease at higher temperatures (300-500°C). All in all,
experiments using nano-sized materials are highly reproducible.
Operation in the gas phase enables higher temperatures which further
The facts that no greenhouse gases are produced, dangerous radiation or
residual radioativity can very likely be completely eliminated, and
energy sources are small, are good preconditions for commercial
products. Recent, extraordinary claims by Andrea Rossi and Defkalion
Green Technologies, who claim to produce energy in the kW-MW range, had
to be regarded with both attention and caution. The field was not
considering the Rossi/Defkalion claims to be impossible in principle,
but they should be verified independently as soon as possible.
Apart from the Rossi/Defkalion claims, the quality of experiments
worldwide was so high and the results obtained so widespread, that an
international program, well funded and based on a multidisciplinary
approach, had the possibility to build a device producing even
electricity with very low, overall, emissions.
I gave an overview of claims by Rossi/Defkalion. Rossi has publically
demonstrated a plant generating 1MW heat power and claims to have
already sold 14 devices to a military customer and another one to a
non-military customer. Within 2012 or 2013 he wants to put one million
10-20kW devices on the market to be able to push the price below
1ct/kWh. As a matter of fact, National Instruments, a company also
providing control systems to tokamak Hot Fusion systems, is cooperating
with Rossi's US company. The Greek company Defkalion wants to put
reactors producing 5-45kW thermal power on the market, starting with the
Greek market probably in 2012. Rossi/Defkalion claim to receive safety
certificates within 2012. No party has an international patent, Rossi
has protection in Italy.
According to a trusted source of Jed Rothwell, Defkalion's science,
engineering, and equipment are first rate and the upcoming products
revolutionary. I concluded that, even though there was no indication of
fraud, neither Rossi nor Defkalion had lent their devices for
independent testing and that there was no certainty that their devices
work as claimed, including long term reliability.
If Cold Fusion devices can be turned on and off with the push of a
button and work reliably over a long term, they would quickly replace
existing heat and electricity sources. Relying on prospects by Rothwell
and Arthur C. Clarke, I said that oil and gas used for heating and
cooling would be quickly replaced by CF. Much of the energy currently
consumed as electricity in water heaters, clothes washer and dryers, and
dishwasher, would be supplied directly as heat from CF. A 10kW Cold
Fusion heat generator should be sufficient, even for a large house. CF
would be an ideal energy source for facility management. A new era of
steam engines may be looming on the horizons, with obvious applications
like locomotives. Even if CF turned out to be „only“ 10% of the world's
energy supply, it would be important.
Desalination, the removal of salt from sea water to be used in e.g.
agriculture, was an obvious application that could be realized early on.
Since it has been shown by Iwamura and others that radioactive elements
can be transmuted into stable elements, remediation of nuclear waste is
another potential application in the also not too distant future.
Because of this potential, some people in the field believe that CF will
cause the return of fission power plants. But others, like Rothwell,
argue that centralized power production will not be able to compete with
home devices on the market.
Because of demands for plastics the oil industry would probably have a
future until industry is completely turned upside down by the controlled
synthesis of desired elements, which Clarke envisions for 2040. Finally,
NASA sees CF applications in space travel and for the military.
To see if these prospects are realistic, a coherent explanation of the
nuclear process was required for mainstream science to take notice.
Science policy should be informed about the state of research and fund
this kind of research to speed up research and development.
Other presentations on the conference dealt with the state of research
on other energy sources, the work of NGOs, or the energy strategies of
governments. Within the next days recommendations will be worked out to
be submitted to the UN's Rio+20 conference held in June 2012 in Rio de
Haiko Lietz, 15 Jan 2012