If cold fusion energy can be utilized in the future for efficient energy consumption, it will replace almost all of the energy used by mankind, and it will reduce air and water pollution drastically.
What it Will Take for Cold Fusion to Succeed
Three conditions must be met for cold fusion to succeed in every energy sector:
1. Cold fusion devices must be made safe and nonpolluting. Most scientists believe that before this can happen we must understand the physics of the reaction. Others say there are gaps in our theoretical understanding of related technologies like catalysis, yet we can make safe, effective catalytic processes.
2. Cold fusion generators, motors, heaters and other devices must have high power density, so they can be roughly as compact as competing motors. Data from some experiments shows that high power density can be achieved. In a few cases power density has been better than a conventional nuclear fission reactor. This kind of performance must become routine in all experiments.
3. It should be possible to build a wide range of devices from thermoelectric pacemaker batteries, to automobile engines, to marine and aerospace engines.
If condition one is not met, the technological revolution will be canceled. Without two and three it might be incomplete. We might end up with large, centralized cold fusion power reactors that make cheap energy. This will gradually reduce pollution, after electric automobiles are introduced.
Perhaps other over-unity devices like magnetic motors or the Correa device will pan out. Some of these would be superior to metal-lattice cold fusion (the Pons-Fleischmann effect). They would eliminate the need for heat engines and thermoelectric chips, thus reducing waste heat even more than cold fusion, especially when coupled with heat pumps. The broad technological and economic impact of these machines would be similar to that of cold fusion.
Before cold fusion can be commercialized, today's best, precious few laboratory prototypes must be made available to thousands of labs. Sustained boiling reactions have only been seen in one or two labs. They must be produced on demand, in any lab. Today, Edmund Storms spends months laboriously testing palladium samples to winnow out the ones that are likely to work.12 That process must be automated. Ways must be found to fabricate cathodes that always meet his most stringent standards, and then the standards must be raised. Today, cold fusion experimental results are inconsistent. Heat flares up and gutters out, like flames from green, wet firewood. When we learn to control the reaction, we will scale up the type of cold fusion we want. We will not scale up the uncontrolled, on-again, off-again heat, or tritium production. Once we learn how to build this new kind of fire, we will make only clean, hot reactions, just as we only build clean, properly vented, smoke-free coal fires.
The story of Cold Fusion is a human drama. There were fights to publish and to forestall publication, issues of priority of discovery, funding matters, misinformation and disinformation, rumors that became "fact," questions of academic standing, and even allegations of scientific deceit.
The hard lessons in science learned in the quest for cold fusion will depend on the ultimate resolution of the scientific questions, but whatever the outcome, some things are already quite clear:
1. Spectacular resistance to paradigm shifts in science are alive and well. Plasma fusion physicists were extremely reluctant to consider new fusion mechanisms even though they knew very well that the environments of electrochemical cells and palladium metal atomic lattices were remarkably different from the high-temperature gaseous systems to which they were accustomed.
2. The majority does not rule in science. It is a gross mistake to draw conclusions about the validity of reported findings by polling the membership of this or the other scientific organization or panel.
*It is dangerous and often deceptive to make analogies between one scientific controversy and another. Comparing the cold fusion episode with several notable blind alleys in science—the "polywater" episode of the 1960s-70s, or the early 20th-century "N-rays"—is counterproductive and wrong.
3. Irving Langmoir's rules for identifying so-called "pathological science" are best retired to the junk heap for prejudice and name calling.
4. Ockham's Razor is too easily forgotten. In science, the simplest unifying theory or connection is often most appropriate. Better to have a single explanation to bridge a host of apparently related phenomena, than to concoct baroque excuses for why multiple independent experiments may all be systematically incorrect. Any possible nuclear effect, even a tiny suspected one, such as low levels of neutron particle emissions seemingly unconnected with heat production, should have been a tip-off that other puzzling and erratic effects in similar physical systems might also have something to do with nuclear phenomena.
5. Use extreme caution in dismissing experimental results just because theory suggests they are "impossible." Theory must guide science, but it should not be allowed to be in the driver's seat—especially when exploring the frontier.
6. The fear that possible scientific error would be ridiculed, or worse, interpreted as fraud, is stultifying. A witch hunt against cold fusion affected researchers: Some who wanted to work in the field did not get involved for fear of scorn; others hid positive results from colleagues, anticipating career problems; and some laboratory managers refused to allow technical papers to be published on positive results obtained in their organizations. Most incredible, some scientists publicly decried cold fusion, while privately supporting its research.
7. The peer review process by which articles make their way into journals is not infallible. While peer review is meant to act as a filter against spurious results and sloppy science, mismanaged or unchecked it can be a tyrannical obstacle to progress as well. It is unwise to be persuaded by the editorial position and selection of technical articles that appear in a single well-respected publication.
8. Vested scientific interests are not easily persuaded to share their resources. Too small a total funding pie, in this case limited federal expenditures for energy research, led naturally to rivalry and antiscientific tendencies that would have moderated with a policy of broader research support. The hot fusion fraternity, like any scientific community with its back to the wall, may find it difficult to draw impartial conclusions about a perceived threat to its dominance.