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Unveiling the mystery of cold nuclear fusion
Interview with Russ George
by Connie Hargrave

An interview with scientist Russ George, about his view that cold fusion is a nuclear reaction and a legitimate, safe and low-cost source of energy for the future.  

San Francisco, USA
Russ George has worked steadily as an independent scientist to unveil the mystery of the cold fusion reaction announced by Professors Fleischmann and Pons in 1989. Last year he presented the first paper ever to be accepted on the subject of cold fusion by the prestigious American Physical Society. His photographic evidence, along with experiments at Stanford Research Institute in California, proved to the scientific community that cold fusion exists as a controlled nuclear reaction. He is very close to developing simple and practical applications using this reaction as a source of low-cost energy. Connie Hargrave interviewed him for Share International.

Share International: If cold nuclear fusion can produce infinite amounts of heat using easily accessible materials under normal conditions, why is there not more interest in this potential new source of energy? Why do we not, for instance, read about it more often?

Russ George: The concept of cold fusion does not fit into the existing framework of modern science and threatens its most basic foundations.

The number of people working in this field around the world has in fact declined from about 1,000 to around 100, because the reaction is very elusive. Cold nuclear fusion is not an invention, but a phenomenon of nature which is very energetic. Nature, however, does not seem to use it on a very large scale, and the reaction is not normally seen as very robust or easily reproducible. For this reason, producing scientific evidence has been problematic.

Most scientists are narrow specialists and are trained in ëcook-book' methods to alter the ingredients of known ërecipes'. The work with cold fusion is, by contrast, classic frontier activity, where you are dealing with new, mostly unknown territory. Perhaps it takes a generalist like myself, who has no academic tenure, salary or reputation to protect, to make headway in this field.

Before cold fusion, mankind had harnessed nuclear fusion only in nuclear weapons. In order to cause a fusion reaction, as in the hydrogen bomb, it is necessary to have temperatures equal to those of the centre of the sun. Understandably, fusion scientists laugh at the possibility of a nuclear reaction occurring at room temperature.

SI: If that is so, how did Fleischmann and Pons know that their discovery was in fact nuclear energy, and not just a chemical reaction?

RG: The people observing these reactions for the first time were good chemists who understood that the principles of chemistry did not apply. They were seeing excess heat: they put in 10 watts of electrical power and things would heat up as if they were putting in 11 watts. With normal chemical reactions the production of heat ceases when the fuel is used up, but Pons and Fleischmann knew that theirs was not a chemical reaction, because the energy produced far exceeded anything known in chemistry, and therefore they reasoned that the reaction was nuclear.

SI: Why do so many other scientists disagree? Why are these findings being treated as an aberration?

RG: A nuclear reaction is considered synonymous with the presence of radiation, and the scientific mindset does not allow for a nuclear reaction which emits no measurable radiation.

Scientists have said: "Where there is nuclear fire there have to be nuclear ashes," and everyone knows that the "ashes" of a nuclear reaction is radiation. Cold fusion produces intense alpha radiation, which is totally different: it takes only a few atoms to shield you from it, whereas it takes three feet of lead to shield you from the nuclear radiation produced by an atom bomb explosion. In sum, because cold fusion does not produce energetic, penetrating nuclear radiation, scientists have disclaimed it – as not being nuclear.

This view is now totally entrenched, a bit like the flat-earth concept was at the time of Copernicus.

When science acknowledges cold fusion, nuclear and atomic physics will have to be reconsidered. Scientists will have to ask themselves: "Have we made other assumptions that are wrong? What else have we missed?" The discovery of cold fusion pulls three legs out from every chair of contemporary physics, so to speak.

SI: I thought scientists were in essence curious people and would be delighted with such a possibility.

RG: Some are, but not the last few generations of scientists who are now the leading authorities in physics. Consider the position of the individuals who are at the top of their field, who have written the definitive text books, who are in their 50s and 60s and have tenure at prestigious universities. What these early cold fusion results are telling them is: "The text book you completed 10 years ago, which is the ëbible' of nuclear physics, is mostly wrong. In fact, you left out the most important nuclear data yet to be discovered by mankind, which is that there is a whole other family of nuclear reactions that proceeds without penetrating radiation."

SI: You have photographic evidence that cold fusion does exist?

RG: Yes. I presented a scientific paper to the American Physical Society in the spring of 1998, which demonstrates at a microscopic level that a nuclear reaction took place. The photos show that the metal palladium, when used in cold fusion reactions, is covered with eruptions like micro volcanoes in it. This indicated that something had gotten very hot and melted or vaporized the metal, but only in tiny pinpoints. Since we know the melting point of palladium, we calculated the amount of energy required to melt such a pinpoint without melting the surroundings. The number we arrived at was so astronomically high that it demanded a nuclear source of energy.

SI: How was your evidence received?

RG: Politely. Scientists said: "Yes, you have evidence of nuclear heat, but there is no radiation, so the reaction cannot be nuclear." This is circular logic, because these scientists are not open to the possibility of the existence of any other type of nuclear reaction.

SI: What have you had to prove to demonstrate conclusively that a nuclear reaction is indeed occurring?

RG: That helium is produced, as you would expect when you fuse two atoms of hydrogen – or deuterium* in this instance. There was always evidence of the presence of helium, but skeptics have dismissed this by saying that it must have "leaked in" from the atmosphere.

SI: Have you been able to prove that this is not so?

RG: At the Stanford Research Institute in July 1998, I was able to use a high-quality mass spectrometer for my experiments. This instrument can measure atoms exactly, and it established that the concentration of helium is above 10 parts per million as a result of the cold fusion reaction. I also used hydrogen gas for the reaction instead of heavy water**. (Water is the bane of spectrometers because it is ëdirty', making the results inaccurate.)

My experiments using gaseous substances have been successful. As a result, all scientists can now examine the procedure, which concludes that this amount of extra helium could not have ëleaked in' from the surrounding atmosphere, because it cannot ëleak' from a lower to a higher concentration.

The next step would be to have my findings corroborated by an independent source such as the Pacific Northwest Laboratory of the US Department of Energy, which is the world's top facility in detecting helium in nuclear reactions. The cost of such testing is prohibitive to an individual like myself, however, and needs financial backing.

SI: You have worked mostly on your own?

RG: Yes, I have no formal resources, but through my association with top scientists and Nobel Prize winners I have been able to carry out my work independently. For instance, I have been able to use the best available spectrometers at Stanford Research International although I have no official clearance to use the facility. They turned a blind eye, and I came in through the back door every day to do the work. Similarly, I have done experiments at the US Government Nuclear Research laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico.

SI: How close are we to having practical applications from this discovery?

RG: In my current experiments, I am using a regular gas cylinder filled with hydrogen gas and some active materials, and it just heats up. The more volume you use, the hotter it gets. This reaction will keep going indefinitely. The cylinder is typical of any used for compressed gas, such as a tank used at an amusement park for filling balloons with helium. The only difference is that this cylinder will maintain a temperature of about 250∞C or 400∞F almost for ever.

SI: The materials will not be used up, nor are they too expensive?

RG: No. A fusion reaction can produce heat for centuries without "using up" the materials. The reaction uses ëheavy hydrogen' which, like hydrogen, is an abundant element in the universe. This reaction also works with other materials – some just work better than others – so no-one will be able to monopolize the materials to make exclusive profits.

SI: I presume that electric companies are not interested in cold nuclear fusion?

RG: No, because with cold nuclear fusion you have only the one-time-cost of the mechanism and the materials. In fact, cold fusion is technology that can in the future be used on a small scale by anyone who is inventive. It is so simple that it will be impossible to build technological barriers around it.

SI: I understand large corporations are funding cold fusion research.

RG: Yes, Fiat, Mitsubishi and Toyota continue to fund research, but they are very secretive. Their success has also been limited because of how the reaction works. In addition the energy produced is "slow and steady", so that it can for instance heat a home or a greenhouse, but it is not yet of the intensity to power a fast-moving vehicle.

SI: What practical applications do you foresee for cold fusion?

RG: We should be able to develop applications which will benefit everyone. Poor countries like Sri Lanka or Ghana, who do not have the wealth or access to the technology to build nuclear power weapons, could certainly use this new technology. Since the cylinder will just sit there and produce heat indefinitely, you can, for instance, wrap coils of pipe around it to circulate water and so create hot water. This will cause a huge breakthrough in areas where the cost of energy has been prohibitive to date. Things like the desalination of water and the large-scale heating of greenhouses will become economical. With engineering, it could eventually be used on a large scale to produce electricity.

Business interests who have the resources to pay teams of experts will soon be able to make products for commercial uses. Applications for use in homes will take longer because of more stringent safety regulations which require lengthy testing.

* Heavy hydrogen, or deuterium, has an extra neutron in its nucleus.

** Heavy water contains heavy hydrogen. This form of heavy water is found in abundance in seawater.

(See also Connie Hargrave's article ëCold fusion: a glimpse into the future', SI November 1992)

From the March 1999  issue of Share International

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005