Editor’s note: Cold fusion first garnered international attention in March 1989
only to become quickly embroiled in scientific controversy and,
eventually, relegated to obscurity. On Sept. 11, 2000, the BBC ran an
interview with futurist Sir Arthur C. Clarke asserting that cold fusion
is important and media coverage of its scientific value and laboratory
progress has been poor and inaccurate. As Clarke put it, “the age of
fossil fuels is coming to an end. We are entering the carbon age.”
Whether one agrees with Clarke or not, he is not alone in criticizing
the press and the scientific community for their failure to treat cold
fusion in a warmer way. One such person, who is no stranger to the
global scientific community on this issue, is Dr. Eugene Mallove,
engineer and editor-in- chief of a magazine called
Cold Fusion and New Energy Technology.
On her syndicated radio show, Zoh Hieronimus interviewed Dr. Mallove about the current status of cold fusion research and about efforts to conceal the truth on this extraordinary technology.
The Zoh Show can be heard weekdays from 12 to 3 p.m. Eastern time.
© 2000, Hieronimus & Co.
Question: Look, why don’t we start with Arthur Clarke’s comment about the fossil fuel age being over and how we are now entering the carbon age with new materials and new energies. How do you view his comment?
Answer: Well, certainly on the matter of cold fusion, I agree with him entirely. There has been a virtual blackout in most general media circles regarding the on-going cold fusion research and development.
The term cold fusion, by the way, needs to be clarified a little bit. You know, this began at the amazing news conference at the University of Utah, March 23, 1989 — ironically only about 12 hours before the Exxon Valdez ran aground off the coast of Alaska. World-class chemists, Drs. Martin Fleischman and Stanley Pons showed that in a small glass of ethyl with heavy water — which is in all water — that when they passed a current through a so-called electrochemical reaction, they found that in that particular kind of cell — which they created with heavy water and palladium as one of the electrodes — that they were able to get more heat out of it than was explained by the electricity going into the cell. So much heat that, when they added it up over time, they could find no other explanation other than a nuclear reaction of some kind.
They didn’t have the definitive reaction then and there are still questions about exactly what or how many of the different reactions are occurring. But as to the phenomenon of the excess heat — energy creation or generation in these types of cells and others that followed — there is absolutely no doubt about it. It is 100 percent certain and I agree with Clarke that it is a disgrace that world media outlets are ignoring it and, in fact, ridiculing it in many cases as a non-issue.
Q: Let’s try to go to a simple explanation of what is the difference between cold fusion and what we know as a nuclear reaction or nuclear energy?
A: Okay. Today we have power plants that generate electricity using nuclear power. This power is, so-called, fission nuclear power. It came out in the late 1930’s and early ’40s and is the same type of nuclear reaction — in a controlled fashion — as with the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II. This is the splitting of heavy uranium atoms. Uranium is much heavier than hydrogen.
Now in the case of cold fusion, we believe the heavy hydrogen in heavy water is the fuel. What is going on is the joining together of hydrogen, a particular kind of hydrogen in water, called heavy hydrogen. It’s very abundant and this creates a new element called helium which is absolutely non-toxic. You find it in children’s balloons.
Here is the bottom line on the total story. If cold fusion is real — which it is — and when it is commercialized, what will happen, is this: The amount of heavy water, in just one cubic kilometer of ocean, a small portion of the earth’s ocean — a tiny insignificant fraction — just one cubic kilometer of ocean has enough heavy hydrogen in it such that when the cold fusion creates that helium, it is equal to all the energy of all the known oil reserves on earth. So, it is a water-fueled age that is about to happen once this technology is made reliable, repeatable and scalable — which hasn’t occurred yet.
Q: Let’s look at the way our own government treats the subject of cold fusion. Share with our audience what they did and why they did it?
A: Well, you know, the first shock troops against cold fusion were the people with a vested interest in hot fusion. They get hundreds of millions of dollars a year, even to this day, for their large machines — which are destined, they say, to possibly give us football field-sized power plants in the year 2050. For these people, when they first heard that there was a possibility of a new phenomenon which they had overlooked that would be easier to generate electricity without deadly radiation — which a hot fusion reaction still would produce even if successful — they didn’t believe it. They conducted experiments such as was done at MIT, my alma mater, in which data was manipulated — not because they believed it, but because they saw a result that was positive — and they killed cold fusion off to the press.
Q: What did the Department of Energy have to do with the effort to destroy cold fusion research?
A: The Department of Energy convened a kangaroo court of scientists who signed off within months — just months on a difficult scientific issue — dismissed the whole thing and got rid of it. At least, they thought they had gotten rid of it. The good scientists — those that continued investigating this miraculous energy from water — persevered and today there are thousands of papers written on the subject. Many of them are in peer-reviewed journals and there can be no doubt about this at all. There has been a virtual blackout in most general media circles regarding the on-going cold fusion research and development.
Q: Gene, if you could, clarify the difference in cost between cold fusion, hot fusion, and our nuclear energy sources, the cost to produce it, and the benefits in contrast to the horrible outcomes.
A: Today, we have nuclear power which has gotten a very bad rap. Nonetheless, these are fixed installation plants that generate tremendous amounts of radioactive waste. We don’t even have a solution for that waste today. Or, should I say, there are some solutions but the government is paralyzed and can’t do anything. Their best thought is to bury it and they haven’t even agreed, after spending billions and billions of dollars, on a place where we can bring this waste.
Q: But cold fusion is non-radioactive, right?
A: Cold fusion is a small, compact, non-radioactive energy source. Yet, there is no practical device today working on cold fusion that you can buy and put into your home. If that were the case, we wouldn’t even have an argument here. Everyone would have one — it would be taking off like the personal computer revolution, which it will do in due course. We are in a highly under-funded, unrecognized and abused field. We are not trying to make excuses, just telling the facts.
The reality is this: The contrast between cold fusion and current forms of nuclear power is like night and day. One is large major installations producing radioactive waste. The other offers the promise of small, compact units that will go in your home, your car, your plane, your boat — whatever. Virtually zero cost as far as the fuel cost, OK? There may be replacement parts, but the actual fuel — which is nothing but water, very tiny fractions of water at that — the heavy hydrogen costs, for example, this is the only requirement. So, therefore, it is in effect, free, safe, clean energy that no one has to fight wars over because it is localized in one spot like oil. No one has to worry about explosions of nuclear power plants or burying radioactive waste.
As far as the infamous hot fusion which Uncle Sam continues to drop hundreds of millions of dollars per year into, that’s also like night and day. Hot fusion has never achieved more energy out than in. When Pons and Fleischman made their announcement in 1989, they already had a positive ratio. More energy out from the reaction than had to go in from electricity.
Q: What are some of the big questions that are still being asked in cold fusion that need to be resolved to bring it into the market place as a do-able household technology?
A: It is kind of like the transistor in its infancy. When transistors were first invented around 1947 — and, of course, they have revolutionized the world — the transistor was a very finicky device. It didn’t merit much space in the newspaper. Tube radios were not being threatened at the time. But the solid-state materials had to be high purity and that caused many problems back then, even though there was a huge amount of money put in by Bell Labs. That’s why we got the successful transistor. The same thing is occurring with cold fusion. Difficult material problems, difficult circumstances controlling the very subtle things that are going on — what we call catalytic action leading to nuclear reactions in the cold — which should never occur. The whole mystery of cold fusion is that there should never be, based on our current understanding of physics, nuclear reactions occurring anywhere near room temperature.
Q: Why not?
A: It should require millions of degrees. It does occur — there are difficulties and that is holding it back. The problem is that it has not been taken seriously, as Clarke so clearly states — there are media blackouts on this subject. This is like the inquisition.
Q: And how many labs would you say, in the world now, have gone into cold fusion?
A: Hundreds. Truly, hundreds.
Q: Dr. Randell Mills of BlackLight Power, Inc., had been granted a patent for his new energy devices, but then the patent office began working against him. He found that there were other ways to describe physical properties in quantum mechanics that weren’t in common practice, if recognized at all. Is that what happened in the study of cold fusion? Did you all disprove something that the status quo held as sacred doctrine?
A: Oh, absolutely. It was a sacred cow that nuclear reactions could not occur anywhere near room temperature. Except for radioactive decay. This flies in the face of accepted physics. The problem for physicists is this: They have become some of the most arrogant people, it seems to me, on the face of this planet. Well, right under their noses, there are fantastic experiments under way in companies — like BlackLight Power — evidencing things that do not fit into their book and they do not like it.
Q: Now, because you have a long history of working with MIT, and a very reputable track record as having been an important part of the scientific community, how would you evaluate the role of the scientific community and its politics vs. the role of the scientific community and its vigorous request for truth?
A: The ideal of the scientific community and the reality of the scientific community are two entirely different matters. Ideally, scientists are completely open-minded — they are objective and they will explore any idea — but, in reality, that is not the way it works. The vested interests include not only vested financial interests — with hot fusion and high-energy physics — but what I would call vested intellectual interests. In other words, interest in preserving the sacred writ of current theory. But what that leads to is complete myopia, blacklisting of creative work on the frontiers and this is more, by the way, than just in cold fusion. It is in other areas of science. But in an area as important as energy — abundant energy, clean energy — this has reached almost the level of a crime.
Q: I would agree with you Gene, but why do you say that?
A: Why almost the level of a crime against humanity? Because, where a real discovery has been made, the established interests in hot fusion — in the American Physical Society, academicians of all kinds and the journalists that go along with them — they virtually participated in this crime against humanity by obstructing this work and the public’s awareness of it. At the very least, human beings need hope — and this is a hope. Cold fusion is here to stay.