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Large Scale Cold Fusion Reactor

Just in case it works, of course!
  (+2, -10)(+2, -10)
(+2, -10)
  [vote for,

Even those who say that cold fusion works say they don't know how to scale it up to make a large power plant. DUH! It's not that complicated!

Allow me to introduce you to something called a Pressurized Water Fission Reactor (see link). A number of these have been built and work fine, and produce many many megawatts of power. Basically the fission-reactor core is allowed to "cook" itself inside a pressure vessel. Keeping the water in the vessel pressurized prevents it from boiling, and lets it get very very hot. Pumps move the hot pressurized water to a heat-exchanger system (radiator) that boils ordinary water to make steam to run turbines/generators. The cooled pressurized water continues to flow in a loop, back into the reactor vessel. Radioactive stuff that escapes the reactor core stays locked within the pressurized-water pump loop.

It is claimed that some of the early cold-fusion experiments caused some small explosions. These would likely either be explosions of burning deuterium gas, or escaping steam. Neither need represent a major problem when designing a pressurized-heavy-water Cold Fusion reactor system.

It is widely known that a Cold Fusion electrolysis cell seems to work best with an electrode made of the chemical element palladium. This is a fairly expensive element, and will only become more expensive if demand skyrockets for huge electrodes in a large scale power plant.

However, it also happens that palladium is not the only element for which Cold Fusion is claimed to work. The fairly common (though not really cheap) element titanium is able to absorb a lot of hydrogen, too, much like palladium. A large-scale reactor, then, should use a primary electrode made mostly of titanium.

On the other hand, titanium poses a problem which palladium doesn't. Palladium is a relatively non-reactive element, like platinum or gold. Titanium is quite reactive, and normally the pure metal is quickly/Naturally covered with a thin and tough titanium-oxide coating. This coating will make it difficult for titanium to work efficiently as an electrode; it is a non-conductor of electricity. (Also, deuterium/hydrogen atoms may have a more difficult time entering the titanium metal lattice, than if the coating wasn't present.)

Overcoming that problem is the first major part of this Idea. Start with a large "blank" hunk of titanium. Put it in a vacuum chamber. In the vacuum, shoot it with an electron beam to strip off the oxide coating. Still in the vacuum, the titanium can now be heated until it becomes quite malleable. Extrude the hot "blank" through a die, forcing it into an appropriate electrode shape, with lots of surface area. One possibility starts with the cross-sectional shape of an asterisk (*), and enlarges it and adds extra "arms", kind of like a fractal.

After extrusion, allow the metal to cool, but keep it in the vacuum. Next, in the vacuum, spray/sputter the titanium electrode completely, with a thin layer of palladium atoms. The purpose of this is to prevent the titanium from being able to react with oxygen in the air, after being removed from the vacuum chamber. It has to be a coating of palladium, so that deuterium released by electrolysis of heavy water can get through this coating, and reach the main titanium electrode body. Also, only a small amount of palladium needs to be used, to cover a large titanium electrode.

We want the coated titanium extrusion to be about as wide as it is long. Imagine it as being comparable in size to a gigawatt fission-power plant reactor core. Dimensions on the order of 3 to 5 meters are not uncommon.

The electrolysis process requires two electrodes, but hydrogen/deuterium is only released at one of them; oxygen is released at the other electrode, so it doesn't have to be anything special; copper wire will work fine for the second electrode.

The electrode is lowered into the pressure vessel, which is sealed. Alumina-glass blocks (highly temperature resistant) support its weight, and electrically isolate it from the shell of the pressure vessel. Just like in a pressurized-water fission-power plant, there will be plumbing and pumps to carry core liquid to a heat exchanger and back again. The rest of the power plant is perfectly ordinary, and I need not describe it here.

Unlike an ordinary pressurized-water fission-reactor core, some additional plumbing is needed here, to connect the core to a secondary chamber where the copper electrode is located. The process of electrolysis requires that ions in the liquid can travel between the electrodes, and so appropriate connecting plumbing is required here. Please note that the copper electrode doesn't have to be particularly massive; it just needs to have a lot of surface area exposed to the heavy water that will be filling this pressurized system. Something like steel wool, except copper instead of steel, would be fine.

OK, we are almost ready. With the pressurized plumbing system thoroughly tested, and the electrodes in place, we now fill the reactor core with heavy water (and some appropriate electrolyte, like sodium fluoride), and pressurize it. One advantage of using a heat exchanger is that we don't need to worry about our heavy water becoming diluted with ordinary water.

Turning on the electricity to the electrodes is next. WE DON'T WANT TO OVER-DO THIS PART. We want oxygen to be produced at the copper electrode; it will bubble up and can be pumped out of the system, while the overall pressure is maintained. This is specifically why the copper electrode is in its own (but connected) pressure chamber, to keep the oxygen separated from any deuterium/hydrogen that is produced by the electrolysis process. (Thus do we prevent any chemical-reaction explosions, by the way.) Even so, WE DO NOT WANT ANY deuterium/hydrogen bubbles to form!!! We want the electrolysis process to release deuterium/hydrogen no faster than it can soak into the palladium-coated titanium electrode!!!

Those who claim that Cold Fusion works describe a "charging" period of time, while the electrode soaks up deuterium/hydrogen. One place I've read somewhere indicated that, compared to the number of metal atoms in the electrode, there may need to be 80% or more of that number of deuterium atoms soaked into the electrode, before fusions begin. It will take a fair while for that point to be reached! (see second link)

ASSUMING FUSIONS DO EVENTUALLY BEGIN, well, the design of the main titanium electrode allows heat to be conducted easily into the surrounding pressurized heavy water. And pumping that hot pressurized heavy water to a heat exchanger, to make steam to produce power, is what should keep this reactor under control. Please note that it is claimed that once the electrode is "charged" with sufficient deuterium/hydrogen, the electricity can be turned OFF to the elctrolysis process for a while. It supposedly takes a while before enough deuterium fuses, that more needs to be added. This implies that some control over the rate of fusions may be possible. It should be obvious that if it works at all, then the more deuterium that is crammed into the electrode, the more fusions can take place in a given time, compared to a less-crammed electrode. We obviously want the reactor core to create as much heat as --and no more than-- the rest of the system is designed to handle (not counting essential "safety factor"). In theory this power plant could be big enough to power a city-- or small enough to fit in your basement. Especially if no radioactivity is associated with this power plant, as often is claimed, might you want one of those in your basement!

In closing, there is a matter of "servicing" the reactor core. If it works, then helium atoms should accumulate within the body of the titanium electrode, and eventually this will interfere with power production. At that time the reactor probably should be shut down, the primary electrode be replaced with a new one, and the old one be recycled into another electrode, its helium being extracted/sold, of course. Note that to save time, the new electrode might be "pre-charged" with deuterium to, say, the 70% level, in a separate electrolysis facility. Then, in the reactor vessel, only the final bit of charging need be done, before fusions begin.

Vernon, Aug 29 2007

About pressurized water fission reactors http://en.wikipedia...rized_water_reactor
As described in the main text. [Vernon, Aug 29 2007]

"maximum loading" http://www.pureener...oldFusionDogma.html
Part of this article describes how lots of deuterium has to be loaded into the electrode, before anything significant happens. Failure to achieve maximum loading is considered to be the main reason why many Cold Fusion experiments failed. I suggest that pressurizing the heavy water will help significantly, in achieving maximum loading. [Vernon, Aug 29 2007]

Recent highly repeatable evidence http://www.springer...t/75p4572645025112/
This was published in a fairly prominent international physics journal. [Vernon, Aug 29 2007]

Original theory posting http://web.archive...._20Nuclear_20Fusion
[jutta] prefers that mere theories not be posted here as Ideas. Gadgets that encompass wild theories are OK, though. [Vernon, Aug 29 2007]

"The Tokamak" http://universe-review.ca/I13-09-ITER.jpg
Hot Plasma Toroidal Fusion [quantum_flux, Aug 31 2007, last modified Sep 05 2007]

The Farnsworth–Hirsch Fusor http://www.answers.com/topic/fusor
Electrostatic Ion Fusion.... this is my personal favorite [quantum_flux, Sep 05 2007]

(?) "Should Google Go Nuclear?" http://www.google.c...btnG=Google+Search#
As mentioned in an annotation, Video of a technical talk; Google has money, and this reactor supposedly won't cost billions. [Vernon, Sep 05 2007]

Data Repository on Cold Fusion http://www.lenr-canr.org/
Lots and lots of science papers here; the repository is international in scope, and has been collecting reports for years. [Vernon, Sep 10 2007]

"Moon of Mutiny" http://www.amazon.c...nture/dp/0345306066
If I recall correctly (a LONG time has passed since I read this book), this is where I first learned that H+H->H2 was considered for use in rockets. [Vernon, Sep 10 2007]

Cold Fusion Hypothesis, Updated http://www.nemitz.net/vernon/cfusion.txt
All the relevant background information is included, so anyone can see how the pieces are put together. [Vernon, Sep 23 2007]

Hypothesis Published! http://www.infinite.../issue81/index.html
The previous version was tweaked a bit, had a couple errors corrected, and so on. I sent it to an outfit I knew was interested in that sort of thing, just to see what they thought, and they decided it was publishable. Here's an address of a copy you can download: http://www.nemitz.net/vernon/coldfusionhypoth.pdf If you want a hard copy, please consider buying a copy of the magazine. Thanks! [Vernon, Oct 27 2008]

Cold Fusion Experiment Cold_20Fusion_20Experiment
This experiment involves pressurized deuterium gas and the element mercury. The rationale is explained there. [Vernon, Aug 17 2011]

Planck constant http://en.wikipedia...iki/Planck_constant
See also: Einstein, Dirac, de Broglie, Pauli, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, etcetera., [8th of 7, Aug 23 2011]

PhotoElectric Effect http://www.faqs.org/docs/qp/chap03.html
As mentioned in an annotation. Did you know that while Einstein won a Nobel Prize, it was NOT for his work on Relativity? [Vernon, Aug 24 2011]

News! http://tech.slashdo...-device-for-32-days
There are different flavors of researcher-promoted cold fusion reactions. This one is unrelated to the particular Idea here, but the general notion, that cold fusion may be possible, appears to have received some support. [Vernon, Oct 12 2014]

A hypothesis http://en.wikisourc...usion:_A_Hypothesis
An HTML version of the .pdf of the published hypothesis [Vernon, Oct 14 2014]


       [+] for possibly the longest idea in the bakery.
marklar, Aug 29 2007


       ASSUMING FUSIONS WON'T BEGIN ... there should be a hopper somewhere for solutions for problems that don't exist.   

       I mean, it's a bit like posting an idea for a good holster for a light-saber, isn't it?
Custardguts, Aug 29 2007

       If the point is to get as much deuterium into a titanium (or palladium, or whatever) crystal lattice as possible, what's the magic of using electrolysis? Why not elecrolyse the heavy water separately, and then pump deuterium gas into the crystal under very high pressure?   

       Surely it's not important to have nascent deuterium - ie lone deuterium atoms, rather than deuterium molecules - since you're trying to get two deuterium atoms into the closest possible proximity anyway. Even if you did want monoatomic deuterium, you'd be onto a loser: they'll pair up pretty damn quick anyway, with a mean lifetime as singletons far shorter than the supposed mean time to fusion.   

       All that said, I very strongly suspected the whole thing was bunkum from the beginning, and I've seen nothing to change my mind, and plenty to strengthen the suspicion into a belief.
Cosh i Pi, Aug 29 2007

       [marklar], no this isn't the longest Idea here, by quite a bit.   

       [Custardguts], what evidence do you have that Cold Fusion can't possibly exist? Have you never heard of "muon catalysis", which works in liquid hydrogen, about as cold an environment as you will find anywhere?   

       [Cosh i Pi], both of you should see the third link I've added. Anyway, if merely soaking a piece of palladium in pressurized deuterium gas could work, I'd think there would have been reports about it. This implies that it really is necessary for individual atoms, not molecules, of deuterium to get into the metallic crystal lattice.   

       Do note that the chemical reaction H+H->H2 is quite energetic, and actually has such a high ISP that it was once investigated for use in rockets. (Keeping the reaction from happening spontaneously makes it too dangerous, though.) Where is the energy going to come frome, to break deuterium molecules apart, when the gas is pressured into some palladium, eh? And how can nuclei approach each other if they are stuck inside their molecules, eh?   

       Electrolysis can do the first thing, though, since it makes individual atoms out of ions in the water, and molecules form afterward, and bubble upward, when ordinary electrodes are used. With palladium the atoms have a chance of getting into the metal before they chemically combine to make molecules.   

       Next, and in partial answer to what you wrote about the atoms chemically combining inside the metal, there remains the question of how the nuclei can get out of their atoms in a cold environment, so that they can approach each other. I've suggested (in a since-deleted HalfBakery Idea) that the gas atoms can literally "alloy" with the metal. Have you never encountered speculations about "metallic hydrogen"? If it was impossible for metallic hydrogen to exist, then I would not suggest that hydrogen can be an alloying material in a metal, but since metallic hydrogen IS possible, I suggest that the ATOMS, not molecules, can sometimes loan their electrons into the "conduction band" of the metal, thereby truly alloying with it--and thus do at least some bare nuclei become able to closely encounter each other. Maximum loading of the metal with deuterium atoms would obviously increase the quantity of such bare nuclei, if only a portion of all the atoms at any one moment have lent their electrons to the conduction band.   

       Loose electrons in the conduction band, not orbiting any atom in particular, could pass in-between two approaching deuterium nuclei, allowing them to approach even more closely, allowing them to fuse, rather similar in some respects to the electrical shielding effect that allows "muon catalysis" to happen.
Vernon, Aug 29 2007

       The cold fusion procedure you describe is extremely simple. Why am I still putting gas in my car if this will work?   

       I mean, if it were this easy...   

       P.S. Why don't you electroplate your electrode rather than using vaccuum deposition?
GutPunchLullabies, Aug 29 2007

       I read some about the theory of deuterium impregnated metal cold fusion. In the article I read, it said that Pons and <?> the other guy are using palladium plated silver now.
GutPunchLullabies, Aug 29 2007

       [GutPunchLullibies], I thought about electroplating, but had to pass on it. The problem is, electroplating does not deal with the oxide coating over the titanium. And "bare" titanium, if immersed in water directly from a vacuum, might be expected to violently react with the water, stealing oxygen away from hydrogen, in order to get a nice fresh oxide coating. I wanted the palladium directly upon the titanium, with nothing in-between, and even if the electroplating is possible, using something like a bath of molten salt, it won't be any simpler than the sputtering/spraying I described in the main text. In fact, vapor deposition in a vacuum is a well-understood and widely implemented technology, very likely making it simpler than electroplating, in this particular case.   

       Regarding your first question, it's one of many for which the answer is "money". It takes money to build prototypes for things like alternative auto engines. And the people who have the money tend to ask "experts" about whether or not the money will be wasted. When even the experts can't agree, the money tends to be conservatively not-spent.
Vernon, Aug 30 2007

       [Vernon] Point taken about deuterium in metal lattices possibly being atomic anyway. If that's the case, what happens when you pump hydrogen into a metal? I know it takes a fair amount of energy to do it - is some/most/all of that energy in fact going to splitting hydrogen molecules? It certainly (mostly) ends up as heat - so presumably that's because it's a barrier effect at the surface, and you get (most or all of) the energy back as the hydrogen atoms get friendly with the metal instead of with each other.   

       Whatever the mechanism is, you CAN pump a lot of hydrogen into some metals. If - as may well be the case - it's then atomic, then you obviously don't need adjacent electrolysis to get it into that condition. If it's still molecular (which I now rather doubt), then what's stopping the hydrogen atoms produced by electrolysis pairing up within the metal lattice, too? Okay, the lifetime of the singletons might be different in a metal lattice than in gas phase, but by a long enough margin to make much difference?   

       And of course there's still that question of how being in a metal lattice, at chemistry distances, somehow gets deuterium atoms into nuclear proximities. Three orders of magnitude - or two at a very tight pinch - to lose somewhere...   

       But I take your point about gadgets encompassing wild theories.
Cosh i Pi, Aug 30 2007

       Is there an abstract for this one?
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 30 2007

       [Cosh i Pi], even as a molecule, hydrogen is very small, and is known to be able permeate a number of substances. Is the crystal lattice of those metals which can absorb hydrogen "open" enough for whole molecules? That should tell us whether or not the molecules split when pressured into those metals.   

       Next, we have the (admittedly contested-for-two-decades) evidence for energy production, which requires SOMETHING to be going on within the metal lattice. I have certainly considered the possibility that the H+H->H2 reaction is responsible, but there is a problem between your thinking that it should happen almost immediately, and the fact that energy production, when it happens, doesn't happen until lots of deuterium has been loaded into the metal. The amount of time the deuterium is in the metal, prior to the occurrance of sufficient loading and energy production, appears to be irrelevant.   

       It seems reasonable to me to think that the "alloying" notion can explain why the deuteriums DON'T combine to make molecules, at least not until enough of them are crammed into the metal.   

       Also, you have the heat-production thing backward, I think. If heat is released when ordinary hydrogen is squeezed into a metal, this CANNOT be from H2 bonds breaking; that is a thing that ABSORBS energy. UNLESS the consequent combining of the hydrogen atoms with the metal is itself a reaction, that releases more energy than that needed to break H2 bonds? Unlikely, since then we should be talking about "metal hydrides", which are chemical compounds that can't be expected to have any metallic properties. Simpler just to think that the heat released is a direct consequence of the pressure applied.   

       "there's still that question of how being in a metal lattice, at chemistry distances, somehow gets deuterium atoms into nuclear proximities." --NO, I answered that. Remember that deuterium only has ONE electron. If the atom alloys with the metal, the deuterium must give that electron up to the conduction band, and thereby it becomes a bare nucleus, floating in the crystal lattice, immersed in a kind of "sea" of loose electrons. Two such bare nuclei can start approaching each other simply because neither has an electron shell, and they will certainly have some random thermal motion. The degree to which they can closely approach is the important question. I have simply suggested that since the electrons in the conduction-band/sea are not orbiting, they are allowed to MUCH more closely approach the bare nuclei than when they are normally orbiting. There may even be a quantum-mechanical effect here, where say 100 electrons each have 1% of their uncertain-position/cloudiness between the two nuclei, effectively acting like a single electron (or a muon), and electrically shielding the two nuclei from each other until they can get close enough for the Strong Nuclear Force to come into play.   

       I've wondered if the mysterious lack of radiation usually not-observed in Cold Fusion experiments might be attrubuted to ALL of those 100 electrons (or an even bigger quantity) being able to carry off some of the energy of the fusion reaction, since all are (per Quantum Mechanics) in proximity when fusion occurs. Net result: D+D->He4, no neutrons released (which typically ARE released in hot fusion BECAUSE NO OTHER MECHANISM EXISTS TO CARRY ENERGY AWAY), and all the MeVs of the reaction thus appear here as ordinary heat.   

       Now, I'm also aware that electrons don't "respond" to the Strong Nuclear Force, so how can they be participants in the fusion reaction, such that they can carry energy away? I now have a possible answer to that question, and this involves pions, not quarks. [Cosh i Pi], I assume you are aware of the role that pions play in the Strong Nuclear Force? Do remember that they are electrically fully-charged particles (unlike partially-charged quarks), and that WILL allow them to fully interact with electrons, even as they shoot across the distance between two deuterium nuclei. So we have the pions-containing-quarks accelerating across the distance (which bare quarks themselves cannot cross; they have a smaller interaction cross-section than do pions), due to the Strong Nuclear Force, and bumping into lots of conduction-band electrons on the way, giving up the energy of that acceleration. This energy is thus not available to cause the deuterons to accelerate greatly, so they end up making a kind of "soft" collision, and it becomes sensible to conclude that they can directly form He-4 without there being too much energy still-to-be-released, for it to be unable to hold together.   

       Sept 10 ADDENDUM: I'd like to mention that it is known that when a "muon" replaces an electron in a heavy atom like lead, the muon tends to eventually replace one of the innermost electrons, and because it is 206 times as massive as an electron, it orbits 206 times closer to the nucleus--it actually orbits inside the periphery of the nucleus! I take this to mean that when we are talking about NON-orbiting electrons, such as conduction-band electrons in a metal, these are able to pass between two deuterium nuclei even when those nuclei are about to merge. The pion/electron interaction mentioned above could then occur even AS the merging takes place. Net effect: not a single gamma ray released, to say nothing of the reaction letting loose a neutron or proton.
Vernon, Aug 30 2007

       It IS simple. You could do this in your kitchen, if you happened to have a quart of heavy water, some palladium, and some watch batteries.
GutPunchLullabies, Aug 30 2007

       //It is widely known that a Cold Fusion electrolysis cell seems to work best with an electrode made of the chemical element palladium.//   

       depends on how you're defining "widely known."   

       good to see your long face, [Vernon].
k_sra, Aug 30 2007

       [GutPunchLullibies], that degree of simplicity is what they thought, back in 1987, when the original experiment was described. Unfortunately, too many people found it wasn't quite that simple; apparently it's not easy/reliable to pack enough deuterium into the palladium electrode for excess heat to begin appearing. That's partly why I specified pressurizing the system in this Idea --and that makes it less simple, especially with respect to kitchen equipment.   

       [k_sra], yes "widely known" does depend here on the group that pays attention to such things. I suspect, however, that most physicists around the world (and likely most chemists, too) know about the Cold Fusion claims, and so I'm not misusing that phrase here. Much. :)
Vernon, Aug 31 2007

       [Vernon] Sorry - maybe I was a little too brief in my description of what I think might be happening when you pump hydrogen into a metal.   

       The energy to break H2 bonds comes from the product of the pressure applied times the volume of hydrogen absorbed by the metal. Any heat produced would correspond to the difference between the energy supplied as (pressure x volume change), and the bond breaking energy. This would be complicated by any energy released by bonding between the hydrogen and the metal - I'm not suggesting covalent or ionic bonding, which would form a hydride, but metallic bonding to form an alloy (just as you were). Metallic bonding to form alloys also releases energy.
Cosh i Pi, Aug 31 2007

       [Lt Frank], well, since ordinary hot fusion takes place at literally astronomical (as in "stars") temperatures and pressures, it might be said that the whole range of merely Earthly temperatures and pressures are, by comparison, "cold". I'm pretty sure the pressure of water at the bottom of the sea considerably exceeds the pressure that the reactor described here would use.   

       [Cosh i Pi], OK, thanks.
Vernon, Aug 31 2007

       Is it even possible to heat something in a vacuum? Isn't being a vacuum why space is cold?
ironfroggy, Aug 31 2007

       You can't heat a vacuum, but you can heat a thing that happens to be in a vacuum. If you are still interested.   

       If you think about it, everything is in a vacuum, the earth is floating in a sea of it. It still manages to be warmish sometimes.
GutPunchLullabies, Sep 04 2007

       [Cosh i Pi], after thinking about the "heat of alloying" thing, I tend to doubt this is very much, compared to the energy needed to break deuterium-molecule bonds. Do you have any data to suggest otherwise?   

       [quantum flux], I like the Fusor, too, but it is a device that cannot work at a small scale, and it also always involves significant radiation levels. I've added a link to a variation of the Fusor, which is claimed to be ready for scaling-up for power production.
Vernon, Sep 05 2007

       [Vernon] Farnsworth fusors work just fine at small scales. The trouble with them is that they consume far more energy than they produce. It's claimed that a scaled-up version would be better, but I can't see how it could come close to break-even.   

       Radiation from them is not significantly worse than from any other fusion device of the same power.   

       If there isn't much "alloying energy" ivolved in getting hydrogen into a metal lattice, then I think the hydrogen must still be diatomic molecules, not singleton protons with shared conduction electrons.
Cosh i Pi, Sep 07 2007

       I watched a google video of Dr. Bussard saying that the physics for a fusor works and that it's just a matter of good old thermodynamic and materials engineering to prevent the inner electrode from being damaged from the intense heat and radiation. I assume that when he said "the physics works beautifully" that he wasn't just making that part up.   

       //The trouble with them is that they consume far more energy than they produce//   

       But how much energy could possibly be used up in maintaning a static voltage potential? Compare that to the amount of heat that you get from Boron-11 + Hydrogen-1 + 600 keV = 3*(He-4) + 8.7MeV.... I think you most likely get more energy out of this than you put in, by about 14.5x.   

       //Radiation from them is not significantly worse than from any other fusion device of the same power.//   

       Mostly alpha particals are produced in the above reaction.... except in the rare 0.1% of the reactions where the reaction is either (11B + 4He = 14N + n + 157 keV) or (11B + 4He = 11C + n - 2.8 MeV) as per what wikipedia says.
quantum_flux, Sep 08 2007

       Excuse me, I did not clearly state what I meant. The Fusor at a small scale cannot work to produce more energy than it consumes. And Bussard wants to scale it up significantly, to solve that problem.   

       [Cosh i Pi], are you assuming that hydrogen released during electrolysis MUST form molecules before penetrating the metal of the electrode? (On what basis?) Or are you talking about pressuring gas (which starts out as molecules) into some metal? I would agree with you about the second scenario, but that is not the usual Cold Fusion scenario.
Vernon, Sep 08 2007

       Our first priority is to invent a cold fusion reactor that actually provides surplus energy. Worry about upsizing it later.
croissantz, Sep 08 2007

       [Vernon] No, not at all. I'm wondering why the deutrerium has to be produced by electrolysis, rather than simply pumping it in under pressure - and trying to get my head around what the possible differences are.   

       Either hydrogen (or deuterium) in a palladium (or other metal) lattice is normally (when pumped in) molecular, or it's normally monoatomic (and probably in a kind of alloyed state). If it's monoatomic anyway, I see no point using electrolysis rather than pumping. If it's normally molecular, I'm pretty sure that even though it would be monoatomic at the point of electrolysis ("nascent"), it would pair up in molecules PDQ - much quicker than the mean lifetime before fusion.   

       So why electrolysis?   

       [Croissantz] Our first priority is to invent a cold fusion reactor in which fusion actually occurs. If such a thing is possible, it's highly unlikely that a small one would produce surplus energy - scaling it up would almost certainly be required before a surplus could be achieved.   

       [QuantumFlux] Bussard's Fusor is different from (but related to) the Farnsworth-Hirsch fusor. I don't believe that the Farnsworth-Hirsch fusor could produce an energy surplus at any scale - I'm pretty confident of this, the analysis isn't all that difficult - although it certainly works and is I believe now in commercial production as a neutron generator. Analysis of the Bussard Fusor is too difficult for me (probably for anyone) to do purely mathematically; it's got to be done experimentally. I'm not at all confident that it'll actually be able to produce a surplus at any scale, but it's definitely worth proper investigation.
Cosh i Pi, Sep 09 2007

       "If it's normally molecular, I'm pretty sure that even though it would be monoatomic at the point of electrolysis ("nascent"), it would pair up in molecules PDQ"
[Cosh i Pi], THAT is an assumption, and connected to an additional assumption you have made. The "normally molecular" situation that you talked about does not take into account the likely fact that when the gas is pumped into the metal, there is no energy source to break the molecules apart. Yet when a just-freed-via-electrolysis atom meets the metal, you have accepted an alloy-forming energy-release. While I am aware that this energy is likely to be rather less than the energy of formation of the gas molecule, A NUDGE IS REQUIRED, to "unalloy" two atoms before they can join to make a molecule. You haven't specified the energy source for the initial nudge. I'm aware, of course, that once it happens, a cascade could go into effect to cause the rest of any hydrogen or deuterium atoms to unalloy and molecularize -- but the initial nudge is a thing you haven't included in your assumptions.

       On the other hand, if Cold Fusion is real, then it is apparent that even THAT energy released is NOT a sufficient nudge, to unalloy the deuteriums and cause gas molecules to form, heh. :)   

       I added something to a prior annotation (search for "addendum"); hope you like it!
Vernon, Sep 10 2007

       [Vernon] An interesting addendum - but if there's no gamma released, and no neutron or proton released, what form does the energy released take? And how is momentum conserved?   

       // when the gas is pumped into the metal, there is no energy source to break the molecules apart // But there is: the energy of the pumping: that is, the pressure times the reduction in volume due to the gas being absorbed into the metal. I know that this energy is considerable, but I don't know exactly how much it is, or how it compares with the amount of heat produced.   

       These things are well known by someone somewhere, I'm quite sure - they're well within the realms of ordinary physics and chemistry.
Cosh i Pi, Sep 10 2007

       [Cosh i Pi], the original anno, prior to the addendum, described an interaction between conduction-band electrons and electrically charged pions. The result is kinetic energy and momentum get added to the conduction band electrons (heat), during the whole time two deuterons are in proximity and getting closer, to merge under the influence of the Strong Nuclear Force. One way to look at it is, if a pion accelerates under the Strong Force, and encounters a slow electron, it is simply logical that there will be a transfer of kinetic energy and momentum. Now if this happens for every pion, when the deuterons are literally immersed in a "cloud" of conduction-band electrons...why should we think there will be any significant energy left over, when the deuterons finally merge, to appear as a gamma or as an escaped nucleon?   

       Next, the energy you describe, from squeezing hydrogen gas into a metal, seems to me to be rather inadequate to break the bonds of hydrogen molecules. I did a Google search and a couple places indicated 100+ Kcal/mol, rather a lot, and almost certainly more than the heat you are talking about. Remember, I said that the H+H->H2 reaction had been investigated for possible rocket propulsion --high energy is most certainly required for that! And equally high energy is needed to make that reaction go the other way, of course.
Vernon, Sep 10 2007

       [Vernon] I don't know exactly how much energy is required to pump hydrogen into a metal lattice, but it's certainly considerable. And there must be considerable bonding energy between the hydrogen and the metal lattice, too, or the metal wouldn't hold more hydrogen than an empty vessel at the same pressure, which of course it does.   

       I'm fascinated by this idea that you could use H + H -> H2 for rocket propulsion. With a solid fuel system, the solid matrix can prevent premature reaction, but how do you prevent premature reaction with a single liquid system? The obvious attraction is that H2 is about as light an exhaust gas as you could wish for, so its exhaust velocity is very high for a given combustion temperature, but you can't handle tanks full of H1.
Cosh i Pi, Sep 12 2007

       [Cosh i Pi], perhaps some X-ray diffraction can reveal how the hydrogens fit into palladium, when pressured. Obviously we are speculating in the absence of adequate data. I will say that I have no objection to pressuring deuterium gas into metal, if indeed individual atoms end up in there, and Cold Fusion happens. It's just that I don't know of any experiments that have tried it, while the electrolysis thing is fairly-well-known to be associated with claims of anomolous energy production --and therefore I based the main Idea here on that.   

       Regarding liquid monatomic hydrogen, this HAS been produced in small quantities, and you might review one of my early annotations here, where I mentioned the main difficulty. The science-fiction story I linked, if it is the right one, I believe it presupposed some sort of stabilizing agent, and then a catalyst was used to initiate the reaction, after being pumped into the combustion chamber of the rocket.
Vernon, Sep 12 2007

       Just build a separate tank for each hydrogen radical. Open all the valves at once for go.
GutPunchLullabies, Sep 12 2007

       [GutPunchLullabies], they're not radicals. "Monatomic hydrogen" refers to individual whole hydrogen atoms. Normally hydrogen occurs as two-atom molecules.
Vernon, Oct 27 2008

       Very interesting, [Vernon]! You could be a candidate for Nobel Prize, alongside with Andrea Rossi whose LENR Ni-H reactor E-Cat has hydrogen gas at 22 bar... ;)   

       And most probably Defkalion with its Hyperion Reactor has raised the working-fluid pressure in the enclosing heat-exchanger tank so to superheat it on its way out, then allow the release of the pressure for rapid cooling if the reactor is very close to its critical temperature that leads to melted nickel, cracks or explosion due to uncontrollable and accelerated nuclear-fusion heating.
rotary, Aug 17 2011

       [rotary], this Idea was written before I learned about an alternate approach to Cold Fusion, involving pressurized deuterium gas. Its chief advantage is, so far as I know, that EVERY such experiment has produced anomalous energy. Electrolysis CF experiments still have trouble being reliably repeatable.
Vernon, Aug 17 2011

       [Vernon], post another idea involving nickel and hydrogen nuclear reaction. It is very interesting to speculate the proprietary catalyst Mr. Rossi employed to make the reaction 100 percent repeatable and reliable to produce output 20x the input energy. Let's bake it further because his technology is still a head start in commercialization stage. The succeeding half of the bake is in the marketing, well, in Halfbakery, that is!
rotary, Aug 17 2011

       [rotary], last I heard, Rossi has not yet followed through and sent anyone a working example of his reactor. I'm waiting for independent verification before accepting his claims. But, in the meantime, I HAVE had various thoughts about pressurized-deuterium-gas experiments. See link.
Vernon, Aug 17 2011

       [Vernon], in cold fusion involving metals, the main focus is in the lattice to induce nuclear reaction conditions which mercury lacks at room temperature. You might involve sonoluminescence and/or fractal electrical fluctuations to such system aside from high pressure, but it would be very tricky to be commercially exploitable compared to Lattice Assisted Nuclear Reaction.   

       Better stick to porous metal powder, especially Nickel with more than 50 nanometer whisker or lump thickness. Pons have experimented before that the energy released by the reaction is proportional to lattice volume.   

       Anyways, they indicated transmutation of enriched Nickel into stable Copper isotopes when the neutron transform back into proton. I suspect there are pions generated by atomic reaction in the stressed metal lattice, compounded by heat, high pressure, and chaotic movement and vibration of atoms. When muons are produced by the decay of pions, they continue shrinking the atomic Hydrogen that somehow has the characteristic of neutron in close quarters. A little temperature swing would send the muonic atom crashing into the nucleus of Nickel, with the proton absorbing some energy to transform into neutron, until the highest and unstable neutron count would be satisfied that would allow decay into stable isotopes of Copper, with lots of energy released equivalent to the missing mass upon adding the mass of all elements involved in the reaction.   

       Well, this is just my theory, like an educated guess, that still needs a verification from nuclear computations by expert nuclear Physicists.
rotary, Aug 17 2011

       [rotary], just because various people think that a fixed lattice of metal atoms is an important part of the CF mechanism, that doesn't mean it is actually an important part of the CF mechanism. Do keep in mind that there is as yet no widely accepted explanation for the phenomenon, so it could be possible that my own notion (which I prefer, obviously) is correct. Which is to say that loose conduction-band electrons in the metal are more important than the lattice. Which makes mercury as good as any other metal for CF purposes, so long as you can get deuterium atoms into it.   

       And, you are most certainly wrong about the involvement of catalytic pions/muons in modern CF experiments. There is NO mechanism creating them in sufficient numbers to explain the results.
Vernon, Aug 18 2011

       I haven't actually read the idea in detail, or the comments, however...   

       The system I am currently designing has a section that operates on well understood principals, nothing surprising or difficult.   

       I still had to go back and redesign it from scratch because the application is just a hair different, and no existing product or technique will work for it. Trying to design in advance of an understanding of the core principles (or at least a working model) is difficult and wasteful at best, foolhardy at worst.
MechE, Aug 18 2011

       [MechE], therefore this Idea PERFECTLY belongs here in the HalfBakery, right?
Vernon, Aug 18 2011

       //there is as yet no widely accepted explanation for the phenomenon, so it could be possible that my own notion (which I prefer, obviously) is correct//   

       Oh dear. [-]
Wrongfellow, Aug 18 2011

       [Wrongfellow], at least my hypothesis got published. That should mean I'm not the only one who thinks it has a chance of being right.
Vernon, Aug 19 2011

       It means you're not the only one, but it doesn't make it right, any more than being reported in the National Inquirer means that Elvis is alive.
MechE, Aug 19 2011

       oh sweet Vernon, you are the last person I expected such an obvious appeal to authority from. Infinite Energy renamed from the now jeer inspiring "Free Energy Journal" is quite simply the go-to for publishing anything quackish or widely unsupported. The editorial standards are rigorous but the scientific standards are non-existent. Publishing with them is absolutely a last resort. They have no peer review and have a long history of publishing research used to float financing that is later discredited as scamming idiot investors. It is not a platform for scientific progress, although it pretends very very hard.
WcW, Aug 19 2011

       [WcW], I was very careful when I worded that last anno. I'm quite sure if I was the only one who thought my hypothesis made sense, then it would not have been published. And, do note that I sent it to them to find out what they thought of it, simply because they obviously had connections with CF researchers. It was not submitted with any idea that it might get published. That was their idea, entirely.   

       I've found my original submission email. It was sent to "staff" at the magazine. This is what I wrote:
Here is a hypothesis to explain how Cold Fusion can happen:
{LINK in email: see "Cold Fusion Hypothesis, Updated"}
This is an essay, not a scientific paper.
Nevertheless, it is full of background data,
to make it easy to see how the pieces of the
hypothesis fit together. And at the end is
an experiment that might be performed, to
test the hypothesis, involving implosion.
The essay may be copied with little restriction."

       I was simply thinking that the staff could send copies to people who could comment on it, because I didn't know any appropriate email addresses. Later, when they said they wanted to publish it, I edited it a bit, mostly to add a bunch of references, to make it at least a LITTLE more like a scientific paper than an essay. :)
Vernon, Aug 20 2011

       [Vernon] it is wrong to assume that there are never pions involved that decay into muons, such that both particles may act together to catalyze the nuclear reaction. Just simply admit that you cannot detect it. Let me expound: not even a detector at certain distance can detect these short-lived particles, simply because they do not travel in relativistic speed in a like manner to those solar wind that hit our atmosphere that eventually create muons that can travel kilometers deep into the earth's crust. Let me explain further, in very random collisions of heated, confined and/or energized/excited particles, there is a big chance of a resonant collision to form pions which will be relatively localized due to slowed momentum, especially when particles engaged in head-on collisions. So a muon detector farther away are pretty useless, so are the brains of clueless scientists, much more those like you who simply discount this possibility without evidence or due diligence on your part to dig it further ;)   

       Anyway, let me emphasize: matter is energy in a perpetual rotation :D
rotary, Aug 20 2011

       // very random collisions //   

       Either a system is random, or it isn't.   

       Further, these nucleonic collisions are not actually random; they are chaotic, which is not the same, as stochastic prediction can be applied to the macroscopic behaviour of the system
8th of 7, Aug 20 2011

       Okay, noted, [8th]. And let me clarify, in start-up conditions before nuclear reaction, I do not mean nucleonic collisions because of coulomb barrier in which Cold Fusion Set-up can never overcome without an intermediary process which I predict to be generally pion/muon energy transformation through collisions and energy transfer without impacting the nucleus. When muonic atoms are eventually created, then such cascading nucleonic collisions would be very much possible as validated by conventional muons-catalyzed cold fusions.   

       By the way, what's your assessment of my theory, [8th]? Let's bake these ideas, even though they might just stay half-baked :D
rotary, Aug 20 2011

       [rotary], I'm not wrong about what I wrote regarding pions/muons. With respect to the first-documented type of Cold Fusion, involving muons and liquid hydrogen in the 1950s, the muons were being made by an atom smasher. It takes energy to make those muons, and the number of fusions that a single muon can catalyze, before its 2-microsecond lifespan ends, does not release enough energy to pay for its manufacture, by a factor of at least five or six.   

       You have NOT indicated where you expect any muons to come from, besides natural pion-decay --which leads me back to the same problem: You have NOT indicated where you expect any pions to come from. Do note they take even more energy to make than muons.   

       Now, if you by some chance happen to be talking about "virtual pions" or "virtual muons", which can spontaneously appear TEMPORARILY out of sheer Nothingness, well, THOSE particles have MUCH MUCH shorter lifespans than the kind we manufacture with an atom smasher, out of ordinary energy. Even moving at almost the speed of light they can only cover the distance of a few nucleus-diameters, before vanishing again, back into the Nothingness from whence they came. Virtual energy is only allowed to exist for that-short amount of time.   

       Which means that virtual pions/muons are much less suitable to catalyze fusion, than the manufactured kind. Do remember that the electron of a hydrogen atom is located about 50,000 nucleus-diameters away from the nucleus!
Vernon, Aug 20 2011

       For sale. House in city 40 km from halfbaked vernon reactor.
pashute, Aug 21 2011

       I can see the mushroom cloud from here. Pretty colors!
Alterother, Aug 21 2011

       That's the cloud you see after eating mushrooms?
mouseposture, Aug 21 2011

       No, I meant the one rising over the former site of the much-lauded Vernon Reactor. I prefer a certain type of flower to mushrooms. Exclusively so, actually.
Alterother, Aug 21 2011

       The cloud you see after burning leaves, then.   

       Since the Vernon Reactor doesn't exist and never will, neither does that cloud. I rest my case.
mouseposture, Aug 21 2011

       It's not a result of mushroom consumption, so my point stands as well.   

       <MPFC old-biddy-voice: "P'raps it's a metty-fore!"/>   

       Oh, and it's the flowers, not the leaves. Those, we save for making 'bubble'.
Alterother, Aug 21 2011

       VERNON: //You have NOT indicated where you expect any pions to come from.//   

       Dear friend [Vernon], with all due respect, you are not paying attention; instead, you stress out on your dubious claim of virtual particles derived from quantum mechanics which is very unscientific and even erroneous to be referred to as quantum science. (I hope your method of thinking is not partly due to fanatical adulation of clueless Stephen Hawking.)   

       Let me stress this out again: Unlike conventional muons-catalyzed fusion, a valid cold-fusion experiment produce pions/muons in situ that account to very significant efficiency. And don’t expect us to believe in a purely fantastical “Virtual Energy” or //"virtual pions" or "virtual muons", which can spontaneously appear TEMPORARILY out of sheer Nothingness//. Let me share this: It is sheer valid for me to believe the existence of God before the “Big Bang” than to fantasize about sheer Nothingness before it.   

       The tidbits you left out are: //I suspect there are pions generated by atomic reaction in the stressed metal lattice, compounded by heat, high pressure, and chaotic movement and vibration of atoms.// //…in very random collisions of heated, confined and/or energized/excited particles, there is a big chance of a resonant collision to form pions which will be relatively localized due to slowed momentum, especially when particles engaged in head-on collisions…// //…involve sonoluminescence and/or fractal electrical fluctuations to such system aside from high pressure…//   

       All that I can say, there is a condition of resonance and impedance involved in Cold Fusion interplay.   

       By the way, mushroom consumption by elders and priests long time ago accounts for mass-hallucinations of primitive communities to affirm the wackiest belief of green mutants coming out from flying mushrooms :D
rotary, Aug 22 2011

       [rotary], quantum mechanics is far more "scientific" than the blather you have been spouting; actual experiments have verified QM theory to, in some cases, 18 decimal places of accuracy. It is the MOST accurate theory in all of Science!   

       You wrote: "a valid cold-fusion experiment produce pions/muons in situ" --this is a CLAIM, totally unsupported by any evidence, AND unsupported by any description of what might cause them to begin to exist in the first place. Also note that a pion has a normal lifespan of 26 nanoseconds, and typically decays into a muon that lasts about 100 times as long. The decay process of EITHER also releases radiation that can be easily detected, IF IT WAS ACTUALLY THERE TO BE DETECTED. But it hasn't been detected; therefore no pions or muons are involved in ordinary CF experiments. Period!   

       Meanwhile, virtual particles quite certainly exist; look up the "Casimir experiment" some time.
Vernon, Aug 22 2011

       //…It is the MOST accurate theory in all of Science! //   

       Oops, let me see… Hmmmm, how do you explain that your Quantum Mechanics describes the energy of a photon in terms of its frequency not of its amplitude? It is because it is not scientific enough! Admit it, dear [Vernon].
rotary, Aug 23 2011

       I'm with [Vernon] here. Remember, the unique properties of a photon lie in it exhibiting characteristics of a particle with mass. For a comprehensive description of a photon's state, frequency is the most apt method. You must consider it both as a particle and as a wave, even though it is neither.
Alterother, Aug 23 2011

       OOHHH I cant wait to find out who wins this one. I've got some popcorn popping and a nice dog curled up on my lap. It has all the crazy making alternate universe nonsense of an American presidential election distilled into the cramped echo chamber of an online forum. Vernon our trolling hero champion of this and many other forums has somehow taken the home team advantage and is craftily deflecting critique from all angles, can his impermeable field of pseudoscience be penetrated? Will his lack of any supporting research be pinned down? I AM ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT!
WcW, Aug 23 2011

       The national anthems have been sung, the referee(s) take(s) center ice...
Alterother, Aug 23 2011

       [rotary], the best way to think of "amplitude" with respect to photons is in terms of "quantity". So a lot of radio-wave photons, all the same frequency, have a higher amplitude than a single photon of that frequency. Simple!
Vernon, Aug 23 2011

       // be pined down //   

       Presumably with a Planck ... ?   

       // Simple! //   

       "Amplitude" is the integral of energy with respect to time; the energy delivered by a single photon of any given frequency is a constant value (q.v.).   


       // energy of a photon in terms of its frequency not of its amplitude //   

       Because for one single photon of a given frequency, as above, the "amplitude" (energy) is a fixed value which can be derived from Universal constants (h, c).
8th of 7, Aug 23 2011

       [8th of 7], probably nobody (possibly including me) will believe I'm saying this, but I do think I mostly said that (what you said), but in simpler English.
Vernon, Aug 24 2011

       [rotary], since writing my other anno about "amplitude", it occurred to me to mention something known as "the photoelectric effect" (see link). The fact is, photons must each have a certain minimum frequency/energy to be able to cause the photoelectric effect to happen. If their individual energy is too small, then even if you throw huge hordes of photons (with lots of amplitude-associated energy) at the photoelectric device, the device will basically ignore all of them (it will not exhibit the photoelectric effect).
Vernon, Aug 24 2011

       Can you explain how cold fusion works to laymen like me? I understand fusion on the Sun is "powered" by gravity, fusion in a bomb is powered by a fission bomb, fusion in the lab has been powered by lasers with a net loss of power.   

       So how does cold fusion supposedly work?   

       Keep it simple for dummies like me please.   

       8th, you're the go to guy on this stuff. If cold fusion BS? I'm guessing..... oh, let's say... yes.
doctorremulac3, Oct 14 2014

       [doctorremulac3], see the link I added today.
Vernon, Oct 14 2014

       Can you give me the Cliff Notes version?   

       The small bus cliff notes version would be better.
doctorremulac3, Oct 14 2014

       [doctorremulac3], try this (but if you have questions, you should see the more-detailed article, it IS written for the layman).   

       1. When molecular hydrogen encounters certain metals like palladium, it spontaneously becomes atomic hydrogen. We might think of the energy of dissociation as being borrowed; the atomic hydrogen can pass completely through the metal and once again become molecular hydrogen on the other side, with no significant energy-of-formation.   

       2. Inside the lattice of metal atoms, the atomic hydrogen can further spontaneously separate into bare nuclei and loose electrons. The hydrogen is in-essence "alloying" with the metal, and to do that each alloying atom must give up at least one electron to the "conduction band" of the metal. But hydrogen only has one electron to give! It is the bare nuclei that can so-very-easily pass through the metal to the other side.   

       3. When an electron is in orbit around a hydrogen nucleus, it is not allowed to get closer than a certain distance. But when the electron is part of the conduction band of a piece of metal, there is no reason loose electrons can't approach a bare hydrogen nucleus much more closely than normal.   

       4. Quantum Mechanics allows for an electron to be portrayed as simultaneously occupying several locations at once. It can also allow several electrons to partially occupy the same location ALMOST-at-once.   

       5. In the lattice of atoms of metal, two bare hydrogen nuclei have a chance to randomly get somewhat close to each other. They normally electrically repel each other, and can't get closer than a certain distance, unless they happen to be moving very fast (the thing that lets ordinary stellar fusion happen). But they are only moving at room-temperature-speeds in the metal, of course.   

       6. When two bare nuclei are near each other, the point of greatest electrical attraction for electrons is the place directly in-between the two nuclei. Remember that the bare nuclei, in the metal, can be described s swimming through a cloud of loose electrons, the conduction band of the metal.   

       7. If there is an electron in-between two bare hydrogen nuclei, the electrical repulsion of the nuclei for each other is cancelled-out. They don't become attracted to each other, but there is now nothing to prevent them from randomly getting closer together.   

       8. No single electron can stay in-between two nearby hydrogen nuclei for very long --they are moving at room-temperature speeds, too! But because QM allows many electrons to partially exist at multiple places, and because there is a cloud of loose electrons available in the conduction band, as soon as any electron leaves the place in-between the bare nuclei, another can take that place (that place is still the point of greatest electrical attraction for an electron). This leads to practically-continuous shielding of the nuclei from each other's mutual electric repulsion.   

       9. That last thing, practically-continuous prevention of repulsion, allows the bare hydrogen nuclei to randomly get close enough to fuse (per the short-range Strong Nuclear Force). Well, actually, we need to be talking about deuterium and not ordinary hydrogen here (for protium-hydrogen to fuse, we need help from the Weak Nuclear Force as well as the Strong Force, and that makes the event much less likely). It logically follows that the more deuterium atoms you can cram into the metal, the greater the random chance that two of their nuclei will get close-enough together.   

       Anyway, that is my Hypothesis for how cold fusion can happen. There is more, because cold fusion is generally associated with zero or almost-zero radioactivity, and that needs to be explained, too (which I think I can do). But that is not what you asked about, and even this short version of the how-can-fusion-happen explanation is probably longer than you want to see.
Vernon, Oct 15 2014

       So you pass hydrogen through some catalyst that starts a process that causes the hydrogen nuclei to fuse together and there's some weird quantum mechanic state that the resultant loose electrons are in that helps the process?   

       Bear with me, I don't know much about physics so if anybody could be convinced that this makes sense simply because they're ignorant it would be me, but I do have a reasonably good grasp of logic.   

       In a couple of words, what's the new process here? An atom bomb would "split heavy atoms". A fusion bomb would "fuse light atoms". This process would...
doctorremulac3, Oct 15 2014

       ... fuse light atoms, by having peripatetic electrons play matchmaker between pairs of shy naked nuclei?   

       That's how [Vernon]'s latest anno reads to me, anyway.
pertinax, Oct 15 2014

       That accurate V? Remember, you're talking to someone here who might believe that a yummy chocolate nuclei could be fused with temp-tasty peanut butter nuclei in a Rees's Peanut Butter Cup reactor so you've got to keep it short, simple and factual. The duty of the learned is to enlighten the ignorant so don't misuse your position of trust here. You only get one shot at fooling me.   

       Obviously it's an interesting subject for us novices since could fusion would be the single most important scientific discovery of all time, but exceptional claims require exceptional proof.
doctorremulac3, Oct 15 2014

       [doctorremulac3], please investigate "muon catalyzed fusion". This is a well-known and proven-true method (just not practical for producing more energy than it uses). The Hypothesis here basically indicates that with an appropriate metal like palladium (but experimenters have claimed certain other metals can also work), electrons can catalyze fusions in a way that is vaguely similar to how muons do it.
Vernon, Oct 15 2014

       I will, but if you could you do me a favor and complete this sentence:   

       The Sun's gravity powers its fusion, a hydrogen bomb uses an atom bomb to power its fusion, lasers in the lab are used to create fusion, this method uses this force to power its fusion: ____.   

       Just the force, not the method. And correct me if I'm mistaken in thinking there needs to be some force powering this process. Yes, that's how little I know, I'm just assuming from the fusion reactions I see out there now that some pretty substantial energy needs to be put into this equation to make fusion happen.
doctorremulac3, Oct 15 2014

       I'm not sure that such an answer would be easy to give, even if it existed.   

       In the case of muon-catalyzed fusion, my very fuzzy understanding is that the muon behaves like a very heavy electron. In a normal H2 molecule, the electrons "orbit" the pair of nuclei. In a muonic H2 molecule, the same thing happens but the mass of the muon makes the molecule smaller - i.e. the two nuclei are closer together, and hence have a greater probability (quantumly speaking) of being close enough together to fuse. What's "forcing" the nuclei together is not straightforward to explain.   

       In the case of "cold fusion" (which I don't believe in), I can imagine it would be possible for the hydrogen atoms in the metal matrix to do some sort of funny electron sharing that would have the same effect as a muon.   

       To summarize: I have no idea. I don't think cold fusion happens but, if it had worked, I would have been pleasantly surprised rather than totally astonished.   

       To digress: muon-catalyzed fusion seems much more promising. It is only an order of magnitude away from break-even (ie, you can get out 10% as much energy as it takes to make the muons), and there are reasons to believe that it might be brought above the break-even point without any really new physics.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 15 2014

       Did Max explain it V? If so, I'll go look up what a muon is and try to catch up. (Assuming Max didn't make up the word as a prank.)
doctorremulac3, Oct 15 2014

       [doctorremulac3], [MaxwellBuchanan] mostly described muon catalyzed fusion fairly well. In terms of your requested finish-the-sentence and "force", you should think of a muon as CANCELLING the electrostatic repulsive force between two hydrogen nuclei. It should be obvious that if the separate nuclei stop repelling each other, they can approach closely enough to fuse.   

       There is a little more to it than just that, because a muon is a reasonably massive particle, about 1/9 the mass of a proton. The muon is electrically attracted to BOTH positive charges on the two separate nuclei, and can actually drag one closer to the other.   

       In the case of my Hypothesis, the electron can do the electrostatic cancellation exactly like a muon, but it can't do any dragging --it is far too lightweight a particle, compared to the proton. We have to rely on random motions for the nuclei to approach closely enough to fuse.
Vernon, Oct 15 2014

       What have physics PHD types said about this?
doctorremulac3, Oct 16 2014

       [doctorremulac3], the physics PhD types mostly think cold fusion doesn't happen (outside of muon catalyzed fusion), and therefore there is no need to pay any attention to any hypothesis about how it might happen.
Vernon, Oct 16 2014

       So I shouldn't start buying stock in Vernco Energy just yet.   

       Interesting stuff though. Encouraged me to un-dumb myself a little about all matters sub-atomic. Had a nice discussion over lunch with my braniac dad about it. Crazy interesting stuff.   

       Bucket list addendum: Learn difference between my axion and a hole in the ground.
doctorremulac3, Oct 16 2014

       Nature is populations, statistics and randomness. Science/technology is the arrow splitting the apple.   

       Scaling down and trapping nature's way is, in my mind, the wrong way to go.   

       I imagine we will be able to generate the perfect pattern, a dance of correctly placed electrons ( probably some co-factor +'s also) in the right environment well, cold fusion would be compelled to work. And probably at any scale needed.
wjt, Oct 19 2014


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