In March of 1989 Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons of the University of Utah announced that they had succeeded in making D-D fusion occur in an electrochemical cell near room temperature. Compared to the ordinary conditions required for this reaction, this claim was aptly named “cold fusion”. The announcement of cold fusion generated intense interest as it promised to solve most if not all of our energy problems here on Earth. The fuel is plentiful and the waste products are relatively benign. However, widespread failure to replicate the experiment soon resulted in rejection of cold fusion by the mainstream scientific community.
Despite this rejection a number of scientists continue to investigate cold fusion. Hundreds of papers reporting positive results have been published and international conferences are held every couple of years. However, to this day, there exists no cold fusion demonstration experiment. That is because cold fusion phenomena are extremely difficult to reproduce. This situation greatly hampers cold fusion research because it makes the usual empirical investigation almost impossible.
The primary signature of cold fusion is excess heat, which means that the electrochemical cell produces more heat power than the electrical power used to stimulate it. Thus calorimetry is often involved in testing cold fusion experiments. In our laboratory we have expended a great deal of effort on the development of calorimeters suitable for cold fusion experiments. Over the years we have had the opportunity to test a relatively small number of cold fusion cells, some that we constructed ourselves and some that were brought to our laboratory by other investigators who had seen positive signs of excess heat in their own labs. None of these cold fusion experiments have shown any convincing evidence of excess heat in our calorimeters. We cannot say that we have never seen any signs of excess heat in our laboratory because all calorimeters drift somewhat and, inevitably, that drift sometimes goes in a positive direction and looks just like a low level of genuine excess heat. When that occurs we strive to check the calorimeter’s calibration as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Usually the drift in calibration is evident and its magnitude matches, and thus explains, the apparent excess heat signal. In a few cases the calibration check did not explain the apparent excess heat signal. But when we returned the cell to the calorimeter after the calibration check, the excess heat signal did not reappear. This tantalizing behavior either means that the cell did produce low levels of excess heat for a while or the calorimeter was simply drifting up and down in unfortunate synchrony with our observations.
In our laboratory, we are not novices at making measurements. We have about 70 years combined experience designing, building, and operating various measuring systems, gauges, and analytical instruments. In addition we have constructed at least a dozen calorimeter systems over the past 15 years in our quest to identify new energy sources. From this broad perspective it seems safe to say that calorimetry excels at providing a fertile medium for the spawning and nurturing of subtle systematic errors. Furthermore we have found it nearly impossible to anticipate the causes of these errors. Their elucidation usually occurs only after you have constructed the instrument, tested it extensively, and struggled for days to comprehend its misbehavior.
The culmination of our efforts to build an accurate and reliable calorimeter for cold fusion experimentation is an instrument we call MOAC (Mother of All Calorimeters). MOAC was designed to achieve +/- 0.1% relative accuracy. At the typical input power level of 10 watts, that is equivalent to +/- 0.01 watts. On a good day, when freshly calibrated, this accuracy is actually achieved. A month after calibration, the system typically drifts by up to 0.03 watts. Despite this small problem, we feel that MOAC is one of the best calorimeters now available for cold fusion research. We are committed to maintaining MOAC in top working condition on a continuous basis. In the interest of scientific progress, we have made a standing offer for free testing of promising cold fusion cells in MOAC.