V. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
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Ordinarily, new scientific discoveries are claimed to be consistent
and reproducible; as a result, if the experiments are not
complicated, the discovery can usually be confirmed or disproved in a
few months. The claims of cold fusion, however, are unusual in that
even the strongest proponents of cold fusion assert that the
experiments, for unknown reasons, are not consistent and reproducible
at the present time. However, even a single short but valid cold
fusion period would be revolutionary. As a result, it is difficult
convincingly to resolve all cold fusion claims since, for example,
any good experiment that fails to find cold fusion can be discounted
as merely not working for unknown reasons. Likewise the failure of a
theory to account for cold fusion can be discounted on the grounds
that the correct explanation and theory has not been provided.
Consequently, with the many contradictory existing claims it is not
possible at this time to state categorically that all the claims for
cold fusion have been convincingly either proved or disproved.
Nonetheless, on balance, the Panel has reached the following
conclusions and recommendations.
Based on the examination of published reports, reprints, numerous
communications to the Panel and several site visits, the Panel
concludes that the experimental results of excess heat from
calorimetric cells reported to date do not present convincing
evidence that useful sources of energy will result from the phenomena
attributed to cold fusion.
A major fraction of experimenters making calorimetric measurements,
either with open or closed cells, using Pd cathodes and
D2O, report neither excess heat nor fusion products.
Others, however, report excess heat production and either no fusion
products or fusion products at a level well below that implied by
reported heat production. Internal inconsistencies and lack of
predictability and reproducibility remain serious concerns. In no
case is the yield of fusion products commensurate with the claimed
excess heat. In cases where tritium is reported, no secondary or
primary nuclear particles are observed, ruling out the known D+D
reaction as the source of tritium. The Panel concludes that the
experiments reported to date do not present convincing evidence to
associate the reported anomalous heat with a nuclear process.
The early claims of fusion products (neutrons) at very low levels
near background, from D20 electrolysis and D2
gas experiments, have no apparent application to the productinn of
useful energy. If confirmed, these results would be of scientific
interest. Recent experiments, some employing more sophisticated
counter arrangements and improved backgrounds, found no fusion
products and placed upper limits on the fusion probability for these
experiments, at levels well below the initial positive results. Based
on these many negative results and the marginal statistical
significance of reported positive results, the Panel concludes that
the present evidence for the discovery of a new nuclear process
termed cold fusion is not persuasive.
Current understanding of the very extensive literature of
experimental and theoretical results for hydrogen in solids gives no
support for the occurrence of cold fusion in solids. Specifically, no
theoretical or experimental evidence suggests the existence of D-D
distances shorter than that in the molecule D2 or the
achievement of "confinement" pressure above relatively modest levels.
The known behavior of deuterium in solids does not give any support
for the supposition that the fusion probability is enhanced by the
presence of the palladium, titanium, or other elements.
Nuclear fusion at room temperature, of the type discussed in this
report, would be contrary to all understanding gained of nuclear
reactions in the last half century; it would require the invention of
an entirely new nuclear process.
The Panel recommends against any special funding for the
investigation of phenomena attributed to cold fusion. Hence, we
recommend against the establishment of special programs or research
centers to develop cold fusion.
The Panel is sympathetic toward modest support for carefully focused
and cooperative experiments within the present funding system.
The Panel recommends that the cold fusion research efforts in the
area of heat production focus primarily on confirming or disproving
reports of excess heat. Emphasis should be placed on calorimetry with
closed systems and total gas recombination, use of alternative
calorimetric methods, use of reasonably well characterized materials,
exchange of materials between groups, and careful estimation of
systematic and random errors. Cooperative experiments are encouraged
to resolve some of the claims and counterclaims in calorimetry.
A shortcoming of most experiments reporting excess heat is that they
are not accompanied in the same cell by simultaneous monitoring for
the production of fusion products. If the excess heat is to be
attributed to fusion, such a claim should be supported by
measurements of fusion products at commensurate levels.
Investigations designed to check the reported observations of excess
tritium in electrolytic cells are desirable.
Experiments reporting fusion products (e.g., neutrons) at a very low
level, if confirmed, are of scientific interest but have no apparent
current application to the production of useful energy. In view of
the difficulty of these experiments, collaborative efforts are
encouraged to maximize the detection efficiencies and to minimize the
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