Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Step closer to low energy cold fusion plant

CHENNAI: Scientists globally are a step closer to resolving the energy crisis after Italian scientists Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi recently developed a cold fusion device that is capable of producing 10 KW of power, said noted nuclear scientist M Srinivasan.
Speaking at a tutorial school on the theme, ‘Introduction to the Science of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions’, he said the recent development involved a nickel-hydrogen fusion reactor that could produce a few kilowatts of thermal energy . Its significance was that it watered down the conventional theory of relying on high temperatures for nuclear reactions. Low energy nuclear reactions (LENR) or cold fusion refers to nuclear fusion of atoms at conditions close to room temperature, in contrast to that of well-understood fusion reactions such as high-energy experiments.
India started research in this field in 1989, after scientists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons discovered the phenomenon of cold fusion in March 1989. However, research suffered a blow in mid-1990s due to lack of consensus among mainstream scientists and the US denunciation of it.
But now, the research has once again gained momentum. In fact Dr S Kailas, director of physics group on LENR at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, announced that the group wanted youth to start working from where the older generation has left. The tutorial - organised by Indian Physics Association, Federation of Science Clubs of Tamil Nadu and The Science Club of Chennai - saw the participation of a large number of students.
On the positives, Srinivasan said low energy reactors do not have to go critical and the coolant could be even water. No reports of significant levels of radioactivity are associated with them either. When compared to a normal reactor, it does not use uranium, plutonium or tritium.
Research professor at the LENR laboratory of George Washington University David Nagel told Express that LENR could help produce clean water. Though products associated with LENR would come out in a year, it would take another five years before the reactors go commercial as it involved validation and independent testing.
Unfortunately, the possibility that research in this field could yield an environment friendly source of power at low cost has resulted in competitions for filing of patents, said Michael Mckubre, a renowned electrochemist and currently director of energy research at SRI International in Menlo Park California.
Lack of a clear-cut theory on how LENR works and how to control the temperature in such reactors are some other issues that should be addressed properly.

Source: Step closer to low energy cold fusion plant | | | Indian Express

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