Why cold fusion is bullshit

So why is cold fusion bullshit?

    Firstly you need to understand the orders of magnitude of energy.  Imagine a kilogram of explosive.  Blow it up and you get a lot of energy.  In fact that energy actually comes in the form of accelerated atoms/ molecular fragments, and the pressure and temperature from these is what causes damage.  Okay, so when you blow up explosive you are releasing chemical bond type energy, and that’s typically in the eV (electron volt) range per nuclei.

     Now imagine a fusion type event.  This typically releases MeV (a million times as much energy) per nuclei.  This is why 10kg warhead, when releasing its energy all at once, can give kilotons of chemical explosive equivalent energy.  Bear in mind that for chemical explosive, you have eV type amounts of energy per nuclei (about the energy of a chemical bond), while with fusion you have a million times that.  So you fragments from fusion type events typically have a million time chemical bond energy, and this is why they are so dangerous.  That can make a mess of your DNA and kill your cells.  The bottom line is it really doesn’t matter if your fusion takes place at room temperature or millions of Kelvin, the products still have CRAZY amounts of energy.

    This is why if you really did have cold fusion on your desktop, you would be a gold plated idiot to be in the room while the reactor was running.  This is apparently what our Italian scientists are doing while running their ‘cold fusion reactor’.  However for some strange reason our Italians don’t find any high energy radiation.  This was also the problem with Pons and Fleischmanns claims of cold fusion.  They were claiming to get enough energy out to boil water.  Hmmm well if they had had that sort of fusion energy flux, everyone in the room would have died from the radiation.

Cold Fusion, normally turns out to be a poorly calibration thermocouple.

     This is where the whole thing goes into the category of bullshit.  Fusion is great ‘cos you generate MeV per reaction.  If you don’t have those high energy particles, then whatever you are doing is not fusion!  Even more perculiar is if you wanted to work out what sort of fusion you had going on, the first thing you would measure would be the energies and fluxes of the radiation coming off the sample.  Not only have our Italians not tried the obvious analysis (well how can they when they have no high energy radiation) but instead they focus on the bloody silly metric of ‘excess energy’.  That is they claim to put X energy in, get Y energy out and ascribe the difference to fusion, even though it’s bloody obviously from the lack of high energy particles that its not fusion.  The nearest analogy I can think of its like lighting a firework, watching it generate more energy than was put in, then concluding that the ‘excess energy’ must have been cold fusion.

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27 Responses to “Why cold fusion is bullshit”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I’m sure Deepak Chopra will find a way to exploit this.

  2. Trent Waddington (@QuantumG) Says:

    fair enough.. but you’re going after the low hanging fruit. Why not take on aneutronic fusion and convince the advocates that it’s not practical? For example, LLNL’s Focus Fusion or EMC2’s Polywell experiments. Also, what do you think of the members of the environmental movement who oppose any kind of fusion as it would inevitably result in more industrialization?

    • Ted Shisler (@TedShisler) Says:

      Aneutronic fusion is now more practical than ever, it is just necessary some investments to be proven workable. http://www.crossfirefusion.com/nuclear-fusion-reactor/overview.html

      • Cephas Borg Says:

        Unfortunately, Mr. Ferreira’s plans read (to me, anyway) like plans for a perpetual motion machine. Each sentence on its own seems to make sense, and he expresses the difficulties and complexities of each concept; but when you put them all together, it reads like a computer-generated (Turing) explanation. I hope I’m completely wrong, though!

        I would be interested to know a couple of minor things, such as:
        – how does the cyclotron radiation component get treated within the magnets, since the plasma may still release significant radiation from the surface layer;
        – I naturally assume that the 4.5 Tesla superconducting magnets are a typo, and he means 4.5 MTesla, which is somewhat more difficult to achieve;
        – how the actual fuels will be obtained, given their relative abundance on Earth (saying they’re common in lunar regolith is like saying they’re freely available in the upper Jovian atmosphere).

        As an electronicist, the statement that electrons will be removed from the positive terminal of a capacitor is the most difficult for me to understand of all. Yes, this would theoretically increase the stored charge, but only if the capacitor wasn’t fully charged to begin with. Stating the charge to energy formula doesn’t change that.

        I wish I knew more about nuclear physics; or at least enough to know if all the described reactions and workarounds were feasible.

        Has this been verified by anyone other that Mr Ferreira?

      • BlitzNeko Says:

        O_o… Looks more like a Sonofusion Chamber stuffed inside a large radioisotope thermoelectric generator…. Nothing new really. To one in person check the storage closet at Oak Ridge Labs

  3. Cephas Borg Says:

    From my (terribly limited) understanding, “cold” is a misnomer anyway. But please correct me if I’m wrong, it’s the only way I’ll learn!

    Pons and Fleischmann (and most other such adventurers) still needed to excite the deuterium to a high temperature (i.e. pump a massive amount of energy IN, per atomic nucleus) in order to overcome the short-range repulsive nuclear forces. (That’s repulsive as in the opposite of attraction, not just fugly :))

    If you don’t overcome that force, then fusion can’t occur. It would be like crashing two cars together – you get dents, but not an overall release of energy (apart from kinetic energy released as sound, heating due to friction caused by the KE bending metal, etc). But it ain’t fusion.

    So by that standard, “cold” fusion is identical in every way to “hot” fusion! The difference is the difference between heat and temperature – one is the average kinetic energy of ALL the molecules, the other is the average kinetic energy of ONE molecule. They call cold fusion ‘cold’ because the overall temperature (= KE) of the few dozen nuclei doesn’t heat up the room – but it sure as shit heats up the nuclei themselves!

    Unless I’m very much mistaken, the term “cold fusion” is itself an oxymoron. Unless they supercool the nuclei to remove KE due to motion… but they’d still have to overcome the short range nuclear forces!

    Another “media generated” pseudoscientific explanation for the masses.

    • Dd Says:

      Well, from what I understood, “cold” and “hot” fusion simply refers to the activation energy for the reaction.

      What’s most damning for Rossi, as Thunderf00t notes, is the absence of high-energy radiation (particles). It all hinges on the law of conservation of energy and Einstein’s energy-mass equivalence equation. Essentially, every energy conversion reaction, regardless of form, has to obey the simple rule that the relativistic energy (i.e. E=mc^2, essentially) of the fuel that goes into the reaction must equal the relativistic energy of the reaction products (coal ash, spent nuclear fuel, etc.) plus the amount of energy that is extracted and converted into some useful form (e.g. electric power). Mathematically, it’s roughly like this:

      Fuel_in = Fuel_out + Energy_out

      How efficient your conversion is depends only on the ratio of Fuel_out to Energy_out. In chemical burning, almost all of the right-hand side of the equation is Fuel_out and only a very tiny amount is Energy_out – that’s why we need to burn millions of tons of coal just get a bit of electricity out of it. For nuclear fission and fusion, Energy_out_nuke is roughly a million times Energy_out_coal and that’s also why, as Thunderf00t notes, nuclear bombs pack a much greater punch than chemical ones.

      Now here’s the trick: Energy_out are particles, just like everything in physics. The amount of energy the particles will have is, you guessed it, exactly Energy_out – that’s conservation of energy. If, for instance, you claim to produce energy a million times more efficiently than burning coal, then your reaction *MUST* produce particles of radiation with a million times more energy. But, Rossi didn’t detect any such radiation, ergo what he’s doing there not only can’t be fusion, it can be *ANY* process of the energy efficiency as he’s claiming. His claim is therefore complete and utter BS.

      • Dd Says:

        Errata: typo in second to last sentence, should have read:
        “it can’T be *ANY* process of the energy efficiency as he’s claiming”

    • Anonymous Says:

      …and why are the media printing the pseudoscience?
      An anecdote: I work in venture capital. Five years ago it suddenly became popular to claim that a garage tinkerer or an entrepreneurial professor was on the verge of creating “cold fusion” or an equivalent process–and, of course, it is just necessary for some investments… often they were asking for “just” $500,000(USD)… and they were always quite fervent. No real investor would touch them, because we’re not stupid, but I’m sure there might be self-styled “angel investors” who could be fooled into selling an extra real estate property to pay for a share of the action.
      And that’s where pseudo-scientific articles come in, because lacking all credibility to be published in any rigorous publication, pseudoscience plus sensationalism is used as a tout marketing tool (or to show hoodwinked investors that cold fusion is being proven workable). They also love patents (usually “pending”).

      It is good to see somebody say that cold fusion is just bullshit.

      • Dd Says:

        Well, the reason is quite simple: newspapers and media agencies are all businesses. There is exactly one metric that interests them: profit. They will print exactly what will get them the most readers and in turn ad revenue, the facts be damned.

        As for a suggestion on the appropriate method of investigating venture capital opportunities, at least in scientific contexts, I highly recommend going to the peer-reviewed literature to look for any independent confirmation of a given effect. Chances are that if multiple independent research bodies around the globe confirmed an effect (and passed peer review, for that matter), then the effect is very likely real and is worth your consideration. Until then, treat any statements by the likes of garage inventors as hear-say and with extreme skepticism. The only problem might be to understand peer-reviewed papers, as these tend to be rather technical and jargon-laden. In that case, I recommend hiring a couple of expert science advisors (who must be researchers themselves, best in the field that you’re looking to invest in) and have them read and explain the papers to you.

        Unfortunately, the volume of sensationalist media print drowns out, by a large margin, meaningful discourse. That’s why you see blatant charlatans like Andrea Rossi getting front-page space, while meaningful, credible and scientifically sound research is relegated to technical science journals and blogs. If you’d be interested in investing in research of next-gen power generation schemes (which were tried with practical results in the 50s and 60s), I highly recommend looking into Molten Salt Reactors (wikipedia: MSR reactors, especially Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactors look very promising).

  4. Zachary J. Adam (@zaxtonbooks) Says:

    See, this is one of those things I never understood but always knew. Thanks for the explanation!

  5. Rich Dunn Says:

    Sorry to jump in with off topic question. I have been searching for the origins of the quote: “The true beauty of a self-inquiring sentient universe is lost on those who elect to walk the intellectually vacuous path of comfortable paranoid fantasies.” There are countless blogs, etc, referencing this quote on the internet but I can’t find anything on the origin. Can you help?

    Regards Rich

  6. Rich Dunn Says:

    Thx for the reply and input! Others?


  7. Rich Dunn Says:

    Update, not Dawkins as not listed at:


  8. Sagar Gorijala Says:

    Hi, I’ll be greatful to you if you people visit the blog where you can find FTOE…
    Here is the blog…
    It’s about science too.

  9. Surj Says:

    Hey T-f00t,
    Love you’re videos and I’ve watched them all twice! Can you do a video on the “god” particle the LHC is desperately searching for and what possibilities are in store for mankind? Seems like I understand your videos more than most articles. Readers from Gizmodo do a pretty good job, too (http://gizmodo.com/5866354/scientists-about-to-find-the-force).

    Keep up the awesome and inspiring work!

    P.S. A new video similar to “Why Blood is Red” would be SICK! ^^

    P.P.S. I would love to hear back from you…just to hear back from you. XD

  10. FTW Says:

    Sorry to be off topic, but I just couldn’t help but notice: Thunderfoot Science and Education FTW. I know FTW is short for “for the win”. But FTW is commonly used “Fuck the World”. For a second, I thought “Thunderfoot – Science and Education Fuck the World!”

  11. oneiros666 Says:

    I am very happy there are hard science educated people like Tf00t and Cephas Borg out there so that business educated people like myself don’t have to worry about Tea Party- “scientists” taking over science education and governance.

    • Cephas Borg Says:

      Thanks for your kind words, oneiros666, but I’m not even in the same league as TF and his ilk!

      You *do* need to keep worrying about the tea party and their storm trooper supporters. Do everything you can to inform your friends and colleagues about religion’s mind-crippling goals and underhanded efforts to stop free thinking anywhere they can.

      We can all contribute in our own way, and every little bit helps, trust me!

  12. way12go Says:

    To Thunderf00t… Can you please reply?

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    To all those who don’t want to miss the opportunity to out smart me on theory of creation and existence… Here is the chance…
    Have a go…

    This theory was developed by me after I got to read Prof.Stephen Hawking’s book… You know which book!

    This theory is called as…

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  14. Titus Corleone Says:

    And fast forward 5 years and LENR experiments are being conducted all over the world, and all the nay-Sayers are moving on. ultra-dense deuterium is in the forefront as an explanation, and all the same “geniuses” are now trying to tell us the oceans are rising. I just had my vacation in the Seychelles, and I never once needed a flotation device. Where will they go from there? I know, EM Drives! Can’t possibly be done… bla, bla, bla…

  15. John Lewis Says:

    Question, what do you think about thorium powered nuclear plants, it seems awesome to me, and I can’t see many articles against it, can you tell me what you think?

    Thank you!!!

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