This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

December 08, 2004

DOE Report on "Cold Fusion" Studies Recommends More Research

DOE's Office of Science released a report on December 1st that examined the results of roughly 15 years of experiments dealing with low-temperature nuclear reactions, commonly known as cold fusion. In 1989, researchers B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischman announced that a palladium electrochemical cell had generated heat from an unknown source, which they postulated was a low-temperature fusion reaction. Later that year, a review by DOE's Energy Research Advisory Board recommended against establishing DOE programs devoted to the science of cold fusion, but supported the funding of peer-reviewed experiments for further investigations. Since 1989, research programs in cold fusion have been supported by various universities, private industry, and government agencies in several countries.

In late 2003, a team of researchers approached DOE and requested another review of the experimental results to date. Their report, submitted to DOE in July, found experimental evidence for a physical effect that produces heat, the production of helium 4 (the product of fusing two nuclei of deuterium, which is a hydrogen nucleus with an added neutron), and the emission of high-energy particles. DOE, in turn, solicited comments from nine scientists, then held a one-day review of the material with another nine scientists.

Reviewing the evidence for the production of excess heat and fusion products, two-thirds of DOE's reviewers did not feel the evidence was conclusive. Most reviewers also indicated that the evidence did not conclusively demonstrate the occurrence of cold fusion. In the final analysis, the reviewers were inconclusive about cold fusion's existence, and they recommended specific avenues for new research to resolve the uncertainties in the previous research results. See the report on the DOE Office of Science Web site.