Low Energy Nuclear Reaction technology, or LENR, could be the most revolutionary development since man discovered fire, and yet, most governments won’t invest in the research. Why is this? To discover the reason, we have to go back to the first publicized works in cold fusion in 1989.
Two scientists, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, developed a machine that produced excess heat – the source of all power. This heat was produced by a table top device as far from any nuclear reactor in function and appearance as a toaster, and yet, they had success in producing electrolysis of heavy water, using the surface of an electrode coated with palladium. This produced a nuclear type of reaction without the cost of radioactive nuclear fusion.
Whether due to their own misjudgment or the voracious appetites of scientists and media to devour and excrete any new technology, the Pons and Fleischmann model was disproven. If the two men had waited until they were more certain of their invention, the story may not have ended there. Or, if the media and scientific community had not rushed to replicate this infant technology, thereby corrupting it, it would have had a better chance of being successful.
Instead, a process that possible only needed tweaking and further research was cast aside as folly. In a world of crazy ideas and new discoveries, cold fusion was regarded as a ridiculous idea that no serious scientist would approach without losing all respect from his fellows.
Part of this is due to the media frenzy that is always looking for sensation, and what better than a fallen messiah that promised inexpensive power, only to lose face? Part of the fault lies with the scientific community, which was quick to abandon its own. And part of the fault is that of Pons and Fleischmann themselves who rushed to present an invention that was not thoroughly tested.
The results, unfortunately, were that LENR research had to go underground. After the fall from grace of the Pons Fleischmann device, LENR technology was only studied by private scientists who had their own funding. No government scientist or university program would support the concept, labeling it as laughable as alchemy in the Middle Ages. Scientists who worked for the moneyed institutions could not afford to be associated with LENR technology, at the risk of losing their jobs or worse, their reputations.
This left LENR studies for the private individuals who could afford to be on the outskirts of scientific society. The result is a number of devices that have been successfully developed, and even some that are being marketed. The home fusion unit developed by Andrea Rossi promises to deliver 1 MW of heat to a home for only $10 per MW. He is also marketing a 10 MW unit for corporate use, with plans to build 2 factories to produce the cold fusion units.
So, why have so few people outside of the scientific community heard about this? Because of the fallout from the Pons Fleischmann project. Rather than getting to perfect their dream, they were shut down.
There are several serious results from this type of policy. One, private individuals who successfully develop processes like this can be bought out by major power companies. Most of them have spent millions of their own dollars in their research, and need the money.
Two, the individuals involved own private patents on the work. While this is good from their standpoint, because they don’t have to share the profits, it also means that no one else can use their technology. The end result of this is there is no sharing of ideas. Of course, major laboratories keep their studies to themselves, too, but they have many more cooks in the kitchen.
Besides the unfortunate isolation of various scientists, the research into LENR is limited because of money. Government grants made available to universities, and funding behind major scientific labs could advance the progress of LENR technology exponentially. However, until LENR loses its stigma, this kind of support will continue to be slow in coming. Thus, all the more important for scientific pioneers such as Rossi to forge ahead.