Lowell Wood and LENR

It was interesting to see that Bill Gates had with him on his visit to the ENEA labs in Italy, Lowell Wood, who is an astrophysicist and has served as a member of the director’s technical staff at the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (UCLLNL). He is currently working as a professor at the University of Houston. Gates apparently trusts Wood’s judgement as he has advised him on various subjects.

Wood has a long history of working in various outside-the-box science projects, including geoengineering (to reduce the impacts of climate change), and missile defense systems. Since we have been looking at the possibility of Bill Gates supporting cold fusion, I have tried to see what I can find regarding Lowell Wood’s history with cold fusion.

Below are some excerpts from various articles

“[Peter Hagelstein] was flying out to visit the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California when the news of cold fusion hit in 1989, and he met with Teller and Lowell Wood, another prominent Livermore scientist, the next day. Both men encouraged him to work on cold fusion. (Teller died last year, but Wood continues to support cold fusion and attends the conferences.) ” (Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54964-2004Nov16_2.html)

“Wood is infamous for championing fringe science, from X-ray lasers to cold-fusion nuclear reactors, as well as for his long affiliation with the Hoover Institution, a right-wing think tank on the Stanford campus.” (Rolling Stone: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/can-geoengineering-save-the-world-20111004

“At the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, Edward Teller, the aging “father of the H-bomb” and an almost mythic hero to conservatives, had declared soon after the Salt Lake City press conference that cold fusion “sounds right.” His protégé, Lowell Wood, anxious to prove his mentor correct, attempted to reproduce the Fleischmann-Pons experiment. Unfamiliar with electrochemistry, Wood set off an explosion in his laboratory when hydrogen, liberated by electrolysis, ignited. The blast shattered his apparatus and ended his quest for cold fusion.” (New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/p/park-voodoo.html)

Dr. Edward Teller’s associate, Dr. Lowell Wood of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (a nuclear weapons research facility), attended both ICCF7 and ICCF8. At the latter conference, Dr. Wood seemed impressed with the quality of papers and appeared convinced of the reality of the phenomenon.(Infinite Energy: http://www.infinite-energy.com/iemagazine/issue44/iccf9.html)

This still doesn’t tell us exactly what was discussed during Bill Gates’ visit to the ENEA labs, but it does let us know that Wood is familiar with LENR, and that could have been one reason he was invited to make the trip to Italy with Gates.

Lowell Wood (darker blue shirt) with Bill Gates talking to Dr. Vittorio Violante — Photo source: ENEA Facebook page

  • bkrharold

    Lowells long history and continued interest in LENR are an indication he still considers it a viable alternative energy source. I doubt Bill Gates attended the event in Italy out of mere idle curiosity. Lowell must have encouraged him to attend. This is all very positive, I hope to see something tangible come out of this.

  • EEStorFanFibb

    very interesting. thanks Frank! good work.

  • Julian Becker

    Does anyone think Professor Wood would be available for an interview regarding his new interest in LENR? I found his website with contacts….

  • GreenWin

    “IGNITION FAILED
    How America’s latest attempt at fusion power fizzled” – Science News, April 2013
    Hot fusion research promised “Clean unlimited energy” sixty years ago. We’re still waiting. Projects like NIF, ITER, PPPL, Alcator Mod C – all failed to achieve ignition or produce even ONE WATT useful energy. In spite of receiving taxpayer investment of $250B over the past 60+ years. These are in fact white collar welfare projects for scientists trained to ignore LENR evidence aka “Forbidden Energy.”

    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ignition-failed

  • JedRothwell

    Dr. Wood has attended several ICCF conferences.

  • Sanjeev

    Lets accept that the hot fusion projects are the greatest scams in the history of mankind. People like you are responsible for this and should be punished by law.

    1. Of course the hot fusion parties do not claim success, because then they must show it to all and they can not because there is no success. It makes more sense to keep its status “ongoing” or “promising” with tiny improvisations to keep the billions of $ flowing into it.
    2. Your math of multiplying delay with the scale of energies involved would get you a nobel prize for sure. Why don’t you apply ? I almost died laughing. Is this ridiculous justification all you have ? Hot fusion looks already very bad to me, don’t need to wait for a millennia. Cold fusion is already here, perhaps that explains your anxiety to defend hot fusion delays with special kind of logic you just invented.
    3. Nuclear reactions can be produced easily even by a child, the game is to produce excess energy. Perhaps you cannot understand that and think hot fusion is “magic”. Hundreds of people are involved in cold fusion and will produce the evidence of excess heat in your choice of units. Just repeating that there is no proof will not make the proof vanish. I suggest you read the papers and visit the labs personally to get the proof, attend ICCF and read ECW regularly to educate yourself.

    I’m sad that you decided to contribute to hot fusion scam but its your money, just don’t ask others to give their money to hot fusion.

  • Axil Axil

    You have fallen for the line of bull Edward Moses spouts. I too waxed poetic about the prospects of laser based inertial fusion. But when I did, I was rebuffed by those
    who worked for Moses and new the truth. They told me that the man was the head of a project that could not succeed and all who worked on it , knew it. But it wrote their paychecks and so it goes on and on and on.

  • GordonDocherty

    There are many researchers who have carried out experiments and published results that :

    a. show LENR phenomena (note, the plural) are quite real
    b. show LENR+ is a source of excess power over an extended period – that is, energy, where total energy out exceeds total energy in by a factor of at least 3 to 1 (that is, a COP of at least 3:1)

    The problem, so far as I can see it, however, is that you don’t believe these researchers due to :

    1. a lack of replication, that is, researcher A has experimental apparatus different from researcher B, but both claim (useful) excess power where total energy out exceeds total energy in.
    2. a lack of the products of the fusion process as you see it, namely gamma radiation, fast neutrons and energetic alpha particles

    Well, looking at 1 for a minute, the ITER and NiF approach to hot fusion have not produced a single Joule of useful excess energy, so, logically, you would have to hold the same view about ITER and NiF, which you clearly do not.

    Now, looking at 2, you are missing the significance of the little phrase “as you see it”. LENR is not claiming to be hot fusion at 20 degrees Celsius (that would, indeed, be an oxymoron). It is, instead, claiming that transmutation and even fusion can be achieved by a combination of effects that change the environment and behaviour (including motion) of the active agents involved, so as to increase the probability of nucleii fusing – or, at least, transmutation taking place – at average temperatures in a large volume far below 10 million degrees Centigrade. As far as “the common man” is concerned, if you start with Hydrogen and end up with Helium, fusion has occurred, even if you got there by transmutation.

    What’s really important, however, is not whether LENR is Hot Fusion at 20 degrees Celsius or not (it is not, no one is arguing that,), but rather whether it is a safe and useful source of energy. Now, LENR+ (as it is called), has already shown it can be (at least, according to the results published), whereas ITER and NiF have not shown any useful energy production yet at all – in fact, the energy required to charge the lasers used by the NiF mean that it is currently inconceivable that such an approach will ever work, while even by their own admission, the massive ITER won’t actually be a useful, commercial source of energy, something that would require a facility whose projected size just staggers belief. Yet, the public spend “a dollar a day” on the likes of ITER and NiF, while spending nothing at all on LENR/LENR+.

    Finally, there are two more research initiatives that you did not even mention, where I am equally at a loss to understand why governments are not pursuing them as a matter of life-and-death. One is the work being done by Lawrenceville Plasma Physics and its Aneutronic Dense Plasma Fusion reactor (fortunately, ARPA-E have now changed their funding requirements, but such funding comes with strings attached, so that is a mixed blessing). The other is development of the LeClair effect, where it was observed that from a supersonic jet of water travelling over a sculpted aluminum surface under pressure inside a steel containment vessel, that not only were copious amounts of gamma radiation, fast neutrons and energetic alpha particles produced, but, from the water alone, every element up to Californium was produced and found to coat the aluminum surface (and, therefore, including elements such as gold and phosphorous, now in short supply). Now, why are governments around the world not “moving Heaven and Earth” to support this line of research, especially as phosphorous is required for fertilizers and hence healthy crop yields…and, I’ve heard gold is quite valuable too…joking aside, being able to produce gold (and titanium) would be very useful for off-world activities and planting flags and stuff, while healthy crops is a “no brainer”. Yet, “not a penny” of public funds invested in such promising lines of research. The intelligent, open-minded person has to ask themselves, “why not?”

  • Sanjeev

    Probably yourself and common men do not know that LLNL fudged the numbers so that it appeared as if it achieved breakeven. This was then reported by BBC, which was picked up by the “educated” reporters in the mainstream.

    They used energy of laser shot instead of using the total energy consumed by this monster setup to calculate the gain, intentionally misleading the public. There was a good debate about it on slashdot (mainstream dominated) and elsewhere. People were not convinced.

    Michael Campbell, a former director of NIF, said that the gain was over-hyped. In fact it was not even close to 1, it was 0.0077 !

    Here is the complete article (again a mainstream site, not against hot fusion at all).
    http://news.sciencemag.org/physics/2013/10/fusion-breakthrough-nif-uh-not-really-%E2%80%A6

    After all this, who will believe them?

  • Sanjeev

    You are assuming too much. First of all Gates deals with matters totally different from software nowadays (like malaria). You are assuming that he is a software guy and will not understand fusion enough to decide if its worth investing. Even a layman can understand that if he is getting more heat out then in, its a profitable thing. Second, you are assuming that he will depend solely on Wood’s advice. Usually a big investment means that a working group is formed which studies and advices the investor, its never a single person unless its a small investment.

    By your logic all advices would result in lost credibility for any project, since the advisers are mostly experts in their own field (which means they advocate their own field). I never heard anyone not taking the advice of their doctor, since the doctor advocates medicines. 🙂
    A smart investor also listens to skeptics and then takes a calculated risk. So if Gates invests in CF, I would logically assume that he did hear both positive and negative about it before investing. It would give more credibility to CF, not less.

    Your argument skills are not good enough. You need some very solid argument to claim that Bill Gates’s investment will not mean anything for cold fusion. Same goes for other points. Your H-bomb example is incorrect, we are talking about controlled fusion here. You could have given the example of Sun, the most useful fusion device we have currently. I can counter that by citing many cold fusion meltdowns during experiments, the most famous being the ITP1’s last year. But I’m guessing that you never heard of it or of any other lenr experiment for that matter, so I will leave you here.
    I learn’t nothing from your negative statements.

  • Sanjeev

    I wouldn’t lose my peace of mind on a skeptopath.
    kemosabe is a living example of a skeptopath here. Its incredible how he goes on repeating that there is no evidence for lenr or that mainstream does not accept it (whatever mainstream means for him, I find that all physicist and chemists involved in CF are mainstreamers having same education and PhDs as others). Yet he will not Google it for himself.
    Usually the main intention of such comments is to seed doubt in the minds of readers using empty arguments. It works …unfortunately.

  • GordonDocherty

    Thanks for the catch – changed it to a dollar a year. Still, doubling that to two dollars a year (“a steal at twice the price”), would allow for many more avenues of research and development to be explored. Yet, no such move is made. Instead, our governments gamble on two, very restricted approaches that have, to date, produced not a single Joule of useful, excess energy. Worse yet, while the approaches claim to replicate the conditions found in the Sun, this is just not the case. To do so would require recreating the Sun – a little impractical for a “compact” energy source here on Earth. Instead, what these approaches are actually doing is attempting to engineer conditions such that the likelihood of fusion events occurring within a small volume much increases. This is a very different proposition, not so clear-cut or black-and-white, and is one that in reality assumes large scale engineering is up to the job of recreating very high energy extreme conditions in a small volume in order to increase the likelihood of fusion events occurring – engineering that then also has to be up to the job of removing the high energy ejecta that results from such high energy collisions. LENR, in contrast, seeks to create a “fusion-friendly” (or, at least, a “transmutation-friendly”) environment at the nano- to micro-scale, so allowing the whole to remain relatively cool even as the NAE sites themselves “boil and seethe”, albeit a few atoms at a time. As any engineer would say, the LENR approach (with its nano- to micro-scale) NAE sites makes much more sense than a macroscopic seething, boiling fast-moving plasma ocean or a rolling set of glass beads that must be repeatedly rolled in, held stationary, compressed by super-powerful laser beams, energy collected, and then tidied out of the way ready for the next bead all in the space of only a few microseconds. At least, in terms of engineering, the Dense Plasma approach makes much more sense. So, the intelligent, open-minded person has to ask themselves, “why is this the case?”

    • GreenWin

      Gordon, FYI, kemosabe is a hot fusion fanatic aka popeye in other forums. It is a waste of time to engage, IMO.

  • Fortyniner

    The tallish bloke at the rear left is Federico Testa, Commissioner of ENEA (political appointee, non-scientist).