Account of Thermacore 1996 Runaway Incident (Jones Beene, Vortex-l)

On the Vortex-l mailing list today, Jones Beene published an interesting account that was related to Brian Ahern by Nelson Gernert, who was the chief researcher Thermacore, Inc., a company involved in thermal engineering where experiments were carried out with nickel powder in 1996.

Beene writes:

Gernert added 2.5 pounds of nickel powder (200 mesh of Ni-200) into a 3 liter stainless steel Dewar. The Dewar weighed 300 pounds. It was a strong pressure vessel with a hemispherical volume. Thermacore evacuated the nickel under vacuum for several days before adding H2 gas at 2 atmospheres (apparently there was no potassium but this detail needs to be verified).

The most amazing thing happened next. The powder immediately and spontaneously heated before external power could be added. The Dewar glowed orange (800C) and the engineers ran for cover. No external heat had been used and no radiation monitors were running. The nickel had sintered into a glob alloyed into the vessel and could not be removed.

The (then) owner of Thermacore, Yale Eastman was frightened that an explosion was imminent and that someone could be killed. He forbade any further work on LENR. The incident was not published.

The link to the full text of the post is here:[email protected]/msg110068.html

  • Andreas Moraitis

    Stainless steel has a specific heat of ca. 500 J/(kg*K):

    300 lb are 136.1 kg. The required energy to heat the vessel up from 20 to 800C should have amounted to about 53MJ, or 14.74 kWh.

    • bachcole

      What are you saying? Is this evidence of LENR?

      • Ophelia Rump

        Oh, heavens no, just accidental spontaneous heat generation, nothing to see here, just sweep the smoldering metal under the rug. It is obviously physically impossible so the whole thing must have been a mistake, just never mind.

        You wouldn’t want to face ostracism for pursuing unknown phenomenon in you laboratory.
        I have heard that an ostrace can kill a man with a single peck or kick.

        • bachcole

          Please stop being sarcastic. I am asking a simple, honest, and straight forward question. Maybe, probably, no, perhaps, isn’t this interesting, yes, are all acceptable answers.

          • kdk

            I think she’s upset about the situation we find ourselves in.

          • Ophelia Rump

            My apologies Bachcole, I did not realize I was hiding my feelings on the subject, and coming across as evasive. I will try to be more overt in the future. Promise!

        • Been there, Seen it

          You told me to go public…

        • Ted-Z

          Raney nickel is pyrophoric. If they opened an air valve by mistake, instead of hydrogen, the red-hot effect would be due to the oxidation of powdered nickel to nickel oxide. The pyrophoric properties of Raney Nickel are well known.

          • Been there, Seen it

            The Raney nickel was surrounded by 30 Bar Guage Hydrogen when it went from 200C to >1000C in less than 20 seconds, once or twice a week…

          • Andreas Moraitis

            Oxidation of 2.5 lb Ni (1.13 kg, 19.3 mol) would yield about 4.63 MJ (enthalpy of formation = -240 kJ/mol). That is one order of magnitude lower than the apparently released amount (see the figure above).

          • Been there, Seen it

            Hence my 100% serious warning to would-be Replicators that they are playing with nuclear fire.

            Adding lithium is the way to harness this energy safely – because the protons and lithium convert to heat and helium – without producing radioactive residue. Radiation is the main danger unless proper shielding is employed for neutrons and gamma.

            There have already been accidents/illness because of not setting up this experiment correctly.

        • psi2u2

          Reports of death by ostrich are greatly exaggerated.

      • Roland

        The final lines of the posting read (see the link):

        Superficial thermal analysis – 3 liters of H2 gas at 2 atmosphere will have a heat of combustion of 74 kilojoules when combined with oxygen (but there was no oxygen in the Dewar).

        Heating a 300 lb Stainless vessel to 800C requires 21 megajoules. That is ostensibly 289 times the possible chemical energy!

        • Been there, Seen it

          Smaller quantities won’t go critical, thank heavens, especially if spread out thinly and surrounded by well-designed heat sink.

          • psi2u2

            Agree completely.

      • Been there, Seen it


      • Andreas Moraitis

        Based on this number – which is a minimum since heat losses and melting of the nickel are neglected – the released energy per hydrogen atom comes to about 1 keV. That’s much more than the available chemical energy. It does not necessarily mean that the reaction was nuclear. Theoretically, energies on that scale could also be reached by hydrino formation (after Randell Mills) or a similar process. Anyway, it looks like “anomalous heat far beyond the known chemical limits”.

  • Hi all

    Was the Dewar chrome plated?

    Kind Regards walker

  • Andrew

    I don’t think that there is very much information available… Hearsay evidence is just what it is.

  • Zephir

    There is number of such incidents, In 1959 R.J.Kokes and P.H. Anderson were studying adsorption of
    hydrogen on Raney nickel and observed “strange feature of exothermic
    reaction” (Journal of American Chemical Society, 81,5032). What they observed predated the Piantelli work by 30 years,
    and the Rossi catalyst by over 50 years…

    • Been there, Seen it

      Yep. Me too. Raney Nickel…

      • Zephir

        After all, Piantelli revealed the Nickel+hydrogen LENR accidentally too

        Most of breakthrough findings were done by accident, because the mainstream science filters out all anomalies systematically.

        Not surprisingly, most of LENR publications never appeared at ArXiv, despite they’re thousands of them

        • Been there, Seen it

          Are you an arXiv insider? Or an outsider, like me? Interesting…

          “During these experiments with a piece of nickel material inside,” Piantelli said [in 1989], “the temperature went up when pressure went down. According to Boyle’s law, this should not occur. This is an anomaly. The temperature went up near 160 C, 433 K. It happened on August 16, 1989. I remember the day clearly because it was the same day as the famous horse race here in Siena. The experiment was destroyed because of the extreme temperature.”

          Does that sound familiar? See latest MFMP Glow Stick results.

          • Zephir

            The both but I never mix my identities from good reasons…

          • Been there, Seen it

            Very wise of you.

  • Owen Geiger

    Apparently, Rossi, the master magician of LENR, somehow deceived all of these researchers. He really gets around, doesn’t he? 🙂

  • Roland

    Thank you for the anecdotal confirmation that the yet another branch of the armed forces had proof of LENR in the early 1990s in addition to the Navy through the SPAWAR program.

  • Rene

    I liken that experiment to someone dumping a 16 ounce tumbler of vinegar into a pail of Sodium Hypochorite. Lots of bad stuff will happen. There is not much to go on with this story, but I think the reaction and heat that ensued with all that powered nickel and hydrogen could have been chemically based. That much material is plenty to generate that much heat without invoking LENR. This is my guess and perhaps some back of the napkin calcs might help rough out the energy of 2 atmos of hydrogen in a catalytic burn.

  • tlp

    Thermacore did their research based on Randell Mills Hydrino theory, not exactly LENR, but nobody knows how LENR works, so those may be more or less the same.

    • Roland

      I find it interesting how vehemently opposed in methodology, outlook and theory Mills and Rossi are even though they both have viable technologies with some, apparent, overlaps.

      Mills knew, by theory, of the existence of what he terms the ‘hydrino’ and built an apparatus to experimental validate his GUT-CP; in the normal course of things this should decide the issue of who’s correct. Except Mills says his GUT-CP excludes LENR while Rossi has built a successful apparatus that validates LENR though he has no definitive theoretical explanation of why it works.

      If Mills’ GUT-CP theory is in fact a complete description it logically follows that the theory must satisfactorily explain LENR in every detail and, indeed, it should be able to suggest fresh avenues to explore.

      This may take a while…

      • Mark Underwood

        I’ve come to the conclusion that Mills is so set against LENR, not because it defies his Grand Unified Theory per se, but primarily because he has experimentally tried to produce LENR effects over two decades ago but was not successful.

        There are many instances where collective phenomena serve to produce localized, concentrated high energy events, such as lightening and tornadoes. Who knows what energetic events can occur in particular environments at the molecular level. So even given that Mills has correctly described, say, the electron, there is yet much to learn outside his body of work. Perhaps he will apply his considerable brain to LENR when he finally sees that LENR is real.

      • Been there, Seen it

        Mills would say that about Rossi, wouldn’t he? Blacklight is in direct competition with Leonardo. The great theorist won’t always see eye-to-eye with the great experimenter.

  • Zeddicus Zul Zorander

    This sounds like one of the more simple replications to do:
    1. Put a couple pounds of nickel in a pressure vat
    2. Vacuum for 2 days
    3. Add hydrogen
    4. Dive for cover.

    The COP seems immense.

    Only thing is it might be a tad dangerous what with a couple of pounds of nickel doing God knows what kind of (nuclear) reactions and quite possibly creating some kind of radiation.

    Still I wonder if someone out there might be interested in doing a replication?

  • This and other similar anecdotes and experiments are interesting not only for the heating effect generated by nickel and hydrogen but also for the fact that often, nothing much else is present, i.e., no lithium etc. If Rossi is reasonably sure that lithium is the fuel in his reactors, and nickel is just a catalyst, then it seems that there may be more than one pathway to cold fusion.

    • Zephir

      IMO the route of nuclear reactions and mechanism in which they’re triggered are less or more separated and it could initiate whatever nuclear reaction/transmutation we want, not just fusion.

    • psi2u2

      It has seemed to me (purely as a layperson following the science as best I can) for some time that there are multiple pathways of reaction, and that LENR therefore represents more a whole new class of physical reactions than a single and unified phenomenon.

  • Been there, Seen it

    Same here. >40 years ago in my case!

  • Mark Underwood

    That’s a great review, thanks! Engelmann’s paper has to be the best summations and insights into Mills’ GUTCP that I’ve read. A bit over my head but still.

    In the early 1990s Mills did entertain that hydrinos might play a part in cold fusion, but he changed his mind early at some point.

  • jousterusa

    The essence of the preceding remarks seems to be that the addition of Hydrogen to the “evacuated” large quantity of nickel powder produces a heat reaction that is probably one that can be harnessed and used to generate electricity. It doesn’t require the smoke-and-mirrors approach Rossi has brought to this phenomenon and therefore challenges its uniqueness and value.