Scientific American Again Covers LENR (‘It’s Not Cold Fusion, but It’s Something’ by Krivit and Ravnitzky)

Thanks to a number of readers for pointing out that following the publication of this article about LENR about a week ago, Scientific American has again broached the subject by publishing a guest blog post by Steven B. Krivit and Michael J. Ravnitzky titled “It’s Not Cold Fusion… But It’s Something” (link is:

The authors state that while Pons and Fleischmann were criticized for their claims, isotopic shifts in room-temperature experiments had been observed by some researchers, specifically tritium production and low-level neutron emissions.

Krivit and Ravnitzky favor the theories of Lewis Larson and Allen Widom to explain these phenomena, which are based on weak interaction, and which do not require any fusion to take place. The Widom-Larson theory has been seen by others as an explanation for LENR results which does not violate known physics, and which explains some of the unusual occurrences in LENR experiments. The authors write:

For nearly three decades, researchers in the field have not observed the emission of dangerous radiation. Heavy shielding has not been necessary. The Widom-Larsen theory offers a plausible explanation—localized conversion of gamma radiation to infrared radiation. The implication is that immense technological opportunities may exist if a practical source of energy can be developed from these laboratory curiosities.

Widom-Larsen theory is certainly not the only attempt to explain what is going on in LENR, but it seems to have a certain amount of respectability, in that it rules out room-temperature fusion, the idea which was so anathema to many in mainstream science when the cold fusion story broke. Scientific American seems to feel comfortable now at least allowing a discussion of LENR on its site, without automatically labeling it as junk science. I think this shows some progress.

  • radvar

    Concur, it’s progress.

  • Gerard McEk

    It is good that Scientific American writes again about LENR. I hope they continue doing so and send some reporters in the field to talk with the real workers in the field like Rossi, Godes, McKubre, Miles and Schwartz, Storms, Greenyer, Holmlid etc. etc.

  • LesioQ
    • Gerald

      Small part of the patent from above:

      According to a further aspect of the invention, a method of generating energy is provided. At first sites, the method produces neutrons intrinsically having, upon their creation, ultra low momentum (ULMNs). A lithium target is disposed at a second site near said first sites in a position to intercept said ULMNs. The ULMNs react with the Lithium target to produce Li-7 and Li-8 isotopes. The lithium isotopes decay by emitting electrons and neutrinos to form Be-8; said Be-8 decaying to He-4. This reaction produces a net heat of reaction.
      The foregoing method of producing energy may further comprise producing helium isotopes by reacting helium with ULMNs emitted from said first sites to form He-5 and He-6; the He-6 decaying to Li-6 by emitting an electron and neutrino; the helium-to-lithium reactions yielding a heat of reaction and forming a nuclear reaction cycle.

    • Zephir

      This mechanism is supported also by N. Cook and Rossi

  • Ciaranjay

    Krivit was very unhappy with the article by Ritter and I suspect he pressed Sciam to publish his (Krivit’s) article as a kind of balance to the claimed inaccuracies in Ritter’s article.
    It is only a blog and not an official Sciam publication, but still on the Sciam site which is interesting.

    Another positive thing is that by pushing the Widom-Larsen theory it removes a stumbling block for those scientists who won’t look at something till they have a theory.
    Whether the theory is correct is not so important so long as it attracts more research into the LENR phenomenon.

  • Next up, Abd gets the nod as Assistant Attorney General, Jed lands the top spot at NIST and MY gets a weekly column giving advice to transsexuals in the Wall Street Journal.

  • Dr. Mike

    Good to see that Pons and Fleischmann are finally getting some vindication on their work in the scientific community!

  • Alan DeAngelis

    It’s hard for me to see how a deuteron could capture an electron to become two neutrons in a deuterium palladium LENR system (the F&P experiment).

    Energy equivalences of rest masses of:

    Deuteron: 1875.612793 MeV

    Electron: 0.5109906 MeV

    Neutron: 939.56563 MeV

    D + e > 2 n would require 3.01 MeV !!

    • Alan DeAngelis


      The pairs of electrons, ~ in palladium deuterride, D~Pd~D might reduce the Coulomb barrier. Infrared, IR stretching oscillations of these covalent bonds might allow the deuterons, D to tunnel into the palladium nucleus, Pd to become cadmium in an excited state, Cd* that in turn fissions and regenerates palladium, Pd and creates helium, He.

      D~Pd~D > Cd* > Pd + He 24 MeV (no gamma rays)

      • Warthog

        Well, I’m not sure about the mechanism, but I do concur that the key difference between solid-state LENR and hot plasma fusion that accounts for the lack of the high energy gamma is the presence in the solid of many, many potentially available quantum energy levels that drain off the energy as IR.

        I think SPAWAR actually proved this with their thermal camera studies of their Pd electrodes. No visible light, but many different hot-spots of different temperatures.

        • Alan DeAngelis

          I forget were I heard that there weren’t isotopic shifts of palladium in the F&P type experiments that produced helium (and Les Chase’s palladium on carbon with deuterium gas “football” were helium was seen by mass spectroscopy). So, all I was thinking was that the heat might be due to the kinetic energy of the alphas in the above fusion-fission reaction. It would look like a direct D-D fusion reaction but it wouldn’t be.

          D~Pd~D > Pd + He

          Overall (cancelling out the Pd)

          2D > He 24 MeV

          • Warthog

            I don’t recall ever seeing any tests being done to check for isotopic shifts in palladium. There may have been.

            Helium measurements on Pd systems with accurate calorimetry show a reasonable match for He4 as product, and energy out ~24MeV per nucleon as heat. The studies have been replicated. So the final result is the functional equivalent of fusion as regards major product and energy, whatever the mechanism.

            The deliberate experiments to cause isotope shifts by the Japanese (cf for elimination of radwaste) shows isotopic shifts in the radwaste layer, so “something” nuclear is definitely going on.

          • Alan DeAngelis

            On the other hand, I first thought (April of 1989) that “stripping” reactions (Oppenheimer-Phillips reactions) might be talking place.

            For example:

            Pd-108 (d,p) Pd-109 3.9 MeV

            And silver-109 was found.

            Pd-109 > Ag-109 + e-

            And Tadahiko Mizuno did find isotopic shifts of palladium.


          • Warthog

            Hmmm….I missed that book. Have read (and own) both Beaudette’s and Storms, but refuse to give Krivit a book sale. The problem with LENR isn’t that there is too little data….it is that there is too much.

            I consider Beaudette as the best (and most honest) introduction to LENR for someone with little to no prior exposure to the topic.

          • I confirm Beaudette is the best and the first to read.
            Fire from ice by Mallove is a nice report of early years, that are more easily understood after reading Beaudette.
            The science of LENR by Ed Storms is easier to read after introduction on the science by Beaudette
            The explanations of LENR by ed storms is interesting to be modest on theories (even if you don’t follow his proposal, at least you will understand where you disagree)

            I did not read the book of Hideo Kozima, but I have report it is hard to read. (‘none of the previous book was hard to read)

            An Impossible invention is easy to read but on science it is not the most interesting.
            Fusion in all states by JP Biberian is a quick introduction with many anecdotes to understand human factors, but not a coherent introdction as Beaudette is.

            In short, read Beaudette, and then read what you want.

  • builditnow

    In one discussion, I recall that McKubre of the then Stanford Research Institute (Now SRI International) stated that Edward Teller called McKubre into his Stanford University office to discuss McKubre’s “cold fusion” research around the 1989 / 1990 time frame. I recall McKubre stating that Teller was supportive of McKubre’s research. The exact words I don’t recall precisely. I’m thinking that Teller lent important support to McKubre’s LENR Labs at SRI and allowed it to continue. McKubre’s lab went on to do more than 60 person years of research, the lab continues today, McKubre has retired.
    I also find it surprising that there was good evidence of LENR as early as 1910
    “In the 1910s and 1920s, this research was reported in popular newspapers
    and magazines, and papers were published in the top scientific journals
    of the day, including Physical Review, Science and Nature.
    The experiments, using relatively simple, low-energy benchtop
    apparatus, did not use radioactive sources so the results defied
    prevailing theory. Several researchers independently detected the
    production of the gases helium-4, neon, argon, and an
    as-yet-unidentified element of mass-3, which we now identify as tritium.
    Two of these researchers were Nobel laureates.”

    Exactly how long will so called science ignore such a fantastic opportunity?

  • Alan DeAngelis

    Larry A Hull (in a letter to Chemical and Engineering News, May 15, 1989, page3) proposed the mechanism of a deuteron capturing an electron to become nn, “dineutronium”.

    D + e > nn would require 0.81 MeV (Hull mechanism)

  • Alan DeAngelis

    Even numbers of deuterons are being absorbed here. It doesn’t look like a W-L mechanism to me.

    This is why I’m thinking that what F&P saw was the following.

    D~Pd~D > Cd* > Pd + He 24 MeV (no gamma rays)

  • Warthog

    The problem with Krivit is that he has zero technical background from which to judge Widom-Larsen or any other theory. He is simply a pro-LENR version of Gary Taubes.

    • Gerrit

      this article isn’t that bad actually, I guess Krivit’s editor Ravnitzky had him rewrite it multiple times before something reasonable came out.

      • Warthog

        Having read other Krivit material in the past, I seriously doubt he actually wrote this. Don’t know Ravnitzky’s educational background, so he may be the actual author working under Krivit’s “byline”.

  • Zephir

    LOL, if they don’t know, what the LENR is about, how they can be sure, it’s not just the cold fusion? Because it was (wrongfully) discredited by mainstream physics twenty years before?

  • Gerrit

    [OT] Bill Gates Is Heading a $1 Billion Clean Energy Venture Fund

  • Warthog

    Personally, I think all the “argufyin” about theory is pretty much useless until science acknowledges the experimental evidence that says that the “something”, whatever it may ultimately be called, is a physical reality.

    I think it is quite shameful that the “science politics” has prevented that realization for so many years. The DOE has twice recommended that sufficient funding be made available to settle the “experimental reality” question was answered unambiguously, but no funding for the purpose has ever been allocated.

    IMO, such experimentation should NOT be the purview of the Department of Energy, but should be handed off to another agency (I vote for NIST).

  • bkrharold

    Even though I was suspicious of Krivits motives and methods, his contribution helps bring LENR into the scientific mainstream. As a skeptic with a plausible mechanism which does not involve fusion, Krivit garners more respect than the wide eyed believers. Even if WL theory is not the real answer, opening LENR up to the scientific community at large is a promising development.

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