Nickel or Palladium? — The Future Direction of LENR Research

I’ve seen some discussion regarding the recent ICCF-19 conference about the direction and future of LENR research in terms of the types of systems that are being tested and reported on. Many of the talks at the Padua conference were given by long-time researchers who have focused on the palladium-deuterium reactions that that were the subject of Pons and Fleischmann’s research and many others following. And some people wished there had been more focus in Padua on the newer types of research going on.

The emergence of Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat has really changed the focus of many people interested in LENR towards the nickel-hydrogen reaction that he works with. He is apparently able to generate kilowatts and even megawatts of power (as opposed to the milliwatts and watts that are more typical of the Pd-D systems) using these two cheap and plentiful elements, and the newer generations of replicators seem to be gravitating towards the E-Cat type reaction.

In an article on his website reflecting on the recent ICCF conference, Mats Lewan discusses this divergence of research focus in the LENR community. He writes:

Let us not forget this huge experience. I know that several LENR researchers have found themselves in difficult situations because of the focus on Rossi and the E-Cat. Popular views on the E-Cat have stolen the attention and been an indirect reason for closing down some research programs.

This is sad. Because when results from Rossi’s MW trial will be presented, if not before, we will have a breakthrough for the view on LENR as an existing phenomenon. But we will still lack a solid, accepted theory for explaining it, which is necessary to carry on efficient engineering, also for Industrial Heat, even though Rossi has come a long way through intuition and some possible theoretical concepts.

And to build that theory, all existing experience will be a gold mine. We will also need more experimental data from stable processes, hopefully from the E-Cat and from a series of new replications that are now going on.

Mats is arguing here that there is a place for both strains of LENR research which are needed to get a firm theoretical grasp for what is going on in LENR. His point is, that even if the old-style Pd-D LENR systems might not be suitable for commercial products, there is great value in the body of research that has been compiled over the last 25 years.

My expectation is that the younger generation, and those newer to the field will want to go to where the power is — where materials are much cheaper and easier to obtain, and where stable operations at high levels of output power seem to achievable, as shown by Rossi. The allure of producing lots of energy from super-cheap and super-abundant elements is hard to argue against, and we see there is a lot of enthusiasm behind this approach in the amount of attention the E-Cat and similar technologies are getting. There is a lot of excitement and energy being generated around the individuals and group trying to replicate the Rossi effect.

So where does that leave the state of palladium-deuterium research? I imagine that many of those working in this field will continue to do so, but I wonder how attractive this branch of LENR will be as we move into the future. Mats brings up an interesting point regarding the value of the body of all LENR research in terms of understanding the effect. Would we lose something important if activity waned in the original avenues of LENR research?