‘Cold Fusion is Back’ — Transmutation Work of Tohoku University Featured by Nikkei Asian Review

Thanks to Greenwin for sharing this article from the Nikkei Asian Review in the Always Open thread.

An article in the Nikkei Asian Review, an English language Japanese news service, which focuses on business news in Asia looks at the work of the newly formed Condensed Matter Nuclear Reaction Division lab, which opened in April at Tohoku University’s Research Center for Electron Photon Science in connection with Clean Planet Inc. The article, published on July 2 2015, is titled “Cold fusion: A solution for radioactive waste?” and it begins with the statement: “Cold fusion is back. Truth is, the idea of triggering nuclear reactions at relatively low temperatures never really died. Scientists have continued to investigate the theory, though many opt for other names, such as “low-energy nuclear reactions.”

The focus of the lab is on nuclear transmutation from cold fusion processes, which can producing useful energy, as well as making long-term radioactive materials harmless. The goal of the lab is to create a small-scale device that will do both things at once.

The article reports that Tohoku Professor of nuclear physics Jirota Kasagi has been joined by Yasuhiro Iwamura, formerly of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. From the article:

With his arrival, the scope of the research expanded to other nuclear transformations: converting radioactive palladium, which emits beta rays for hundreds of thousands of years, into radiation-free tin; changing radioactive selenium into stable strontium; turning radioactive zirconium into ruthenium; and switching radioactive cesium into praseodymium, which is also radioactive but has an extremely short half-life of 13.6 days.
Tohoku University and Mitsubishi Heavy belong to a group of more than 10 ImPACT participants looking into the feasibility of nuclear transmutation technologies. The main focus of this research is transforming radioactive materials by changing the number of neutrons in the nucleus. This would be done by bombarding the materials with high-speed neutrons, requiring huge accelerator machines. But Kasagi and his colleagues hope to realize simpler transmutation through reactions between radioactive materials and deuterium gas or hydrogen gas.

Here’s a serious effort to use cold fusion deal with a critical problem — especially for Japan — of finding ways to decontaminate radioactive materials. It seems that this is more of a focus at Tohoku than energy production which could certainly be a beneficial byproduct of the transmutation work.

It’s interesting to see the Japanese press giving cold fusion respectful treatment here. Most media reports in western media outlets about LENR/cold fusion seem to emphasize the notion that the subject is virtually taboo among scientists and highly speculative. Not so here — the author seems to see the work at Tohoku University as legitimate and important.