UPDATE January 18, 2017: The patent application referenced in this post is now public here (EP3086323).
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Essentially no new physics but a little-known physical effect describing matter’s interaction with electromagnetic fields — ponderomotive Miller forces — would explain energy release and isotopic changes in LENR. This is what Rickard Lundin and Hans Lidgren, two top level Swedish scientists, claim, describing their theory in a paper called Nuclear Spallation and Neutron Capture Induced by Ponderomotive Wave Forcing (full length paper here) that was presented on Friday, October 16, at the 11th International Workshop on Anomalies in Hydrogen Loaded Metals, hosted by Airbus in Toulouse, France.
The basic idea is that ponderomotive forces at resonance frequencies shake out neutrons from elements such as deuterium and lithium, and that these neutrons are then captured by e.g. nickel, resulting in energy release by well-known physical laws.
Lundin and Lidgren have made a brief successful experiment and they have verified the model through calculations against results from well-known LENR experiments such as the Lugano report with Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat. Earlier 2015 they also filed a patent application describing the process.
“We did an experiment on our own but we stopped it. We realised that we were sitting on a neutron source and that’s not something you should do in your basement,” Rickard Lundin, Professor of Space Physics at Swedish Institute of Space Physics and member of The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA)*, told me.
The scientists are now preparing for a well-planned experiment with all necessary safety measures, ideally with a transparent reactor body since the effect according to the scientists releases a lot of light.
Ponderomotive forces derive from the electrical part of oscillating electromagnetic fields, and act on all particles, bodies or plasmas. They are all characterized by a transfer of electromagnetic energy and momentum to charged or non-charged particles. One of them, the gradient force, works independently of the sign of charges.
Initially the phenomenon was thought to describe the “heaviness” of light — the ability of light to have a “pushing” force on matter. What Lundin and Lidgren have investigated and published in 2010 is that the phenomenon has a resonance frequency, specific for each particle or cluster of particles, and that the force increases close to the resonance frequency, being repulsive on the low-frequency side but attractive on the other.
“The forces are not intuitively predictable, and a bit strange, for example making hot bodies attract matter,” Lundin says.
Lidgren, M Sc in Physics Engineering, and co-founder of the oil exploration company Rex International Holding, started to investigate the phenomenon when he discovered strange characteristics of satellite orbits while analysing satellite altimeter surveys to detect potential hydrocarbon reservoirs.
The light from the sun was expected to have a pushing force on satellites, but Lidgren discovered the contrary. After a pendulum experiment in vacuum, showing the same effect, Lidgren and Lundin published their paper “On the Attraction of Matter by the Ponderomotive Miller Force“.
Lundin was a colleague in the Academy of Sciences (KVA)* with late Prof. Sven Kullander, previous head of the KVA Energy Committee. Prof. Kullander became closely involved in investigations performed by Swedish researchers’ on Andrea Rossi’s devices. Lundin’s interest started with the publication of the Lugano report.
“When I saw the Lugano report and the isotopic shifts it all became so obvious,” Lundin told me.
He explained that extracting neutrons from the nuclei of deuterium and/or lithium requires energy, and that the trick is to do this in the most efficient way.
“Our method is more precise, using the lowest possible amount of energy [through resonance] to shake loose the neutrons. Others like Rossi are creating turbulence through square waves [in the electrical current feeding the heat resistors controlling the reaction — square waves containing a large number of harmonics and thus many different frequencies], and they get a turbulent wave spectrum risking that some frequencies become a little too high,” Lundin explained to me.
After getting this insight, Lundin still kept a low profile since the topic is so infected and also because of a conflictual situation in the Academy of Sciences ever since Kullander openly declared his interest in LENR and Rossi’s technology.
“I think the critic is based on fear since this research has been so stigmatised before. If there is something scientists fear it is to become like pariahs. It takes a lot of courage to go against established views but I think I belong to those who have learned to take criticism,” Lundin told me.
Lundin and Lidgren submitted their paper to the open preprint website Arxiv.org and to the peer-reviewed journal Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, PPCF, but both declined to even let reviewers have a look at it, the latter arguing “that the content of the article is not within the scope of the journal”. Arxiv.org even blocked Lundin from submitting further papers during July and August.
“I have quite a good track record with many publications and this is the first time something like this happens to me. It’s rude not to offer ordinary review. To me it’s important to get comments and criticism from research colleagues who can say ‘that cannot be correct’ in order to improve the paper,” Lundin said.
As for the excuse from PPCF, Lundin commented:
“The word plasma is used at least 50 times in the text, and is central to the spallation process as we describe it. However it is not ‘controlled fusion’ in the classical sense — fusion of two elements/isotopes transmuted into a new element (e.g. deuterium + tritium => helium + one neutron). But surely it can still be described as a fusion. Neutron capture means that a free neutron is merged with a nucleus/element which is thereby transmuted to a heavier isotope of the same element (for example 58Ni + 2n -> 60Ni + energy). The problem is probably the terror that has developed over the years for touching the term cold fusion (and LENR).”
It was Elisabeth Rachlew, Emeritus Professor and hot fusion and plasma researcher at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, and also a member of KVA* and the successor of Prof. Kullander as head of the KVA Energy Committee, who advised Lundin and Lidgren to submit the paper to PPCF. Rachlew also did a review of the paper.
“I thought the paper was very interesting, and I was amazed when it wasn’t even sent to reviewers. The answer from PPCF should have been sent immediately, but instead it took months. I guess they were anguished,” Rachlew told me.
The advantage with the theory by Lundin and Lidgren, apart from that it fits with experimental data and observations, is that you don’t need to overcome the Coulomb Barrier — the repulsive force between the positive charged nuclei in the traditional concept of fusion, which is one reason why many scientists think that cold fusion is impossible.
“I also thought so — you can’t overcome the Coulomb Barrier [at low temperatures]. So fusing nuclei with protons won’t work. You may perhaps initiate a very weak process but not reach a level with significant energy release,” Lundin told me.
Neutrons, which have no charge, can easily be captured by an atomic nucleus without this problem. A few other LENR theories are also based on neutrons but what this model adds is a solid explanation of where the neutrons come from, which is often lacking in other models.
“Our model describes quite a natural process. It’s probably one of the main sources for maintaining a high temperature inside Earth, since there’s high pressure, high temperature and good availability of neutron producing elements [through this process] with basically unlimited resources of deuterium,” Lundin said.
In the conclusions of the report, the authors write:
“This report demonstrates, theoretically and experimentally, that nuclear energy production may be accommodated in rather small units, operating at modest temperatures (≈900-2000°C), and produce sustainable power output in the range 1 – 10 kW – at minute fuel consumption (few grams per year). (…) The magnitude of the power output, delivered from a miniscule amount of fuel, demonstrates that it is a nuclear process with great potentials. Properly utilized the process has potentials of becoming an unlimited and sustainable energy source, producing essentially no long-lived radioactive waste.”
And in the acknowledgements:
” (…) We are particularly thankful to Prof. Sven Kullander, who promoted a nuclear process for the ‘Rossi experiment’ up to the bitter end (deceased 2014). The diligent work by Prof. Kullander in the Energy Committee at the Royal Academy of Sciences, and his follow-ups of the Rossi-experiment, was critical for this work.”
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P.S. The person who first told me about this research was another member of the Academy of Sciences*, member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science (IVA) and former VP of R&D at the multinational Swedish-Swiss power, robotics and automation corporation ABB, Prof. Harry Frank — just to give you an idea of at what level the interest for LENR has reached in Sweden, while the science editors of the national Swedish Radio, SR, and a few outspoken scientists insist that it’s all fraud, or at least that nothing has ever happened in the field, and that nothing probably ever will. SR was even rewarded for this.
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* Committees of the Academy of Sciences, KVA, act as selection boards for the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry.