Swedish scientists claim LENR explanation break-through

Rickard Lundin, photo: Torbjörn Lövgren, IRF.

Rickard Lundin, photo: Torbjörn Lövgren, IRF.

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.

Hans Lidgren

Hans Lidgren

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 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”. 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.


The Italian edition — Un’invenzione impossible — is finally out!

AII_cover_it_200pxI’m happy to announce that the Italian edition of An Impossible Invention — Un’invenzione impossible — is finally out. I’m particularly satisfied since the story is closely related to Italy to which I have personal connections, my wife being Italian.

A great thanks to Alex Passi who has made the translation, and who preferred not to be compensated but instead asked me to donate part of the sales revenue to scientific research, which I will do. What research that will receive the donation is still to be defined.

It will be interesting to see how the Italian edition will be received in Italy. From my blog statistics I can see that most people following this story live in the USA, Sweden and Italy, in that order.

However, although Italy is one of the countries where important cold fusion (LENR) research have been made, there are also fierce critics of everything that regards cold fusion, and of Rossi and the E-Cat in particular.

The Italian edition is based on the second English edition, published in November 2014. When creating the print original and e-book files for the Italian edition I have also made minor corrections to the English and Swedish editions, and they are now live. No content has been added though.

I personally believe that we’ll have to wait at least until the presentation of the results of the ongoing trial of the 1 MW plant by Rossi and Industrial Heat before having anything substantial to add to this story.

This is also a good occasion to thank the Italian graphic designer Marco Renieri for the excellent cover art of the book in all three versions.

Un’invenzione impossibile is available as paperback at Create Space and Amazon, as e-book in Kindle format at Amazon, and as e-book in the standardised Epub format (suitable for most ebook readers including iPad and iPhone) at my own web-shop An Impossible Invention — Shop.

A tutti i lettori italiani — buona lettura!

Rossi has been granted US patent on the E-Cat — fuel mix specified

(Last updated on August 25, 9.17 pm CET). Today Andrea Rossi was granted a patent on his LENR based heating device the E-Cat. The patent, which has the filing date March 14, 2012, can be downloaded here: US9115913B1

As far as I understand, the patent describes the so-called low temperature E-Cat that Rossi showed in semi-public demonstrations at several occasions in 2011, and which is also used in an ongoing 350-day trial of a 1 MW plant, but since it describes core parts of the technology it is probably also valid at a certain extent also for more recent E-Cat models with higher operating temperature.

Note that LENR is not mentioned explicitly in the patent, but also note that the contents of the fuel mix are specified — lithium and lithium aluminium hydride as fuel and a group 10 element, such as nickel in powdered form as the catalyst. This is important since fuel and catalyst specifications are lacking from an earlier patent application by Rossi on the E-Cat.

The earlier application has widely been considered far to weak to have chances to be granted. It was originally filed in Italy in April 2008, and an Italian patent was granted in 2011 but the approval was based on old rules, basically not involving any validation of the claims.

The lack of fuel and catalyst specification was highlighted in October 2014 when the Swedish-Italian report on a 32-day test of the E-Cat in Lugano, Switzerland, was published, containing a chemical analysis of the fuel before and after the experiment. Being public from that point the fuel mix would not longer be patentable.

Now it appears that the experimenters were allowed to do the analysis because the patent application containing this information was already filed.

It also appears that the earlier application has been used on purpose by Rossi as a cover-up while working on the second application.

Since the Lugano report was published, several attempts at replication of the effect have been made, most notably by the Russian scientist Parkhomov, who seems to have obtained a few positive results.

We are now reminded that Rossi has been using this fuel and catalyst mix since at least 2012, giving us an idea about his lead. It’s also clear that he understood already at that time that nickel was the catalyst and not the fuel, which was an earlier hypothesis by Rossi and his scientific advisor, late Prof. Sergio Focardi.

On the other hand, the patent offers new detailed information that should be useful for those trying to replicate the effect.

It’s interesting to note that the only reaction specifically described in the patent is the chemical reaction releasing small amounts of hydrogen, avoiding the need for a hydrogen canister which was used in the early demonstrations of the E-Cat in 2011.

This chemical reaction cannot be the main heat source. The main heat source in the E-Cat is a strongly exothermal reaction, only mentioned as such in the patent, and the very core of the E-Cat technology – a reaction that is supposedly LENR based, thus nuclear, and that should consume very small amounts of hydrogen, but for which a theory and a detailed description is still lacking.

This is the controversial part of the E-Cat, and although the fuel and the catalyst are described in the patent, the reaction in itself is not.

However, it says in the patent that a wafer with two fuel layers and a layer with an electrical resistor, typically of the size 12x12x1/3 inches, will sustain about 180 days, providing kilowatts of heat. No chemical fuel of that size can provide anything close to that amount of energy.

The document was sent to me by Rossi who told me he knew about the patent being granted already  a month ago, but that it was officially published today. He had no further comments except that he thought it would accelerate commercialization of the E-Cat technology.

As a final comment I note that the patent describes several aspects of the low temperature E-Cat that I have observed myself or have been told about by Rossi or by witnesses.

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The website, that is run by Rossi’s commercial partner Hydrofusion, based in Sweden, has published a Q&A with Rossi with regard to the patent. One of the questions makes clear that Rossi has filed several other patent applications, but that he ranks this one as No. 1.

Here’s Swedish LENR company Neofire


Peter Björkbom — photo: Mats Lewan

Apart from the well-known companies with LENR based technology, such as Andrea Rossi’s partner company Industrial Heat, and Brillouin Energy, founded by Robert Godes, there are a series of small rather unknown companies that have popped out in the last few years.

One of them is Swedish Neofire that surfaced in February 2015. It turns out to be founded in 2010 and run by one single person – Peter Björkbom – whom I came to talk with at ICCF-19 in Padua last week.

Björkbom, 48 years old, from the town of Borlänge in the heart of Sweden, told me that he was interested in physics and chemistry sinc childhood, and that he had some equipment.

“Since my early teens, I have always had access to some kind of chemistry or physics lab in my home. I always had that interest for physics, and a passion to perform experiments. Later, before starting with LENR, I was building a CO2 laser among other things.”

At high school, however, he was persuaded to focus on electronics and computer science, and once out of school, he started working with software development and founded a consultancy firm that he later sold to Swedish Protect Data, just before the collapse of the inflated valuations of IT companies at the end of the 1990’s, thus making a god profit.

He remained in the company for a few years, and came to work with systems for building energy management, which sparked an interest for energy technology.

In 2004, he began thinking of starting a new activity. In the energy industry, he saw a possibility to get back to his interest for physics and chemistry, and since he already in 1989 had been intrigued by the news on Fleischmann and Pons and their bold idea about cold fusion, he played with the idea to try to replicate their experiment as a start.

So he began to study what had been done in the field. And later, in 2010, he founded Neofire and started to build his own secret LENR lab, with the money he got when he sold his IT consultancy firm.

“For obvious reasons I didn’t want to talk about it,” he told me.

He initiated with experiments based on electrolysis, just like Fleischmann and Pons, and already from the start, he considered the use of lithium to be important.

Even though lithium has attracted much attention within the LENR field lately, particularly since the release of the Lugano report where lithium was shown to be present in the E-Cat reactor, the use of lithium was established already by Fleischmann and Pons and has always played an important role in many experiments.

Fleischmann and Pons used lithium salts in the electrolyte since it makes water split into oxygen and hydrogen almost without byproducts, which are normally produced otherwise.

However, Björkbom never saw any positive results in these experiments.

In 2011, when Rossi started to show the E-Cat, he became interested and began to do gas loaded experiments with nickel and hydrogen, like Rossi. Then he got some results.

“There was no good stability, and the effect was weaker than what Parkhomov (see this blogpost) and Rossi have reported, but in my eyes, it was very promising.”

His focus now, however, is on a different kind of device, which he is not yet ready to describe further. He’s working on this almost full time, though he still does some IT consultancy as a side activity.

The main goal is to achieve a stable process that can be implemented in a commercial LENR based device.

Björkbom explained to me that one difficulty is calorimetry – i.e. how you measure heat output exactly. He said that he doesn’t like the method based on thermo camera measurements, which was used in the Lugano report, and he noted that many groups struggle with the calorimetry issue.

“A simple design would be needed by many, with enough accuracy to detect excess heat with certainty, when COP* is larger than 1.2,” he said.

In Padua, Björkbom was assisting the open science group MFMP in one of its attempts to replicate Rossi’s LENR effect in a reactor inspired by the E-Cat and by Parkhomov’s rector designs.

“We’re very pleased to get his help,” Bob Greenyer from MFMP told me.

I asked Björkbom if he had any advice for people wanting to start doing LENR experiments.

“Start to browse the There are many ideas, experiments and data to learn and take inspiration from. Much has already been tested,” he said.

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*COP – Coefficient of Performance – is the ratio between gross output energy from the device and the input energy necessary to keep the process running. A COP larger than one means that the process produces net energy or excess heat. If the net energy is larger than what can be explained by conventional energy sources, e.g. chemical burning, it’s called anomalous heat.

What to learn from an historical cold fusion conference — ICCF19

Tom Darden Speaking at ICCF19 — Courtesy MFMP.

Tom Darden Speaking at ICCF19 — Courtesy MFMP.

Last week, the international conference cold fusion, ICCF-19, was held, and I would argue it was historical, for several reasons.

The first is the ongoing trial by Rossi’s and his US partner Industrial Heat of a commercially implemented 1 MW thermal power plant based on the E-Cat. From credible sources I get confirmation of what Rossi states — that the plant is running very well — which means that we should expect important results presented at the end of the 400 day trial, backed up by a customer who certifies the useful power output and the measured electrical input from the grid. Such results will be difficult to challenge.

UPDATE: Since a COP (Coefficient of Performance — output energy/input energy) ranging from 20 to 80 has been reported, I can confirm that I have got the same information, although I think it’s wise not to pay too much attention to numbers in this case).

(We also got good insights in the values and views behind Industrial Heat/Cherokee through the speech by CEO Tom Darden at ICCF, which is a must read for anyone wanting to understand his and the company’s background. Even more material is found in this extensive interview with Darden in Infinite Magazine).

Since these results will be presented before the next ICCF, this year’s conference may have been the last before a major breakthrough for cold fusion.

I attended the last days of ICCF-19 and I saw that it was historical also in another way, with a high number of attendees, close to 500, among them many young researchers which is promising since the field has been lacking new talent for many years.

I was struck by the positive attitude and the good energy (!) that characterized the conference. The research that was presented ranged from energy production to topics such as aerodynamic applications, biological transmutation and remedy of nuclear waste through LENR. This should remind us of several things.

First, that LENR covers a whole range of possible applications and also possible openings to new aspects of our knowledge on matter, energy and physics in general, backed by solid experimental work, although this is not yet recognized.

Second, that there’s a vast experience of LENR experimental behavior and suggested theories in this community.

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.

Among them are the efforts by MFMP and by the Russian scientist Alexander Parkhomov (it became obvious at ICCF-19 that Russia is very active in LENR research, and Parkhomov’s successful replications of the Lugano experiment are now backed by data on isotopic elemental shifts). Another effort will be made by the experimenters who performed the long term test of the E-Cat in Lugano last year. They have now confirmed that they have built an own reactor and will start attempts in May at replicating the process running in the E-Cat.

A personal take-away from ICCF was also that I got the opportunity to meet several people in this community who I mention in my book, but who I had only been in contact with via phone and email, or not even that.

This was the case with Carl Page (brother to Google founder Larry Page) who has been involved in the field since a long time, and who told me that he is an angel investor in Brillouin Energy, a LENR company which I also learnt more about, talking to its founder and CTO, Robert Godes.

Carl Page is en early investor in cold fusion, but this year it was clear that more investor activities are starting, which is also a good thing if they are as responsible as Page and as IH/Cherokee seem to be. Another approach on investment, ecosystem and support for companies wanting to get ready for LENR applications is LENR Cities.

On ICCF-19, the new Industrial Association for LENR,, was also presented (web site not yet active).

What we should expect next are more results from replication attempts. I’ll keep you posted.

Will LENR reach mass adoption faster than any other tech?


This post was also published on E-Cat World

You often hear that new technologies spread to reach global mass adoption at an ever increasing speed — from electricity, telephones, radio and television to PCs, mobile phones and the web.

The hypothesis seems accurate and also reasonable, given that the world is getting increasingly connected in several ways, both with regard to communications, transportation and commerce, but it’s actually not correct.

You can read about such a claim in an article on The Vox from 2014, and also how it was debunked by Gizmodo.

One reason for this mechanism not to be so simple is that different technologies rely on different conditions and requirements.

The refrigerator was an invention that basically only had to be manufactured and distributed. Electricity and telephones required deployment of new wide area networks, whereas, radio and television only needed wireless networks with long reaching transmitter stations.

Cellular phones needed a much denser wireless network, and the internet, if you count from the first message over the Arpanet, needed a whole lot of new thinking in order to arrive at the idea of www, and then develop from there.

So where do we put LENR based technologies in that picture?

Assuming that we arrive at a validated heat producing technology within a year, huge interest will arrise and it shouldn’t take much time for scientists to make all kinds of measurements and arrive at a theory that describes the phenomenon in detail.

At that point you have access to an energy source with a fuel consumption potentially shrunk by a factor one million compared to chemical fuels. That corresponds to a jump of 40 years in computing technology, based on Moore’s Law. And there you have the incentive for investing engineering resources to solve problems and develop applications.

The most obvious application is water heating, and even though we know the difficulties to get the technology certified for consumer use, consumer devices for this purpose could not be far off.

Such an application would be similar to the refrigerator that went mainstream in the US in less than ten years in the 1930’s. 90 years later this process could be significantly accelerated. What you need is manufacturing, distribution and a service network.

What happens next contains many unknowns. Possibilities of direct conversion to electricity. Strategies of the car industry. Desperate competition from other technologies. Governmental policies on taxes and regulation.

But essentially, compared to other recent technologies that have reached mass adoption, deployment is straight forward. No need for new networks. No new infrastructure.

What will be needed is innovation. Lots of innovation. To scale the technology down, and up. To develop new applications. The time scale is unpredictable, but again, there’s no basic need for infrastructure.

Given the emergency with which the world needs a clean energy source — almost as in a classic disaster movie — and given the potential cost savings LENR could bring to many industries, I can see no reason to believe that LENR based technology in its basic forms couldn’t reach global mass adoption very fast, maybe faster than any other technology so far.

Which would mean about 15 years from now.

Time to dispel the streetlight paradox of energy

streetlight_jokeThe current development in LENR, where things seem to be moving fast towards confirmation of a new energy source, could finally open a way to dispel what I call the streetlight paradox of energy.

It’s about time.

You’ve probably heard the joke about the drunkard who is searching under a streetlight for something he lost. A policeman sees the man and asks him what he’s searching for. The drunkard tells the policeman that he lost his keys, and they both start searching under the streetlight. After some time the policeman asks if he’s sure he lost them there. “No, I lost them in the park,” the man answers. “But then why are you searching here?” the policeman asks him, and the man replies “Because here’s where the light is.”

This is pretty much how we’re searching for ways to produce energy, looking in a narrow field of scarce energy sources, when there’s an incredible abundance of energy everywhere around us, stored in matter. It’s just a question of extracting it, but essentially we haven’t even started to try yet.

To explain, let me first quote what Bill Gates stated in his annual letter 2015: “The most dramatic problems caused by climate change are more than 15 years away, but the long-term threat is so serious that the world needs to move much more aggressively — right now — to develop energy sources that are cheaper, can deliver on demand, and emit zero carbon dioxide.

So this is what we’re looking for. And while there are several ways to categorize current energy sources, let me divide them in three types:

The first is by burning fuels like wood, peat, energy crops, oil, coal and gas. These sources are basically on-demand — energy available when you need it — and quite transportable, but apart from wood, peat and energy crops they’re not CO2 neutral.

The second is energy harvested at the moment from natural sources, such as wind, hydro, wave and solar energy. They are CO2 neutral, but not on-demand (except for hydro power at a certain extent).

The third is power from nuclear power plants — a nuclear process known as fission. It’s on-demand, CO2 neutral, but not very transportable.

Let me first note that the first two categories (i.e. everything except nuclear) are all derived from solar energy. Wind and water movements are caused by the sun, and all fuels in the first group originally derive from plants which grow by solar energy.

Since we want a CO2 neutral energy source, and since nuclear power is associated with significant safety risks, people mostly investigate energy crops from the first group, and everything in the second group. And in order to make energy from the second group on-demand, we store it in batteries or as hydrogen gas or other producible fuels.

Influenced by the ease of use of oil and gasoline, we end up with similar solutions — fuels or batteries that are on-demand and often transportable. They all rely on chemical reactions to produce energy, like most natural energy producing processes on Earth, including fire and the energy consumed by all living animals.

This is what I mean by the reference to the streetlight joke. Chemical reactions are abundant on Earth, but they have no importance as energy sources in Universe where nuclear reactions dominate completely. All the stars, including the sun, get their energy from nuclear reactions, and consequently energy from category one and two above is originally derived from a nuclear source.

Chemical reactions involve electrons — the tiny particles that surround the nucleus in the atom — whereas nuclear reactions involve the much heavier particles in the nucleus itself. And the crucial difference is that nuclear reactions release about a million times more energy compared to electrons, from the same amount of fuel.

In other words, one gram of nuclear fuel will yield the same amount of energy as about a ton of chemical fuel such as gasoline or wood, or the energy stored in a ton of batteries. Nuclear power sources are hugely more compact.

And here comes the hook.

In the end, all energy comes from matter, which was described by Einstein in his well known formula E=mc^2 — energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. And since the speed of light is so high, this means that there’s an enormous amount of energy stored in matter.

To be precise, one gram of matter, if transformed into energy, will yield about 25 gigawatt-hours, roughly corresponding to one day’s production from a nuclear power plant or to the energy from burning 568,000 US gallons of automotive gasoline.

And in fact, in any energy releasing reaction, be it chemical or nuclear, the energy corresponds to a slight decrease in mass of the ‘ashes’ compared to the fuel. In chemical reactions this decrease is so small that it’s hardly measurable. In nuclear reactions it’s a million times bigger, which means that nuclear reactions are a million times more efficient in turning mass into energy.

Yet they’re not very efficient. As an example, the first atomic bomb contained about six kilos of plutonium, but only about one gram of this mass was turned into energy at the detonation, corresponding to the amount of energy mentioned before.

By now I believe you might see where I’m heading.

There’s no lack of energy. The energy stored in matter all around us is simply immense.

The challenge is to harvest this energy at will in controlled situations. Chemical reactions, including batteries, have lousy performance. Yet, this is where we’re focusing our research, like the drunkard under the streetlight. Two single nuclear reactions are also found under the streetlight — fission (in nuclear power plants) and hot fusion which occurs in the sun and the stars, and in which researchers have poured billions of dollars for decades to turn it into a controlled energy source, without much success. The problem with both these nuclear reactions is that they produce lots of deadly radiation and radioactive waste, and require big structures to be run safely.

Yet nuclear reactions are desirable. They’re much more efficient than chemical reactions, they’re on-demand and they’re CO2 neutral.

And guess what — just outside the light from the lamppost emerges another nuclear reaction — LENR — which few people believe is possible, simply because it’s not under the lamppost.

Yet LENR promises what we need — an energy source that is cheap, can deliver on-demand and emits zero carbon dioxide. And since it’s nuclear it’s a million times more compact than chemical fuels. One gram of LENR fuel corresponds roughly to a ton of gasoline. And unlike fission and fusion it doesn’t produce radiation, nor radioactive waste. It just couldn’t be better, it seems.

But let me put it like this — if we can make LENR work, that is just the first step outside the light from the lamppost. It would be a solution to the energy problem for a long time. Still, given the amount of energy stored in matter there’s much more to discover, potentially letting us extract a large portion of the energy in every gram of matter in controlled forms.

LENR just means finally opening the door to dispelling the streetlight paradox of energy. And the beauty is that it probably also could open a door to important new knowledge on matter, physics and the universe.