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Cold fusion: myths or facts

June 9, 2021 , 13:00 14:00

Speaker: Prof. Konrad Czerski
Affiliation: Institute of Physics, University of Szczecin, Szczecin, Poland
Link to MSTeams meeting

The question whether nuclear fusion reactions can occur at energies as low as room temperature has been very intensively discussed in the last thirty years since Fleishmann and Pones announced the observation of an anomalously large amount of excess heat produced in a palladium electrode during heavy water electrolysis. The phenomenon was interpreted as the result of deuteron-deuteron fusion reactions in the palladium electrode offered a perspective for a cheap and clean energy source. However, a lack of the experimental reproducibility and missing of expected nuclear reaction products observed in accelerator experiments at higher deuteron energies led to strong skepticism in the scientific community.

This skepticism was grounded on two main theoretical arguments. First of all, the penetration through the Coulomb barrier of a height of about 300 keV in the deuteron-deuteron system was supposed to be more than 40 orders magnitude too low to explain the energy production reported. Additionally, the branching ratio of the DD reactions known from accelerator experiments down to few keV should favorize the mirror neutron and proton channels being almost of the same strength. The 4He channel connected to the deuteron radiative capture is seven orders of magnitude weaker than the nucleon channels. In room temperature experiments, the branching ratios seem to be opposite: the measured heat excess is directly correlated to production of 4He in absence of any gamma radiation.

However, in the last years, many research groups studied hydrogen-metal systems and reported about generation of heat in large amounts in gas-loading experiments using both bulk metallic alloys and nanocomposite powder materials. Furthermore, new accelerator experiments performed at very low deuteron energies point to a strong enhancement of the nuclear reaction rates in metallic environments due to the electron screening effect of the Coulomb barrier. In the talk, an overview of the current research status will be given, and a possible solution of the cold fusion puzzle will be proposed.

Seminar language: English
Chairman: Prof. Sławomir Breiter