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Energy Device Update
Published in IE Volume 7, Issue #37, May-June, 2001
Ken Rauen and Eugene Mallove
The replication of First Gate Energies’ sonofusion process has taken several turns since the update in IE No. 36. The excess heat reported in that issue was a last-minute inclusion before our print deadline. The experiment was not complete. After the story went to press, the experiment was taken through the final phase, that of post-calibration. The ultrasonic energy was removed from the sonofusion reactor and the reactor was allowed to re-equilibriate at a lower input power level.
Our computer data-logging and computational program recorded stabilization at +6.3 watts excess heat. What this means is that the two calorimeters in combination—the oscillator calorimeter and the reactor calorimeter (see last issue’s column)—lost their calibration by drifting, and the data collected was unreliable. The post-calibration ideally should have shown 0.0 watts excess heat. The problem was traced to the airflow calorimeter for the reactor; its basic design was at fault, as heat flow pathways are not perfectly consistent under all conditions. We opted to replace that calorimeter with a Thermonetics Seebeck envelope calorimeter (see IE No. 29 column, and photo in this issue, p. 59), which, theoretically, integrates all heat flows. The sonofusion reactor had to be modified to fit inside this calorimeter. The sight-glass and valving superstructure was removed, and replaced by translucent teflon tubing and compression fitting disconnects. The D2O level is observed through the tubing, and is kept above the reactor so the reactor is full at all times.
The ultrasonic transducer oscillator calorimeter was modified also. The thermal time constants of the two thermocouples used to determine differential temperature were so different that a rapid change in room temperature produced errors in the calculated heat dissipated. This was corrected by embedding the room temperature thermocouple in a 50-gram piece of steel, which was wrapped in two inches of fiberglass insulation. Now, normal room temperature fluctuations due to furnace or air conditioning cycling result in about 0.1°C fluctuations in the differential temperature.
This unusual calorimetric application for the oscillator is for the purpose of determining the amount of electrical energy that drives the ultrasonic transducers in the reactor. It is difficult to measure it directly, because of its complex waveform (although we are preparing as an electronic cross-check to do that too). In our indirect measurement, the heat dissipated by the oscillator calorimeter is subtracted from the electrical power to the ultrasonic oscillator, delivered from the wall socket and measured by a commercial power consumption meter. The result is assumed to be the ultrasonic power according to conservation of energy. This has been verified by one control test in which sonofusion was assumed to be absent. The ultrasonic power calculated by this method agreed with the reactor calorimeter when no joule heat was applied to the reactor, which kept the reactor relatively cold and probably not producing any significant fusion heat. The difference between the two methods was 0.35 watts.
Recent calibration runs of each calorimeter show errors of 0.65W maximum deviation and 0.2W typical deviation from the exponential equation relating delta-T to heat flow for the oscillator’s air flow calorimeter, and 1.2% deviation from the straight line behavior of the Seebeck envelope calorimeter for the reactor, which is 0.6W of measurement error at 50W of actual heat. A minimum of five data points at varying power levels were measured for each calorimeter to establish the calibrations. The errors are additive, so the system detection limit is about 1.3W.
The copper target material inside the reactor has been changed to titanium. It does not deteriorate like the copper; Roger Stringham of First Gate Energies says it weathers far better than copper.
Four sonofusion runs have been completed. All four exhibited excess heat: 3, 3.5, 4, and 3 watts, in sequence, with 8 to 20 watts of ultrasonic power applied. The reactor temperatures were around 130°C and argon pressure at 25, 30, 35, and 0 psig, respectively. The first three were measured with a validating post-calibration for zero excess heat. Those zero checks showed -0.1, 0.0, and +0.1 watts, respectively, when the oscillator was turned off. The fourth run was unique. It accidentally was run at 0 psig applied argon pressure (a second argon valve to the reactor was accidentally left closed, and the reactor was operating at the vapor pressure of the water at about 130°C) and the post-calibration was done by shutting off the reactor joule heater, leaving the oscillator on. This fourth run exhibited a “zero” of +3.1 watts excess! At present, we are not sure of what to make of this result. It was followed by a joule heater recalibration of the oscillator calorimeter at the same heat dissipation of about 10W, which showed a slight deviation from the current calibration equation of only -0.4W, so this does not explain the +3.1W. It is possible that sonofusion was occurring during this intended null condition, producing excess heat that would make the two calorimeters not balance. Roger Stringham asserts that low temperature and low pressure prevents sonofusion. This one data point is of unknown value. Since it was collected under the uncontrolled condition of no applied overpressure of argon, it could be discounted because of procedural inconsistency, a bad test run. Each of these sonofusion experiments lasted 24 hours total, including the high temperature ultrasonic reaction and the post-reaction calibration, with the time for each portion split approximately in half.
Despite the one confounding data point, NERL has substantial evidence that excess heat from a cold fusion process has been documented at its facilities. However, as in any experimental work, further difficulties might be encountered that could alter this conclusion. We are planning, with the assistance of Chris Eddy of Pioneer Microsystems, Inc., to develop a direct measurement of the input electrical power. This should end any doubt about these results and we will then proceed to a system re-design on the road to making scientific laboratory demonstration kits.
Sonofusion Materials Analysis
Since heavy metal transmutation phenomena have been so widely seen in this field, we considered it important to have an outside laboratory perform surface analysis of the second copper target that had undergone prolonged ultrasonic activation. We employed Geller MicroAnalytical Laboratory of Topsfield, Massachusetts. Using a JEOL SEM with Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES) Microprobe, one of the pitted regions of the copper target was examined. About twenty of these regions surrounded the central perforation of the Cu target at a radial distance of about 1 cm.
Figure 1 at 45X shows the strange eroded canyon-like features (note the imprinted scale) on the copper. Figure 2 is at 750x and the imposed rectangular area bracketing the magnified “promontory” indicates the region that was examined for unusual elements by the Auger electron beam. Figure 3, also at 750X, is of a nearby “smooth,” unaffected Cu surface, very much different than the activated region.
Using the element analysis feature, the Auger electron spectrum was obtained for both the smooth and affected Cu surfaces. Only copper emission lines were seen with a very low aluminum peak present in both the smooth surface region (Figure 4) and in two areas of the activated surface (see Figures 5 and 6). There was no evidence of any unusual elements present. Bear in mind that convincing excess heat was not measured in the ultrasonic exposures of the copper foil.
Figure 2. Magnified view (750x) of small "promontory on copper target pitted region.
Figure 3. "Smooth", non-pitted region of copper target.
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