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Landmark Cold Fusion Patent Issued
On June 19, 2001, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued U.S. Patent #6,248,221 for "Electrolysis Apparatus and Electrodes and Electrode Material Therefor," to Randolph R. Davis and Thomas F. McGraw. The context of the patent, its claims, and the numerous references to the mainstream cold fusion/low-energy nuclear reaction literature cited by the inventors leave no doubt that this is, indeed, a patent for a form of cold fusion technology. Thus, this is a landmark patent. The original Fleischmann-Pons paper of 1989 and all that followed from it are properly cited. Approval of the patent was through an art group within the USPTO that somehow managed to escape the well-known forces of opposition.
We are delighted with this return to sanity by at least one part of the USPTO! Without intending to detract one bit from the accomplishment of the present inventors, we only wish that the USPTO had dealt fairly with the many other individuals who should have been awarded patents for their cold fusion applications-especially Drs. Fleischmann and Pons.
I discussed the R&D behind the patent with co-inventor Davis, whom I have known since the early 1990s, though I was unaware of his involvement with this work. Randy Davis was tight-lipped about the current performance of the prototype "gas phase electrolytic systems" covered by the new patent, but he was kind enough to send us the following note for publication:
It was good speaking with you several days ago about the recently issued patent. The paper, "Critical Factors in Transitioning from Fuel Cells to Cold Fusion Technology," lays out important aspects of systems engineering from a general perspective. This paper was presented in 1998 at the 33rd Intersociety Engineering Conference on Energy Conversion. Due to evidence from the experiments of other researchers that reactions occur, the objective is to engineer various parts of hardware for 10 kW systems. The electronic control circuit has recently been improved, and attempts are being made to improve the reaction material and the overall system engineering.
The "critical factors" paper indicates that breakeven for the system would mean getting somewhat more than 50 watts. As for many other similar projects, details continue to be highly proprietary, to include not only the direction of the technical work, but also information that would permit the direction of the work and progress to be determined.
Finally, it is hoped that through such advancements, others performing difficult scientific investigations will be encouraged to continue their work.
Davis also gave us permission to reprint a paper that he and his co-inventor gave at that technical conference in August 1998, "Critical Factors in Transitioning from Fuel Cell to Cold Fusion Technology." It is a good general overview of the parameters and design factors of particular importance in developing cold fusion technology. The group foresees 10 kW electricity generating units for home use, but I believe that they have overestimated the ultimate cost of such systems to the mass market. I am confident that electricity costs from cold fusion systems will be far below one-cent per kilowatt-hour.
The patent, for which we provide only the abstract and a few introductory particulars,
relies on a cylindrical geometry reaction vessel in which "nanocrystalline
particles" help facilitate hydrogen-based reactions from gas that permeates
the reactor components. They evidently require or envision a significant level
of electronic process control to stabilize the reactions.
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