Cold Fusion

John Clark (
Fri, 9 Jul 1999 11:29:59 -0400

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Robert J. Bradbury <> Wrote:

>Cold fusion is still a very questionable phenomena and there is no
>evidence that it can be scaled into something useful.

There is a type of cold fusion that definitely works, even as cold as 13 degrees Kelvin; but there hasn't been much happening in muon-catalyzed cold fusion lately, and it's a shame because the idea seems so elegant. A negative muon is almost identical to an electron except it's 207 times as massive, you can even substitute them for electrons in Hydrogen and the result is atoms and molecules 207 times smaller than normal. In all fusion reactions you need to get the nucleus of 2 atoms so close that the short range nuclear forces can take over, this is not easy to do because the nucleus of both atoms have a positive charge and so repel each other. In normal fusion you use brute force to do this, things get very hot and so the two slam together, if you use muons instead of electrons in a hydrogen molecule the two nuclei are already 207 times closer together even when ice cold.

There are problems of course, it takes energy to make a muon, to break even each muon would have to catalyze between 100 and 500 fusion reactions, and muons are not stable, their half life is 2*10^-6 seconds, but a lot can happen in two microseconds, that's a very long time by particle physics standards. I know of no fundamental reason it couldn't be made to work someday.

>Fusion produces neutrons, neutrons have this nasty property
>that they go through things and require a lot of shielding. They
>also make materials radioactive.

Not all fusion reactions produce neutrons. The fusion reaction between non radioactive deuterium (Hydrogen 2) and non radioactive Helium 3 produces non radioactive Helium 4, an easily controlled proton, 18.3 mev of energy, and most important of all, no neutrons. Unfortunately you need a higher temperature to achieve it than the deuterium tritium reaction most are talking about. Also, there is not much Helium 3 on the Earth, although there is probably a lot of it that could be mined on comets and on the ice moons of the outer planets.

John K Clark

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