Cold Fusion is Still Science Fiction...
Theoretically, cold fusion works by fusing atoms that are at room temperature. The initial theory was that if palladium could be fused with hydrogen at room temperature electricity would be produced.
This electricity would be created with no waste or radioactive byproducts that could harm the environment. However, the cold fusion process must be stable to be usable and to date it has been impossible to put the theory into practical application.
History of Cold Fusion
Twenty years ago the process of cold fusion was heralded as the future of creating electrical power. Nuclear energy is "hot" fusion and an example is the power of the sun. Modern physics held forth the promise of cold fusion which could create energy just like the combustion of the stars and the sun.
However, how cold fusion works eliminates the need for huge explosive bursts of heat with the associated radioactivity found in fusion reactions on the sun.
Cold fusion was to be the miracle to stop our reliance on oil and a way to feed our ever growing need for energy without adding more greenhouse gases to the environment. Cold fusion was not an answer, according to scientists. It was the answer to future energy needs of the planet.
Within a few years, the vision of cold fusion had been all but abandoned. The entire process was discredited as it became clear that producing cold fusion was much more difficult than theorizing about it. As one after another claim of creating cold fusion was found to be false, the entire concept of this energy process was viewed as a scam.
In news and in science, what's old is often new again. This is true of how cold fusion works. The topic is again in the news and once again predicted to hold real potential for fulfilling energy needs in the future.
Throughout the rise and fall of public opinion regarding the cold fusion potential, scientists have continued to try to create this "tabletop physics" experiment reliably.
The potential of how cold fusion works is astounding. What if you could buy a laptop computer that is already charged with all the energy it would need for its usable lifetime?
What if you could buy an automobile with a battery that would provide power for up to four years without recharging? What if nuclear fuel rods were pre-charged and spent rods did not continue to produce radioactive waste or need special disposal and storage containment systems?
How Can Scientists Make Cold Fusion Work
The experiment to produce energy using cold fusion appears to be rather simple. There are three ingredients involved. Palladium is a metal similar to Platinum. The hydrogen used is deuterium found in waters of the oceans.
A demonstration of the process places palladium in water that contains deuterium. The third ingredient is electrical current. Researchers contain the experiment by wrapping the container in insulation while instruments measure the reaction.
The goal is to create more heat (power) coming out of the experiment than the current creates as it enters the water. If excess heat is measured, energy is being produced by cold fusion. No one seems to know exactly what process is involved in producing energy through this experiment.
The most likely explanation is that energy is being created through a nuclear reaction that occurs at a slow pace. The slower reaction rate may be the reason radiation is not a by-product of cold fusion.
How Effective Can Cold Fusion Be?
The current estimate of researchers is that cold fusion can produce 25 times the power used to create it. A few scientists predict the potential cold fusion to create up to 50 times as much energy as the current used to start the reaction.
Twenty years ago, the expectation of how cold fusion works was high. Bad research and scientific scams caused disillusion and disbelief in the process. Today at least 20 reputable independent laboratories have been able to produce energy through the cold fusion process.
They don't quite understand what is actually happening in the experiment - but the experiments are working. Because of the previous bad press about cold fusion experiments, today many scientists refer to the process as a "nuclear effect".
In the scientific community, cold fusion was so debunked that only non-reputable labs were involved in these experiments for fifteen years or so. Today, many serious research professionals are taking a chance on cold fusion experiments.
The first to start the work were viewed skeptically in the scientific community but as more big name labs begin to seriously look at cold fusion, the topic is once again becoming popular and acceptable.
More Concern Today
Twenty years ago the potential for producing energy using cold fusion had a different focus than it does today. We were concerned about our reliance on importing huge amounts of crude oil. The long gas lines of the 1970s were still fresh in our memory. Oil prices were going up and the cost of energy was headed higher as a result.
Today the driving force behind experiments to discover how cold fusion might work is somewhat different. We still have concerns about oil imports and the political unrest in some oil producing nations. Now we have added concerns about the limited supply of natural resources.
The oil we use was created over millions of years and the supply is not inexhaustible. Experts can now predict peak oil production of an oil field. The peak is the point at which maximum production has been reached and supply available from that oil well or field is in decline.
Environmental concerns also have fueled renewed interest in the fusion process. Greenhouse gases have been shown to contribute to global warming and climate change. Environmental experts claim we are rapidly approaching a tipping point for the planet.
The tipping point is a time when we have changed the atmosphere to such an extent that we cannot reverse the damage. No one knows when such a tipping point may be reached but some reputable experts warn that time is closer than we think.
How cold fusion works is by creating a low level nuclear reaction that takes an electrical current and boosts the power of that current by 25 times or more. This is accomplished at ambient temperatures and does not produce radioactive waste or heat.
P.S: if you enjoyed this part, make sure to read my guides on different types of renewable energy resources as well!