In 1989, Pons and Fleischmann claimed to cause fusion in an ordinary electrolytic cell containing heavy water.
This process is named Cold Fusion. It begins by the electrolysis of heavy water on a Palladium cathode that induces the penetration of Deuterium in the electrode. This penetration is sometimes associated with the release of an excess heat and the production of Helium and more rarely Tritium.
Numerous explanations, sometimes highly speculative, have been proposed. In the following message, I propose an explanation more classical. If this explanation has some reality, the Cold Fusion could be a hidden Hot Fusion.
I think that the Cold Fusion could be related with Branly effect.
A few years before 1900, the scientist Branly has discovered a phenomenon that has been used sometimes in radio communications. This phenomenon is the change of electric conductivity of a metallic powder by an electric current or an electromagnetic wave. The effect is reversible: a shock on the tube containing the powder restores the initial conductivity.
During a long time, the explanation of this effect has been controversial. But recently some experiments give a complete explanation of the phenomenon (see E. Falcon, B. Castaing, Electrical conductivity in granular media and Branly’s coherer: a simple experiment, in American Journal of Physics, vol. 73, pp. 302-307, 2005).
The modern vision of this phenomenon is now:
– the pellicular layer of oxide on each grain of the metallic powder gives an high electric resistance to the material,
– the electric current flows through very small contacts between the grains,
– the high density of current on resistive oxide layer melts the material by Joule effect and creates tiny metallic gates,
– when the metallic gates are established, the resistance of the powder decreases considerably,
– the resistive initial state of the powder can be retrieved by a shock on the tube containing the powder: the shock breaks all the tiny metallic gates between the grains.
The Branly effect shows the possibility to concentrate easily the electric energy in a very small amount of matter.
Knowing that, my vision of the Pons-Fleischmann effect is:
– the electrolysis of heavy water on a Palladium electrode induces the penetration of Deuterium atoms in the metal,
– the Palladium electrode is a polycrystalline material, a juxtaposition of little crystallites held together by a thin layer of amorphous material,
– the accumulation of Deuterium atoms in the metallic lattice, particularly in the amorphous material between crystallites, reduces the conductivity of the metal,
– in rare circumstances, this accumulation of Deuterium could create an insulating wall,
– as the Branly effect predicts, the electric current perforates this resistive material through very small areas,
– the high density of current in these tiny passages could generate hot spots,
– in each spot, the interaction between the electric discharge and its own magnetic field could generates a dense and hot plasma,
– this hot spot contains a great amount of Deuterium atoms, so some nuclear fusions could occur,
– after that, the continuous flow of Deuterium atoms produced by the electrolysis restores the resistive state of the tiny volume where the fusion has occurred.
This hypothesis could be verified by a Branly experiment conducted under a deuterated atmosphere.
This experiment can take the form of a metallic powder heated in a Deuterium atmosphere. If the metal is Titanium or Palladium, the grains of the powder become covered by a layer of deuterated compound. This layer changes the conductivity of the powder that becomes resistive. If this deuterated compound is not sufficiently resistive, the treatment could be made with heavy water that can generate a deuterated hydroxide more resistive.
What could be the comportment of this powder with a short pulse of high voltage? If the contact areas between the grains are very small, the density of electric energy in these tiny volumes when the current flows could perhaps generate hot plasmas. These short lived plasmas could permit some nuclear fusion between Deuterium nukes. It could occur in the entire mass of the powder a great number of these hot spots. After that, many metallic gates are established between the grains of powder, the electric current flows without resistance. A shock on the tube containing the powder breaks these tiny metallic gates and so the initial resistive state is restored for a new experiment.