An original interview with nuclear scientist and engineer Jean-Paul Biberian finally breaks the silence on cold fusion. An absolutely transformative and revolutionary technology.
- Cold fusion can replace almost all energy sources
- Cold fusion can completely decentralize energy production
- It will start with small devices
- Cold fusion is inexpensive to build
- It is not difficult to learn
- When combined with electrolysis the only fuel you’ll need is water
- There are no toxic byproducts
- It would make space travel and asteroid mining easier
Interview with Dr Jean-Paul Biberian who’s upcoming book Cold Fusion: Advances in Condensed Matter and Nuclear Science provides an overview of different approaches to cold fusion.
Q: What is your own education? Can you explain what you specialize in and what school you went to for how long?
A: I am an engineer in nuclear science and electronics, and also a PhD in physics. My specialty is surface science, where I study the surface of materials at the atomic scale. I taught and did research at the University of Marseilles, but also stayed twice at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, first as a post-doc then as a research scientist.
Q: What is your profession and how long have you worked here?
A: I worked for 43 years at the Marseilles University as an assistant professor where I did research. In 2012, I retired, and since then, I have my personal laboratory at my home where I do my research.
Q: What would be some of the greatest benefits to using cold fusion over other forms of technology?
A: Cold Fusion is clean, doesn’t produce CO2, is easily accessible to everyone on Earth
Q: Are there any negative byproducts at all?
A: That is the problem, there are none. Too good to be true.
Q: May it one day completely replace nuclear reactors and fossil fuel, or would these always have their place?
A: Yes, it can quickly replace nuclear reactors, because instead of a centralized electricity production and distribution, it will be de-centralized, each home having its own electricity generator. It will take longer to have electric cars powered by cold fusion.
Q: How does cold fusion differ from nuclear fusion and can it replace nuclear fusion?
A: Cold Fusion can replace almost all sources of energy. At first, it will be small devices, but there is no practical reasons why large units could not be made.
Q: By small devices do you mean smart phones, tables and computers? Can you give us some examples?
A: I mean home heaters, not phones or computers. Batteries still have a future
Q: How did you learn about this technology and to what degree if at all have you been involved in experimental research?
A: I learned about Cold Fusion by the press in 1989, but I started working in this field experimentally only in 1993. I have been doing research on Cold Fusion since then. I am now retired from the university, but continue to work in my personal laboratory at my home
Q: Can you explain cold fusion in layman terms? That is suited for a college level education.
A: There are two kinds of reactions: chemical reactions and nuclear reactions. In chemistry, various atoms change locations in a molecule through electron exchange. For instance, if you have oxygen gas and hydrogen gas that react you form water. It is simply a reorganization of the electrons of oxygen and hydrogen atoms.
In nuclear reactions, the nucleus of an atom is modified. In fission reactions, the uranium nucleus is split and the mass of the pieces after splitting is less than the mass of the original uranium nucleus. The mass loss is transformed into energy using the famous formulae: E=mc2, where m is the mass loss and c the speed of light. A very small amount of mass produces a lot of energy.
There is another method to produce energy, fusion. In that case, two light nuclei fuse and produce a new nucleus, which mass is less than the original constituents. In practice two hydrogen atoms can fuse to produce a helium atom. Such a reaction occurs in the sun and all the stars, but also in the H bomb. At the moment people are trying to do the same thing in a controlled way. At Cadarache in France, an international team is building ITER a huge machine that is supposed to do that.
What makes this difficult is the fact that nuclei have a positive electrical charge, therefore when you want to bring together two of them they repulse like magnets. In order to solve that problem, the hydrogen nuclei are heated at very high temperature (150millions°C for ITER). At high temperature the nuclei move very fast and can get close to each other. When they are close enough, a new force manifests, the so called strong force which only acts at short distances. The reaction occurs and a lot of heat is produced.
In Cold Fusion, instead of working in such a situation, hydrogen is introduced inside the lattice of a metal, usually palladium. When there is enough hydrogen in the metal, they get close to each other and fuse. The details of the mechanism is unknown as of today. The big advantage of this technique is that it operates at relatively low temperatures, from room temperature to roughly 1000°C. This is low compare to whats is going to happen with ITE.
Q: So Hydrogen is the only “fuel” required in this case – is that correct?
A: Yes, hydrogen or deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen
Q: Could we eventually add water electrolysis to the device so that water could be used as fuel?
A: Yes, since hydrogen is a constituent of water
Q: Do you have any personal theories as to what about the palladium is preventing the hydrogen atoms from repulsing one another
A: The theory of nuclear fusion, is a two body reaction, i.e, a reaction between two hydrogen atoms in vacuum. In a solid, it is different, because the hydrogen atoms are in a solid, where there are lots of electrons. If you place electrons that are negative between two positively charged hydrogen nuclei, then, they will be attracted by the electron, instead of being repulsed. This is a simple description, but a possibility of mechanism
Q: In the description of your upcoming book on cold fusion, it says you are the editor. Who are the authors and what is your relationship to them?
A: There are 14 authors, including me and 17 chapters. I know all of them, since I am in this field since almost the beginning.
Q: Where they co-workers or people you shared your research with?
A: Not co-workers, but people that I appreciate.
Q: Are they working out of universities, or are some of them independent researchers?
Q: Was cold fusion difficult to learn? More so then other studies?
A: Cold Fusion is not difficult to learn, at least on the technical point of view. However, true understanding of the phenomenon is a lot more difficult. It is not very different of any other field of research.
Q: Did you work alone or with a partner?
A: In my lab, I work alone, but I collaborate regularly with other people
Q: How long did it take you to produce a successful reaction?
A: I got positive results a few month after my first experiments, this was very encouraging
Q: Can you explain the journey from cold fusion being “debunked” to gaining international attention as a feasible alternative once again?
A: After 30 years of work by a few hundred scientists world-wide, progress has been made showing that applications are now close. That is why interest has grown mainly from the industry. Academics are still very aggressive. They think that it is impossible.
Q: Was there a particular moment in the history of experimental research where researchers knew it was time to draw more attention from the industry?
A: I don’t really know, but several times in the history of Cold Fusion, various people have claimed the production of a reproducible experiment with potential applications. Therefore, I think that industry is monitoring the field from day one.
Recently, several groups in Japan and US have developed technologies using thin films or powders with potential applications. Also, the fact that research is continuing after 30 years is an indication that this is a genuine research field.
Q: Why are academics still so resistant? Industry is there lifeblood. Is it because the details of the mechanism are still unknown?
A: Academics work where money is, and there is no funding in Cold Fusion, so psychologically, it is better to claim that Cold Fusion doesn’t exist, because if it was true, then, they should change and work with such an exciting field. They cannot do it, because there is no money, no possibility of publication. There is now the possibility that industry will fund the research. The mechanisms are not known, and this is another reason why academics do not follow.
Q: Will an engineer be able to construct a cold fusion reactor by referencing the information contained in your book?
A: Not quite yet, but I guess that soon with adequate equipment and skills, it will be possible
Q: What kind of equipment would be required?
A: They will need to have. a good knowledge of vacuum technology, material science, and calorimetry
Q: If you don’t mind me asking, what is the setup cost for constructing a cold fusion reactor?
A: The basic cost itself is a few thousand dollars, however, it is necessary to have all the basic equipment and knowledge.
Q: If cold fusion were ready for the industry could any of the extant forms of sustainable energy even compete with it? Such as solar power.
A: It all depends on the location and power. In some cases, it is simpler to put a solar panel which can directly produce electricity than a Cold Fusion device that needs to transform heat into electricity
Q: If cold fusion were to be manufactured at scale, how would it change our everyday lives?
A: Totally: homes with its own energy source, cars with unlimited mileage…
Q: Are we talking unlimited off grid energy?
Q: Could we use a cold fusion reactor in an electric airplane or spacecraft (once it is in orbit?)
A: Maybe one day. It will be necessary to reach high temperatures and that is not easy.
Q: Would a large reactor be powerful enough to launch a rocket in to orbit?
A: No, it will take a very long time to get there. However, once in space, then cold fusion can be used to accelerate a vehicle in order to decrease the time to go from Earth to Mars.
Q: May cold fusion one day enable advanced forms of transportation or propulsion that do not currently exist?
A: Nothing new will appear, but it will change the way we produce energy.
Q: It sounds like were talking about a very clean, reliable energy source. Do you think it would make conducting activities in outer space any easier? An outpost on Mars for example would be very remote but would have access to water from underneath the surface. There are also plenty of asteroids with water in them.