Cold Fusion and the First Law
of Thermodynamics: An Essay
Published in Infinite Energy Magazine, Issue 123, September/October, 2015
Daniel S. Szumski1
1Independent Scholar, 513 F Street, Davis, CA 95616, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Low energy nuclear reactions! That doesn't sound quite right. Nuclear reactions are high energy events that produce lots
of heat. The idea that small quantities of energy can facilitate these reactions flies in the face of reason. How can you
possibly operate a low temperature machine to produce nuclear fusion?
And yet, as certain as we are that this cannot happen, we have memorialized this concept in the names we have chosen for
our very special process: Low Enery Nuclear Reaction, Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reaction. Why not simply advertise it as
the only nuclear process that allows an end run around the First Law of Thermodynamics.
My first essay spoke to the need for a fresh look at existing science, or perhaps even new elements of science as we
move toward a cold fusion theory. I suggested that we consider a modeling framework based in reversible thermodynamics.
After all, we are dealing with a very far-from-equilibrium thermodynamic state, and that is precisely where reversible
processes take place... very far from equilibrium, and at the very limit of the Second Law. This is in contrast to the current
paradygm in cold fusion circles that hopes to discover an existing or new physical process that will initiate nuclear
fusion reactions at room temperature. Needless to say, this approach has not produced a viable modeling framework. Nor will
it. What is needed, is an expanded view of what is possible... but always within the context of the First Law of
A. Where Does the Energy Come From?
The First Law of Thermodynamics tells us that mass/energy-in must equal mass/energy-out. So if we are
going to have high energy output, we need to either 1) input at least the quantity of energy required for ignition, or 2)
somehow accumulate the ignition energy over time. I think that the record is clear on this point. No known physical or
chemical process can produce the required ignition energy without reservoir storage. And while it is possible that there
is some unknown heat process that might release the required energy at room temperature, I don't think so. Too many of our
very learned colleagues have traveled this road without success.
Let's look at the alternative. Is it possible to accumulate energy over the course of, for instance, the loading period,
and store it until it is sufficient for ignition? I believe that it is. However, if we are going to explore this avenue,
our immediate problem is finding a storage mechanism that obscures this energy until the moment of ignition. We know that
it is there. The First Law tells us that. We just need to find out where it resides.
We can identify four types of energy in our cold fusion reactor:
- chemical bond energy,
- blackbody electromagnetic energy,
- electrical energy input for electrolysis, and
- energy of thermal motion.
Chemical free energy is contained within the subset consisting of the first two, and this is really the only possible
place for energy storage in a form that might later be converted to nuclear work. The electrical current is a transient
condition. It is not suitable for energy storage. And finally, there is thermal motion, which is simply the most primitive
However, I don't want to minimize the thermal motion portion of the energy inventory in any way, because as we will see
in what is to follow, it could be the ultimate source of energy for the cold fusion process. In that regard, there is one
important understanding that we have to grasp regarding thermal motion. It revolves around Helmholtz's great contribution
to physics, summarized here by his student, Max Planck: "In accordance with Helmholtz, heat energy is reduced to motion,
and this certainly indicates an advance which is to be placed, perhaps exactly on the same footing as the advance which is
involved in the consideration of light waves as electromagnetic waves" (Eight Lectures in Theoretical Physics, 1915,
The Helmholtz free energy includes that due to motion. The Gibbs form does not. This is the approximation that Gibbs
had to make to achieve the simplicity of his physical chemistry methods. In the present case, we will adopt the method of
Helmholtz because it is the only complete representation of the cyclic heat processes, and the only method that is suitable
to the reversible thermodynamic processes that we will be considering.
My recent paper in J. Cond. Matter Nuclear Sc. describes an energy harvesting process wherein the thermal motion of
deuterons in a F&P device is reduced to exactly zero at the first instant when it is absorbed into the metal hydride lattice.
The deuteron's kinetic energy goes to zero in this process, but the First Law requires that this energy is not lost, and is
instead absorbed into the metal hydride lattice where it is stored as lattice bond energy. I say that the deuteron's kinetic
energy has been 'quieted.'
At first glance this appears to violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics because the process's evolution decreases the
system's entropy. But that is a naïve assessment. There is nothing that precludes the transference of thermal motion to
electromagnetic energy. I show ample evidence for this in my thought experiments of two identical blocks that are heated to
the same initial heat content by friction and radiant heating. But, what is unusual about deuteron 'quieting' is the capture
of the electromagnetic energy in covalent bonds or Mossbauer resonance. These are stable far-from-equilibrium conditions that
once achieved, prevent the energy's return to the domain of thermal motion.
By this means, we have "exploited an instability in the normal thermodynamics, causing a branch to what would otherwise
be an inaccessible thermodynamic state" (Prigogine, I., From Being to Becoming, 1980). Ilya Prigogine has called this a
dissipative structure. In our case, the inaccessible state is nuclear fusion or fission, or more simply nuclear transmutation.
The instability in the normal thermodynamics is, I believe, the movement of infinitesimal energy quantities from the domain
of thermal motion into the domain of reversible thermodynamics, where it accumulates as lattice bond energy, but with no path
back to thermal motion. The one thing that you will want to remember about the difference between these two thermodynamic
states is the absence of any kinetic energy in the reversible process domain.
The first of two dissipative structures in the cold fusion process is that described above wherein deuterons are captured
by a nickel or palladium cathode to form metal hydride. The captured energy is stored first as covalent bonds, and as the
energy increases, as Mossbauer resonant energy between nuclei.
It is important that you also see how the dissipative structure has operated in this context. The rapidly moving deuteron
cleaves to the cathode's metal lattice, instantly ceasing all motion. It has been 'quieted'. This capture removes its energy
from the domain of statistical processes and thermal motion. It becomes instead electromagnetic energy between sub-atomic
particle. And it is locked there.
But, there is a more important point. Do you see how this energy accumulation is masked from our observation? The absorbed
energy quanta exist solely as bond energy between sub-atomic particles. It cannot be detected, in exactly the same way that
we do not observe the shared covalent bond energy in diatomic gasses or the bond energies in the nickel lattice. There is no
apparent energy accumulation, but it is there, in accordance with the First Law.
B. But, Something More is Needed for Ignition!
While we may have found a way to accumulate the energy required for ignition, as it turns out, this is not a sufficient
condition for ignition. We are looking at a thermodynamic process with First and Second Law requirements. These are
processes that are temperature specific in their operation. And as we all know, the operating temperature for nuclear
transmutations is essentially solar core conditions or greater. Now, I know that you are saying to yourself "he's not going to
show how solar core temperatures might occur in a laboratory temperature device." Humor me. Let's begin by putting on our eyes
of discovery as we immerse ourselves in a fascinating question, and the subject of my research report at ICCF-19: "The Atom's
Let me state my findings very briefly.
Temperature is a derivative. It is expressed as joules/sec or joules/m2-sec. At every equilibrium temperature, the total
emittance is unique to that temperature, and characterized as the area beneath a blackbody spectral curve in accordance with
Planck's theory. Furthermore, the spectral curve is the same in the interior of all materials at that temperature… regardless
of its composition, and no matter how small.
Let's now take a look at the emittance between two identical nuclei in Mossbauer resonance. Quantum electro-dynamic theory
envisions this resonance as the continuous exchange of a gamma photon between the two nuclei. This is known to be a
recoilless process, or more accurately a thermodynamically reversible process. There is no kinetic energy present, and the
exchange continues indefinitely, without loss of energy to motion, and with no change in entropy.
So, lets take a look at the temperature of this system of two atoms. The emittance of either is the energy of the resonant
gamma photon times the frequency of its exchange. Thus:
where the gamma frequency, ,
places the atom at or above solar core temperature, 107
oK or above.
C. Gamma Emissions Decay in Accord with the First Law of Thermodynamics
The second dissipative structure occurs when sufficient energy has been absorbed to allow ignition. You can view the energy
accumulation as a roller coaster ascent. The chain drive continually lifts the coaster toward the top, and then releases the
accumulated potential energy into kinetic energy as the train pulls away from the chain drive. In the case at hand, stored
electro-magnetic energy becomes great enough to dissipate into nuclear transmutations, never to re-enter its resonant energy
This is the second place where the First Law is implicated in our understanding of the cold fusion process, and where a
slightly different way of looking at the process gives us valuable insight into another conundrum: the absence of gamma
radiation in F&P experiments.
Regardless of whether heat is produced or not, all of the nuclear reactions taking place in a Fleischmann-Ponns cell, emit
or consume relatively large amounts of energy. Because the emitted energy is at the gamma end of the energy spectrum, it
should be easy to measure. But as we all know, this is not the case. With rare exceptions, no form of radioactivity is ever
observed. So what happens to the energy given off by these nuclear fusion and fission reactions?
Let's first remember, we are dealing with a heat process, one that is different than any other that science has ever
encountered. Not only does it produce new stable nuclei, and generate heat in quantities that can only be explained as being
of nuclear origin, but it does so without emitting any of the radioactive byproducts that we expect. The first Law of
Thermodynamics requires that we either 1) see gamma bursts, or 2) account for the gamma energy in some other way. So let's
look at the process through lense number 2.
The result is very satisfying. We find that the LANP process is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. It conserves
energy as required by the First Law. In particular, we find total energy production that is consistent with nuclear reactions
and gamma emission, but it is simply in the wrong form...low energy heat rather than high energy gamma bursts. The First Law
only requires that these large amounts of energy are conserved. It is our task, to determine why it is in the wrong form.
The LANP theory explains this paradox in a straight forward manner. Consider the microwave that you used this morning to
reheat your coffee. It emits microwave radiation at 2.45Ghx and imparts that energy to your coffee. But the radiation coming
from your coffee is a frequency transformed representation of the original microwave energy, having essentially the same
total energy, but a lower energy representation of it. A similar frequency transform occurs in the LANP reactor. The gamma
photon is absorbed into the far-from-equilibrium blackbody spectra where it is transformed to lower energy photons that are
spread over a large number of lower frequency energy quanta. The summation of these is the total energy of the original
gamma photon. This is the excess heat that we measure. Its origin is nuclear gamma emissions.
It is also noteworthy that no other radiation, or radioactive waste products result from LANP operation, nor do we see
half life delays. The nuclear transmutations seem to occur directly between isotope reactants with deuterons, and the final
stable isotope products. In this Least Action process, there are no traces of unstable intermediate isotopes or their
radioactive decay products. Reversible thermodynamic processes are characterized only by their initial and final states,
without any of the messy intermediate stuff. All that we can say about the path between the two is that it is precisely and
completely characterized by The Principle of Least Action.
To learn more visit www.LeastActionNuclearProcess.com.