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A new fusion process

A collaboration between researchers in Sweden and Icelands claim to have developed a new nuclear fusion process. It's based on deuterium, and takes place in in small laser-initiated reactors. More importantly they say that they have already got it generating more power than it consumes.

The laser-induced nuclear fusion process in ultra-dense deuterium D(0) gives a heating power at least a factor of 2 larger than the laser power into the apparatus, thus clearly above break-even. This is found with 100-200 mJ laser pulse-energy into the apparatus. No heating is used in the system, to minimize problems with heat transfer and gas transport. This gives sub-optimal conditions, and the number of MeV particles (and thus their energy) created in the fusion process is a factor of 10 below previous more optimized conditions. Several factors lead to lower measured heat than the true value, and the results found are thus lower limits to the real performance. With the optimum source conditions used previously, a gain of 20 is likely also for longer periods.

Inevitably with nuclear fusion, a degree of caution is always advisable. Nevertheless, it's an interesting paper, which can be seen here.


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Reader Comments (41)

There is a short report about this at ScienceDaily: “Small-scale nuclear fusion may be a new energy source”.

This is apparently the work of one person.

Oct 1, 2015 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

Well, it does at least sound as if they aren't hyping the results. If anything they seem to be doing the opposite.
Early days but maybe a step along the road ....

Oct 1, 2015 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"In a small scale fusion reactor", scaling it up will be tricky!

Oct 1, 2015 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

"they say that they have already got it generating more power than it consumes"

Hmm, where have we heard that before??

Oct 1, 2015 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

We'll wait and see. There have been false dawns before.

The good thing is that people are trying different approaches on a small scale, independent of the vast lumbering projects that suck up the bulk of the research funds available.

And if something beneficial comes out of it, you can be sure that it won't have been done by a 'climate scientist', who seem to exist mainly to predict the end of the world.

Oct 1, 2015 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Yes, Derek, the problems all arise when trying to scale up from the lab to a commercial size (or even a demonstration size).

Oct 1, 2015 at 11:54 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

This sounds like the same ballpark as LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions) claim. It's all at very low power - Watts - and if energy out is twice energy in, that puts it, in practical terms, somewhere alongside Heat Pumps; more of a very efficient heater than anything that could be used for power generation.
It all depends if it will scale up successfully.
Still, I'd like to think that it's as least worth a small bet in the long term.

Oct 1, 2015 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Davis

Process power output may be positive, but I'm presuming this is just for the maguffin rather than the full cycle.

Big unknown: energy cost of finding/creative deuterium dense material. If that's not in there, we're still net negative over the full cycle.

Oct 1, 2015 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

"Clean Low Cost Nuclear", like "Clean Coal" are wet dreams for sceptics, not for saving the planet, but for watching the mayhem amongst "Greens" when their wealth, influence and political prospects vanish overnight.

Oct 1, 2015 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

John Davis, The LENR claims are COP of 30 and up, not 2. So not the same ballpark. Power out, up to 1 MW. Several patents have been recently granted. Patent wars seem to be starting, which would seem a waste of money if there's nothing there.

Oct 1, 2015 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeP

MikeP - please can you provide a verifiable source for LENR providing 1MW output? Thanks.

Oct 1, 2015 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

...Inside the tube, a few potassium doped iron oxide catalyst samples23,24 form ultra-dense deuterium from deuterium gas (99.8%). The ultra-dense deuterium is partially absorbed by the Ir, but finally falls down to the internal bottom of the Cu cylinder. The D2 gas pressure used in the chamber is ≤ 1.0 mbar with constant pumping (uncorrected Pirani meter reading) using a variable leak valve at <10−2 mbar dm3 s−1....

Anybody know what 'ultra dense deuterium' is? S.L.B.T.M.

Oct 1, 2015 at 2:39 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

It is hype. They're throwing around factors of 2, at milliwatt energies, because their measurements are just not good enough to tell whether they are getting out more than they're putting in, and then they throw in the tellingly obvious salesman's carrot, that the "true" benefit is an order of magnitude greater (so buy now, because this deal won't last). Pure hype. Shame on anyone who falls for it (i.e., takes it seriously for more than a minute's consideration).

Oct 1, 2015 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

'ultra dense deuterium' from my quick scan of the paper seems to be low-pressure deuterium adsorbed or condensed onto a catalytic substrate. So its not a specific type of feed material, simply a transient stage in the process.

Oct 1, 2015 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean Houlihane

More on ultra-dense hydrogen/deuterium by the same crackpot author.


Ultra-dense hydrogen H(-1) is a quantum material and the first material which is superfluid and superconductive at room temperature. This has been shown in detail for the deuterium form D(-1). With its experimentally determined H-H bond distance of normally 2.3 +/- A 0.1 pm, it is up to a factor of 10(5) denser than hydrogen ice composed of H-2 molecules. Its existence means that when hydrogen is compressed to high temperature and density, as in laser-induced nuclear inertial-confinement fusion (ICF), sudden localized spontaneous transitions to H(-1) will give spots in the material where pressure falls strongly. Such pressure drops give a non-homogeneous phase which will not ignite smoothly. The energy released by the rapid transition to H(-1) will further cause non-isotropic motion of the target material. We here propose that the instability problems which plague ICF can be circumvented by using ultra-dense hydrogen H(-1) directly as the fusion fuel.

Oct 1, 2015 at 3:13 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Does the energy balance include the energy required to produce the ultra-dense deuterium?

Oct 1, 2015 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimB

"A collaboration between researchers in Sweden and Icelands..."

I ain't shopping in there no more!

Oct 1, 2015 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

Too little too late?

In answer to the question about LENR above, see
(Woodford Equity did 2.5 years of due diligence before investing)
(Aftenposten is Norway's largest newspaper)
(The 1 MW is from four 250kW units shown bottom center. The 50 older small E-Cats shown in the center are just on stand-by) It has now been operating about 7 months. The trial is scheduled to end late February.

Oct 1, 2015 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdrian Ashfield

might be a cracpot i do not know what ultra dense hydrogen is
but certainly worth following up and risk some
funding...unlike ALL of the warmish green initiatives

Oct 1, 2015 at 6:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterWortSalad

I want it to be true.

I still think we are only 30 years away from energy positive fusion.

As we were 30 years ago.l

Oct 1, 2015 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

Ultra-dense hydrogen H(-1) is a quantum material and the first material which is superfluid and superconductive at room temperature.

...a few potassium doped iron oxide catalyst samples23,24 form ultra-dense deuterium from deuterium gas (99.8%)...

Come on BH readers. You don't produce "quantum material superfluid and superconductive at room temperature" by wafting hydrogen over some iron oxide, even if it has been "potassium doped". It's rubbish.

Oct 1, 2015 at 7:14 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

There is a fascinating Canadian enterprise, General Fusion, that has taken a different approach and is well on the way to building and testing a fusion machine. General Fusion’s Magnetized Target Fusion system uses a sphere, filled with molten lead-lithium pumped in a 3 metre diameter sphere so as to rotate the molten matter to form a smooth cylindrical vertical vortex. This vortex is used to confine and compress the plasma. On each pulse, magnetically-confined plasma is injected into the vortex. Around the sphere, an array of pistons impact and drive an acoustic pressure wave into the centre of the sphere, compressing the plasma to fusion conditions. The molten lead-lithium absorbs the resulting heat and is circulated through a heat exchanger to produce steam for electrical generation. A portion of the steam is used to power the pistons.

See To see scientific papers, click on “Media” on top bar, then click on “Scientific Papers”.

Oct 1, 2015 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterDonobo

we have a very reliable way to gauge such new ideas: if lefty scumbags in the establishment are feverishly AGAINST, we know there might be value in it

Oct 1, 2015 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCo2

not banned yet & Adrian, I used the word claims on purpose. Sometime after February, we should get confirmation (or not) about that particular claim. The 1MW plant produces relatively low temperature steam. There are also follow on high temperature versions which may be suitable for electricity generation. The 1 MW plant is a heat source. The most recent high temperature version has been reported to suffer from materials failure after long term high temperature exposure (on the order of weeks of continuous operation). This supposedly needs some development of materials with better properties.

I happen to think that there is a real effect, because there are too many different groups also claiming excess energy. I think the next decade should be really exciting, the most exciting part being the improvement in human conditions in all parts of the world.

Oct 1, 2015 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeP

Hype or whatever.

I still don't see anything that beats fracking.

Oct 1, 2015 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeary

MikeP - I'm with you in believing there is a real effect there somewhere, and I think it may turn out to be a viable power source sooner than ITER does. But I reckon that Rossi is a scam. I saw the videos of some early trials, and no way were they producing the sort of power they claimed.

Oct 1, 2015 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Davis

I've been withholding judgement about Rossi...but the process has now received a patent from the US patent office, so it should be replicatable.

Oct 2, 2015 at 2:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterRdcii

Yeah, pretty sure it's bollocks. This ultradense deuterium would be a Nobel prize worthy discovery if it were real, this is loonie fringe science. And Rossi with his criminal background, and history of claiming tremendous breakthroughs (waste to oil, thermoelectrics) that somehow never materialised, is totally unreliable. Rossi replicators with good scientific practices (MFMP) see no power, and his big showcase Lugano test recently had unconvincing calorimetry and pretty strong indications of faking isotope changes in reaction ash (turned out he had purchased a purified Ni isotope that showed up in ash and so 'proved' it was a nuclear reaction). Just as all his previous demos had (one surmises) deliberately bad calorimetry.

Oct 2, 2015 at 2:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobL

OK, seeing as the discussion has turned this way, and the Bish himself started the thread, I will post a link to the first lecture in a recent (2014) week-long lecture series at MIT given by Peter Hagelstein and Mitchell Swartz.
The first one is MIT Cold Fusion IAP 2014 Monday January 27, and the four subsequent ones can be easily found on youtube by searching on Tuesday January 28, etc.

It's fascinating, mainly for the technically inclined, but also to envisage the eclipse of a high-achieving scientist's career for taking a turn that is not approved by the establishment. I've watched all 15 hours, some of it more than once, and will do again. These people are not jokers, charlatans, lazy scientists, or dimwits. Hagelstein, who developed X-ray lasers, gives plenty of scientific cautions in the first lecture, and at the beginning of each subsequent one.

Oct 2, 2015 at 2:56 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics are doing similar work and are well on their way to proof of concept. (http://lawrencevilleplasmaphys... When theirs is done it will be about the size of a small camper and provide electricity for a moderate sized town.

Oct 2, 2015 at 3:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterDMA

Shorter MikeP - "No I don't have a verifiable source for the claimed1MW output from an LENR generator."

Oct 2, 2015 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Fusion reaction is like tantaric sex, exciting but never comes.

Oct 2, 2015 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

not banned yet, ESL??? I do have a verifiable source for the claim, which is all that I talked about. If you bothered reading either post you would have noticed statements like " Sometime after February, we should get confirmation (or not) about that particular claim." John Davis originally posted about LENR claims always being in the Watt range. I responded to that because it's not true.

Actually, people who twist words the way you do generally have an agenda ... just sayin'

Oct 2, 2015 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeP

MikeP - apologies. Please can you copy paste the verifiable reference from your post so I can follow up on it? All I can see are your unsupported claims.

Oct 3, 2015 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Michael hart informs us :Oct 1, 2015 at 11:51 AM :

"We'll wait and see. There have been false dawns before....if something beneficial comes out of it, you can be sure that it won't have been done by a 'climate scientist', "

Sorry Michael- the corresponding author of this curious work hails from

Download PDF
Leif Holmlid1,a)
1 Atmospheric Science, Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, SE-412 96 Göteborg, Sweden

Your MIT link is to an MIT winter break presentation by the good doctor Hagelstein, who ran for President of the United States on the Ranjeesh Yoga Levitation platform.

Oct 3, 2015 at 7:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

VWvussell, no sale.
I see you still make no direct comment on the scientific content of the Swartz/Hagelstein presentations, and merely concentrate on one person's politics.

Roy Spencer has expressed some, fairly mainstream, Christian views that have also been widely used in an attempt to discredit him. I am an atheist, but I see no signs that his religious beliefs influence his scientific abilities and judgement. You remain pathetic in your attempts at political denigration.

And you seem unable, or unwilling, to post a simple working link. You frequently give the impression of being a troll here at Bishop Hill. I am not going to spend much time searching the web for your views. If you have something of substance to say or post, please say it or post it in an easily accessible form (non-paywalled would be appreciated).

You have long since spent most of your credibility, and trying to argue from authority will not work well at BH. You need to do something to re-establish some trust.

Oct 4, 2015 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Rdcii - you've been withholding judgement about Rossi..."but the process has now received a patent from the US patent office, so it should be replicatable."

Sadly - No. The US Patent Office have probably done an efficient literature search, and not found the alleged invention described in the published literature. What they haven't done is to check whether the experiments described work as described (or at all). They are not required to - and if they were, they couldn't - they don't have the capacity (or staff) to do experiments.

I'm not saying it doesn't work (what would I know?). All I'm saying is that the grant of a US patent is no evidence that it does.

Oct 4, 2015 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

From the Washington Post :

"As Hagelstein explains it, leading physicists came out swiftly and prematurely against cold fusion. A prominent physicist at Caltech said Pons and Fleischmann were "suffering from delusions." William Happer, a Princeton professor, called them "incompetent boobs."

Just days after the infamous Utah announcement, Hagelstein presented possible theories for cold fusion, and MIT applied for patents on his behalf. Some scientists openly ridiculed his theories. And cold fusion, despite his support, was attacked the next month at a Jasons meeting he attended. Hagelstein remembers Happer, then chairman of the Jasons, telling him to choose between cold fusion and his membership in the group. Hagelstein resigned.

Happer says he never told Hagelstein he had to leave the Jasons. "I do remember telling him: 'Look, Peter, why get messed up with this field? It's going to be nothing but a tar baby. You could make a great career in physics.' He didn't want to hear it..

William Happer is of course antothe leading light of the Marshall Institute

Not that their grollaching of cold fusion bodes well for climate contrarians- they have no quarrel with the conventional physics of radiative forcing .

Oct 5, 2015 at 1:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

I gave you more than 15 hours to view what is available in the videos from 2014, Russell, and you chose to waste it and remain in 1989.

I actually gave no opinion on the technical merits, but I did think for a (short) while that you might be someone who was capable of offering some insights. I guess we all make mistakes.

You chose not to take the informative option, returning to insulting those who don't take the alarmist line on global warming, and attempting to discredit by any association those who don't agree.

That is a shame. But regrettably, I am not surprised.

Oct 5, 2015 at 2:17 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

And you still haven't explained why you think the reported results constitute cold fusion and not hot fusion.
C'mon vvwvwvvwussell, Master of the Universe and Letters to Nature, throw us a bone.

Oct 5, 2015 at 2:32 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Mister Hart, as you have failed to publish one damn thing on this or any other scientific subject , it is highly amusing that you should presume to instruct others by directing them to a video found you first page of Google hits.

Messrs Happer & Garwin both subscribe to , and have written for Nature -

Why can't you?

Intelligent readers like martinA will find the vacuity of yourl complaint :
"And you still haven't explained why you think the reported results constitute cold fusion and not hot fusion."

amply answered by the scientific substnce of "Fusion In From the Cold "

the gist of the problem being that " cold fusion " like "perpetual motion " is what philosophers of language stye " a rigid designator in the null set"


Oct 5, 2015 at 7:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

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