Dennis Bushnell is a Chief scientist at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He is also an inventor, author, and has been a consultant to countless government and military agencies. A few of these include the DOD, Air Force, DARPA, and the NRC. To read a more complete summary of his background, a good review can be found here. Recently, he was interviewed during an EV World podcast.
During the show, he addressed what he called "Low Energy Nuclear Reactions" as being the most interesting and promising alternative energy technology being developed.
In fact, it was first on his list, ahead of salt water agriculture, cyanobacteria, energy conservation, geothermal power, nano-plastic solar panels, solar thermal concentrators, and high altitude wind power.
"The most interesting and promising [technology sector] at this point ... [is] low energy nuclear reactions."
Bushnell went on to say that LENR technology could potentially solve all of our energy and climate problems. He stated the technology could be used for any application, including to power rockets for space travel. It is quite refreshing to hear such positive statements, in support of cold fusion, from a mainstream, credible, and respected scientist!
Actually, I cannot think of any other scientist off the top of my head, that I would have rather made a statement in support of LENR (cold fusion). His extensive scientific background, career history, and status as a Chief NASA scientist make his supportive statements very significant. Hopefully, they will inspire other scientists to take LENR research seriously! I would like to hear a naysayer like Bob Park (who has attacked cold fusion researchers for 20 years) try to criticize him for his comments.
During the interview, Bushnell specifically mentioned Andrea Rossi's E-Cat (Energy Catalyzer) technology, and seemed very supportive of it.
He reviewed the tests that have been performed and the large amount of excess heat produced. At one point he made a remark scientists across the world should notice...
"I think we are almost over the "we do not understand it" problem. I think we are almost over the "this does not produce anything useful" problem. I think this will go forward fairly rapidly now. If it does, this is capable of, by itself, completely changing geo-economics, geo-politics, and solving climate issues."
Despite his positive statements about LENR, he also made a few statements that indicate his lack of ability to admit that nuclear fusion at low temperatures could be a reality. He stated that all of the so called, "cold fusion" experiments performed over the last twenty years did not produce fusion reactions. His position is that they produced energy via a process called "Widom Larsen" theory, that does not involve fusion at all, but only "beta decay."
Cold Fusion, is a phenomenon in which atoms can fuse together and release energy at much lower temperatures. Instead of millions of degrees, the reactions can take place at temperatures as low as a few hundred of degrees.
Somehow, in cold fusion setups such as those of Andrea Rossi's, the Coulomb Barrier is apparently somehow being penetrated. There are many ideas and theories about the possible mechanisms that allows this barrier to be broken, allowing fusion reactions happen at such low energy levels.
Many of the theories have similar themes. Quite a few involve a proton from a hydrogen atom being made "invisible", being shielded, or made electrostatically neutral by an electron. In other theories, hydrogen atoms are shrunken and turned into mini-atoms or "virtual neutrons." Basically, in these theories the protons and their electrons (in some kind of altered form) do not experience the full repulsion of the Coulomb barrier, or are able to quantum tunnel through it. After they penetrate the barrier, a transmutation occurs in the metal (the atom gains a proton) and a large amount of energy is released. The end result is nuclear fusion at low temperatures.
The "Widom Larsen" theory is just another variation of the above. In the theory, an exotic type electron called a "heavy surface plasmon polariton" combines with a proton to form an, "ultra low momentum neutron." This neutron can then penetrate the Coulomb barrier of an atom of nickel (or other metal) to produce transmutations and release energy. Its proponents claim that this theory does not violate any "laws" of physics, and is not nuclear fusion.
However, I propose that "Widom Larsen" is a form of nuclear fusion, just like the other theories. The only difference is that it uses a few more fancy names for exotic sub atomic particles. Just like many of the other theories, the following set of events take place according to "Widom Larsen" theory.
- A shrunken or mini-hydrogen atom, virtual neutron, or a proton shielded by an electron sneak past the Coulomb barrier of another atom.
- A transmutation into a heavier element can take place.
- A large release of energy takes place.
This is indeed a fusion reaction, but the "Widom Larsen" proponents still try to argue otherwise. They claim that true "nuclear fusion" can only occur if a proton is pushed through the Coulomb barrier when the full repulsion is felt. Anything else, they claim, is a "neutron capture" event.
The first thing untenable about that is they claim an "ultra low momentum neutron" is composed of a proton and electron. If it is composed of a proton and electron (just pretending to be a neutron) how can it be a neutron capture event? For example, if I catch a dog dressed up like a cat, I really caught a dog. I did not really catch a cat! However, they want you to believe a dog dressed up like a cat, is really a cat!
The second thing untenable about their assertion is they claim that fusion cannot be taking place unless the full repulsion of the Coulomb barrier is felt. They go to the dictionary, and produce the following definitions.
- Neutron Capture involves a single particle, such as a neutron, with no electric charge entering a nucleus.
- Nuclear Fusion involves two nuclei having like-charges that overcome electromagnetic forces (the Coulomb barrier).
Basically, they try to claim that if you find a way to make a nuclei or proton sneak into another atom (without using lots of energy to bypass the Coulomb barrier) you have cheated, and you have not produced nuclear fusion.
For example, did you "climb" a wall if you used a ladder? The "Widom Larsen" supporters say you did not "climb" the wall unless you scaled it by hand! Using a ladder was cheating! According to them you did not climb the wall, but only "went over it."
They want to call your success something less than what it was, because you found a smarter/faster way to do it!
However, regardless how you got over the wall, the end result is the same. You are on the other side! The same is true with Cold Fusion and LENR (which they claim is only neutron capture and not fusion). The fact is, fusion happened regardless of the method by which you got the proton/electron/neutron into the atom's nucleus!