From 30th July to 1st August, S-VYASA hosted a major physics conference with distinguished participants from several different countries, particularly the United States of America, the UK, and Brazil, as well as a group of top nuclear scientists and theoretical physicists from India, including Professor Ramamurthy, Director of the National Institute of Advanced Study (NIAS) in Bengaluru, Professor K.P. Sinha from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) also in Bangalore, and Professor E.C.G. Sudarshan from the University of Texas in Austin, who has narrowly missed being awarded the Nobel Prize on two occasions. At the end, Professor Sudarshan commented that it had been the best and most stimulating conference that he has attended in over two years.
The 4th International Symposium on Hydrogen-Matter Interactions was divided into three main sections, a day devoted to each main topic, with all participants in attendance for each session. The conference was inaugurated by S-VYASA Chancellor, Dr H.R. Nagendra, followed after the break by our Clinical Director, Dr R. Nagarathna, who spoke about Yoga and Health, especially with reference to S-VYASA’s clinical research. The need of the hour is for prevention, and to take advantage of Yoga’s ancient understanding of positive health so as to generate states that are not just free from disease, but powerfully resistant to development of pathology.
After lunch on the first day, in a pair of talks given by Dr G.P. Das, and Dr Richard Ricker from the National Institute of Standards in Technology, the conference focused on Hydrogen in material systems, particularly its interactions with metals such as palladium or niobium, and its ability to create alloys with properties that are unexpected and unusual. Niobium was held to be of particular importance because it is the material of choice for superconducting magnets requiring superconductivity to be maintained in very high magnetic fields, such as the superconducting magnets used in the world’s most powerful particle accelerators in elementary particle physics. At Fermilab and CERN, intense magnetic fields generated with relatively small energy expenditure by niobium superconducting magnets are used to focus the accelerated beams of particles used in collision experiments. With bunches of particles travelling very close to the speed of light, radio frequency modulation is also required. Under these extreme conditions, problems can arise in the niobium magnets if they are exposed to pollution, particularly to water vapour in the atmosphere, which can leave hydrogen behind in the lattice. Not surprisingly such hydrogen can interfere with details of the superconducting properties, such as the strength of the magnetic field attainable before the essential superconducting property is lost. Dr SB Roy focused on the application of Niobium superconducting magnets to creating cavities containing radio frequency alternating magnetic fields.
The morning of the second day, Session 3, was concerned with the effect of hydrogen impurities on the heat conductivity of niobium at liquid Helium temperatures, namely 2 to 4 degrees of Absolute Temperature – degrees Kelvin. After the break, Dr. Rajaram’s talk focused on the use of positron beams to study variations of positron – electron annihilation with depth in metals, and so to determine variations in Hydrogen concentration. The second afternoon, a representative of the world’s largest niobium producing company, TBMM in Brazil, gave a fascinating talk about the company’s history and development, particularly emphasizing involvement in research on possible applications of niobium. TBMM has the world’s largest deposit of niobium, enough to last for centuries into the future at current rates of use. Apart from the relatively small demand for superconducting magnets, niobium is used in amounts of less than 0.05% to dope steels and vastly increase strength, making the final products much safer. Micrographs where shown of the structure of domains and dislocations in Niobium doped steels, showing that they become far more regular, and that stabilizing the array of dislocations by this means is responsible for the huge increase in strength. A Gas pipeline in China worth many billion dollars was constructed for less than half the expected price. Similarly the amount of steel used in cars is halved and their strength and safety doubled by judicious use of niobium doped steels.
The morning of August 1st discussed the most unusual and exotic hydrogen-matter interaction of all – Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR). Dr Mahadeva Srinivasan, a former Associate Director of a Division of the Bhabha Atomic Energy Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, who gave the first, main presentation of the field, had been in at the very beginning, when the discovery was first announced to the press in early 1989. Two electro-chemists working with a simple cell electrolyzing Lithium deuteride, LiOD, using palladium electrodes, had discovered excess heat production of some 100 watts. They confirmed this with the utmost care and then announced to the world the totally unexpected result that nuclear fusion reactions could be induced between deuterium, D, and palladium, Pd, at low energy. Having read this in the morning newspapers, the then Director BARC, Dr P.K. Iyengar, persuaded some senior scientists at BARC to try to verify the discovery. This they succeeded in doing and several groups published papers confirming it. Very early, Dr. Srinivasan also interested Professor ECG Sudarshan in the work, when he happened to visit India, and the Indian Government was informed that research on the topic would be worthwhile.
Subsequently, however, several experiments in the US apparently ran into difficulty and reported failure to confirm effects. The United States government, possibly under the influence of the power industry, publicized failures to achieve repetition of the initial results, and banned further research. They went to the length of disgracing the chemists, who had first announced the discovery, they were only chemists after all, and what could they know about nuclear physics?
This is a not-untypical reaction to a great discovery by intellectuals and other powers-that-be, who would rather not have the status quo disturbed. The ancient Chinese astronomers who first announced that the year was not 360 days long (12 months of 30 days), but 365 days, were instantly beheaded! Similarly, the Papal announcement in the 15th century of the change in the leap year system to eliminate leap years in centennial years, with an accompanying deletion of 15 days from the calendar to put it back to what it had been in the time of Christ, resulted in serious rioting throughout Europe. The people were wrongly told that, since the date of their death was supposedly fixed, the Pope had denied them 15 days life, which was rightfully theirs!
A similar kind of twisted logic was applied to the discovery of LENRs. They were against all the prejudices of nuclear science, and a huge threat to the oil, coal and power generation industries, and, not least, the taxes they paid to the US Government. Research in all places was stopped, and even the Indian Government and BARC were leaned on not to continue. However, the BARC researchers and others around the world continued informally and these efforts eventually succeeded in making some discoveries that (a) explained the problems preventing easy repetition of the original experiments, and (b) documented a wealth of related experimental results that confirm the possibility of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions.
The original experiments have to guard against certain problematic conditions: for example, the deuterium (heavy hydrogen, D) has to be introduced into the palladium lattice slowly, and the atomic fraction has to be raised above a minimum threshold of about 0.88 – meaning that in some regions deuterium’s atomic ratio is almost certainly greater than unity. Deuterium is compressed into tiny spaces in the host lattice, which is literally filled to bursting with hydrogen. In experiments where the atomic ratio was raised above 0.93 or higher, rates of excess heat production – i.e. the rate of nuclear reaction was that much greater. To achieve this kind of atomic ratio without causing excess cracking and blowing the palladium lattice apart is challenging; it has to be done very slowly, so that the gas can diffuse right through the lattice until it is filled as uniformly as possible. Diffusion into all lattice interstices does not happen fast, so switching on the process can take up to a week, or more! Obviously a scientist convinced he is dealing with nonsense is not going to take that kind of care! Then the palladium itself often refuses to react: recent conclusions are that active regions are only present in a small fraction of samples. The reactions can be detected in sub-microscopic patterns on the surface, or perhaps in microcracks along internal fractures, of samples. As yet, no one has any idea what makes the difference between an active sample of palladium, and a non-active sample, though it does look as if the active regions may be specific kinds of uncommon dislocations (faults in the atomic stacking), and that these promote deuterium fusion into Helium.
The initial objectors also pointed out that the power output should have produced so many neutrons that the researchers would be dead. Normally the deuteron-deuteron nuclear reaction, d + d 4He++ + energetic gamma, is very rare (1 part per million). Actual reaction paths are d + d p + 3H++, (tritium, the other heavy isotope of hydrogen) as well as the reaction, d + d n + 3He++, (Helium-three, the light isotope of helium). The neutrons would have been present in lethal quantity, if 100W of thermal power was to be sustained and if the reactions proceeded the same way as in thermonuclear fusion in a high-temperature plasma. Furthermore, measurements now suggest that the usual ratio for these two reactions is not obtained, the proton producing reaction channel, to the extent that it occurs, does so to the almost total exclusion of the neutron producing reaction channel. And, most, or all, of the reaction goes into the far more energetic reaction channel, the one producing Helium-four, D + D 4He + 23.8 MeV. How can all this be?
Similar mysteries surround the means by which the excess nuclear energy is transmitted to the surroundings. No gamma rays are apparently produced. Instead the liberated energy seems to cause lattice excitations (phonons) and to heat the lattice directly. How this is made possible is also not yet understood.
Despite 25 years of continuing research and deep thought by some of the world’s most able and imaginative theoretical physicists like Professor Brian Josephson, the Cambridge Nobel laureate, and Professor K.P. Sinha at IISc (who also attended the conference), the original example of an LENR remains shrouded in mystery. Luckily, many other examples are now known, including a very simple experiment that was proposed for investigation, not at the conference, but at a subsequent meeting at the National Institute for Advanced Study, where Professor Ramamurthy, the Director, proposed a collaboration with S-VYASA on a well-attested phenomenon where an arc driven by a potential difference of 30 volts between two carbon electrodes separated by a microscopic distance under water results in the presence of a number of elements not present at the beginning, or at least not in the same proportions e.g. silicon and iron in the form of Si28 and Fe56 respectively. The proposed reason is LENRs between carbon in the electrode and oxygen in the water: C12 + O16 Si28 , and subsequently with the silicon itself, so that 2 Si28 Fe56, at least effectively, whether or not that is the actual way it happens. The amount of iron in the end product is hundreds of times more than the iron at the beginning.
In his talk, Dr Srinivasan also mentioned a number of other circumstances in which LENRs are believed to have been observed. One author has reported several experiments with different elements after Xenon, beginning with Cesium and Barium, in which pairs of deuterons seem to be added synthesizing higher elements in the periodic table. Such processes are referred to as transmutation reactions, and seem to be quite common. The most famous today is the Rossi Reactor, said to be able to produce 15 kW continuously for six months, based on a reaction between Hydrogen and Nickel in a reaction chamber containing 2.5 gm of Nickel nanopowder, to which hydrogen is introduced, under pressure, and dispersed into the lattice. The Rossi Reactor is being sold by 2 or 3 companies in commercial form and can be ordered under a full-money back guarantee. Dr. Srinivasan had visited the Vancouver and Seattle area, in order to talk to the management of another company seeking to enter the commercial arena and to see a demonstration of their reactor in operation, of which he showed several pictures.
Finally, Dr Srinivasan spoke about conditions under which biological organisms seem to perform transmutations, either to clean an environment, or else to supply a missing element needed for their survival. Certain bacteria are reportedly able to clean up industrial pollution like that following the leak at Chernobyl. Also animals under strain seem to be able to directly produce certain chemical elements not in their diet. How they do this remains a mystery, but LENRs are one possible explanation. Altogether, Dr Srinivasan gave a most impressive performance. We are fortunate that he has agreed to give S-VYASA long-term advice, and to help further this program into which he has put so much effort.
Other speakers in the final morning on Day 3 of the conference considered possible theoretical explanations for LENRs. They included Professor K.P Sinha’s close colleague, Dr Andrew Meulenberg, Professor K.P. Sinha himself, and S-VYASA’s Professor Alex Hankey. The first, Dr. Meulenberg spoke about a condensed form of hydrogen based on a possible, but generally rejected, solution of Dirac’s relativistic equation for the electron, in which the electron enters a tiny orbit, practically inside the proton itself, effectively converting it into a neutral particle (but not a neutron) capable of penetrating any nucleus without encountering a Coulomb barrier. This solution answers the questions raised by cold fusion. 1) How is the Coulomb barrier overcome? 2) How is it possible to prevent the expected fragmentation of the excited 4He* nucleus (as described above)? 3) How is the energy of the excited 4He* nucleus distributed to the lattice without energetic decay particles or gamma rays? 4) How are transmutations produced as a by-product of the cold-fusion process.
Professor K.P. Sinha described some of his original work on the topic, from back in the late 1990’s, and some of its modern consequences. A major problem of fusion is overcoming the Coulomb barrier. In the solid-state environment, as distinct from the plasma or accelerator environment, it is possible to have many deuterons with two electrons bound to each of them rather than just one or none. Thus, it is common to have three species of deuterium in close proximity: D+, D, and D-. A deuteron with two electrons, D-, can get closer to a neutral deuteron (D with only one electron) than can two neutral deuterons. The Coulomb barrier between the deuterons is reduced by the presence of an extra electron. If the negative deuteron ion in the lattice is next to a positive deuteron ion D+, there is a strong attraction between them. Thus, by the appropriate action of a lattice, it may be possible to convert the Coulomb barrier into an attractive potential for long enough to allow the deuterons to fuse. This process of charge separation and collisions of deuterons is greatly enhanced by the lattice vibration modes (phonons). Another process that is similar, in that it brings deuterons closer together and better confines electrons to the region between, is possible in the fracture faults and linear defects produced in a Palladium-Deuterium lattice during the process of loading it with deuterium. The possibility of a linear hydrogen (deuterium) molecule forming in the defect region avoids the 3-dimensional structure that ‘fixes’ the lattice constant and keeps the deuterium atoms apart. This allows a linear motion of the hydrogen atoms and a periodic proximity that is otherwise impossible. This structure and its enhanced proximity of hydrogen (protons or deuterons) is proposed as a mechanism for cold fusion.
Dr Hankey spoke about the consequences of quantum theory’s implications that matter is not an objective reality (D’Espagnat’s famous theorem), and how we should incorporate its consequences into our thinking about atoms and their components like electrons and nuclei. He concluded that lattice vibrations effectively smooth out the positions of nuclei, which should be considered as non-localized as electrons, and that this factor might be postulated to effectively increase reaction cross sections, and to lower the Coulomb barrier surrounding a nucleus. He suggested that for this reason, ultrasound stimulation might increase rates of reaction, a phenomenon that other conference participants said had already been verified in more than one experiment. Lasers have been used to excite lattices as well as ultrasound.
The final presentation of the day was a summing-up by Conference Organizer, Dr G. Myneni from Virginia, U.S.A. After his talk, Conference Mementoes were distributed.
For more see latest issue of Yoga Sudha – Sept, 2014