Coming in out of the cold: Cold fusion, for real
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Christian Science Monitor
Posted: December 7th, 2006
A very reputable, very careful group of scientists at the University of Los Angeles ... has initiated a fusion reaction using a laboratory device that's not much bigger than a breadbox, and works at roughly room temperature. This time, it looks like the real thing. The whole trick with fusion is you've got to get protons close enough together for the strong force to overcome their electrical repulsion and merge them together into a nucleus. Instead of using high temperatures and incredible densities to ram protons together, the scientists at UCLA cleverly used the structure of an unusual crystal. Crystals are fascinating things; the atoms inside are all lined up in a tightly ordered lattice, which creates the beautiful structure we associate with crystals. Stressing the bonds between the atoms of some crystals causes electrons to build up on one side, creating a charge difference over the body of the crystal. Instead of using intense heat or pressure to get nuclei close enough together to fuse, this new experiment used a very powerful electric field to slam atoms together. This experiment has been repeated successfully and other scientists have reviewed the results. For the time being, don't expect fusion to become a readily available energy option. The current cold fusion apparatus still takes much more energy to start up than you get back out. But it really may not be long until we have the first nuclear fusion-powered devices in common use.