NASA finally confirms "cold fusion"?Submitted by Bob-45 on Thu, 02/21/2013 - 12:37
NASA's basement nuclear reactor
By David Szondy
February 20, 2013
If Joseph Zawodny, a senior scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center, is correct, the future of energy may lie in a nuclear reactor small enough and safe enough to be installed where the home water heater once sat. Using weak nuclear forces that turn nickel and hydrogen into a new source of atomic energy, the process offers a light, portable means of producing tremendous amounts of energy for the amount of fuel used. It could conceivably power homes, revolutionize transportation and even clean the environment.
Currently, nuclear power means one of two approaches. There’s fission, which involves splitting atoms of uranium or plutonium to release energy, and is employed in all military and civilian nuclear plants. Then there’s fusion, which involves forcing together hydrogen atoms to form helium and releasing even more energy. The former has been controversial for decades while the latter has been in the research phase since the 1950s, and is still as far away from practical application now as it was then.
The problem with current nuclear technology is that fission produces nuclear wastes and has a poor public image, while both fusion and fission involve generating large amounts of dangerous ionizing radiation. It also doesn't help that both processes require large, complicated installations with heavy shielding. That’s because conventional nuclear reactions rely on what are called strong nuclear forces, which are the forces that hold atoms together. Breaking heavy atoms apart or forcing light atoms together releases enough energy to run a nation or blow one up.
What Zawodny and other researchers are working on is called Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions or Lattice Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR). In the late 1980s, it went by the name of “cold fusion.” Its proponents were light on theory and not very rigorous in experimenting. They thought that nuclear energy was being released by a chemical reaction, but this theory ended up being discredited. Today, not only the name has changed, but also the theory and the approach of the researchers.