‘Cold fusion’ to power households
A gadget of the size of a portable generator could fuel the entire energy requirements of an average household at unbelievably low rates soon. Courtesy- cold fusion, which created a sensation the world over in late 1980s. The technology is back with a bang and Japanese researchers have successfully proved that process is here to stay and the world is set to witness a revolution in energy generation.
When two scientists of the University of Utah proposed in March 1989 that it was possible to generate power in room temperature without threats of radiation or pollution, the scientific community guffawed.
Conventional scientists had total scorn towards the claim of the proponents of the cold fusion - Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, even as hundreds of scientists across the world replicated their experiment. They had told the world that electrolysis of heavy water led to release of excess heat at room temperature. This experiment was replicated with success the same year at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay. The then Director of BARC, P K Iyengar PK Iyengar and Director of the elite Physics Group Mahadevan Srinivasan were successful in generating surplus heat energy at room temperature by the same experiment which was reported by international media.
Since there was opposition from conventional scientists, Iyengar and Srinivasan could not sustain the momentum and Cold fusion was put in the back burner by scientists.
Still, there were some physicists like Srinivasan, who believed that there should be light at the end of the tunnel. The billion dollar question was how the excess heat was generated at room temperature and that too, without the release of radio active by-products.
“There should be a scientific reason behind the generation of heat energy during such experiments. Let them explain it,” the then chief of Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Centre at Kalpakkam, Late Dr Baldev Raj had told this reporter when asked why the Department of Atomic Energy was not enthusiastic about the cold fusion project which has since been renamed as Low Energy Nuclear Reaction.
After 30 years, Japanese scientists have come out with reports that substantiate observations made during the cold fusion experiments. A research group including scientists of Toyota, Nissan Motor, Universities of Tohoku, Kobe, Kyushu and Nagoya have found that heat energy was released at room temperature. Professor Emeritus Akito Takahashi, who led the teams has an answer for questions raised by scientists like late Dr Raj. “It could be multi-body fusion occurring at an extremely small space,” said he.
Eminent cardiologist Dr B M Hegde has already pointed out that transmutation of potassium to sodium happening in human body is akin to release of heat energy during cold fusion. The research group expects that it was possible to generate 1 kilowatt of heat, which is two orders of magnitude larger than the present reactions, by improving the structure of the sample, increasing the amount reactant, devising changes to the temperature conditions. The attempt to develop a cold fusion reactor has resumed in India thanks to the efforts of Srinivasan. The BARC is in the forefront along with Swamy Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-Vyas) in making this dream machine a reality. “I may not be able to give the exact date on which the cold fusion reactor would materialise. But it is around the corner,” said Dr Srinivasan.
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