Imagine that you do not need to refuel your car every week. Instead, you can drive your car for a year using only a spoon amount of fuel which would cost only a few cents. Apart from that, imagine that your car does not produce any emissions anymore — only water which can hardly do any harm to the environment. Let’s go further and let yourself imagine that humanity doesn’t use the energy produced by combustion anymore. And the icing on the cake — you pay times fewer bills for electricity in your house.
‘This is ridiculous!’ you might say ‘This is dreaming!’
Well, all scientists do dream. How else can they create something that does not exist yet?
Atom, proton, science, structure, education by gr8effect (CC0 1.0 Universal), via Pixabay
Confusion about cold fusion
In 1989, Fleischman and Pons, two electrochemists, claimed that they had achieved cold fusion experimentally. For their experiment the scientists used heavy water. Heavy water chemically has H2O formula but containing deuterium instead of hydrogen. Deuterium is a hydrogen atom with an extra neutron. Palladium cathode and heavy water Fleischman and Pons launched electrolysis, using electrolytic cell. The measurements performed by chemists showed the power 10% greater than they were using to run the cell. The scientists supposed that the power comes from cold fusion occurring on the palladium. By their guess, deuterium was supposed to be accumulated on the palladium and fuse producing helium.
This announcement called up a lot of scepticism from the informed audience. Normally, nuclear reactions occur in exotically high temperatures. Although there were concerns about how palladium could catalytically affect deuterium nuclei, the statement seemed to be untruthful. The scientific community did not believe that two nuclei of hydrogen are able to get that close even in the presence of palladium to perform nuclear fusion. And since then no one could give clear explanations where did the heat was coming from. So their result was marked as a scientific error.
Cold fusion electrolysis by Theresa Knott via Wikipedia
Cooling down the debates
However, the idea of cold fusion remains intriguing until today. The main difference between cold fusion and hot fusion is temperature.
The idea is based on the possibility to bring two hydrogen close together enough to overcome repulsive force. As a result, the nuclear reaction could occur and a great amount of energy could be released. The classic nuclear reactions tend to exist in very exotic conditions such as high temperatures. Such nuclear reactions with hydrogen occur in stars where hydrogen atoms are able to fuse under extreme temperatures (millions Kelvin degrees) and enormous pressure.
Modern nuclear plants produce nuclear waste, primarily uranium. But if the radioactive waste can be kept safely for the environment, then the main terrifying side effect of nuclear energy production comes from nuclear accidents. Everyone remembers Chernobyl catastrophe. Even nowadays it’s dangerous to go to that area. Another case of Three Mile Island. Most harmful consequences of the accident were eliminated, but this case made scientists feel a shiver went down their spine.
Will cold fusion ever be invented? Let’s keep fingers crossed about it. Today a lot of research and experiments put in the investigation of hydrogen possibilities. Cars with hydrogen engines have already taken place. If eventually the process of cold fusion is discovered, it will solve many environmental and political issues. Hydrogen can be a potentially efficient boundless source of energy.