NEWS FROM CHINA
By Professor Xing Zhong Li
Dept. of Physics, Tsinghua Univ., Beijing, China
From: NEN, Vol. 3, No. 10, April 1996, pp. 6-8.
March 2, 1996 there was a national symposium on "normal temperature nuclear fusion" in China. The terminology "Normal Temperature Nuclear Fusion" reflected the Chinese view about the "cold fusion" phenomena. Most of us believe that it is a kind of nuclear fusion reaction, but it happens in the "normal temperature." In the Chinese language, "Normal Temperature" means that it is not high temperature (as high as that in the "hot fusion"); it is not low temperature (as low as that in the cryogenics for low temperature super conductor). There were a series of national symposiums on "cold fusion" phenomena since 1989, but this one had a special task to review the progress of each Chinese group supported by a special fund in the past year. Since 1995 the State Science and Technology Commission, and the Natural Science Foundation in China set up a special fund to support this particular research. Everyone knows that if this "cold fusion" phenomenon was true and reproducible, it would alleviate the serious contradiction between the energy sources and the environment in the next century.
Nevertheless, everyone knows also that it is very difficult to reproduce this phenomenon for sure. There are a lot of Chinese scientists who do not think there would be any chance for this phenomenon. They have not looked at any of the data since November 1989, and they veto any proposal on this research. Since the Natural Science Foundation in China operates on the basis of vote, it has been very difficult for "cold fusion" research to win the vote. However, a few judicious senior scientists with high reputation became aware of this situation, and made a suggestion to the Natural Science Foundation in China and the State Science and Technology Commission. Based on this suggestion, a special fund was set up to support this research. Although the funding level is very low, it does help this research survive in China. This March Symposium was just for reviewing the progress after the establishment of this special fund in 1995.
There were about 30 conferees attending this symposium. Among them were the sponsors from the State Science and Technology Commission, and the Natural Science Foundation in China, a few senior scientists, the leaders of each research group, and some participants from each group. About one third of them were young graduate students and post-doctors. After the keynote speech, nine talks were delivered in the morning session and afternoon session. Each talk was limited to 30 minutes with 5 minutes for questions and answers. In the evening, a three-hour session allowed full discussions in detail. The senior scientists addressed their comments on this symposium as well.
A major feature of this symposium was that the "excess heat" detection appeared in almost every research group. In the past five years, Chinese scientists paid more attention to nuclear signals (the charged particle detection, neutron, X-ray, and Gamma ray). Since we had very little financial support, and we believed at that time that the nuclear signals should be commensurate with the "excess heat;" then, the nuclear methods had higher research funding priority than the calorimetric methods. Gradually, we understood that "Thunder without Lightning" might be the feature of this "cold fusion" phenomenon, and the conventional nuclear signals might not be commensurate with the excess heat. So the calorimetric measurement might be the more suitable technique to identify this phenomenon. The preliminary results showed that there were some features which could be explained as the evidence of the "excess heat" (the turning point in the cooling curve, the sudden change of the temperature, etc.); however, more careful work is necessary before it becomes compelling evidence.
The electrical discharge work has been improved since the Nagoya conference. Although the neutron energy was found to be 2.45 MeV (normal), the yield of neutrons was still found to be higher than normal (abnormal). In order to reduce the yield of the normal neutron, a careful study on electrical discharge was done to identify a set of operation parameters with which the abnormal neutron yield became more apparent. A new set of Si-Li detectors was used to refine the X-ray detection. A fine structure of X-ray spectrum was found definitely, and the difference between the discharge in deuterium gas and in hydrogen gas has been identified (the energy and the intensity of the X-ray for Nb-D system was higher than that for Nb-H system).
An interesting "X-ray radiation after death" was found after shutdown of the electrical glow discharge. It may last as long as 1,000 seconds. More careful work should be done before any possible explan- ation on this phenomenon is given. But the similarity to "heat after death" surprised all the attendees.
A careful theoretical study was done to analyze the X-ray spectrum. It was found that among the nearly 200 spectra, about 100 spectra were abnormal. None of the applicable theories could explain the strange features in the X-ray spectrum. It was considered as evidence of the abnormality in the electrical discharge tube.
A calorimetric measurement was done with the electrical discharge tube. A sudden change of the slope of the cooling curve (temperature versus time) was found in a series of discharges with different electrodes and gases. Ni-H system had been studied with the emphasis on "excess heat," however, a different conclusion was found. Although the Italian results had been reproduced, different explanations were given about this similar phenomenon. Based on the new explanation, the careful work proved that the "excess heat" in the Ni-H system disappeared.
In some institutions, the research had not reached the final stage to have some new data; but they expected that some new results might be obtained before the ICCF-6. Some institutions presented their plan for improving their previous results. The dynamics on the D-Pd interface were addressed, and the nano-meter material was suggested for future studies. The Ti-D system showed interesting results after analyzing the mass spectrum on the titanium surfaces above or under the heavy water level in an electrolytic cell. The ionic crystal was suggested for future studies. The new idea to use proportional counter technique in detecting the trace of the charged particles was interesting; and the idea of using pressurized fission reactor technique to run the electro-analytical cell had been realized in a laboratory with particular designing to guarantee the safety.
The gas-loading technique had been studied for more than five years in China in combination with the nuclear signal detection. At this symposium, a preliminary study on "excess heat" in a gas-loading system introduced interesting discussion. Since the "heat after death" phenomenon and other gas-loading experiments in Italy and in India revealed the possibility of observing the excess heat in a gas-loading facility, the advantages of being more cost effective, and safer in a gas-loading system became attractive. Besides, it had the feature of accumulating the reaction products in the reaction vessel which might be detected later, after a long period of operation. A pair of twin systems had been manufactured to see the difference between the deuterium-palladium system and hydrogen-palladium system. A sharp contrast had been observed already. More results were expected after further operations.
One of the senior theoreticians presented his new results on the mechanism of "cold fusion" after intensive study for more than two years. His unique feature was that he collected the evidences through the careful scrutiny of astronomy and astrophysics. He solved the Schrodinger equation for the three-body problem in a better way, and obtained the energy level for the proton-electron-proton system and for the deuteron-electron-deuteron system. He claimed that the 12.5 keV or 25 keV X-ray should be found as an evidence of the energy level in the p-e-p or d-e-d system, respectively. "Thunder without Lightning" was a natural result in his theory, because it was not a nuclear reaction at all. An additional 20 minutes was assigned to him by the session chairman to facilitate his presentation because he had more than 46 transparencies to be presented. His enthusiasm in this study was clearly observed by every attendee, although it was very difficult to agree or disagree with his point of view in such a short period. His results were similar to that of professor Baruit of Colorado University, but his derivation was different and more strict in mathematics.
Due to the time limit, not all of the results had a chance to be presented at this symposium, such as the preliminary study on sonoluminescence and "cold fusion," and the new theoretical result of resonance tunneling in a crystal lattice, the "self-lock" mechanism in the narrow resonance phenomenon, the comments on the Italian Ni-H system, etc. Some preprints were distributed instead of the oral presentations.
The collaboration between institutions, the publication of internal reports in China, and the preparation for the ICCF-6 were discussed in the evening session also. Since additional funds were necessary for those subjects, no real solutions were found yet.
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