July 2017

Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR): A Promising Emerging Energy Technology?


Virginia Cervantes


A promising, clean, limitless and affordable energy technology, rejected years ago by some scientists, is now receiving increasing reconsideration. Could this be an answer to our climate problems and dependence on the Middle East?


How was this potential new energy source discovered? Twenty-eight years ago, two respected scientists at the University of Utah, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, caused a stir in the scientific community by claiming that they had succeeded in generating “cold fusion” nuclear reactions in a laboratory. The process was called cold fusion because it operated at temperatures lower than conventional “hot fusion.” Cold fusion is known today as Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR).


There are multiple reasons why some of the international scientific community, world governments and corporations are once again giving LENR another look. LENR has no greenhouse hydrocarbon emissions, there is no dangerous radiation during the operational process, and no radioactive by-products are left after energy production. This makes it cleaner than many current energy sources.


LENR has the potential of generating thermal energy and electrical power. Eventually, LENR generators could be used in residential and commercial buildings. With a localized electrical power source at hand, how much longer would we have to rely on the grid? According to Dr. David Nagel, a research professor from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., “Homeowners now have considerable control over their electrical consumption. If they have their own LENR power generator, they will also have much control over their own electrical generation.” Dr. Nagel also says, “Roughly one billion people on Earth do not have good drinking water. The possibility of being able to produce drinkable water from dirty rivers and seas by using heat from LENR would be momentous.”


However, before it can be commercialized, the research required to fully understand how LENR functions must continue. The process is complex. In fact, it is so difficult to understand that many scientists have claimed the process is impossible. LENR is still very controversial in the scientific community.


In 2009, the Defense Intelligence Agency released an analysis of LENR titled Technology Forecast: Worldwide Research on Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions Increasing and Gaining Acceptance. The report stated, “Hot fusion researchers do not believe fusion can occur at near-room temperatures based on the Coulomb barrier that repels like nuclear charges, and have dismissed much of the “cold fusion” research conducted since 1989. As a result, such research has received limited funding and support over the past 20 years.”


That hasn’t stopped two respected former Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) scientists, nuclear chemist Dr. Edmund Storms and physicist Dr. Tom Claytor, from continuing their own research.


Dr. Storms’ laboratory, Kiva Labs, is in Santa Fe. He obtained a Ph.D. in radiochemistry from Washington University (St. Louis) and retired from LANL after 34 years. His work there involved basic research in high- temperature chemistry as applied to materials used in nuclear power and propulsion reactors, including studies of the cold fusion effect. Several hundred publications by Dr. Storms are available. In 1993, he was invited to testify before a congressional committee about the cold fusion effect. He truly believes that this energy source could change humankind’s way of life. 


Dr. Storms says, “Thanks to 27 years of study in over 12 countries, resulting in over 2,000 published papers, the clues to this success are gradually being revealed. LENR applies to fusion using all isotopes of hydrogen as well as transmutation reactions, during which various numbers of hydrogen nuclei are added to a larger nucleus. This complex process has made it difficult for some scientists to accept the claim and for the mechanism to be explained. The first step in causing LENR requires a material, such as palladium, to form a special condition within the solid structure. When deuterium is reacted with the material at modest temperatures, unexpected heat energy is produced. This heat can be used to make steam that can be converted into electrical energy by conventional methods. Neither radiation nor radioactive by-products are made. Helium gas is the main nuclear product. Once the material has been suitably activated, energy can be made as long as water is available. The challenge is to discover how the material needs to be activated. Although this process happens on occasion, it does not have the reliability required of a commercial product. The phenomenon is clearly real and now only needs to be further explored to unlock its benefits.”          


In 1989, Dr. Tom Claytor, who obtained a Ph.D. in solid-state physics from Purdue University and a B.S. in physics from Oklahoma State University, was one of the first to claim that LENR could be triggered outside an electrochemical cell. His expertise is in collaborating with investigators to improve hydrogen isotope and neutron detection from solid gas-loaded LENR cells. While at Argonne National Labs and LANL he received five patents. Today Dr. Claytor is a guest scientist at LANL and also continues his research on LENR at his High Mesa Technology lab in White Rock, New Mexico.


Japan, China, Italy and France are among eight nations currently researching LENR. Several other governments (United States not included) and international corporations are also attempting to make it possible to market this technology. With the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, now is the time for citizens’ voices to encourage state representatives to support LENR research. 


To learn more about LENR, visit LENR-CANR.org, where there is extensive published information. A YouTube video of a 60 Minutes report called Cold Fusion Hot Again is quite informative. The Anthropocene Institute and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) have provided recent reviews of the subject. Details can also be found in several respected peer-reviewed journals.


An extraordinary scientist and visionary, Nikola Tesla, stated almost 100 years ago, “Electric power is everywhere present in unlimited quantities and can drive the world’s machinery without the need of coal, oil, gas or any other of the common fuels!”


In this time of enormous population growth, toxic waters that humans and animals are drinking, respiratory and health issues from polluted environments, it is my hope that we will not wait another 100 years for an emerging energy technology such as LENR to be brought to fruition.



Virginia Cervantes is an environmental researcher who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.




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