It all started as an attempt to change base metals into precious metals – lead into gold! These were the ‘Alchemists’ who were the precursors to modern chemists. Their terminology, procedures, and some equipment, are still in use today. However, their attempts at ‘Nuclear Transmutation’ (changing base elements) failed. That was a long time ago.
Earnest Rutherford (1871 – 1937) was known as the ‘father of nuclear physics’ made many contributions to science. He discovered the concept of ‘radioactivity,’ the ‘half-life of elements and proved that radioactivity involved the transmutation of one element into another. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances. In 1917, he ‘split the atom’ in a nuclear reaction between nitrogen and alpha particles and was the first to split the nucleus of atom and identify the particles.
Through spectrum analysis, astronomers see almost all the elements on stars and theorize that through the incredible heat and pressures of gravity, these elements were created by nuclear transmutation. If the nuclei can be forced very close together, the attractive nuclear force, which is effective only at close range, overcomes the repulsive electro-static force. This is what happens in the hot core of a star, where the force of gravity pulls the nuclei into a densely packed condition in which fusion can take place.
Physicists now are creating new elements with particle accelerators and nuclear power plants. This is called Hot Fusion. Though incredibly complex and expensive, nuclear fusion equipment was built and is being tested. “Fusion power plants will some day generate an abundance of energy to meet all the needs of the world”, we were told – that hasn’t happened and billions of dollars have been spent to continue the hot fusion development programs.
In the late 1920s, two scientists, Fredrich Paneth and Kurt Peters, discovered cold fusion and applied for a patent. The term “Cold Nuclear Fusion” was used in an article about the work of Dr. Luis W. Alvarez, University of California, Berkeley in 1957. He observed muon-catalyzed fusion of particles in his lab experiments. Scientific papers on cold fusion appeared several times and patents were filed by the researchers. A Russian scientist in 1957, Filimonenko Ivan Stepanovich, developed and patened a cold fusion technology. It never reached commercial development.
The experiments by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, 1989, were proof that cold fusion exists, and subsequent efforts by other scientists have supported their claim. Subsequent experiments with palladium metal and heavy water, were found difficult to control and repeat. There were over one thousand experiments and they were able to produce excess heat, however that excess heat was not sufficient for commercial success. That discovery was mainly of scientific interest only. Then experiments using nickel and hydrogen, by Francisco Piantelli greatly improved the cold fusion process. Andrea Rossi and partner Sergio Focardi improved the Ni/H process and produced abundant energy output – we now have the most incredible device, the ‘Energy Catalizer’ or E-Cat!