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Hey, gang. This is from the Jan 29, 1996 issue of
The Wall Street Journal. (Section A; Page 7A, Column 2).
It's also been on ABC news.
There seems to be a lot of controvery over this,
and no one's quite sure what to make of it yet. A lot
of people say it's the old cold fusion thing again,
and that 1000+ watt readings must be in error, because
the water in the device isn't getting really hot. Who
knows. Anyway, it's interesting nonetheless.
BY JERRY E. BISHOP
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
To anyone who remembers the 1989 uproar over cold fusion, it's
deja vu all over again.
A bottle no bigger than a man's fist is creating an unusual stir
among power generation
engineers. The bottle is filled with ordinary water and
microscopic palladium coated beads.
When a little electric current trickles through the bottle,
several hundred times as much
power starts coming out in the form of heat - that is, if one
cares to believe the instruments
attached to the bottle.
'No One Knows Why'
The instrument readings are enough however, to draw the interest
of engineers at a
handful of major companies and to prompt at least two university
laboratories to attempt to
figure out what's going on inside the bottle. "It appears on the
surface that it works, but no
one knows why," says Quinton Bowles, professor of mechanical
engineering at the
University of Missouri in Kansas City.
The little bottle is known as a Patterson Power Cell, named for
its inventor, James A.
Patterson, a 74 year old chemist who lives in Sarasota, Fla. Dr.
Patterson has turned his
power cell over to a startup Clean Energy Technologies Inc. in
Dallas headed by his
grandson, James W. Reding 26. Mr. Reding is reticent, except to
say that CETI is
negotiating to license rights to two utilities that he declines
to name and to Motorola Inc. A
Motorola spokeswoman says, "We wouldn't confirm such a report
even if it were true."
And so it goes in the tumultuous realm of cold fusion. In 1989
two University of Utah
electrochemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, triggered
the whole cold fusion
uproar by saying they had managed to produce nuclear fusion at
temperatures, using water as a fuel.
The notion of a cheap and inexhaustible new source of energy
sparked an avalanche of
headlines and accolades only to fall into disrepute when others
found the work to be
irreproducible. Shunned by their colleagues in Utah, Messrs.
Fleischmann and Pons
retreated to a new cold fusion lab in southern France.
'I Don't Buy It'
The Patterson Power Cell differs in some key ways from the Utah
approach, but in some
quarters, it raises the same level of skepticism. "It's been a
long time since anybody tried
to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge," says materials scientist Howard
K. Birnbaum, who saw
the cell demonstrated last October. "I didn't buy it then, and I
don't buy it now." Dr.
Birnbaum, director of the Materials Research Laboratory at the
University of Illinois's
Urbana campus, adds that "as far as I can see, there's nothing
new going on that would
justify [claims] that more energy is coming out than is going
Yet supporters say something is going on inside the little heat
producing bottle. As with the
Utah apparatus, it's claimed that the bottle produces an excess
of power as it electrolyzes,
or breaks down, water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms.
But unlike the
controversial and unpredictable Utah experiments, The Patterson
cell can be turned on and
off seemingly at will. Several working devices built by Dr.
Patterson have been made
available to two teams.
"This is the first time what we have a system that seems to work
every time," says a
nuclear chemist who consults to utilities. The cell's
reliability, which would allow scientists
to manipulate it, "gives us our first chance to see if this
[phenomenon] involves a nuclear
reaction," he explains.
Moreover, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which has flatly
said that cold fusion,
like perpetual motion, is impossible and unpatentable, has
issued a patent on the gadget.
Although both the original Utah devices and the Patterson cell
involve the electrolysis of
water, there are marked differences. The electrodes in the
original devices were small rods
of palladium surrounded by coils of platinum wire, and these
were hung in a bath of
"heavy" water in which the hydrogen is a heavy form called
The Patterson cell, instead of using palladium rods, is filled
with microscopic plastic beads
coated with a thin layer of palladium sandwiched between two
layers of nickel. And most
significantly, it's filled with ordinary water made of "light"
In both cases, the hydrogen atoms released by the electrolysis
are soaked up by the
palladium and/or nickel. It's inside the metal that some kind of
phenomenon is claimed to take place. A year ago, shortly after
CETI was formed, Mr.
Reding was touting the Patterson cell as a "coldfusion" system.
He has since dropped that
claim and now says that "we believe it is something entirely
different." He declines to
A cold-fusion claim implies that the hydrogen atoms are being
forced to fuse, a nuclear
reaction that usually occurs at 50 million degrees. Physicists
say that if the claims were
true, the cold-fusion researchers would die from the intense
nuclear radiation that would
The Patterson cell might have been dismissed as easily as other
apparatus. But Mr. Reding and his colleagues have been bold
enough to demonstrate it at
three technical conferences in the last nine months. Most
cold-fusionists are reluctant to
show off their devices, because they are never sure whether or
when they will work.
Last month, CETI's Mr. Reding showed off a new Patterson cell at
an annual gathering of
generating equipment manufacturers in Anaheim, Calif. It stood
about four inches high and
one inch in diameter and held about three tablespoons of the
tiny beads. People who
watched demonstrations that lasted from 30 minutes to two hours
say the instruments
indicated that, after subtracting the electricity needed to run
pumps and fans, about 0.1 to
1.5 watts of power went into the cell itself, while the heat
output was 450 to 1,300 watts.
The dubious Dr. Birnbaum at the University of Illinois says that
though the cold-fusion
claims are "atrocious" Science, the Patterson-cell people "may
have stumbled on
something else. If so, I hope they are successful and make a lot
of money. If not, this ought
to be exposed as flimflam."
- Re: Anti-matter
- From: T.L.G.vanderLinden@student.utwente.nl (Timothy van der Linden)