EU Turns to Magic to Progress their Clean Energy Agenda

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The European Union is so desperate for their clean energy push to yield a viable solution, they have just given €3,999,870 to a Palladium electrolysis cold fusion research team.

EU announces funding for four next-gen clean energy solutions

December 24, 2020

HERMES – hydrogen-metal systems for clean energy

The HERMES project is revisiting the cold fusion concept, which emerged back in 1989 with the claimed discovery by the electrochemists Martin Fleischmann from Britain and Stanley Pons from France of excess heat production during electrolysis of heavy water (deuterium oxide) using a palladium electrode at room temperature.

At the time, the discovery was thought to offer a pathway to cheap clean energy but the finding remained controversial due to lack of replicability. Recently interest in the topic has revived with the scientific advances of the intervening years.

HERMES intends to draw on these to study the effects of hydrogen and deuterium loaded in palladium at room and intermediate (up to about 800oC) temperatures. Such modern characterisation techniques also allow reproducibility.

Read more: https://www.powerengineeringint.com/renewables/eu-announces-funding-for-four-next-gen-clean-energy-technologies/

From the project website;

Breakthrough zero-emissions heat generation with hydrogen-metal systems

Project description

In pursuit of the cold fusion dream as a solution to the world’s energy needs

In 1989, electrochemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons made headlines with their claim to have produced excess heat using a simple apparatus working at room temperature. Their experiment involved loading deuterium in a palladium metal. As many experimenters failed to replicate their work, cold fusion remains a controversial topic in the scientific community. Nevertheless, a vociferous minority still believes in this elusive phenomenon. Since 2015, Google has been funding experiments into cold fusion. Although no evidence has been found for this phenomenon, it is clear that much pioneering research remains to be conducted in this poorly explored field. The EU-funded HERMES project will employ advanced techniques and tools developed over the last few decades to investigate anomalous effects of deuterium-loaded palladium at room and intermediate temperatures.

Objective 

Disruptive energy generation technologies are urgently required to stave off catastrophic climate change. Now, more than ever, is the time to also to consider unconventional options. The subtopic c. Breakthrough zero-emissions energy generation for full decarbonisation of this call aims to answer this need. All of the research areas identified by the call are highly unconventional. As electrochemists, we will contribute to this call by working on hydrogen-metal systems. We propose to study hydrogen (and deuterium) evolution in unconventional conditions, i.e. on metal-hydrides and the main motivation for this work is based on the recent Nature perspective “Revisiting the cold case of cold fusion”. When loading deuterium into the Pd lattice, there is a chance that something very interesting will happen, resulting in production of excess heat. The first report of such reaction was published 30 years ago, but quickly dismissed by the scientific community. But what if there is really something? Can we afford to not to investigate this further, considering the current climate crisis? Google has recently funded a research project in this area, getting some interesting results but failing to produce excess heat. However, the team concluded that it was very difficult to achieve the required conditions reported for starting the excess heat production, and that “there remains much interesting science to be done in this underexplored parameter space.” This is a high risk/high reward project, but with aid of all the improved techniques and tools developed in the last 30 years, we believe that it is worth revisiting the topic. We will use state-of-the-art technologies to prepare, characterize and study electrochemical Pd-D system, both at room temperature and at temperatures up to 1100 K. We will focus on method development, with the special emphasis on reproducibility. If no nuclear effects are observed, we will gain information of the isotope effects for hydrogen evolution.

Read more: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/952184

The Nature article “Revisiting the cold case of cold fusion” on which this snowball of research funding is based was published in May this year.

At least with hot fusion there is a measurable release of energy and fusion neutrons. Nobody has to argue about whether you were squinting at the calorimeter just right.

I guess if you have a burning urge to investigate ways of extracting zero point energy from empty space, or a plan to send a robotic mission to the forest moon Pandora to retrieve a sample of unobtanium, now might be a good time to ask the EU for funding. Remember to mention the climate crisis.

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December 27, 2020 at 12:07PM

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