Energy

Feds May Have Made A Huge Breakthrough In Cold Fusion

A federal agency may have just discovered cold fusion, according to reports.

A report from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) claimed government researchers had confirmed the existence of a cold fusion nuclear reaction. The report was allegedly authored by scientists from Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and the University of New Mexico.

DTRA’s report includes several questionable statements unlikely to appear in an official U.S. government document, such as, “many U.S. military actions this century, and the most costly in the 1990’s, have been driven by, or consequences of, the geopolitics of oil.” The report also contains fewer headings than most government publications and uses an unusual type style. The report also claims the agency plans no follow-up research.

DTRA has confirmed the documents are authentic.

Independent scientists told TheDCNF a cold fusion breakthrough is plausible, but the report is far from conclusive.

“My instinct is to ascribe these results to cosmic ray deuterons interacting with the palladium deuteride. I would be want this potential background to be addressed before I could interpret this as a finding of new physics.” Dr. Jeffrey Eldred, a particle accelerator physicist, told The DCNF. “Isotope effects on superconductivity have been demonstrated prior to these results.”

Cold fusion is a nuclear reaction that occurs at relatively low temperatures, rather than at millions of degrees. These types of nuclear reactions are plausible, but previous claims by scientists of the discovery of cold fusion have always been unable to be replicated by other teams of scientists.  Most government research into the process has been cancelled as a result.

Companies have been trying to create fusion reactors — not necessarily cold fusion reactors — for decades, since such power would be “too cheap to meter” and drive other sources of electricity out of business. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works group claims to be developing a compact fusion reactor small enough to fit in a truck, which could generate enough electricity to power 80,000 homes.

U.S. research teams claimed in January to have discovered a way to initiate nuclear fusion reactions in a process called “fast ignition” using a high-intensity laser.

German engineers from the Max Planck Institute successfully activated an experimental nuclear fusion reactor and managed to suspend plasma for the first time in December, 2015. The German reactor took 19 years and cost $1.1 billion to build. The reactor passed the major technical milestone of generating its first plasma at a temperature of around one million degrees Celsius. It could demonstrate the first stable artificial nuclear fusion reaction sometime later this year.

Other fusion power projects have been subject to repeated cost overruns, like the plan to build the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) fusion reactor in France.

ITER was originally expected to cost approximately $5.7 billion, but cost overruns, design changes and rising raw material prices saw the amount almost triple to $ 14.9 billion. The project could end up costing $20 billion.

(Editor’s note: This post has been updated.)

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