Dear readers, after a long pause, due mainly to my work commitments and to lack of important news, waiting for the demo, announced by Andrea Rossi and scheduled in November, I decided to write this post taking as a starting point the preprint of two works that will be published in Volume 25 of the JCMNS (Journal of Condensed Matter Nuclear Science), having an unusual title: “Maxwell’s Equations and Occam’s Razor” and “The Electron and Occam’s Razor”. Some of the arguments presented in these two papers were briefly introduced by the same authors at the ICCF20 Conference (held in Sendai, Japan), in a poster titled “The Zitterbewegung interpretation of quantum mechanics as theoretical framework for Ultra Dense Deuterium and Low Energy Nuclear Reactions”. Not having the scientific knowledge needed to make a judgment on these theoretical physics works, I decided to ask for the collaboration of a physicist and science writer, Mario Menichella, during his summer holidays in the city where I live, Viareggio. Following his suggestion, we publish, with the help of the authors, some intriguing hypotheses presented in the above cited publications. We put it in the form of an interview, to make all more interesting and easy. I hope that what you will read could be stimulating for those who want to deepen these fascinating themes with an open mind.
Enjoy the reading!
“It is now easier to smash an atom than to break a prejudice”
A Zitterbewegung Model for Ultra-Dense Hydrogen and Low Energy Nuclear Reactions
In the two papers, the Authors suggest a “purely electromagnetic model of the electron”. What is the fundamental feature of the proposed model?
It’s the attempt to respect, as much as possible, Occam’s razor, a principle proposed by the English philosopher William of Occam, which suggests to not introduce information and concepts that are not strictly necessary in solving problems. This principle can be considered as an excellent epistemological tool for the creation and evaluation of models. If we want to formalize the concept, we can say that the quality of a model is defined by two fundamental parameters: the first one is related to the achievement of the desired goals, such as the adherence of the model predictions to the data and concepts that we want to encode or interpret, while the other one is the simplicity of the model, a parameter that is inversely proportional to the number of informations, concepts, exceptions, postulates and parameters needed by the model itself.
Which mathematical formalism was used?
Scientific knowledge is based on mathematical language, but the importance of choosing the right tools is often underestimated, as the Authors point out. The formalism used is based on space-time algebra, one of the Clifford algebras introduced by the mathematician William K. Clifford in 1878. The advantages of such formalism in physics have been described in detail by prof. David Orlin Hestenes in the work “Oersted Medal Lecture 2002: Reforming the Mathematical Language of Physics”. Space-time algebra respects the Occam’s razor criteria in terms of simplicity and universality, and allows a precise geometric interpretation of concepts often hidden by the formalism of complex matrix algebra traditionally used in modern physics.
Prof. David Orlin Hestenes (on the left)
Can you briefly describe the currently widespread and accepted model of the electron and the differences with the model proposed by the Authors?
Simplifying, we could say that in Quantum Mechanics the electron is a point-like particle having an “intrinsic” mass, a charge, a magnetic moment, an angular momentum and “spin”. The particle behavior is described by a complex function of space and time. The “square” of this function represents the “probability density” of finding the particle in a particular point of space-time. According to classical physics, the point-like particle concept is incompatible with the observed electron properties. In order to justify such incompatibility, some exceptions are introduced, thus seriously violating the Occam razor’s principle. According to the laws of mechanics and electromagnetism, a point-like particle cannot have an “intrinsic angular momentum”, and a magnetic moment must necessarily be generated by a current, that cannot exist in a point-like particle. Moreover, the electric field generated by a point-like charged particle should have an infinite energy! Moreover, Quantum Mechanics does not even try to derive the concepts of charge and mass, which are simply considered as “intrinsic properties” of the particle. Simplifying, the model proposed by the Authors consists in a current ring generated by a massless charge that rotates at speed of light along a circumference whose length is equal to the Compton wavelength of the electron: about meters. The charge is not point-like but distributed on the surface of a sphere, whose radius is equal to the classic radius of the electron: about meters. Similar models, based on the concept of “current ring”, have been proposed by many authors but have often been ignored for their incompatibility with the most widely accepted interpretations of Quantum Mechanics. It is interesting to note how, already in his “Nobel lecture” of 1933, P.A.M. Dirac made reference to a high-frequency internal oscillation of the electron: “It is found that an electron which seems to us to be moving slowly, must actually have a very high frequency oscillatory motion of small amplitude superposed on the regular motion which appears to us. As result of this oscillatory the velocity of the electron at any time equals the velocity of light”.
In scientific literature the German term Zitterbewegung is often used to indicate this very fast swing / rotation.
Zitterbewegung trajectory radius rE ~ 0.386e-12 m [1.957e-6 1/eV]. Charge [in red] radius ~ rE/137.04.
How can you reconcile the concept of massless charge with the experimental value of 511 keV for the electron mass ?
In this model the mass is not an “intrinsic property” of the particle, but it is a value that can be derived from other parameters of the model itself. A key point of the model consist in assigning to the rotating charge a purely electromagnetic momentum , whose value is equal to the product between the charge q and the vector potential A associated with the current generated by the charge itself. In natural units both the light speed and the Planck constant are adimensional scalars with value and the physical quantities dimensions are integer (positive, negative, or zero) powers of one electron-volt (eV). The rotating charge momentum has – when expressed in natural units – the dimension of an energy and a value equal to electron mass. Using natural units, the electron mass is also equal to the angular frequency of the charge rotation, and is equal to the inverse of the ring radius. But the mass value can also be obtained by integrating the square of the electric and magnetic field or by integrating the product of the current density for the vector potential. Starting from such model, it is thus possible to obtain the electron rest mass in six different ways.
There is a point which needs to be cleared up: how is it possible that a charge having a momentum is subject to a circular motion without a positive charge at the center of the orbit, as in Bohr atomic model ?
A magnetic flux equal to the ratio h/q –where h is the Planck constant and q is the elementary charge- is associated to the current ring: . The centripetal force, at the origin of the rotating movement, is the Lorentz Force due to the magnetic field.
I observe that, multiplying the amount of momentum of the rotating charge by the radius, we obtain a value of the angular momentum of the free electron equal to a single quantum of action . I would expect a value equal to half of this value, the commonly accepted value of the electron spin…
The hypothesis proposed by the Authors distinguishes spin and “intrinsic” angular momentum. Spin is interpreted as the component of the intrinsic angular momentum vector along the direction of an external magnetic field. This component can have only the two values when the electron is subject to the well-known Larmor precession.
Spin as a component of intrinsic angular momentum
Interesting hypothesis, but the concept of light-speed moving charges, fundamental for the proposed model, does not seem widespread discussed and studied in the mainstream scientific literature. What theoretical foundations suggest the existence of such charges ?
The conceptual foundation is the application of Occam’s razor to Maxwell’s equations. In the mainstream scientific literature, the so-called “Lorenz gauge” is often applied. It is a particular operation consisting essentially of zeroing an expression that appears in Maxwell’s equations. This expression represents a “scalar field”, a function that associates a single real value with the space-time coordinates. In the paper Maxwell’s equations and Occam’s razor, Lorenz’s gauge is considered as a normal “boundary condition”, that cannot be always applied. The hypothesis of the existence of a scalar field is not new: many authors, often quoting Nicola Tesla’s works, dealt with this subject. In particular, it is interesting to mention a recent project of the Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) entitled “Electrodynamic Scalar Wave Transmission and Reception” evaluating the possibility of an innovative communication system based on the concept of transmission and reception of scalar waves. The acceptance of the existence of a scalar field allows an interesting interpretation of the concept of “charge density” as the time derivative of the scalar field, as suggested by Giuliano Bettini in the work “Manuscripts of the late century”, published in the viXra archives. In this case, Maxwell’s equations describe only light-speed moving charges. It is interesting to note that Richard Feynman’s intriguing hypothesis that positron can be interpreted as an “electron traveling back in time” emerges immediately from this particular charge definition. Positron, differs from the electron only for the charge sign. Obviously, if you consider the charge density as the time derivative of the scalar field, the sign change of the time variable automatically flip the sign of the charge.
In natural units, the electron rest mass-energy is equal to the Zitterbewegung angular frequency and is equal to the momentum of the rotating charge. Starting from these observations, is it possible to formulate a purely electromagnetic interpretation of both Newton’s laws and Special Relativity?
Yes. An example particularly easy to study describes an electron moving at constant speed vz along a direction orthogonal to the xy plane of charge rotation, which, consequently, will follow an helicoidal path at light speed. In this case the charge momentum vector qA = mc will have a component along the z axis. Calling the rest mass of the electron we observe that the angular frequency and the module of the component of momentum in the plane xy is a value that does not depend from . It is thus possible to derive directly the value of the electron relativistic mass m by applying the Pythagorean theorem, considering that the component of the momentum is orthogonal to the component :
A variation in speed will therefore result in an electric force
or, for non-relativistic speeds:
Zitterbewegung trajectories for different electron speeds: v/c = 0, 0.43, 0.86, 0.98
Can you describe the proposed relativistic model using a simple, easy to understand metaphor?
Considering the invariance of light speed c of the electric charge, it is possible to visualize the charge helicoidal trajectory of an electron moving at velocity within a fixed time interval , as a spring of length formed by a thin elastic wire of constant length . The electron mass is exactly equal to the inverse of the radius r of the spring when expressed in natural units: . An increase of , will be represented by a spring elongation and a spring radius reduction. The radius reduction is inversely proportional to the relativistic mass increase. If we call the spring rest radius , it is possible to write the value of the radius r and mass m as a function of :
Of course, if the electron is observed at a spatial scale far greater than its Compton wavelength and at a timescale far greater than the very short period ( sec ) of the Zitterbewegung rotation, the electron can be approximated by a point-like particle that moves along the helix axis.
How can we describe shortly, by using simple concepts, the relation between Maxwell’s equations and the proposed model?
Space-time algebra uses an orthogonal basis of four unit vectors that obey the following simple rules:
The algebra thus defined is isomorphic to the algebra of Majorana matrices. Now we define a generic function
that associates each point of space-time with a four values vector. We define also a special vector
whose components represent the derivative operators along the four directions of space-time.
Applying the derivative operators of to the vector field A, a “spinorial field” is obtained, a function that associates a spinor to each point of space-time. The spinor, in space-time algebra, is a particular mathematical structure identified by seven values: a scalar field S, characterized by a single value and a “bivectorial” field F with six distinct values. The number six corresponds to the number of possible orthogonal planes (bivectors) of space-time: xy, xz, yz, xt, yt, zt.
If A is the electromagnetic four potential, the six F values are related to the three values (Ex, Ey, Ez) of the electric field and to the three magnetic field values (Bx, By, Bz). The S field, defined by a single value, is generally ignored in mainstream literature, where the “Lorenz gauge” is often applied, an operation that, as already mentioned, consists in assuming S = 0.
Applying the operator to the field and setting the result to zero,
we obtain the Maxwell equations rewritten in a compact form, if we identify the four partial derivatives of the scalar field S, along the four space-time coordinates, as the electromagnetic field sources, i.e. the three values of the current density J and the charge density ρ. According to Occam’s razor principle, therefore, charge and current concepts are not introduced ad hoc in the model, but are derived from a single core entity, the electromagnetic four potential. The equation , if expanded, leads to a system of eight equations that link together the six values of the electromagnetic field F and the sources.
Beyond the formalism, what are the substantial consequences of this particular interpretation of Maxwell’s equations?
This rewriting of Maxwell equations implies the existence of scalar waves and the existence of light speed moving charges. Their equations are very simple:
How this proposed model relates with Dirac’s equation ?
For m = 0, the Dirac equation
becomes the Weyl equation
an expression similar to equation , if rewritten using the formalism of space-time algebra.
The solution of these equations is a field of spinors. A spinor is a mathematical structure that has some analogies with complex numbers. As it is well known, a complex number with module 1 and argument encodes a generic rotation of radians. In space-time algebra, the product has, like imaginary unit i, a negative square:
and the expression represents a spinor that encodes a rotation in the xy plane. The product γzγt has a positive square (we remember that ):
in this case the spinor implements a hyperbolic rotation in the zt plane. Simplifying, the (non-commutative) product of the two spinors encodes the helicoidal trajectory of the electron charge if we set and .
What are the main differences with Hestenes model?
In the Hestenes model the charge is point-like shaped. In his more recent works, the Zitterbewegung radius is equal to half the value of the reduced electron Compton wavelength. Moreover, in the Hestenes model, the Zitterbewegung angular speed decreases as a result of the relativistic time dilation when the electron is accelerated. This point, in particular, is not compatible with the model proposed in the two papers of Vol. 25 of the JCMNS, where the value of the mass, the ZBW radius, the Zitterbewegung angular frequency, the current and the vector potential associated with the charge motion are strictly interdependent parameters. The correlation between these parameters demands a relativistic contraction of the radius, an increase in the instantaneous angular speed and the invariance of angular frequency in the xy plane orthogonal to the direction of motion.
Are there any experimental results that could be interpreted using this particular electron model?
A series of experiments conducted over the last ten years by prof. Leif Holmlid (University of Gothenburg) have proved the existence of a very compact form of deuterium. Starting from the kinetic energy value (about 630 eV) of the nuclei emitted in some experiments where this particular form of ultra-dense deuterium is irradiated by a small laser, he calculates a distance between deuterium nuclei of about m, a much smaller value than the distance of about between the nuclei of a normal deuterium molecule. A preliminary hypothesis about the structure of the ultra-dense hydrogen (or deuterium) structure can be proposed starting from the electron and proton Zitterbewegung models. The proton can be seen as a current ring generated by a positive elementary charge that moves at the velocity of light along a circumference whose length is equal to the Compton proton wavelength . According to this hypothesis, the proton would be much smaller than the electron, being the ratio between the radii of the two current rings equal to the inverse of masses ratio: . An hypothetical structure (Z-Hydrino or Zitterbewegung Hydrino) formed by an electron with a proton (or a deuteron) in its center would have a potential energy of , a value equal to the energy of an X-ray photon with a wavelength of about . The distance between the deuterium nuclei in the Holmlid experiment could be explained by an aggregate of these structures. In these hypothetical aggregates, the Zitterbewegung phase difference of two neighboring electrons is radians and the distance between the charges of the two electrons is equal to electron Compton wavelength . In this case the distance between the nuclei can be obtained by applying the Pythagorean theorem:
Ultra Dense Hydrogen model. Proton distance ~ 2.3e-12 m [1.16e-5 1/eV]
at this point, it is important to briefly mention the interesting work of Jan Naudts, “On the hydrino state of the relativistic hydrogen atom“, where the author, applying the Klein-Gordon equation to hydrogen atom, finds an energy level .
Prof. Leif Holmlid
In the Iwamura experiment, a low energy nuclear transmutation of deposited elements was observed on a system consisting of alternate thin layers of palladium (Pd) and calcium oxide (CaO). A transmutation occurs when the system is crossed by a deuterium flow. The CaO layer, essential for the transmutation, is hundreds of atomic layers away from the area, near the surface, where the atoms to be transmuted have been implanted. It is therefore interesting to find an hypothesis that explains the action at distance and the role of CaO and the deuterium nuclei overcoming of the coulomb barrier.
Prof. Yasuhiro Iwamura
A possible hypothesis may arise from considering essential the ultra-dense deuterium (UDD) formation at interface between calcium oxide and palladium, an area where the high work function difference between Pd and CaO favors the formation of a layer with an High Electron Density (SEL, Swimming Electron Layer). The ultra-dense deuterium could later migrate to the area where the atoms to be transmuted have been implanted. This hypothesis seems more realistic than the hypothesis of di-neutrons (couples of neutrons) formations, consequence of an hypothetical nuclear capture of the electron, considering the very high energy required to balance this process (~ 0.78 MeV). A more realistic hypothesis sees the Ultra-dense deuterium aggregates, having no charge, as the be probable cause of the transmutation of Cs into Pr and Sr into Mo. Using the Holmlid’s notation “D(0)” to indicate the “mini-atoms” of ultra-dense deuterium, the hypothesized reaction for Cesium transmutation into Praseodymium in the Iwamura experiments would be very simple:
In this context, the electrons would have the role of carrier of deuterons towards the nuclei to be transmuted.
Andrea Rossi in his Miami office with one of his favorite paintings
Seems that a possible role of electrons in low-energy nuclear reactions has also been proposed by Gullström and Rossi in the their last theoretical work “Nucleon polarizability and long range strong force from σI = 2 meson exchange potential”:
“A less probable alternative to the long range potential is if the e-N coupling in the special EM field environment would create a strong enough binding to compare an electron with a full nuclide. In this hypothesis, no constraints on the target nuclide are set, and nucleon transition to excited states in the target nuclide should be possible. In other words these two views deals with the electrons role, one is as a carrier of the nucleon and the other is as a trigger for a long range potential of the nucleon”.
Ultra-dense hydrogen or deuterium aggregates could be the cause of “many-body” nuclear reactions ? These reactions are currently considered impossible or highly unlikely.
We do not know, but if confirmed it would be difficult to find an alternative explanations for such reactions. Interestingly to note that, already in the 1990s, Brian Ahern’s patent US5411654 refers to “many-body” nuclear reactions:
“Condensed matter systems in which the deuteron nuclei motions are synchronized to such a high degree are expected to generally tend toward conditions that favor 3- and 4-body strong force interactions. Such many-bodied, cooperative oscillations permit 3 nuclei to be confined in, or close, to, the strong force envelope simultaneously, providing a corresponding increase in interaction potential. Prediction of reaction by-products of 3- and 4-body strong force interactions are beyond current understanding. High energy scattering experiments are of no predictive use, owing to the immeasurably low probability of even a 3-body interaction.”.
Incidentally, the cited patent also addresses other key issues such as, for example, the phenomena of energy localization in nano-structured materials.
What are the main differences with Randell L. Mills’ hydrino?
In Mills’ theory, the charge density equation ρ involves the existence of charges moving at speed v < c:
while the equation of the model proposed by the Authors
demands, as already mentioned, the existence of light-speed moving charges. Moreover Mills’ theory contemplates the possibility of many energy levels for the hydrogen atom below the commonly accepted fundamental level.
Other experimental results that suggest the hypothesis of compact forms of hydrogen?
In the 1960s, in an attempt to demonstrate the hypothesis that a neutron is a compressed form of hydrogen, Don Carlo Borghi has conducted an experiment in which partially ionized hydrogen was crossed by a 10 GHz microwaves beam generated by a Klystron. The experiment aimed to test the possibility of synthesizing neutrons from protons and electrons. The neutron synthesis should not be a considered a realistic hypothesis, taking into account the energy necessary to balance the nuclear electron capture . More likely, though not yet proven, is the possibility of ultra-dense hydrogen formation: .
In conclusion, I would like to point out the possibility of asking questions and commenting on my blog for those who want to deepen the topics discussed or want clarifications about them. A sincere thank to Mario Menichella and to those who have collaborated for the realization of this post.
I asked Alessandro Cavalieri to explain us the achievements described in the Brillouin Energy’s poster presented at ICCF-19:
Brillouin Energy’s reactor, with still only a few watts produced, is (on the paper) one of the possible future alternatives to Rossi’s E-Cat, whose 1 MW plant in these days has outperformed all the competitors with its huge COP: >20 according some rumors from Mats Lewan and others.
But what is interesting in the case of Brillouin’s reactor is not the quantity of energy produced (in 2015, at 642 °C they have 24 W of thermal production from a 6 W power input), but the fact that there is a quite clear theory behind their device and – the most important thing – it seems to be in agreement with the experimental results.
Therefore, it can be useful to analyze this theory in the light of the latest info presented in a poster at ICCF-19 by the Company of Robert Godes, to see if there may be points in common with the E-Cat. He said in Padua that the theoretical basis of their reaction is the Electron Capture and that multiple tests run by Tom Claytor, formerly at Los Alamos National Laboratory, detected a production of Tritium which matches this hypothesis.
The poster presented by Brillouin at ICCF-19 (courtesy Brillouin Energy).
Indeed, as shown in the poster, in 2014 they detected, near their running reactor, a slight increase in activity of the background radiation level from the 0-18 keV tritium window, whereas the higher energy window 18-150 keV showed no excess activity.
Tritium, or H-3, is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, containing one proton and two neutrons. Naturally occurring tritium is extremely rare on Earth, where trace amount are formed by the interaction of the atmosphere with the cosmic rays. It has a half-life of 12.3 years and decays (through a so-called “beta decay”, a type of radioactive decay in which a proton is transformed into a neutron) into Helium-3, releasing 18.6 keV of energy in the process.
Brillouin’s technology converts the hydrogen – most easily directly from water – to helium gas, a process that releases large amounts of useful heat. The process starts by introducing hydrogen into a suitable piece of nickel. Then, a proprietary electronic pulse generator creates stress points in the metal where the applied energy is focused into very small spaces.
This concentrated energy allows some of the protons in the hydrogen to capture an electron, and thus become a neutron. This step converts a small amount of energy into mass in the neutron. Further pulses both create more neutrons and allow neutrons to combine with some of the hydrogen to form deuterium, or H-2 (a form of hydrogen with both a proton and a neutron in the nucleus). This ‘combination’ step releases energy.
The process continues, again, with some neutrons combining with deuterium to form tritium (hydrogen with one proton and two neutrons). This step actually releases still more energy. The process continues with some neutrons combining with the tritium to form the so-called “quadrium”, or H-4 (hydrogen with one proton and three neutrons).
As pointed out by Brillouin, since quadrium is not stable, it quickly turns into helium in a process that releases more energy than it took to create all the preceding steps (2.4 units of energy go in and 24 units come out). The released energy is initially absorbed by the metal element, and then made available as heat for thermal applications.
The Brillouin controlled Electron Capture reaction (courtesy Brillouin Energy).
In Brillouin’s theory, the nickel (or other metal elements with the correct internal geometry) acts only as a host and catalyst, and is not consumed, the only consumable is hydrogen, and the electron capture reaction is controlled by the proprietary electronics developed by Godes (an electronic engineer), which compress the electrons to create the right conditions: probably coherent phonon waves within the metal lattice created by electro-magnetic pulses.
Hydrogen enters as an ion in the nickel (or metal) lattice, where it is highly confined. According to a study of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) – a U.S. Department of Energy research laboratory – confinement energy alone can drive electron capture events. However, it is the electrical stimulation to provide energy levels in excess of the 782 KeV threshold needed to produce a neutron out of the combination of an electron and a proton.
The lattice, stimulated with precise, narrow, high voltage, bipolar pulse frequencies (called “Q-pulse” by Brillouin) cause protons to undergo electron capture. The Q-pulse reverses the natural decay of neutrons to protons, plus beta particles, catalyzing – through a dramatic increase of the phonon activity – an electron capture in a first endothermic step, then an ultra cold neutron is formed. This triggers the cascade of reactions described above, resulting in a beta decay transmutation to Helium-4 plus heat.
ALESSANDRO CAVALIERI is a physicist who teaches Mathematics and Physics in a secondary school, in Northern Italy. His cultural interests goes from Chaos Theory to the Mind-Matter connections. He loves to read books on the history of Physics.
As you can see from all my previous posts, I have many first-hand sources. When I prepared the book “E-Cat – The New Fire”, I contacted one of the people who had worked on the development of the E-Cat (therefore, not Rossi). He told me that the Hot-Cat running was a sort of “Sun in a box” and that once he had also seen the reactor sublimate!
Also Andrea Rossi, later, has described this type of event in a comment posted on JoNP:
December 28th, 2013 at 8:32 PM
Very sorry, I cannot answer to this question exhaustively, but I can say something. Obviously, the experiments are made with total respect of the safety of my team and myself. During the destructive tests we arrived to reach temperatures in the range of 2,000 Celsius degrees, when the “mouse” excited too much the E-Cat, and it is gone out of control, in the sense that we have not been able to stop the raise of the temperature (we arrived on purpose to that level, because we wanted to study this kind of situation). A nuclear Physicist, analyzing the registration of the data, has calculated that the increase of temperature (from 1,000 Celsius to 2,000 Celsius in about 10 seconds), considering the surface that has increased of such temperature, has implied a power of 1 MW, while the Mouse had a mean power of 1.3 kW. Look at the photo you have given the link of, and imagine that the cylinder was cherry red, then in 10 seconds all the cylinder became white-blue, starting from the white dot you see in the photo (after 1 second) becoming totally white-blue in the following 9 seconds, and then an explosion and the ceramic inside (which is a ceramic that melts at 2,000 Celsius) turned into a red, brilliant stone, like a ruby. When we opened the reactor, part of the AISI 310 steel was not molten, but sublimated and condensed in form of microscopic drops of steel.
The photo cited by Rossi: a Hot-Cat exhibits a hot-spot during a destructive test, in 2012.
Sublimation is a process during which a solid on heating changes directly into the vapor phase without passing through the intermediate liquid state. When the vapors are cooled, they condense to form solid. The temperature at which a solid changes into vapor is called the sublimation point (and corresponds to the boiling point of the liquid).
Typically, the pressure at which a material sublimate is atmospheric pressure, so the sublimation points are normally referred to the standard pressure of 760 mm Hg, and the temperature is the determining factor to the change of state in those cases. However, more in general, a material will change from solid state to gas state at specific combinations of temperature and surrounding pressure.
The temperature of a material will increase until it reaches the point where the change takes place. It will stay at that temperature until that change is completed. Some substances sublime at room temperature. A common example of this is dry ice, where solid carbon dioxide becomes gaseous without being a liquid during the process.
You can see below its phase diagram:
The phase diagram for carbon dioxide (from Wikimedia).
For each solid, raising temperature at low enough pressure takes the material directly from solid to gas, but at higher pressure it will go through the liquid between. The pressure where that behavior changes turns out to be a lot different for different materials, so at atmospheric pressure some behave some way, some the other. For water, if you lower pressure to about 1/160 of atmospheric pressure, it will go straight from solid to gas.
It is interesting that metals exhibit evidence of a tendency to sublimate – or, more exactly, show volatility – at temperatures considerably below their melting points. Krafft already in 1903 investigated in some detail the volatilization of a number of metals at low pressures. Rosenhain obtained beautiful crystals of sublimed zinc by heating a piece of zinc to 300 °C for some weeks in a glass tube containing hydrogen (!) at atmospheric pressure.
From the book “Hot-Cat 2.0 – How last generation E-Cats are made” we know that the reactors used in these destructive tests were made of metallic and non metallic materials: steel (external cylinder and inner cylinder), a ceramic material (between the two steel cylinders), some heating resistors (made of metal) and nickel (main component of the charge). So it is interesting to check what are the sublimation points for some of such materials.
The sublimation point for nickel is 2800 °C. However, very few metals are used in pure, or even relatively pure, forms. Steel, for example, is the name for a whole family of iron alloys (containing carbon and often some other elements). The boiling point of iron (not steel) is 2750 C, so the sublimation (or boiling) point of steel is likely to be close for most steels: around 3000 °C. Steel melts at much lower temperatures: around 1300-1500 °C.
The phase diagram for pure iron (from Wikipedia).
In the phase diagram above you can see that iron is solid at room pressure and at standard temperature (25 °C), but melts around 1540 °C and sublimate around 2750 °C. Alpha (α) iron, or ferrite, is the name given in material science to pure iron with a body-centered cubic crystal structure. It is this structure which gives steel its magnetic properties and is the classic example of a ferromagnetic material. Mild steel consists mostly of ferrite.
Regarding the ceramic materials contained in Rossi’s type of Hot-Cat used in the destructive tests (different from the alumina used in the Lugano test, as described in the cited book), their melting point is around 1900-2000 °C, and their sublimation point is about 3000-3500 °C.
Therefore, at the end of this “exploration” we can conclude – taking into account also the temperature gradient along the reactor from inside to outside – that the temperature reached in the destroyed Hot-Cats was well beyond 3000 °C! This is extremely interesting, because there is no way to obtain such a result using electrical heating resistors…
This post has been written with the kind collaboration of the physicist Alessandro Cavalieri.
I found extremely interesting the paper on some fundamental “Questions About Mechanisms and Materials for LENR”, appeared in the issue 118 of Infinite Energy magazine and written by David J. Nagel, an American distinguished scientist whose current research centers on “Lattice Enabled Nuclear Reactions” (LENR). He is also the founding CEO of NUCAT Energy LLC, a company that provides various consulting and educational services for LENR.
Here’s a brief summary from his 14 pages article:
1) Is there only one, or more than one, basic physical mechanism(s) active in LENR experiments to produce the diverse measured results?
“In LENR experiments have been measured: (1) large thermal power releases and high energy gains; (2) output processes as fast as microseconds; (3) nuclear products ranging from tritium and helium through elements with intermediate masses to heavy elements; (4) fast particles, especially neutrons, charged particles and energetic photons; and (5) other effects such as emission of radio-frequency and infrared radiation and sound. The lack of many correlations between different experimental outputs from LENR experiments would seem to favor the operation of two or more fundamental mechanisms for LENR, either simultaneously or sequentially”.
2) Is excess heat from electrochemical loading and gas loading experiments due to the same basic mechanism(s)?
“It is possible that different mechanisms are active in these two major approaches to creating conditions that result in LENR. It might be possible to address this question by the use of the same materials in both types of experiments. Some cylindrical rods of some material that are coated, several at a time in the same equipment, with a thin film of a material conducive to producing LENR, maybe containing Pd or Ni, could be used as electrodes in electrochemical experiments and others put into gas loading experiments. Comparison of the results obtained with the two methods of loading might provide an answer to this question, although that is not the only potential outcome. It remains possible that the same mechanism(s) occur for both methods of loading, but differences in the two techniques would lead to divergent results”.
3) Do LENR occur exclusively as individual uncoupled events, or is it possible to have cascades of LENR, in which a reaction makes more likely the occurrence of more LENR?
“During energy production by nuclear fission, the proximity of fuel nuclei is necessary, if neutrons released by prior reactions are to be efficiently captured to produce further fissions. That leads to the question of whether or not similar effects might operate during the production of energy by LENR. That is, are cascaded or chain reactions operable during production of heat by LENR? There has been very little discussion of this possibility in the field to date. The answer to this question will ultimately depend on understanding of the basic mechanism(s) that produce LENR. There is indirect experimental evidence for the nearly simultaneous occurrence of numerous LENR in small spatial regions. However, that evidence alone does not indicate whether the reactions are independent of each other or occur in causal sequences”.
4) Is the excess heat due entirely or only partially to nuclear reactions, and, if partially, what other mechanism contributes to the heat output?
“It is conceivable that, under some conditions, all of the excess energy is due to nuclear reactions and, under other conditions, little of it is nuclear. Intermediate situations could also exist. Fleishmann and Pons thought that the only alternative explanation for the excess heat found in their experiment was nuclear reactions. However, there was and remains the possibility that there is some entity between nuclei and atoms in both size and energy, which can be formed with the release of energy, that is, without requiring nuclear reactions. Many theorists have postulated ‘compact objects’ (for example, the hydrino postulated by Randell Mills), the formation of which would yield eV to keV-scale energies, rather than nuclear MeV energies. Such entities supposedly involve one of the hydrogen isotopes as nuclei and also orbital electrons. Because of their small size and electron shielding, the protons or deuterons at the center of these objects can move closer to other nuclei in materials, which increases the probability of later true nuclear reactions”.
A slide from a presentation shown by D. Nagel at “2014 Cold Fusion Colloquium”, MIT.
5) What are the keys to making and maintaining materials that produce excess heat regarding both composition (notably impurities) and structure (vacancies, dislocations, cracks, etc.)?
“It is thought by many people that subtle, but critical variations in materials within LENR experiments are what make production of excess power challenging, and also account for variations in both reproducibility and output power. It was realized over 15 years ago that low level impurities could produce modest excess powers in LENR experiments, if the impurities were reactants. Even if impurities are not actually fuel, they might be needed to produce nuclear active regions in which LENR can occur. Very many physical and chemical processes have been employed to prepare the interior bulk and exterior surfaces of materials for LENR experiments. So, development of a quantitative and predictive theory for production of nuclear active regions might resolve this question. However, it is also possible that only very careful parametric experiments, in which key factors are both varied willfully and characterized in detail, will suffice to solve the materials riddle”.
6) The location of LENR has important implications. Do LENR occur on or near surfaces or in the bulk of materials or at any locations on or in a material?
“It matters greatly, both scientifically and practically, if LENR occur on or very near to surfaces of materials, in their bulk or in both types of locations. Surface sites, including cracks that extend to the surface, are readily accessible from the surrounding liquid or gaseous atmosphere. There is substantial empirical evidence of varying quality which indicates that LENR occur on or near the surface of solids. A systematic study of Pd material characteristics in relationship to their ability to produce excess power was conducted by Vittorio Violante and his coworkers at the Italian ENEA laboratories in Frascati, showing that surfaces with structures in the sub-micrometer (nanometer) scale favored the production of LENR power. However, the case for where LENR occur is certainly not closed. If LENR occur on surfaces, it will be easier to bring reactants together and to remove products compared to reactions occurring within materials, and it will also be easier to reconstitute nuclear active reactions on the surfaces of materials”.
Another slide from a presentation shown by D. Nagel at “2014 Cold Fusion Colloquium”, MIT.
7) Are nano-scale structures or particles sizes necessary for occurrence of LENR?
“We cited some evidence just above for LENR occurring mainly on or near the surfaces of materials. If that is the dominant situation, then nanometer-scale structures could be fundamental to the occurrence of LENR. That is due to the fact that the surface and nearby regions on materials are generally on the order of 1 nanometer or less in thickness. As the size of material particles decreases toward the nanometer-scale, the surface-to-volume ratio increases. There is a significant body of research on LENR that involves particles with dimensions on the order of nanometers. It might be necessary to have structures with nanometer scales in two or three dimensions, in order to cause LENR. There has been some work published on the production and use of surfaces that have nanometric structures on or embedded in them prior to experiments. Such surfaces can be made by a wide variety of physical and chemical techniques”.
You can read the full article “Questions About LENR: Mechanisms and Materials” here.
DAVID J. NAGEL graduated Magna Cum Laude in Engineering Science. He has received an MS degree in Physics and a PhD in Materials Engineering. After graduating, Nagel worked as an officer in the US Navy and in 1990 joined the civilian staff of the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). He is currently Research Professor at The George Washington University, in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
I found very interesting, as possible research on LENR, the following article appeared some time ago on the Oil & Gas Journal – magazine published by the Pennwell Corporation – whose title is Rust Catalyzed Ethylene Hydrogenation causes Temperature Runaway. It was mentioned by a reader of E-Cat World in a comment to this post and I was intrigued.
I quote from the Abstract: “During early operation of one of Exxon Chemical Co.‘s ethane cracking plants, a temperature runaway in a small shell-and-tube heat exchanger upstream of the hydrogen methanator reactor resulted in rupture of the exchanger shell. Exxon has concluded that the overtemperature resulted from the exothermic heat of reaction of ethylene and hydrogen. This hydrogenation reaction unexpectedly initiated at a temperature well under 300 °C”.
Then, I did some research on the web about this event and, as explained in a document linked here, I found that it caused “hot spots” with high localized temperatures (see photo).
Such hot spots, together with the runaway exothermic reaction, could be interpreted as a possible “signature” of LENR at work, stimulated by a highly active catalyst.
Indeed, it is known that LENRs occurr in microscopic spots on certain surfaces: these are localized micron-scale LENR-active sites on planar surfaces or curved surfaces of nanoparticles. In general, the hot spots are destroyed in a short time by intense heat: local peak temperatures can reach 4,000-6,000 °C.
So, a good candidate for the catalyst is rust (Fe3O4 or Fe2O3). For this reason, as Bob Greenyer revealed in a recent interview given to this blog, the Martin Fleishmann Memorial Project (MFMP) – the world’s first Live Open Science project focused on LENR – will check in future experiments also the effect of Iron Oxide based catalysts.
In this regard, I find interesting the paper, highlighted to me by Russ George and linked here, “A new look at the finer details of rust shows an assumed atomic structure has been wrong all along“, published on December 4, 2014 on ScienceDaily.
From the summary: “Scientists have been studying the behavior of iron oxide surfaces. The atomic structure of iron oxide, which had been assumed to be well-established, turned out to be wrong. The behavior of iron oxide is governed by missing iron atoms in the atomic layer directly below the surface. This is a big surprise with potential applications in chemical catalysis”.
According to such paper, “it is precisely above such places of missing iron atoms that other metal atoms attach. These iron-vacancy-sites are regularly spaced, and so there is always some well-defined distance between gold or palladium atoms attaching to the surface. This explains why Fe3O4 surfaces prevent these atoms from forming clusters“.
Ethylene is a widely used hydrocarbon which has the formula C2H4 or H₂C=CH₂. It is a colorless flammable gas with a faint “sweet and musky” odor when pure. It is the simplest alkene, and the second simplest unsaturated hydrocarbon after acetylene. This hydrocarbon has four hydrogen atoms bound to a pair of carbon atoms that are connected by a double bond.
Perhaps, the experts can find useful information about some of the many processes involved in the following paper, Hydrogenation of Ethylene on Metallic Catalysts, by Juro Horiuti and Koshiro Miyahara (Hokkaido University, Japan), downloadable from here. It discusses in detail the investigations carried out, especially for the nickel catalyst, but not only.
Finally, on Vortex a reader wrote: “Ed Storms tells a story of how Rossi first got interested in LENR when he saw a thermal runaway in an oil waste process”. In my book, being his biography, you can read the real story about what can be considered a revolutionary discovery.