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A "cold fusion" researcher and other scientists, including those from Los Alamos National Laboratory, reported Wednesday that their latest work appears to confirm existence of a nuclear reaction, but at levels that make it an unlikely source of power.

Brigham Young University physicist Steven Jones, who has consistently reported less dramatic results than have fusion researchers at the University of Utah, said Wednesday that he continues to see evidence of fusion. But, he said, the reaction does not produce excess heat - as B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann have reported.Jones said, "It is important to discuss the rates and not just say there is a high amount of energy." The U. researchers contend that they "are not aware of any experiments they (BYU) have done to measure the heat either."

Jones' research results were announced in Santa Fe, where like many a hit movie, the cold nuclear fusion story has spawned yet another sequel - this time at The Workshop on Cold Fusion Phenomena, sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy

But the stars who set off the frenzy - University of Utah chemist Pons and his British colleague, Fleischmann - were absent, preferring ing to perform new experiments and write more in-depth scientific papers that will change the plot direction before sequel No. 5 is staged.

Meanwhile, Wednesday the nuclear war of words continued for a second month, with scientists' opinions still differing. - "I think the low neutron rates challenge very strongly the excess heat seen in the Pons-Fleischmann experiments is due to cold fusion," Jones said. "We have really got to be more scientific and quantitative. There is cold fusion phenomena, but at low rates. Energy is a long way off."

Pons disagrees and has repeatedly said that "neutrons may not be the main channel for energy release."

Los Alamos' and Jones' rates for cold fusion neutrons were further verified by Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics, which detected the same amount of cold fusion neutrons.

H.O. Menlove said Los Alamos used four different detectors to measure the neutron levels and found them to be at .05 neutrons, but could not identify the mechanism to the fusion source.

The Italian experiments were confined to an entirely different detection system, but low rates were still measured, the Italian team said.

Texas A&M University researchers, the first to successfully duplicate the U. experiment, said their research turned up evidence of what they called "anomalous heat," and the number of neutrons produced was up to seven times the number expected in nature. They said they've also found tritium in cold fusion experiments up to 10,000 times above the normal background level.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, the fusion fans have also won another powerful ally - the prestigious Electric Power Research Institute, a top utilities think tank in Palo Alto, Calif.

The results of EPRI-funded cold fusion research at Texas A&M "would be difficult to explain without invoking nuclear reactions," said EPRI officials.


(Additional information)

Lab gets A&M samples

Los Alamos National Laboratory, finalizing an agreement to collaborate on cold nuclear fusion research with the University of Utah, has begun work with Texas A&M University. Jeff Schwartz, community and public affairs director for the lab, said New Mexico scientists have examined five solution samples provided by Texas A&M to look for tritium, a byproduct of fusion.