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STATE, U. SIGN ACCORD FOR A FINANCIAL AUDIT OF COLD-FUSION INSTITUTE

SHARE STATE, U. SIGN ACCORD FOR A FINANCIAL AUDIT OF COLD-FUSION INSTITUTE

Financial and scientific reviews of the University of Utah's National Cold-Fusion Institute - sought two months ago by disgruntled faculty members - are expected to begin shortly.

State auditor Tom L. Allen Wednesday said his office has signed an agreement with the U. to determine exactly how the state's $5 million fusion investment has been spent.The audit, Allen said, is in the planning stages but should be conducted within the next two weeks. It will be available to the public.

Allen said the special audit is being done in coordination with his office's annual review of the university's books. But a separate report will be prepared on the institute's expenditures "because of the concern."

The so-called concern came from faculty whose ire was raised by a $500,000 "anonymous" donation to the institute. Upon learning that the grant actually came from the university itself, 22 faculty members and the dean of the College of Science called for both a financial audit and scientific review of the U.'s fusion program.

The Fusion/Energy Advisory Council, which oversees the state's investment in the controversial research, was asked to oversee both reviews.

According to council member Clair F. Coleman, the scientific review should also get under way within the next two weeks.

Through U. President Chase N. Peterson, the faculty and the institute each recommended eight scientists to participate in the review. Council members also submitted eight names.

"They are all top-quality scientists from around the country," Coleman said. "From the list of more than 24, there was a goodly number of overlap. Maybe that's why there was such a quick agreement."

Coleman said his subcommittee has narrowed down the list and will make the final selection of the four persons to conduct the review. He said he could not release names of the out-of-state scientists until they have been contacted and agreed to participate in the process.

He did confirm that Wilford Hansen, a Utah State University physicist and council member, will be the fifth member of the team evaluating the progress of fusion experiments - both at the institute and in the Henry Eyring Chemistry Building.

It was in the building's basement lab that a simple table-top experiment, conducted by electrochemists B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, created international furor last year.

The pair in March 1989 announced they had achieved a sustained nuclear fusion reaction in an experiment involving electrically charged palladium and platinum immersed in a beaker of deuterium oxide, or heavy water.

Pons and Fleischmann said they measured more energy, in the form of heat, coming from the device - called a cell - than they put into it.

Despite the resulting controversy, they have continued conducting experiments in the chemistry building, as well as at the institute.

Raymond L. Hixson, chairman of the Fusion/Energy Advisory Council, said he has met with Pons and Fleischmann and is "fairly comfortable that all the data needed for the review will be available."