An Orlando scientist awaits the reaction of his colleagues worldwide to an announcement that he's developed a laboratory cold-fusion process that can be repeated on demand.
Nelson Ying, a nuclear physicist, announced Friday that he is getting up to 100,000 times more energy from a tabletop apparatus than he applies to it and that he can repeat the procedure at will.A workable cold-fusion process - that can be used to produce cheap electric power - has been touted as a solution to the world's energy problems.
He began his work in November 1989 after two University of Utah chemists and others claimed to have discovered cold fusion.
However, scientists worldwide had spotty results in trying to duplicate the work of chemists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann. Even those who did obtain positive results had difficulty repeating the process, and no one has been able to obtain cold fusion on demand.
But Ying's announcement may reopen the controversy over similar claims that have never been fully substantiated.
"We are sure that we have obtained cold fusion, which we can initiate on demand," Ying announced at a news conference after a demonstration at the Orlando Science Center.
"This is subject, of course, to the rigorous review of my peers," added Ying, who is an adjunct professor at the University of Central Florida and president of Quantum Nucleonics Corp. of Orlando.
He said he and a co-worker, Charles W. Shults III, developed the process over the past three years and have conducted 102 successful experiments.
"We are able to get much more heat than we put in, repeatedly," Ying said after the demonstration observed by U.S. Rep. George E. Brown Jr., D-Calif., chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
Brown and U.S. Rep. Jim Bacchus of Orlando, a member of the committee, said they were hopeful that Ying's process could be scientifically proved.
"I will probably assign some of our best staff people to this right away," said Brown, who was surprised by the disclosure while on a visit to Orlando with Bacchus. The Orlando congressman is a longtime friend of Ying's.
Glen Schoessow, professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Florida, said he couldn't assess Ying's work at this point but that he "would not discredit it at all."
"He's worked for three years, he knows what other people have tried and given up on, he must be certain of his facts," said Schoessow from his home in Gainesville.
"Nobody believes anything from anybody in this business; and it's very difficult to prove anything. He must know that."
Ying said he would soon make available a detailed patent disclosure and a scientific paper on the process so that other scientists can replicate the experiment.
"We will all work together on it" to develop cheap power commercially, said Ying.
Much research work is still being conducted, Schoessow said, and "some day, someone is going to make it work. Cold fusion is a long way from being dead."
The apparatus used by Ying and Shults uses platinum and palladium electrodes in distilled deuterium oxide, or heavy water. Using subatomic particles called bosons, a 15-microwatt current separates the deuterium and produces up to half a watt of electrical power, according to Ying.