Subscribe options

Select your newsletters:

Please enter your email address:

@

News & Media

Latest ITER Newsline

  • Deliveries | A third magnet ready for transport to ITER

    Three ITER magnets are now in transit to ITER from different points on the globe—two toroidal field magnets and one poloidal field coil. In terms of component w [...]

    Read more

  • Heaviest load yet | Europe's coil soon to hit the road

    It's big, it's heavy, it's precious and it's highly symbolic: the toroidal field coil that was unloaded at Marseille industrial harbour on 17 March is the most [...]

    Read more

  • Russia's ring coil | Entering the final sequence

    The smallest of ITER's poloidal field coils is entering the final sequence in a long series of activities that transform cable-in-conduit superconductor into a [...]

    Read more

  • Coping with COVID | Adjusting to maintain progress

    COVID-19 needs no introduction. But for a 35-country collaboration like ITER, the dramatic worldwide spread of the virus has introduced an entirely new set of c [...]

    Read more

  • United States | A roadmap to fusion energy

    Hundreds of scientists across the United States—representing a broad range of national labs, universities, and private ventures—have collaborated to produce A C [...]

    Read more

Of Interest

See archived entries

Cold fusion

End of story?

R.A.

Thirty years ago, two electrochemists at the University of Utah, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, created a sensation when they claimed they had achieved fusion at room temperature in a tabletop experiment. 

Martin Fleischmann, right, with Stanley Pons, in 1989. The team of electrochemists from the University of Utah claimed they had acheived hydrogen fusion at room temperature. Thirty years later, having invested USD 10 million in research, Google confirmed in May that they had found ''no evidence whatsoever'' in favour of cold fusion. (Click to view larger version...)
Martin Fleischmann, right, with Stanley Pons, in 1989. The team of electrochemists from the University of Utah claimed they had acheived hydrogen fusion at room temperature. Thirty years later, having invested USD 10 million in research, Google confirmed in May that they had found ''no evidence whatsoever'' in favour of cold fusion.
The concept of "cold fusion" was not new. As early as the 1920s, physicists had speculated that the fusion of hydrogen could occur in an electrolytic cell in the presence of a palladium catalyst.

The theory failed to receive much consideration until the Fleishmann-Pons announcement in March 1989. Although the experiment's detailed protocol was not divulged, the scientific status of Fleischmann, then one of the world's leading electrochemists, lent credibility to the claim.

Researchers and labs throughout the world attempted to reproduce the experiment, but failed to obtain conclusive results. A major controversy ensued, the scientists' "honesty" was challenged, and major scientific journals and institutions eventually closed the case as pipe dream or worse—as a blatant example of "pathological science."

This reaction from mainstream science did not deter hundreds of scientists throughout the world from pursuing the quest. In 2015, more than a quarter century after the Fleischmann and Pons experiment, Google launched a research program of its own.

The USD 10-million project was revealed to the general public in May when researchers with the Internet giant admitted that they had found "no evidence whatsoever" in favour of cold fusion.

Google's lack of results, however, is not likely to put an end to the pursuit. Like the quest for the philosophers' stone, the dream of cold fusion will endure and keep modern-day alchemists busy.


return to the latest published articles