Cold fusion | End of story?

Subscribe options

Select your newsletters:

Please enter your email address:

@

Your email address will only be used for the purpose of sending you the ITER Organization publication(s) that you have requested. ITER Organization will not transfer your email address or other personal data to any other party or use it for commercial purposes.

If you change your mind, you can easily unsubscribe by clicking the unsubscribe option at the bottom of an email you've received from ITER Organization.

For more information, see our Privacy policy.

News & Media

Latest ITER Newsline

  • In-vessel coils | First components arrive on site

    ITER has received the first shipments of mineral-insulated conductor for ITER's in-vessel coils. The first lengths are destined for winding and bending trials a [...]

    Read more

  • Controlling divertor power fluxes in 3D | ITER Scientist Fellows make progress

    New research results open a path to an integrated solution for optimizing the control of stationary and transient power fluxes on ITER. Tokamak plasmas are b [...]

    Read more

  • Cooperation | Canada returns to the table

    Canada, one of the early participants in ITER, is back in the project. On Thursday 15 October, Bernard Bigot, on behalf of the ITER Organization, and Assistant [...]

    Read more

  • Heat rejection basins | A massive fill-up

    When the ITER Tokamak begins producing burning plasmas and auxiliary systems are operating at full capacity, the amount of heat to be removed from the installat [...]

    Read more

  • Fusion world | Teaching teachers about fusion

    The possibility to visit three fusion facilities, all in one afternoon. Welcome to the new virtual world! More than 300 science teachers recently seized the opp [...]

    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