Given its enormous potential public benefit, the level of support for cold fusion development should depend on the level of evidence that it is a real phenomenon. LENRGY utilizes evidence-based policymaking (EBP) as an effective way to make or revise policies for funding cold fusion R&D to realize it’s benefits. EBP addresses policy issues by utilizing objective evidence. Important elements of EBP are reliable data, good analytical skills, and political support for rational solutions.
Science and technology have had profound effects on societies around the world, particularly since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s. Another way that policies are developed for the public benefit is to proactively define these impacts and develop measures for mitigating the effects. It may reasonably be expected that cold fusion, when it is widely deployed as an energy source, will have major impacts as a disruptive new technology. LENRGY promotes technology assessment (TA) – the systematic analysis of technological impacts on societies – as an effective method to define and mitigate the secondary impacts of cold fusion.
Although cold fusion has continuing problems of insufficient reproducibility and adequate explanation, its policies must be based on the evidence for its existence. For the LENR case, EBP addresses two fundamental questions:
1. What is the evidence that LENR is real and will be able to contribute to the world’s energy supply?
2. What policy should be adopted based on the public benefit and level of evidence of LENR reality?
Once the level of evidence for cold fusion is determined, the appropriate policies can also be determined.
EBP relies heavily on pragmatism – what works, for whom and under what circumstances. Realism is another basic underpinning. EBP provides advantages over other policymaking frameworks by helping to ensure that the public interest is best served with its emphasis on realism and pragmatism.
Policymakers, who normally do not have a strong technical background, may be challenged in determining how to evaluate experimental evidence for making policies. One solution is to translate the experimental evidence into easily understood levels of evidence
Level of Evidence for LENR Reality
The level of evidence for LENR can be easily communicated and understood using terms that are widely known and accepted – preponderance of evidence, clear and convincing evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt. For the cold fusion case, the following translations seem appropriate.
- Preponderance of Evidence: The probability is at least 50% that cold fusion is a real phenomenon. This level was clearly established at the time of the 1989 announcement. Both Martin Fleischman and Stanley Pons had excellent reputations in the methods they used to achieve the reaction. Fleischmann, for example, was a member of Britain’s Royal Society, the highest recognition of excellence in that country.
- Clear and Convincing Evidence: The probability is at least 70%. This level is strongly indicated by the numerous successes by reputable scientists at locations around the world since 1989. For example, from 1989 to 2004, more than 300 positive results were reported for three types of cold fusion experiments with different signatures – excess heat (184), elemental transmutation (80), and anomalous radiation (55). Many more successes have been documented in the 17 years since 2004. Application of Bayes Theorem to the cold fusion case also demonstrates a high level of evidence for the reality of the phenomenon.
- Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Greater than 90% probability may be indicated not only by advances in cold fusion theories but also by a plethora of experimental devices that have reported success. Currently two major classes of explanation are being pursued – within the lattice of the materials being used and at or near the material surface. Examples of devices that have claimed LENR success in recent years are Celani’s Constantan Reactor, LENUCO’s LENR-Gen Module, JET Energy’s PHUSOR and NANOR, and Brillouin’s CECR Technology. Rossi’s E-Cat may also eventually prove to be a successful cold fusion demonstration.
The information provided by Fleischmann and Pons at the 1989 press conference demonstrates at least a
preponderance of evidence for cold fusion.
Bayes Theorem indicates an increase of probability from 5% to 60% in just 10 early experiments, 4 of which were unsuccessful.
If the probability before analysis is assumed to be 50%, the 10 experiments show a 95% probability after analysis.
Brillouin Energy’s CECR reactor is an example of a device claimed to be achieving cold fusion.
These proposed levels of evidence for LENR, of course, subject to debate. The highest level of evidence would be certainty, which would arrive when a useful device is introduced into the marketplace. Because of global climate change and other environmental degradation, the world cannot pin its hopes on such a development. The need for cold fusion is too urgent. Governments must intervene to shorten the time and increase the probability with policies for supporting LENR R&D.
The levels of evidence may be further interpreted for appropriate policy responses regarding support of LENR development for the public benefit. Five policy options appear to be available:
- Discontinue Investigations (Let cold fusion go the way of other rejected scientific claims, such as N-rays and polywater).
- Business as Usual (Continue marginalized research in conditions like the current situation)
- Restore Legitimacy (Support along with hot fusion and other emerging energy technologies)
- Enhanced Support (For example, greater than hot fusion research for the past 50 years)
- Crash Program (Extraordinary levels of support to realize energy benefits, perhaps comparable to the Manhattan Project to develop the fission bomb in World War II)
Option 1 is not viable because of cold fusion’s clear potential public benefit and because of continued interest and level of research and other activity in the field. The four viable options (2 to 5) may then be evaluated in relation to the levels of evidence. The following policy responses are suggested:
- Preponderance of Evidence: Restore Legitimacy. Because this level is the minimum based on Fleischmann and Pons original work and announcement, cold fusion legitimacy must be restored and pursued rigorously along with other emerging energy technologies, including hot fusion.
- Clear and Convincing Evidence: Enhanced Support. With cold fusion’s being established at this level based on the extensive successes since 1989, it should be supported at an increased level – higher than hot fusion research support.
- Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Crash Program. Considering the strong possibility that cold fusion may exist at this level – because of progress in theories and many empirical devices – a crash program like the Manhattan Project may be warranted.
In summary, an appropriate policy response based on the levels of evidence would be at a minimum to reinstate LENR. The level of evidence also shows that it should probably be supported at a level higher than hot fusion. Cold fusion may even warrant a crash program for its development for the public benefit.
If cold fusion exists beyond a reasonable doubt, an R&D program comparable to the Manhattan Project would be warranted.
Besides its potential benefits, LENR will almost certainly be a disruptive technology with major adverse secondary impacts. Prominent examples of such disruptive technologies in the past are the automobile and the Internet. Broad deployment of LENR as a major energy source will likely have significant direct impacts on the world energy infrastructure as well as indirect impacts on the components of society most closely tied to that infrastructure. It has the potential to be deployed in a dispersed manner (e.g., small units for individual homes) or in a centralized configuration, such as in industrial facilities or power plants.
Direct impacts of LENR on the infrastructure would include all components and phases of energy use – supply, transport, storage, and consumption. LENR deployment seems likely to affect energy industries and organizations worldwide in highly disruptive ways.
Indirect impacts of LENR deployment on social systems may also be expected to be large and far-reaching. For example, workforces engaged in energy industries may have to be retrained and new jobs found or created. Communities that are closely tied to energy-related activities may need to make adjustments in their economic foundations. Governmental entities that rely heavily on taxes from the energy industries may have to find other revenue sources. Major geopolitical shifts may also be expected because of reduced reliance on fossil fuels. Prices for energy may drop as LENR energy becomes available. Nations having the technology may have economic, national security, and other advantages over other countries. The balance of world power may shift in favor of nations where LENR becomes widely available.
Because cold fusion may be utilized in small units at dispersed locations,
energy transport would be greatly impacted when the units become available.
LENRGY advocates technology assessment (TA), whose emphasis is on evaluating the impacts of technology on society, to analyze and develop mitigation strategies for LENR’s secondary impacts. TAs may be conducted by interested parties with sufficient resources and are often performed by public agencies having responsibility broadly for the public interest. The TA sequence for identifying and mitigating adverse impacts of new technologies consists generally of the following steps:
- Describe the technology in detail
- Identify the direct and indirect secondary impacts, using quantitative measures where feasible
- Determine the parties and entities that will be adversely affected by the new technology
- Identify the available institutions and infrastructure for mitigation
- Engage representatives of the parties at interest
- Delineate mitigation measures for the identified impacts
- Prepare proactive plan that involves both the affected entities and mitigation infrastructure
- Implement the mitigation plan proactively in advance of deployment of the technology
Because TAs are complex, they are frequently performed by multidisciplinary teams. Rather than following a rigid method, they often utilize a methodological framework within which a particular technology and set of circumstances are evaluated. Participatory TA ensures that public and agency input are incorporated in the process.
Technology assessment is a proven methodology for determining adverse impacts on society in advance so that the effects can be mitigated.
Policymaking for mitigating adverse secondary impacts can be coordinated with policies for realizing LENR benefits. The pace of LENR development, degree of market success, and resulting rate of deployment are likely to determine how TA is applied to address adverse secondary impacts. A phased approach may therefore be needed so that the timing and level of effort can be matched to the rate of deployment and associated impacts. As LENR prospects improve, mitigation planning can be adjusted for the anticipated rate of deployment.
Dr. Grimshaw began cold fusion policymaking with EBP to determine how to develop public policies for research support. Subsequently, he addressed the anticipated disruptive impacts of LENR deployment as a new energy source. He has prepared a number of policy-related publications and reports, listed below, on both topics in his LENR career.
- Grimshaw, T., 2006. Cold Fusion – A Cogent Topic for Rigorous Policy Analysis. Conference Course in Policy Analysis (PA389), LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin. March.
- Grimshaw, T., 2008. Evidence-Based Public Policy toward Cold Fusion: Rational Choices for a Potential Alternative Energy Source. Austin, TX. Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin. Unpublished Professional Report for Master of Public Affairs Degree. December.
- Grimshaw, T., 2008. Public Interest Arguments for Cold Fusion Policy Change: Opportunities for the CMNS Research Community. Poster Presented at 14th International Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF-14), Washington, DC. August.
- Grimshaw, T., 2012. Evidence-Based Public Policy for Support of Cold Fusion (LENR) Development. Poster Presented at 17th International Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF-17), Daejeon, South Korea. August.
- Grimshaw, T., 2012. Public Policy Planning for Broad Deployment of Cold Fusion (LENR) for Energy Production. Paper FrM1-1, 17th International Conference on Cold Fusion, Daejeon, South Korea. August.
- Leseberg, M, J. Maxwell, and T. Grimshaw, 2013. Student Internship – Public Policy Planning for Broad Deployment of Cold Fusion for Energy Production in the U.S.: Task Report 1. The Changing Landscape of Cold Fusion. February.
- Leseberg, M, J. Maxwell, and T. Grimshaw, 2013. Student Internship – Public Policy Planning for Broad Deployment of Cold Fusion for Energy Production in the U.S.: Task Report 2. Technology Assessment. February.
- Grimshaw, T., 2014. Cold Fusion Public Policy: Rational – and Urgent – Need for Change. Presentation at 2014 Cold Fusion/LANR Colloquium at MIT. Cambridge, MA. March.
- Grimshaw, T., 2014. Opportunities for Cold Fusion Policy Change. Presentation at First Mediterranean International Workshop on Low Energy Reactions, “Ettore Majorana” Foundation, Erice, Sicily. October.
- Grimshaw, T., 2015. Integrated Policymaking for Realizing Benefits and Mitigating Impacts of LENR. Presentation and Paper at 19th International Conference on Cold Fusion (ICCF-19), Padua, Italy. April.
- Grimshaw, T.W., and D.J. Nagel, 2016. Responsibilities of US Government Agencies for Support of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions. Presentation and Paper for 20th International Conference on Cold Fusion, Sendai, Japan. December.
- Grimshaw, T.W., 2017. Emerging Energy Technologies: Responsibilities of U.S. Government Entities – Review for Potential Cold Fusion Contributions. White Paper in Support of Paper for 20th International Conference on Cold Fusion, Sendai, Japan. January.
- Grimshaw, T. 2018. Integrated Policymaking for Realizing Benefits and Mitigating Secondary Impacts of Cold Fusion. in New Trends in Nuclear Science, N. Awwad and S. AlFaify, eds., Chapter 3. Intech Open Publishers. December.
- Grimshaw, T., 2019. Cold Fusion Public Policy for Realizing Its Benefits – and Dealing with Its Secondary Impacts. Poster at Energy and Society in Transition, 2nd International Conference on Energy Research and Social Science, Tempe, AZ, May.
- Grimshaw, T., 2020. Cold Fusion Public Policies: Realizing Benefits and Mitigating Disruptive Impacts. J. Condensed Matter Nucl. Sci. 32:1-11, May.