Given its enormous potential benefit, the level of support for LENR development should depend on the level of evidence that it is a real phenomenon. Evidence-based policymaking (EBP) provides a solid framework for analyzing policy opportunities. EBP focuses on formulating policy on the basis of objective evidence as established by research and past experience.
EBP relies heavily on pragmatism – what works: for whom and under what circumstances. Realism is another philosophical 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, EBP provides a suitable framework for LENR policymaking. Within this framework, three basic questions may be addressed:
1. What are the potential public benefits of LENR, particularly as a new source of energy?
2. What is the evidence that LENR is real and will be able to contribute to the world’s energy supply?
3. What policies should be adopted based on the public benefit and level of evidence of LENR reality?
Once the level of evidence for LENR is assessed, the appropriate resulting policies may be suggested.
Levels of Evidence for LENR
The levels of evidence for LENR reality may be inferred based on the experimental evidence. Thus it may be asserted that a preponderance of evidence (POE) based on the original claims of Fleischmann and Pons in the 1989 press conference and their subsequent paper. Clear and convincing evidence (CCE) for LENR may be asserted based on the extensive research since the 1989 rejection, which has continued in several countries and by many investigators. Examples in the U.S. are the LENR work at NASA and at a number of U.S. Department of Defense entities, including the Defense Intelligence Agency and several elements of the Navy.
LENR reality beyond a reasonable doubt (BRD) may be suggested as a result of several recent developments, including establishment of a dedicated research entities at the University of Missouri and Texas Tech University. The prospect if reality at the BRD level is further indicated by a plethora of proposed new energy devices, such as Rossi’s E-Cat, Celani’s reactor, LENUCO’s LENR-Gen Module, JET Energy’s PHUSOR and NANOR, and Brillouin’s CECR technology.
These proposed levels of evidence for LENR reality are, of course, subject to debate. The highest level of evidence is certainty, which would arrive when a practical device is introduced into the marketplace. The window of time before this occurs provides the opportunity for policy updates for LENR support.
The foregoing levels of evidence may be further interpreted for appropriate policy responses regarding support of LENR development. Five policy options appear to be available:
1. Discontinue Investigations (DI; not considered a viable option given the existing level of activity and interest).
2. Business as Usual (BU; continue marginalized research in conditions comparable to the existing situation)
3. Reinstate Legitimacy (RL; support along with other emerging energy technologies)
4. Increase Support (IS; on a par with hot fusion at levels of the past 50 years)
5. Crash Program (CP; extraordinary levels of support to realize energy benefits)
The four viable options (2 to 5) may then be evaluated in relation to the levels of evidence. The following policy responses are proposed:
If LENR exists beyond a reasonable doubt (BRD), a crash program (CP) would be indicated. If there is clear and convincing evidence (CCE), a CP response for its development would be increasing LENR support to a level similar to hot fusion (IS). If there is a preponderance of evidence (POE), an increase in support, IS, is indicated to reinstatement of legitimacy (RL). Given LENR’s high potential public benefit, it may also be argued that legitimacy should be reinstated even if the level is below POE.
In summary, an appropriate policy response based on the levels of evidence would be to reinstate LENR at a minimum. The level of evidence also shows that it should probably be supported on a par with hot fusion. Recent developments in the LENR field may even indicate the need for a crash program for its development.