Do you remember in 1989 when two chemists announced they’d created a setup that created nuclear fusion at room temperature? Everyone was excited, but it eventually turned out to be very suspect. It wasn’t clear how they detected that fusion occurred and only a few of the many people who tried to replicate the experiment claimed success and they later retracted their reports. Since then, mentioning cold fusion is right up there with perpetual motion. Work does continue though, and NASA recently published several papers on lattice confinement fusion which is definitely not called cold fusion, although it sounds like it to us.
The idea of trapping atoms inside a metallic crystal lattice isn’t new, dating back to the 1920s. It sounds as though the NASA method uses erbium packed with deuterium. Photons cause some of the deuterium to fuse. Unlike earlier attempts, this method produces detectable neutron emissions characteristic of fusion.
This isn’t as seductive a proposition as having a beaker of heavy water and little else, though, because you do need a source of electrons to kick off the reaction. Still, this should point the way to future research and maybe even inspire some garage experiments.
Keep in mind there is a big difference between creating net positive energy via fusion and just fusing a few atoms together. We’ve seen a few fusors that can pull that off.
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