Yoshiaki Arata, a scientist from Osaka University in Japan, has reignited the cold fusion debate with an apparently successful public demonstation of cold fusion. The process that Arata and his co-researcher Yue-Chang Zhang is using forces deuterium gas under pressure into an evacuated cell that contained a matrix of zirconium oxide containing palladium nanoparticles. The deuterium is then absorbed by the palladium to produce dense deuterium where the deuterium nuclei are close enough to fuse, thereby relesing heat and helium. When they injected the deuterium gas, the temperature in the cell increased to about 70C degrees, which was the result of both chemical and nuclear reactions, according to Arata. But when the gas was turned off, the center of the cell remained significantly warmer than the cell wall for 50 hours.
In the late 1980’s, American researchers Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons claimed cold fusion success when they demonstrated a tabletop device that supposed generated excess heat during electrolysis of heavy water with palladium electrodes. However, when other scientists were unable to replicate the experiment, their claims of cold fusion were dismissed. It’ll be very interesting to see if this new claim can hold up.
Update: 6/2/08 – Physicsworld.com blog has a much more detailed account of Arata’s cold fusion experiment, along with a raging reader debate. You can read it all here.