Cold fusion for a hot planet

Cold fusion produces zero greenhouse gases and scant waste material. It's relatively inexpensive to setup a fusion experiment. At this time, Freeman said, the Japanese and the French are leading the way in this research field. "America is far behind," he said.

Despite his contempt for conventional thinking about energy development in the U.S., Freeman does credit the Los Alamos National Laboratory for the work it has done in cold fusion.

"It's the only national lab that seems to be interested in the process," he said. He also credits the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction author, inventor of the communications satellite, and the creator of "2001, a Space Odyssey", with supporting the idea.

"Arthur C. Clarke was a genius with several science degrees to his credit; he was a strong believer in cold fusion and often wrote about its future practicality," he said.

So, what exactly is cold fusion? Cold fusion is a form of nuclear energy. Nuclear reactions begin with neutrons. When fusion is produced by plasma, like in our Sun, it's called called hot fusion or thermonuclear fusion. The reaction emits neutrons, radioactive tritium, and other material. Mainstream science says nuclear fusion reactions cannot start without a significant input of energy, so cold-fusion is impossible.

Freeman built a small fusion reactor that looked like a dead-ringer for the fictional "Mr. Fusion" reactor that powers Michael J. Fox's time-machine sports car in the popular 1980s movie "Back to the Future": A Dewar vacuum bottle containing an electrolytic cell of palladium metal surrounded by water.

The photograph accompanying this article approximates what Freeman's cold-fusion rig looked like; it illustrates the basic hardware used for generating cold fusion in research laboratories.

"Cold fusion research appears to show that nuclear reactions can be triggered without the added energy or even with the neutrons used in hot fusion. Cold fusion is a nuclear process, much like hot fusion and nuclear fission-but it's the cleanest kind of nuclear energy; the primary waste is helium gas," Freeman said.

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