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Session Recap: The Anomalous Heat Effect (AKA, Cold Fusion)

NI Employee (retired)

The news behind what many call “cold fusion” heated up again last night. Researchers from around the world gathered to share their findings, opinions, and visions on how (or if) this phenomenon can be used in the future.

The Anomalous Heat Effect (AHE) is when excess heat is observed from a reaction that occurs at near-room temperatures. These reactions can be chemical, nuclear, or something else—scientists are still debating what exactly it could be.

“What’s going on in these experiments?” Dr. Robert Duncan, Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Missouri, posed to the crowd. “We don’t exactly know, but the excess heat is real, and that is confirmed by many.” If consistently replicated, the panelists believed that this phenomenon could provide a reliable source of energy that produces no radiation or carbon emissions. AHE research gained notoriety in 1989 after Fleischman and Pons announced the “discovery of cold fusion”. For years, it was dismissed as a hoax as scientists found the results hard to replicate. Now, however, over 200 experiments have recreated the results, which have been verified by three national labs.

NI panelists were less interested in discussing business models and more interested in how to best to study the phenomenon. “At this point,” Duncan explained, “there is no theory without good data.”

National Instruments can provide the right tools needed to more accurately measure the data and control the experiments. “There are so many theories—which is correct? We want to dispassionately follow the scientific method and go where the data leads us,” Duncan said. 


Curious about how AHE works? Stop by the expo floor and check out the live demonstration in the Big Physics pavilion.