University of Utah research professor B. Stanley Pons is cooperating with an independent review of his cold-fusion experiments, according to a U. official.
"The review is ongoing, and everybody seems to be doing what they promised to do," said John Morris, U. associate vice president of academic affairs.Since January, Wilford N. Hansen, a Utah State University professor of physics and chemistry, has had the assignment to conduct his own fusion experiments based on Pons' information. Hansen is a member of the state oversight committee, the Fusion/Energy Advisory Council, which demanded that Pons provide accountability for the state's investment in fusion.
"The status (of fusion) is we are all waiting to see what Wilford Hansen concludes from his review," Morris said. "I say he's the judge. I think we're all interested in what Wilford concludes."
Earlier this week, Fritz Will, director of the U.'s National Cold Fusion Institute, submitted a letter of resignation asking to be released from the institute's four-member board of trustees. In the letter, Will writes that Pons and co-researcher Martin Fleischmann aren't providing information for an external review of their fusion experiments.
Will and Pons have had conflicts in the past, most notably over Pons' leaving Utah last fall to work in foreign laboratories without leaving a forwarding address. U. bosses and state officials have contacted Pons via his North Carolina attorney, Gary Triggs. But Will refused to communicate with Pons, saying he won't discuss science through a fax machine.
The fusion institute, funded by a $5 million state investment, is expected to close its doors in June when those funds are depleted. No private donations to continue cold-fusion research have been announced.
"What's fair to say is the state and the university committed a lot of money and energy to this project," Morris said. "It does not appear, for whatever reasons, at this time that there will be a substantial ongoing effort in Utah.
"I don't know if that has to do with the science. It maybe has more to do with the people involved."
Among other things purchased with its investment in science, the state has a variety of patents registering cold-fusion experiments. "I think we've done the things that are necessary to protect these patents," Morris said. Reportedly, state officials say another investment of $200,000 is needed for more legal work on the patents.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy is asking for no appropriation for cold-fusion research.
"At this point, we see no future energy source in cold fusion," James F. Decker, DOE director of energy research, said Wednesday.