While a panel of physicists in Baltimore poured an avalanche of cold criticism on the University of Utah solid-state fusion project, a test-tube in a Texas laboratory was emitting large amounts of heat.
A second team of researchers at Texas A&M University has announced successful replication of the most controversial part of the U. experiment: Their electrochemical reaction produced more energy than required to make the reaction work.And U. officials, who filed another patent application this week, predicted Wednesday that many more groups will announce confirmation next week at the biannual meeting of the Electrochemical Society in Los Angeles.
Hugo Rossi, dean of the U. College of Science and newly appointed director of the U.'s solid-state fusion research effort, said May 8 will be "F-Day" - the day that an additional chemists, meeting with their colleagues, will report successful reproduction of the experiment that's caused fusion fever to run rampant worldwide.
Rossi said several people are scheduled to speak at a special session at 5:45 p.m., "at which time five or six papers will be reporting results consistent" with U. chemists B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann.
Rossi, who is overseeing the expansion and scaling up of the U. experiment, hopes confirmations on Monday will satisfy the state Fusion/Energy Advisory Council. The council is charged with allocating $5 million in state money for fusion development.
Wednesday's confirmation by John Appleby, world-renowned electrochemist at Texas A&M University, could help silence skeptics who for six weeks have criticized the Pons and Fleischmann research.
Appleby, director of the Electrochemical Systems and Hydrogen Research Center, and his colleagues are the second Texas A&M group to independently confirm the project.
Confirmation in early April by a Texas A&M team headed by electrochemist Charles Martin was believed to be the first U.S. replication of the Utah findings. Martin reported his findings at the April 14 meeting of the American Chemical Society in Dallas where Pons spoke.
"His (Appleby's) confirmation is no state secret, but he has only mentioned it to colleagues in a conservative way," said Ed Walraven, assistant director of public information at Texas A&M. He indicated that Appleby's formal announcement is pending publication of his data in a scientific journal.
Like the team headed by Martin, the electrochemical reaction carried out by Appleby's group produced between 20 percent more energy than required to make the reaction work, Walraven said.
Like Martin's group, Appleby and colleagues report generating lower percentages of energy than do Pons and Fleischmann.
Walraven said both Texas A&M teams are now trying to determine why the initial experiments (of Martin) produced between 60 and 80 more energy than required to make the reaction work - and a second experiment continues to produce stable amounts of excess energy - although at a somewhat lower level. They have half a dozen experiments that are producing excess heat.
The Texas A&M scientists, along with those at Stanford University and Case Western University - who have publicly confirmed the Utah experiment - stood behind their results this week despite condemnation by physicists at the American Physical Society's meeting in Baltimore.
Rossi says he remains 100 percent convinced that solid-state fusion has been created at the U.
"Actually I am a little surprised how weak the evidence is to support their condemnation," he said. "If I were them, I would have shown a little more restraint."
Gov. Norm Bangerter believes that competition for an estimated $500 million in federal research grants is fueling the physicists' brickbat. "They are probably getting a lot of heat about something else, and that's that they are behind on this one," he said Tuesday.
Pons and Fleischmann, the focus of the criticism, left Wednesday for Washington, D.C., where they'll likely reiterate their need for federal money. The two will meet in the White House Thursday with President Bush's chief of staff, John Sununu.
Bush aide Steve Studdert, a Utahn, told the Deseret News that when the two researchers were in Washington last week, they met with an aide to Sununu plus Studdert and Roger Porter - another native Utahn who is Bush's domestic affairs adviser.
Editor's note: The Deseret News has begun calling the Pons-Fleischmann research "solid-state fusion," which distinguishes it from cold fusion in that it more accurately describes the results of the U.'s experiments. Solid-state fusion is a more inclusive term for the experiments in which the fusion takes place within the solid metal. The term cold fusion is usually applied to muon catalytic fusion, which results in the generation of neutrons.