There is something inherently "wrong" about the skeptics' claims of "impossibility" of room temperature fusion. As far as Scientific Method goes, any such claims are not correct to begin with. Many of the continued negative claims against LENR would appear, at least on the face of them, to be politically and economically motivated and not based on "Science". Either they are about "funding wars" and Byzantine inter-discipline "politics", or perhaps about Suppression to maintain the status quo regarding Energy. And it is important to note, that many in the field of Microbiology believe that a fusion or a fusion-like effect takes place within living cells (a Nobel Laureate in the field first theorized this back in the 1950's). But often, reluctance or irrational denial is simply based on the human desire not to be "wrong", and to resist a change of direction. All through History, scientific dogma has turned out to be "wrong" time after time, and was then changed to the new "truth" when the previous dogma was discredited (only to be proved wrong again later). It would seem to be arrogant to insist that "this time" we could not be wrong; when every time in the past we were. Every one of those "revisions" in Scientific Theory throughout History had a great deal of opposition to them as well. As is often famously mentioned, it took the U.S. mainstream scientific community over four years to accept the Wright Brothers' flight as "fact", and that heavier-than-air manned flight was "possible"... even after the reports of hundreds of credible eyewitnesses. Such is the present state of LENR: The plane is flying around the countryside visible to any who want to look; yet some in the mainstream scientific community are still claiming it is "impossible", and thus refusing to look.
Dr. Eugene Mallove liked to tell a story where he called up his old Physics Professor at Harvard and presented him the case for LENR. The Professor's reply was:
"I have had fifty years of experience in nuclear physics and I know what's possible and what's not!" I will not look at any more evidence! It's all junk!"
It is not "junk" sir, it is very real. And it is coming; despite the energy corporations university grants that require it be ignored and remain un-funded, despite Physics profs who have written books, papers, and lectures that would be discredited; and despite a lethargic or corrupted government more worried about pleasing some large contributors than about the health of the planet.The Changes that Will Come Regarding "Energy"
It is hard to imagine all the things that cheap, safe, and clean energy production would mean to us all. First, there are the many social issues such as "poverty" and "hunger" that would greatly benefit from cheap and abundant energy. Food production, and specifically the use of water for agriculture / irrigation, are huge consumers of energy. Much of the price of food is related to this energy cost. Irrigation pumps use a great deal of electricity, and tractors and combines use huge amounts of fossil fuels (for instance, when the full and actual "energy equation" is done for corn-based "Ethanol", it is found that it often uses more energy to create than it provides). When energy is abundant and cheap, so is fresh water: It can be pumped cheaply thousands of kilometers, or come from seawater using desalination techniques. It can even be accumulated from the atmosphere using large-scale moisture collectors based on static charge. All the fears of "world water shortages" are based on the present energy paradigm of "scarcity" and cost. Change the equation, and suddenly hunger and lack of clean drinking water for billions of people are simply engineering problems... not unsolvable burdens and manufactured fears. Suddenly, things do not appear hopeless.
What would a world be like, where there is no scarcity of clean and safe energy? No huge corporate monopolies taking a significant portion of our incomes for record-breaking profits, like some draconian "tax" that politicians never complain about or even mention (and that affects the Working Poor and Small Business much more heavily than the wealthy or large corporations, who often can make behind-the-scenes deals to get their energy at a discount and thus tilt the playing field even more in their favor)? No more "winners and losers" in the energy access lottery regarding industry and manufacturing, where energy is one of the highest overhead factors? Where a village or town in Sub-Sahara Africa, or rural Brazil, or Indonesia... or in West Virginia... Could have the ability to cheaply manufacture quality goods for sale all over the world in a new economy based on true free market competition, and not the old restrictions caused by energy cost and other related factors like availability of water (and the cost of transportation is also heavily influenced by energy overhead). It is an interesting and pleasant thought: That this world could be completely transformed for the better, simply by first changing that now-negative energy equation. Cheap and abundant energy equals greater prosperity for all; except perhaps the present monopolies and trusts who control its flow and cost as they have for over 100 years.
Perhaps it is time to start thinking in these terms: That we really do not have to continue to live this way, and now M.I.T. has verified it. That we do not have to destroy the environment to maintain a modern society. We do not have to stand by helplessly and watch the suffering of billions who lack both prosperity and the ability to create it, because they have no access to energy. We do not have to blindly over-pay corporate or government monopolies forever, simply for the privilege of living a modern life that requires their premium-priced "Energy" for every single facet of our civilization and economy. We can change all this and more using cheap, clean, and safe energy technologies, and do so with a minimum of government interaction... if done smartly, probably for less money than they presently give fabulously wealthy oil and energy corporations in subsidies... and do so for literally thousands of times less than it will cost to survive in a harsh and poisoned environment destroyed by fossil fuel pollution and/or nuclear radiation: The hidden costs of fossil fuels and fission nuclear that grow exponentially every year we ignore them.What LENR Can and Can't Do
LENR is simply about the production of hot water. This can be used to heat a home in winter instead of fuel oil or natural gas (as either a service water heater or "furnace"), or to create steam to run electrical generators at a centralized electricity plant. If the nickel-hydrogen system of LENR is eventually verified as valid, as many believe it is already, it will provide a highly abundant source for "fuel" (nickel being one of the most common metals on the planet, and the usage per kilowatt-hour is tiny at any rate, a "full tank" of it lasting many months in the reactor). Palladium is less common, yet there is more than enough of it to convert every power plant on Earth to LENR, because the energy densities of LENR are so high. Deuterium is free for the taking from seawater. Future advances will see many other applications and methods" LENR technology is still in the "Wright Flyer" stage, and will need time to become a "Transatlantic Jet Liner": What some detractors and skeptics appear to demand to see before they will ever be convinced. Yet their logic and version of "Scientific Method" they appear to worship is completely flawed: Until proper investment and study occurs, it will never reach an advanced state. Could they, just for a moment, consider that to try and possible fail... would be better than wasting another 20 years that cannot be gotten back? If they were held personally accountable for their refusals and gate-blocking in the light of History, would they reconsider their positions?
What LENR won't do very well in present form, is power a vehicle directly (probably not until more efficient and cheaper means of transferring heat directly into electricity or motion are found). However, it can help centrally generate the electricity that charges the batteries of EV's... making it one of the "perfect" power sources for them, along with decentralized Wind and Solar PV.
LENR would pollute the environment a tiny fraction of what fossil fuels presently do. The lithium salts used in some of the methods of reaction are not "environmentally friendly" by any account (and lithium is somewhat volatile, and probably responsible for some minor lab mishaps that have occurred in LENR experiments), nor are some of the metal treatments needed to manufacture electrodes. Also, the "heat pollution" to the environment would be significant: But in fact, this would be exactly the same level as present systems that use steam (so the "heat pollution" issue is a "neutral", and better cooling methods can certainly be devised to stop large amounts of heat entering the ambient). Yet there will probably be better mediums and methods to discover in this new field, and when the totality is examined, the plus factor to the ecology and human health is staggering (especially when one considers the Cancer rates in cities world-wide from Benzene, a poison present in Diesel fumes and coal ash). And few realize the enormous amount of fresh water that is now used to process and refine fossil fuels, millions of gallons a day that could be used for agriculture instead.
It is important to mention, that even when "oil" is no longer used as a fuel, that industry will still have 30% of their present business for other uses so it will not bankrupt them, only make them compete openly and honestly the same as other companies have to do. That is the real "American Way" as we learned it... not of supporting and protecting energy monopolies, illegal trusts, and corrupted and controlled commodities markets, especially when better means clearly exist. How ironic is it, that the yelling about "socialism!" always ignores the energy sector; where a socialistic-type system of subsidies, protected monopolies, and tightly controlled markets have been in place for nearly a century.
The one major industry that will be the new "buggy whip" when the use of fossil fuels are greatly diminished, would be "Coal Mining" (both strip-style "mountain top removal", and underground mines). Demand for coal would be a small fraction presently needed (steel mills perhaps being the last customer). Coal workers would need re-training in a new economy freed from energy scarcity: Perhaps manufacturing solar PV panels in new air-conditioned and safe factories, to be installed on homeowners' and small business' roofs. Nearly every U.S. manufacturing industry has seen very significant losses of good paying jobs in the last two decades, for reasons that were much less pressing and all about greed, profit, and "globalization"... not about the health and future of the planet, nor the health of the workers. No one ever seems to care or talk about those millions of unemployed factory workers; yet coal industry proponents always mention the jobs lost as the main reason to go on destroying pristine mountain vistas, or poisoning primal forests with acid rain (or condemning millions of children to suffering asthma). Jobs lost to corporate "free enterprise" get a shrug of: "Too bad, that's the global economy for you!"" While jobs lost in the fossil fuel energy sector because of new and better technologies are somehow always: "Too high a price to even consider!"
All jobs lost are a bad thing (and deeply damage the communities of the workers), and a serious national discussion on how to get them back and revitalize manufacturing is desperately needed. A national push for alternative energy will be a huge help; manufacturing and installing solar panels on millions of roofs would be a revitalizing giant boon for the economy of "Main Street", even if it doesn't please "Wall Street" speculators very much. Perhaps this "displeasure" is what is stopping it from happening in the U.S.?
Another facet is, that a new plant using LENR could be built in less than one third the time it takes to build a new fission nuclear reactor plant; and could do so for approximately only one fifth the cost (and after the on-going Fukushima disaster, it is problematic whether this highly dangerous technology will be considered seriously ever again, as public opinion around the world is firmly against it, several nations such as Germany and Japan have decided to get rid of it altogether... as few believe the industry spokespersons' claims of "safety" any more). The U.S. fission nuclear industry relies 100% on government hand-outs in subsidies and guaranteed loans to even exist (over 30 billion dollars were approved alone for new fission nuclear plants in 2011's budget, never even being openly debated or mentioned in the media at a time when cuts to social services made the news every day, and while 4 fission nuclear plant melt-downs were occurring in Fukushima). This "free and easy money" is not only for building new plants, but even billions more every year going to the energy corporation operators for storing the dangerous spent fuel they themselves create; a huge and profitable "business" in itself. The public, paying their bloated electric bills, actually pay for the new fission nuclear plants to be built (when they clearly don't want them in the first place), while the energy corporations keep all the profits that the plants generate. Many of the fission nuclear plants built back in the 1970's and 1980's were financed via specific rate hikes to customers... that were "strangely" never lowered again, even after the plant had been paid off for decades.
An LENR-based reactor would cost little more to build than a conventional coal burning plant, require little or nothing in government aid (since the underwriting for Disaster Insurance and evacuation would be non-existent verses a fission nuclear plant, where the government foots the entire bill or such a dangerous thing could never be even be funded), and would take roughly the same time frame to become operational once an engineering design were approved. Even today, with no such design ready to go, an LENR based plant would still likely be operational before a fission nuclear plant that was already under construction was completed and ready to produce electricity (fission nuclear plants take at least 10 years to complete, longer if there are any hitches in the NRC Licensing).
But something LENR cannot do alone, is end the monopolies and corruption regarding energy. It is likely, as we see now with large-scale wind and solar installations, that the same corporations and entities that now burn fossil fuels to produce electricity, will be building LENR plants to use with "their" electrical grids. It is probably up to us, the People, to end their monopolies through installing our own solar PV panels when possible on our homes and small businesses (as the nation of Germany is successfully doing already)... and to insist our government act to help it all happen, instead of hindering it to protect their "client's" profits and monopolies in the energy sector. The more of us that install our own solar PV, the cheaper it becomes for us all to do via the "Economy of Scale", where prices drop to less than a third of when they were manufactured in much smaller quantities. Countries such as Germany, have proven conclusively that modest government incentives to citizens can pay-off big; convincing more and more folks to install their own solar panels and generate their own power, even selling power back to the grid during the day while they are at work. A large solar PV manufacturing and installing industry for millions of good jobs would also be created. So de-centralized solar PV and wind power will still be an important factor, even in a world embracing LENR for centralized energy production. LENR will cover the gaps that solar and wind cannot; such as powering large heavy industries who use gigantic amounts of current. For these large industrial users, centralized power production continues to make sense for most of their needs. Also, it is unlikely that solar or wind can ever be so prevalent that it can handle the large peak loads, such as hot summer days and nights in cities; when air conditioners are running constantly and the utilities often now have to use portable auxiliary Diesel generators to keep up with demand (by the way, these tractor-trailer Diesel generators are common in the industry, and it is strange that such a portable supply could not have been quickly used in Fukushima as a tertiary back up to run the cooling pumps, a prime example of failed safety concerns due to "cost" and "profit" by the energy corporation operators regarding fission nuclear, who clearly should not have such huge responsibility over the planet and people's health). The ability to generate enough solar or wind to power large cities "24/7", where many folks don't own their own homes and live in high-density areas, would be very difficult to achieve. LENR fills that gap cleanly, safely, and cheaply.