When you read cold fusion theories you hear a lot about collective effects, ways that atoms in a solid work together to do things individual atoms cannot. One iron atom cannot be a permanent magnet, but a trillion of them together can be.
In this earlier post, I introduced Yeong E. Kim’s Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) theory of cold fusion. According to this theory, when you pack lots of deuterons into palladium, they condense into a BEC, which makes nuclear fusion possible, and then the fusion energy is collectively absorbed by the BEC, thus explaining all the mysteries of cold fusion. In my earlier post I said that the two biggest problems with the theory are: (A) The deuterons do not actually condense into a BEC; and (B) Even if they did, it would not help explain cold fusion. I already blogged about (B) here. Today I will talk about (A). I have changed my mind: Although I suspect that deuterons would not condense into a BEC, I don’t know enough to say for sure! 😛
In this post I’ll mainly just summarize Kim’s argument. If anyone reading this is a BEC expert, please comment (or better yet write a guest post, just email me) with your opinion!
In the previous post, I introduced Kim’s Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) theory of cold fusion. I said that the two biggest problems with the theory are:
- At room temperature, the deuterons cannot condense into a BEC.
- Even if the deuterons condensed into a BEC, they would not undergo nuclear fusion, for the same reason as usual: Because the Coulomb barrier prevents them from getting close enough.
In this post I will just talk about #2. So for the time being, please assume for the sake of argument that the deuterons really do condense into a BEC. The question is: Will that make the Coulomb barrier problem go away?
Yeong E. Kim at Purdue and colleagues have proposed that, in cold-fusion experiments, the deuterons condense into a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC). In this state, he says, they can fuse, and then the energy is collectively absorbed by the BEC. (If you’re not familiar with BEC’s, here is a very simple introduction for non-physicists, and I’ll explain more as we go.) According to him, this theory meets all the theoretical challenges of explaining cold fusion.