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SKEPTOID BLOG:

LENR: A bright future? Part 2

by Mike Weaver

March 19, 2013

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Donate It's time to close out my look at LENR. Join me as we take a look at the Weak Nuclear Force, the Weak Interaction Theory and chase down a few references provided by commenters of the last article.

The weak nuclear force is one of the fundamental forces of the universe, along with the electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force, and gravity. The weak nuclear force is one of the more challenging ones to concisely summarize. As the name implies, the weak force is only relevant at the scale of the atomic nucleus. At the macroscopic scale, we generally only interact with electromagnetism and gravity. The weak force, or weak interaction, is best understood through its effects, rather than a straight explanation of what it is. The weak force is mediated, or carried, by the W and Z bosons. These force carriers are very massive, which results in the force having a short range, around 10-18 meters. Through the interaction of the W boson, the weak force changes the flavor of quarks. It's through this quark change, the neutrons decay into protons (with a release of energy and matter). This is also known as beta decay. Beta nuclear decay results in the emission of a beta particle, an electron. Through the interaction of the Z boson, the weak force presents with electrostatic-type interactions. [1][2][3][4]

Let's take a look at one of the leading theories put forth to explain/predict LENR power generation: the Widom-Larsen Theory. [5][6][7] In a nutshell, the Widom-Larsen Theory (WLT) posits that energy may be harvested by exploiting beta neutron decay. The idea is that neutron emissions from atoms could be absorbed near the point of emission. When those neutrons decay, the energy released by that decay could be captured as useful energy. Some have described devices consisting of nickel (or other metals) lattices which are filled with hydrogen. When the system is subjected to high-frequency oscillations, the nickel's electrons are forced to interact with the hydrogen's protons producing neutrons. The nickel absorbs the neutrons where they decay back, releasing a proton into the nickel's nucleus, making it into copper and releasing energy.[8] Seems a bit like perpetual motion to me, where does the energy to form the first neutron come from? The oscillations? If so, then wouldn't we get back the same energy we put in? There's something I'm missing, but I can't see it.

There are many other theories being promulgated for LENR. I have yet, however, to see a device produce excess energy in clear and unambiguous way. Maybe LENR is legit and it's just an engineering problem, I'm happy to wait and see and be hopeful, but I still see a lot of talk but not a lot of actual proof. There's a lot of sound and fury, but does it signify nothing?

As for references, there's a bucket of stuff at http://lenr-canr.org/wordpress/ which looks interesting. I don't know how good all of it is, finding the sources for the papers is challenging in some cases, expensive in others. I offer it only to aid in your own exploration.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weak_interaction

[2] http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/forces/funfor.html

[3] http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/nuclear/beta.html#c2

[4] http://www.astronomycast.com/2008/09/ep-105-the-strong-and-weak-nuclear-forces/

[5] http://www.cleantechblog.com/2012/09/is-the-weak-force-the-key-to-lenr.html

[6] http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Widom-Larsen.php

[7] http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/Srivastavaaprimerfor.pdf

[8] http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/149090-nasas-cold-fusion-tech-could-put-a-nuclear-reactor-in-every-home-car-and-plane

 

by Mike Weaver

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