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By Hal Fox

Featured Paper at the 4th International Symposium on New Energy, May 23-26, 1997, Denver, Co.

From: NEN, Vol. 5, No. 2, June 1997, Special Edition, p. 16.
New Energy News (NEN) copyright 1997 by Fusion Information Center, Inc.
COPYING NOT ALLOWED without written permission.

By Hal Fox
Editor, Journal of New Energy


Kenneth Shoulders has presented a paper showing that much of the excess energy produced by cold fusion is due to fracto-emission of high-density charge clusters which cause nuclear reactions. Neal and Gleeson have discovered how energetic charge clusters in water solutions can reduce radioactivity. Jin et al., have produced a mathematical model of high-density charge clusters together with associated transport of positive ions and has shown that this energetic toroid can induce nuclear reactions by plasma injection into target nuclei. High-density charge cluster patents are now pending on inventions that will reduce radioactivity, produce thermal energy without neutrons, create scarce elements from plentiful elements, and make table-top particle accelerators practical. Data from independent replication of nuclear reactions produced by charge clusters will be presented together with professional reports detailing the mechanisms involved in plasma-injected transmutation. The latest developments in the new technology of plasma-injected transmutation will be summarized and the expected environmental impact will be outlined.


The discovery by Rod Neal and Stan Gleeson has shown that excess thermal energy or reduction of radioactivity can be produced by the use of high-density charge clusters in an electrochemical reactor [1]. Kenneth Shoulders has shown that high-density charge clusters, under appropriate conditions, can cause nuclear reactions [2]. Sam Faile and Nicholas Reiter have shown that exploding bridge wires under atmospheric pressure using short, high-potential electric discharges appear to produce some nuclear reactions [3]. Shoulders has further shown that the fracto-emission of charge clusters is a probable cause of the nuclear events and excess heat in at least some cold fusion experiments [2]. These discoveries of the production and control of high-density charge clusters provide scientists with a new tool by which the physics of matter is being explored.


A search of the literature for some experimental and/or theoretical evidence of charge clusters has provided some historic insights. A recent paper by Bhadkamkar, et al., [7] provides an exemplary but not exhaustive review of the literature dating from 1957 (which cites a reference as early as 1906) to 1995. Many of the writers of the papers reviewed were exploring the onset and control of electrode luminescence. Had they found that nuclear reactions would occur under some conditions, they would have decided that such evidence was the result of contamination. The understanding of the nature of nuclear reactions during most of this century precluded the concept of nuclear reactions being produced by the low energy (low electric potential) used in the experiments being reported in this paper.


Because of the continued reluctance of many scientists to accept the experimental fact that nuclear reactions could be produced with low-energy and because few scientific journals would publish articles on low-energy nuclear reactions, Professor John O'M. Bockris hosted a low-energy nuclear reaction conference in June 1995 at Texas A&M University. Dr. Bockris is one of the world's recognized specialists in electrochemistry and was one of the first to replicate the cold fusion experiments announced in March 1989 by Professors Pons and Fleischmann. Bockris and associates were the first to demonstrate that tritium (a sure sign of nuclear reactions) could be produced in a cold fusion reactor. The proceedings of this conference were published as volume 1, number 1 of the Journal of New Energy.

A second conference on low-energy nuclear reactions was hosted by Professors John Bockris and George Miley (editor of Fusion Technology, an international journal of the American Nuclear Society) in September 1996 and the proceedings were printed as volume 1, number 3 of the Journal of New Energy. Papers reporting conclusive evidence of low-energy nuclear reactions in cold fusion cells were presented at this conference. In addition, a paper by Kenneth Shoulders [2] showed how high-density charge clusters could be responsible for at least some of the excess heat found in many cold fusion experiments. Another paper by Bass, et al.,[1] was the first paper reporting on the experimental evidences of nuclear reactions in the Neal-Gleeson Process.


In the early days of the growing electron-tube industry, the first electronic tubes (used as diodes) were named Fleming Valves. The term valve for an electron tube was more prevalent in England than in the United States. The early electron emitters were the hot filaments. Later, the cathode was added. To make an effective cathode a combination of a conducting metal and a substance that was a good electron emitter (thermionic emission) was required. It was found that certain metal and metal oxides were suitable. Thus the term valve metals.

As the solid-state devices (diodes and transistors) became popular there was also a studied search for material that would provide the basis for controllable displays. Therefore, there was considerable experimental work examining the luminescence of certain metal oxides. To quote van Geel, et al. [5] in their introductory remarks: "It has been known for a long time (cites A. Gnnthershulze, Ann. Phys. 21, 929-954, 1906) that during the anodic oxidation of several metals, such as Al, Mg, Ta, W, Zn, and Zr, a light-effect occurs. In this process the metal is placed as the anode in a suitable electrolyte; during the passage of current oxygen is developed at the anode, an oxide film is formed, whilst at the same time luminescence can be observed."


Some of the earliest papers reviewed [5] reported experiments with oxide layers on aluminum. Later papers, such as Waring and Benjamini [6], Alwitt and Vijh [7], and Wood and Pearson [8] reported more generally on the development of luminescence and with the magnitude of the breakdown voltage using silicon, in particular, and using valve metals in general.

Some of the interesting observations include the following: van Geel et al., [5] reports on the anode and cathode flashes when the aluminum oxide electrodes are powered with 200 cps alternating current at 25 volts. Waring and Benjamini [6] report on the phenomena of breakdown with the following comments: "Since the thickness of the oxide is proportional to the voltage ... there seems to be no reason to anticipate a limiting voltage or breakdown. We have, however, noted the increase in bubbling just before breakdown." Further, these authors note that: "Since the field during growth is about 1.6 x 107 v/cm and therefore near the breakdown limit anyway, this increase is enough to cause the weaker spots in the oxide to give way, thus showing the sparks." In their conclusions, the authors state, "Spark discharges penetrate into the solution," and "When sparking begins, the general glow decreases; the current and luminescence are concentrated in these limited, intense, breakdown locations." A further exploration of a variety of papers relating to cathode luminescence can be found in the paper by Bhadkamkar and Fox [7].


When a valve metal is used as an anode in an electrolyte (usually of a metal salt), an oxide layer is rapidly developed on the anode. When a sufficient oxide layer is produced (by slowly increasing the voltage applied to the anode up to a few hundred volts) the resistance of the electrode has been greatly increased. When this electrode is used as the cathode (or used with a.c.) the electrode oxide layer may be seen to glow, then to produce small sparks, and with higher voltages produce vigorous sparks.

Our working hypothesis is that sparks are caused by the high voltage drop across the combination of the oxide layer and the double layer surrounding an electrode. The Al anode produces a charge cluster by field emission, probably at the surface of the oxide layer. The charge cluster is then accelerated (through the oxide) toward the surface of the aluminum anode where it drills small micrometer holes into the aluminum.

In the case of other valve metals used as cathodes, the charge cluster appears to be emitted from the metal/metal oxide boundary; bores through the oxide layer; and erupts into the electrolyte solution. Occasionally, a spark appears to maintain its ability to exist in the electrolyte as noted by this author and by Matsumoto [8]. The use of a.c. may be beneficial because the fracture through the oxide layer can be healed or restored during the anodic portion of the a.c. cycle and the charge clusters can be emitted during the cathodic portion of the a.c. cycle.

In the experiments conducted at the author's laboratory, working voltages (both a.c. and d.c.) currently range up to about 550 volts. The amperage ranges from tenths of amperes to about 5 amperes (about the limit of the power supply) and, of course, is a strong function of the surface area of the electrodes being used. Another strong parameter for the voltage and current used is the molarity of the electrolytic solution. The lower the resistance of the electrolyte, the higher the current for a given voltage. Also, the larger the electrode surface, the higher the current.

To create sparking from the electrodes it is necessary to have a sufficient resistance of the metal oxide layer so that the electric potential gradient will produce field emission of the charge cluster. The charge cluster is usually quickly quenched by the low resistance of the electrolyte. In a low-pressure gas, and especially on the surface of a dielectric, a charge cluster can remain as a stable entity until the charge cluster impacts a low-resistance or conducting surface. For more details of charge clusters in gases see references by Shoulders [2, 9, & 10].


A typical charge cluster consists of miniature toroids of highly-dynamic electrons ranging from 108 to 1013 electrons per cluster. As first shown mathematically by Jin [11] the highly dynamic nature of the charge cluster provides the electromagnetic forces that create the stable toroid. Larger charge clusters may consist of many smaller charge clusters that tend to form a ring-shaped (somewhat like a smoke ring) necklace. See Fig. 1 for a depiction of a charge cluster in an accelerating electric potential field.

The charge cluster has the capability of attracting from its environment a number of positive ions ranging from one to ten positive ions for each million electrons [2]. The type of positive ions carried depends on the environment in which the charge cluster is produced. With or without the piggy-back positive ions, the charge cluster can be accelerated by an electric gradient to about the same degree as a single electron. Therefore, a 5,000 volt potential can accelerate the charge cluster (especially in a near vacuum) to about one-tenth the speed of light. This is important: a particle accelerator for protons would need to use about nine million volts potential to provide the protons with the same velocity provided to the charge cluster and its attached load of protons. This is the phenomena that allows us to create nuclear reactions with a relatively low-energy input! This phenomena, first elaborated by Shoulders [2] provides, by standard classical principles, a new window on physics.

According to Jin [11], both the electric and the magnetic potentials of this small charge cluster can have extremely large local values. As shown in Fig. 2 when the charge cluster approaches a target anode, the electrostatic field is high enough to repel all electrons away from the nuclei of the target anode metal lattice leaving a plasma of fully-ionized metal nuclei that have not had time to avoid the approaching charge cluster.

The high-velocity positive ions apparently bypass the Coulomb barrier of the target nuclei and penetrate many of the target nuclei in their fully-ionized plasma state. If the positive ions are protons, the results are nuclear reactions allowed by conservation rules. If the target nuclei are heavy metal elements (such as thorium or uranium) the impact of one or more protons into a target nuclei may result in spontaneous fission. Under these extreme high-field local conditions, the normal plasma physics of nuclear reactions (the probability of particle collision/fusion) is no longer valid. We are now working in a physical regime that has yet to be fully studied.


Those who experiment with the creation of electron charge clusters in an electro-nuclear cell (reactor) will, hopefully, be guided by reading some of the extensive literature, especially papers listed in the references to this article. When creating charge clusters to be used for the promotion of nuclear events in an electrolyte, the following protocols should be considered:

1. Sparking at the electrode is necessary but not sufficient for the production of nuclear events. A charge cluster can produce an observed spark but fails to have sufficient energy to promote a nuclear reaction.

2. It appears necessary to maintain (or periodically renew) the oxide layer on a valve metal to produce nuclear-active charge clusters. It is, of course, the concept that the charge clusters must carry (piggy-back fashion) positive charges and the cluster must achieve a critical energy level to promote nuclear reactions.

3. The molarity (and the resulting conductivity of the electrolyte) may be an important operational parameter. The concept is that the charge cluster must be able to persist for some short time period and energetically impact a nucleus in the electrolyte to produce a nuclear reaction. It is believed that the potential gradient between electrodes and/or at the metal/metal-oxide layer must be maintained above some critical value for nuclear reactions to be possible. A lower field gradient (higher conductivity) in the metal/metal-oxide layer or in the electrolyte may only produce Joule heating and not produce the desired level of nuclear reactions.

4. Experimental evidence suggests that in an aqueous environment the hydrogen and oxygen nuclei are involved in multiple or sequential nuclear impacts that cause some of the nuclear reactions. It is hypothesized that one nuclear reaction surrounded by many hydrogen, oxygen, and electrolyte ions can produce other local nuclear reactions. Some of the observed nuclear byproducts are best explained by appealing to the concept of multiple-body reactions. No evidence of chain reactions have been found nor predicted. Local chain reactions are deemed to be highly unlikely in such low temperature environments.

5. The Coulomb barrier may be much less than the field strength of a charge cluster. The charge cluster must have sufficient electrons so that this negative electric field strength can aid in overcoming the Coulomb barrier before nuclear reactions can be expected.

6. A variety of nuclear reactions can be expected by control of the energy of the charge cluster; the selection of the environment that provides the positive ions (protons, deuterons, tritons, alpha particles, etc.); the acceleration of the charge cluster; and the target material. Many Ph.D. dissertations are expected to explore experimental results from varying these parameters within the next few years.

7. A charge cluster is best produced by the use of short, negative pulses provided to a proper cathode material. Sub-nanosecond pulses are deemed to be best. However, the technology for producing high voltage nanosecond pulses is in its infancy.

The author and associates found that producing vigorous sparking at the electrodes in an aqueous solution of thorium chloride did not appear to reduce the level of radioactivity by a significant amount. Further study and experiments led to a method by which higher energy could be added to these charge clusters produced on the surface of selected valve metals. Independent measurements of before and after processing samples of the thorium electrolytes for the first successful experiment resulted in the reduction of radioactivity by at least 11% as measured by the gamma-ray count emitted from samples of the same size. As soon as the new patent application has been filed and further experimental evidence is obtained, further details and results of these experiments will be provided.


The new technology for the production, control, and application of high-density charge clusters has been shown to be consistent with standard physical principles. The production of low-energy charge clusters has been shown to result in nuclear reactions. The current and planned work has special application to the reduction of radioactivity of high-level radioactive wastes. New and exciting applications for this new technology are expected to be rapidly discovered, invented, patented, engineered, and commercialized for the benefit of all humanity.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The author expresses much thanks to Kenneth Shoulders, Rod Neal, and Stan Gleeson for many helpful discussions and the sharing of information. Those investors who have provided funds for the development of this new technology are gratefully thanked for joining with us in understanding that this unusual new physics can be made into commercially useful products. Those numerous scientists, engineers, and inventors who have preceded this work are also commended.


[1] Robert Bass, Rod Neal, Stan Gleeson, & Hal Fox, "Electro-Nuclear Transmutations: Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions in an Electrolytic Cell," J. New Energy, vol 1, no 3, Fall 1996.

[2] Kenneth and Steven Shoulders, "Observations on the Role of Charge Clusters in Nuclear Cluster Reactions," J. New Energy, vol 1, no 3, Fall 1996.

[3] Reiter and Faile, "Spark Gap Experiments," New Energy News, Sept 1996, pp 11ff.

[4] H. Fox, R.W. Bass & S-X Jin, "Plasma-Injected Transmutation," J. New Energy, Fall 1996, vol 1, no 3, pp 222-230, 4 figs, 23 refs.

[5] W.Ch. van Geel, C.A. Pistorius, & B.C. Bouma, "Luminescence of the Oxide Layer on Aluminum During and after its Formation by Electrolytic Oxidation," Philips Research Reports, vol 12, no 6, Dec 1957, pp 465-490, 20 figs, 15 refs.

[6] Worden Waring & E.A. Benjamini, "Luminescence during the Anodic Oxidation of Silicon," J. Electrochem. Soc., Nov 1964, vol 111, no 11, 4 figs, 20 refs.

[7] Atul Bhadkamkar & Hal Fox, "Electron Charge Cluster Sparking in Aqueous Solutions," J. New Energy, vol 1, no 4, Winter 1996, pp 62-68.

[8] Takaaki Matsumoto, "Experiments of Underwater Spark Discharges with Pinched Electrodes," J. New Energy, vol 1, no 4, Winter 1996, pp 79-92.

[9] Kenneth R. Shoulders, "Energy Conversion Using High Charge Density," U.S. Patent 5,018,180, issued May 21, 1991.

[10] Kenneth R. Shoulders, EV, A Tale of Discovery, c1987, published and available from the author, P.O. Box 243, Bodega, CA 94922-0243.

[11] Shang-Xian Jin and Hal Fox, "Characteristics of High-Density Charge Clusters: A Theoretical Model," J. New Energy, vol 1, no 4, Winter 1996, pp 5-20.

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May 25, 1997.