A two-minute video clip uploaded to the NASA technology gateway website is making waves. The promotional video released January 12 is exciting some people while agitating critics of the research field called Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR).
It’s not aimed at techies.
Instead, in public-friendly language, a senior research scientist at NASA’s Langley research center says “NASA’s method” of LENR which uses materials such as nickel, carbon and hydrogen has shown that it can “produce excess amounts of energy, cleanly, without hazardous ionizing radiation, and without producing nasty waste.”
Notice that the scientist, Joseph Zawodny, says LENR “has the demonstrated ability to produce excess amounts of energy.” He doesn’t say whose experiments demonstrated it. He could mean that NASA scientists have witnessed repeatable experiments and have maybe paid for further research into LENR. Or maybe they do have a working prototype themselves, who knows?
The video also doesn’t mention the Italian entrepreneur Andrea Rossi whose announcements about his own hydrogen/powdered nickel/catalyst invention are making news around the world. But hey, it’s only a two-minute clip. To get the public’s attention you have to be short-and-to-the-point.
Critics object to the vagueness of the video and accuse the scientist of jockeying for future research grants by giving NASA credit for theoretical work others have done. But is that the most important question?
Our world is in danger of exploding into the ugliest of oil wars. Maybe Dr. Zawodny and his boss at the research center care enough to feel the urgency of humankind’s situation. I believe that is the case. At a two-day Foundation for the Future workshop a few years ago which included the very perceptive chief scientist at NASA Langley, Dennis Bushnell, I heard Bushnell’s concerns about energy and where we’re headed. Also more recently he’s spoken at the Conference on Future Energy. Dr. Bushnell is on pages 39-40 of Breakthrough Power, 2011 edition.
Whatever the motivation for releasing the NASA video, it’s out and its easy-to-understand message could touch the public as well as reach whatever funding entities it’s aimed at.
“While the world is drastically dependent on fossil fuels, researchers at NASA Langley research center are working on another way of producing energy-efficient nuclear power,” the video begins.
After briefly illustrating a theory about LENR the video answers what would be my main question– could LENR end the dependence on dirty energy technologies? “This clean form of energy is also powerful, able to support everything from transportation systems to infrastructure.”
Dr. Zawodny says the easiest place to use the LENR process would be in the home. “You would have a unit that would replace your water heater. And you would have some sort of cycle to drive electrical energy from that. And then it would dump its waste heat into the water, or air handling system for the building.”
“So it would be a dual use thing, it would be sitting there producing heat then you’d drive electricity from it to run your electronics. Power the house, power the building, power the light industry.”
“And then the waste heat would be used for environmental control. And warm water.”
Despite its unwieldy title “Method for Enhancement of Surface Plasmon Polaritons to Initiate and Sustain LENR,” the video is clearly meant for a non-technical audience.
Suggestion: Send this to your nearest politician or environmental activist. Then send it to everyone on your list. The political will to changeover to clean technology doesn’t develop magically, in an oil-soaked world. People must tell other people what our choices really are.