Copyright © Harold Aspden, 1998

This is the major part of the substantive technical part of the response to the U.S. Patent Examiner's Office Action of June 15, 1992.


In view of the very extensive nature of the Examiner's rejection the Applicant seeks to clarify the basis of this response before separately discussing the amendment formally by reference to the art cited.

Firstly, the Examiner states on p. 6 of his remarks that it is apparent from the specification that Applicant's concept is workable or operative only if "cold fusion" systems are already operative.

The Applicant does not wish to be drawn into the argument as to whether excess heat in deuterated palladium signals a fusion reaction. The Applicant's invention concerns apparatus by which that rate of excess heating is enhanced and the invention requires that the d.c circuit which promotes the absorption of deuterium into palladium is a closed d.c. path only partly shared by the low resistance closed circuit path for a.c. through the cathode. It is essential to the Applicant's invention that there is an excess heating phenomenon attributable to the presence of deuterium in the host cathode.

The Examiner is now requested to process this application on the basis that the phenomenon of excess heating in deuterated palladium is an established fact (for reasons set forth below) and the Applicant has, on that basis, amended the specification to exclude all reference to the so-called 'cold fusion' phenomenon, including all the theory which refers to the nuclear nature of deuterons. This suggestion is made in order to expedite this application, notwithstanding the fact that the Applicant is aware of the very considerable support now being given to 'cold fusion' research by the Japanese government. The latter support arises from the positive evidence of energy production found by Dr. A. Takahashi of Osaka University's Department of Nuclear Engineering. (See pp. 1 & 2 of the July 1992 issue of FUSION FACTS, a publication issued from the University of Utah Research Park in U.S.A.) Undoubtedly, the general 'cold fusion' issue will be debated for a period extending well beyond the span of time for processing the early patent applications in this field.

Reference is now made to the Examiner's posture (p. 1 of the rejection remarks) that there is no reputable evidence of valid record to support any allegations of claims that there is reproducable "excess heat" due to nuclear and/or chemical reactions in deuterated palladium. The examiner qualifies this by the words 'capable of operating as indicated and capable of providing a useful output'. The latter factor is one of scale and the Examiner will understand that if, hitherto, a phenomenon exists at a level below the threshold of utility and a way is later provided which must enhance that activity, then one cannot really in fairness deny utility for the enhanced implementation.

If there is anomalous excess heat produced in deuterated palladium, the apparatus prescribed by this invention must enhance the heating effect. It would be beyond scientific credibility to assume that electrical current activation could diminish the thermal activity underlying the anomaly. If cooling to avoid thermal 'noise' effects is conducive to activation of excess heat then the action would be a one-shot process and not productive of continuous heating. Therefore, one must assume activation helps the process. Note that the nuclear aspect is ignored in this discussion and the question at issue is whether there is anomalous heat generation in deuterated palladium. It is noted also that the Examiner is attentive to what he terms 'reputable' sources and, perhaps for this reason, the evidence will be easier to accept if its source is not tainted by the saga of current interest in the subject.

Accordingly, the Applicant refers to the extensive scientific work on the anomalous heat effects in deuterated palladium reported as long ago as 1957 by Donald M. Nace and J. G. Aston between pages 3623 and 3633 of volume 79 the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Their research was performed at Pennsylvania State University aided by contract from the Office of Naval Research and it was later extended by reports by Paul Mitacek and John G. Aston of that same university and with National Science Foundation support (see p. 137 of volume 85 of the Journal of the American Chemical Society). In addition, the work was further extended and confirmed by C. A. Mackliet and A. L. Schindler of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington D.C. as reported on pp. 1363-1365 of the Journal of Chemical Physics, volume 45, 1966.

These workers reported evidence of anomaly in the specific heats of hydrated palladium and the anomaly was further characterized by an effect by which a continuous heat evolution occurred after the test specimen reached eqiuilibrium temperature. The latter was the subject of Fig. 2 in the Mackliet and Schindler reference, but they had confined their tests to a very low temperature of 4.1 K and were studying hydrogen in palladium and not deuterium. Concerning the latter it is relevant to scrutinize Fig. 2 of the Nace and Aston paper (see p. 3628). This shows the specific heat of palladium due to the presence of deuterium and there is a distinct anomaly centred on a temperature of 55 K and further an anomaly which develops at just above room temperature.

Now, in the analogous situation where ferromagnetic materials are studied, an anomalous hump in the specific heat versus temperature curve signifies a transition of state through the Curie point. Ferromagnetism is an ordered state which involves magnetocaloric effects. Heat has to be added in addition to that normally required to account for temperature increase, the added heat being needed to destroy the state of ferromagnetism. Conversely, extra heat is produced when the temperature is reduced through the Curie point. Where magnetic domain wall movement is involved in a.c. excitation of a ferromagnet over the lower range of polarization there is no specific heat anomaly. However, even at normal room temperatures, where magnetic flux rotation is involved in the higher states of polarization secured by combining d.c. with a.c. excitation, there can be genuine energy anomalies in the ferromagnet. The Applicant has a Ph.D. from Cambridge University in England dating from 1954 for researching energy loss anomalies in nickel and iron, which anomalies can involve discrepancies between theory and observation as great as a factor of 10. However, the Applicant is also aware of reports of converse anomalies in which excess energy is generated when current with d.c. and a.c. components are caused to flow through the physical body of a ferromagnet. The latter were the subject of a British Intelligence Committee Report (B.I.O.S. Final Report No. 1043: Item No. 31: entitled "The invention of Hans Coler, relating to an alleged new source of power" and eventually available after declassification from the U.K. Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

The point made here is that reputable evidence in U.S.A. dating from 1956, 1963 and 1966 indicates that hydrated and deuterated palladium can reveal anomalous heat generation (including continuous heat generation) coupled with a phase transition that resembles that associated with the state of ferromagnetism. Also, evidence of less repute, owing only to the government secrecy imposed at the time (the aftermath of World War II), though evidence which the report clearly shows was verified experimentally and independently by several German professors and U.K. government and Norwegian army scientific investigators, has shown that very substantial excess energy can be derived from magnets when subjected to the special current excitation conditions.

Quite independently also, and unaware of these prior energy anomalies in deuterated palladium and magnets when they are carrying current through their metal bodies, the Applicant's research on the nature of ferromagnetism had suggested that the state of ferromagnetism really is governed by interatomic electron forces in relation to containment by material stress capability, a factor depending upon Young's modulus being sufficiently high. Only certain atomic Z number values can satisfy these conditions, one group being around Z = 26, one around Z = 45 and one having a broader band around Z = 60. This is the subject of chapter 3 in the Applicant's 1969 book 'Physics without Einstein', (ISBN 0 85056 001 2) a book published in U.K. and dealing with magnetic field reaction anomalies using a non-relativistic treatment. There are several rare earth materials centred on Z = 60 that are ferromagnetic and iron, nickel and cobalt fit the Z = 26 region. However, though paramagnetism was shown at Z= 45 and Z = 46 in the figure presenting the relevant data in that 1969 text, there was no ferromagnetic material that fitted the indications of the theory at Z = 45 or Z = 46, the latter being the element palladium. The atomic electron shell occupancy of palladium is rather special, being filled to the 4d states. Conceivably, however, the evidence of the specific heat anomalies in deuterated palladium points to a spurious electron activity where ferromagnetism is involved owing to electrons neutralizing the deuteron ions but such ferromagnetism may not emerge as a stable state. The effect of forming the hydride and deuteride forms of palladium must also introduce internal stresses which affect the stress versus electromagnetic force criteria involved in ferromagnetic action.

In these circumstances, the Applicant believes that there is just cause and, indeed, merit in combining the above evidence and concluding that, since deuterated palladium can generate excess heat, that heat can be enhanced by an anode-cathode d.c. current which assists in the deuteron absorption process combined with the closed circuit flow of a.c. through the host cathode, the latter being confined to a flow path which excludes the electrolytic circuit supplying the deuterium.

It is all too easy to discredit claims that seem to suggest anomalous energy generation, merely because the theory which can justify the action has not been developed or become generally accepted. There is an anomalous energy issue posed by the passage of quite small electric current through the body of a permanent magnet. The palladium cathode containing deuterons has been said to generate anomalous heat when carrying the current feeding those deuterons into the cathode. It has not been helpful to the technology researching the energy issue centre all the criticism around the nuclear fusion theme and dwell on the absence of neutron emission.

Indeed, the Applicant admits that the implementation of this invention in a practical embodiment has been retarded owing to the hostile climate for research funding, as engendered by those who decry the 'cold fusion' claims. However, concerning the 'state of art skill requirements' the Applicant urges the Examiner to accept that it needs little skill for a laboratory technician in an electro-chemical laboratory to couple a palladium cathode in an electrolytic cell so that it can be a closed secondary circuit fed by a transformer operating at power frequency. Furthermore, given that electro-chemists know how to design cells for loading hydrogen or deuterium into a palladium cathode, whether by gas pressure or by electrolytic means, the design skills in adding the circuit a.c. feature are minimal. Any person qualified in electrical engineering design should be able to design a transformer. This involves also estimating copper loss in the windings. The objective in this instance is to set up an EMF gradient in the secondary circuit through the host cathode large enough to add significantly to that component in the cathode represented by the d.c. effect of the electrolytic current drive. Once the relevant d.c. potential drop has been measured the applied a.c. potential can be determined at a greater level chosen, as in any commercial development project, by putting a limit on the power supply rating which optimises the net advantage, meaning that the ohmic loss from electron conduction must be kept sufficiently low. The design and construction involved in implementing the invention is hardly demanding, even using state of art skills of half a century ago, but one cannot be expected to say this in the patent specification and the Applicant cannot provide the performance data from a functioning device at this time in support of this application. As with many patent specifications involving electrical and mechanical art, the filing of the patent applications fits in the time frame between conception and practical implementation and the disclosure which presents the invention rests on the merit, novelty and orginality of what is proposed, bearing in mind that function is in this case predictable from accepted physical law and technical design knowledge. It suffices to feel assured that the activity by which deuterium in palladium generates heat must be enhanced if an added EMF can supplement the EMF causing deuteron inflow through the host cathode surface. The task confronted by the invention was that of avoiding surface effects and unnecessary ohmic heating attributable to a current flow component not wholly confined to a closed metal loop path of very low resistance.

The structure implementing the latter as defined by the claims is what has to be tested for anticipation by the art cited. The true physical nature of the excess heat which is produced by the deuterated palladium is not a factor which is relevant to the invention, provided the Examiner is willing in the light of what has been said above to accept that the anomalous heating effects exist and are reproducible. Note then the statement under Fig. 2 of the Nace and Aston reference (extract appended) that "The heat capacities in all the temperature regions are quite reproducible for palladium hydride".

With regard to the objection that 'one cannot rely on the skill in the art for the selection of proper quantitative values to present an operative nuclear cold fusion system, since those in the art do not know what the values would be', the Applicant can but stress that excess heat has been observed in deuterated palladium cathodes and that there is copious scientific literature on the subject of introducing hydrogen and deuterium into the metal palladium. The books (Volumes 28 and 29) entitled 'Hydrogen in Metals I' and 'Hydrogen in Metals II', edited by G. Alefeld and J. Volkl in the 'Topics in Applied Physics' series published by Springer-Verlag (New York) suffice as giving the state of the art in 1978. They refer to the scientific papers already mentioned and at page 114 of the second volume the 'continuing heat evolution' feature is discussed, this being in a text addressed to those involved in hydrogenation of palladium.

In these circumstances, with the nuclear fusion notion issue set aside, the Applicant feels justified in urging the Examiner to look with favor upon the amendment submitted above.

The Applicant has amended the body of the specification to excise all reference to nuclear fusion and trusts that the Examiner will sanction that the word 'fusion' can, where there is needed for editorial cohesion in the 'Field of Invention' section, be replaced by an expression such as 'anomalous heating'.

The whole section headed 'Background of Invention' has been deleted but it is hoped that the inability to replace this with new text, which would be adding new matter, will not affect the allowability of the application.

Schutze 2240914 discloses a dual power source, one to feed the anode-cathode circuit and the other to put a high voltage on an 'accelerating electrode'. This is functionally distinct from the subject invention inasmuch as there is no current path around a closed all-metal circuit including the host cathode. Schutze teaches acceleration of ions in a gas discharge by a strong electric field, whereas the subject invention necessarily involves high current and low voltage effects because of the all-metal closed circuit path restriction.

Childs 3616315 is not relevant because it concerns two separate power supplies which are both effective in feeding current in the anode-cathode circuit of the cells. There is no suggestion that current around one circuit should flow through an electrode without flowing between anode and cathode. The latter condition is the essential feature of the invention in issue and so Childs is not anticipatory.

Pons et al has been cited as showing pulsed current at pp. 22, 62, 66. The reference to relaxation time in Pons means that the power in the single circuit is intermittent. This is not a separate power input confined to the host cathode, whilst a primary input feeds the main cell. The remarks on p. 62 show also that a.c. ripple is virtually eliminated from the primary d.c. supply. The reference to multiplexing on p. 66 is not a reference to two electric circuit paths through the same host cathode. Pons is not anticipatory.

Rabinowitz discloses the use of short duration power pulses but these are confined to a single circuit through the anode-cathode system. There is no reference to passing current also through a circuit including the cathode but excluding the anode. Also Rabinowitz has a date after the priority date which this Applicant is claiming and so is not prior art under the applicable International Convention.

Zachariah (as with Rabinowitz) discloses in claim 4 the pulsed d.c. but again this is current through the anode-cathode route and not confined to the cathode to the exclusion of the anode. Again, this citation is not applicable owing to its late date under the International Convention.

Brumlick similarly suggests electric pulsing of the anode-cathode current but not a current separately activated for confinement to a circuit excluding the anode. Brumlik also is not applicable owing to International Convention protection of the Applicant's priority filing date.

Lewis cannot be applied owing to the International Convention and the publication date several months after the Applicant's priority date. It is not relevant because mere reference to pulses in the circuit between anode and cathode does not disclose the dual excitation feature of the Applicant's invention.

None of the above citations can be combined with Diller, Vincent or Childs to disclose the Applicant's invention. Childs does not show a circuit flow path excluding an anode. Vincent discloses an etching bath 4 which has a single throughput circuit and so there is no way that the teachings of Vincent combined with any of the other art cited can disclose how current can flow in separate routes though the cathode, one excluding the anode.

Diller similarly shows cells with anodes and cathodes but there is no showing of any route for current through a cathode which does not also pass through the anode.

The Examiner contends that where one decides to use a pulsed or a.c. excitation in combination with a d.c. excitation it is obvious that one has a choice of mode of generating the composite signals either in a common source or by using two separate sources. Thus it is said to be obvious to use two separate power sources where the object is to pulse excite and have the underlying d.c. Applicant agrees but does not agree that any of the art cited or any inference as to obviousness from what is cited teaches the concept of feeding the d.c. anode-cathode circuit in the normal way, which may include intermittent pulsing or relaxation phases, and in addition separately driving a high current through the virtually short-circuit loop confined to the cathode hosting the hydrogen isotope.

The whole purpose of the Applicant's invention is to activate the cathode by powering a source of current that does not have to contend with the gap between anode and cathode. Note that functionally the pulsing of the anode-cathode circuit can lead to deterimental overvoltage conditions which will not result in deuterium charging the cathode properly and will cause overheating, but that does avoid the problem of electron flow because of the polarity effects of the cell. The Applicant prefers to accept the electron current in the closed path including the cathode, even though this is a high current and the EMF involved is small. The reason is that the ohmic loss in the all metal low resistance cathode circuit loop will still be very small and the EMF which does exist will work to displace the deuterons in the cathode and still be higher than any EMF that can develop as normal potential drop in the cathode arising from the low current d.c. anode-cathode circuit which charges the deuterons into the cathode.

It is submitted that this is not obvious from the above-mentioned art as cited whether taken alone or in combination.

Dexter has a priority date which is one month later than that of the Applicant and so is not anticipatory under International Convention rules. Evenso it discloses a dual excitation system which is designed to operate and function differently from that suggested by the Applicant. The object of the Dexter circuit is to provide the normal anode-cathode d.c. charging using one circuit and periodically back-charge the system by reversing current flow in the anode-cathode circuit, the latter being said to be intermittent current and shown as a periodically driven a.c. source. This is entirely different from the claimed invention. Dexter is concerned with ion movement in the liquid between anode and cathode, whereas this Applicant is concerned in addition with special means for securing ion movement within the host cathode. Weber and Banks illustrate that heat removal from electrolytic cells is conventional.

Examiner states that Claims 1, 2, 5, 18-21 are indefinite in that they fail to particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter which Applicant regards as the invention. Accordingly, the claims have been replaced by new claims which it is hoped will overcome the latter objection. Note also, that the Applicant understands that the WO documents refer to work done in the U.S.A. Hence one needs to be careful about interpreting their relevance as prior art if one is arguing in terms of their late publication date. However, concerning these documents the Applicant has based the argument above on their late priority date, it being that this Applicant's earlier priority date was 15th April 1989, which is ahead of all but the Pons citation. Fortunately, however, they are not seen as being relevant to the claims as now amended, but if they were and the Examiner were to persist in applying them as prior art then one presumably needs to establish an interference proceeding to decide the issue inasmuch as they are of U.S. origin.

In conclusion, the Applicant recognizes the care which needs to be exercised in deciding to allow grant of a patent which might bear upon the so-called 'cold fusion' issue. It is believed that the amendment proposed avoids the debate on that issue. If cold fusion is ever verified then the Applicant's invention provides apparatus which should be useful. In the alternative, the Applicant's invention will serve its intended function given that for some reason or other there is mounting evidence that anomalous excess heat can be produced by cells involving cathodes charged with deuterium or hydrogen.

It is hoped that this amendment which excises all reference to cold fusion will be acceptable. The Applicant has tried to be fully responsive to the objections raised and feels that the specification as amended meets those objections.