Authors Personal Copy    Discussion of Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions                                                       ...
Authors Personal Copy    416                                                              Discussion of Low-Energy Nuclear...
Authors Personal Copy    Discussion of Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions                                                       ...
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Larsen L-ANS Winter Meeting San Diego CA - 0415-0417 - Nov 2012


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This paper is part of the panel session "Discussion of
Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions." Enabled by many-body,
collective effects and appropriate forms of required input
energy (e.g., electric currents and/or organized magnetic
fields with tubular geometries can be used to produce
an electroweak reaction: e + p --> n + ν ), LENRs involve elemental nucleosynthetic
transmutation reactions very much like stars, only at
vastly lower temperatures and pressures that are found in
laboratory apparatus such as electrolytic chemical cells
and many natural processes such as lightning discharges.

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Larsen L-ANS Winter Meeting San Diego CA - 0415-0417 - Nov 2012

  1. 1. Authors Personal Copy Discussion of Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions 415 Electroweak Neutron Production via e + p n + and Capture during Lightning Discharges Lewis G. Larsen Lattice Energy LLC, 175 N. Harbor Dr. #3205, Chicago, IL, lewisglarsen@gmail.comINTRODUCTION photonuclear channel of neutron generation in thunderstorm: the estimated value of the needed high- This paper is part of the panel session "Discussion of energy -ray flux is about 3 orders of magnitude higherLow-Energy Nuclear Reactions." Enabled by many-body,collective effects and appropriate forms of required inputenergy (e.g., electric currents and/or organized magnetic Since 1985 experimental reports of correlationfields with tubular geometries can be used to produce between thunderstorm lightning discharges and detection a an electroweak reaction: e + p n of neutron production have been published episodically in+ ), LENRs involve elemental nucleosynthetic major peer-reviewed journals. However, this new, highlytransmutation reactions very much like stars, only at reliable data collected by Russian scientists is the firstvastly lower temperatures and pressures that are found in instance in which: (a) observed neutron fluxes associatedlaboratory apparatus such as electrolytic chemical cells with lightning discharges could be accurately counted,and many natural processes such as lightning discharges. well-estimated quantitatively, and temporally correlated with lightning discharges; and (b) better insights wereWIDOM-LARSEN THEORY AND LIGHTNING achieved into energy spectra of such lightning-produced neutrons. Importantly, size of the neutron fluxes observed Derived from extension of the exploding-wire case by Gurevich et al. are too large to be explained by aexplained in our theoretical work, the Widom-Larsen photonuclear mechanism (in recent years was thought bytheory of LENRs[1, 2] strongly predicts that significant, many to successfully explain neutron production indetectible neutron fluxes will be produced via an electric lightning channels).current-driven electroweak reaction mechanism duringordinary lightning discharges that occur Given that nuclear fusion processes had beenatmosphere. Presumably this type of neutron production decisively excluded in years prior to a recent rise incould also occur during intense lightning activity closely popularity of the conjectured photonuclear mechanism,associated with dusty terrestrial volcanic eruptions and e.g., Babich & R-Dupre[4], the Widom-Larsen many-extraterrestrial object impact events, as well as similar body, collective magnetic e + p n + electroweaktypes of lightning discharges occurring on other planetary reaction mechanism is the only remaining theoreticalbodies in the solar system, e.g., Jupiter, Saturn, etc. approach that can successfully explain key features of this new experimental data on production of neutrons in Vast majority of mostly low-energy LENR neutrons lightning.produced in such lightning discharges would likely becaptured by nearby atoms before newly created free ISOTOPIC FRACTIONATION IN ATMOSPHEREneutrons can decay (half-life of a free neutron is ~13minutes); LENR neutron-catalyzed nucleosynthesis at low Nitrogen (N2 ~78% vol.) and Oxygen (O2 ~21%) arerates could thus have been occurring at variable rates in the most common gases in as long as ~4.5 billion years. the case, excluding neutron captures on elements located in trapped dust particles, they could easily capture mostRUSSIAN DATA CONFIRMS WIDOM-LARSEN LENR neutrons created in ordinary lightning discharges. Gurevich et al.[3] recently published newexperimental data which clearly showed neutron There are numerous published experimentalproduction in lightning, exactly as predicted by the of Oxygen and NitrogenWidom-Larsen theory. Summarizing, they stated that, isotopes found in atmospheric air. Is this strictly resulting from chemical processes or could LENRs be involved?an extraordinary high flux of low-energy neutronsgenerated during thunderstorms. The measured neutron Interestingly, atmospheric lightning discharges arecount rate enhancements are directly connected with well-known to be major producers of both Ozone (O3)thunderstorm discharges. The low-energy neutron flux and NOx; a single very large lightning bolt is thought tovalue obtained in our work is a challenge for the produce as much as several hundred pounds of Ozone. Transactions of the American Nuclear Society, Vol. 107, San Diego, California, November 11–15, 2012 ISSN 0003-018x, pp.415-417 (2012)
  2. 2. Authors Personal Copy 416 Discussion of Low-Energy Nuclear ReactionsNEUTRON-CAPTURE ON GASEOUS NITROGEN CHEMICAL FRACTIONATION VS. LENRS 14 N = 99.632%; 15N For ~ 60 years, a body of chemical fractionation 14= 0.368%. At thermal energies, N has a neutron capture theory has been developed and articulated to explaincross-section of only 0.080 barns; at LENR ultra low progressively increasing numbers of stable isotopemomentum neutron energies it may be 105-106x larger anomalies observed in a vast array of mass spectroscopicbecause 14N is a 1/v isotope. Thus, in LENR systems the data obtained from many different types of natural andreaction 14N + n 15 N + can potentially proceed at experimental, abiological and biological, systems.significant rates; capture gammas would not be detectedbecause of conversion to IR by local heavy-mass Although not explicitly acknowledged by chemicalelectrons per Widom-Larsen theory. Neutron capture on fractionation theorists, an intrinsic fundamental15 N would produce 16N which is unstable (half-life = 7.1 assumption underlying this entire body of theory andseconds) and beta decays into 16O which is stable. interpretation of data is that no indigenousThermal neutron capture cross-section for 15N is 2,000x nucleosynthetic processes are presently occurringless than 15N; all other things being equal, at low LENR anywhere in any of these systems, or at any time since theneutron fluxes 15N should accumulate faster than it can be initial formation of the presolar nebula, that are/weretransmuted via neutron capture into 16N. All other things capable of altering isotope ratios and/or producing newbeing equal, over time LENRs would tend to create mixtures of different elements over time; ergo, chemistryincreases in 15N and magnitude of isotopic variance. must explain everything. However, if the Widom-Larsen theory of LENRs is correct, for certain isotopic data theNEUTRON-CAPTURE ON GASEOUS OXYGEN above fundamental assumption could potentially be incorrect. Moreover, products of LENRs can mimic the Oxygen natural abundance is 16O = 99.759%; 17O = effects of mass-dependent and mass-independent chemical0.0374%; 18O = 0.2039%. If 16O were exposed to fluxes fractionation processes.of ULM neutrons, one might expect that it would first betransmuted via LENRs to 17O with the capture of one LENR NEUTRON-CAPTURE ON SULFUR ATOMSULM neutron. Now 17O has the highest neutron capturecross-section of the three stable Oxygen isotopes (17O = 32 S = 94.93%; 33S =0.54 millibarns for neutrons at thermal energies which is 0.76%; S = 4.29%; S = 0.02%. Beginning with 32S, 34 362.8x that of 16O and 3.4x 18O), so 17O + nulm 18O wouldbe favored. Also, Oxygen is an unusual lighter element in capture cross-sections of 0.55, 0.46, 0.30, and 0.23 barns,that 17O just happens to have a significant cross-section respectively; they are all 1/v isotopes. All other thingsfor alpha decay upon capturing a neutron. Therefore, 17O being equal, at low LENR ULM neutron fluxes, 33S, 34can be depleted in two ways by LENR neutron-catalyzed S, and 36S would all tend to increase; 35S is unstableprocesses: (1.) neutron capture to 18O; and (2.) alpha (4He) (half-life = 87 days) and beta- decays to 35Cl. Higherdecay to Carbon-14 (14C). Those competing processes are ULM neutron fluxes could produce 37S which is unstableprobably the reason why 17O has lower natural abundance (half-life = 5.1 minutes) and - decays into Chlorine 37Clthan 16O and 18O. All other things being equal, exposure (which is stable but very reactive). Depending on details,of gaseous Oxygen atoms to LENR neutrons would tend to LENRs could create isotopic shifts that looked as thoughincrease 18O and magnitude of isotopic variance. mass-independent chemical fractionation had occurred.MASS-INDEPENDENT FRACTIONATION TERRESTRIAL GEOCHEMICAL EVOLUTION First seen in Sulfur isotopes, concept of - Recent work of Nuth et al.[6] about lightning originally processing of dust particles in presolar nebula suggestsdeveloped to explain data exhibiting isotopic shifts that that low but nonetheless significant rates of lightning-clearly did not conform to a purely chemical, mass- driven LENR nucleosynthesis could easily have beendependent kinetic effects paradigm. Present proponents occurring in the environs of the solar system for >4.5of this explanation, e.g., Michalski & Bhattacharya[5], billion years. This more recent LENR transmutationimplicitly invoke purported , activity would have been superimposed on top ofvolume, effects to provide a non- nucleosynthetic reaction products originating from evennuclear rationale for otherwise chemically inexplicable more ancient episodes of stellar fusion processes andisotopic shifts observed with some isotopes and molecules supernova events. That being the case, are telltaleof certain elements, e.g., Ozone (O3), Sulfur, and very -stellar LENR processesrecently, Methylmercury. detectable and present in published isotopic data Mission? Transactions of the American Nuclear Society, Vol. 107, San Diego, California, November 11–15, 2012 ISSN 0003-018x, pp.415-417 (2012)
  3. 3. Authors Personal Copy Discussion of Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions 417NASA GENESIS DISCOVERY MISSION DATA CHEMICAL EVOLUTION OF SOLAR SYSTEM In a published review of Genesis mission isotopic Provided with sufficient and appropriate energydata on Oxygen, Burnett et al.[7] commented that, Fig. 3 inputs, LENR neutron production/capture and -decayshows schematically the variations in O isotopic transmutation processes will tend to create progressivelycompositions among inner solar system materials (8). The higher-Z chemical elements over time. If lightning-drivenGenesis solar wind composition, measured with the LENR transmutation processes have truly been occurringUCLA MegaSIMS (Fig. 1A), is very different from most at non-negligible rates since the era of the presolar nebula,inner solar system materials, but lies near the linear trend before earth had even formed as a recognizable planet,set by meteoritic Ca-Al-rich inclusions (CAI). Models of then puzzling Oxygen and Nitrogen isotopic anomaliessolar wind acceleration (9) predict that O isotopes in the revealed in the NASA Genesis Mission data couldsolar wind will be richer in 16O than the Sun, with the potentially have been caused by various LENR processesamount of correction shown by the dashed line in Fig. 3. operating over geologic time intervals. That said, manyIt is possible that the amount of correction shown is too more experimental measurements still need to be made inlarge, so within present errors, the solar composition order to definitively answer this important question.could lie on the CAI line. Several well studied naturalprocesses exist which fractionate isotopes relative to the OPPORTUNITIES FOR FUTURE RESEARCHassumed Standard Model values, but none of theseexplain the variations shown on Fig. 3. A specific model Thanks to new conceptual insights provided by thebased on the effects of self-shielding of ultraviolet Widom-Larsen theory of LENRs, non-stellarradiation from the early Sun (10) predicts that the solar O transmutation processes in terrestrial and presolarisotopic composition would be 16O-rich, lying along the geochemical environments could be more interesting andCAI trend. The details of how this process would affect dynamic than anyone could have ever imagined. Givenall of the material in the inner solar system are not clear. that LENR-based transmutations may occur widely inConceivably, UV radiation plays a role in the growth of Nature, there should be outstanding opportunities forgrains from micron to kilometer size. The Genesis 18 16O curious researchers to discover many new and importantratio is lower by 17% from the ratio derived from details of LENR-driven biological and abiological nuclearintensities of solar molecular CO lines (11). It appears processes and to develop valuable, new breakthroughunlikely that Sun-solar wind isotopic fractionation of this commercial technologies from such discoveries.magnitude has occurred; the origin of the discrepancy is REFERENCES Regarding Nitrogen isotopic data, Burnett et al. said 1. A. WIDOM AND L. LARSEN, "Ultra Lowthat, The variations in 15 14N among solar system Momentum Neutron Catalyzed Nuclear Reactions onmaterials are much larger than for O and cannot be Metallic Hydride Surfaces," European Physical J. Cexplained by well studied mechanisms of isotope Particles and Fields, 46, 107 (2006).fractionation. Although one analysis has given a higher 2. Y. SRIVASTAVA, A. WIDOM AND L. LARSEN, "Aratio for as-yet-unknown reasons (12), Genesis data Primer for Electro-Weak Induced Low Energy Nuclearoverall (13 17) show that the Sun is like Jupiter and very Reactions," Pramana - J. of Physics, 75(4) 617 (2010).distinct from any known inner solar system material (Fig. 3. A. GUREVICH et al., "Strong Flux of Low-energy4). In this case four independent replicate analyses using Neutrons Produced by Thunderstorms," Phys. Rev. Lett.,different instruments was able clearly to recognize an 108, 125001 (2012).anomalous result, illustrating the major advantage of 4. L. BABICH AND R. ROUSSEL- ofsample return missions (Advantage iii above). No good Neutron Flux Increases Observed in Correlation withmodels exist to explain the large solar system N isotopic Lightning," J. of Geophysical Research, 112, D13303 (2007). 5. G. MICHALSKI AND S. BHATTACHARYA, "The Burnett et al. finally concluded that, Role of Symmetry in the Mass Independent Isotope Effectstudied natural processes exist which fractionate isotopes in Ozone," PNAS, 106 (14), 5493 (2009).relative to the assumed Standard Model values, but none 6. J. NUTH et al., "Lightning Processing of Dust in theof these explain the variations shown on Fig. 3 ... The Solar Nebula," Presented at workshop on Formation ofvariations in 15N 14N among solar system materials are the First Solids in the Solar System (Kauai, Hawaii),much larger than for O and cannot be explained by well LPI Contribution No.1639 9019 (2011).studied mechanisms of isotope fractionation. 7. D. BURNETT AND GENESIS SCIENCE TEAM, "Solar Composition from the Genesis Discovery Mission," PNAS, 108 (48), 19147 (2011). Transactions of the American Nuclear Society, Vol. 107, San Diego, California, November 11–15, 2012 ISSN 0003-018x, pp.415-417 (2012)