The researcher claiming a cold fusion breakthrough is in the midst of a $100 million lawsuit, all while others race to duplicate his efforts, trying to prove that this time it's not all smoke and mirrors.
David Hambling in Popular Mechanics:
The name “cold fusion” is so toxic the researchers who work on it nowadays don't even call it that. After years of being rejected by the scientific mainstream over false claims and outsized hype, they've taking to calling their field low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR). But whatever you call this field, something strange has been happening in the last few years, with reputable companies like Toyota and Nissan openly sponsoring LENR research and other big players have taken an interest (even if they've preferred to avoid the toxic label).
Now, it's about to come to a head.
Much of the interest is focused on a nickel-hydrogen process, and in particular the extravagant claims Italian inventor Andrea Rossi has made about his Energy Catalyser, or E-Cat, which he was been working on since 2007. Rossi's invention is basically a cylinder the size of a wine bottle, filled with powdered nickel and hydrogen, which generates vast amounts of heat by an unspecified reaction. (Rossi, of course, won't tell the world how E-Cat works. Here's one “best guess” at the physics.) Earlier experiments with nickel-hydrogen claimed to create barely measurable fractions of a watt of excess heat. Rossi, meanwhile, claims to produce hundreds or thousands of watts. If this were true, it could be the key to the limitless, cheap, clean energy cold fusion backers have always promised.