In 1989 Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, two electrochemists at the University of Utah, caused a major stir when they announced to the media that they had used a simple experiment to successfully create a sustained nuclear fusion reaction at room temperature. Although the scientific community’s initial excitement surrounding the process has cooled over time, “cold fusion” is still a hot topic in feature films, novels and online forums. There are even one or two research groups still investigating different forms of cold fusion, though none of their reported successes have so far been independently replicated. Cold fusion has been proved to work in some cases – e.g. in muon-catalysed fusion and pyroelectric fusion – but because the processes use more energy than the fusion releases, they cannot actually produce any energy. Sadly, this means that cold fusion is not an option for powering our homes.
Isabella Milch, director of Public Relations from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) answered this question.