The Department of Energy included low energy nuclear reactions—which NASA scientists have said could fuel home nuclear reactors—among other representative technologies in a $10 million funding opportunity it announced last fall.
The brief mention in the document from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) is being heralded by observers of low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) technology as a significant development.
“This first-ever direct invitation from the Department of Energy for submission of proposals to fund this research marks a significant point in the field’s history,” according to Steven Krivitt of New Energy Times, a news site devoted to low energy nuclear reactions.
“It has the demonstrated ability to produce excess amounts of energy, cleanly, without hazardous ionizing radiation, without producing nasty waste,” said Joseph Zawodny, a senior research scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center.
“The easiest implementation of this would be for the home,” he said. “You would have a unit that would replace your water heater. And you would have some sort of cycle to derive electrical energy from that.”
A low-energy nuclear reactor offers an extra neutron to stable elements like nickel, carbon, or hydrogen to produce heat, electricity, and stable by-products like copper or nitrogen. It does not produce ionizing radiation nor radioactive waste.
LENR technology has suffered from confusion with “cold fusion”, which has largely been dismissed by the scientific community.