A desktop-sized nuclear reactor that generates energy without radioactivity – it sounds too good to be true. Indeed, the discovery of a novel form of nuclear energy called “cold fusion,” proclaimed in 1989 by the chemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, has long been dismissed by the mainstream scientific community as a case of faulty measurement or even self-delusion.

Some scientists disagreed, however, finding more and more evidence for radioactivity-free nuclear energy generation occurring under the sorts of conditions Fleischmann and Pons had created: in crystalline materials infused with large quantities of hydrogen or its non-radioactive isotope deuterium.

Now a combination of three factors – accumulation of credible experimental results over the ensuing 30-odd years, resolution of some major issues regarding reproducibility and a developing technology base – has brought cold fusion to the threshold of a breakout.

Big players are quietly investing substantial sums into cold fusion research, positioning themselves for what could turn out to be a major game-changer on the global energy scene. Japan and the United States are way ahead.

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