Woodpecker, proof of concept

  • Alan Smith

    I don't have LiOH, but I have a 1 Kg canister of K2CO3 and one of KOH. However from past experience I think that by increasing water conductivity the spark discharges will be much weaker. In any case, I kept testing and I don't know if it still is a coincidence, but I'm getting increasing Geiger counter readings.

    For the record after each run I am taking the consumable electrode out of the solution and putting it aside on a plastic support. Initially I did this in order to let the cooling fans run to remove some heat from the cell and not have to electrically disconnect the anode, but I'm wondering if this is having an effect. (EDIT: see photo; the electrode is resting on the lower right corner)

    Another possibly coincidental happening is that counts started increasing after I refilled more distilled water, since it was evaporating out too quickly. Below I put a screenshot of a 127 CPM peak, but I just got one at 129 CPM, by the way.


  • After obtaining a strong enough signal (it should be above 5x standard deviations) I stopped testing today and let the cell cool off.

    The average signal appeared to have an exponential decay similar to that observed yesterday.

    If I calculated things correctly, the mean lifetime τ appears to be about 72 minutes. This is a very rough approximation however. Attached also a log.

    Here is a short video of the GM counter showing 130+ readings:

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    Earlier today I also took a 0.25x slow-motion video of the discharges:

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    Here is a recording of the Geiger counter with a webcam:

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    Lithium has the lowest LENR activation energy as it just needs one H* for a 2x 4-He decay!

    It would not be useful if it inactivates the primary mode of operation of this cell, which requires the aqueous solution to be a dielectric and not an electrolyte.

    * * *

    EDIT 1: here is a comment I made elsewhere:

    I estimate a half-life of about 72 minutes with a relatively large margin of error. I have added an updated graph on the LF discussion thread showing an exponential decay with the same time constant for both today and yesterday's tests.

    I don't think the signal was directly being emitted by the jar (i.e. through its glass walls), by the way. What I think significantly boosted the signal was putting the anode out of the water solution on a plastic support (actual material not important I think) after each run and let it dry there. However when I tried putting it close to the GM counter I didn't obtain immediately increasing readings.

    If it's a genuine effect (it's almost certainly real, but whether it's anomalous it remains to be confirmed) it might have to do with some sort of particle that is getting emitted by either the anode as it dries up, or from the open jar, which perhaps can more freely evaporate away its contents without the anode in place.

  • With respect to avoiding "graphite soup" one might consider the electrodes of old fashioned carbon-zinc batteries. Those old "dry cells" have central electrodes that seem to be a very rugged form of amorphous carbon with possible graphite admixture.

  • Longview

    I consider electrode erosion (normally an unwanted phenomenon) to be a feature in this experiment. I suspect that the anode has to erode so that fine metal and metal-oxide particles get suspended in the aqueous solution, absorb hydrogen and occasionally get spark discharges occurring through them. However it's just a hypothesis.

    By the way, although they are supposed to be quite common, I've never used zinc-carbon batteries before (or at least I have no recollection of having ever used any), however odd this might seem.

    * * *

    EDIT: on a somewhat related note, besides standard glass from the jar, the electrodes are composed of copper and zinc-plated mild steel parts, with possibly weakly magnetic stainless steel for the washers and nuts&bolts.

  • Errata: it looks like I previously confused the terms half-life and mean lifetime. I calculated the mean lifetime as the exponential time constant τ in e-t/τ which was roughly 72 minutes. The half-life is equivalent to (mean lifetime) * ln(2), which would be 49.9 minutes.


    1. http://ataridogdaze.com/science/half-life.html
    2. http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.g…base/Nuclear/meanlif.html
    3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exponential_decay
    4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_constant
  • Wyttenbach

    I don't have the exact specifics. I can provide a description and a photo.

    The cathode is a copper saddle tube clip flattened to a more convenient shape.

    The anode is composed of several yellow zinc-plated flat steel brackets (not angled as the sample in the photo above, but same material) and a steel washer, nuts and bolts. All of the steel pieces are ferromagnetic.

    * * *

    On a different note, earlier today I tried replicating another gamma peak, but I could not obtain one as high as in the previous days. Instead I obtained something lower more similar to one I obtained yesterday morning, but of slightly higher amplitude. Visually the decay behavior seems also similar, but it's not clear whether it's a true induced signal or not. I fear this could have all been coincidental and that I might have fooled myself into thinking that I was actually controlling a reaction.

    Therefore I'll try suspending testing for the next 48 hours and see if similar bumps spontaneously arise without me operating the cell. If nothing happens then at least I'll know that fiddling with it was causing something.

  • I forgot about the possibility of cadmium in the plating.

    I don't have silver spoons at disposal, but I think I have some colloidal silver around, which would be an easy way to add some of it to the solution, albeit a somewhat expensive thing to do. A more direct possibility could be adding silver jewelry wire to the tip of the anode. This would not be as expensive, but I don't have any right now.

    I'm not sure in either case which is the suspected reaction, however.

    * * *

    On a different note, no GM reading bump occurred today after perhaps a small one this morning when I attempted to replicate it in an experimental session. For now it doesn't look like this was a coincidental daily periodic external signal.

  • Alan Smith

    I don't have those unfortunately (?).

    This digression on materials made me think of other possible cheap and/or readily available ideas for this crude experiment type. For instance, the outer layer of 1 euro coins is made of Cu60-Ni20-Zn20 alloy (source), which could allow to more easily verify if the source of the signal is Zn or something else instead, etc.

  • So far no spontaneous sharp peak observed yet without operating the cell. This is data taken with the previous laborious method involving manually sampling total Geiger counts every 20 minutes and computing the average CPM over that time span. The peaks from the other days really stick out (I've never observed anything like that in the past either, even considering the daily variations that I had at some point):

    Earlier today I finally put together again the dedicated PC for logging Geiger data (every 10 seconds) automatically into a CSV file, which can be seen below. A 120-sample (1200 seconds = 20 minutes) rolling average appears to match well with the trend of the previous dataset. It might be worth mentioning that the Geiger counter is placed in front of a steel computer case.


    If by the end of tomorrow nothing noteworthy will have happened, I will resume testing and hopefully try to capture the same signals at a higher resolution.

  • I couldn't resist waiting another full day and earlier I gave it another go. Surprisingly it almost immediately caused the Geiger counter to show heightened emissions, but somehow it almost feels I have to "catch the wave" or something, because it appears to produce better results in the afternoon than in morning tests, as crazy as it might sound.

    The signal is clearly higher than the background and about as high as the previous peak I obtained a few days ago. It's currently in the process of decaying, with the cell and power supply completely turned off. However it also seems to have built up relatively slowly; running it doesn't instantly cause high readings. It is as if there is a slow activation of some cell component or surrounding material. Later I will post the full signal decay curve and Geiger data.

    I've made a brief video of the cell while it was showing the highest readings.

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    Two close-up photos of the anode, which is black presumably from metal and metal-oxide particles and probably nanoparticles eroded from the discharges and in part combusted.

    Typically the cell would be run intermittently to avoid overheating the coil. After each run I put the tip of the anode (still quite hot) close to the fan on the right to make the water evaporate faster, and then for a while on the black screwdriver close to the jar. After doing this Geiger counts tend to slowly increase with a higher probability than if I don't.

    From later tests (to be confirmed) done by hovering the anode directly above the Geiger counter as in the photo below, it appears as if the anode is indeed the source of the signal. However the signal itself, as previously mentioned, has a slow build-up, so it's hard to tell for sure.

    As a side note, this old (and slow) 32-bit Atom netbook (running Xubuntu 18.04) repurposed for Geiger counter logging also shows in a semi-graphical way a history of the counts over time. Each line shows the number of counts every roughly 10 seconds.

    Experimental log

    • [2019-07-04 16:18:00] Turned on PSU with the anode outside the jar
      • The anode had red-pink spots, possibly from rust (Fe2O3)
    • [2019-07-04 16:25:32] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 16:33:53] Removed anode from jar
    • [2019-07-04 16:38:41] Dropped anode into jar
      • Noise more intense from vibrations
    • [2019-07-04 16:41:21] Already getting higher readings?
    • [2019-07-04 16:44:24] Removed anode from jar
    • [2019-07-04 16:46:25] Moved anode slightly closer to geiger counter
    • [2019-07-04 16:47:51] Dropped anode into jar
      • Somewhat noisy
    • [2019-07-04 16:49:52] Current varies between 11.5 and 15.0A
    • [2019-07-04 16:50:58] 121 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 16:54:29] Removed from jar
    • [2019-07-04 16:58:47] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 16:59:34] Peaked 114 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 17:01:22] Removed from jar due to heat
    • [2019-07-04 17:05:24] Added demineralized water
    • [2019-07-04 17:07:16] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 17:08:51] Peaked 117 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 17:11:09] Removed from jar
      • It seems as if it peaks just after stopping it and removing the anode from the jar. This is consistent with previous observations.
    • [2019-07-04 17:14:48] 111 CPM (not operating)
    • [2019-07-04 17:15:10] Clamp meter is low on battery
    • [2019-07-04 17:16:18] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 17:19:17] Seems to be running at a lower rate, but noisier
    • [2019-07-04 17:19:59] 120 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 17:21:00] Removed anode from jar
    • [2019-07-04 17:23:04] 135 CPM peak (not operating)
    • [2019-07-04 17:24:58] 126 CPM peak (again not operating)
    • [2019-07-04 17:26:01] 147 CPM peak (not operating)
    • [2019-07-04 17:26:53] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 17:27:05] 140 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 17:29:06] 130 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 17:30:24] Removed anode from jar
    • [2019-07-04 17:32:09] Consistently above 110 CPM now
    • [2019-07-04 17:32:40] 136 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 17:35:18] Dropped anode into jar
      • Just before this it seemed as if hovering the anode just above the geiger counter caused increased readings
    • [2019-07-04 17:36:57] 128 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 17:37:15] 132 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 17:38:03] 137 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 17:40:16] Removed from jar
      • Peaked 148 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 17:41:05] Allowing to cool off to ambient temperature
    • [2019-07-04 17:41:37] PSU turned off
    • [2019-07-04 17:42:27] 132 CPM peak
  • I did some more testing. Upon request I removed the Lego brick in front of the Geiger tube that might have possibly affected results. It was put there simply to hold the two lateral pieces together so that it could stay upright. It should be made of ABS plastic so in theory it could have a somewhat moderating effect on neutrons or other neutral particles.

    I haven't observed substantial differences in the signal, at least initially. It takes some effort to built it up to high values. However, as I eventually I stopped the experiment and left the room for a break, I noticed something odd:

    Geiger counts apparently kept increasing after putting the anode aside, cooling off. The rate of increase remained about the same. Here both runs can be seen. The first one has a nice exponential decay curve. The second run has just began decaying. This also shows that at least on the short term it's a repeatable effect.

    Somehow I suspect that the off-time outside the jar might be just as important as the on-time inside of it.

    Experimental log

    • [2019-07-04 21:27:57] Turned on PSU and removed lego brick in front of Geiger counter
    • [2019-07-04 21:29:18] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 21:32:22] Making somewhat more crack noises than earlier
    • [2019-07-04 21:35:59] Removed anode from jar
      • Counts somewhat increased after this
    • [2019-07-04 21:37:58] Put anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 21:38:56] Peaked 106 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 21:39:30] 108 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 21:40:46] Removed anode from jar due to heat build up in coil
    • [2019-07-04 21:43:45] Added distilled water
    • [2019-07-04 21:44:12] Dropped anode into jar
      • Reaction seems slightly stronger now
    • [2019-07-04 21:47:33] Removed anode from jar
    • [2019-07-04 21:48:18] 109 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 21:49:52] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 21:51:02] 103 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 21:52:12] Removed anode from jar
    • [2019-07-04 21:54:45] Added aluminum shield to the right of screwdriver
    • [2019-07-04 21:56:23] Dropped anode into jar, removed aluminium shield
    • [2019-07-04 21:59:42] Removed anode from jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:02:23] 107 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 22:03:03] 112 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 22:04:22] 114 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 22:05:06] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:07:04] 111 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 22:08:12] Removed anode from jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:09:23] 123 CPM peak after dropping to 80 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 22:12:40] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:14:45] 116 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 22:15:47] Removed anode form jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:18:41] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:20:43] Moved electrode so that sparks would more more blue-white in color
    • [2019-07-04 22:21:36] 121 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 22:22:10] Removed anode from jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:26:12] 132 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 22:28:03] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:28:41] Sparks seem mostly whitish
    • [2019-07-04 22:28:50] 124 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 22:30:47] Removed anode from jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:31:12] 138 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 22:35:30] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:37:50] 131 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 22:38:59] 136 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 22:39:55] 148 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 22:42:00] Removed anode from jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:42:52] 136 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 22:45:14] 130 CPM peak
    • [2019-07-04 22:46:17] 138 CPM
    • [2019-07-04 22:47:20] Dropped anode into jar
    • [2019-07-04 22:51:13] Removed electrode from jar. Allowing it to cool down
    • [2019-07-04 22:52:58] 152 CPM peak seen
    • [2019-07-04 23:37:32] PSU turned off
  • Alan Smith

    It does feel that the best results are obtained by cycling power on and off, but I also saw that at the end of the longer power-on runs Geiger counts eventually start increasing relatively quickly. It's difficult to tell for sure what is actually important since the processes observed are slow. Something slowly "builds up", in a way or another.

    • Official Post

    If you read the history of LENR, you will see that often you get the best results when you turn off the power!

    As RB noticed on another thread, start at about minute 8;21. That on/off switch seems to work magic, according to Larry Forsley:

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