COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - An international conference on low-energy nuclear reactions will bring representatives from at least 30 countries to Columbia next week.
The 18th International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Fusion will be at the University of Missouri from Sunday through Friday.
Annette Sobel, assistant to the provost for strategic opportunities and program organizer for the conference, said this is the first time the gathering has taken place in the Midwest.
The process known as cold fusion, a reaction creating unexplained heat effects, was discovered by two Utah researchers, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, more than two decades ago. Scientists were later unable to duplicate the results, however, so the possible energy source was written off by many experts.
Founded with a $5.5 million donation last year from apparel tycoon and Jones Group founder Sidney Kimmel, the university's new Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance has allowed Mark Prelas, a professor of nuclear engineers at the university, and a team of researchers to try to understand the mechanics of the science.
"What we're doing is developing tools to just look at very basic things occurring in this event," Prelas said.
Robert Duncan, vice chancellor of research at Missouri and co-chairman of the upcoming conference, said the conference has grown as a result of people working to explain the mysterious form of excess heat.
Duncan said although the conference will include companies considering reactors that will produce energy from the basic understanding of the process, for now Missouri researchers will concentrate on investigating how the energy forms.
"I would like to understand the underpinning physics because once you understand what's going on, you have a way of predicting and designing things that may be useful," Duncan said.