I've been attending conferences on Cold Fusion (also called Low Energy Nuclear Reactions and Lattice Assisted Nuclear Reactions) since the 10th International Conference (ICCF10) held in Cambridge, MA in 2003.
Wired online has published an article by Mark Anderson providing a very high level overview of last weekend's 2007 LANR (CF) Colloquium at MIT hosted by MIT Professor Peter Hagelstein and Dr. Mitchell Swartz of JET Thermal Products and Cold Fusion Times. I'm quoted towards the end of Anderson's article.
From last weekend's presentations and conversations with several participants, I believe that the LANR community has now identified the principal conditions and operating parameters under which cold fusion reactions take place. These conditions were either largely unknown to Pons and Fleischman or they failed to communicate sufficient details in 1989 to enable easier replication by others. LANR has been replicated now in many labs in many countries.
As noted in these pages recently, Paul Saffo has called attention to the long incubation time required to bring novel technologies to market. I call this the long left tail of commercialization. At the inflection point, people typically forget how long it took to get there. 20 years is not uncommon. So we're getting there.
If harnessed, Cold Fusion can be productized in any number of directions. Product ideas include home water heaters, electric power generation, desalinization, and transportation. The work done to date has largely been on the basic underlying science. What's needed next are concerted efforts to do the practical engineering work that leads to products. Such a multidisciplinary effort would include engineers with backgrounds in solid state physics, metallurgy, calorimetry and instrumentation, fabrication and manufacturing, failure analysis, and quality control, among other disciplines.