Frank Gordon: Chasing Down Solid-State Solutions

Frank Gordon
Former Civilian Executive Director of a Naval Command, Doctorate in Engineering, Author, Inventor, Founder of Inovl, Inc.
After a successful career in the Navy, Dr. Frank Gordon started solid-state fusion research in 2009 with his colleague Harper Whitehouse. With his lifelong fascination with the whys and hows of the world, Frank’s curiosity and passion for chasing down solutions inspires and energizes the field, propelling our work forward.

38 Years at the Helm

Dr. Frank Gordon, a highly accomplished scientist in the solid-state fusion field, has always been fascinated by how things work. He joked that he was probably one of those kids who made their parents exasperated with how often he asked “why” and “how” when learning new things. This ingrained curiosity led him to study mechanical engineering and continues to propel him through his work on solid-state fusion. After getting his doctorate in engineering through a fellowship with NASA, Frank started working at the Navy Research and Development laboratory in San Diego, where he worked for over 38 years before retiring in 2009.

During his time at the Navy lab, Frank ascended the management ranks and became a member of the Senior Executive Service. Within his managerial role, he had a comprehensive understanding of the various projects and programs at the Navy lab while working with some of the best scientific minds in the field. It was there where he met Pam Boss (interview here), Harper Whitehouse (interview here), and Stan Szpak — all prominent scientists in the LENR realm.

The pivotal moment in Frank’s career was 1989 when the news about cold fusion broke. Stan and Pam were electrochemists at the Navy lab at the time, and Stan knew Martin Fleischmann personally and could speak to his credibility. They quickly got to work. Frank remembers the frenzy in the lab — several groups had started working on it, and there was an ongoing flurry of faxes with pictures and illustrations exchanged among excited scientists. Frank talked fondly about this picture of pre-internet collaboration and how it showed the network of interested researchers at the start of the field. Frank also recalled Stan Szpak’s innovative work on palladium co-deposition. Most people were using solid palladium, but Stan had the idea of co-depositing it instead. Now, it is one of the most widely used methods to prepare the electrode. Frank was undeterred by skepticism surrounding cold fusion during his time at the Navy lab and employed a rigorous scientific approach. It also helped that he was in charge of discretionary funding, which he used to continue these experiments at the lab.
[Frank] joked that he was probably one of those kids who asked “why” and “how” when learning new things. This ingrained curiosity ... continues to propel him through his work on solid-state fusion.

Fusion and Friendship in Retirement

Despite Frank’s success in his management career, he missed the hands-on aspect of scientific work; he still wanted to get to the whys and hows. Upon retirement in 2009, he seized the opportunity to explore solid-state fusion more directly. He partnered with a former colleague, Harper Whitehouse, and they ventured into the field together and formed a company called Inovl, Inc. to research alternative energy devices. Deeply inspired by the enormous potential of LENR technology and how its disruptive nature could ultimately benefit the world, they got to work. He says, “You can’t overstate what the potential would be and what the impact would be in the world.”

Frank talks fondly of their work together in Harper’s garage before the COVID-19 pandemic, where they would meet about four times weekly to do experiments. Even during the height of the pandemic, they would divide up their work — Frank would prepare the cells and the electrodes and take them to Harper’s where he could do the experiments. Now, they still meet up to share ideas and experiment. As a self-funded project, they have more freedom to test what they want when they want to. He jokes to his wife that “it’s a cheaper hobby than golf!” but with many of the same elements: “hours of frustration with moments of elation, and yet you keep at it. And that’s why we’re here.”

Their research journey continues to be marked by moments of frustration and elation, often triggered by what initially seemed like mistakes. He remembers one moment when he and Harper were thinking about increasing the electrode's temperature while avoiding creating an explosive mixture of deuterium and oxygen gas.Initially, they thought about using steam electrolysis, so they experimented with that for a while. Then, they wondered if they could use gas and not have to worry about water vapor. So, they extracted Americium-241, a man-made radioactive chemical, out of smoke detectors to put in the bottom of their cell with a prepared palladium cathode down the middle. They did a test on it and, to their elation, it was conducting. They did various tests using this method to figure out how many ions the Americium was producing and eventually concluded that the palladium was doing something to ionize the gas. He says, “We followed where the experiments had taken us all along. And that is one of those moments of elation because it looks promising.”
Then, they wondered if they could use gas and not have to worry about water vapor.  They did a test on it and, to their elation, it was conducting.

[Frank] says, "We followed where the experiments had taken us all along. And that is one of those moments of elation because it looks promising.”

Energizing the Field

In our conversation, he emphasized direct energy conversion, focusing less on heat production. Their ultimate goal is to scale their experiments by six orders of magnitude, motivated by the field’s potential to benefit the world. He envisions a 5-kilowatt device powered by solid-state fusion energy, capable of powering homes. He points out that success in this field won’t initially be perfect, but it doesn’t have to be perfect to achieve great results. He says they are seeing results on demand, but they need to scale up to keep improving. He and Harper are looking for collaborators, especially those with research facilities, who want to work on these experiments with them. He mentions his hope that students are eager to work on this challenge and contribute to an emerging field of inquiry, as students are the future of solid-state fusion and will be the ones to keep these experiments going.

Frank’s passion for finding solutions and chasing down the why’s and how’s of science drives his dedication to this field well into his “retirement”, and his contributions to solid-state fusion and LENR are inspiring and worthwhile. With three patents and one currently pending, as well as multiple replications of their work by scientists worldwide, the future is promising. From his career at the Navy lab to his experimentation since then, Frank's story proves that solid-state fusion's challenge and potential continue to energize the field and propel our work forward.

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About Dr. Frank Gordon
Dr. Frank Gordon is a highly educated engineer and scientist, receiving a Doctorate in Engineering in 1971 before starting his 38 year career in the United States Navy working and heading various scientific projects. After retiring from federal service in 2009, Dr. Gordon started research on solid-state fusion energy with his colleague Harper Whitehouse. They founded a company named Inovl, Inc together that aims to research alternative energy solutions. They have advanced the SSF field and currently hold three patents from their work. The latest patent is for a Lattice Energy Converter, which has demonstrated the ability to self-initiate and self-sustain the production of ionizing radiation, where the ions produced are harvested to produce electricity. Dr. Gordon is also an author, inventor, and serves on several University advisory boards for his expertise.


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