In 1989 two scientists, Fleischmann and Pons, announced that they had achieved the generation of energy greater than unity, so called anomalous heat, through a reaction that everyone assumed was cold fusion. The announcement was premature, perhaps made due to pressure from the University of Utah. The problem was that the reaction was so poorly understood that scientists who tried to replicate the experiment had no idea what was vital to the success of the experiment and they failed. Worse, the politics of funding intervened and MIT first supported then retracted its support. To this day MIT speaks with two minds on the subject.
There are serious scientists who absolutely believe that the phenomenon that was announced is real and the field of research is now called Low Energy Nuclear Reactions and can be used to describe a number of reactions involving various elements. One such researcher, Andrea Rossi from Italy, has announced success with nickel and hydrogen and claims to have produced working models for generating one MW of power. The byproduct of this reaction is a little bit of copper. NASA, the Navy, MIT, Stanford Research Institute, and many others have been working in the field and are reporting results and are striving to come up with a theoretical explanation for what is happening. Conventional physics does not allow for LENR and as such this makes it difficult for classically trained physicists to suspend disbelief and to make progress.
The main stream media seems to be stuck in a hoax mode. So, seldom do you see any reference to LENR providing a solution to our future energy needs. In fact, if the technology can move forward, with or without adequate understanding of the subatomic picture, LENR is capable of providing an absolutely safe form of energy that would completely upset the energy paradigm in our world. We would move from "getting" energy to "having" energy. Abundant, inexpensive, pollution free energy that could be harnessed in situ could obviate the need for a cumbersome grid. How exciting to think that future generations might snicker at our reliance on the grid and the combustion engine. How quaint.
So the lesson here is this. Pay attention. LENR is not only real, it will have impact. And how it is controlled through the use or misuse of patents could shape our future.