For decades, the prospect of “cold fusion” – which promises abundant nuclear energy without fearsome heat – has intrigued inventors and investors, despite the deep scepticism of mainstream scientists. A company that has raised over $100m for its attempt to turn fantasy into reality is now linked to a Hollywood star, to the widow of Apple’s founder and to a crisis engulfing Britain’s best-known fund manager. Actor Brad Pitt; philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective; and stockpicker Neil Woodford are among the high-profile figures who have bought stakes in Industrial Heat, a North Carolina company attempting to develop power sources that run on “low-energy nuclear reactions”, an idea on the fringes of modern physics. The support of the investors – despite no public evidence that the technology works – has helped propel the valuation of Industrial Heat to almost $1bn, swelling the portfolio of one of its biggest backers, Mr Woodford. The UK-based portfolio manager, whose fondness for exotic private companies has caused a liquidity crunch at his flagship fund, owns about a quarter of Industrial Heat and his funds have invested £54m.
FT 14th June 2019 read more »