Directly after the March 1989 TV announcement by Fleischmann and Pons that they had achieved a nuclear reaction at electrodes in the cold, research began on the phenomenon at Texas A&M. The University was picked by EPRI as a recipient of funds to investigate the field. Thus, it possessed a Thermodynamic Research Center, a Cyclotron group, and three groups in Electrochemistry (Chemistry Department). In addition, there was the Center for Electrochemical Systems and Hydrogen Research in the Texas Engineering Experiment.
The hypothesis is proposed that internal cracking of the cathode palladium (or nickel) is the needed triggering mechanism to obtain cold fusion or transmutation events. It explains why, even though it takes only three hours to load palladium rods to saturation, there can be delays of hundreds of hours before heat bursts occur. If the cracks should reach the surface, the deuterium fugacity is diminished and the reaction stops. Thin palladium nickel alloys or layers, as in Patterson's beads, allow the internal cracking to occur quickly giving reliable and repeatable results.