Pons and Fleichman never figured out how to scale up the effect. They never made it reliable enough to even demonstrate to skeptics. The money finally ran out, the lab closed down. Same thing happened with researchers in Japan. A project at Naval Research Lab still continues, see http://www.spawar.navy.mil/sti/publications/pubs/tr/1862/tr1862-vol1.pdf
Contrary to what many may say, only a part of the scientific community decided that the Pons/Fleichman report was a mistake. Many scientists eventually found evidence of nuclear ash (helium 4, tritium) in the right porportions. But other things (gamma rays, neutrons) were missing. The main product was heat, but more heat that was possible from chemical reactions. But were the heat measurements a mistake? If there was a nuclear reaction going on, it wasn’t one that is known in high energy physics, so many scientists decided that the heat measurements must not be reliable. A sub-controversy appeared regarding this: maybe it was a new kind of nuclear reaction that only appears in solid matter at low temperature… versus… all reactions are well known! There can be no new ones, if they were possible then we’d already know about them!
Arthur C. Clarke thinks that Pons and Fleichman will be the only scientists to win both the Ignobel prize and the Nobel prize: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/280/5369/1532
The long running test of cold fusion at SRI finally concluded ten years later, with the result that CF is not a simple mistake as many have insisted, but also certainly not any normal type of fusion. The report was basically ignored (no new funding for CF research appeared.)
As I see it, the main problem was that the effect was extremely controversial, and also wasn’t easy to reproduce. Yes, controversial effects can defeat their detractors and win over the scientific commmunity, but they need to be easily demonstrated, otherwise many doubting researchers will try looking into them, fail, then assme there was nothing there to begin with. And with so much politics and nastiness, most researchers steer far clear just to avoid threatening their jobs. Controversial science is like long-shot betting: sometimes it pays off big, but more often it creates ruined careers. CF also attracted lots of crackpots, which then caused legit reseachers to steer clear.
Large archive of research papers (many of them recent)
ICCF10, 2003 cold fusion conference
current journal : cold fusion times
Stories at San Francisco Chronicle
Books both pro and con