December 14, 2007

Nine new reactors in the United States licensing process

Duke Energy today submitted a combined construction and operating license (COL) application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a proposed two-unit nuclear station in Cherokee County, S.C. The proposed two-unit William States Lee III Nuclear Station will have a capacity of 2,234 megawatts. It is the first new COL with a new site (not going beside existing reactors).

There are four other license applications for 6 reactors.

Bellefonte Nuclear Site Units 3 and 4 (2 reactors) Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
TVA's Bellefonte site near Scottsboro in Jackson County, Alabama

Calvert Cliffs Unit 3 Lusby, MD (Maryland) UniStar Nuclear and Constellation
(adjacent to Calvert Cliffs Units 1 and 2)

North Anna Unit 3 Dominion Virginia Power (Dominion)
Existing site of North Anna Units 1 & 2, approximately 40 miles north-northwest of Richmond, Virginia

South Texas Project Units 3 and 4 STP Nuclear Operating Company (STPNOC)
Existing site of STP 1 and 2 in Matagorda County, Texas

There is also a plant in Idaho which has begun county licensing but has not applied to the NRC

The pace of applications is on pace with the expected schedule.

Early site permits (ESP) are also being considered. ESP are sometimes done before COL. Southern Nuclear Operating company has an ESP being reviewed for two reactors for Vogtle, Georgia.

December 12, 2007

Eight Molecular Manufacturing scenarios

Eight molecular manufacturing scenarios that I had some involvement in creating are online at nanowerk and at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

The one that I had the most involvement in is the "Positive Expectations" scenario It has the development of better and better fabbers/rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing that lead towards nanofactories.

For those who follow my blog, I feel that molecular manufacturing will be one pillar technology among many that will transform our technological future.

Key projects for the future:
Dwave's Quantum computers and if they don't work so well there are other quantum computer methods that are also coming. Quantum computers for molecular simulation will accelerate the development of molecular manufacturing.

Near atomic precision and not quite nanofactory nanotechnology. DNA nanotechnology, quantum dots, quantum wells, nanopatterning, synthetic biology are transforming medicine and many other applications.

Radical Life extension. SENS. If we also have full blown nanomedicine then improvement and change will be a lot faster.

Thermoelectric power. Up to double the efficiency of engines and energy systems. Uses quantum wells and nanoscale structures. It will transform transportation and clean up our technology by allowing us to eliminate coal and reduce oil usage.

Nuclear power. Fission and soon fusion (bussard, colliding beam, Z-pinch). 50% power uprates and new fission reactor technology (along with thermoelectric conversion) will rapidly clean up our power sources.

McKinsey plan and analysis for offsetting climate change has pro-nuclear aspect

The McKinsey plan (107 page report) for lowering climate change gases in the United States
1. Energy efficiency in buildings and appliances (710-870 megatons of carbon)
2. More fuel efficient vehicles (340-660 megatons of carbon)
3. Industrial efficiency (620-770 megatons)
4. Bigger carbon sinks (like more forest) (440-580 megatons)
5. Less carbon intensive power generation (800-1570 megatons)
This last one is more nuclear power and renewables and cleaning up coal.

Nuclear is the cheapest of the ways to add more power. The other measures that reduce costs are greater efficiency, which should also be done

Reading the curve, Width of a box is how much effect Mckinsey estimates and height is positive or negative cost.

One of the cheapest means of offsetting carbon listed in the McKinsey report is nuclear power. New is on the carbon abatement curve at slightly cheaper than onshore wind at $9/ton. This is even with pessimistic views for the cost of new nuclear power in the report.

McKinsey argue for streamlining approval and permitting procedures for nuclear, tranmission lines and pipelines.

The report does not consider even faster shifts to nuclear power that are possible. My analysis is that nuclear in the United States can increase by 675% instead of 153%in the high McKinsey case (129% in the middle case). McKinsey estimates $3500-4000/kw for nuclear power. This is far higher than the $1400-2200/kw range of new reactors.

EIA analysis shows that nuclear power can be nearly tripled in the USA with a climate change bill that penalizes carbon (the kind of bills that are being considered in the US senate now and likely to pass in 2009).

50% power uprate technology can be deployed by 2020, not just the 2,5 and 20% standard uprates

Thermoelectric technology could increase the efficiency of electricity conversion and increase power from nuclear reactors by 50% (2010-2020)

Thermoelectric technology, new power uprate technology can increase existing nuclear power by 225%. Increased construction with a climate change bill could triple the amount of reactors. This would be a 675% increase in nuclear power. This would be enough to displace all coal power and a lot of oil and natural gas. More vehicles could be electric, hybrid or PHEV and draw clean power.

Widespread thermoelectronics and improved diesel engines and superconductors for power grids and motors could radically transform energy efficiency in society.

In this article, have not discussed the simplified solid core (nuclear battery) which could start mass production in 2012

Which I have also discussed from the patent

I also did not discuss thorium (liquid fluoride reactors)

I did not discuss nuclear fusion this time

Or the Kitegen wind system

I am strong believer in all of those projects and technologies.

Britain is extending the operation of existing nuclear power plants at least until 2016 and possibly until 2026. Next year Britain will be ordering new nuclear plant construction.

Worldchanging also considers the McKinsey report but does not discuss the pro-nuclear aspect.

McKinsey projected energy mix

McKinsey analysis of power costs and contribution. I think nuclear can do a lot better. Note: McKinsey also thinks that nuclear is the cheapest option other than increasing efficiency

Life extension program has raised over 10 million dollars

Methuselah Foundation Pledge Total Passes $10 Million. The Methuselah foundation funds the Mprize and SENS life extension program

You can make an online donation to SENS and the Mprize here

SENS stands for Strategies for Engineering Negligible Senescence.

SENS is a detailed plan for curing human aging.

It focuses on figuring out how to fix the damage caused by aging processes. Damage seems easier to figure out and reverse than figuring out metabolism or pathalogy.

Like a car. Understanding the chemical processes that cause rust and friction are hard. Understanding cascade failures in an engine can be hard. However, seeing the wear and tear on car components and then replacing them before they fail is less hard.

Military robots

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology has an interesting article on some trends towards lower cost for weapon system development and faster weapon system development cycles. One aspect of the article is whether the "decide to kill" option should be left to armed robotic systems. I do not think that is as big an issue for a few reasons.

The decide function is already passed along from people to weapons in the form of mines and deadly traps. To a shorter timeframe in the form of gravity bombs and bullets after they are released.

The decide function would be less of an issue if the robot was using incapacitation style weapons. Tranquilizers, tasers etc...

Less lethal weapons are being actively studiedm, developed and deployed.

Robotic systems would have the option of being more selective and ethical than carpet bombing and minefields.

December 11, 2007

More precise clocks driving many technological advances

Wired magazine reports on atomic clocks, which are the basis of GPS technology and help science become more accurate.

The NIST-F1, this atomic clock is more accurate for prolonged periods than any other clock -- an order of magnitude better than the one it replaced in 1999. When the F2 down the hall goes online next year, it will similarly dwarf the F1. Clocks have been improving by a factor of 10 every decade.

NIST is working to shrink atomic clocks to the size of a grain of rice, and testing new breeds of clocks precise enough to detect relativistic fluctuations in gravity and magnetic fields. Within a decade their work could have a significant impact on areas as diverse as medical imaging and geological survey.

Cesium clocks like NIST-F1 use lasers to slow a cloud of cesium atoms to a measurable state, then tune a microwave signal as close as possible to the cesium's resonant frequency of 9,192,631,770 cycles per second. In this manner, the F1 achieves a precision topping 10-15 parts per second.

Cesium, though, is a grandfather clock compared to the 456 trillion cycles per second of calcium, or the 518 trillion provided by an atom of ytterbium. Hollberg's group is dedicated to tuning into these particles, which hold the key to a scary level of precision. Microwaves are too slow for this job -- imagine trying to merge onto the Autobahn in a Model T -- so Hollberg's clocks use colored lasers instead.

"Each atom has its own spectral signature," says Hollberg. Calcium resonates to red, ytterbium to purple. At their most ambitious, NIST scientists hope to wring 10-18 out of a single trapped mercury ion with a chartreuse light -- slicing a second of time into a quadrillion pieces.

At that level, clocks will be precise enough that they'll have to correct for the relativistic effects of the shape of the earth, which changes every day in reaction to environmental factors. (Some of the research clocks already need to account for changes in the NIST building's size on a hot day.) That's where the work at the Time and Frequency Division begins to overlap with cosmology, astrophysics and space-time.

By looking at the things that upset clocks, it's possible to map factors like magnetic fields and gravity variation.

Passing a precise clock over different landscapes yields different gravity offsets, which could be used to map the presence of oil, liquid magma or water underground.

At the University of Pittsburgh last fall, researchers used a NIST-produced atomic clock the size of a grain of rice to map variations in the magnetic field of a mouse's heartbeat. They placed the clock 2 mm away from the mouse's chest, and watched as the mouse's iron-rich blood threw off the clock's ticking with every heartbeat.

Since then, NIST has improved the same clock by an order of magnitude. An array of such clocks, used as magnetometers, could produce completely new kinds of imaging equipment for brains and hearts, packaged as luggable units selling for as little as a few hundred dollars apiece.

Electromagnetic fields are all around us, and change very slightly in response to our movements. A precise enough clock perturbed by these fields can give data on where things are and what's moving. Like the mouse's heart, a closely synced array could build a real-time continuous picture of the surroundings -- an area of research called passive radar. You could passively visualize pedestrians on a sidewalk

Intel explores beyond silicon transistors

Intel researchers layered the compound semiconductors, called indium gallium arsenide and indium aluminum arsenide.
When these materials are stacked, their electronic properties interact to form quantum wells--places where charged particles such as electrons can be confined--that act as transistors, says Michael Mayberry, director of components research and vice president of Intel's technology and manufacturing group. To avoid the strain and cracking, the researchers added buffer layers of the two materials. The trick is to make sure that the buffer layers contain concentrations of atoms that are slightly more compatible with silicon. But as more layers are added, the atomic spacing perfectly matches that of the transistor layers. Mayberry says that the buffer is slightly more than one micrometer thick, and it keeps any defects from affecting the transistors. Intel's approach is unique in that the researchers have grown the buffer layers out of the same material that they use for the transistors. In addition, he says, Intel has shown that only a thin buffer layer is necessary to get good quality. If you can bring the layer structure on silicon, then the substrates feel and look like silicon, and all the tools that have been developed for silicon manufacturing can be reused in this new technology.

Compound semiconductors are attractive to engineers because electrons move through them easier than they move through silicon. This means that the compound semiconductors can work as fast as, or faster than, a silicon-based transistor, but without needing as large a voltage. And as devices shrink, it's crucial that they require low voltages: otherwise, they overheat and leak electricity--problems that are beginning to plague silicon. However, compound semiconductors aren't easy to grow directly on silicon. The materials are often incompatible with silicon--the atoms are spaced so that they don't layer well. When layered directly on top of one another, the result is a cracked crystal and defective transistors

Some suspect that carbon nanotubes or another carbon material called graphene could be the answer. (See "Carbon Nanotube Computers" and "New Graphene Transistors Show Promise.") But others are putting money and research into compound semiconductors, a class of semiconductor that is made from a combination of elements from the third and fifth columns of the periodic table.

Nanolasers to help heat assisted magnetic recording to achieve 10 terabit per square inch density

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), and at the University of Houston, in Texas, who have developed the nanolaser, say that it could lead to hard disks with 10 terabits of data packed into a square inch. 50 times more than current hard disks can carry up to 200 gigabits per square inch.

Right now, the laser can concentrate 250 nanowatts of power on a 30-nanometer-wide spot. "Our technology can be scaled down to 5 to 10 nanometers for sure," says Sakhrat Khizroev, an electrical-engineering professor who is leading the work at UCR. A 10-nanometer spot size should be small enough to get a density of 10 terabits per square inch.

He and his colleagues make their 250-nanowatt laser by depositing a very thin layer of aluminum on the emitting side of a semiconductor diode laser. Then they focus a beam of positive gallium ions on the aluminum to etch tiny nanoscale apertures. As predicted by physics theory, a C-shaped aperture lets the most energy come through into the smallest spot size.

there are many engineering challenges to solve before the technology can be brought to market. They include mounting the laser on a slider so that it can move to various areas of the hard disk to record data, designing a new disk material that works with heat-assisted recording, and making disk lubricants that can handle the high temperatures during the heat-assisted writing process.

"Heat-assisted magnetic recording is a real systems problem and requires development and progress on a lot of fronts simultaneously," Schlesinger says. "The nanolaser is a nice step forward and brings the technology closer."

128+ GB mainstream SSD and future SSD pricing

Toshiba is planning 128 GB Solid state drives in Q1 of 2008

SSDs are currently 5x the cost of their mechanical brethren: $7.5/GB compared to $1.4/GB for HDDs. Even by 2010, Samsung (backed by DataQuest research) still estimates at least a 3.x gap: $1.9/GB for SSDs vs $0.6/GB for HDDs according to Hwang's law.

Supertalent has launched 256GB SSD drives

Super Talent Technology, a leading manufacturer of flash storage solutions and DRAM memory modules, today launched a pair of 256GB Serial ATA (SATA) solid state drives (SSDs). Super Talent’s new FSD56GC35M is 100% interchangeable with standard 3.5-inch SATA hard disk drives, but offers all the advantages of an SSD including greater resistance to shock and vibration, significantly lower power consumption and faster performance.

STEC, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEC) today announced the industry's first multi-level cell (MLC)-based solid state drive: the MACH8-MLC.

The MACH8-MLC is available in two models: 2.5" with capacity up to 512GB (in 15mm) and 256GB (in 9.5mm), and 1.8" up to 128GB (in 7mm) and 64GB (in 5mm). Detailed pricing is available upon request. Sales information is available at, via email at or by calling (949) 476-1180

STEC pricing is supposedly at $5/GB now and is targeting $2/GB by the end of 2009.

PRICING as of Dec 11, 2007
SUPER TALENT FSD28GC25M (128GB) 2.5" Internal Solid state disk - Retail$3,299.00

SAMSUNG MCBOE32G8APR-0XA00 1.8" 32GB IDE Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - OEM $430

Samsung's SSD site and 64GB SSD drive

Programmable metallization cell (nano-ionic) memory could be a competitor to flash in 2009.

Other info on Programmable metallization cell (nano-ionic) memory

What is needed to achieve broad clinical success for tissue engineering

A 12 page pdf on what tissue engineering experts feel is needed to achieve broad clinical success for tissue engineering by 2021.

A worldwide body of 24 leaders in tissue engineering was queried systematically to determine the best paths toward that goal. Using a modified Hoshin process, we identified 14 critical activity categories and then stratified them by their immediate priority for the field. The result of the analysis illustrates a highly interdependent set of activities that are dominated by the need for an understanding of angiogenesis, stem cell science, and the utilization of molecular biology and systems biology tools to enable a deeper comprehension of tissue development and control.

1. ‘‘Understanding and controlling the cellular response: A fundamental challenge is to understand how cells— the building blocks of tissues—receive and respond to information from their local environment in establishing and maintaining tissues.

2. Formulating biomaterial scaffolds and the tissue matrix environment: The scaffolding that supports cells and gives tissues their form is increasingly appreciated as an important source of information that drives cell fate determination. A deeper understanding of the biology underlying this relationship will allow more effective tissue design and engineering.

3. Developing enabling tools: Complex, multiparametric inputs are required to assess the state of a tissue and the cells within it. This information will be supplied by improvements in high-throughput assays and instrumentation, imaging modalities, fabrication technologies, computational modeling, and bioinformatics. Additionally, tissue preservation technologies and bioreactors will facilitate the generation of tissues on demand.

4. Promoting scale-up, translation, and commercialization: Demonstrating the feasibility of designing an engineered tissue is not enough. Realizing the full benefits tissue engineering science requires increased reproducibility, robustness, and user-friendliness that will enable the broad distribution of products.’’

Critical priorities for the field:
- ‘‘Understanding the Cellular Machinery
- Identifying, Validating Biomarkers and Assays
- Advancing Imaging Technologies
- Defining Cell/Environment Interactions
- Establishing Computational Modeling Systems
- Assembling and Maintaining Complex Tissue
- Improving Tissue Preservation and Storage
- Facilitating Effective Applications Development and Commercialization’’

December 10, 2007

New fast and cheap nanosoldering technique

Nanowerk reports on the work of Alex Zettl

"Our radically different approach of directly contacting nanostructures via nanosoldering is simple and relies on cheap, well-established technologies: optical microscopy and micromanipulation. We realized that we could produce sub 100 nm solder spikes, used to contact nanostructures, by a simple technique. Much as a glass-blower can pull out very thin filaments from molten glass, we were able to pull out very narrow solder spikes from a molten indium bead. By regulating the extraction speed and temperature gradient, the end of this spike had a radius of curvature as small as 50 nm. None of this is expensive to implement."

The Berkeley researchers are confident that their soldering technique is a highly attractive alternative for industry in fabrication processes where nanostructures need to be electrically contacted. Their process is not only simple, it also is only a fraction of the cost of state-of-the-art e-beam systems. All that is needed for nano-soldering is a good optical microscope and a micromanipulator – two instruments that can be bought for about $10,000. Compare that to a $4+ million EBL system, and consider that the lithography equipment supplied to the semiconductor industry runs an annual $5-8 billion, the potentially substantial cost savings for industry become obvious.

Girit is convinced that the soldering process could be totally automated for mass production. "A similar technique, called wirebonding, already exists to 'solder' to much larger structures" he says. "While this technique cannot be used to contact nanostructures themselves, it is widely used in the semiconductor industry as a way to electrically connect intermediaries, called 'bond pads', which are roughly tens of microns in size, to the outside world. In turn, the nanostructures are connected to the bond pads by standard lithographic techniques. Wirebonders could easily be adapted for nanosoldering, skipping the intermediate lithographic steps, saving time and money. In addition, automated wirebonders already exist, and so it is not difficult to imagine that our technique could be automated for mass production."

In their research paper the two Berkeley scientists demonstrate that solder contacts are a simple, efficient means of producing functional nanostructure devices based on graphene, nanotubes, or other materials. Not only the contacts are Ohmic, but also the resultant devices are clean and the device characteristics are consistent.
Possible application areas might be specifically the wirebonding industry to produce 'nano-wirebonders,' and more generally the semiconductor industry for various fabrication purposes.

The research paper on nanosoldering is here

This is the same research group that created a nanoradio

40% of the power an average size nuclear reactor to be added 2011 to 2012

Power uprates of four Florida nuclear reactors approved to add 414 megawatts between 2011 and 2012 This equal to about 40% of the average power of an existing nuclear reactor. I am in favor of aggressive nuclear power uprates.

Nanorobots for drug delivery

Adriano Cavalcanti is CEO and chairman of CAN Center for Automation in Nanobiotech. Adriano and his coleagues have proposed a nanorobot platform should enable patient pervasive monitoring, and details are given in prognosis with nanorobots application for intracranial treatments. This integrated system also points towards precise diagnosis and smart drug delivery for cancer therapy.

nanorobot for nanomedicine drug delivery

Simulated nanorobot for drug delivery

Fully operational nanorobots for biomedical instrumentation should be achieved as a result of nanobioelectronics and proteomics integration. The proposed platform should enable patient pervasive monitoring, and details are given in prognosis with nanorobots application for intracranial treatments. This integrated system also points towards precise diagnosis and smart drug delivery for cancer therapy.

The methodologies and the implemented 3D simulation described in our study served as a test bed for molecular machine prototyping. The numerical analysis and advanced simulations provided a better understanding on how nanorobots should interact inside the human body. Hence, based on such information, we have proposed the innovative hardware architecture with a nanorobot model for use in common medical applications. The nanorobot takes chemical and thermal gradient changes as interaction choices for in vivo treatments. The use of mobile phones with RF is adopted in this platform as the most effective approach for control upload, helping to interface nanorobots communication and energy supply.

The next steps in our work can be defined as follows: (a) model manufacturing with CNT-CMOS biochip integration; (b) laboratory studies for in vivo tests; and (c) commercialization. The pipeline for development in the medical sector typically requires research and efforts to get new ideas out of laboratories and into the marketplace

Nanorobot design website

They have written many papers on this work. Robert Freitas is involved in some of them.

Nanorobot architecture for medical target identification.

The nanorobot interaction with the described workspace shows how time actuation is improved based on sensor capabilities. Therefore, our work addresses the control and the architecture design for developing practical molecular machines. Advances in nanotechnology are enabling manufacturing nanosensors and actuators through nanobioelectronics and biologically inspired devices. Analysis of integrated system modeling is one important aspect for supporting nanotechnology in the fast development towards one of the most challenging new fields of science: molecular machines. The use of 3D simulation can provide interactive tools for addressing nanorobot choices on sensing, hardware architecture design, manufacturing approaches, and control methodology investigation.

Earlier work was with CMOS versions of small robots

Hardware architecture for nanorobots

Freitas' nanomedicine site

Center for Automation in Nanobiotech website

Li-Tec claims breakthrough lithium ion battery

A german company also believes it has a better lithium ion battery. Batteries made by the a firm called Li-Tec "take up 30 percent less volume than those from Toyota" and "allow you to go three times further for the same weight than French models

Housed in a stylish rectangular silver pouch, the "Separion" consists of two lithium electrodes in an electrolyte, or liquid conductor.

What differentiates it from similar batteries is that the electrodes are separated by a flexible ceramic membrane that provides greater thermal stability, according to the German group.

Li-Tec has joined a consortium that includes Bosch, chemical giant BASF and German car maker Volkswagen to develop the product, which has existed for two years.

"Now someone must be found to produce them" on an industrial scale.

In other electric car news, danish scientists have extended the Zap Xebra pickup so that it traveled 152 miles on a single charge.

ZAP and Lithium Balance, formerly Eco Tech A/S, have been collaborating on the development of the new battery management system. Lithium Balance's new system helps maximize the efficiency and performance of lithium batteries. The overall system is smaller and lighter, increasing the energy density by eight to ten times compared to the lead acid batteries that are common in today's electric cars. Lithium Balance claims the new system also improves the safety and reliability of large-scale lithium battery packs for automotive applications.

India is set to launch a four door electric car in 2009 by Bavina Industries. It will have a maximum speed of 55kph and cost Rs 2.5 lakh (A Lakh Rupee is one hundred thousand rupees). Therefore, the car is set to cost about US$6350.

Plug in hybrid conversion sources

Zap world website

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