April 18, 2008

Increasing thermoelectric efficiency towards the Carnot limit

Italian researchers study the problem of thermoelectricity and propose a simple microscopic mechanism for the increase of thermoelectric efficiency.

Basically their theory is that thermoelectric conversion of heat into electricity can reach the Carnot limit and have some new computational modeling to guide development toward that goal and to model materials in a way that would predict the figure of merit (how good they are at converting heat to electricity) for thermoelectrics which should speed up development.

They consider the cross transport of particles and energy in open classical ergodic
billiards. They show that, in the linear response regime, where they find exact expressions for all transport coefficients, the thermoelectric efficiency of ideal ergodic gases can approach Carnot efficiency for sufficiently complex charge carrier molecules. Their results are demonstrated with a simple numerical simulation of a Lorentz gas of particles with internal rotational degrees of freedom.

Large values of ZT , in principle approaching to Carnot’s efficiency, can be obtained when the energy of the carrier particles does not depend on the thermodynamic forces. The second law of thermodynamics only requires that L is
positive definite. Therefore, the second law does not impose any upper bound on the value of ZT . Furthermore, the crucial observation is that the Carnot’s limit
ZT = ∞ is reached when the energy density current and the electric current become proportional, since then det L = 0. ZT = ∞ follows from the fact that the average
particle’s energy hEi does not depend on the thermodynamic forces. In the context of classical physics this happens for instance in the limit of large number of internal degrees of freedom (d.o.f.), provided the dynamics is ergodic.

The suitability of a thermoelectric material for energy conversion or electronic refrigeration is evaluated by the thermoelectric figure of merit Z,
Z = σS2 / κ
where σ is the coefficient of electric conductivity, S is the Seebeck coefficient and κ is the thermal conductivity. The Seebeck coefficient S, also called thermopower, is a measure of the magnitude of an induced thermoelectric voltage in response to a temperature difference across the material.

Since the 1960’s many materials have been investigated but the maximum value found for ZT was achieved for the (Bi1−xSbx)2(Se1−yTey)3 alloy family with ZT ≈ 1. However,
values ZT > 3 are considered to be essential for thermoelectrics to compete in efficiency with mechanical power generation and refrigeration at room temperatures. The efforts recently focused on a bulk of new advanced thermoelectric materials and on low-dimensional materials, and only a small increment of the efficiency, ZT . 2.6, has been obtained.

They have performed the first numerical computation of ZT from deterministic microscopic equations of motion. Their method can be implemented for more realistic models where also quantum effects can be taken into account.

Microphysiometer using multiwall carbon nanotubes enable constant realtime monitoring of microliters of insulin

Microphysiometer using multiwall carbon nanotubes is a major step toward developing the ability to assess the health of the body's insulin-producing cells in real time.

Among other potential applications, this method could be used to improve the efficacy of a new procedure for treating Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes that has demonstrated the ability to free diabetics from insulin injections for several years. It works by transplanting insulin-producing cells into the pancreas of diabetics to replace the cells that the disease has disabled or destroyed.

One of the next steps is to use the microphysiometer to measure insulin, lactate and oxygen levels simultaneously. This will allow researchers to study how the islet cells react to the drugs and help identify the best way to deal with transplant rejection. It will also allow them to verify the health of the islets cells before they are transplanted into patients.

the researchers developed a new electrode for a device called a microphysiometer. The microphysiometer assesses the condition of living cells by submerging them in a saline solution, confining them in a very small chamber and then measuring variations in their metabolism. The volume of the chamber is only three microliters — about 1/20th the size of an ordinary raindrop — allowing the electrode to detect the minute amounts of insulin produced by special pancreatic cells called Islets of Langerhans.

The new electrode is built from multiwalled carbon nanotubes, which are like several flat sheets of carbon atoms stacked and rolled into very small tubes. Provided by William Hofmeister at the University of Tennessee Space Institute, the nanotubes are electrically conductive and the concentration of insulin in the chamber can be directly related to the current at the electrode and the nanotubes operate reliably at pH levels characteristic of living cells.

Current detection methods measure insulin production at intervals by periodically collecting small samples and measuring their insulin levels. The new sensor detects insulin levels continuously by measuring the transfer of electrons produced when insulin molecules oxidize in the presence of glucose. When the cells produce more insulin molecules, the current in the sensor increases and vice versa, allowing the researchers to monitor insulin concentrations in real time. It is similar to a device developed by another group of researchers that operated at acidity levels well beyond those where living cells can function.

Previous tests had shown that nanotube detectors are more sensitive at measuring insulin than conventional methods.

"One of the key advances of this project was finding how to keep nanotubes active on the surface without being washed away by microfluidic flows," Cliffel says.

Now that the microphysiometer has demonstrated the ability to rapidly detect the small quantities of insulin produced by individual cells, the researchers hope to use it to determine the health of the islet cells used for transplantation.

Monocytes with nanomagnets for enhanced drug and gene therapy delivery

The technique involves inserting nanomagnets into monocytes - a type of white blood cell used to carry gene therapy - and injecting the cells into the bloodstream. The researchers then placed a small magnet over the tumour to create a magnetic field and found that this attracted many more monocytes into the tumour.

This new technique could also be used to help deliver therapeutic genes in other diseases like arthritic joints or ischemic heart tissue.
Better targeting of gene therapy would be helpful for gene therapy for transhuman performance enhancement as well.

Though the concept of magnetic targeting for drug and gene delivery has been around for decades, major technical hurdles have prevented its translation into a clinical therapy. By harnessing and enhancing the monocytes' innate targeting abilities, this technique offers great potential to overcome some of these barriers and bring the technology closer to the clinic.

The team are now looking at how effective magnetic targeting is at delivering a variety of different cancer-fighting genes, including ones which could stop the spread of tumours to other parts of the body.

Common ceramic potentially self-heals against radiation damage

A new computer simulation has revealed a self-healing behavior in a common ceramic that may lead to development of radiation-resistant materials for nuclear power plants and waste storage. The materials could make nuclear plants that need less maintenance and which last longer which improves the economics of power generation.

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that the restless movement of oxygen atoms heals radiation-induced damage in the engineered ceramic yttria-stabilized zirconia.

Although the self-healing activity does not completely repair the material, the defects are less apt to cause problems because they are spread out. This characteristic indicates that yttria-stabilized zirconia, which is used today in such items as solid oxide fuel cells and oxygen sensors, might be suitable for nuclear applications. The scientists now are refining the simulations and applying them to other materials.

Ram Devanathan and William J. Weber. "Dynamic annealing of defects in irradiated zirconia-based ceramics," published in the Journal of Materials Research, March 2008,

Work that could be ready in eight to ten years is using modified carbon nanotubes to directly convert radiation into electricity.

The self healing ceramic

April 17, 2008

Iron and arsenic compounds are a new family of high temperature superconductor

Another family of superconducting materials has been found by researchers in Japan and China. The iron-and-arsenic compounds are being hailed as a great advance.

Some researchers hope the new materials will help solve the mystery of cuprate high temperature superconductors (discovered in 1986)

"It's possible that these materials will provide a cleaner system to work with, and suddenly [the physics of] the cuprates will become clearer," says Hai-Hu Wen, a physicist at the Institute of Physics (IoP) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. But Philip Anderson, a theorist at Princeton University and a Nobel Laureate, says that the new superconductors will be more important if they don't work like the old one. "If it's really a new mechanism, God knows where it will go," he says.

The new materials resemble the cuprates in some striking ways. They are also layered materials, but instead of copper and oxygen, they contain planes of iron and arsenic along which the electrons presumably glide. Between the planes lie elements such as lanthanum, cerium, or samarium mixed with oxygen and fluorine. On 23 February, Hideo Hosono of the Tokyo Institute of Technology and colleagues reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society that lanthanum oxygen fluorine iron arsenide (LaO1-xFxFeAs) becomes a superconductor at 26 kelvin.

Then Chinese researchers took over. On 25 March, X.H. Chen of the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei reported that samarium oxygen fluorine iron arsenide (SmO1-xFxFeAs) goes superconducting at 43 kelvin. Three days later, Zhong-Xian Zhao of the IoP reported that praseodymium oxygen fluorine iron arsenide (PrO1-xFxFeAs) has a "critical temperature" of 52 kelvin. On 13 April, Zhao and his team showed that the samarium compound becomes a superconductor at 55 kelvin if it is grown under pressure. All the materials have the same crystal structure, and calculations suggest that vibrations simply do not provide enough pull to account for such high critical temperatures.

All agree that the new materials will generate intense interest and that the next step is to synthesize higher quality samples consisting of a single pristine crystal.

The 55K superconductor charts.

Novel Superconductivity and Phase Diagram in the Iron-based Arsenicoxides
ReFeAsO1-δ (Re = rare earth metal) without F-Doping

A novel class of superconductors prepared by high pressure synthesis in the quaternary layered-structure ReFeAsO1-δ (Re = Sm, Nd, Pr, Ce, La) family without F doping. The onset superconducting critical temperature (Tc) in these compounds increases with substitution using smaller Re atoms, and the highest Tc that was obtained up to now is 55 K in SmFeAsO1-δ, which is the highest among all materials except for the multi-layered copper oxides. For the NdFeAsO1-δ system with different oxygen concentration that we studied, a dome-shaped phase diagram was found.

185K superconductor found

Signs of superconductance at 200K in aluminum nanoclusters

Graphene nanoelectronics

The Journal Science has a paper "Chaotic Dirac Billiard in Graphene Quantum Dots" which describes the smallest transistor ever made was created using graphene.

Researchers have carved graphene to create the world's smallest transistor, one atom thick and ten atoms wide.

the New Scientist magazine also has coverage

Applying a magnetic field to the smallest dots lets current flow again, making a switchable transistor. The smallest dots that worked as transistors contained as few as five carbon rings – around 10 atoms or 1nm wide.

There are other kinds of prototype transistors in this size range. But they usually need supercooling using liquid gas, says Novoselov. The new graphene devices work at room temperature.

Such prototypes are typically made by building one atom at a time, or wiring up individual molecules. Those approaches are complex and impractical, Novoselov says.

By contrast, the graphene transistors were made in the same way that silicon devices are, by etching them out of larger pieces of material. "That's their big advantage," he says.

The most amazing result for me is that they were able to obtain quantum dots as small as 1 nm," says Antonio Castro Neto of Boston University, US. "This is shocking." "If you try to reduce the dimensions of any other structure, the structure would disintegrate before you reach these dimensions," Neto adds.

"There is no doubt in my mind that these structures can be used for technological applications," he says. "The electronic flexibility and structural stability, fundamental for modern device development, are unmatched in any other material on Earth." But working out how to manufacture graphene devices on a practical scale remains a challenge, he concludes

Graphene quantum dots offer a new approach to quantum nanoelectronics. (article by R. M. Westervelt of Harvard University)

Other publications from Westervelt research group at Harvard

Graphene quantum dots may help solve quantum computing problems.

Ensslin, along with fellows at the Solid State Physics Laboratory, Stampfer, Güttinger, Molitor, Graf and Ihn, believe that they can use electron spins from a tunable graphene quantum dot to create qubits, the building blocks of a quantum computer. These graphene-based qubit could rectify some of the problems found with gallium arsenide. As a first step they present a graphene single electron transistor in Applied Physics Letters: “Tunable Coulomb blockade in nanostructured graphene.”

One of the main problems with spin-based quantum computers, Ensslin explains, is that spins won’t keep their direction indefinitely.

“Graphene turns out to be a material which is expected to overcome this,” Ensslin says. He is careful to explain that even though he and his peers have created a graphene quantum dot, extrapolations of how it would work in a quantum computer are still at the theory stage. “When you look at this theoretically, you find that 98 percent of carbon has no nuclear spin. This means that the coupling between nuclear spins and electron spins would be strongly reduced.”

However, March 2008 researchers found that spin and orbital motion of electrons in carbon nanotubes is coupled The findings have important implications for spin-based applications in carbon-based systems, entailing new design principles for the realization of quantum bits (qubits) in nanotubes and providing a mechanism for all-electrical control of spins in nanotubes.

$100 genome sequencing possible by 2012

MIT Technology Review looks at a process for sequencing DNA that could bring the cost down to $100 for a whole genome within 5 years (by 2012) and work on long sequences of DNA. The new method will also allow reading of long sequences of DNA. Small structural changes in DNA, such as deletions or inversions of short sequences, play a significant role in human variability which are tough to find with short DNA reads. Longer reads will also allow scientists to look at collections of genetic variations that have been inherited together, known as haplotypes. Recent research suggests that in some cases, maternal or paternal inheritance can impact the severity of the disease. The project funding runs to Oct 31, 2012.

Previous article on falling prices of genome sequencing. $60,000 today and maybe $5000 by end of 2008.

I had previous coverage of this back in Oct 2007 when the money was first awarded.

Complete Genomics aims to speed the process by detecting entire "words," each composed of five DNA letters. Drmanac likens the technology to Google searches, which query a database of text with keywords. Further speeding up the process with novel chemistry and advances in nanofabrication, the companies will develop a device that can simultaneously read the sequence of multiple genomes on a single chip.

To accomplish the new sequencing, scientists first generate all possible combinations of five-letter DNA segments, given the four letters, or bases, that make up all DNA. These segments are labeled with different types of fluorescent markers and added in groups to a single-stranded molecule of DNA. When a particular segment matches a sequence on the strand of DNA to be read, it binds to that part of the molecule. A specialized camera then snaps a picture--the different fluorescent signals indicate the sequence at specific points along the strand of DNA. The process is repeated with different five-letter DNA combinations, until the entire molecule is sequenced. The approach is feasible because of the recent availability of cheap DNA synthesis, making it much more efficient to generate libraries of these DNA segments.

Each DNA molecule will be threaded into a nanofluidics device, made by Philadelphia-based BioNanomatrix, lined with rows of tiny channels. The narrow width of the channels--about 100 nanometers--forces the normally tangled DNA to unwind, lining up like a train in a long tunnel and giving researchers a clear view of the molecule

The big difference from any other approach is that they are looking at physical location at the same time they are looking at sequence information. Sequencing methods currently in use sequence small fragments of DNA and then piece together the location of each fragment computationally, which is more time consuming and requires repetitive sequencing.

BioNanomatrix has already shown that long pieces of DNA--two million letters in length--can be threaded into the channels of existing chips. But now researchers need to develop chips with many more channels, so that multiple genomes' worth of DNA can be sequenced simultaneously.

The main hurdle for Complete Genomics will be to generate fluorescent labels that can be easily and accurately detected.

News about Bionanomatrix.

U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Technology Program (NIST-ATP) funding of $8.8 million to develop a system capable of sequencing the entire human genome in eight hours at a cost of less than $100.

Carnival of Space Week 50

April 16, 2008

Solar Wind Electric Sail Propulsion planning test mission

A simplified picture of the electric sail. An actual system would have 50 to 100 or more 20 kilometer wires. 100 kg spaceships could be accelerated to final speeds of 40-100 km/second. The electric sail is an extremely promising new propulsion technique which is nearly ready to be tested. If electron heating turns out to be successful performance may be increased even more. Costs for solar system missions will go down and new capabilities and performance will be possible.

The electric solar wind sail developed at the Finnish Meteorological Institute two years ago has moved rapidly from invention towards implementation. The main parts of the device are long metallic tethers and a solar-powered electron gun which keeps the tethers positively charged. The solar wind exerts a small but continuous thrust on the tethers and the spacecraft.

"We haven't encountered major problems in any of the technical fields thus far. This has already enabled us to start planning the first test mission,” says Dr. Pekka Janhunen. An important subgoal was reached when the Electronics Research Laboratory of the University of Helsinki managed to develop a method for constructing a multiline micrometeoroid-resistant tether out of very thin metal wires using ultrasonic welding. The newly developed technique allows the bonding together of thin metal wires in any geometry; thus, the method might also have spinoff applications outside the electric sail.

The electric sail could enable faster and cheaper solar system exploration. It might also enable economic utilisation of asteroid resources for, e.g. producing rocket fuel in orbit.

Deploying the wires

An ideal (i.e. fully reflecting) solar sail receives a radiation pressure force of 9μN/m2 at 1AU distance from the Sun. Let us calculate how thin a solar sail should be, to reach the same specific acceleration as an electric sail wire plus electron gun subsystems. Using an 82 km/s final speed, one obtains that the solar sail should have an areal density of 1.1 g/m**2, which translates to 200 nm thickness if the material is aluminium and 50% of the mass is assumed to go to support structures. This is 5–10 times thinner than present technology.

The electric sail resembles the solar sail in that it provides small but inexhaustible thrust which is directed outward from the Sun, with a modest control of the thrust direction allowed (probably by a few tens of degrees). Some possible missions:

1. Missions going outward in the solar system and aiming for >50 km/s final speed, such as missions going out of the heliosphere and fast and cheap flyby missions of any target in the outer solar system. 2-4 years to Pluto instead of 10 years with chemical rockets and gravity slingshots.
2. By inclining the sail to some angle it can also be used to spiral inward in the solar system to study e.g. Mercury and Sun. Also a nonzero inclination with respect to the ecliptic plane is possible to achieve which may be beneficial for observing the Sun. Also the return trip back to Earth from the inner solar system is possible, as is cruising back and forth in the inner solar system and visiting multiple targets such as asteroids.
3. the electric sail could be used to implement a solar wind monitoring spacecraft which is placed permanently between Earth and Sun at somewhere else than the Lagrange point, thus providing a space weather service with more than one hour of warning time. Propulsion and data taking phases probably must be interleaved because ion measurements are not possible when the platform is charged to high positive voltage, although the plasma density and dynamic pressure of the solar wind can probably be sensed by an electron detector and accelerometer even when the electric sail voltage is turned on.
4. Once accelerated to a high outward speed an electric sailing spacecraft cannot by itself stop to orbit a remote target because the radial component of the thrust is always positive. For stopping under those circumstances one has to use aerocapture or some other traditional technique. Although the electric sail does not provide a marked speed benefit for such missions, being propellantless it might still provide cost saving; this remains to be studied. In interstellar space the plasma flow is rather slow. Thus the electric sail cannot be used for acceleration, but it can instead be used for braking the spacecraft.
5. It might also provide cheap transportation of raw materials such as water mined from asteroids and used for in-situ fuel making at high Earth orbit.

Updates on Uranium hydride reactor and Bussard fusion

Hyperion power generation has a new frequently asked question page.

I had detailed coverage of the Hyperion Power generation uranium hydride reactor from their patent submission.

I also had considered applying the device for space power.

Power output of the device: Approximately 70 megawatts (MW) of heat (thermal energy) and 25 megawatts (MW) of electrical power via steam turbine.

Often referred to as a “cartridge” reactor or “nuclear battery,” the Hyperion hydride reactor is self- regulating with no moving parts to break down or corrode.

Initial design efforts for Hyperion indicate that the sealed chamber dimensions of the power modules can be limited in size -- approximately the size of a typical backyard hot tub. [A Uranium Hydride device that was 56 inches in diameter and 66 inches long weighed 7400lb. Jacuzzi hot tubs tend to be 78 inches in diameter and 60 inches tall. So the Hyperion reactor chamber would probably be about 8 tons in weight.]

HPG estimates that approximately 4,000 of the first module design will be needed to meet initial demand.

HPG has already had several meetings with the NRC and will continue to pursue the necessary design approvals and license to manufacture and operate Hyperion power modules.

Hyperion Power Generation was funded by the Altira group which has raised $300 million under management for energy investments. The typical initial investment is $5-$10 million with follow-on investments as warranted. They invest in companies that are commercializing technology and are lead by an effective management team with a compelling value proposition and a sustainable competitive advantage. Several publicized investments by Altira have been for $16 million. The press release on the funding of Hyperion Power Generation

EMC2 fusion who are working on the Bussard Inertial Electrostatic (IEC) Fusion have released a picture of the outside of the test chamber for the new prototype.

From the International Academy of Science Technology of the Year 2006 award briefing on the IEC fusion device.

Dr. Bussard's Inertial Electrostatic Fusion offers

-Small, efficient power reactors, 1-3% the size of current magnetic confinement reactors.
-Clean, radiation-free energy utilizing p B-11.
-Relatively simple engineering with commercial viability in 6-10 years.
-Low cost ($150-200 million from program inception to demonstration of clean power.)

Current and Proposed Fuel efficiency standards

Current and proposed car fuel efficiency standards from around the world.

The Dept of Transportation Secretary Peters Proposes 25 Percent Increase in Fuel Efficiency Standards Over 5 Years for Passenger Vehicles, Light Trucks.

Fuel efficiency standards for both passenger vehicles and light trucks would increase by 4.5 percent per year over the five-year period ending in 2015 – a 25 percent total improvement that exceeds the 3.3 percent baseline proposed by Congress last year – under an ambitious new proposal announced today by U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters.

For passenger cars, the proposal would increase fuel economy from the current 27.5 miles per gallon to 35.7 miles per gallon by 2015. For light trucks, the proposal calls for increases from 23.5 miles per gallon in 2010 to 28.6 miles per gallon in 2015. All told, the proposal will save nearly 55 billion gallons of fuel and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions estimated at 521 million metric tons. The plan will save America’s drivers over $100 billion in fuel costs over the lifetime of the vehicles covered by the rule, Secretary Peters said.

Country Current Standard Proposed Standard
China: 36 mpg 43 mpg. (2009)
Canada: 27 mpg (current avg, no standard) TBA (starting in 2011)
United States: 25 mpg (current average) 35 mpg. (proposed, 2020
new proposal 31.5 by 2015
California: 25 mpg (current) 36 mpg. (proposed, 2016)
Europe: 40 mpg (current) 48.9 mpg. (proposed 2012)
Japan: 40 mpg. (current) 48.9 mpg. (proposed, 2015)

There is discussion that a 75 mpg CAFE standard is needed by 2030 to meet greenhouse gas targets.

The presidential candidate proposed standards.

Hillary Clinton's energy plan includes a fuel efficiency standard of 55 MPG by 2030.
Obama 40 MPG by 2016 but with a 4 percent increase each year.

John McCain helped push for the 35 mpg standard but opposed the 40mpg standard. He has advanced several other energy bills.

Artificial Intelligence milestone - computer beats Go Master in 9X9 game

During the Go Tournament in Paris, staged between 22 and 24 March 2008 by the French Go Federation (FFG), the MoGo artificial intelligence (IA) engine developed by INRIA -- the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control -- running on a Bull NovaScale supercomputer, won a 9x9 game of Go against professional 5th DAN Catalin Taranu. This was the first ever officially sanctioned 'non blitz' victory of a 'machine' over a Go Master.

Although Catalin Taranu beat the computer in a 19x19 configuration with a nine-stone handicap, the Go Master nevertheless rated the IA system as 'approaching Dan standard' in a performance that promises some formidable battles to come between man and machine. Dan standard would be a ranking of 2100 versus a 2830 ranking for a 5th professional DAN player and 2940 for a 9th professional DAN player.

From a paper: Solving Go on a 3x3 Board Using Temporal-Difference by Learning
Choon Ngai Tay
Computer Go is one of the biggest challenges faced by game programmers. One of the reasons that it remains unsuccessful is due to the enormous search space. The size of the search space for a normal 19 x 19 Go board, is estimated to be 10^170 states, whereas the search space for chess is 10^50. The size of the game tree for Go is approximated to be 10^600 compared to 10^123 for chess. However, this is not the main reason as the small 9 x 9 Go board has a search space of 10^40 and a game tree size of 10^85 is also unsuccessful. The main reason is that until now no one has derived an evaluation function that accurately describes the intermediate Go states.

The complexity of different size games of GO at wikipedia.

Size Game tree complexity of average game length
9×9 7.6×10^85
13×13 3.2×10^200
19×19 3 X 10^511
21×21 1.3X 10^661

TAO : Machine Learning and Optimisation site

the University of Alberta helped improve the Go system. The University of Alberta had researchers that helped to solve checkers.

A research paper on how the MOGO system works.

Website of one of the french researchers

Computer GO at wikipedia

A research paper on the difficulties of programming GO

Complexity table for many games at wikipedia

Statistics on even GO games (19X19 board)

Professional 4th DAN, 5th DAN, 6th DAN players generally never lose to some 4 rankings less than them. A 6th pro DAN player generally never loses to a 2nd pro DAN or lower player. The better players tend not to lose to even slightly weaker opponents. The 6th pro DAN players tend to not lose to even 4th DAN pro players and only lose 15% of the time to 5th DAN pro players.

Government Giveaway of efficient water heaters would be over 200% better than million roof solar program

The US standard tank water heater that uses approximately 4800 kWh per year. Home water heating is the number two residential energy consumption after residential heating and cooling. The average US household uses 920 kwh per month or 11040 kwh per year First for the most bang for the buck, look at simple and cheap steps to insulate and reduce water heating losses and wasting of hot water, then look at more efficient water heaters and finally look at solar energy systems.

A 3kw solar photovoltaic power system could optimally generate 5500kwh/year. The system cost $20,000 to 30,000 installed. Government assistance is $12000 per system. 22 cents per kwh for ten years. Water heaters that are twice as efficient would have 2400 kwh/year and government payment of the $2400 price difference over standard water heaters would be 10 cents per kwh for ten years. Even full payment of $3000 for would be 12.5 cents per kwh for ten years and volume purchase agreements and high volume production could reduce the costs. For the price the government pays for one solar PV home, there could be 5-6 homes saving half of the energy generated by that one solar PV system. This does not include the extra cost paid by the home owner. The homeowner and the government combined pay $21,000 for solar versus $3500 for a twice as efficient water heater. The water heater option is usually 300% more efficient than solar power (About 300% in sunny California, Nevada and even more effective in places with less sunlight).

The Department of Energy’s announced April 1, 2008 ENERGY STAR® criteria for residential water heaters. There are and will be more energy efficient water heating products on the market. These will payback for you if you get the tax breaks and utility breaks to help pay for the installation and have average or higher water usage.

Grand Hall brings tank and tank-less technologies together in the first of its kind Eternal® Hybrid water heater (2006). Grand Hall's website is here

The MSRP/retail is $2500-2800 for the different Grand Hall units. The plumber will add an installation charge to a wholesale price. They are available across the United States now and have been installed. This is fairly expensive but it would be less expensive than installing solar panels on your roof to generate the power for an inefficient water heater and other appliances. A 2.4 KW residential system in Los Angeles area and makes estimated output of 3,646 kWH/year (less sunny places produce less electricity. One person online quotes $20,000 to buy and install a 3KW system which was $8000 after rebates and tax breaks

Many solar PV 3KW systems costs $25000-30,000 before rebates.

A GE tankless gas water heater could help homeowners save up to 25 percent annually on water heating costs compared to the operating costs of a standard 40-gallon gas tank water heater.

Available May 1, 2008, the GE Tankless Gas Water Heater will be offered in two sizes (7.5-gallon-per-minute flow and 9.4 gallon-per-minute flow), indoor and outdoor. The 7.5-gallon-per-minute flow will be available for natural gas; the 9.4-gallon-per-minute flow will be available for natural gas or LP gas.

Expect a new GE Hybrid Electric Water Heater in the fourth quarter of 2009. It will use less than half of the energy – or about 2300 kWh per year – a savings of approximately 2500 kWh per year. This wil save approximately $250 per year, and $2,500 savings in energy costs over a 10 year period based on 10 cents per kWh.

Switching the water heater would save more energy than changing all light bulbs in a house with heavy light usage.

DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has a consumer guide to Estimating a Solar Water Heater System's Cost. Water heating can account for 14%–25% of the energy consumed in your home.

DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has a consumer guide to Estimating a Storage, Demand, or Heat Pump Water Heater's Costs

To lower your water heating bills, try one or more of these energy-saving strategies:

-Reduce your hot water use ( quality, low-flow fixtures for around $10 to $20 a piece and achieve water savings of 25–60%.)
-Lower your water heating temperature (For each 10ºF reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3%–5% in energy costs.)
-Insulate your water heater tank ($10-20, saves 4%–9% in water heating costs)
-Insulate hot water pipes (Insulate all accessible hot water pipes, especially within 3 feet of the water heater. It's also a good idea to insulate the cold water inlet pipes for the first 3 feet.)
-Install heat traps on a water heater tank (A pair of heat traps costs only around $30 and can save $15–$30 on your water heating bill. New units should already have heat traps)
-Install a timer and use off-peak power for an electric water heater
-Install a drain-water heat recovery system.
-If you haven't already, you can save energy and money by installing a more energy efficient water heater

I had previously reviewed a study on cost effient ways to achieve optimum home energy usage

There are 96.7% efficient home energy furnaces.

An independent analysis of electric tankless water heaters.

It costs about $1,200.00 labor and device to install an electric tankless heater, providing you have enough capacity in your electric panel. It costs approximate installed cost of $ 600.00 for a standard electric water heater. Tankless heaters have a life expectancy of 14-18 years a standard water heater will last 6-12 years depending on the hardness of the water and the maintenance performed on it.

Government figures now say the average elctric bill allocates about 13 percent to heat water, so if your monthly bill is about $100.00 your savings might be 3-6.00 per month. Additionally, taking a shower and washing the dishes or clothes at the same time will probably stretch the capabilities of the electric tankless heater. So you will need to not shower and use the washers at the same time to achieve the savings. Many energy bills are higher at $200-400/month.

Tankless system Hybrid system
Extra cost $600 about $2100
$100/mth savings $3.3 $7
Simple payback 15 years 30 years
Utilities often provide bonus savings for reducing energy bill

Extra cost $1000 about 2400
$200/mth savings $6.5 $14
Simple Payback 13 years 14 years

$400/mth savings $13 $28
Simple payback 6.5 years 7 years

Tax breaks for energy efficiency.

Gas, oil, propane water heater Energy Factor 0.80 $300
Electric heat pump water heater Energy Factor 2.0 $300

PGE only provides a $30 rebate for an energy efficient water heater.

Savings analysis from a vendor of tankless water systems If you use a lot more water than average then more costs can be saved.

Electricity costs in the United States by state.

Electric water heating accounted for over 100 billion kWh (9 percent) in 2001. Of the total of 107 million households, 41 million used electricity as their water heating fuel, compared with 58 million households that used natural gas.

Ecogeek talked about the GE tankless and hybrid water heaters and other high efficiency water heaters being able to "kill 30 coal plants" There are 661 sites with almost 1500 coal plants in the United States. Just like hybrid cars it will take a long time to get new efficient models adopted and installed. Probably about ten years if more agressive policies are put in place to encourage faster adoption. Bigger rebates and tax breaks and some formalized means of recovering the savings when houses that are more energy efficient are sold.

April 15, 2008

$153 million city dome protection from nuclear weapon and money generating applications

Click for larger image

I had previously looked at making two large concrete or nanomaterial monolithic or geodesic domes over cities which could protect a city from nuclear bombs.

Now Alexander Bolonkin has come up with a cheaper, technological easy and more practical approach with thin film inflatable domes. It not only would provide protection from nuclear devices it could be used to place high communication devices, windmill power and a lot of other money generating uses. The film mass covered of 1 km**2 of ground area is M1 = 2×10**6 mc = 600 tons/km**2 and film cost is $60,000/km**2.

This site has looked at simple technology like better nails and blast resistant wall paper for enhancing the survivability of buildings against nuclear blasts and category 5 hurricanes.

The area of big city diameter 20 km is 314 km**2. Area of semi-spherical dome is 628 km2. The cost of Dome cover is 62.8 millions $US. We can take less the overpressure (p = 0.001atm) and decrease the cover cost in 5 – 7 times. The total cost of installation is about 30-90 million $US. Not only is it only about $153 million to protect a city it is cheaper and more maintainable than a geosynchronous satellite for high speed communications. Alexander Bolonkin's website The fact that this thing could generate so much revenue and be the platform for so many services and benefits makes the Domes look like certain fixtures for our future. It solves or improves the broadband problem, energy generation and a host of other issues.

The author suggests a cheap closed AB-Dome which protects the densely populated cities from nuclear, chemical, biological weapon (bombs) delivered by warheads, strategic missiles, rockets, and various incarnations of aviation technology. The offered AB-Dome is also very useful in peacetime because it shields a city from exterior weather and creates a fine climate within the ABDome. The hemispherical AB-Dome is the inflatable, thin transparent film, located at altitude up to as much as 15 km, which converts the city into a closed-loop system. The film may be armored the stones which destroy the rockets and nuclear warhead. AB-Dome protects the city in case the World nuclear war and total poisoning the Earth’s atmosphere by radioactive fallout (gases and dust). Construction of the AB-Dome is easy; the enclosure’s film is spread upon the ground, the air pump is turned on, and the cover rises to its planned altitude and supported by a small air overpressure. The offered method is cheaper by thousand times than protection of city by current antirocket systems. The AB-Dome may be also used (height up to 15 and more kilometers) for TV, communication, telescope, long distance location, tourism, high placed windmills (energy), illumination and entertainments. The author developed theory of AB-Dome, made estimation, computation and computed a typical project.

H/T to Wired Danger room

Yes, the Simpson's movie had a dome over Springfield.

His idea is a thin dome covering a city with that is a very transparent film 2 (Fig.1). The film has thickness 0.05 – 0.3 mm. One is located at high altitude (5 - 20 km). The film is supported at this altitude by a small additional air pressure produced by ground ventilators. That is connected to Earth's ground by managed cables 3. The film may have a controlled transparency option. The system can have the second lower film 6 with controlled reflectivity, a further option.

The offered protection defends in the following way. The smallest space warhead has a
minimum cross-section area 1 m2 and a huge speed 3 – 5 km/s. The warhead gets a blow and overload from film (mass about 0.5 kg). This overload is 500 – 1500g and destroys the warhead (see computation below). Warhead also gets an overpowering blow from 2 -5 (every mass is 0.5 - 1 kg) of the strong stones. Relative (about warhead) kinetic energy of every stone is about 8 millions of Joules! (It is in 2-3 more than energy of 1 kg explosive!). The film destroys the high speed warhead (aircraft, bomber, wing missile) especially if the film will be armored by stone.

Our dome cover (film) has 2 layers: top transparant layer 2, located at a maximum altitude (up 5 -20 km), and lower transparant layer 4 having control reflectivity, located at altitude of 1-3 km (option). Upper transparant cover has thickness about 0.05 – 0.3 mm and supports the protection strong stones (rebbles) 8. The stones have a mass 0.2 – 1 kg and locate the step about 0.5 m.

If we want to control temperature in city, the top film must have some layers: transparant dielectric layer, conducting layer (about 1 - 3 microns), liquid crystal layer (about 10 - 100 microns), conducting layer (for example, SnO2), and transparant dielectric layer. Common thickness is 0.05 - 0.5 mm. Control voltage is 5 - 10 V. This film may be produced by industry relatively cheaply.

If some level of light control is needed materials can be incorporated to control transparency. Also, some transparent solar cells can be used to gather wide area solar power.

As you see the 10 kt bomb exploded at altitude 10 km decreases the air blast effect about in 1000
times and thermal radiation effect without the second cover film in 500 times, with the second reflected film about 5000 times. The hydrogen 100kt bomb exploded at altitude 10 km decreases the air blast effect about in 10 times and thermal radiation effect without the second cover film in 20 times, with the second reflected film about 200 times. Only power 1000kt thermonuclear (hydrogen) bomb can damage city. But this damage will be in 10 times less from air blast and in 10 times less from thermal radiation. If the film located at altitude 15 km, the
damage will be in 85 times less from the air blast and in 65 times less from the thermal radiation.
For protection from super thermonuclear (hydrogen) bomb we need in higher dome altitudes (20-30 km and more). We can cover by AB-Dome the important large region and full country.

Because the Dome is light weight it could be to stay in place even with very large holes. Multiple shells of domes could still be made for more protection.

Better climate inside a dome can make for more productive farming.

AB-Dome is cheaper in hundreds times then current anti-rocket systems.
2. AB-Dome does not need in high technology and can build by poor country.
3. It is easy for building.
4. Dome is used in peacetime; it creates the fine climate (weather) into Dome.
5. AB-Dome protects from nuclear, chemical, biological weapon.
6. Dome produces the autonomous existence of the city population after total World nuclear war
and total confinement (infection) all planet and its atmosphere.
7. Dome may be used for high region TV, for communication, for long distance locator, for
astronomy (telescope).
8. Dome may be used for high altitude tourism.
9. Dome may be used for the high altitude windmills (getting of cheap renewable wind energy).
10. Dome may be used for a night illumination and entertainment

The protection from the first and maybe more nuclear missiles is very good. Better than other systems. But the best part is $153 million/city to make and install cheaper than a communication satellite launch. Put high speed communication all over it. Gigabit+ per second wireless citywide and upgradeable systems so when better communications gear comes along then upgrade to terabit per second.

Obviously if someone blows up your dome. It is war and you have made your cities at least twice as hard to kill. It would take time for the Dome to fall and there is a second or third layer dome farther below. Plus mini-domes could be inflated in the event of primary dome collapse or when you detect more nuclear launches. Mini-domes able to deploy quickly and handle 5 psi of over pressure can reduce any followup damage radius by ten times. Then dozens nukes would be needed to completely kill a city.

He is assuming the nuke blows up on the outside of the dome because if it hits the dome it would be destroyed and not blow up. Then the distance means that the explosive effect is far less. With other domes deployed then the overpressure blasts can be protected against as well.


Bolonkin worked in Soviet aviation, rocket and Space industries and lectured in main Soviet University about 15 years. In particularty, in Kiev Aircraft State Design Bureau headed by O.Antonov, Bolonkin took part in design of aircraft AN-8 through AN-225 (Enginer-Senior Engineer-Chairman of Department); in Rocket engine Construction Bureau headed by Academician V.P.Glushko, Bolonkin was Chairman of Reliability Department and took part in design of rocket engines for main strategic rockets of the USSR; in TsAGI (central Aero-Hydrodynamic Research Institute) A. Bolonkin was a scientific researcher.

He lectured as a professor and worked as a Project Director in Moscow Aviation Institute, Moscow Aviation Technological Institute, Bauman Highest Technical University, Technological Institute, He contacted with Construction Bureaus of Tupolev, Yakovlev, Mikoyan, Ilushin, Sykhoy, with all main aviation, rocket and space research and design Centrers of the USSR. He had many awards in the Soviet Union.

In 1988, Alexander Bolonkin arrived as a political refuge in the USA and became American citizen in 1994. He worked as a mathematician in Sherson Lehman Hutton (American Express), N.Y., (Research, computation, programming, Optimal portfolio of securities), a Senior Researcher in Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University; two years as a Senior Research Associate in Wright Laboratory, Flight Dynamic Directorate (Dayton, Ohio), (it is the main Laboratory of the USA Air Force with over 20,000 scientists); as a professor in New jersy Institute of Technology, Computer and Information Department. He worked as an expert of Association Engineers and Scientists in N.Y.C. (Estimation of new ideas, projects, patents. Consulting).

He worked two years as a Senior Research Associate in the NASA (Dryden Flight
Research Center) in California, Edwards.

Now Dr. Bolonkin lectures at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Over the four years alone, A.Bolonkin published 9 scientific articles and books in the USA and a lot of articles in Russia-American press about scientific problems. He took part in three World Space Congress (1992, 1994, 1996), in World Aviation Congress (Los-Angeles, 1998, 1999) and eight National Scientific Conferences in the USa. In particularly, he published monograph "Development of Soviet pocket engines for Strategic Missiles", Delphic Ass., USA, 1991, 133 p., and large Chapter "Aviation, motor, and Space Designs" in book "Development Technology in the Soviet Union", pp.32-80, Delphic Ass., USA, 1990.

Alexander Bolonkin is the author of 60 scientific articles and books and 13 inventions

If frost damage protection can be provided. It could make sense to cover contiguous areas of Florida's citrus crops.
The Florida citrus industry provides $9 billion/year of crops from 748,000 acres of land.

One square kilometer is 247.1 acres.
$60,000/km**2 for material (triple for installed price).
Less than $700 per acre.
Could be about $500 million to protect Florida crops for decades.

Cheaper and smaller domes (around $200,000-1,000,000) could provide secondary containment for nuclear power plants by covering one square kilometer, while also providing aircraft and missile protection. It would be very cheap extra insurance.

Canada new natural gas finds and new nuclear power

Canada has had several new natural gas finds that seem to more than double the 57 trillion cf of reserves previously recorded. Plus some of the oilsand methods are burning some of the oilsands to get the rest flowing (THAI/Capris)

Bruce power has applied to build 4 nuclear reactors in Alberta (4000MW). First power could be in 2017.

April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Apache Corp., the U.S. oil and natural-gas company that has almost a quarter of its reserves in Canada, said three shale gas wells began production in British Columbia in the western part of the country.

The company said its stake in Ootla, about 60 miles from Fort Nelson in northeastern British Columbia, may hold 9 trillion to 16 trillion cubic feet of gas. Horizontal wells test flowed at rates of 8.8 million cubic feet, 6.1 million cubic feet and 5.3 million cubic feet of gas a day

This natural gas plus the Montney find in BC (50-80 trillion cf) and the Horn River basin (12+ trillion cf.)

EOG has increased natural gas growth from 10% to 13-15% in 2009 and 2010 because of its part of the Horn river basin (6 tcf)

The Montney shale is deep, making drilling more expensive. Second, year-round drilling in northern Canada is precluded by weather conditions, so the pace of development can never be as furious as that seen in the Barnett. These are just two reasons to help explain why EOG is only modeling a 20% after-tax rate of return in the Montney play

BC's government is making it easier to exploit natural gas.

Quebec also has a large natural gas find. The Utica Shale based on some of the Canadian-based research on the play to date the size of the resource is being estimated between 24 and 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Terrenex Ltd. ("Terrenex" or the "Company") (TSX VENTURE:TXA) reported that Forest Oil Corporation ("Forest"), a major US based natural gas producer recently announced a significant Utica shale discovery in the St. Lawrence Lowlands, Quebec. Subject to earning by its partners, Terrenex currently holds an interest in 719,000 acres (27,000 acres net) in the Lowlands adjacent to the recent discovery.

Two vertical pilot wells were drilled in 2007, testing the Utica Shale, to a total depth of approximately 4,800 feet. Production rates tested up to 1 MMcfe/d. Although the play is still in the early stages, Forest believes the initial results are encouraging due to the following factors:

- Shallow depth of the shale

- Rock properties are comparable to other more established shale plays

- High-quality natural gas with minimal impurities

- Infrastructure in place with nearby access to major pipelines

- Premium natural gas pricing to NYMEX makes the economics compelling

The preliminary net resource potential on Forest's acreage is estimated to be approximately 4 Tcfe. First production is expected in 2009 with the potential for a full scale drilling program in 2010 and beyond."

Natural gas is useful for developing the oilsands in Alberta.

Meat factories, food substitution and veganism

The Speculist talks about meat factories (making meat from stem cells) and a personal conversion to veganism or vegetarianism.

Part of this was initiated by an article that posited that meat eaters are bad people. [I do not agree with this position, are wolves bad?, but I feel that if achieving a goal of reduced animal harm does not harm humans or reduce human progress then the goal of reduced animal harm is not an unreasonable objective.]

People are growing meat now

In five to 10 years, supermarkets might have some new products in the meat counter: packs of vat-grown meat that are cheaper to produce than livestock and have less impact on the environment.

According to a new economic analysis presented at the In Vitro Meat Symposium in Ås, Norway, meat grown in giant tanks known as bioreactors would cost between $5,200-$5,500 a ton (3,300 to 3,500 euros), which the analysis claims is cost competitive with European beef prices.

To produce the meat we eat now, 75 to 95 percent of what we feed an animal is lost because of metabolism and inedible structures like skeleton or neurological tissue. So invitro meat could be 4 to 20 times more efficient.

There has been other food substitutions:
Egg substitute - from egg whites

Margerine, a blend of vegetable oils or meat fats (or a combination of both) mixed with milk and salt, in place of butter.

Soy meat and soy protein products.

A lot of processed food:
Yoghurt, twinkies (and other chemical and corn syrup concoctions), whey protein products and bars, spam, meat slurry

Reasons for invitro meat.

Global production of meat is projected to more than double from 229 million tons/year in 1999/2000 to 465 million tons/year in 2050 (Steinfeld et al. 2006, FAO document). [Growing at abuot 4.7 million tons per year]

The total area occupied by livestock grazing is around 36 million square km, which is equivalent to 26 % of the land surface area of the planet (Steinfeld et al. 2006). The total area used for feedcrop production is about 4.7 million square km, equivalent to 33 % of all cropland. Most of this cropland is located in OECD countries, but some developing countries are rapidly expanding their feedcrop production, notably maize and soybean in South America, in particular Brazil. The total remaining area suitable for rain-fed production is estimated to be about 28 million square km, of which 45 % is forest area (12.6 million square km) (Steinfeld et al. 2006). Livestock contribute about 9 % of total carbon dioxide emissions, 37 % of methane and 65 % of nitrous oxide. In terms of CO2 equivalents the gaseous emissions from livestock production amounts to about 18 % of the global warming effects. This is more than the contribution from the total transportation sector. Concerning polluting gaseous emissions not linked to climate change, livestock waste contributes 68 % of total emissions of ammonia (30 million tons/year) (Steinfeld et al. 2006). About 0.13 million square km of forest is lost per year and the majority is converted to agricultural land (Steinfeld et al. 2006).

Invitro meat technology:

An environmentally friendly cultured meat technology rests on four basic premises: (1) the culturing of muscle progenitor cells from farm animals of choice that are able to proliferate at a high rate, (2) the application of a growth medium that does not contain animal products, (3) the efficient differentiation of the progenitor cells into muscle cells that contain all nutrients present in conventional meat, and (4) the organisation of the muscle cells into 3-dimensional muscle structures.

Pre-major substitution, I do not see how animals are saved.

In fact, I think it would take a major exodus of humans from earth or the creation of wild biospheres or people moving out of rural areas and into self sufficient cities with high rise farms and meat factories to allow animal habitats. Thus the human condition must be vastly altered (and human suffering and lives so greatly disconnected from the natural environment and thus almost no environmental footprint then it would enable humans to not need animals for food)

Say 1% reduction (a hugely successful vegan campaign) in demand for beef. Every cow raised on farms for meat is still slaughtered and processed. Over a few years 1% less cows raised on ranches, but there is still the same slaughter ratio.

Substitution will not be advanced in the US with government help but just as the soy industry and soy burgers etc... were developed as a substitute to take market share so would meat factories. It would be a lower cost and possibly healthier alternative, niche market business plan that eventually would win more market share. I think that taste and appearance issues can be solved. The product would be far more natural than a protein bar or shake or many other popular food products.

April 14, 2008

Brazil may have new Sugar loaf oil field may have 33 billion barrels of oil

Brazil's National Petroleum Agency President Haroldo Lima is talking about a 33 billion barrel offshore oil find (not Tupi another find) deep-water exploration area off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

This find is also called the Cariaco field

According to the ANP director, the field, temporarily named "Sugar Loaf," in reference to Rio's landmark, would be five times larger than Tupi, the giant field discovered in November 2007.

Tupi is regarded as the largest oil and gas reserve ever found in Brazil, bearing an estimated volume of 5-8 billion barrels of light oil. Tupi could have over ten billion barrels of oil in place.

Petrobras is looking at a 100,000 barrel per day pilot project in the Tupi for late 2009 or early 2010.

Petrobras' press office has not confirmed the discovery yet, but informed that the Sugar Loaf field is located in block BMS-9 of the Santos Basin, west

Petrobras at wikipedia

On January 21, 2008, Petrobras announced the discovery of Jupiter, a huge oil field which could equal the Tupi oil field. It is located 37 km (23 mi) from Tupi, 5,100 m (16,730 ft) below the Atlantic Ocean, 290 km (180 mi) from Rio de Janeiro

A previous article covering all of the large oil projects expected to produce 100,000 b/d or more in 2008.

Carioca remained hidden from explorers until recently because energy companies lacked the technology to assess prospects obscured by undersea salt formations.

``Salt is difficult to see through for a geologist because salt absorbs seismic energy,'' Gibson said in an interview today. ``Also, a decade ago the physical technology didn't exist that would even enable you to drill in water that deep.''

Petrobras recently created a division to coordinate all exploration projects off the southeast coast, given its potentially large reserves.

``We haven't seen any discoveries that large in decades because we've punched enough holes in the Earth that we already know where most of the big fields are,'' said Gibson, president of Butte, Montana-based Gibson Consulting.

Carioca is 273 kilometers (170 miles) off the Brazilian coast in water more than 2,000 meters deep.

The Brazil discoveries could be ten times larger than the USGS assessment of currently recoverable oil from the Bakken in the USA.

The Brazil finds could be North Sea oil size finds.

Some analysts are speculating that there could be 80 billion barrels of oil off of Brazils shores.

Radiowaves heat nanoparticles and kill cancer tumors

Kanzius RF therapy attaches microscopic nanoparticles to cancer cells and then "cooks" tumors inside the body with harmless radio waves could be in clinical trials as early as 3 years. The treatment has been 100% effective in animal trials.

The CBS news has an extensive 4 webpage feature on the technique.

An interesting aspect is that Richard Smalley initially thought that the radiowave to heat up metal nanoparticle technique to cook cancer tumors would not work. Richard's scientific intuition was that this would completely fail. He was converted into being a believer when proven wrong with successful experimentation.

This is relevant since Richard Smalley's intuition was that molecular manufacturing would not work. This does not indicate that molecular manufacturing will be successful, but it does show that Richard's track record for intuition related to a successful or unsuccessful application of nanoscale related technology is not 100% accurate.

Solid state Megawatt lasers for 2012

Solid state laser components.

Wired reported that the Navy is funding a follow on megawatt laser project to the 100 kilowatt solid state free electron laser project.

I had previusly covered the progress and technical details of the 100kw laser project and here

The Navy is pushing ahead with a five-year, $163 million dollar plan make megawatt free electron lasers. So by the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013, the goal is to have a new megawatt laser prototype.

Previous megawatt lasers like the Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL)required hundreds of gallons of toxic chemicals for each shot. So a "mobile system" was eight cargo containers in size.

There was also the airborne megawatt chemical based laser for shooting down missiles.

New navy ships could have electric generators and engines.

Superconducting engines are 1/3 of the weight (69 tons instead of 200 tons) and half the size of conventional engines and are up to 10% more fuel efficient at low speed A typical destroyer has 200,000 gallons of fuel (300 gallons per ton is 6700 tons of fuel).

Existing nuclear powered submarines tend to have one or two reactors in the 190MW range. The nuclear reactors for naval ships range in size up to 550MW. A nuclear aircraft carrier can have eight of the 190MW reactors.

Naval reactors are pressurized water, liquid-metal-cooled, or boiling water types, which differ from commercial reactors producing electricity in that:

Naval reactors have a high power density in a small volume; some run on low-enriched uranium (requiring frequent refuelings), others run on highly enriched uranium (>20% U-235, varying from over 96% in U.S. submarines (They do not need to be refueled as often and are quieter in operation from smaller core) to between 30–40% in Russian submarines to lower levels in some others), the fuel is not UO2 (Uranium Oxide) but a metal-zirconium alloy (circa 15% U with 93% enrichment, or more U with lower enrichment), the design enables a compact pressure vessel while maintaining safety.

If this is to scale then the reactor and engine take up half the nuclear submarines volume. With the reactor within a 33 foot hull diameter and about 25 feet long for about 25,000 cubic feet of volume.

Here is a site with a lot of details on naval nuclear reactors.

The navy nuclear reactors are about 1100 to 2250 tons.

The OK 650B nuclear reactor.

Nuclear batteries (Uraniam hydride reactors) could also be developed by 2012 and could offer smaller power sources for powering Megawatt lasers or new railguns. A nuclear power source would lighter be than an fossil fuel engine and fuel. The uranium hydride or other liquid core reactors would be smaller than current reactors.

Better solid state lasers will help enable space launches with laser arrays.

If the Bussard fusion system proves successful, then the world of 2025-2035 could have powerful interplanetary spaceships with multi-Megawatt lasers and railguns.

Powerful lasers could create plasma channels to trigger and guide lightning from thunderstorm clouds

More military laser projects.

On the way to being able to make the equivalent of the fictional Mark V to Mark X Bolos (fictional tanks).

Mark XX bolo

Bolo at wikipedia

Hellbores are measured in megatons/second.
1 megaton is equal to 4.183 X 10**15 joules One watt is one joule/second.

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