April 26, 2008

Saskatchewan's portion of the Bakken oilfield, US plus Canada Bakken producton 131,000 bopd end of 2007

When Crescent Point first acquired Bakken lands and production in the Viewfield area near Stoughton in 2006, the initial estimate was 500 million to one billion barrels of oil in place.

Saskatchwen Bakken production is at least 56,000 barrels of oil per day (Just adding recent Crescent Point, Petrobank and Tristar numbers at the end of 2007). A lot of drilling activity in 2008 which has not been reported yet.
Tristar has 10,000 bopd production and has 650 net drilling locations Some other information on Tristar, the merger between two trusts: StarPoint Energy Trust and Acclaim

The MLI/NAL [Manufacturers Life Insurance/NAL Oil and Gas Trust (NOIGF.PK)] partnership acquired two private companies, Tiberius Exploration and Spear Exploration, for a total of $115 million. The new partnership receives 3,336 acres of land, 2.1 million barrels of P+P reserves and a current 925 barrels of daily production.

Petrobank drilling 135 wells in the Bakken by themselves and 38 wells with partners in 2008. Here is the end of 2007 report

Another important Petrobank forecast for oil production news: they expect get get approvals and have their THAI (superior Alberta oilsand project) approved and with its first 10,000-15,000 barrels of oil production started late 2009. It will be expanded to 100,000 barrels of oil per day in 2010 through 2012.

The North Dakota and Montana Bakken production was 75,000 barrels of oil per day as of October 2007. So the combined Canada and USA Bakken numbers are at least 130,000 barrels of oil per day.

"Now we're saying four to five billion barrels of oil in place,'' Stangl said. "We're not saying what the reserves are; the reserves will be a percentage of that. But it gives you an idea how big the pool is."

While it remains to be seen how much of that oil is recoverable, Stangl said production from the Viewfield area alone has increased to about 30,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD) from virtually nothing five years ago. I had covered Crescent Points latest production news.

Another major player in the Bakken is Petrobank Energy, which has about 12,000 BOPD of Bakken production in Saskatchewan. Petrobank gets about 150,000 barrels per well

The Calgary-based company plans to drill 150 wells and spend $400 million in the area this year alone.

Saskatchewan's Bakken play has produced about four million barrels of oil since production began in 2002.

Painted Pony is also a small company operating in Saskatechwans part of the Bakken

In January of 2008, Painted Pony (PPY-A/TSXV) expanded its exposure to the Bakken light oil play by executing an additional farm-in agreement allowing access to 3,280 gross (2,904 net) acres in the Midale area. Under the terms of the agreement, Painted Pony and its partner will pay 100% to earn 66.6% in the lands. Painted Pony will operate and have a 60% cost interest (to earn 40%) in the lands. The Company has committed to drill four wells on the farmin lands.

Painted Pony commenced an active operated exploration and development program in May 2007, targeting light, sweet oil in the Bakken formation in SE Saskatchewan. To date, Painted Pony has drilled a total of 10 (3.7 net) wells in Saskatchewan. Currently 5 (1.9 net) wells are producing and an additional 4 (1.3 net) wells are expected to be on production before the end of the first quarter of 2008. Production for December 2007 averaged 120 bbls/d, from 1.2 net Bakken formation wells and 0.5 net Midale zone wells. The Company currently has three drilling rigs employed drilling Bakken horizontal wells and plans to drill another 6 (2.4 net) wells by the end of March 2008. Painted Pony has a planned 40 well Bakken horizontal well drilling program for 2008.

At Kisbey, Painted Pony has drilled a total of 6 (1.7 net) horizontal Bakken oil wells to date. At Midale, 3 (1.5 net) horizontal Bakken wells have been drilled to date. Painted Pony estimates a drilling inventory of 100 plus potential drilling locations for Bakken oil within the approximately 59,000 net acres it has access to.

Western Canadian oil and gas well drilling is expected to decline overall by 22 per cent in 2008, Saskatchewan should see a six-per-cent increase, according to the latest forecast by the Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC). Saskatchewan is forecasted to drill 3,600 oil and gas wells this year, up from about 3,400 last year, while Alberta is expected to see a decline of 31 per cent to 9,575 wells in 2008. B.C. is forecast to see a four-per-cent increase to 900 wells in 2008, while Manitoba is forecasted to have a five-per-cent increase to 350 wells.

April 25, 2008

Like a wine cork, buckypaper gets wider when stretched

Specially designed carbon nanotube sheets, dubbed “buckypaper,” can increase in width when stretched. The buckypaper can also increase in both length and width when uniformly compressed.

Illustration of the oppositely directed lateral bending on forming a nanotube sheet strip into a ring, when the Poisson's ratio is positive (left) or negative (right). No lateral bending occurs when the Poisson's ratio is zero (middle).

The ability to tune Poisson’s ratio could be exploited for designing sheet-derived composites, artificial muscles, gaskets, stress and strain sensors and chemical sensors.

A thick nanotube sheet could also be made to wrap around a concave, convex, or saddle shaped surface depending on the sign of Poisson’s ratio — something that could come in useful for forming shaped composites.

By choosing the ratio of SWNTs and MWNTs, the Poisson ratio can be adjusted to zero, which is useful for designing cantilevers for sensing that do not distort in width during bending. Tensile sensors can provide a sensitivity that is proportional to the volume change produced by stretch, and this volume change can be increased by the team’s discovery of the tunability of Poisson’s ratio.

Picture of a model used to predict buckypaper properties, where adjacent layers are coupled like the struts in a collapsible wine rack.

This transition can be understood by relating the deformation modes of the nanotube sheets to those of a collapsible wine rack. If two neighboring nanotube layers are coupled like the struts in a compressible wine rack, Poisson’s ratio is positive and the rack becomes narrower when stretched. In contrast, if the rack is blocked so that it can no longer be collapsed but the struts are stretchable, increases in strut length produce a negative Poisson’s ratio.

Baughman and his team subsequently found that the nanotube sheets containing both single-walled and multi-walled nanotubes had a 1.6 times higher strength-to-weight ratio, 1.4 times higher modulus-to-weight ratio and a 2.4 times higher toughness than sheets made of SWNTs or MWNTs alone.

A 2006 paper on using nanotubes for artifical muscles

President Bush's shameful and unlawful covert attempt to undermine court rulings, the Clean air act and block 18 states from higher fuel standards

Recently the Secretary of the Department of transportation put a proposal to mildly accelerate fuel standards from 3% per year to 4.5% per year up to 2015. However this was a ploy to put circumvent the Clean Air act and block California and several other states from adopting more aggressive car and truck fuel standards.

Jerry Brown called the Bush tactic: This fuel economy plan, while attractive on the surface, is a shameful and unlawful [covert] assault on California's landmark vehicle emissions standard.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and 11 of his counterparts sent a letter to President Bush on Thursday protesting a federal proposal to limit California's right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from autos.

The letter came two days after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a proposed set of fuel-efficiency standards that included a provision that would override California laws that set limits on carbon emissions from cars.

Thursday's letter called the language "an end run around 40 years of precedent" and said that if the provision was not dropped, the states would sue NHTSA.

In a separate letter, sent to the top four leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the governors called the proposed rule a "cynical attempt . . . to unilaterally rewrite the Clean Air Act and claim authority over greenhouse gas emissions."

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)

Here is how Bush drones were trying to spin the "strengthening of CAFE standards.

On page 387 of the Department of Transportation proposal they had placed

any state regulation regulating tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles is expressly pre-empted.

Some analysts are projecting $200/barrel oil prices and $7 per gallon for gasoline in the United States by 2012

Many electric and fuel efficient cars are and will be available.

April 24, 2008

Coal is more deadly and dangerous than nuclear power

People talk about nuclear power being deadly and dangerous. They can list some radiation leaks and spills.
Where are the deaths in those incidents ? How much is the radiation above background levels ? Did the leak have more radiation than an equal amount of wine or seawater ?

With my coal examples below plenty of deaths. I think things are more dangerous when they have a history of killing a lot more people. Not killing more then not more dangerous.

Price Anderson only kicks in for damage above $10 billion. No payouts by the government and no costs to this point. Only industry payments have been collected.

As of 2000, there were more than 600 coal sludge impoundments across the Appalachian coalfields. Chemical analyses of this sludge indicate it contains large amounts of arsenic, mercury, lead, copper, and chromium, among other toxins, which eventually seep into the drinking water supply of nearby communities. Even worse than this seepage, however, is the threat of a dam break. Several dam breaches have occurred, one at Buffalo Creek in West Virginia, which took the lives of 125 people, many of whom were children.

Buffalo Creek damage still from film: The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man
Directed by Mimi Pickering B&W, 40 minutes, 1975: On February 26, 1972, a coal waste dam owned by the Pittston Company collapsed at the head of a crowded hollow in southern West Virginia. A wall of sludge, debris, and water tore through the valley below, leaving in its wake 125 dead, 1121 injured and 4000 homeless. Interviews with survivors, representatives of union and citizen's groups, and officials of the Pittston Company are juxtaposed with actual footage of the flood and scenes of the ensuing devastation.

The 15- to 20-foot black wave of water gushed at an average of 7 feet per second and destroyed one town after another. A resident of Amherstdale commented that before the water reached her town, "There was such a cold stillness. There was no words, no dogs, no nothing. It felt like you could reach out and slice the stillness." -- quote from Everything in Its Path, by Kai T. Erikson

The most recent sludge dam breach was in Martin County, Kentucky, in 2000, which the EPA called the worst environmental disaster in the history of the Southeast. When the sludge dam breached, more than 300 million gallons of toxic sludge (about 30 times the amount of oil released in the Exxon Valdez oil spill) poured into tributaries of the Big Sandy River, killing virtually all aquatic life for 70 miles downstream of the spill.

Where was the insurance on that ? Where are the fish in that sludge ?

Mountain top removal coal mining : 800+ square miles of mountains are estimated to be already destroyed.

More than 7 percent of Appalachian forests have been cut down and more than 1,200 miles of streams across the region have been buried or polluted between 1985 and 2001.

Buffalo Creek Disaster at West Virginia division of culture and history

Names of the Buffalo Creek dead

All a drop in the ocean to the lives lost to coal and fossil fuel air pollution. 3 million per year Even though air pollution is the more deadly, the visuals of the coal sludge damage is more easy to relate and understand. Millions getting sick more often and dieing in hospitals is not as easy to comprehend.

Air pollution deaths have become somewhat more insidious than flagrant incidents like the London Fog of 1952

By Sunday, Dec. 7, visibility fell to one foot. Roads were littered with abandoned cars. Cattle in the city's Smithfield market were killed and thrown away before they could be slaughtered and sold — their lungs were black. On the second day of the smog, Saturday, Dec. 6, 500 people died in London. When the ambulances stopped running, thousands of gasping Londoners walked through the smog to the city's hospitals. The lips of the dying were blue.

The death rate shot up during the week of the fog. A study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives indicates 12,000 may have been killed by the great smog.

Solar Thermal Municipal Power

Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen is focusing on municipal solar power plants of 2 - 10 megawatts in size.

Companies have come to realize that they can avoid most of the bureaucratic snags involved in building plants that produce over 50 megawatts. Furthermore, by grouping their panels into small lots, they’ve been able to grab small tracts of land on the edges of cities and towns, or on land that can be dual-purposed like farms. A secondary advantage is the ability to hook into the existing power grid without the modifications required to channel power from a large plant.

The idea is to build 10 acre lots on the outskirts of small cities that could feed into the municipal power grid directly. Each lot, consisting of several rows of solar panels mounted on rails above ground, could provide up to 2 megawatts, enough to serve 1,000 homes. The panels would be mounted on rails to prevent them from affecting the surrounding wildlife and vegetation. Nanosolar has gotten plenty of attention for its claim that it can sell its cells for as low as 99 cents per watt, low enough to be competitive with non-renewable energy sources, as well as recently raising over $50 million more from EDF Energies Nouvelles.

Coolearth solar who I recently covered claims that they will produce electricity for 18 cents a watt, and hopes to ramp up its production of balloon concentrators to 50 megawatts by next year (2009).

Coolearth Solars target is 29 cents per watt INSTALLED by 2010. 18 cents per watt for materials. 18 cents / Wattp (Watt panel)

CoolEarth Solar's plans
FY07+ - 10-50 kW installations
FY08+: 50 kW - 1 MW installations
FY10+: 1-10 MW Micro-utility franchises

There are several solar thermal companies and some are described by Al Fin

SolFocus, for example, makes large solar concentrator panels, which use mirrors to focus more light onto highly efficient solar photovoltaics. It raised $63.6 million.

Terabit Ethernet around 2015

Bob Metcalfe (ethernet coinventor) gave a keynote speech, "Toward Terabit Ethernet." Metcalfe had told his audience not only that optical networks would soon deliver 40- and 100-gigabit-­per-­second Ethernet--standards bodies are now hammering out the technical specifications--but also that 1,000-gigabyte-per-second Ethernet, which Metcalfe dubbed "terabit Ethernet," would emerge around 2015. The move from 100 gigabit ethernet to terabit ethernet could involve an overhaul of the backbone network. Technically feasible but who will pay the up-front costs for these next-­generation networks? In America, carriers own the pipes, and we don't really see much competition.

George Gilder presented an 'Exaflood' paper, in which he predicts a zettabyte of U.S. Internet traffic by the year 2015," ­Metcalfe said. "Since I admire Gilder, I extrapolated from his prediction."

An exabyte is 10**18 bytes of data; a zettabyte is 10**21 bytes. Metcalfe pointed to video, new mobile, and embedded systems as the factors driving this rising data flood: "Video is becoming the Internet's dominant traffic, and that's before high definition comes fully online. Mobile Internet just passed a billion new cell phones per year. Then totally new sources of traffic exist, like the 10 billion embedded microcontrollers now shipped annually."

Herwig Kogelnik indicated that current research had advanced WDM (wavelength division multi­plexing) technology to a point where economical transmission of 10 channels, each carrying 100-gigabyte-per-second traffic, was now feasible.

Components of the Exaflood

In the U.S. by 2015:

* movie downloads and P2P file sharing could be 100 exabytes
* video calling and virtual windows could generate 400 exabytes
* "cloud" computing and remote backup could total 50 exabytes
* Internet video, gaming, and virtual worlds could produce 200 exabytes
* non-Internet "IPTV" could reach 100 exabytes, and possibly much more
* business IP traffic will generate some 100 exabytes
* other applications (phone, Web, e-mail, photos, music) could be 50 exabytes

The U.S. Internet of 2015 will be at least 50 times larger than it was in 2006.

Part of the increase will be a move beyond regular high definition television

A simple-to-make "superlens" can focus 10 times better than diffraction limit, microwaves so far, next 19-38 nm for visible light

A simple-to-make "superlens" can focus 10 times more sharply than a conventional lens. It could shrink the size of features on computer chips, or help power gadgets without wires. No matter how powerful a conventional lens, it cannot focus light down to more than about half its wavelength, the "diffraction limit". So far they have made it work with microwaves. Microwaves are electromagnetic waves with wavelengths ranging from 1 mm to 300 mm. So microwaves can be focused to 50 microns to 15 mm. The theoretical foundation of the new experimental work was described in 2007. [Near-field Focusing Plates and Their Design] Making capacitors of different sizes would allow the lens to focus other frequencies, including visible and infrared light, says Grbic. If they could make it work with far ultraviolet they could focus to 6 nanometers and extreme ultraviolet to 0.5-1 nanometers.

Grbic and colleagues have a variety of uses for their new lenses planned, including focusing light into smaller spots during photolithography to etch smaller features onto computer chips. The lenses could also help refine a technique to transfer power wirelessly developed in 2006. The new lenses could create more energy-dense beams of the electromagnetic waves used to transfer power, Grbic says. Nader Engheta of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, US, agrees, saying the new design has "exciting potential." But the more complex metamaterial lenses will likely be more applicable to more diverse applications, he adds.

Visible light has wavelengths of 380 to 750 nm. Half of those wavelengths is 190 to 375 nanometers. Ten times better is 19-38 nanometers.

The new lens is a 127-micrometer-thick plate of teflon and ceramic with a copper topping. "The beauty of these is that they're planar," Grbic says, "they're easy to fabricate." The lenses can be made through a single step of photolithography, the process used to etch computer chips.

Anthony Grbic, Lei Jiang and Roberto Merlin at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, US, have now successfully made a much simpler design, first theorised last year.

By selectively etching away the copper, Grbic and colleagues created many capacitors sandwiched together. Capacitors are typically used in electronics for storing electric charge for short periods.

In the lens, the capacitors instead interact directly with electromagnetic waves like light. This sets up currents in the capacitors that focus the waves passing through the lens into a point 20 times smaller than their wavelength. That is 10 times tighter than a conventional lens can achieve, hampered by the diffraction limit.

Carnival of Space Week 51

Carnival of Space Week 51 is up at astroengine.

I contributed my article on the Finnish solar wind riding electric sail, which is nearing readiness for flight testing

Centauri Dreams talks more about the electric solar space sail.

Colony Worlds talks about the need for ants for space colonies. Bees could have problems with the different or lack of magnetic fields. Ants might be needed to take the place of Bees for pollination.

Ethan Siegel ponders what it would take to destroy the Universe. Using a particle accelerator with a radius that would span 10**14 kilometres (or from Earth to the nearest star system) might be able to do it)

Go to astroengines for a lot more.

April 23, 2008

Nuclear power build China, USA, and the world

There are Combined license applications for 15 nuclear plantsthat have been received by the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

34 plants from 23 applications are expected by 2010

China has 21 reactors under or about to start construction and another 18 should start construction after that.

35 nuclear plants are under construction right now in the world and that does not include Watts Bar Unit 2 being completed in Tennessee. Watts Bar unit 2 is a 1180 MWe reactor is expected to come on line in 2013 at a cost of $2.49 billion. Construction was suspended in 1985 and will resume late in 2008 under a still-valid permit. It will provide power at 4.4 c/kW.

There was a net increase of 3724 MWe in capacity 1991-2003 in the USA which resulted from many reactors with increases - some substantial, offset by 19 with decreases. [net increase is increased power less reduced power]

Current new build by country in order of amount of power added
China 6 reactors, 5520 MW
Russia 7 reactors, 4920 MW
S Korea 3 reactors, 3000 MW
India 6 reactors, 2976 MW
Japan 2 reactors, 2285 MW
France 1 reactor, 1630 MW
Finland 1 reactor, 1600MW
Canada 2 reactors, 1500 MW
Iran 1, 915MW
Slovakia 2 reactors, 840MW
Argentina 1 reactor, 692MW
Pakistan 1 reactor, 300 MW

35 reactors, 28798 MW (most should be completed by 2012/2013)

91 reactors 99095 MW
with approvals, funding or major commitment in place, mostly expected in operation within 8 years (by 2016)

China raised its target for 2020 to 60GW

Much of the increase in China's nuclear power (from 40GW to 60GW in 2020) is likely to be from increased reactor sizes. Sites tentatively identified by prospective investors as most likely to host 1,000-MW PWRs beginning in the Twelfth Plan may in some cases instead see construction of bigger units based on foreign technology from the US, Russia, and France, Chinese sources said last month. That could favor the AP1000 -- provided the State Nuclear Power Technology Co., Snptc, an arm of the State Council of Ministers responsible for China's future nuclear power development, succeeds in increasing the AP1000 power level to 1,400 MW. The 1,600-MW-class EPR, the biggest reactor to be built in China, but so far limited to construction of two units, could also be favored for additional construction should China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co., Cgnpc, overcome opposition to further construction by key Beijing bureaucrats. Russian industry, Chinese sources said, may now also be pushed to complete development of a 1,500-MW PWR for the Tianwan site.

In addition to the 438 reactors operating worldwide in 2007, the WNA counted 46 under or about to start construction.

Russia is on a crash course to build up to three nuclear power units per year to bring nuclear's share in its electricity supply from today's 15.4% to 23% by 2020.

China is also planning a major nuclear power expansion. China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co. Ltd. announced plans earlier this year to have 6,000 MW of nuclear capacity on line by 2010, 15,000 MW by 2015, and 34,000 MW by 2020. The company operates half the 8,000 MW of nuclear capacity in China today. China is rapidly acquiring nuclear technology, partly through technology transfer agreements built into supply contracts with Western vendors, and hopes to begin exporting reactors by 2020.

India has a mostly indigenous nuclear power program and plans to have 20,000 MW on line by 2020, from today's 3,500 MW, and to get 25% of its electricity from nuclear by 2050. India may be aided by a special agreement with the US, which is to open up nuclear power trade despite India's refusal to give up its nuclear weapons program.

Japan, with 55 reactors, plans more but has difficulty with public acceptance for new sites. South Korea, which like Japan must import virtually all energy, continues its program to reach 26,600 nuclear MW by 2017. It has 18,400 MW today.

According to a World Nuclear Association study released in September, an adequate supply of uranium is expected until 2030, with production picking up sharply between now and 2015. In 2010-15, WNA said, there could even be a surplus.

Discussions are under way to reinvigorate the Euratom loan program, last used following the collapse of the Soviet Union to improve safety at Soviet-designed plants in eastern Europe. The program has a budget cap of €4 billion but talks are ongoing to raise the cap to at least €6 billion. The European Investment Bank could finance nuclear plant construction which it has not done since the 1980s.

In Belgium, Suez-Electrabel's seven units are scheduled to close beginning in 2015 under a 2003 nuclear phase-out law. Belgium political parties did agree during summer negotiations that at least some units should be allowed to operate beyond the 40-year limit.

In the Netherlands, the single nuclear unit, Borssele, has overcome a politically-imposed phase-out and can now run 30 additional years. Discussion on new nuclear construction is under way, with utilities Essent and Delta said to be interested in building.

Bulgaria has just begun a project to build two new Russian 1,000-MW reactors. Romania is planning to add one, and maybe two, Candu reactors at its Cernavoda station.

Slovakia will build another two Russian-design VVER-440 units under the aegis of Italy's Enel, owner of national utility Slovenske Elektrarne. In the Czech Republic, state utility CEZ is exploring adding a second pair of large reactors at Temelin. To join the EU, Lithuania was forced to plan shutdown of the two Soviet-design units at Ignalina, the largest of the Chernobyl design type, whose 2,400 MW produced 80% of the country's generation. With unit 2 to close in 2009, the government is moving to build a new reactor at the site, and has the national utilities of Latvia, Estonia and Poland on board. Ukraine, which got almost 50% of its electricity from nuclear in 2006, is considering adding up to 11 new reactors by 2030.

According to the Red Book, installed global nuclear capacity is projected to grow from about 369 GW net at the beginning of 2005 to about 449 GW net by 2025 in the lowest case and in the high case to 553 GW net.

Source of the US power increase from 1990 to now
As of December 2007 over 110 power uprates had been approved, totalling 4900 MWe. A further seven uprates totalling about 750 MWe are pending with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and applications for a total of 1690 MWe are expected by 2011.

In 1980 the average utilization for all US reactors was 54%, by 1991 it was 68%, in 2001 it had risen to 90.7% and in 2007 it was 91.8%. A major component of this is the length of refuelling outage, which in 1990 averaged 107 days but dropped to 40 days by 2000. The record is now 15 days.

Output since 1990, increased from 577 billion kilowatt hours to 807 billion kWh, a 40% improvement despite little increase in installed capacity, and equivalent to 29 new 1000 MWe reactors. Average thermal efficiency rose from 32.49% in 1980 to 33.40% in 1990 and 33.85% in 1999.

Sirtris, Sirtuin calorie restriction replication Life extension drug company, bought for $720 million

GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Europe's biggest drugmaker, agreed to buy Sirtris Pharmaceuticals Inc. for about $720 million, adding an experimental treatment derived from red wine that's thought to slow the effects of aging.

Glaxo will pay $22.50 a share in cash for Sirtris, the London-based drugmaker said in an e-mailed statement. The offer is 84 percent more than Sirtris' closing price yesterday of $12.23.

Sirtris' most advanced compound is a formulation of resveratrol, a substance found in red wine and plants. Glaxo will get a foothold in a new area of research that may lead to treatments for diabetes, muscle wasting and neurodegeneration, the company said. ``This helps us accelerate our vision,'' Sirtris Chief Executive Officer Christoph Westphal said in an interview. ``We want to get these drugs to market as soon as possible, and we wouldn't have been able to do it as fast alone.''

The lead drug candidate, SRT501, could come to market as soon as five to seven years from now, Westphal said. He will be staying after the acquisition to continue working with the group.

SRT501 mimics resveratrol, which has been linked to longevity, Sirtris scientists said. The Sirtris molecule is 1,000 times more potent than resveratrol, and could lead to solutions for diseases of aging including cancer and diabetes, according to an article published in the journal Nature.

The acquisition follows news that products in the Sirtris pipeline can decrease blood glucose and may have tumor suppressor potential.

The acquisition of a small company at a large premium (the offer was more than 80% higher than Sirtris’ market cap) by a pharmaceutical giant is one of the first demonstrations that the drug industry is taking seriously the idea that there’s money to be made in treating aging per se rather than all of the associated conditions separately.

This could also provide a boost to other longevity research companies.

A mainstream media (NBC) review of life extension research

April 22, 2008

EPA confirms the link between Ozone Air (smog) Pollution and Premature Death

New Self-assembling method could make inexpensive diamondlike crystals

This photograph shows a side-by-side comparison between Purdue's structure (right) and a structure that results when a template is not used. Researchers at Purdue have developed a "self-assembling" technique to create a "nearly perfect two-dimensional colloidal crystal," or a precisely ordered layer of particles, a critical step toward growing three-dimensional crystals for use in optical communications and other technologies. The method works by positioning tiny particles onto a silicon template containing precisely spaced holes that are about one-hundredth the width of a human hair. (Credit: You-Yeon Won and Jaehyun Hur, Purdue University School of Chemical Engineering)

The researchers have used a new technique to create a "nearly perfect two-dimensional colloidal crystal," or a precisely ordered layer of particles. This is a critical step toward growing three-dimensional crystals for use in optical technologies, said You-Yeon Won, an assistant professor of chemical engineering.

"Making the first layer is very difficult, so we have taken an important step in the right direction," Won said. "Creating three-dimensional structures poses a big challenge, but I think it's feasible."

The single-layer structures might be used to form "micro lenses" to improve the performance of optical equipment, such as cameras and scientific instruments, and to control the color and other optical properties of materials for consumer products.

More importantly, the technique represents one of several possible approaches to create "omni-directional photonic band gap materials." Unlike conventional mirrored materials, which reflect light hitting the mirror at certain angles, the omni-directional materials would be "perfect mirrors," reflecting certain wavelengths of light coming from all directions.

The materials would dramatically improve the performance of optical fibers, which contain a mirrored coating to keep light from escaping.

"We envision that this self-assembly method will open a new possibility for mass fabricating complicated 3-D colloid crystal structures for various applications," Won said.

The Purdue-developed technique takes about 20 minutes to create a structure that would take weeks to produce using nano-robotics.

It was the first time researchers had demonstrated how to create a uniform structure over the relatively large area of such a templated region, which measured about 9 square millimeters, or large enough to contain about 1.7 million particles. Other researches have created self-assembling layers of particles without controlling the spacing between particles, resulting in "close-packed structures," which cannot be used to build three-dimensional, high-quality photonic crystals. Using a template enabled the researchers to create the precisely controlled pattern of particle spacing, a "non-close-packed" first layer, which is critical to building up to a three-dimensional crystal with an arbitrary, desired optical property.

Seth Lloyd of MIT on Dwave Systems Adiabatic quantum computer

Seth Lloyd discusses adiabatic quantum computers in MIT technology review. Seth Lloyd and Kaminsky created the theoretical design of a superconducting adiabatic quantum computer on which the Dwave System is based.

Seth has suggested experiments that Dwave can perform to prove if their system is achieving a quantum state.

The pioneers of superconducting quantum computation had been able to demonstrate the quantum nature of their devices by zapping them with fast microwave pulses and looking at their responses. But those devices weren't adiabatic; they operated at speeds comparable to those of a conventional computer. The D-Wave device, by contrast, is purposefully slow: therefore, no zapping is possible. As a result, there are a limited number of experiments that can indicate whether the device is really doing quantum computation. One, however, is to vary the slowness with which the device oozes from its initial state to its final state. Halfway through the oozing process, the computer arrives at a point where it must start making the hard choices that lead to the problem's solution. Here the computer is in a weird quantum state, in which every bit registers 0 and 1 at the same time. I urged the D-Wave researchers to explore this critical point and search for the telltale signs.

More recently, I [Seth Lloyd] spoke with Herb Martin, the CEO of D-Wave, and Geordie Rose, the company's chief technology officer and cofounder, and emphasized the need for them to pursue these experiments if they are truly interested in explaining how their devices work. One experiment that I [Seth Lloyd] recommended to Rose is a specific protocol for creating and verifying the presence of a so-called Schrödinger's-cat state, a specific instance of the state in which all the qubits register both 0 and 1 simultaneously

Scott Aaronson also has a short article with his views.

Electric and hybrid motorcycles and scooters available now and soon

Vectrix electric scooter.

The Vectrix electric scooter is available now and has a maximum speed of 62.5 mph and has a range of 35-55 miles. The Vectrix costs $9,999.00 for a 2007 model and $11,990.00 for a 2008 model. It was launched in the US market in July 2007.

More acceleration and faster speeds reduce the range of the Vectrix (as in all vehicles but more important for a shorter range vehicle.) It is possible for many people to commute one way for 20-40 miles and then recharge for the return trip.

Other electric motorcycles and scooters

A Brammo Enertia electric motorbike is available in Q2 and Q3 of 2008. The Enertia is a zero-emission, battery-powered, plug-in electric motorcycle with a base pricetag of $11,995 (Q3 2008). A limited-edition version, priced at $14,995, should be available in the second quarter 2008. The Brammo has a 45+ mile range and 50+ mph speed. The Enertia will be the first mass-produced, road-legal motorcycle running on electricity.

CNN had a survey of electric motorcycles

Zero motorscycles has an electric offroad motorcycle for $7495-8350 It has a 40 mile range. The Zero X accelerates from 0-30 in under 2 seconds. The Zero's electric motor delivers over 20 horsepower and similar performance to a 250cc gas powered off-road motorcycle. With an electric motor you get 100% torque at all times for instantaneous throttle response and incredible off-the-line performance.

Zero motorcycles is introducing the street legal Zero S on-road electric motorcycle. A scooter called the Zero Way is also in the works, with an expected 2009 ship date. Zero's patent-pending lithium ion batteries are three times as powerful and 31% lighter than those in the Enertia, while offering the same running time.

Venture One is planning all electric and 3-wheel, tilting, plug-in Hybrid vehicles. This unique 2-passenger flex-fuel Hybrid vehicle is projected to achieve 100 miles per gallon, accelerate from 0-60 in about 7 seconds, and with a top speed of over 100 mph. They should have 2009 availability and cost about $23000.

Vespa's MP3 hybrid motorscooter should be released in the second half of 2008 and get 173 mpg.

Electric bicycles and scooters are huge in China and making a difference for the environment

April 21, 2008

Concentrated solar power balloons

Giant solar energy balloons floating high in the air may be a cheap way to provide electricity to areas lacking the land and infrastructure needed for traditional power systems. Solar balloons, designed by a team from the Technion Institute of Technology, could be used to harness the sun's energy in those remote areas. However, the Coolearth concentrated solar power balloon concept which is described after the Israeli plan is far better. Coolearth is targeting a cost 25 times less than regular solar PV.

The helium-filled balloons, covered with thin solar panels, hover as high as a few hundred metres in the air, and are connected via a wire cable to an inverter, which converts the electricity into a form households can use.

It will be about a year before the system is ready, Gurfil said. But initial research, both computerised and using a crude prototype, showed a balloon with a three metre (10 ft) diameter could provide about one kilowatt of energy, the same as 25 square metres (269 square feet) of traditional solar panels. While 25 square metres of traditional solar panels may cost about $10,000, the target cost of the balloon is less than $4,000.

Another company that is working on solar concentrating balloons is Coolearth. The Coolearth approach looks superior. Coolearth was funded for $21 million. There advantages are inflatable mirrors are 400 times cheaper than polished aluminum mirrors and their rigging uses about 60 times less steel than truss work and with minimal grounds preparation.

Here is a diagram of coolearth's system.

Each balloon, measuring two meters (6 1/2 feet) in diameter, can generate 500 watts of electricity and will eventually cost less than $2. With low maintenance and replacement costs, he believes the system will significantly reduce the cost of solar energy from the current price of around $4 per watt of installed capacity to levels where is competes directly with fossil fuel-based energy sources. They are confident that their minimum-material design and use of commodity materials will cut the cost of photovoltaic electricity in a 1 megawatt installation to 29 cents per watt by 2010. They want to install on farms. The advantages of installing in rural areas is the abundance of land that is easy to access and maintain (far easier than up on a rooftop), the ease of setting up large power plants (at roughly eight acres per megawatt of electricity.

Some background on concentrated solar power

Making homes more energy efficient with better water heaters. Could save 2400 kwh our of the total 11000 kwh used by an average US household. Better and cheaper than rooftop solar and would work well with concentrated solar balloons and other power sources.

Kitegen is the best potential wind power generation system

Electric and hybrid motorcycles and scooters

Non-metallic metamaterials able to tune and guide terahertz radiation

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of the frequency-tunable planar metamaterial. An individual unit cell (a. above), and periodically patterned square array (b. below). All dimensions are shown in microns and materials are indicated in the images. The polarization of the incident linearly-polarized THz radiation is also indicated in b. (Credit: Image courtesy of Nature Photonics)

There were two separate significant advances in capabilities to control terahertz radiation. Los Alamos developed frequency tuning and Utah developed waveguides.

Researchers formed a single layer of metamaterial and semiconductor that allowed the team to tune terahertz resonance across a range of frequencies in the far-infrared spectrum. Most previous metamaterials were metallic structures. Applications include imaging and screening, terahertz switches, modulators, lenses, detectors, high bit-rate communications, secure communications, the detection of chemical and biological agents and characterization of explosives, according to Los Alamos National Laboratory.

University of Utah engineers took an early step toward building superfast computers that run on far-infrared light instead of electricity. Ajay Nahata and colleagues designed stainless steel foil sheets with patterns of perforations that successfully served as wire-like waveguides to transmit, bend, split or combine terahertz radiation. "A waveguide is something that allows you to transport electromagnetic radiation from one point to another point, or distribute it across a circuit," Nahata says. If terahertz radiation is to be used in computing and communication, it not only must be transmitted from one device to another, "but you have to process it," he adds. "This is where terahertz circuits are important. The long-term goal is to develop capabilities to create circuits that run faster than modern-day electronic circuits so we can have faster computers and faster data transfer via the Internet."

They made these waveguides on a flat surface so that you can make circuits just like electronic circuits on silicon chips." The researchers used pieces of stainless steel foil about 4 inches long, 1 inch wide and 625 microns thick, or 6.25 times the thickness of a human hair. They perforated the metal with rectangular holes, each measuring 500 microns (five human hair widths) by 50 microns (a half a hair width). The rectangular holes were arranged side by side in three different patterns to form "wires" for terahertz radiation. "All we've done is made the wires" for terahertz circuits, Nahata says. "Now the issue is how do we make devices [such as switches, transistors and modulators] at terahertz frequencies?"

The Los ALamos team's first-generation device achieved 20 percent tuning of the terahertz resonance to lower frequencies -- those in the far-infrared region --addressing the critical issue of narrow band response typical of all metamaterial designs to date.

Constructed on the micron-scale, metamaterials are composites that use unique metallic contours in order to produce responses to light waves, giving each metamaterial its own unique properties beyond the elements of the actual materials in use.

Within the past decade, researchers have sought ways to significantly expand the range of material responses to waves of electromagnetic radiation -- classified by increasing frequency as radio waves, microwaves, terahertz radiation, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays. Numerous novel effects have been demonstrated that defy accepted principles.

"Metamaterials demonstrated negative refractive index and up until that point the commonly held belief was that only a positive index was possible," said Padilla. "Metamaterials gave us access to new regimes of electromagnetic response that you could not get from normal materials."

Prior research has shown that because they rely on light-driven resonance, metamaterials experience frequency dispersion and narrow bandwidth operation where the centre frequency is fixed based on the geometry and dimensions of the elements comprising the metamaterial composite. The team believes that the creation of a material that addresses the narrow bandwidth limitations can advance the use of metamaterials.

Saudi Arabia's stated future oil goals

Saudi Arabia has seen its project deadlines slip because of the equipment bottlenecks that have plagued the industry. Its Khursaniyah field was due to be completed in the last quarter of 2007 but will only be ready to pump 300,000 barrels a day within a month, Saudi Aramco said.

Saudi Arabia has been one of the most aggressive investors in its energy sector, boosting capacity to a target of 12.5m b/d, which it is expected to meet by 2009. Ali Naimi, the oil minister, said the kingdom was pumping $90bn into its energy industry but argued that demand forecasts did not warrant a further boost to 15m b/d. That view is disputed by big consumers, which say the world will rely more on Saudi Arabia as other producers falter.

Saudi Arabia is planning to boost its oil production capacity by nearly 20 per cent in the next two years but its long-term target is to maximise its recoverable crude resources, according to the state-owned Saudi Aramco.

“There are long-term plans to substantially increase Saudi Aramco’s crude oil resource base and hydrocarbon recovery factors of existing fields… these include investment in intelligent fields through an integrated process of real-time measurement and optimization.

“The Abu Hadriyah–Fadhili–Khursaniyah field development is slated to commence production at 500,000 barrels per day in about two months.”

Mohammed Saggaf, Manager of Saudi Aramco’s Advanced Research Centre, put the Kingdom’s oil in place at 722 billion barrels, of which nearly 109 billion barrels have been produced since Aramco began pumping crude 75 years ago.

But he said the total amount of oil that can be produced with present technology is around 260 billion barrels.

“Saudi Aramco’s long-term goal is two-fold, we want to increase total oil in place to 900 billion barrels by 2020 and to push the limits of recovery from around 50 per cent to 70 per cent in our major producing fields, using both improved conventional recovery and enhanced oil recovery,” he said.

“Globally, the average ratio of recoverable reserves to oil in place is mostly 30 to 40 per cent, with a level of 50 per cent. Saudi Aramco is already doing much better than the average. We intend to go further and push the limit to achieve recovery rates of 70 per cent.”

Nasser said Aramco was pursuing what he described as an aggressive technology strategy to maximise its hydrocarbon reserve base, including extreme-reservoir-contact wells; passive seismic monitoring; giga-cell simulation; and nano-robotic field monitoring and control.

Opec as a whole has stated that they plan to add 9 million barrels per day of capacity by 2020. Up from the current 32 million barrels per day. Opec plans to add 5 million barrels per day by 2012.

Around the world Oil megaproject status

Saudi Aramco says intelligent fields (I-Fields) are key to the future

Google news on Khursaniyah 2008

Complete epigenome of a plant produced

Life often modifies its genetic material without changing the letters of the genetic code. One of the main ways this is done is through the addition of a chemical unit called a methyl group to a gene. Joseph Ecker of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California and colleagues have used a new method to sequence the complete "methylome" of the cress Arabidopsis for every letter of its genetic code, giving a far more detailed recipe than prior efforts. So just sequencing the DNA genome is not enough, you have to know what DNA is active and has been de-activated by a methyl group.

The Arabidopsis genome comprises some 120 million DNA bases (3% of the size of the human genome) – so the team has developed open-source software to "browse" the genome and find where methylation is controlling gene expression. The program will be able to track more epigenetic data as it is produced, forming a global resource for collecting and analysing it.

They have already begun using these methods for sequencing of the human methylome."

Ecker says that the team will look into how methylation affects the development of human stem cells as they change into other types of cells.

Nutritional Control of Reproductive Status in Honeybees via DNA Methylation

Silencing the expression of DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3, a key driver of epigenetic global reprogramming, in newly hatched larvae led to a royal jelly–like effect on the larval developmental trajectory; the majority of Dnmt3 small interfering RNA–treated individuals emerged as queens with fully developed ovaries. Our results suggest that DNA methylation in Apis is used for storing epigenetic information, that the use of that information can be differentially altered by nutritional input, and that the flexibility of epigenetic modifications underpins, profound shifts in developmental fates, with massive implications for reproductive and behavioral status.

$1 million prize for commercial in vitro meat

There is news related to my articles on industry progress towards meat produced by stem cells in factories with a goal of ground meat products for supermarkets within 5 years.

UPDATE: H/T to Onsingularity.com

The PETA prize is meaningless because the winner has to be selling their invitro grown meat in 10 states and it must taste test as indistinguishable from real chicken when cooked into fried chicken.

Chicken is a $50 billion retail revenue a year industry in 2004 in the United States

Average per store sales are $500,000 to 1.2 million (the link is to 1992 sales figures and per store sales have been increasing.)

KFC had $12.2 billion in store sales in 2004

So the $1 million prize is about one hundredth of one percent of the industries profit or one five hundreds of one percent of annual revenues.

KFC alone sells $1 million worth of fried chicken in about 5 minutes. (Assuming stores are open 365 days per year and open for an average of 12 hours every day.)

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has announced a $1 million prize to the “first person to come up with a method to produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro meat at competitive prices by 2012.”

A founder of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, said she had been hoping to get the organization involved in advancing in vitro meat technology for at least a decade.

But, Ms. Newkirk said, the decision to sponsor a prize caused “a near civil war in our office,” since so many PETA members are repulsed by the thought of eating animal tissue, even if no animals are killed. Ms. Newkirk said the disagreement was natural, adding, “We will have members leave us over this.”

The Netherlands has put $5 million into in vitro meat studies.

As seen by the in vitro meat conference there is a lot of work in academia and ni the food industry already for in vitro (aka test tube meat aka meat factories.)

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