July 05, 2008

Creating strong macroscale Carbon nanotube material

Back in 2006, then Los Alamos researcher Yuntian Zhu was making 4 centimeter long strands of carbon nanotubes and was talking about forming Superthreads out of it with 100 times the strength of steel. The actual GPa strength was not mentioned in the online article.

Yuntian Zhu is now at NC State and is now making shorter arrays of carbon nanotubes This research paper does mention that the tensile strength and stiffness of these CNT fibers were measured in the range 1.35 to 3.3 GPa and 100 to 263 GPa, respectively. CNT fibers have an extremely low density, (0.2 ± 0.01) g cm–3, which is one-tenth the density of a commercial carbon fiber and about one-fortieth the density of steel. Yuntian is working with CNT Technologies to commercialize this material.

This equals 6.5 to 16.5 GPa g/cc.

They calculated the toughness (the work needed to break the fiber) of a CNT fiber as (975 ± 49) J g–1, which is comparable to the toughness of a recently reported single-walled nanotube/poly(vinyl alcohol) (SWNT/PVA) composite fiber (870 J g–1);[15] higher than the toughness of a similar fiber reported previously (570 J g–1);[13] and much higher than carbon fibers(12 J g–1), Kevlar fibers (33 J g–1), and CNT fibers reported previously (14–20 J g–1). The toughness of Zhu's CNT fibers ranged from (110 ±5) to (975 ± 49) J g–1.

From a April, 2008 paper Zhu discusses growth of ultralong (4.7 mm) double wall carbon nanotube (DWCNT) arrays.

The growth of long spinnable arrays has already led to the production of nanotube fibers that are much stronger per weight than any current engineering material or fiber. We expect to grow even longer spinnable nanotube arrays for spinning stronger nanotube fibers (yarns).

An online patent discusses the work and processes

A space elevator site is tracking the progress of carbon nanotubes toward the creation of suitable space elevator tethers.

In recent documents by other researchers:
In 2008, 40 GPa g/cc from Sparse (Carbon nanotubes) CNT Composite was made.

"The extraordinary reinforcing efficiency of single-walled carbon nanotubes in oriented poly(vinyl alcohol) tapes", Wang et al. IOP Nanotechnology vol. 18 –
inferred strength of SWNTs from a 1% CNT reinforced plastic tape.

In 2007, 9 GPa g/cc strenth material for millimeter lengths

"High-Performance Carbon Nanotube Fiber", Krzysztof Koziolet al, Science Magazine, 2007 - Measurement of the strongest of a sample of mm-long pure aggregated carbon nanotube fibers.

Goal 2010, 35 GPa g/cc for 1000 km x mm

Minimal value for Space Elevator ribbon, Taper Ratio=6.3 with 33% safety factor.
Comparative Ribbon Mass = 4.6 - May require more efficient power system.

Goal 2011, 50 GPa g/cc for 1000 km x mm

Basic value for Space Elevator ribbon, Taper Ratio=3.5 with 33% safety factor.
Comparative Ribbon Mass = 2.0

Goal 2012, 80 GPa g/cc for 1000 km x mm

Desirable value for Space Elevator ribbon, Taper Ratio=2.5 with 50% safety factor.
Comparative Ribbon Mass = 1.0

The 2008 work by Z Wang is getting a follow up navy study for increased percentages of carbon nanotubes in plastic

This STTR requests proposals that develop a clear scientific understanding of the main obstacles to ultrahigh CNT loading in nanocomposites and that proposes new methods or approaches to increasing the loading of well dispersed CNTs in structural resins beyond 10% weight fraction.

July 03, 2008

Artificial DNA Made Exclusively of Nonnatural bases made in Japan

Chemical structures and synthesis of artificial DNA. (a) Chemical structures of two types of natural and nonnatural base pairs. (b) Synthetic strategy for the artificial DNA

Japan makes artificial DNA H/T nanowerk and Alfin

This is separate from the GNA that was created glycerol nucleic acid (GNA, —a synthetic analog of DNA). It was made by Biodesign Institute scientist John Chaput and his research team.

It is also different from the two new base letters that were added to regular DNA

To those who don't believe in a Technological Singularity - really ? behind schedule ? no progress ? There just had to be a specification of which artificial DNA breakthrough is being discussed from announcements made this year.

Artificial DNA Made Exclusively of Nonnatural C-Nucleosides with Four Types of Nonnatural Bases

A new class of DNA-like oligomers made exclusively of nonnatural, stable C-nucleosides. The nucleosides comprise four types of nonnatural bases attached to a deoxyribose through an acetylene bond with the β-configuration. The artificial DNA forms right-handed duplexes and triplexes with the complementary artificial DNA. The hybridization occurs spontaneously and sequence-selectively, and the resulting duplexes have thermal stabilities very close to those of natural duplexes. The artificial DNA might be applied to a future extracellular genetic system with information storage and amplifiable abilities.

Artificial DNA made exclusively of nonnatural nucleosides with four types of nonnatural bases represents a new class of DNA-like synthetic oligomers. The iG*/iC*-rich artificial DNA forms right-handed duplexes with the complementary artificial DNA in a sequence-specific manner with antiparallel orientation. The thermal stabilities and thermodynamic parameters of the artificial duplexes are very close to those of the natural duplexes in spite of differences in their geometries and hydrogen-bonding patterns. On the other hand, the artificial homooligomeric DNAs consisted only of A* and T* were found to exclusively form triplexes. By means of the synthetic feasibility of the artificial nucleoside unit, a variety of candidates for nonnatural bases can be incorporated into the artificial DNA. Therefore, the present molecular framework has a potential for storing genetic information and for application to enzymatic replication directed toward engineered genetics. Furthermore, the artificial DNA may be a superior building scaffold for constructing nanostructures of materials interest because of the stable C-nucleosides against ubiquitous naturally occurring enzymes such as DNase.

Supporting information on the procedures used for the artificial DNA

Further analysis from Ars Technica

July 02, 2008

Carnival of Space Week 61

Lester Brown Plan B is mathematically and logistically flawed

Lester Brown is pushing an Earth Policy Institute plan for replacing all coal, oil and most natural gas by 2020 Their calculations for energy are flawed. It appears that they ignore capacity factor. They also do not look at pricing or consider the build up of factories and supply chain. Although I guess some of that comes from an assumption of taking over (mobilizing) existing automotive factories and converting them to building wind turbines.

Plan B includes a cost of $4.5 trillion for the wind turbines alone. This does not count the production of new factories and does not count the build out of grid. It also does not address intermittent nature of wind abd solar power. The supply chain build up is the bigger cost and strain. Also, taking the necessary steel and concrete allocation. Also, the biomass increase will still contribute to air pollution.

3000GW of wind in Plan B but wind has only 20-40% capacity factor. The european avg is 25% load factor over the course of a year (European average). US average is 30%. The US wind capacity produced 31 billion kWh per year from 16.8GW)2007. American wind farms will generate an estimated 48TWh from 24GW. So 3000GW would produce 5500 TWh.


Spreadsheets for Plan B indicate that there is a proper units view:

It also indicates that while capacity factor is considered for overall power. The intermittent nature of solar and wind power is not. Plan B also focuses on electricity generation and while the initial charts they use look at the total energy picture they will still have a lot of oil usage for transportation and coal and oil usage for industrial purposes. So the graph which shows no oil and coal usage is only addressing electricity and not transportation and industrial energy usage.

Nuclear already generates 2600 TWh. The base reference case for the EIA International energy outloook 2008 is for an increase in nuclear power to 3290 TWh in 2020 (no mobilization just existing trends). 690 more TWh with no mobilization. The Lester Brown turn there nose up at what people are already going to build with a dismissive nuclear costs too much according to Amory Lovins, when the plan is for upwards of $10 trillion in extra spending.

Spend a few billion on assisting and accelerating the development and $500 billion for deployment of the MIT annular fuel system for 50% power uprates to existing reactors. This would allow for 1600 more TWh to the reactors that exist now and are planned to be built anyway. So less than 10% of the spending to get 41% of what the wind energy turbine build is targeting.

$2 trillion per year in energy infrastructure spending is already the default projection for 2015.

In the IEO2008 reference case, the world’s installed nuclear capacity grows from 374 gigawatts in 2005 to 498 gigawatts in 2030. The IEO2008 projection for nuclear electricity generation in 2025 is 31 percent higher than the projection published in IEO2003 only 5 years ago.

They rely heavily on efficiency gains from replacing cars to plug in hybrids and new public transportation and changing out all appliances and increasing industrial efficiency by upgrading to the most efficient equipment.

This still leaves 300+ exajoules of coal, oil and natural gas. The 6000GW of renewables that they propose does not even replace the electricity generation because of the reduced capacity factors.

They need to re-examine the calculations, the supply chain, the costs, training of people to build and install, and existing trends that would help with their goal of greenhouse gas reduction. They need to consider how the biomass is increased to minimize environmental impact. They do not just purposefully ignore political reality but they ignore economics, business and engineering reality as well. There charts hop from the overall energy picture to the electricity only generation picture without clarifying what is being done at the overall level.

A far better plan is the one presented by McKinsey consulting for offsetting climate change

This site also offers a better energy plan

Dr Daniel Haber's cancer circulating tumor cell blood test CTC chip used to track cancer progress in realtime

The blood test requires a 10 milliliter blood sample -- just two teaspoons. It takes about eight hours to send the blood across the 80,000 tiny columns so a specially designed antibody glue can latch onto passing cancer cells. It was used to detect cancer in 27 people and helped to track the progress of cancer in near real time. This will help determine what treatments are working and a genetic fingerprint of the current state of any tumor. This should lead to better cancer treatment and earlier detection and better disease monitoring

Haber and his colleagues analyzed blood samples from 27 patients with non-small cell lung cancer, 23 who had EGFR gene mutations and four who did not. CTCs were identified in all samples and in genetic analyses from mutations 92 percent of the time.

Mutations in EGFR, a protein, can help predict whether these tumors will respond to a family of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

"Even in the three to four months that we followed patients, the genetic make-up of the tumors changed. Resistant mutations appear and other mutations appear, obviously because we're doing things [with drug therapy] to the cancer," Haber said. "But the way we practice oncology we don't typically test for that. We do one biopsy which takes a tiny, tiny amount and assume that for the rest of the course, the tumor is the same."

"It's important to know in real time what you're treating," he continued. "We need to be able to follow the patient without needing to re-biopsy the tumor every time."

A previous study published in Nature used the CTC (Circulating Tumor Cells) chip technology to look at CTCs in lung, pancreatic, prostate, breast and colon cancers. The CTC chip successfully found such cells in 99 percent of the samples.

Schiller, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said there are practical questions about whether enough cells can be extracted to make the technique effective and whether it will work for other types of tumors.

Haber said he believes it will.

The CTC chip, licensed to the privately held CellPoint Diagnostics in Mountain View, California, is 100 times more sensitive than a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved technique that uses magnetic beads to try to extract cancer cells, according to Haber.

"I think this is key to personalized medicine," said Dr. Daniel Haber, senior author of a paper detailing the technology, to be published in the July 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine but released early online Wednesday. "As we get to targeted therapies in increasing numbers, and increasing understanding about the genetics that guide targeted therapies, we need a way to know what we're treating."

The technology is in its infancy, however. "This is still in a very, very early stage where it takes a long time to handle every sample, to flow the blood through the chip," Haber said. "This is a proof of principle that we can do this. We need a much more automated system for larger clinical trials."

Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that "you have to have some circulating cells to do this test, but it's very exciting because they're getting a genetic fingerprint of a tumor which will tell an oncologist what therapy the tumor might respond to or not respond to.

"It's expensive, but it may well be that if we can identify patients who can have a personalized regimen that works, we will be saving the cost of treating all those patients with regimens that don't work," he added.

Megpagetoday coverage

Web MD coverage of the CTC chip

Intel's Gelsinger sees clear path to 10 nanometer lithography

Intel's Pat Gelsinger (NSDQ:INTC) sees a "clear way" to manufacturing chips under 10 nanometers and when the semiconductor industry transitions to 450mm silicon wafers around 2012, the number of companies that run their own fabs will drop into the single digits.

Intel debuted its 45nm process late last year and has been ramping its Penryn line of 45nm processors steadily throughout this year. The next die shrink milestone will be the 32nm process, set to kick off next year, followed by 14nm a few years after that and then sub-10nm, if all goes according to plan.

Gelsinger described the elemental hoops Intel has had to jump through to achieve each "tick" milestone in the chip maker's relentless pursuit of Moore's Law, noting that while each new process adds materials used in novel ways, modern processors are still built on a "silicon scaffolding."

"We are putting more and more of the periodic table onto that silicon scaffolding. Today we use about half of the elements on the periodic table. When [Intel co-founder Robert] Noyce and Moore started, they used six elements," Gelsinger said.

"We replaced the gate with high-K, we put metal on top of it, but it's still, quote, silicon. [The process of getting smaller] keeps moving forward. It may be carbon nanotubes next or it may be spintronics. But we'll keep moving forward."

Previously Intel has forecast moore's law to continue to at least 2029.

This site has covered the future of lithography

There is going to be substantial re-architecting with more photonics and other changes like the Tensilica processors.

The GPGPU, FPGA, custom tensilica processors and cell type processors seem like the way forward. Plus the new universal memories.

New molecular computing architectures could have an impact or a niche.

A successful and inexpensive 3D architecture needs to be perfected. Ultimate limits will not be seen until we have 3D, 10 nanometer or less optical systems and are pushing the limits of cooling the heat generated and energy to power the devices. The technologies that could be involved are plasmonics, excitons, spintronics, metamaterials, room temperature superconductors and better cooling systems. There will be re-architecting with reversible computing architecture and more efficient parallel computing architectures.

So a 10 centimeter cube would have 10 million multi-nanometer layers. One layer of computing would be about 10 million times more powerful than what we currently have. so the small fist size cube would be100 trillion to 1000 trillion times more powerful for personal computing. This means 100,000 to 1 million zettaflops (10*23 to 10**24). Plus each person could have a few cubic meters of computronium. For
several more thousand times more compute power.

Heading to 1-2 nanometer feature and component sizes would probably also be possible for another 1000 times boost (The previous insane amount of compute power ought to help find a way to squeeze out another 1000-1 million improvement) (10**27 to 10**30)

For non-heroic cooling limits: 10**24 to 10**26 bits per cm**2 (but we added the third dimension for 10 million to 100 million fold gains)

There will also be comparable levels of scale and density for quantum computers (10**23 to 10**32 qubits)

All the individual compute power will be networked together across the solar system. The connection speeds will also be pushing whatever physical limits there are.

Intel is researching applications for this compute power

30 page transcript from the IDF (Intel Developers Forum) spring 2008 keynote address by Pat Gelsinger

July 01, 2008

Hypersonic Falcon HTV-3X

Falcon HTV-3X

The Blackswift Hypersonic program may not get fully funded for the $750 million that it needs, but the program has
a lot of interesting technology and innovations for greater efficiency. This technology and innovations are discussed below.

Making a scramjet rocket would be a better program to fund for space access. A scramjet rocket would be simpler and cheaper than a space plane and would not need to have the weight of wings and other gear.

From the designers of Skylon, there is a fairly practical spaceplane design. It is called the Mach 5 A2 commercial Concorde replacement.

The MHD bypass to slow the supersonic air so that a turbine can function while the scramjet goes up to Mach 7

However, there is a lot of interesting technology in the Blackswift program. Constant volume combustion, more efficient than Brayton cycle Humphrey cycle propulsion (like a pulse-detonation engine).

The goal is to achieve a flying Mach 6 demonstrator by 2013.

It would use regular fuel instead of hydrogen, which would be more practical but have relatively lower performance.


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Breakthrough diagnosis for drug resistant Tuberculosis which kills 1.5 million per year

"We are capable now of making a diagnosis of MDR-TB within hours," Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO's Stop TB department said. He used the acronym for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, an infection that cannot be cured with a standard course of antibiotics. The The DNA tests cost an avearge of $5 per test, and training is rather simple.

This is part of a wave of arriving or soon to arrive cheap and effective diagnostics and biomarker tests which help reduce the death rate from cancer and other diseases. There have been several advancements on better diagnosis tools including $10 USB stick testing labs on a chip.

TB affects the lungs and can be transmitted by an infected person in droplets through coughing, sneezing, singing and other activities. The disease infected 9.2 million people in 2006, turning it into the world’s second-most-fatal infectious disease after AIDS. So in recent days we have the announcement of major breakthroughs against the number 1 infectious disease AIDS (Zinc fingers for personal immune system boost to keep control of the Hiv virus levels) and now this test for the number 2 infectious disease MDR-TB.

The molecular test developed by Hain Lifescience and Innogenetics (INNX.BR) represented a big breakthrough in the fight against tuberculosis, a contagious respiratory ailment that kills 1.5 million people a year.

The new test can determine directly from a patient's saliva whether the tuberculosis bacteria can be treated with the two main antibiotics, isoniazid and rifampicin, making it easier to prescribe the drug to cure the disease and prevent its spread.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis strains are particularly lethal for HIV/AIDS sufferers and those with weak immune systems. Errors in prescribing antibiotics can worsen drug resistance problems and lead to XDR-TB, an untreatable form that has emerged in 49 countries including the United States, France, Russia, South Africa, Brazil and Australia.

The Germany-based Hain Lifescience is also working on a test to diagnose XDR, which remains in an experimental stage, a WHO spokesman said.

Lesotho will be the first country to get the lab equipment and training to use the new diagnostics under a programme supported by the WHO's partners UNITAID and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, Raviglione told a news briefing.

The other countries due to receive support to use the new test in the next four years are: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Moldova, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

The WHO said this deployment, as well as efforts to make second-line antibiotics more affordable, should increase to 15 percent the proportion of patients with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis who are diagnosed and treated appropriately. At present, that rate is only 2 percent. So the 13% increase would mean about 195,000 lives saved each year. A global tuberculosis case finding and treatment program would cost in the range of $1 billion and is the 13th item on a cost benefit analysis by the Copenhagen consensus.

An expert panel of 8 economists, including 5 Nobel Laureates, ranked a list of the most promising solutions to ten of the most pressing challenges facing the world today in May 2008 in Copenhagen.

June 30, 2008

World's First Commercial High Temperature Nuclear Reactor starts construction in China in 2009

There were two other larger HTR plants. One in the USA and one in Germany but both are now shut down. China actually has serious plans to follow up with a lot more plants. Perhaps a thousand of these reactors or more Until 2020-2025, these small mass produced reactors will be secondary to a massive build of larger nuclear reactors (China is order 100 Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, 1.25 GW- 1.7GW by 2020)

Schematic of the HTR-PM (High temperature reactor pebble bed module) Link is to eight page design paper.

A 200 MWe high temperature reactor will be the safest nuclear power plant ever designed and built. High temperature reactors can be adapted to use thorium for fuel and the plan is for factory mass produced reactors. Two year construction times and mass production driving costs down to less than half the cost of the first units. China sees these as supplemental reactors to the big reactors. They will be used in smaller cities and towns and by factories for generating industrial heat. Also, they are looking to use heat for hydrogen generation, desalination and coal liquification (at least that would be cleaner than straight coal burning).

The major safety issue regarding nuclear reactors lies in how to cool them efficiently, as they continue to produce residual heat even after shutdown. Gas-cooled reactors discharge surplus heat and don’t need additional safety systems like water-cooled reactors do. The HTR-10 was subject to a test of its intrinsic safety in September 2004 when, as an experiment, it was shut down with no cooling. Fuel temperature reached less than 1600 C and there was no failure.

“Using the existing operating HTR-10 reactor at the Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology of Tsinghua University in Beijing, we have already done what would be unthinkable in a conventional reactor—we switched off the helium coolant and successfully let the reactor cool down by itself,” said Wu.

A Simpler, More Rational Way to Think about Nuclear Safety: FOUR LEVELS OF SAFETY*
[Definition developed by Professor Lawrence Lidsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.]

No hazardous materials or confined energy sources.

No need for active systems in event of subsystem failure. Immune to major structural failure and operator error.

No need for active systems in event of subsystem failure. No immunity to major structural failure or operator error.

Positive response required to subsystem malfunction or operator error. Defense in depth. No immunity to major structural failure.

The MHR is the only reactor that meets the criterion of Level 1 safety.

Second, the modular design enables the plant to be assembled much quicker and cost-effectively than traditional nuclear generators. Its streamlined construction timetable is also a first for the nuclear power industry, where designing and building generators usually take decades, rather than years.

The modules are manufactured from standardized components that can be mass-produced, shipped by road or rail and assembled relatively quickly. The new plants are smaller and new modules can be added as needed. Multiple reactors can be linked around one or more turbines, all monitored from a single control room. The site of the Shidaowan project will install 18 additional modules, which will total 3,800 MWe.

A demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor, the HTR-PM of 200 MWe was approved in November 2005, to be built at Shidaowan, near Rongcheng in Weihai city, Shandong province by Huaneng Shidaowan Nuclear Power Company. This consortium is led by the China Huaneng Group Co. - the country's largest generating utility but hitherto without nuclear capacity. The project received environmental clearance in March 2008 for construction start in 2009 and commissioning by 2013.

The Modular High Temperature Pebble Bed reactor should also use half of the steel and one third of the concrete of Light Water reactors.

A 10 MWt high-temperature gas-cooled demonstration reactor (HTR-10), having fuel particles compacted with graphite moderator into 60mm diameter spherical balls (pebble bed) was commissioned in 2000 by the Institute of Nuclear Energy Technology (INET) at Tsinghua University near Beijing. It reached full power in 2003 and has an outlet temperature of 700-950°C and may be used as a source of process heat for heavy oil recovery or coal gasification. It is similar to the South African PBMR intended for electricity generation. It was subject to a test of its intrinsic safety in September 2004 when as an experiment it was shut down with no cooling. Fuel temperature reached less than 1600°C and there was no failure.

Initially the HTR-10 has been coupled to a steam turbine power generation unit, but second phase plans are for it to operate at 950°C and drive a gas turbine, as well as enabling R&D in heat application technologies. This phase will involve an international partnership with Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), focused particularly on hydrogen production.

A key R&D project is the demonstration Shidaowan HTR-PM of 200 MWe (two reactor modules, each of 250 MWt) which is being built at Shidaowan in Shandong province, driving a single steam turbine at about 40% thermal efficiency.

The 40% efficiency of a MHR driving steam can turbine can be seen. China will switch to higher efficiency gas turbine cycle in later versions.

The size was reduced to 250 MWt from earlier 458 MWt modules in order to retain the same core configuration as the prototype HTR-10 and avoid moving to an annular design like South Africa's PBMR.

China Huaneng Group, one of China's major generators, is the lead organization in the consortium with China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Group (CNEC) and Tsinghua University's INET, which is the R&D leader. Chinergy (a 50-50 joint venture of INET and CNEC) is the main contractor for the nuclear island. Projected cost is US$ 430 million, with the aim for later units being US$ 1500/kWe. The licensing process is under way with NNSA and construction is likely to start early in 2009 with completion expected in 2013.

The HTR-PM will pave the way for 18 (3x6) further 200 MWe units at the same site in Weihai city - total 3800 MWe - also with steam cycle. INET is in charge of R&D, and is aiming to increase the size of the 250 MWt module and also utilise thorium in the fuel. Eventually a series of HTRs, possibly with Brayton cycle directly driving the gas turbines, will be factory-built and widely installed throughout China.

In March 2005 an agreement between PBMR of South Africa and Chinergy of Beijing was announced. PBMR Pty Ltd is has been taking forward the HTR concept (based on earlier German work) since 1993 and is ready to build a 125 MWe demonstration plant. Chinergy Co. is drawing on the small operating HTR-10 research reactor at Tsinghua University which is the basis of their 100 MWe HTR-PM demonstration module which also derives from the earlier German development.

Both PBMR and HTR-PM are planned for operation about 2013. The new agreement is for cooperation on the demonstration projects and subsequent commercialisation, since both parties believe that the inherently safe pebble bed technology built in relatively small units will eventually displace the more complex light water reactors.

General Atomics of the United States with Russian partners have had an advanced modular helium reactor design completed since 2001, but actual construction has been stalled

China will be heading towards the GT-MHR design in stages of actually completed reactors.

The gas turbine part of the reactor design

The chinese steam cycle MHR will achieve much of the benefits of the Gas Turbine MHR and the gas turbine version chinese reactors will have roughly the same benefits in terms of less nuclear waste.

High temperature reactor history

Iris reactor license application inactive until 2010.

Documentation on the Iris reactor

High Temperature reactor conference

France also has a high temperature reactor design the Anteres, but they do not have firm construction plans

Cleantechnica followed the coverage provided here and adds some interesting information

Zinc Finger Proteins Put Personalized HIV Therapy Within Reach

- Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and collaborators are using minute, naturally occurring proteins called zinc fingers to engineer T cells to one day treat AIDS in humans.

The first steps have been taken towards the goal of using modified T cells from an HIV-infected person for their own treatment. They showed that, using the zinc fingers, they could reduce the viral load of immune-deficient mice transplanted with engineered T cells.

Normally, zinc fingers bind to different bases in the DNA sequence to regulate the activity of genes. The zinc fingers used in this experiment were designed to bind to specific DNA sequences in the CCR5 gene. The CCR5 protein is one of the two cell-surface receptors needed for HIV to gain entry into a T cell in order to replicate.

In this study, the zinc finger protein brings a DNA enzyme to the CCR5 gene to cut a portion of its sequence, but due to the repair process a new mutation arises in the CCR5 protein, rendering it non-functional. Without a functional CCR5 protein on the cell's surface, HIV cannot enter, presumably leading to resistance to HIV infection.

The researchers demonstrated this process in cell culture and in a mouse model. For the animal part of the study, the investigators used healthy human CD4 T cells and added DNA that expresses the zinc fingers, which modifies the CCR5 co-receptor. They grew the engineered cells in tissue culture flasks and transferred them into immune-deficient mice infected with HIV. "We followed them over time and showed that those mice that received the zinc-finger-treated cells showed less viral load than controls and improved CD4 counts," says Perez.

The researchers are planning a clinical trial in humans in which T cells from HIV patients would have their CCR5 gene deliberately knocked out. These modified T cells could then be infused back into the patients to re-establish their immune system and decrease their viral load.

Participated in a podcast on the Speculist about the Future of Fit and Fat

Sunday night Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon hosted a panel on The Future of of Fit (and Fat). The panelists were PJ Manney, Brian Wang, and fitness expert and entrepreneur Shawn Phillips.

Shawn Phillips is an author, entrepreneur, and expert in the area of performance training and nutrition. He created the Full Strength® Premium Nutrition Shake, clinically proven to swap body fat for lean muscle. He is the author of ABSolution: The Practical Guide to Building Your Best Abs and has just released Strength for Life, published by Ballantine/Random House.

PJ Manney is a writer and futurist and a leading voice in the H+ movement. She has written extensively on transhumanism and related topics, as well as for television (Xena Warrior Princess and Hercules the Legendary Journeys) , and has a novel under development. PJ is the Chairman of the board of directors of the World Transhumanist Association, she's a senior associate at the Foresight Nanotech Institute, and she is on the scientific advisory board for the Lifeboat Foundation.

Brian L. Wang, M.B.A. is the Director of Research for the Lifeboat Foundation. Brian is a long time futurist who has been involved with nanotechnology associations since 1994. He is now a member of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) Task Force where he moderates the technology sub-task force. He is also on the Nanoethics Group Advisory Board. He is also the mastermind behind Next Big Future.

Check out the notes on the podcast and the podcast itself over at the Speculist.

Molecular Genetics of Aging conference september 24-28, 2008

The fourth meeting on the Molecular Genetics of Aging is being organized by Steven Austad, University of Texas Health Science Center; Judith Campisi, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Buck Institute for Age Research and David Sinclair, Harvard Medical School

Judith Campisi is working on one of the major SENS life extension projects to deal with too many old cells. (Apoptosens)

Topics and Co-Chairs:
Genetics I
Heidi Tissenbaum (U Mass Worcester MA USA)
Scott Pletcher (Baylor Houston TX USA)

Genomic Stability
Jan Vijg (Buck Institute Novato CA USA)
Elizabeth Blackburn (UC San Francisco CA USA)

Mitochondria / Metabolism
Peter Rabinovitch (U Washington Seattle WA USA)
Leonard Guarente (MIT Boston USA)

Cellular Senescence / Apoptosis / Stress
John Sedivy (Brown U Providence RI USA
Norman Sharpless (UNC Chapel Hill NC USA)

Stem Cells
Irina Conboy (UC Berkeley CA USA)
Karl Rudolph (Med Sch Hanover Germany)

Proliferative Homeostasis
Paul Hasty (UT Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX USA)
Rolf Bodmer (Burnham Institute San Diego CA USA)

Environment / Interventions
Richard Miller (U. Mich., Ann Arbor MI USA)
Steven Spindler (UC Riverside CA USA)

Genetics II
Anne Brunet (Stanford U CA USA)
Jan Hoeijmakers (Erasmus U Rotterdam Netherlands)

Electrostatic-based DNA Microarray Technique Could Revolutionize Medical Diagnostics

A team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has invented a technique in which DNA or RNA assays — the key to genetic profiling and disease detection — can be read and evaluated without the need of elaborate chemical labeling or sophisticated instrumentation.

Based on electrostatic repulsion — in which objects with the same electrical charge repel one another — the technique is relatively simple and inexpensive to implement, and can be carried out in a matter of minutes.

"One of the most amazing things about our electrostatic detection method is that it requires nothing more than the naked eye to read out results that currently require chemical labeling and confocal laser scanners," said Jay Groves, a chemist with joint appointments at Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division and the Chemistry Department of the University of California (UC) at Berkeley, who led this research. "We believe this technique could revolutionize the use of DNA microarrays for both research and diagnostics."

Groves, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator, and members of his research group Nathan Clack and Khalid Salaita, have published a paper on their technique in the journal Nature Biotechnology, which is now available online. The paper is entitled "Electrostatic readout of DNA microarrays with charged microspheres."

In their paper, Groves, Clack, and Salaita describe how dispersing a fluid containing thousands of electrically-charged microscopic beads or spheres made of silica (glass) across the surface of a DNA microarray and then observing the Brownian motion of the spheres provides measurements of the electrical charges of the DNA molecules. These measurements can in turn be used to interrogate millions of DNA sequences at a time. What's more, these measurements can be observed and recorded with a simple hand-held imaging device — even a cell phone camera will do.

"The assumption has been that no detection technique could be more sensitive than fluorescent labeling, but this is completely untrue, as our results have plainly demonstrated," said Groves. "We've shown that changes in surface charge density as a result of specific DNA hybridization can be detected and quantified with 50-picometer sensitivity, single base-pair mismatch selectivity, and in the presence of complex backgrounds. Furthermore, our electrostatic detection technique should render DNA and RNA microarrays sufficiently cost effective for broad world-health applications, as well as research."

Nature biotechnology paper: Electrostatic readout of DNA microarrays with charged microspheres

DNA microarrays are used for gene-expression profiling, single-nucleotide polymorphism detection and disease diagnosis1, 2, 3. A persistent challenge in this area is the lack of microarray screening technology suitable for integration into routine clinical care4, 5. Here, we describe a method for sensitive and label-free electrostatic readout of DNA or RNA hybridization on microarrays. The electrostatic properties of the microarray are measured from the position and motion of charged microspheres randomly dispersed over the surface. We demonstrate nondestructive electrostatic imaging with 10-m lateral resolution over centimeter-length scales, which is four-orders of magnitude larger than that achievable with conventional scanning electrostatic force microscopy. Changes in surface charge density as a result of specific hybridization can be detected and quantified with 50-pM sensitivity, single base-pair mismatch selectivity and in the presence of complex background. Because the naked eye is sufficient to read out hybridization, this approach may facilitate broad application of multiplexed assays

June 29, 2008

LIFT cancer clinical trials

Human trials starting for Zheng Cui's LIFT 'cancer cure' H/T to Alfin

For the upcoming study, the researchers are currently recruiting 500 local potential donors who are 50 years old or younger and in good health to have their blood tested. Of those, 100 volunteers with high cancer-killing activity will be asked to donate white blood cells for the study. Cell recipients will include 22 cancer patients who have solid tumors that either didn't respond originally, or no longer respond, to conventional therapies. The study will cost $100,000 per patient receiving therapy, and for many patients (those living in 22 states, including North Carolina) the costs may be covered by their insurance company. There is no cost to donate blood.

The LIFT method and signing up for the trials The procedure was previously called GIFT.

LIFT is an investigational new cancer treatment that will transfer naturally-occurring cancer-killing activity (CKA) in the granulocytes of a selected donor into the body of a cancer patient.

Here's how the LIFT method works:

* Donor selection: Healthy young volunteers will be screened for the level of CKA, blood types, HLA types, infectious disease status, CMV status etc. by blood tests and physical examinations. The selected volunteers will become part of the Donor Registry. The test results of selected volunteers will be used to match with specific patients.

* Granulocyte collection: When a qualified patient is identified for treatment, granulocytes from several matched donors in the donor registry will be mobilized by two medications and collected by a well-established medical procedure called "apheresis" or "pheresis." A pheresis machine separates donor granulocytes from other blood products that will be immediately returned to donors so that the health impact on granulocyte donation is much smaller than on whole blood donation. Granulocyte mobilization and collection by apheresis have been used in clinical practices for a long time with very good safety record.

* Patient selection and granulocyte infusion: Qualified patients will be selected according to general health condition, disease status and match criteria. Freshly collected granulocytes from matched donors will be given to patients via IV infusion. Granulocytes cannot be stored or shipped for later uses.

Granulocyte infusion therapy has been traditionally used for treating neutropenia-related infections for over 30 years with excellent safety records. Since a significantly higher dose of granulocytes for each patient is proposed in our new cancer treatment, the primary goal of this clinical trial is to test whether the recipients can tolerate the proposed dose of granulocytes.

The main focus of the trial is the possibility of developing Transfusion-Associated Graft vs Host Diseases (TA-GVHD) and other potential side effects in the study subjects at higher doses of donor granulocyte.

Donor granulocytes per se are not known to produce TA-GVHD. However, granulocytes collected via apheresis may contain with some donor T-lymphocytes that in some rare occasions can produce various degrees of TA-GVHD in some individuals, especially the recipients with immune suppression. If possible, we will also make observations on the efficacy of this treatment on the study subjects with measurable diseases of cancer. We will recruit 22 cancer patients as study subjects for this trial.

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