July 19, 2008

Chemical breakthrough turns sawdust/lignin into biofuel

Yuan Kou at Peking University in Beijing, China, and his team have come up with a lignin breakdown reaction that more reliably produces the alkanes and alcohols needed for biofuels. The yield is twice as high as previous work.

Under ideal conditions, it is theoretically possible to produce monomers and dimers in yields of 44 to 56 weight % (wt%) and 28-29 wt% respectively. Weight % is the fraction of the solution's weight that is composed of either monomers or dimers.

the researchers' practical yields approached those theoretical ideals. They produced monomer yields of 45 wt% and dimer yields of 12 wt% – about twice what has previously been achieved.

"For the first time, we have produced alkanes, the main component of gasoline and diesel, from lignin, and biomethanol becomes available," says Yan.

"A large percentage of the starting material is converted into useful products," she adds. "But this work is still in its infancy so other aspects related to economic issue will be evaluated in the near future."

Longer lasting and higher density flash could be made with CD/DVD material

The materials used in rewritable CDs and DVDs also show promise as electronic memories systems. They believe they could make 1 million read/write material (50-100 times longer than current flash) and with 4-20 times higher density than flash and faster writing times. New materials for flash could be more competitive and Numonyx must make their new memory cheap enough to displace flash memeory.

New Scientist magazine provides details of the work of Greg Atwood and his colleagues at Numonyx, a flash memory chip maker in Santa Clara, California.

Numonyx has devised a novel microchip memory cell in which a blob of GST (an alloy of tellurium, antimony and germanium used for CDs and DVDs) sits atop a simple resistor. Different current pulses applied to the resistor heat the blob and change its state, and a second, much lower (non-heating) current can sense the blob's resistance.

This Phase Change Memory (PCM) appears to work reliably. Numonyx – a spinoff from Intel – has built a 128-megabit flash memory and is currently allowing unnamed gadget makers to assess its potential.

Numonyx believes PCM offers new scaling possibilities. They believe they can change and stably hold the phase states in GST cell sizes down to 5 nanometres and below. This would 4-20 times more dense than flash might become.

And, without the parasitic charge problems of today's flash, it can be written to at least 1 million times. And, unlike flash, individual bits in PCM can be changed at will: flash has to rewrite chunks of data each time, slowing the writing process.

Today, most flash memory transistors are about 65 nanometres wide, with the next generation set for 45 nm. "But serious issues will begin to arise when dimensions get below 20 nanometres due to the retention of electric charge in the flash transistor," warns Atwood.

Current limitation are around 10,000 write-and-erase cycles. But with 20 nanometre transistors that effect worsens considerably, limiting lifetime even further.

Carbon sequestering in cities, Calera cement, and maybe Vinod Khosla first trillionaire in 2020

Calera cement, funded by Vinod Khosla, which would take CO2 from the air to make cement and contour crafting which is a technology for printing buildings to speed up construction by 100 times
could be used to build new cities, dams,

wind turbines and airports and many other useful cement construction as productive carbon sequestering. It would be possible to simply build our way out of any CO2 issues. Carbon taxes or credits for removing CO2 ($25-100/ton in Europe) such as those proposed by Al Gore could make Calera cement virtually free for builders.

UPDATE: A less secretive Canadian company, Carbon Sense Solutions, has the same goal, storing carbon dioxide in cement but ten to fifteen times less than the Calera goal

Converting the world cement industry to cement that removes CO2 instead of adds it would be a reduction 5 billion tons of CO2/year. The entire US production of CO2 is now 6 billion tons. The Al Gore proposal of de-carbonizing all US electricity generations was a plan to remove 2.4 billion tons of CO2 generation per year.

There was 2.35 billion tons of cement used in 2007 and demand is increasing at 130 million tons per year. 1.4 billion tons of cement produced and used in China is 2007.

Cement production makes between 1 to 1.25 tons of CO2 per year

Calera, a Vinod Khosla funded company, is starting up a pilot plant for a new type of cement and process that would remove that 1 ton of CO2 from the air to make the 1 ton of cement. The plan is have 100 plant producing up to 1 billion tons of the new cement by 2015.

CO2 emmissions are 27 billion tons per year worldwide.

Various goals for avoiding climate change suggest reducing those emissions by 7 billion tons/year or more aggressively to have the current level

An accelerated conversion of all cement production to a successful Calera process by 2015 would be 3.4 billion tons of cement in 2015 under normal growth. Increasing cement construction using contour crafting and the new cement and making more buildings and other objects so that usage is 10-40 billion tons/year instead of 4 billion tons per year (under normal growth) in 2020 would be a major form of productive carbon sequestering. Productive in that the buildings made of cement now holding carbon would be useful for economic enterprise.

The World trade center used 955,000 tons of cement and 200,000 tons of steel and had 10 million square feet of space.

The world commercial building business is a trillion dollar industry making billions of square feet each year.

Shanghai had 3000 buildings over 24 meters (12 stories) high by 2000 and a hundred over 100 meters and there has been a lot more construction since then.

New 5-7 MW and larger wind turbines are over 120 meters tall and use hundreds of tons of cement each.

There is also demand for hundreds of airports.

10.8 million tons of cement used for the Three Gorges Dam.

Cement costs between $90-150/ton

Wind turbine material usage

Enercon 6MW model has 36 concrete section

Fast company has coverage on the Calera startup The pilot plant should be open by the end of 2010.

Making cement without also making carbon dioxide seems impossible; the basic chemistry of the process releases the gas. But maybe that's not really true, Stanford University scientist Brent Contstantz began thinking last year.

Calera is only now preparing to open its first cement plant, on a 200-acre site next door to a gas-fired electric-power utility. Carbon-dioxide-laden exhaust from the power plant will be captured and used to make and dry the cement. Calera plans to be in pilot production by the end of the year, in commercial operation by 2010, and running 100 sites in North America five years later.

wikipedia has information on how others are working on cement that absorbs CO2 but this may or may not be similar to the Calera process which is secret.

Eco-Cement sets and hardens by sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere and is recyclable. The rate of absorption of CO2 varies with the degree of porosity and the amount of MgO. Carbonation occurs quickly at first and more slowly towards completion. A typical Eco-Cement concrete block would be expected to fully carbonate within a year.

Calera website. Almost no info

Other carbon sequestration startups and methods and background from earth2tech

Carbon sequestering Startups:
* Calera: There are few details on this Silicon Valley startup, but the company was founded by Stanford earth sciences professor Brent Constantz and has received funding from Khosla Ventures. Calera looks to make cement, a carbon-intensive undertaking, by taking CO2 out of the atmosphere.

* GreatPoint Energy - Their main product is natural gas derived from coal called “bluegas.” Using a chemical catalyst to break down low-grade, and low cost, carbon fuels (tar sands, petroleum coke, etc.) in a process called “catalytic coal methanation” GreatPoint produces pipeline grade methane. The resulting emission stream is nearly all CO2 that GreatPoint recommends can be used in EOR operations. GreatPoint has raised $137 million in three rounds of funding and have announced a pilot plant and R&D program. Investors.
* PowerSpan - Maker of pollutant controls focusing on SOx and NOx, PowerSpan is working on CCS as part of its ECO2 program. ECO2 is an ammonia-based scrubber system that can be added to existing plants ad remove CO2 from flue gases after other pollutants have been scrubbed. PowerSpan has plans for two different pilot programs, one in a partnership with BP Alternative Energy and the other with NRG Energy to prove the commercial scalability. Investors.
* Blue Source: A carbon middleman, Salt Lake City-based Blue Source orchestrates sales of carbon emissions along their gas pipelines between polluters and EOR projects. MIT Technology Review lauded them as financially innovative for coupling CCS with carbon offset sales.
* Skyonic: Skyonic’s “SkyMine process” is a post-combustion system that can be implemented in existing plants. The process reacts flue effluent with sodium hydroxide and pulls CO2 out to form sodium bicarbonate (”better-than-food-grade baking soda”) while also removing heavy metals and acid gases. The process uses energy in the form of waste heat from the plant. Oh, and it’s profitable since emitters can sell off the chemicals byproducts. Skyonic has installed a pilot project on a Luminant (formerly TXU) plant in Texas and are planning on installing a system on a large plant (500 MW) in 2009. Skyonics has raised $4.25 million in two rounds of funding, including investment from TXU.
* GreenFuel Technologies: Looking to sell biomass to biofuel makers, GreenFuel plans to take CO2 from flues and use it to grow algae. The “emissions-to-biofuel” process pulls flue gases through an algal farm to grow the algae and released a performance summary in September. They have raised $18 million in Series B led by Polaris and are raising more funding now.

A related or unrelated though interesting process (patent description) of carbon dioxide absorption from cement sludge by Japanese scientists

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are working on another process to sequester CO2 in concrete. They are trying to quantify how well porous concrete absorbs carbon dioxide. They're exposing crushed concrete to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, triggering a chemical reaction that sequesters the gas and keeps it from leaching out. Through the reaction, which converts calcium hydroxide to limestone, porous concrete gets stronger. But eventually the material becomes saturated with carbon dioxide and stops absorbing it.

Tarun Naik at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is also helping to recycle concrete products

July 18, 2008

Latest on life extension and combating Alzheimers

An ambitious plan to sequence 100 genes in 1,000 healthy old people could shed light on genetic variations that insulate some people from the ailments of aging, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, allowing them to live a healthy life into their eighties and beyond. Rather than focusing on genetic variations that increase risk for disease, scientists plan to focus on genes that have previously been linked to health and longevity.

UPDATE: Melanie Swan, Hedge fund manager and futurist, believes that the next big venture capital market could be the life extension industry

Researchers are collecting blood samples from 1,000 people age 80 or older who have never suffered any serious illnesses and do not take medication.

Topol and his collaborators will compare the gene sequences from the healthy volunteers with DNA samples collected from people who died from age-related diseases before they reached their eighties. The scientists have already found that the healthy people had only a slightly lower probability of carrying disease-linked variations. That supports the idea that protective genes are playing a major role in people's successful aging.

Scientists hope that identifying the molecular basis for this protective effect will enable them to mimic it with drugs.

Success could mean that everyone who received the right treatments could live healthy lives into their eighties. Life expectancy could approach or exceed 100 when combined with new detection and treatments for cancer and calorie restriction mimicking drugs

Gene therapy was used to improve the function of genetically damaged vision, which shows that it is possible protective life extension genes could also be modified in adults.

Gene silencing is getting more effective and gene therapy is getting cheaper, safer and more effective

A Russian antihistamine drug, Dimebon, reverses cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients over a 12 month period in early human testing This is huge because other drugs just slow the decline to varying degrees. It is also big because they believe the medication works by stabilizing mitochondria which is an important factor in aging (One of the seven aging damage targets of SENS).

Another drug Enbrel, an drug approved for arthritis treatment, had clinical trials that showed 22% improvement over 6 months. So Dimebon and Enbrel are two promising new treatments for Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's effects 4 million americans now and 20 million or more americans will get Alzheimer's based on current trends and statisitics.

H/T to Al fin

"What we saw in the clinical trial is that people on the medication continued to improve over time," Doody said. "Those on placebo continued to decline."

Researchers believe the medication works by stabilizing mitochondria, the cellular components that produce energy, and possibly by inhibiting brain cell death. Researchers evaluated patients' thinking and memory ability, overall function, psychiatric and behavioral symptoms, and ability to perform daily activities.

"Usually at this point in a drug's development, we are happy to see improvement in one of the outcome measures," Doody said. "We saw improvement in all five."

Some participants complained of occasional dry mouth, but no one opted out of the study because of the side effects.

"As we continue research, we hope to replicate these results," Doody said. "My belief is that this drug will turn out to be useful for Alzheimer's disease, regardless of the stage of the disease."

The positive effects of maintaining and improving mitochondria function shows the validity of the SENS approach to life extension.

Mitosens is one of the seven parts of the SENS approach.

Success in all seven parts of SENS to repair the damage of aging before they become disease. This repair is applying rejuvenation to a body.

The full alzheimer's paper on Dimebon is online and requires free registration to access at the Lancet.

Carnival of Space Week 63

Graphene is the strongest material ever

A new and highly reliable approach for making graphene membranes of a macroscopic size (currently up to 100 μm in diameter) provided a lot fo graphene samples for strength tests Such measurements had never been taken before because they must be performed on perfect samples of graphene, with no tears or missing atoms.

Graphene transistors could take the heat of being very high performance computer processors. Graphene would make durable, mechanically operated electrical switch for communications devices including cell phones and advanced radar.

James Hone, mechanical-engineering professors at Columbia University, compares his material strength test to stretching a piece of plastic wrap over the top of a coffee cup, and measuring the force that it takes to puncture it with a pencil. If he could get a large enough piece of the material to lay over the top of a coffee cup, he says, graphene would be strong enough to support the weight of a car balanced atop the pencil.

New Scientist magazine indicates that the graphene could be pushed downwards by 100 nanometres with a force of up to 2.9 micronewtons before rupturing. The researchers estimate that graphene has a breaking strength of 55 newtons per metre.

"As a way of visualising the force needed to break the membranes, imagine trying to puncture a sheet of graphene that is as thick as ordinary plastic food wrap – typically 100 micrometers thick," says James Hone, head of the laboratory at Columbia in which Lee studies. "It would require a force of over 20,000 newtons, equivalent to the weight of a 2000 kilogram car."

That strength puts graphene literally "off the chart" of the strongest materials measured, Hone says. "These measurements constitute a benchmark of strength that a macroscopic system will never achieve, but can hope to approach," he says.

In separate work, Tim Booth and Peter Blake at the University of Manchester, UK, are well on the way to bringing atomically perfect graphene out of the nanoscopic and into to the macroscopic world. Their team has patented a new method to produce free-standing graphene flakes up to 100 micrometers in diameter.

Booth and Blake have realised that acrylic glass (PMMA) has the same optical properties as silicon and can also highlight graphene flakes. It however easily dissolves away in acetone, a less aggressive chemical that doesn't alter graphene. Using their technique, Booth and Blake can easily isolate large crystals.

We are limited only by the size of graphene flakes available," says Booth. "There is no reason that the method will not scale up to much larger flakes."

Using these flakes, Booth and Blake have also found that graphene is extraordinarily stiff. A crystal supported on just one side extends nearly 10 micrometers without any support – equivalent to an unsupported sheet of paper 100 metres in length. It had previously been assumed that graphene would curl up if left unsupported.

Graphene could be added to polymers to form super-strength composites, Booth says. "However, it is likely the most interesting applications will result from a unique combination of graphene's properties: transparency, electronic structure, stiffness, thermal conductivity," he says. "That could help achieve science-fiction applications."

July 17, 2008

Responding to Al Gore's Clean Energy Challenge

Al Gore has put forward an energy challenge, which has very few details. The challenge is for the United States to get to zero carbon electricity generation within 10 years. Al Gore also spoke with Katie Couric of CBS News about his challenge

His primary policy recommendation related to this goal is to cut the payroll tax and replace it with carbon taxes to motivate the change.

Federal payroll tax $713 billion in 2003. 71% was Social security. 21% was Medicare

The United States generates 6 billion tons of CO2 each year So a CO2 tax would generate whatever dollars per ton times 6 billion. A $60/ton of CO2 tax would generate $360 billion/year. A complete replacement of all federal payroll tax would be about $120/ton of CO2.

Note: it is not clear if the carbon tax proposed would be against all CO2 which would effect transportation and industry and not just electric generation. Also, if the de-carbonization of electricity was starting to be successful then payroll taxes would have to be re-raised to replace any reduced carbon taxes because you still have to pay for Social security and medicare.

First the choice of the goal
The goal of complete de-carbonizing of United States electrical generation seems like an excessive focus on electrical generation. This is separate from the carbon tax proposal which would make sense. The carbon tax proposal is a good one (just as certain versions of Cap and trade can be made to work as well), it just that if the carbon tax is the only policy the result will be some de-carbonization but not complete de-carbonization and more nuclear power and for quite some time more natural gas power as well as more renewables. [See the next section on the carbon tax effect]

Looking at CO2 sources for the USA. From 2001 DOE sources.

It would seem that a more balanced overall approach which addressed the other segments of transportation, industrial, residential and commercial sources would make more economic sense. The Gore challenge also mostly sidesteps the most pressing issue for Americans which is the price of oil and foreign oil dependence. He also does not address air pollution which this site feels is the most important issue. The proposal would address air pollution as a byproduct of achieving the first goal. Air pollution kills 60,000 Americans per year and (indoor and outdoor) air pollution kills 5 million people per year worldwide. (World Health Organization statistics)

Very little oil is used for electricity (313,000 barrels/day) and only some is used for heating which could be displaced with electricity. However, displacing oil with electricity for heating would be raising the bar on the amount of clean electricity that is needed. However, this site believes it is the better strategy.

This site is all for eliminating coal power for electricity as this would also help reduce pollution from transportation to move over 1 billion tons of coal per year.

The overall sources of US energy which includes all uses transportation, industrial, electricity.

Carbon tax effect
An EIA analysis of the McCain Lieberman climate change bill indicated the effect of a growing cost per ton of carbon from $14-58/ton. The $58 high end would be about half of a complete federal payroll tax replacing carbon tax. Which would still increase natural gas and not eliminate coal by 2030 based on the EIA projection of similar carbon cost increases with a Cap and trade as opposed to carbon tax method. So the de-carbonizing goal would not be achieved although the situation would be improved.

It shows that with no allowance for letting international offsetting of the climate rules, that the economics would drive by 2020 about a 33% reduction in coal usage but an increase in natural gas. There would be substantially more nuclear power and renewable power but even in 2030 there would not be complete elimination of coal and natural gas usage would continue to grow.

So Gore would have to be pushing a far larger carbon tax and other policies to generate his desired effect.

Carbon taxes are described at wikipedia

Oil: According to the EIA, emissions total about 20 pounds of CO2 per gallon of petroleum (2.4 kilograms per litre, 2.4 kg/L), so a tax of $100 per ton of CO2 ($110 per tonne of CO2) would translate to a tax of about $1.00 per gallon ($0.26 per litre). To be precise: Emissions are 19.564 pounds of CO2 per gallon of motor gasoline, 22.384 pounds of CO2 per gallon of diesel fuel, and 21.095 pounds of CO2 per gallon of jet fuel (2344.3 g CO2 per L of motor gasoline, 2682.2 g CO2 per L of diesel fuel, and 2527.7 g CO2 per L of jet fuel). So a tax of $100 per ton of CO2 translates to a tax of $0.978 per gallon of motor gasoline, $1.119 per gallon of diesel fuel, and $1.055 per gallon of jet fuel ($0.258 per litre of motor gasoline, $0.296 per litre of diesel fuel, and $0.279 per litre of jet fuel). At a price between $2.50 and $5.00 per gallon, a tax of $100 per ton of CO2 would raise fuel prices by 40–20%.

Natural Gas: A tax of $100 per ton of CO2 translates to a tax of $6.03 per thousand cubic feet of natural gas. At a price of between $4 and $10 per thousand cubic feet, a tax of $100 per ton of CO2 would raise natural gas prices by 60–150%.

Coal: A tax of $100 per ton of CO2 means a price increase of 500–1,000% depending on the type (512% for lignite, 680% for sub bituminous, 903% for bituminous, and 1039% for anthracite).

Electricity: a tax of $100 per ton of CO2 translates into a tax of $0.05854 per kW·h for natural gas, about $0.0775 per kW·h for petroleum, and between $0.1027 and $0.1137 per kW·h for coal. Current electricity prices are in the neighborhood of $0.08 per kW·h.

Why you could still have coal power even with a high carbon tax ? The coal plants could sequester CO2 to save the carbon tax. They could still make money which exceeds variable costs of efficient existing plants.

Emissions trading systems have differences from carbon taxes. Cap and trade systems allow an overall level of pollution and then put a price on the carbon. Companies and counties that have high costs for reducing carbon can then pay another company or country to reduce who can do it for lower cost.

A high carbon tax that was high enough to put coal plants out of business too soon before replacement power can be built would create power shortage situations.

The carbon tax could make it worth billions to put out underground coal fires. Only if some companies can be made responsible for the coal fires or if credits are given for those who reduce the CO2 levels regardless of source.

Energy Technology Plan
This site has proposed an energy plan with a greater focus on applying better energy technology. The plan is not solely focused on CO2 emissions.

Short term
Efficiency and drilling for regular and enhanced recovery, policy that discourages coal and fossil fuel and encourages nuclear and renewables. Try to reduce fuel usage 2-4% per year and try to increase oil from drilling and biofuels by 3-6% per year.

Accelerate the development and deployment of inflatable electric cars and adapting cars like the $2500 Tata nano to be plug in electric vehicles.

Accelerate the development and deployment of new building technology like Calera cement which removes one ton of CO2 for each ton of cement instead of adding one ton of CO2 to the air. If all cement worldwide were able to use this then instead of adding 2.35 billion tons of CO2/year there would be a removal of 2.35 billion tons.

Encourage the adoption of electric bikes and scooters. China has 80 million and is building 21 million per year. Electric scooters can reach highway speeds and folding e-bikes can be rolled onto public transit.

Build the factory mass producible meltdown proof high temperature nuclear reactors. Accelerate the factory mass producible Hyperion power Uranium hydride reactor. [currently targeting 2012 deployment]

Build the Fuji Molten salt reactor which can use thorium and can burn 99% of the thorium, uranium and plutonium which only leaves 30 year half life material.

Mid Term
Big nuclear buildup and thermoelectric and transmission efficiency Triple nuclear power by 2020 by using new (MIT annular nuclear fuel can increase power by 50% for existing reactors) uprate technology and advanced thermoelectrics and some new plants. (25% of all energy from nuclear instead of 8.2% and 17% less fossil fuel. First reduce coal first - 30,000 deaths from coal air pollution, 60,000 deaths from combined coal [over 13 times all US forces deaths from the current Iraq war] and fossil fuel air pollution in the USA. Plus moving 1.2 billion tons of coal is 40% of freight rail traffic and 10% of diesel fuel usage.) Can get up to six times more nuclear by 2030. Displace all coal and a lot of oil.

Mid-Long Term
Very advanced nuclear fission and nuclear fusion and better renewables (geothermal, wind [kitegen, superconducting wind turbines], solar [concentrated solar in municipal or rural power configurations. My favorite is CoolEarth's solar balloons], genetically modified organisms for biofuel)

Also part of the near term steps, but which would not likely have impact until the mid-term is to fully fund the best nuclear fusion power generation possibilities. Create policies to accelerate research and deployment.

Time to Small Cost to Achieve Large scale chance
Concept Description Scale net energy Net Energy after small success Funded?

Plasma Focus 6 years $1M+ Sales X-scan 80% Y, $1.9m
Focus fusion website
Focus fusion US patent application
Working on a funded experiment with Chile 2006-2010

Bussard IEC Fusion 3-5 years $200 million 90% Y, $2m
My intro to Bussard fusion and update on prototype work

Tri-alpha Energy aka 8 years $75 million 60% Y, $50m
Colliding Beam fusion aka
Field Reversed Configuration
My review of the academic research before the funded stealth project

General Fusion aka 3-6 years $10-30 million 60% Y, $15 m
Magnetized target fusion
Steam generated shock wave into spinning liquid metal

Multi-pole Ion beam
version of Bussard IEC 3-5 years $200 million 90% N
FP generation MIX IEC fusion

Koloc Spherical Plasma 10 years $25 million 80% N (self)
Attempt to create stable ball lightning plasma balls
In 2004, trying to generate 30-40cm plasma spheres

There should be a Darpa of energy created to fund high risk and high return energy technology.

Gore spoke with Katie Couric and expanded upon his plan. In the interview, he discusses the value or lack thereof of clean coal, nuclear power, and natural gas. For nuclear, Al states that the keeping the current nuclear is OK but that more nuclear power is too expensive and that there are no small reactors. There are small nuclear reactors that are being developed now. High Temperature reactors are in the 200MW range. China is starting production in 2009 and after the first success will step up to mass production.
The United States and other countries have micro and small nuclear reactors designs and pilot projects but have not stepped up to production

The Fuji Molten salt reactor is an excellent small reactor design

Mass production of small reactors allows for cost reductions similar to those from scaling to large sizes. Plus one can place say eight 200 MW modules in one place and use one control center and generate the same power as a 1.6 GW reactor. This is one of the Chinese plans. China also plans to order 100 large AP1000 reactors [1.25-1.7GW] to have built or being built by 2020.

In the comment section of a discussion at Newtalk.org the question of is nuclear power needed to address climate change is addressed by this site.

The question of is nuclear essential is based on some energy decisions and policy going forward. It is only a question of whether more nuclear will be added along with other power additions. Energy policy does not change that fast. so this would only be a meaningful question for projects starting or in early progress in 2010. It is also not much of a meaningful question for China and several other countries they are already committed to nuclear power for other reasons.

Other countries who will be building more power will use nuclear
The EIA forecast is 86 Quad BTU being added to the world 2010-2020.[reference case 2008]
Currently about 480 Quad BTU in use in the world.
The US uses 100 Quad BTU.
China is forecast to add 33.3 Quad BTU. 110GW of hydroelectric being added by China 2010-2020. 50+GW of nuclear power is being added. So about 6 Quad from hydro and 4+ quad from nuclear.
As noted, China is talking about 100 AP1000 (1.25 GW-1.7GW) instead of 40 built or being built by 2020. And the mass production of high temperature reactors.
Russia adding 40GW of nuclear and India and other countries have firm nuclear power plans. So it looks like 10+ quads based on current plans from nuclear.
At the end of 2006 the US had 11.6GW of wind. This had generated 0.258 quads of energy in 2006. So almost one hundred times that amount to displace coal usage. 1TW of wind power. Also, coal used for industrial processes probably could not be displaced by wind. High temperature nuclear reactors could supply the right thermal energy for those industrial processes.
So how much will some OECD countries adjust their mix of 25% of the world new power build ? Will there be an actual programs to shift the already installed power mix in the OECD ?

No Opportunity cost for Nuclear Power
Greenpeace claims that there is an opportunity cost of nuclear power. The choice to develop nuclear power is being made by business and government interests in many countries. Some of those companies such as GE also are major developers of wind power. If wind power would make GE more money then GE would develop more wind power. Many of utilities and companies involved develop a range of power generation sources.

The nuclear industries track record is not as bad as projects cherry picked for high prices and overruns would indicate. Many of recent nuclear construction in China, Japan and south Korea have been on time and budget and the budgets have been far lower than the Florida quote. The Florida quote is also a budget that includes everything including extra grid and not just the power plant. Wind power costs: 1.5 billion euro for 500MW. Which generates the equivalent of 150MW of nuclear. So 15 billion euro to make equivalent of a 1.5GW nuclear reactor.

Cost: The analysis made by the countries and companies investing in nuclear indicates that they believe costs for nuclear are low enough. With accelerating orders and build.

Safety: Externe (swiss) analysis of deaths per TWH for nuclear compare very favorably to other power sources. Especially good compared to coal and oil which remain the dominant energy sources now and in every forecast of actual energy development. So if wind and solar cannot replace all of the coal and oil by X years then nuclear should be developed along side to displace the far more deadly coal and oil. Air pollution (indoor and outdoor) kills 5 million worldwide (World Health Organization).

Deaths from coal are not pleasant. Here is a description of the dam of mountain top removal coal mining sludge breaking in the USA and the London fog deaths

Here is a description of the struggle that two chinese coal miners endured to live when 179 did not. Many of the 179 probably also struggled to live but failed.

Security: No meaningful security breaches have been made. On proliferation : are we going in time to stop Pakistan's Khan from giving Iran and North Korea nuclear secrets?) In terms of terrorist action, there are plenty of targets (hydro dams, water supplies, oil refineries etc...) layers of nuclear plants is sufficient and pro-actively eliminating or reducing terrorism at the source is the more cost effective option (and more effective in general)

Waste: What about the billions of tons of air pollution particulates ? What is the halflife of mercury or arsenic ? How about the twenty thousand tons of uranium and thorium going into the air from burning coal. Did a Greenpeace plan address that in 7 years ? Nuclear can be kept in barrels or pools onsite. Better reactors like molten salt reactors (Japan, Fuji molten salt)or accelerator driven reactors (EU) or high temperature reactors that can burn the waste from current reactors can be developed. Waste which is mostly unburned nuclear fuel. Molten salt reactors were built in the sixties and seventies by the USA so they are not fairy tale reactors. Warren Buffet did not invest in Google or Microsoft either. Warren makes his money where he is comfortable, if he does not invest it does not automatically mean that investment is bad.

Scaling up clean energy faster
The Greenpeace and RMI claims that renewables like solar and wind can be scaled up faster. This has been stated for decades and not been proven to be true. Many billions per year have been spent in Germany, Spain and other places to subsidize wind and solar but in spite of many years of subsidized build up wind is at 194 TWh globally and 50 Twh in Germany. The Global wind energy council forecasts that if Germany has optimal wind friendly policies then Germany could have 55 GW of wind by 2020 generating 150 Twh. Yes France in the 1980s built its 60GW of nuclear power which generate 420 Twh. So the wind and solar build up faster line is bunch of BS. Greenpeace quote RMI and Lovins. Lovins has claimed that nuclear power is a dieing industry since his Foreign Affair article in 1976. Since then global nuclear power has increased by over 400% and is now over 2600 Twh. A lot of the increase was from operational improvements and uprating existing plants (increasing power from existing plants).

Further uprates are possible. MIT has piloted annular fuel which could increase power generation by 50% for existing PWR and there is other work for increasing BWR by 30+%. Westinghouse is working on commercialization. There is still room for standard uprates as well. Applying 50% power uprates would increase nuclear power from 20% now to 30% power generation even if no new plants were built.

China is increasing its nuclear power build. Official target for 2020 now 6086 GWe and discussing have 100 AP1000 reactors built or being built by 2020. (1.25GW-1.7GW sizes). China starting in Sept, 2009 the construction of a 200MW high temperature nuclear reactor which would have 40% thermal efficiency and would be meltdown proof. Meltdown was shown in 10MW pilot reactor when cooling systems were turned off. The high temperature reactors are designed for factory mass production.

Nuclear proliferation: to which countries ? Most countries already have actual weapons or the means to produce them. Canada and many other countries choose not to produce nuclear weapons. Countries have historically gotten nuclear weapons first and then commercial nuclear power. North Korea, nuclear weapons but no commercial nuclear power.

Plus the nuclear build will primarily be in places that already have nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

Business as usual nuclear power is on track to increase 200GW and 1400 Twh by 2020. With an accelerated build effort and with 50% uprating this can go to an increase of 600GW and 5200Twh. Wind, solar, geothermal power should be built up as well but there is no reason to not build up the nuclear power. Plus a lot of the build action will be in China and Asia where Greenpeace sentiment is meaningless.

Supply Chain bottlenecks being removed

Not all nuclear reactors need the big containment dome forgings. Candu reactors don't. Areva, France nuclear/the world's biggest reactor builder, is considering modifying its newest design to be able to make the central reactor-vessel part from a 350-ton ingot instead of more than 500 tons as required today. Russia also makes their own forgings. South Korea's large forging capacity is coming online and is already taking orders. Britain and China are also building up large forging capacity. China is willing to weld two half size forgings together (this was a procedure done earlier in the nuclear industry).

Japan steel can turn out four of the steel forgings that contain the radioactivity in a nuclear reactor. They will double capacity in the next two years. Another alternative is to turn back the technological clock and weld together two smaller forgings, said John Fees, CEO of McDermott International Inc.'s Babcock & Wilcox Co. That technique was used over the past 40 years in the U.S. and France and is still applied in China. China High temp reactors do not need large forgings either. Neither would Hyperion Power Generations Uranium hydride reactors.

Proliferate to which country or group? North Korea already has the tech. Iran has all the know-how and is working on getting the material. Pakistan has the bomb. What is the differential risk? Countries get the bomb first then they get nuclear power. If China has 11 reactors and 300 nuclear bombs or if China has 500 nuclear reactors and 300 nuclear bombs then what is the differential risk? Proliferation already has happened slowly over the last 6 decades. Proliferation has killed no one. No new country that has gotten nuclear weapons has killed anyone with nuclear weapons. Meanwhile over 200 million people have died from air pollution and over 300,000 have died from coal mining. Conventional weapons have killed over 150 million since the end of WW2. Why not concentrate on things that are actually killing people every year in very large numbers instead of theories of greater risk which are not correct. Should not more dangerous or deadly actually kill more people?

Material usage for wind power and the size of wind turbines

Amory Lovins has not only been wrong for decades about nuclear energy, his current plan for micro-power is 70-80% small diesel generators, coal plants, and natural gas.

Various EIA forecasts of the impact of different past climate change policy proposals.

EIA Kyoto related footnotes

A permit auction system is identical to a carbon tax as long as the marginal abatement reduction cost is known with certainty by the Federal Government. If the target reduction is specified, as in this analysis, then there is one true price, which represents the marginal cost of abatement, and this also becomes the appropriate tax rate. In the face of uncertainty, however, the actual tax rate applied may over- or undershoot the carbon reduction target. Auctioning of the permits by the Federal Government is evaluated in this report. To investigate a system of allocated permits would require an energy and macroeconomic modeling structure with a highly detailed sectoral breakout beyond those represented in the NEMS and DRI models. For a comparison of emissions taxes and marketable permit systems, see R. Perman, Y. Ma, and J. McGilvray, Natural Resources and Environmental Economics (New York, NY: Longman Publishing, 1996), pp. 231-233.

Carbon Tax and International Emissions Trading: A Swiss Perspective

Sweden has had a $100/ton carbon tax since 1991 which was raised to $150/ton but does not apply to electricity generation. Tthis is a link to their current energy profile.

The carbon tax site reviews the carbon tax situation around the world

Finland enacted a carbon tax in 1990, the first country to do so. While originally based only on carbon content, it was subsequently changed to a combination carbon/energy tax (U.S.EPA National Center for Environmental Economics). The current tax is €18.05 per tonne of CO2 (€66.2 per tonne of carbon) or $24.39 per tonne of CO2 ($89.39 per tonne of carbon) in U.S. dollars (using the August 17, 2007 exchange rate of USD 1.00= Euro 0.7405).

Finland's energy profile is here

Finland's electricity

Last year, combined heat and power generation (CHP) covered 29 percent of electricity consumption, nuclear power 25 percent, hydropower 15 percent, and coal and other conventional condensing power 16 percent. The share of wind power was 0.2 percent. Net electricity imports rose by ten percent, now accounting for 14 percent of electricity consumption.

Finland's energy mix

Swedish energy agency discussion of their electricity situation

195K superconductor at dry ice temperatures

The formula for the 195K superconductor is (Sn1.0Pb0.5In0.5)Ba4Tm6Cu8O22+. Its 1256/1212 structure is shown.

A new method of production was developed. This new method of synthesis, layers of 12x(x+1) and 1212 precursors are alternated in a "layer cake" arrangement before sintering. Each layer was initially pressed at 200 psi. Then, once all the layers were set, the entire pellet was pressed at 70,000 psi and sintered in the UPRIGHT position. When sintered in the "sideways" position, very little of the desired phase forms. This suggests gravity facilitates migration of the heavy thulium atoms. This technique results in the desired phase forming along interference boundaries.

Ten times more 185K superconducting material was made and detectable amounts of 195K material.

The 195K material is being patented. But the new method of synthesis is being released into the public domain without patent protection. It may be used freely without limitations. When combined with the Tao Electrostatic Separation Technique, this method should be able to produce a near homogenous 195K bulk superconductor

NOTE: this was a highly systematic process to modify the makeup of the material to find a higher criticial temperature structure.

The number of families of superconducting material is providing more points of data for creating unified theories for all superconductors. Successful unified theories would be able to guide the experimentalists even better on optimal doping strategies and changes to the structures to tune the various properties of the superconductors. This could allow rapid progress to the creation of room temperature superconductors and material for moving higher energy density and optimizing many other useful properties.

There is also a low energy model and electron pockets hole model

This year has seen excellent experimental progress being made to room temperature (300K) superconductors as well as theoretical progress. There has also been the whole new class of higher temperature iron based superconductors.

Getting up to dry ice temperatures will lower the cost of using the superconductors because the cooling problems will be greatly simplified. It gets us closer to the goals of room temperature superconductors and some of the applications could be possible with dry ice. Even the superconductors that need a lot more cooling are being used for more efficient engines and generators that are three times smaller than conventional. There has also been a commercial pilot of superconducting cable for electric utility distribution. Superconductors can also make better magnets for nuclear fusion reactors.

It appears that dry ice cooling temperatures are two to seven times cheaper than liquid nitrogen temperatures.

BBC News talked about that anticipated but delayed vision from the hoped for results from the 1987 "warmer" superconducting breakthroughs.

Levitating high-speed trains, super-efficient power generators and ultra-powerful supercomputers would become commonplace thanks to a new breed of materials known as high temperature superconductors (HTSC).

Those difficult to manipulate superconductors have been on track to make smaller and more efficient motors with commercial impact in 2010 South Korea was making significant advances with 1300hp superconducting generators.

They were also being tested in 36.5 MW motors for navy ships.

Electric car motors would shrink to be one third the size for the same power by using superconducting wire. Similar to the previously mentioned improvement for the large superconducting motors of navy ships. It is more difficult to make a cost efficient superconducting small motor.

If room temperature superconductors were cheap to make they could replace batteries and also the need for a car engine by storing the power to run the car. Currently this is cost prohibitive. Wikipedia has an article on superconducting magnetic energy storage

Here was a more recent list of predictions of what "warm" superconductors that we had before the most recent two announcements could provide. 100Tbps routers, faster communications, faster computers, better sensors and more. Room temperature versions would make all of these things cheaper, more widespread and more powerful.

If the new room temperature superconductors have or can be made to have a very high current density relative to their weight, then there is the possibility of a ground launched magnetic sail or high performance magnetic sails for space propulsion.

31 page pdf of the 1999 Zubrin study for Nasa on magnetic sails

Getting up to 100 billion to 1 trillion or more amperes per cubic meter is the current density for high performing magnetic sails.

D.G. Andrews and R.M. Zubrin, "Magnetic Sails and Interstellar Travel." Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 1990. The first paper published, concerned primarily with the cost savings to other propulsion systems from the use of the magsail as an interstellar brake.

R.M. Zubrin and D.G. Andrews, "Magnetic Sails and Interplanetary Travel." Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, April 1991. The technical description and very thorough analysis of the magsail for interplanetary travel. Excellent.

R.M. Zubrin, "The Magnetic Sail." Analog Science Fiction & Fact, May 1992. A version of the above paper edited for a non-technical audience. Useful for general concepts, inadequate for a full understanding.

Electrostatic Separation Technique for Superconductors is described here. This technique will work to separate superconductors from metallic as well as non-metallic materials.

In the electrostatic separation technique, a vertical capacitor cell with dimensions 18mm X 15mm X 15mm was fashioned from a U-shaped teflon spacer. 2 brass plates were attached to the open sides of the spacer to create a cavity and provide electrodes for the capacitor. The cavity was filled with liquid nitrogen and particles of roughly 25-38um size were placed in the pool. High voltage (1100 dcv/mm) was applied to the two metal electrodes for at least two minutes. The electric field was then reduced (to 333 dcv/mm) for one minute. After collecting the respective particles, they were found to be essentially pure BSCCO and pure Sb.

July 16, 2008

$3 billion super soldier program: 10 times muscle endurance, 7 foot vertical leap, wall crawling, personal flight and more

DARPA today has a long-term, $3 billion program to help make such a “Metabolically Dominant Soldier.” In other words, the military is studying how to use technology and biology to meld man and machine and transcend the limits of the human body. Described the project director, “My measure of success is that the International Olympic Committee bans everything we do" The $3 billion program is definitely trying to achieve transhuman performance goals.

The wearable gear would enable running at 100 meter olympic sprinter speed for hours and the 7 foot vertical leap, the wall crawling, personal flight, invisibility, greatly enhanced strength, better body armor and carrying bigger and more powerful weapons.

UPDATE: Advanced gene therapy could provide cheetah or gorilla quality muscles in people for 45 mile per hour speed or five to ten times strength

There are suitable engines for powering the exoskeleton described in this article

Coverage of the billion and soon to be multi-billion dollar transgenic medical, agriculture, industrial industry. [Mixing genes between animals to make cheaper drugs or for more productive agriculture]

The drugs and genetic enhancements and some technology which gets applied would allow for regeneration, faster healing, muscle strength enhancement up to current olympic levels, endurance of an Alaskan sled dog, cognitive enhancement, operate without sleep for many days without performance degradation, the metabolic energy of twenty year old for a forty or fifty year old and immunity to pain.

The Metabolically Dominant Soldier program is managed by Joe Bielitzki. He is talking about fixing your cells so that you could live off your fat. Bielitzki acknowledges the potential for spin-off technologies. “Forty billion dollars a year goes into the weight loss industry in this country,” he muses. “This will change it.”

Regeneration, better healing, better immune systems would all revolutionize healthcare costs and healthcare effectiveness. So trillions in economic benefit as a side effect of supersoldier success. DARPA is also trying to enhance cognition, training and giving the energy levels of youth to the elderly. Those could provide multi-billion or even trillion dollar per year boosts to the US and world economy.

Projects in pipeline range from drugs that will boost muscles and energy by a factor of 10, akin to steroids…on steroids (the project is jokingly termed the “Energizer Bunny in Fatigues”) to wearable, cooling gloves that regulate body temperature and prevent soldiers from getting overheated (and thus tired) even on the hottest desert day. [Keeping the body cool increases endurance]

This program is going well beyond some current relatively safe and conservative forms of performance enhancement. [Safer SARM/steroids, endurance enhancing drink]

A major focus is on helping the soldier’s body to better deal with trauma and damage. One such is the “pain vaccines” coming out of a program at Rinat Neuroscience [Pfizer acquired Rinat Neuroscience in 2006]. Researchers are hopeful these “will block the sense of pain for almost a month,” describes DARPA’s Michael Goldblatt.

The substance does is block intense pain in less than 10 seconds. Its effects last for 30 days. It doesn’t stifle your reactions. If you touch a hot stove, you still have the initial shock; your hand will still automatically jerk away. But after that, the torment is gone. The product works on the inflammatory response that is responsible for the majority of subacute pain. If you get shot, you feel the bullet, but after that, the inflammation and swelling that trigger agony are substantially reduced. The company has already hit its first milestones in animal testing and is preparing reports for scientific conferences.

Army Soldier enhancement systems

The plan is for new body armor that, instead of Kevlar, is filled with nano-materials that are connected to a computer. [Computer controlled liquid armor] It would normally be as flexible as regular uniform made of fabric. But, like how a crash-bag works inside a car, it would activate whenever the system detects a bullet strike and turn as hard as steel in an instant.

Gloves could turn into real-life brass knuckles.

The fabric could even be woven in with "nanomuscle fibers" that simulate real muscles, giving soldiers more an estimated "25 to 35 percent better lifting capability." So myostatin strength boost to get to olympic athlete strength levels and then 25-35% boost from a soft suit. Use better exoskeletons for more strength enhancement.

From deflecting bullets to powers of invisibility, as military analyst Max Boot writes, such a suit truly “would give ordinary mortals many of the attributes of comic book superheroes.

Our wimpy little Achilles tendons allow the average human to run somewhere between 6 to 8 miles an hour and, unless your name is LeBron James, leap only a few feet in the air. New “bionic boots” and “spring walkers” in development are hoped to solve this. These attach outside the leg and mechanically mimic the enlarged Achilles tendon of a kangaroo, one day perhaps giving the wearer the ability to run as fast as 25 miles per hour and leap 7 feet.

The “Z-Man project.” Creating gecko inspired gloves and boots for wall crawling.

Robotic gecko demonstrator

Exoskeleton flying vehicle with a maximum speed of maximum Speed 113 mph, range of 184 miles and endurance of endurance 2.2+ hours.

The Mesoscopic Integrated Conformal Electronics (MICE) program has already succeeded in printing electronic circuits on the frames of eyeglasses and helmets, weaving them into clothes, even putting them on insects. These include electronics, antennas, fuel cells, batteries and solar cells.

The Biological Input/Output Systems program is designed to enable plants, microbes and small animals to serve as “remote sentinels for reporting the presence of chemical or biological” particles. They’d do this by changing color, lighting up fluorescently, dropping their leaves or changing the color of their flowers.

The Brain-Machine Interface program is investigating how you would put wireless modems into people’s skulls.

And that’s just the Defense Sciences Office, the department of DARPA most directly involved with human enhancement. Meanwhile, on the floor where the Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO) resides, its director, Ron Brachman, former research vice president at AT&T Labs and previously at Bell Labs, and president of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, wants to complete DARPA’s vision from the sixties. When the original IPTO was created in 1962, its director, J.C.R. Licklider, focused the office on his novel conception of computers and humans working in symbiosis. That idea resulted in the Internet. Now the new IPTO “wants to realize this vision by giving computing systems unprecedented abilities to reason, to learn, to explain, to accept advice, and to reflect, in order to finally create systems able to cope robustly with unforeseen circumstances,” according to Brachman. The object of the game is to produce machines—and the italics are his—“that truly know what they’re doing.

A project is regarded as "DARPA-esque" only if few others would tackle it, but it would be earth-jolting if it did work. DARPA's attitude is if an idea looks like a sure thing, let somebody else fund it. The “special focus area” is for really extreme projects.

Darpa supports the Raytheon Sarcos XOS exoskeleton

Of the three teams that took part in a seven year $75 million project (Sarcos, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the University of California at Berkeley), the XOS emerged in 2005 as the suit closest to the agency's initial vision. It is the only full exoskeleton the military has moved into the next development stage; Sarcos is now working under a two-year, $10-million Army grant.

During XOS demos the suit is tethered to a hydraulic pump that draws electricity from an external power supply. The suit can operate from batteries, but only for 40 minutes at a time.

The country's other two top exoskeleton designers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Hugh Herr and Homayoon Kazerooni of the University of California at Berkeley, began with the power problem.

Herr is trying to build a leg-powering machine that uses as little energy as possible—the first iteration draws a mere two watts, comparable to a portable radio—but can support 80 percent of an 80-pound load on a user's back. Herr thinks that within the near future, he can improve the mechanics so that the machine actually saves the wearer effort.

Kazerooni has made the Human Load Carrier (HULC) which is a lower-body exoskeleton that can operate for more than 20 hours without recharging. He says it allows the user to carry 100 pounds on his back and burn 15 percent less oxygen than if he was supporting the added weight alone. A three-year, $2-million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology is being used to modify as a wheelchair replacement.

The army is now performing live fire tests of new body armor

Currently : the Army issued the Improved Outer Tactical Vest, a redesigned version of Interceptor body armor, starting in late 2006. The soft body armor protects against 9mm ammunition and fragmentation. IOTV is also equipped with front, rear and side armor plates known as Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts. When worn together, the IOTV will stop 7.62mm armor-piercing rounds.

Several vendors have demonstrated they can produce body armor that can outperform the protection offered by IOTV with ESAPI.

The Land Warrior system was sent in to battle in spring 2007 with the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th (Stryker) Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. At that time the deployed system weighed 10 pounds (down from 17 pounds). The weight has been dropped to seven pounds, and they expect to reduce it even further.

Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier was created by the Army with one primary purpose: to develop the best equipment and field it as quickly as possible so that our Soldiers remain second to none in missions that span the full spectrum of military operations. PEO soldier currently has 400 programs.

The Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP) is to identify and evaluate commercially available individual weapons, munitions, optics, combat clothing, individual equipment, water supply, shelters, communication and navigational aids which can be adopted and provided to Soldiers in three years or less.

Safe Human enhancement of strength, speed, endurance, cognition and reducing aging effects and reducing obesity

Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARM) increase the effect of steroids on muscle and decrease effects where they could cause harm such as in the prostate.

Body building sites have extensive information and tracking of the development of SARMs as they are believed to be or enable safe/safer steroids

The study concluded that ostarine increased lean mass and strength without evidencing any androgenic side effects. Further ostarine research into its use in treating the wasting related to cancer is scheduled. The subjects in this study were all elderly, meaning they likely all were experiencing the age related decline in anabolic hormones (testosterone, DHEA, growth hormone, etc). Also, the degree of gain in lean muscle mass was only 1.4kg after three months of therapy for the highest dose group. The increase in speed (+15 percent) and power (+25 percent) measured during the stair climbing was impressive though, suggesting the gain in lean mass was mostly muscle. Effects were dose-dependent, meaning the higher the dose, the greater the effects (within the range studied). If natural testosterone concentrations are unaffected (this was not reported, so that would be an assumption), then the ostarine would be supplementing the anabolic effect of a person’s natural testosterone levels, in essence giving them the equivalent of a 125 200mg/week testosterone ester head start.

Technology Review covers SARM

SARMs work similarly to testosterone but in a more targeted way. "They are effective by binding to the steroid receptor in only specific tissue, like muscle," says Evans, who is also a scientific advisor to GTx, a company developing the drugs. "They are not steroid drugs, but they produce the anabolic effect of the steroids."

Orally active, nonsteroidal selective androgen receptor modulators may be useful therapeutics for enhancing muscle, bone, and sexual function. Research has been reported on SARM drugs that support bone density, increase/maintain the libido (sex drive) in female rats, inhibit sperm and testosterone production and reduce body fat. Studies conclude that ostarine increased lean mass and strength without evidencing any androgenic side effects.

Real Sarm is not being sold yet. The drug Ostarine and other SARMs are in clinical trials

This was covered on this site initially when they were placed on the anti-doping list

Lan Bo Chen has developed a B-vitamin cocktail (mixed with green tea) that increases mitochondrial output by enabling the mitochondria to feed on fat instead of sugars. Studies on mice and high-performance cyclists have shown this drink to be effective in increasing performance by increasing endurance. [cyclists had a 3% performance enhancement on 30 kilometer rides.] It can help a man in his 40's have the mitochondrial activity of a twenty-year-old, it will do little for a man in his 20’s because his mitochondria are already working at full capacity.

Darpa has projects for Metabolic Dominance and Peak soldier performance.

Darpa has renamed most of its biology programs, to make them sound less like science fiction, and more like military necessities. For example, "Persistence in Combat," the project to keep injured G.I.s pulling the trigger on the battlefield for days, is now known as "Soldier Self-Care." "Metabolic Dominance" is slated to become "Peak Soldier Performance."

Darpa has funded research into replicating the endurance of Alaskan sled dogs in humans.

Before the race, the dogs’ metabolic makeup is similar to humans. Then suddenly they throw a switch — we don’t know what it is yet — that reverses all of that. In a 24-hour period, they go back to the same type of metabolic baseline you see in resting subjects. But it’s while they are running 100 miles a day.

The department of defense has a program for Optimized Human Performance: Mitochondrial Energetics to enable older people to think and have more of the fitness and energy of a younger person

The world contains approximately 4.2 billion people over the age of twenty. Even a small enhancement of cognitive capacity in these individuals would probably have an impact on the world economy rivaling that of the internet. The commercial market for a compound that could reverse the effects of aging on human energetics would be more than significant. The cost of Social Security in the U.S. is expected to approach 7% of the gross domestic product (GDP); reducing this cost by any significant degree would also have substantial impact on federal obligations and expenditures.

Ronald Evans at the Salk Institute is injecting the PPAR-delta gene to reduce weight gain in mice and double exercise endurance.

Dr. Michael West, Biotime, believes that embryonic stem cells and genetic engineering can safely radically extend human lives, enable regenerative medicine, greatly enhance brain function and cognition and enhance human performance. [Discover magazine "The Body" summer 2008 pg 82-86]

A transcript of a show interviewing Julian Savulescu, ethicist from Oxford University, that discussed genetic enhancement and in particular IQ enhancement and society. Note: The show broadcast Aug 2007 discusses whole genome sequencing costing $50,000 within 5 years. That price has already been reached in 2008.

Based on the lead abatement strategies the predictions are that if you simply increased people's IQ, everyone's IQ by 3 points, which is a very small increase, across a whole population, (so remember the mean is 100), if you increased the whole population's IQ by just 3 points, you would reduce poverty by 25%, you would reduce welfare recipiency by 18%, the number of males in jail by 25%, the number of parentless children by 20%. Now if I said to you, 'I have a social program of love, care, counselling and social support that would reduce the poverty rate by 25%', people would be jumping up and down saying 'Why isn't this being instituted?' But here are some data that suggests that increasing people's IQ by a very small amount, could have those effects. Now as I said, even if that's out by a factor of 10, the social effects are still significant.

People have estimated that an increase of 1 IQ point leads to a nearly 2% increase in income, and for the US economy, an increase per IQ point across the population, results in a $50-billion to $60-billion increase in GDP, in national earnings. So the figures can be quite striking. People have estimated, I can't remember the figure exactly, but something like 15% of the US GDP is probably accountable to the computing revolution and the added cognitive power that computers have given human beings.

Review of Darpa enhancement projects

Therapeutic potential of the SARMs: revisiting the androgen receptor for drug discovery

Discussion of the ethics of cognitive enhancement

Article on tumor receptor imaging as it relates to cancer treatment

Here is the 15 page study on cyclists (with enhanced speed from a mitochondria boosting drink) which lists the FRS drink.

This project tested the effects of 6 weeks of twice daily FRS (Free Radical Scavenger) dietary supplementation on 30 km cycling time-trial (TT) performance. The FRS formula is a patent-pending combination of flavonoids, vitamins, and other functional ingredients that has energy-producing, performance-enhancing, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects. The primary active ingredient in FRS is quercetin, a flavonoid found in onion skins, blueberries, and tea, which, when combined with the other FRS ingredients, has been shown to produce measurable health effects in animal and human studies.

Quercetin belongs to a group of plant pigments called flavonoids that are largely responsible for the colors and protection of many fruits, flowers, and vegetables. Scientists have identified more than 4,000 flavonoids in nature, many of which provide a variety of health benefits in humans, such as protection against cancer and cell damage caused by oxidation. The other ingredients in FRS work in a synergistic way with quercetin. Many of these ingredients, such as caffeine and B-vitamins, help to increase the concentration of quercetin in blood plasma thereby increasing its overall effectiveness and benefits.

This company is claiming to sell the drink based on the research which corresponds to the name of the drink in the study.

Here is Lan bo Chen's webpage with a listing of his publications

Follow up work on the Lan Bo chen drink and other enhancement is ongoing at Natick Soldier systems

July 15, 2008

Longest carbon nanotubes and other US army research

On a blogger roundtable conference call with Dr John Parmentola, he mentioned that the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies is able to grow single strands of carbon nanotubes to a length of one foot (30 centimeters) and that they believe that 1 meter lengths will be possible shortly This is longer than the length reported by others:

Slightly less than 2 centimeter arrays

In 2004, University of California scientists working at Los Alamos National Laboratory in collaboration with chemists from Duke University have recently grown a world record-length four-centimeter-long, single-wall carbon nanotube.

The 26th Army Science Conference (ASC) will be held at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes, Orlando, Florida, December 1-4, 2008

The Conference agenda will focus on the following seven areas:

-Autonomous Systems
-Immersive Technology
-Network Science
-Quantum Information Science

Previous coverage on progress making stronger macroscale carbon nanotube thread/fibers.

As previously noted millimeter and 2 centimeter long carbon nanotubes were already starting to show that a lot of the molecular strength of carbon nanotubes was being created in larger rope. The new army/MIT results should show even better strength at large scales. Hopefully data and details will be published soon.

The longer carbon nanotubes should definitely bring space elevators and other applications closer to reality. The longer strands should keep the strength of the carbon nanotube better and be easier to form into the thousands of kilometers of a space elevator. Still need to wait until about 2015 for the thousands ton/year carbon nanotube factories. The optimistic path for this is 2020 at the earliest and there are non-trivial climber and other system issues.

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

Caron nanotube production companies

July 14, 2008

Helicos Biosciences direct DNA sequencing

Helicos True Single Molecule Sequencing (tSMS) technology has a device that images billions of single molecules per run and produces over 2 Gigabases of sequence data per day – a throughput performance almost 100X greater than Sanger methods, and faster than any of the "next-generation" methodologies.

The HeliScope Sequencer currently delivers throughputs of 25 – 90 million usable bases per hour, depending on the application with 99.4% accuracy.

To achieve a higher level of sequence accuracy unmatched by any other technology. Helicos has developed a method for sequencing each single molecule template multiple times. This novel sequencing approach enables researchers to generate data sets with a high degree of accuracy.

MIT Technology review has an article covering Helicos Biosciences and their technology

With the Helicos technology, the DNA to be sequenced is first chopped into short pieces about 200 bases long and injected into a flow cell, a specialized glass slide. The flow cell is coated with tiny snippets of DNA that are designed to snag the fragments as they float by, anchoring them in place. The immobilized pieces of DNA are fluorescently labeled so that their position under a fluorescence microscope can be recorded by a camera. Nearly a billion pieces of DNA can be analyzed in a single sequencing experiment, compared with about 400,000 to 50 million for other technologies.

The flow cell is then nestled into the ­HeliScope, where the microscope sits ensconced in 400 pounds of Vermont granite.

Other advanced sequencing methods use a similar approach, known as sequencing by synthesis. But unlike those technologies, the HeliScope can distinguish the unamplified fluorescent signal of a single base taking its place on a growing DNA strand. One key to that ability is a nonstick material that the company developed, which coats the surface of the flow cell and allows it to be washed clean between reactions: residual fluorescent bases would make it more difficult to accurately detect individual sequencing reactions.

It takes five to ten days to read all the DNA that can be loaded into two flow cells; for sequencing, that's 400 million strands of DNA per cell, which can generate 20 billion bases' worth of usable sequence.

Helicos is still tinkering with the tech­nology, developing chemistry that could boost the speed of the sequencing reactions and allow more pieces of DNA to be anchored to a flow cell. Along with the other major players in the field, the company hopes to deliver a complete genome sequence for $1,000, an accomplishment that would mark the beginning of something totally new in medicine: individuals' ability to access their own genomic information

A Jan 2008 article that compares several leading DNA sequencing approaches The Helioscope is estimated to cost $75,000 to $100,000 and take six to eight weeks to sequence an entire human genome. The price of the Helicos Genetic Analysis System, including the HeliScope, is $1.35 million.

Helicos Bioscience 8K filing for 2008 talks about $1000 genome prospects

$100 genome sequencing technology is being pursued

In April 2008, researchers were indicating the need to develop chips with many more channels, so that multiple genomes' worth of DNA can be sequenced simultaneously and being able to quickly place long dna sequences in those channels.

The japanese development of long DNA sequence handling with microscopic DNA sewing components is likely a big step to enabling effective handling of the long sequences.

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