September 13, 2008

Knotted light in respected journal seems related to Focus Fusion

A paper in the journal "Nature Physics: Linked and knotted beams of light by William T. M. Irvine and Dirk Bouwmeester appears like it would be related to the goals of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc to make Focus Fusion. Because knotted light beams have both beamlike properties and unique unexplored properties, the physicists (Irvine and Bouwmeester) predict that creating the beams could have applications in several areas. These could include applications in plasma confinement, atomic particle trapping, manipulating cold atomic ensembles, and generating soliton-like solutions in nonlinear media. Plasma confinement with knots is what dense plasma focus fusion is about.

In some little-known solutions to Maxwell’s equations, all the electric and magnetic field lines form circles that are all linked to each other. These loops of field lines can be used to construct the donut shape of a torus. In such a scenario, each circle wraps around the torus once, and no two circles cross each other. Smaller tori could then be nested within larger ones, filling three-dimensional space with circles of light beams.

After investigating knotted light’s properties, the physicists determined that they could use laser fields to create the structures. Starting with a single-pulsed beam of circularly polarized light, and tightly focusing the beam, it should be possible to create various shapes of looped light beams. By using holographic techniques and a spatial light modulator, the shape and profile of the looped light could also be controlled. These same techniques have recently been used to produce Airy beams, which are light beams that don’t spread out as they propagate.

Currently the physicists are preparing for an experimental realization of the new solutions either using electromagnetic radiation in the optical regime, i.e. light, or in the microwave regime. The main challenge will be to deal with ultra-short pulses of radiation in order to create a broad spectrum of frequencies as needed for the construction of the light knots.

Maxwell's equations allow for curious solutions characterized by the property that all electric and magnetic field lines are closed loops with any two electric (or magnetic) field lines linked. These little-known solutions, constructed by Rañada, are based on the Hopf fibration. Here we analyse their physical properties to investigate how they can be experimentally realized. We study their time evolution and uncover, through a decomposition into a spectrum of spherical harmonics, a remarkably simple representation. Using this representation, first, a connection is established to the Chandrasekhar–Kendall curl eigenstates, which are of broad importance in plasma physics and fluid dynamics. Second, we show how a new class of knotted beams of light can be derived, and third, we show that approximate knots of light may be generated using tightly focused circularly polarized laser beams. We predict theoretical extensions and potential applications, in fields ranging from fluid dynamics, topological optical solitons and particle trapping to cold atomic gases and plasma confinement.

From the multi-slide story board of how focus fusion works

1. The plasma sheet, carrying the current, is formed between the anode and cathode. It moves down the anode due to the interaction of the current and its magnetic field.

2. The plasma sheet bends inwards to the hole in the anode.
Plasma filaments are formed in counter rotating pairs.

3. The plasma sheet and filaments contract towards the center. The focus forms.
The filament pairs merge like a zipper. Energy is transferred from the outside to the central region

4. The plasma sheet and filaments continue contracting into the center

5. A rotating plasma vortex is formed in the center, carrying all the current

6. In the central vortex the filaments have formed one single rotating filament.

7. The filament forms a tight plasma helix

8. the helix starts to kink

9. And it becomes unstable and ...

10. ...knots itself up into a rotating plasmoid composed of plasma filaments.
The plasmoid, only microns across, contains the full energy that was fed into the device, in the ideal case

11. The magnetic field of the plasmoid causes it to shrink

12. The shrinking plasmoid rotates.
The electron beam that the plasmoid generates heats it up.

13. The temperature becomes high enough for some colliding protons and boron nuclei to overcome their electric repulsion

14. Protons and boron nuclei fuse and create unstable carbon-12 nuclei

15. The nucleus breaks up to form helium nuclei (alpha particles).
Energy is released as the kinetic energy of the alpha particles

16. The fast alpha particles heat the plasma and the fusion reactions occur faster and faster

17. An electric field creates a beam of fast ions (nuclei) that carry most of the fusion energy (shown in blue). An electron beam (shown in red) goes in the opposite direction

18. The plasmoid is evacuated by the beams

19. The energy in the ion beam is collected by a solenoid.
This direct conversion to electricity is very efficient and economical

Supplement information on the knotted light work in the Nature Physics journal. There are several movies

Time evolution of the Hopf field lines: Magnetic field lines
Quicktime movie file (620 KB): Supplementary video
Summary: Animation showing the time evolution of the Hopf Magnetic field lines

Time evolution of the Hopf field lines: Electric field lines
Quicktime movie file (772 KB): Supplementary video
Summary: Animation showing the time evolution of the Hopf Electric field lines

Time evolution of the Hopf field lines: Electric and Magnetic field lines
Quicktime movie file (852 KB): Supplementary video
Summary: Animation showing the time evolution of the Hopf Electric and Magnetic field

Hurricane Ike causes damage but not as bad as feared

19% of oil refinery capacity in the Gulf of Mexico was shutdown by hurricane Ike

An analysis from the peal oil site the Oil drum is that the oil refineries will be out for about 2 weeks.

The analysis is that it would take an outage of 3 weeks or more for gasoline prices to go back over $4 nationwide.

The hit to production triggered a spike in U.S. average gasoline prices on Saturday of more than 5 cents to $3.73 a gallon, according to the AAA's daily survey of more than 100,000 service stations.

A spokesman for the joint operations of southeast Texas emergency management agencies said the state's refineries appeared to have escaped the kind of heavy flooding that left plants shut for months after the 2005 hurricanes.

NASA Developing Fission Surface Power Technology 12-40KW

NASA looks to be developing larger (12-40KW) radioisotope thermoelectric generators for the moon's surface. Hopefully NASA finishes this work as they have a history of starting big RTG projects and not completing them. Also, it probably would be better to use the Hyperion uranium hydride reactor instead, which has been covered extensively on this site and should also be ready in 2013 and would provide 1000 times more power

The primary components of fission surface power systems are a heat source, power conversion, heat rejection and power conditioning and distribution. Glenn recently contracted for the design and analysis of two different types of advanced power conversion units as an early step in the development of a full system-level technology demonstration. These power conversion units are necessary to process the heat produced by the nuclear reactor and efficiently convert it to electrical power.

The first design concept by Sunpower Inc., of Athens, Ohio, uses two opposed piston engines coupled to alternators that produce 6 kilowatts each, or a total of 12 kilowatts of power. The second contract with Barber Nichols Inc. of Arvada, Colo., is for development of a closed Brayton cycle engine that uses a high speed turbine and compressor coupled to a rotary alternator that also generates 12 kilowatts of power. Testing of the non-nuclear system is expected to take place at Glenn in 2012 or 2013.

NASA new effort is probably going for 35-45% efficiency in power conversion using Brayton cycle or piston engines. This would mean 500kg of nuclear fuel to get 100KWe or 200kg for 40KWe.

NASA worked on larger 100KWe-1000KWe nuclear RTGs in 1978-1985 (SP-100) and again in the 90s and again around 2005 (Prometheus). Each time they started and did not complete the work. They did not complete them. Russian RTGs (Topaz-1 and Topaz-2) reached 10KWe of power.

September 12, 2008

Quantum entanglement enhanced radar, CT Scans, X-rays could get same image with one million times lower power

MIT Professor of Mechanical Engineering Seth Lloyd has found that a peculiar quantum-physics property called entanglement can be harnessed to make detectors--similar in principle to radar systems used to track airplanes in flight or ships at sea--that are as much as a million times more efficient than existing systems. In addition, beams of entangled light could be swept across a scene to reconstruct a detailed image, with a similar improvement in efficiency.

Radar for tracking objects in space use power levels of about 500kw One million times more energy efficient means 100 watt power levels.

High power weather radar operates at 10 kw to 60 kw

CT scans use about 100 watts.

One million times less power means that megawatts become watts, kilowatts become milliwatts and watts become microwatts.

The new findings, being reported this week in the journal Science, are purely theoretical, but Lloyd says that laboratory experiments have already proven the feasibility of both the light sources and the detectors needed for such a quantum-based photodetection system, so he anticipates that within a year it should be possible to build a laboratory-scale system to demonstrate the new concept.

"It should be possible to have at least a proof-of-principle demonstration within six months to a year," Lloyd said.

For example, military applications could include improved night-vision systems, which send out beams of infrared light--invisible to the naked eye--to sweep across a scene, and then use an infrared detector to reconstruct an image from the light that is reflected back. A more efficient system, using the quantum-entanglement effect, would make it much more difficult for an adversary to detect the fact that such a system was being used, because there would be so much less infrared light needed to provide the illumination.

Theoretically, such a system could be used to allow medical diagnostic systems such as CT scans to work with a vastly reduced X-ray output, thereby making them much safer for the patient, but such applications would be much further in the future. It could also someday be used for safer microscope imaging of living organisms.

Next generation hybrid nano-capsules for delivering combination of imaging and multiple drugs

The nanometer-sized cargo ships look individually like a chocolate-covered nut cluster, in which a biocompatible lipid forms the chocolate shell and magnetic nanoparticles, quantum dots and the drug doxorubicin are the nuts. Credit: Ji-Ho Park, UCSD

Scientists at UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and MIT report that their nano-cargo-ship system integrates therapeutic and diagnostic functions into a single device that avoids rapid removal by the body’s natural immune system. It is 50 nanometers in size. So it has three times less volume than the typical virus.

1 nm diameter of glucose molecule
2 nm diameter of DNA helix
5 nm diameter of insulin molecule
6 nm diameter of a hemoglobin molecule
10 nm thickness of cell wall (gram negative bacteria)
75 nm size of typical virus
200 nm diameter of smallest bacteria
1000nm diameter of sperm cell (smallest cell in the human body)

“The idea involves encapsulating imaging agents and drugs into a protective ‘mother ship’ that evades the natural processes that normally would remove these payloads if they were unprotected,” said Michael Sailor, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCSD who headed the team of chemists, biologists and engineers that turned the fanciful concept into reality. “These mother ships are only 50 nanometers in diameter, or 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, and are equipped with an array of molecules on their surfaces that enable them to find and penetrate tumor cells in the body.”

These microscopic cargo ships could one day provide the means to more effectively deliver toxic anti-cancer drugs to tumors in high concentrations without negatively impacting other parts of the body.

The researchers designed the hull of the ships to evade detection by constructing them of specially modified lipids--a primary component of the surface of natural cells. The lipids were modified in such a way as to enable them to circulate in the bloodstream for many hours before being eliminated. This was demonstrated by the researchers in a series of experiments with mice.

The researchers loaded their ships with three payloads before injecting them in the mice. Two types of nanoparticles, superparamagnetic iron oxide and fluorescent quantum dots, were placed in the ship’s cargo hold, along with the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin. The iron oxide nanoparticles allow the ships to show up in a Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, scan, while the quantum dots can be seen with another type of imaging tool, a fluorescence scanner.

This study provides the first example of a single nanomaterial used for simultaneous drug delivery and multimode imaging of diseased tissue in a live animal," said Ji-Ho Park, a graduate student in Sailor's laboratory who was part of the team. Geoffrey von Maltzahn, a graduate student working in Bhatia's laboratory, was also involved in the project, which was financed by a grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

The nano mother ships look individually like a chocolate-covered nut cluster, in which a biocompatible lipid forms the chocolate shell and magnetic nanoparticles, quantum dots and the drug doxorubicin are the nuts. They sail through the bloodstream in groups that, under the electron microscope, look like small, broken strands of pearls.

The researchers are now working on developing ways to chemically treat the exteriors of the nano ships with specific chemical "zip codes," that will allow them to be delivered to specific tumors, organs and other sites in the body.

September 11, 2008

Putting together a Real Bolo Mark X+ Tank with Today and Near term Technology

Matching science fiction super-tanks with real world 700 ton tank with 36,000 HP fission reactor, railguns, lasers, super armor, supercomputer, AI, missiles and more.

What are Bolo Tanks ?
Bolo's are fictional artificially intelligent super-heavy tanks. They were described in science fiction books by Keith Laumer.

Online books have the specifications for the different bolo models.

Bolo Mark X 350 tons Laser cannon, railguns, missiles, preloaded computer
battle plans
Bolo Mark XII 500 tons Intercontinental missiles, surface to space missiles
Bolo Mark XIII 565 tons Fission powered engine, laser cannon
Bolo Mark XIV 728-900tons Fusion powered engine, hellbore weapon (half
megaton/sec plasma gun = 2.1 petajoules/sec)

Adapting Existing Equipment

We can start by adapting a factory for the biggest mining trucks or the large military hovercrafts.

The Caterpillar 797B is an ultra class mining truck manufactured by Caterpillar Inc. The 797B is the largest mechanical dump truck in the world.

They use 50 gallons of diesel per hour and have 13ft tires. Each tire costs $40,000.
Weight 310 tons empty, 690 tons with full load
3500-3750 HP engines
Height: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Length: 47 ft (14.5 m)
Body width: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Fuel capacity: 1,800 US gallons (6,800 L)
Cost: About US$5 million

A Russian Bora class guided missile hovercraft weighs about 1050 tons

Length: 654 ft (19.7 m)
Beam: 17 ft (5.4 m)
Draught: 3.8 ft 8 in (1.4 m)
Speed: 12 knots (14 mph/22 km/h) cruise

55 knots (63 mph/102 km/h) maximum
Range: 2,500 nmi (4,600 km) at 12 knots
800 nmi (1,500 km) at 55 knots

• Twin M10-D1 type gas turbine engines rated at 40,000 horsepower (30,000 kW) bound to two primary three-blade propellers
• Twin M511A reduction gear diesel engines rated at 20,000 horsepower (15,000 kW) bound to two primary three-blade propellers
• Twin M52OM3 auxiliary diesel engines driving superchargers rated at 6,800 horsepower (5,100 kW) used to inflate the skirts

• 2 × Quadruple MT-206ME launchers for 3M-80E "Moskit" marine cruise missiles (or various others)
• 1 × 9K33M "Osa-MA" type surface-to-air missile anti-aircraft defense suite
• 1 × AK-176M automatic 76.2 mm cannon or 1 × AK-100 automatic 100 mm cannon
• 2 × AK-630 30 mm anti-aircraft Gatling cannons
• 16 × 9K38 Igla man-portable shoulder mounted surface-to-air missile launcher sets
• 2 × 14.5 mm naval machine gun mounts
• 1 × DP-64 anti-saboteur grenade launcher

Arming a big mining truck like the guided missile hovercraft is already getting pretty close to a pretty good Bolo tank.

Next technology is coming that matches up with the more futuristic aspects of Bolos.

Fission power
As is frequently covered at this site Hyperion Power Generation should have 27 MW of electricity factory produced nuclear reactor ready in 2013. One MW is equal to 1341 horsepower. So 27 MW is 36,200 HP. This is 24 times more power than the 1500 HP engine of an M1 tank and is ten times the power of the engines of the big mining trucks. It can run 5 years between reloading the nuclear fuel. The waste that is removed at the end of five years is the size of a softball.

The reactor will have no moving parts and is only about a 1.5 meter on a side cube. It should weigh ten tons or less.

A large conventional diesel engine can generate 89,000 HP and weighs 2000 tons

Railguns and lasers
Megawatt class solid state lasers should be ready in 2012. Each megawatt laser would probably need up to 5 megawatts of the nuclear power plant power to fire because of inefficiency converting electrical to laser energy. This efficiency can be improved with more refined technology such as optical fiber lasers.

Railguns should be ready for test deployment for navy ships in 2012 and an integrated railgun in 2016-2018.

A railgun firing. Current test gun can achieve 32 megajoules of power.

At full capability, the rail gun will be able to fire a a 40-pound projectile more than 200 nautical miles at a muzzle velocity of mach seven and impacting its target at mach five. In contrast, the current Navy gun, MK 45 five-inch gun, has a range of nearly 13 miles. The high velocity projectile will destroy its targets due to its kinetic energy rather than with conventional explosives. The desired railgun would have 64 megajoules to fire. In our proposed real Bolo tank, ultracapacitors would store 3+ seconds of reactor energy for each railgun firing.

Railguns can fire smaller projectiles into space (or make bigger and more powerful railguns). So hitting objects in orbit is possible from a supertank.

Robotic driving and armor

Actual vehicle being developed is the CMU crusher (self driving military vehicle)

The alternative to the "super alloy" of the Bolo would be better ceramic armor or the new durable liquid metal (twice as strong as titanium)

Current progress to autonomous robots is substantially because of better 3d LADAR

More on the DARPA robotic driving systems

There is rapid cost to reduce the cost and increase the effectiveness of graphene and carbon nanotubes for very strong materials by themselves or as additives in to plastics and metals.

Computer brain
Around 2015, a supercomputer using about 20 million embedded microprocessors could deliver 200 petaflops of performance. It would cost about $75 million, and use up to 4 megawatts of power. The supertank could use one that was one tenth as powerful. 400KW of power for a 20 petaflop supercomputer.

AI is getting better and running on a very power computer would make the AI more effective.

The Hyperion nuclear reactor would provide enough power for engine, supercomputer, railgun and lasers. The vehicle would also be big enough to carry missiles and big gatling guns.

Update Hyperion Nuclear Power Generator

Hyperion Power Generation, Inc., (HPG) with the assistance of Los Alamos National Laboratory, is developing and commercializing a small, factory-sealed, mass-produced, transportable nuclear power module that is uniquely safe and proliferation-resistant. The technology utilizes and builds upon similar features of the 60+ TRIGA training reactors that have been safely operated for years in universities and laboratories around the globe. Current identified applications include industrial use (oil shale & sand retorting), power for military installation, homeland security, emergency disaster response, and remote community and infrastructure. As of September 9, 2008, HPG has ten installation commitments and 50 pending. The first HPG reactors should be ready in 2013. The cost of the reactors will be about $1400/kw. After 5 years, each reactor would have a softball size amount of waste. The uranium hydride reactor can burn up to 50% of the uranium or about ten times more than current reactors.

NASA made news with a proposed 10-40KWe RTG for lunar power. Nasa history for actually delivering higher power RTGs is not good. They tried in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Something better that could be available in 2013 when the non-nuclear components of nasa system would be tested is a hot tub sized uranium hydride molten core nuclear reactor that should produce 27 MWe. This is about one thousand times more powerful than what NASA's proposed lunar power system, comparable in size and the Hyperion reactor has no moving parts.

Three factories, spread across the globe are planned by the company to produce and ship the approximately 4,000 units of the first design. (4,000 small units would generate more nuclear power than the 104 nuclear reactors currently used in the United States. 108 GW for 4000 HPG uranium hydride reactors versus 98GW in the US now). Inherently safe and proliferation-resistant, the HPM utilizes the energy of low-enriched uranium fuel. Each unit produces 70 megawatts of thermal energy, or 27 megawatts of electricity when connected to a steam turbine. That amount is enough to provide electricity for 20,000 average-size American-style homes or the industrial equivalent. first sales commitments have come from companies building residential and mixed-use developments in Europe. This has been good because the HPM (Hyperion Power Module), meeting all the non-proliferation criteria of GNEP, is an excellent solution for any location. This new technology, encompassing the simple concepts of the world’s very safe training reactors that have been in operation for decades, makes it possible to deliver continuous clean, emission-free energy with only a fraction of the human oversight and financial investment required by conventional nuclear power stations.

The Hyperion Power Generations new, small, transportable nuclear “battery” was presented at International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 52nd General Conference in Vienna, Austria.

This site has previously covered this promising reactor, its patent and venture capital funding.


TRIGA is a pool-type reactor that can be installed without a containment building, and is designed for use by scientific institutions and universities for purposes such as undergraduate and graduate education, private commercial research, non-destructive testing and isotope production.

The TRIGA reactor uses uranium-zirconium-hydride (UZrH) fuel, which has a large, prompt negative thermal coefficient of reactivity, meaning that as the temperature of the core increases, the reactivity rapidly decreases — so it is highly unlikely, though not impossible for a meltdown to occur. TRIGA was originally designed to be fuelled with highly enriched uranium, but in 1978 the U.S. Department of Energy launched its Reduced Enrichment for Research Test Reactors program, which promoted reactor conversion to low-enriched uranium fuel.

Triga reactors at General Atomics

GA's TRIGA reactor is the most widely used non-power nuclear reactor in the world. GA has sold 66 TRIGA reactors, which are in use or under construction at universities, government and industrial laboratories, and medical centers in 24 countries. GA's reactors are used in many diverse applications, including production of radioisotopes for medicine and industry, treatment of tumors, nondestructive testing, basic research on the properties of matter, and for education and training. These reactors operate at thermal power levels from less than 0.1 to 16 megawatts, and are pulsed to 22,000 megawatts. The high power pulsing is possible due to the unique properties of GA's uranium-zirconium hydride fuel, which provides unrivaled safety characteristics. The safety features of this fuel also permit flexibility in siting, with minimal environmental effects.

History and technical details of the Triga reactor

Carnival of Space Week 70

Carnival of Space week 70 is up at Orbital Hub

New experiments for modular space craft that would control relative position via magnetic fields.

This site contributed the article on the advance in separating carbon nanotubes which seems likely to be a significant step towards space elevators.

A graduate student at Cornell University set up experiments to test the magnetic flux pinning system.

Flux pinning describes the interaction between a high temperature superconductor (HTSC) and a magnetic field. The magnetic field induces current vortices in the HTSC, which are sensitive to and resist the change in magnetic flux through the HTSC surface. This effect creates mechanical stiffness and damping that influence the motion of the magnetic field’s source in multiple degrees of freedom. In a multibody space system, HTSC/magnet pairs placed on individual vehicles tie the dynamics of each body to that of its neighbors, creating a non-contacting virtual structure.

Cosmic Ray discusss chances for life on the moons of jupiter-class planets in star system 10 light years away

The world orbits the southern star Epsilon Eridani, which is the third closest star to Earth viewable without a telescope, shining at third magnitude.

Check out the Carnival of Space week up for a lot more.

September 10, 2008

Specific Business Applications for Dwave Systems Soon to be Released Adiabatic Quantum Computer

1. Financial market graphs can be mined using dwave's quantum computers

The dark blue shows that the solution is saying that a diversified portfolio would be Google, ZymoGenetics, Yahoo, Affymetrix and Microsoft.

2. Verifying whether a logic circuit performs to specifications is an important part of the circuit design process. These benchmark SAT problems were generated during formal hardware verification on real circuits. If a circuit design was compiled to SAT, then the dwave quantum computer could solve that problem.

3. One way to factor numbers using adiabatic quantum computers is to recast them as optimization problems, where finding the global minimum of an optimization objective provides the factors requested. This presentation provides an overview of one such algorithm, which maps factoring into quadratic unconstrained binary optimization. Once a factoring problem is recast as a QUBO, it can be solved by calling the Orion web services QUBO solver.

4. Composition of music in the Common Practice Period (Baroque, Classical, Romantic) was governed by a large set of well-defined rules and recommendations on harmony and melody. This type of music is amenable to automatic generation because of its structure. Here is some work on defining how one would automate the generation of this type of music by recasting it as a constraint satisfaction problem. Some pop music can be created by identifying the appropriate formulaic rules.

5. A protein folding instance that is reduced to a QUBO can be solved using Orion web services’ QUBO solver.

6. Multiple sequence alignment problems (DNA, RNA, proteins) can be recast as quadratic binary optimization problems. Once the MSA problem has been recast in the QUBO form, it can be solved by calling the Orion web services QUBO solver. The reduction methods from MSA to QUBO can likely be significantly improved.

Scientists close to bringing a small shell of non-living fat to life

Jack Szostak, a molecular biologist at Harvard Medical School, is building simple cell models that can almost be called life. Szostak described preliminary new success in getting protocells with genetic information inside them to replicate.
Wired magazine had an article on this work other sources below are Jack Szostak's site and his research paper linked and excerpted below.

UPDATE: Jack Szostak's site on replicating vesicles

What are the key components of our cell?

A self replicating compartment boundary - ours will be a membrane made of simple fatty acids

A self-replicating genome for the transmission of heritable information - ours will be made of RNA, so our goal is to evolve and RNA molecule that is an RNA polymerase
Some mechanism must allow changes in the genome to confer a selective advantage on the cell as a whole. This linking function would be a lipid-synthesizing ribozyme, a structural RNA, or a direct effect of RNA replication on vesicle growth

Research paper: Template-directed synthesis of a genetic polymer in a model protocell published in Nature


Szostak's protocells are built from fatty molecules that can trap bits of nucleic acids that contain the source code for replication. Combined with a process that harnesses external energy from the sun or chemical reactions, they could form a self-replicating, evolving system that satisfies the conditions of life, but isn't anything like life on earth now, but might represent life as it began or could exist elsewhere in the universe.

"We've made more progress on how the membrane of a protocell could grow and divide," Szostak said in a phone interview. "What we can do now is copy a limited set of simple [genetic] sequences, but we need to be able to copy arbitrary sequences so that sequences could evolve that do something useful."

"Once we can get a replicating environment, we're hoping to experimentally determine what can evolve under those conditions," said Sheref Mansy, a former member of Szostak's lab and now a chemist at Denver University.

Protocellular work is even more radical than the other field trying to create artifical life: synthetic biology. Even J. Craig Venter's work to build an artificial bacterium with the smallest number of genes necessary to live takes current life forms as a template. Protocell researchers are trying to design a completely novel form of life that humans have never seen and that may never have existed.

Advance in separating carbon nanotubes brings space elevators a step closer

Carbon nanotubes are very strong and light and can be 100 times stronger than the equivalent weight of steel. Carbon nanotubes bearing the same qualities can interlock with one another. But until now, no one had figured out a way to identify and separate nanotubes according to their properties.

Papadimitrakopoulos and his team at the University of Connecticut have used molecules from Vitamin B2 and attached them to nanotubes in such a way that could distinguish different types of nanotubes. With a way to identify nanotubes, researchers can group them together according to their types. (H/T Sander Olsen)

Next for Papadimitrakopoulos is taking his experiments to a more practical level. With an atomic force microscope at UConn, he's researching how to make the nanotubes bond into material. He figures it will take him two to three years for a conclusive result.

Recent advances in making stronger carbon nanotube rope

Making longer carbon nanotubes

The Space elevator contest for climbers and tethers

Brent Crude trading below $100 a barrel

Brent Crude is trading below $100 per barrel

Forbes reports that OPEC will not be halting the slide in the price of oil at this time. They did not reduce production quotas.

"Even with this cutting back on production, the data says we're going to have a big inventory build coming up," said Simon Wardell, analyst with Global Insight, citing slowing demand in tandem with the world economy. He predicted a short-term bounce for oil prices on the back of Wednesday's news, as well as some ripples from the effect of hurricane season on facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, but expected oil prices to end the year around $100 per barrel.

DNA origami based nanomachine for future microsurgery and neuro-imaging sensors and direct cellular interaction

Shrink-wrapped nanomachines
Making a device that operates at a scale 1000 times smaller than a human hair requires many molecular parts. A combination of DNA, silver, gold and fat molecules called liposomes are just some of the parts that will power and control a nanodevice designed to work like a remote controlled pacemaker to deliver an electrical impulse to a single cell.

A research team led by Fulton School electrical engineering professor Rudy Diaz, Biodesign Institute researcher Hao Yan (l-r) and Thomas Moore will assemble tiny nanomachines that could ultimately be used to detect and treat neurological disorders. Another funded project is John Chaput will lead a Biodesign Institute team on a project that plans to search the human genome for regions of DNA that contain important, but as of yet unidentified genetic information. If successful, Chaput’s project may confirm the possible existence of novel protein-coding regions that remain hidden in the shadows of the classic proteome. Determining how and when such proteins are made could have a major impact in diseases, such as cancer, by helping us to understand how cellular function is deposited in our genomes.

The Diaz work will be building light activated DNA devices for stimulating neurons. Hardcore Singularity related nanotechnology.

National Institute of Health has the EUREKA program. EURKA is an acronym for Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration, is intended to boost exceptionally innovative research.

Diaz’s team proposes would permit “direct interaction with cells at the local level.” That would be achieved with a nanoscale structure that could be injected into the body, targeted to attach itself to certain clusters of cells and then controlled by chemical reactions triggered by light delivered either through the skin or via microscopic optical fibers.

The team will molecularly assemble a nanodevice that is best described as a remotely powered and remotely controlled pacemaker.

It will be built on a DNA chassis that includes antennas for receiving power and commands from the outside world, and batteries to store and deliver that power.
The antennas are built of Noble metal nanospheres that take advantage of the plasmon resonance to amplify and focus light with nanometer precision.

Artificial electrocytes – electric organ cells that work like batteries, such as those that naturally occur in fish such as electric eels – will be constructed from liposomes (fat cells) that will have ion pumps and ion gate molecules incorporated into their lipid membranes.

The whole structure will have to be encapsulated in a DNA “cage” to prevent the components from being short-circuited by the body’s fluids.

Under the correct wavelength of light, the power-receiving antennae would amplify the incident light to drive the electric charging of the artificial electrocyte.
The structure would include a set of plasmonic antennae. These are microscopic metal nanostructures that behave as antennae in the presence of photons (light) the way metal antennas behave in the presence of radio waves.

The antennas would be tuned to a different wavelength and coupled to the ion gates in the membranes to serve as light-activated switches to perform a “gate-opening” process that triggers the discharge of the artificial electrocyte chain, thus delivering an electrical impulse that can stimulate neurons.

These nanostructures could lead to advanced neuro-imaging sensors operating at the cellular scale. Such nanosensors delivered to their targets by chemical tags, or during surgical intervention, could reveal new details about the transmission of neural signals and of their pathological interruption.

The light-powered artificial electrocyte could become a critical tool for improving microsurgery, and advancing the understanding of cellular biology.

Delivering the package
The device Diaz’s team proposes would permit “direct interaction with cells at the local level.” Once assembled, the nanoscale machine would be injected into the body, targeted to attach cells like neurons, and deliver an electrical impulse to stimulate a damaged region from diseases such as multiple sclerosis.s

Life extension project not chosen as one of the 25 finalists

the American Express advisory panel choose not to select the life extension research project which was voted into 22nd place among the 25 projects being voted on now. Only 5 will receive funding.

Thanks to Those who had voted for the life extension project at the end of August.

September 08, 2008

Transgenic genetic engineering update and a possible path to more transgenic breakthroughs

Energy news roundup : Nuclear uprates, cheaper ethanol and biofuel

1. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved uprates to seven nuclear reactors over the last year, adding a further 249 MWe (2 billion kwh) to overall US nuclear capacity.

2. Researchers have genetically engineered a thermophilic bacterium, meaning it's able to grow at high temperatures, and this new microorganism makes ethanol as the only product of its fermentation. The technology to convert cellulosic biomass to ethanol is steadily improving, and it also has the potential to be cost-competitive with gasoline production.

3. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered a fundamental shift in an enzyme's function that could help expand the toolbox for engineering biofuels and other plant-based oil products.

"Right now, the materials we use -- the plastics, foams, nylons -- have been limited by the structures of petroleum-based chemical feedstocks. But if we understand how to engineer designer desaturase-like plant enzymes, we can tailor-make feedstocks with optimal properties, instead of relying on the properties of preexisting raw materials," said Shanklin. "We'd no longer have to say, 'this is what we have, so this is what we can make.' Instead, we could make the best feedstock for a particular application by designing the raw materials that will yield it."

4. The creators of the omnivorous engine, engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, seek to fashion an engine that can run on just about any type of spark-ignited fuel.

5. Researchers in Norway report that injecting a special type of seawater called "smart water" into certain low-yield oil wells may help boost oil extraction by as much as 60 percent in limestone (50% of oil wells)

Scientists now inject seawater into chalk-based oil wells to boost oil extraction, but researchers do not know if the method will work for oil wells composed of limestone, a tough material known for its low oil-recovery rates — usually less than 30 percent, but in some cases less than 5 percent.

Possible carbon fullerene advance to spintronics, molecular electronics and quantum computing

Stable carbon-80 fullerene (C79B) would be an electron short, instead of having an extra electron. There would be the components of a molecular semiconductor. C79N (carbon 80 with one carbon changed to a nitrogen) would have an extra electron.

"No one has done anything like this," said Harry Dorn of Virginia Tech. "Since the article was published, we now know that we can take the electron back out of the fullerene cage."

He says the discovery could be important to the new fields of spintronics, molecular electronics, and micro to nanoscale electronics, as well as the new field of quantum computing.

"The single electron bonded-diatomic yttrium has unique spin properties that can be altered. Increasing the polarization of this spin, could be important for improving the sensitivity of MRI and NMR, he said.

Blacksburg, Va. – Virginia Tech chemistry Professor Harry Dorn has developed a new area of fullerene chemistry that may be the backbone for development of molecular semiconductors and quantum computing applications.

Dorn plays with the hollow carbon molecules known as fullerenes as if they are tinker toys. First, in 1999, he figured out how to put atoms inside the 80-atom molecule, then how to do it reliably, how to change the number of atoms forming the carbon cage, and how to change the number and kinds of atoms inside the cage, resulting in a new, more sensitive MRI material and a vehicle to deliver radioactive atoms for applications in nuclear medicine.

As part of the research to place gadolinium atoms inside the carbon cage for MRI applications, Dorn created 80-atom carbon molecule with two yttrium ions inside. Then he began to fool with the materials of the cage itself. He replaced one of the 80 atoms of carbon with an atom of nitrogen (providing Y2@C79N). This change leaves the nitrogen atom with an extra electron. Dorn discovered that the extra electron, instead of being on the nitrogen atom on the fullerene cage surface, ducks inside between the yttrium ions, forming a one-electron bond. "Basically, a very unusual one electron bond between two yttrium atoms," he said.

Discovery of this new class of stable molecules (M2@C79N ) was supported by computational studies by Daniel Crawford, associate professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech, and the structure was confirmed by x-ray crystallographic studies by Alan Balch , professor of chemistry at the University of California, Davis.

This research is reported in the September 6, 2008, online issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), in an article by Dorn and his colleagues at Virginia Tech and UC Davis.

The JACS article is "M2@C79N (M ) Y, Tb): Isolation and Characterization of Stable Endohedral Metallofullerenes Exhibiting M-M Bonding Interactions inside Aza[80]fullerene Cages," by Tianming Zuo, Liaosa Xu, Christine M. Beavers, Marilyn M. Olmstead, Wujun Fu, Crawford, Balch, and Dorn

Prediction: McCain will Win US Presidential Election

There is definitely risk in this prediction, but this site is predicting that John McCain will win the 2008 US Presidential election.

The polls are very close to even between Obama and McCain, with some showing McCain leading and others showing Obama. The bettors still have an edge for Obama.

The prediction was wrong. McCain lost and Obama won. McCain did a little better than some of the polls were showing. The financial crisis and McCain's inferior performance was his undoing. McCain needed to indicate that "I have been lifelong campaigner for small government and deregulation except in a financial crisis of this nature when IMF and other studies of similar financial problems in other countries show that financial plans do not work other than direct injection of capital into banks." McCain probably should have voted against the $150 billion of pork added onto the bailout that was passed. "A bailout is necessary but one without pork."

As noted the prediction was predicated on no substantial deterioration in the US economy. Substantial deterioration happened.

The site is expecting that the US economy will not deteriorate substantially between now and the November election.

Oil prices will be in the $90-110 range over this time.

Most of the presidential and vice-presidential debates over the last two decades have not been events that majorly altered the courses of elections. Sarah Palin is predicted to perform adequate to good in her debate with Biden.

This site will also predict a majority government election win for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in Canada for the recently called elections. [This is a far less risky call with polls strongly running in Harper's favor.]

The prediction of a majority government for the Conservatives in Canada was wrong. They won a stronger minority government.
The McCain victory prediction is looking like a failed prediction, but there is still a few weeks left. The original caveat was that the US economy would not deteriorate and that failed to happen with the credit crisis.

This site correctly called Palin as the Republican Vice presidential pick on June 4, 2008. This site was wrong about Hillary Clinton being the Democratic Vice Presidential pick at the same time. The mistake was more Obama's in that a Hillary Clinton pick would likely have won the presidential election for the Democrats.

This site correctly predicted the 2008 Taiwan presidential election in May of 2007.

Response to more Singularity Critiques

Richard Jones (who regularly criticizes molecular nanotechnology, Ray Kurzweil and the Singularity] writes about the Singularity in terms of "Faith in Technology" and Scott Aaronson writes about how the "Singularity is Far'

Points in the Richard Jones article that I wanted to respond to:
1. Jones: Peak oil could cause a societal collapse and thus prevent/cripple technological progress.

Oil shortage is something to be managed and their should be a transition to other energy - biofuels, nuclear power and renewables. This something which when I look at the details of energy appears to be either easily manageable or manageable with some difficulty but not difficulty that collapses society.

This site has a recommended energy plan for transition from oil and coal.

Conventional biofuel projection

Algae biofuel

Garbage into fuel (2.5 billion gallons per year from one company by 2022)

Japan's large scale seaweed into biofuel plan and seaweed for mining uranium from seawater

Getting new nuclear fission power to less than 2 cents per kwh

Uranium from seawater and deep burn reactors can allow nuclear power to last for 5 billion years or 20,000 years at 100 times current power levels

Deep burn and seriously scaling nuclear power

2. Climate change could cause a societal collapse

Geoengineering is easy. The concern of climate change is that geoengineering is a side effect of human civilization (burning coal and oil and agriculture). There are cheap plans that are reversible which can be used to offset climate change. There are also bad plans that are not cheap. Obviously the bad and expensive plans should not be implemented.

The Economist talks about some the plans for addressing climate change

Sequestering carbon in cities with Calera Cement

McKinsey Consulting discusses offsetting climate change.

Gregory Benford has a proposal that possesses the advantages of being both one of the simplest planet-cooling technologies so far suggested and being initially testable in a local context. He suggests suspension of tiny, harmless particles (sized at one-third of a micron) at about 80,000 feet up in the stratosphere. These particles could be composed of diatomaceous earth. "That's silicon dioxide, which is chemically inert, cheap as earth, and readily crushable to the size we want," Benford says. This could initially be tested, he says, over the Arctic, where warming is already considerable and where few human beings live.

Is Benford's proposal realistic? According to Ken Caldeira, a leading climate scientist at Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, "It appears as if any small particle would do the trick in the necessary quantities. I've done a number of computer simulations of what the climate response would be of reflecting sunlight, and all of them indicate that it would work quite well." He adds, "I wouldn't look to these geoengineering schemes as part of normal policy response, but if bad things start to happen quickly, then people will demand something be done quickly."

3. A criticism in the Jones article seems to be that those who believe in technology progressing at particular rates similar to what has been observed for decades are over-simplifying technology and just creating chart forecasts. Then you are following the simplified concerns of some people about peak oil and climate change without looking at the current energy situation and the rate of field decline, offsetting oil recovery technology [not nanotech but oil technology that effects any potential production decline] and economic and societal adaptions, mitigations and offsets to address oil shortages and to enable an orderly transition from oil.

Enhanced oil recovery

Advances in enhanced oil recovery

More natural gas from horizontal drilling and shale

4. Jones: Technology is a product of society

Society is the aggregate result of people. People taking actions as individuals, families, networks, groups, companies, government departments, political actions etc... There are several not completed connected societies in the world today.

Technology and large projects are the results of people and the systems that they have created or are creating.

Societies can still function well even when people are working towards different goals.

People and companies can work towards radical life extension and gather resources towards that goal even if others do not want or agree with that goal.

5. Jones' article implies that SENS (radical life extension is predicated on nanomedicine)

SENS is not predicated on nanomedicine. Aubrey does not say that fixing the identified items achieves one thousand year lifespans in one feel swoop. It is a process of constantly improving maintenance. Like a vintage car, it is the constant effort of keeping it in good operating condition. Plus Aubrey is indicating that even if SENS is successful most people alive today will die well before one thousand years. He is indicating that the current situation can be further improved. From increasing life expectancy by 0.1 to 0.3 years each year to over 1 year each year. Aubrey does not indicate any inevitability to this work. He is indicating that it is a worthwhile effort and he has laid out a detailed plan for making progress which is producing some research success.

6. Many goals/projections are long term and involve a series of things to be achieved or for certain events to happen or for certain trends to hold. This is true of the climate change projections as well. ie. if x, y, and z then in 2100 no ice caps etc...

7. Great things can be achieved with technology [projects other people, groups] than just those working on nanotechnology, AI or SENS life extension.

Achieving a mundane singularity

Richard Jones also felt that Moore's law would only hold for ten years, and then would need nanotechnology but advances to onchip photonic communication should enable zettaflop computers to hold Moore's law for 20 years even without nanotechnology.

Scott Aaronson writes about how the "Singularity is Far' Scott's point is also addressed by the mundane singularity article which points out that there are many paths to achieving the goals of a Singularity. Scott is focused on the artificial intelligence breakthrough pathway and there are many ways to achieving a radically improved technology and economic situation. In terms of cognitive enhancement, genetic engineering and improved drugs can provide a radical improvement in people and there is potential for virtual reality (VR) to greatly improve education, training and productivity. VR training is getting substantial DARPA investment.

Some people who talk about peak oil ignore all of the alternative scenarios and options that the developed countries and any country with the wealth per capita of China on up can do to manage.

There is talk of $300 billion in oilsand projects that if all go ahead put the production at 6 million barrels per day in 2027. If the USA and Canada really had Peak oil problems nuclear power plants would be used to help get oil from the oilsands and other oil recovery processes even if it meant more damage to the environment.

ANWR and continental shelf will all get drilled if prices are high enough. Already high enough for Republics and close for Democrats. They would offset Peak Oil by 1-3 million barrels of oil per day starting as early as 6 years from now and continuing for a couple of decades. The ten year drilling timeline assumes an orderly follow all current stupid regulations approach.

Oil shale can be used directly as it is now in Estonia. It is just a question of how much high tech can clean it up oilshale and use it as oil. But for heating homes, for industrial processes etc... you can use it directly if you are not so concerned about pollution.

There are plenty of things that can be done before any "collapse" it is just that the peak oil and greenies just can't accept the truth of the solutions that would be used. However, this site believes that technology will enable cleaner approaches while still allowing stronger economic growth. But make no mistake not having the best technological solutions does not mean collapse it means that certain things and places get trashed in order to keep the world/developed country economic train on track.

Road pavement only uses 537,000 barrels of oil per day.

Miscanthus can be used to produce 20% of fuel with 9% of cropland or 50% of fuel with 23% of cropland. That is before genetic modification. A 300% productive boost to Miscanthus could ultimately be performed. Jatropha is a biofuel plant that can be grown in wasteland so it would not compete with crops. Seaweed can be used as Japan is working towards on a large scale. Again not competing with crops.

140 billion gallons of oil for the USA now.
20 billion gallon biofuel/ethanol target for 2015 [3 mbd] [this is before Miscanthus, algae and other more advanced biofuels]
Domestic US production in the range of 6.3 mbd in 2015 [more gulf of mexico oil]
(one third 45 billion gallons)
1-2 mbd imports from Canada. [oilsands and Canada's part of the Bakken]

7 years is plenty of time for cars and trucks to be converted to very high efficiency oil and gas usage and electrification.

Trucks use 2.5 million barrels of oil per day in the USA and another 2.5-3 million barrels of oil per day for heavy machinery, agriculture, planes etc... Those applications get the oil and biofuels first. Process improvement and superconducting motors can reduce industrial usage by 20-30%. Process heat can be replaced by high temperature nuclear reactor as China is starting to build.

If the enhanced oil recovery works out then there is 218 billion barrels of oil in old wells in the USA to be tapped.
enhanced oil recovery which I had already linked to in the main article.

So as said - no catastrophe, no collapse.

September 07, 2008

Annular fuel 50% power ultra-uprate to nuclear power - Economics versus new nuclear plants is the key issue

MIT and Westinghouse have been working on increasing the power of existing pressure water nuclear reactors by 50%. A test reactor at MIT had successful tests. The technical and economic issues continue to be studied. This presents the economic and technical analysis that are being performed. In 2006, Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute started a project for development of PWR annular fuel. The ultra uprate makes economic sense where there is a lot of extra generator capacity at the plant and in the surrounding electrical grid. A half ultra uprate 25% makes economic sense in more places. 7-50% uprates can be performed depending upon the economics at each location and the capacity situation at each location. Use varying levels of ultra-uprate to max out the generator and other capacity. Plus other aspects of new plant construction or licensing could make ultra-uprates more attractive and incremental upgrade/replacement of fuel rods with annular cylinders should improve the economics.

The cost evaluation indicates that the largest cost components are the
replacement of power (during the outage required for the uprate) and the new
fuel loading. The preferred option for the BOP uprate (to build a new
Turbine/Generator building for the added power) has a large negative impact in
the economic aspects of the uprate. In particular, the cost per installed kilowatt of
the added components will be relatively large due to the relatively poor economy
of scale (25 to 50% of total). Based on these results, the study concludes, in
Section 10, that for a “standard” 4-loop plant, the proposed Power Ultra-Uprate is
technically feasible. However, the power uprate is likely to be more expensive
than the cost (per Kw electric installed) of a new plant when the large capacity
uprate is considered (50%). Nevertheless, the concept of the Power Ultra-Uprate
may be an attractive option for specific nuclear power plants where a large
margin exists in the steam and power conversion system (BOP). The conclusions
of the study suggest that development efforts on fuel technologies for current
nuclear power plants should be oriented towards improving the fuel performance
(FW, corrosion, uranium load, manufacturing, safety) required to achieve higher
burnup rather than focusing on potential increases in the fuel thermal output.

A [255 page] 2006 assessment of ultra uprate economics.

Market data suggests that in order to make the ultra-power uprate financially attractive to the utility, its cost has to be kept within the range of the following industry reference costs:
NOTE: New plant construction and all power generation costs are now higher, which changes the economic assessment.

• $1200-$2200/kWe for new plant construction
• $600/kWe for Upgrade programs
• $600-$800/kWe for gas fired combined cycle plants

The study concluded that:
• Power Ultra-Uprate 25%: Acceptable DNB (Departure from Nucleate Boiling) margins were obtained without replacing the pumps by increasing ΔT and lowering Thot
• Power Ultra-Uprate 50%: Sufficient DNB margin is obtained only if RCPs
are replaced and pump power is doubled

So where costs are in the $2000-6000/kWe for new plant construction increases the places where ultra uprates work economically. There are many places where medium uprates (25%) work and the 50% uprate work [economically, technical feasibility works everywhere] .

Early candidate plants

Cost estimates

Improvement in the uprate unique costs by the deduction of already replaced steam generator costs and reduction in the outage length, if they have been already replaced due to corrosion or equipment aging replacements, would further shrink the cost differential.

A positive factor for the Ultra Uprate which does not show up in the simple cost
comparison is an expected shorter construction time for the uprate compared to
licensing and construction of a new plant on a new site. This could be especially
important for plants that have capacity shortages and expect rapid demand

Safety and economic presentation.

Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA)
- A RELAP5/MOD3.2 large LOCA model of 4-loop Westinghouse
plant was developed to handle both the different geometry and
the higher power components.
- LOCA analyses performed for 100% and 150% power.

Loss of Flow Accident and Main Steam Line Break
- A RELAP5 model for MSLB and analyzed 100% and 150% case.
- A RELAP5/MOD3.2 model for LOFA and performed analyses at
100% and 150% in conjunction with VIPRE-01.

Increase dimensions (inner hole 8.6 mm, outer clad 15.4 mm)
will maintain hydraulic diameter

Annular fuel allows PWR power density to be raised by 50% within current safety limits The sintered fuel pellets appear viable with appropriate manufacturing- need lead tests Uprating is economic, depending on plant
remaining lifetime, with IRR from 20 to 27%

A Mixed Transition Core...
- yields comparable MDNBR to reference core.
- yields comparable pressure drop to reference core.
- may be allowed to raise core power by 7.5%.


The identified NPP bottlenecks can be grouped in the following categories:
• Increasing the energy densities in all nuclear island components:
o Fuel/Core: acceptance and First Time Engineering for annular and UN fuel and to increase energy density in Reactor vessel, Departure from Nucleate Boiling (DNB) and Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) fluence
o Steam generator: energy balance (Thot, Tcold, steam pressure), increase heat transfer (area or efficiency)
• Handling of increased energy density of the Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS) during normal operation and accident conditions:
o Capacity of Pressurizer
o Reactor Coolant Pumps
o Piping
o Containment
o Instrumentation and Control
• Handling of increased energy production by both the on-site and off-site BOP facilities:
o Turbine and Generator
o Condenser and Cooling Tower
o Circulation Pumps
o Steam line and feed-water line flow velocities
• Licensing / Acceptance:
o Safety analysis margin has be maintained
o Site permit limits
o Spent fuel pool
o Source term
o Backfit versus new licensing criteria
• Achieving favorable economics with capital charges about equal to combined cycle gas turbine plants and combined fuel and O&M charges less than current Generation II plants.

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