February 19, 2011

Stratosolar for concentrated solar power that is 15 times lower cost

Stratosolar plan is to have a buoyant concentrator collecting solar energy from the cloudless stratosphere and direct the solar energy into a buoyant light pipe. The light pipe both tethers the concentrator and directs the solar energy to the ground where it is absorbed and converted to electricity using conventional turbo-generators.

iPad 2 and iPad 2.5 or iPad 3.0

iPad 2 and iPad 2.5 rumors

* the rear camera is likely 5 to 8 megapixels and the front camera somewhere between 1.3 and 2

* iPad 2 is in production and on track for a spring debut. It will still have a 9.7-inch screen and some basic upgrades like a dual-core CPU, more memory, a better graphics processor

* Slimmer with a flat back

* include a wide-range speaker “covered with metal mesh” in the iPad 2

* smudge-proof 1024 x 768 screen

NRC should only regulate operating reactors and something else should be created for new designs and technology

It has been pointed out that the NRC is not successful in facilitating a nuclear industry that is not static. If the nuclear industry is not active building new reactors, not trying to get new types of reactors and just applying for continued operation of existing light water reactor then the NRC can handle it. (90% of the time within 12 months) Reviewing the testimony of Gregory Jaczko shows that this is cited as a big success - being able to handle regular maintenance applications 90% of the time within 1 year

The problems with the NRC are clear in the NRC's official history

Before the NRC was created, nuclear regulation was the responsibility of the AEC, which Congress first established in the Atomic Energy Act of 1946. Eight years later, Congress replaced that law with the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which for the first time made the development of commercial nuclear power possible. The act assigned the AEC the functions of both encouraging the use of nuclear power and regulating its safety. The AEC's regulatory programs sought to ensure public health and safety from the hazards of nuclear power without imposing excessive requirements that would inhibit the growth of the industry. This was a difficult goal to achieve, especially in a new industry, and within a short time the AEC's programs stirred considerable controversy. An increasing number of critics during the 1960s charged that the AEC's regulations were insufficiently rigorous in several important areas, including radiation protection standards, reactor safety, plant siting, and environmental protection.

The NRC is highlighting that they would regulate and inhibit the growth of the nuclear industry. 36 years of history has shown that the nuclear industry has been inhibited under the NRC.

Intel is building a new $5 billion-plus factory in Arizona that will enable 14 nanometer processes in 2013

Intel Corporation today announced plans to invest more than $5 billion to build a new chip manufacturing facility at its site in Chandler, Ariz. The announcement was made by Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini during a visit by President Barack Obama at an Intel facility in Hillsboro, Ore.

The new Arizona factory, designated Fab 42, will be the most advanced, high-volume semiconductor manufacturing facility in the world. Construction of the new fab is expected to begin in the middle of this year and is expected to be completed in 2013.

Carnival of nuclear energy 40

February 18, 2011

Hummingbird spy drones and progress to megawatt class free electron lasers

1. A prototype robot spy "ornithopter," the Nano-Hummingbird, has successfully completed flight trials in California.

Video of the hummingbird spy drone in action shows it is much more capable and with the ability to do its acrobatics for much longer.

The drone, built by AeroVironment with funding from DARPA, is able to fly forwards, backwards, and sideways, as well as rotate clockwise and counterclockwise. Not only does the 'bot resemble its avian inspiration in size (it's only slightly larger than a hummingbird, with a 6.5-inch wingspan and a weight of 19 grams), it also looks impressively like a hummingbird in flight.

Printed electronics faster growth and the main driver is doing what was previously not possible

Printed electronics is associated with some orders, investments and acquisitions that are one hundred times as big as the largest two years ago.

We can laminate solar power onto a large dirigible, for example, and Northrop Grumman in the USA has just landed an order for $517 million to make one for surveillance from the upper atmosphere that is based on flexible photovoltaics. Delivery will be in 2012. Boeing in the USA has won $89 million in funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA for the second phase of the Vulture long-endurance unmanned aerial system UAS program made possible by flexible photovoltaics.

A Multi-cell array of traps for antimatter will make the largest antimatter container

UCSD physicists James Danielson, Clifford Surko and Craig Schallhorn (left to right) inspect the apparatus they are using to develop the world's largest trap for low-energy positrons, planned to hold a trillion or more antiparticles. (Photo Credit: Kim McDonald, UCSD)

Clifford Surko, a professor of physics at UC San Diego who is constructing what he hopes will be the world's largest antimatter container, said physicists have recently developed new methods to make special states of antimatter in which they can create large clouds of antiparticles, compress them and make specially tailored beams for a variety of uses.

He described the progress made in this area, including his own efforts, at the annual meeting in Washington, DC, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His talk, "Taming Dirac's Particle," led off the session entitled "Through the Looking Glass: Recent Adventures in Antimatter," at 1:30 pm on February 18.

"We are now working to accumulate trillions of positrons or more in a novel 'multi-cell' trap—an array of magnetic bottles akin to a hotel with many rooms, with each room containing tens of billions of antiparticles," he said.

NASA Flight Forum discussion of Mach Effect and Why it is not violating physical law

The NASA spaceflight forum discusses Goatguys criticism of the Mach Effect for propulsion.

Goatguys criticism

The Mach Effect itself poses serious violations-of-physics problems, which most likely obviate its existence. Imagine for the moment that two equations of MachEffect vehicles are true:



Which is to say the kinetic energy rises per the square of time ... since the K and E and M are constants. But, the energy put into the system is linear over time. Now - connect the dots - and you'll realize that when T = (2M)/(K²P) ... the amount of electric energy input to the Mach device equals the amount of kinetic energy of the craft itself. After that, the craft's energy exceeds the electrical energy input...

Mass      10,000.00 kg    10 ton craft
K              0.01 N/W   low, but real conversion factor
P      9,800,000.00 W     power needed for "1 G"
2M/K²P        20.41 sec   sec, from dead stop, to kinetic energy exceeding electrical imput
A              9.80 m/s²  Acceleration of craft
V            200.00 m/s   velocity at cut-over where kinetic exceeds electrical
E       200,000,000 J     Kinetic energy (== electrical input) at that point

It doesn't matter one whit whether the ME force (K) is really weak, or really strong - the equation works out to some time T where the kinetic energy of the moving vessel exceeds the energy actually put into it. After that point, it is a perpetual-motion machine (conceptually).

Metamaterials can improve magnetic resonance imaging

Arxiv - Active split-ring metamaterial slabs for magnetic resonance imaging. (6 pages) Researchers have created a switchable metamaterial that becomes invisible when not needed. It has been built and tested and it improves the signal to noise ratio of the resulting images by 15%. The MRI improvement will be improved further by optimising the design.

MIT Technology Review explains the work

Synthetic Universal Flu Nasal Spray Vaccine shows success in Mice

University of Adelaide researcher Dr Darren Miller and colleagues have successfully trialled a synthetic universal flu vaccine in mice.

Dr Miller and colleagues used specific peptides delivered to the noses of mice. The peptides trigger an immune response to a tiny region of the flu virus that is present in all influenza A and B viruses, which effectively neutralises the virus.

The test vaccine provided mice with 100% protection against a laboratory strain of virus (H3N2) and 20% protection against a highly pathogenic virus (H5N1, known as "bird flu"), which is consistent with the protection levels achieved with commercially available anti-influenza drugs.

Journal of General Virology - Preclinical efficacy studies of influenza A haemagglutinin precursor loop peptides as a potential vaccine.

February 17, 2011

Mile high building has official go ahead

Joule Unlimited claims 5-50 times more fuel per acre than other biofuel processes

Schematic comparison between algal biomass and direct photosynthetic processes. The direct process, developed by Joule and called Helioculture™, combines an engineered cyanobacterial organism supplemented with a product pathway and secretion system to produce and secrete a fungible alkane diesel product continuously in a SolarConverter™ designed to efficiently and economically collect and convert photonic energy. The process is closed and uses industrial waste CO2 at concentrations 50–100× higher than atmospheric. The organism is further engineered to provide a switchable control between carbon partitioning for biomass or product. The algal process is based on growth of an oil-producing culture in an industrial pond on atmospheric CO2, biomass harvesting, oil extraction, and chemical esterification to produce a biodiesel ester

A new dawn for industrial photosynthesis by Dan E. Robertson, Stuart A. Jacobson, Frederick Morgan, David Berry, George M. Church and Noubar B. Afeyan

The conversion efficiency for the direct process is about seven times larger than that for an algal open pond.

The article, entitled “A New Dawn for Industrial Photosynthesis,” quantitatively affirms the advantages of Joule’s direct conversion process as compared to the indirect production of fuel from biomass, including algae. Though both processes aim to convert solar energy into fuel, the latter method requires the costly culturing, harvesting and processing of algal biomass – a multi-step intermediate stage that Joule’s process avoids. Moreover, Joule’s process directly yields hydrocarbons that are fungible with existing diesel infrastructure, unlike the biodiesel product that is produced from algal oil.

Highlights include:

* Based on empirical measurements, Joule can directly produce 15,000 gallons of diesel per acre annually, as compared to 3,000 gallons of biodiesel produced indirectly from algae.

* The solar-to-product conversion efficiency of Joule’s direct, continuous process for producing diesel, ethanol and chemicals is between 5 and 50X greater than any biomass-dependent process, and gains additional efficiencies by avoiding downstream refining.

* Joule’s combined advances in genome engineering, solar capture and bioprocessing result in photosynthetic conversion efficiency of more than 7% relative to available yearly solar energy striking the ground, many times greater than prior industry assumptions.

Iraq oil production targets 8 million barrels per day in 2018

The Iraqi government plans to hold a new oil and gas licensing auction later this year as it gears up for a major push to increase oil output and capture natural gas for electricity generation

Iraqi oil officials are optimistic that major international oil companies will meet their pledges to significantly increase the country's oil production. They say Iraq could increase oil output to as much as 8 million barrels a day by 2018, though oil analysts expect that target to take longer to achieve.

Mr. Ameedi said oil output from three major oil fields being developed by some of the world's biggest oil companies would increase output by nearly 500,000 barrels a day by the end of this year, bringing total output to 3 million barrels a day.

North Dakota oil might head to over one million barrels per day and supply 100,000 jobs in North Dakota

(Harold Hamm/Continental Resources, CEO) "In total development in the Bakken we see about 48000 wells, of which 90-percent are yet to be drilled." Oil tycoon Harold Hamm says the formations in North Dakota and Montana hold about 20 billion barrels of recoverable crude. There are about 170 rigs drilling in North Dakota and oil tycoon Harold Hamm says that number is expected to rise. Hamm estimates those 48000 wells will produce as much as 1,000,000 barrels a day and it may be just a tad more than that.

Ben Goertzel, Artificial Intelligence guru, reflects on Watson means for AI

Ben Goertzel - My initial reaction to reading about IBM’s “Watson” supercomputer and software was a big fat ho-hum. Watson is a fancy database lookup system. Watson is a trimph of Natural Language Processing. But while that cynical view is certainly technically accurate, I have to admit that when I actually watched Watson play Jeopardy! on TV — and beat the crap out of its human opponents — I felt some real excitement … and even some pride for the field of AI.

World’s First Anti-laser

In the anti-laser, incoming light waves are trapped in a cavity where they bounce back and forth until they are eventually absorbed. Their energy is dissipated as heat. (Photo: Yidong Chong)

Scientists at Yale University have built the world's first anti-laser, in which incoming beams of light interfere with one another in such a way as to perfectly cancel each other out. The discovery could pave the way for a number of novel technologies with applications in everything from optical computing to radiology.

In a paper published in the journal Science they demonstrated that the anti-laser could adsorb 99.4 per cent of incoming light, for a specific wavelength. In theory 99.999% of the incoming light can be absorbed.

Journal Science - Time-Reversed Lasing and Interferometric Control of Absorption

Astressin-B peptide restores hair growth in bald mice and could help people starting in 2016

Researchers from UCLA and the Veterans Administration that was investigating how stress affects gastrointestinal function may have found a chemical compound that induces hair growth by blocking a stress-related hormone associated with hair loss — entirely by accident. The astressin-B peptide was responsible for the remarkable hair growth in the bald mice. Just one shot per day for five consecutive days maintained the effects for up to four months (16% of the 2 year lifespan of the mouse). Treatment of human hair loss could be achieved through the modulation of the stress hormone receptors, particularly hair loss related to chronic stress and aging. If it works in humans is appears to be a cure for baldness.

Plos One - CRF Receptor Antagonist Astressin-B Reverses and Prevents Alopecia in CRF Over-Expressing Mice

Regenerative Medicine Update - repairing hearts and spraying skin cells

UK Guardian - Scientists at this Wake Forest University facility have grown 22 different types of tissues and organs. Lives are being saved and more amazing successes are on the way.

Researchers in Boston and beyond are building everything from blood vessels to internal organs, using engineering tricks and dome-like bioreactors. On Monday Feb 6, 2011 at 10pm in “How to Build a Beating Heart,’’ National Geographic Explorer investigates those efforts to transform human health, revealing the pulse-quickeningly cool side of regenerative medicine.

Making Stargates: the Science of Absurdly Benign Wormholes

James Woodward's latest paper will be published in Foundations of Physics later this year. It's about how the Mach Effect can be applied to the Warp Drive and Stargate problem.

It covers some new and interesting ground on how to make warp drives and stargtates using the M-E's wormhole and higher terms to generate the required amount of exotic or negative G/I mass needed to create same. And no, Jupiter sized exotic G/I masses will not be required for that estimate is a worst case. It turns out it could be much, much less...

Heinlein Style Spaceflight with Supertall Towers—and '2001' Style Space Development

By Joseph Friedlander

By strength of materials arguments alone, staged (note that qualifier—a tower whose 'payload' is another smaller tower on top—in that sense skyscrapers with setbacks or even the tapered Eiffel tower is staged--) towers 30-to 100 kilometers high are quite doable.

New businesses and payback models would be enabled with each successive height regime (ie even 3 kilometers high would give superior relay capacity, a 30 kilometer tower could see either ocean from Mexico City, or all of the UK and Ireland from an English site near say Sellafield. A 100 kilometer tower would have the vast telecom coverage area of a satellite.

Concentrated solar power at half the cost of thin film solar

The Amonix 7700 Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) Solar Power Generators are being tested for reliability and performance at the SolarTAC facility

The Nataional Renewable Eenrgy Lab (NREL) reports on super-efficient concentrated solar cells and the keys to low-cost solar power They describe the Amonix 770 concentrated solar power system which can be manufactured at about a third to one half of generators using crystalline silicon or thin-film approaches. The 7700 uses acrylic Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight up to 500 times its usual intensity and direct it onto 7,560 tiny, highly efficient multi-junction PV cells.

Stem Cells for repairing kidneys and Indian company targets commercial stem cell treatment in 2014

February 16, 2011

Final day of Watson on Jeopardy - Watson wins, Jennings Second

Train scheduling algorithm optimized for shorter commuter travel times can shorten average trips from 60 to 48 minutes

Dr. Tal Raviv and his graduate student have developed a tool that makes passenger train journeys shorter, especially when transfers are involved — a computer-based system to shave precious travel minutes off a passenger's journey.

Dr. Raviv's solution, the "Service Oriented Timetable," relies on computers and complicated algorithms to do the scheduling. "Our solution is useful for any metropolitan region where passengers are transferring from one train to another, and where train service providers need to ensure that the highest number of travellers can make it from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible.

Professor projects China to Pass the USA in market exchange rates in 2016-2021

John Ross is a visiting Professor at Antai College of Economics and Management, Jiao Tong University, Shanghai and he provides a lengthy and comprehensive analysis of when China will pass the US in market exchange rates.

The central date for China's GDP to overtake the US at market exchange rates is 2019 - a study of growth assumptions and analyses

There are many that argue that China's economic growth is not sustainable (Buck Pei, associate dean of Asia Programs at the W. P. Carey School of Business)

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote several articles about the official acknowledgment that Japan is now the number 3 economy in world.

Note: Why is this a topic on Nextbigfuture ? This like the the large political shifts in the middle east have a large impact as to what will happen in the future. This site is concerned with large impacts on the future, whether they are from good or bad policies, new science and technology or events. If world war 3 were to break out then it would be important to predict it and know its impact. The recent financial crisis effected what will happen in the world. The economic boom and the rise of the internet during the 1990's effected the world.

NRC has four certified nuclear reactor designs but many other designs have tried to get to certification and failed

The US Nuclear Regulatory commission was established in 1974

Adding in pre-application time with licensing certification period for the NRC review of a new reactor certification is 7-20+ years and of the more than one dozen different reactors that have been up to pre-application only 4 reactors are certified and three of those are variations of the same reactor. So 7-20 years and the odds of successfully getting through certification are about 20% or less. The odds seem even worse if your reactor is not submitted by Westinghouse (which three of the four certified reactors, but did not get the IRIS reactor certified yet) or the reactor is not a light water reactor or a pressure water reactor.

There have been CANDU heavy water reactors (which have had versions built around the world), pebble bed and high temperature reactors that have been put before the NRC but they have never made it to the start of the certification process after ten years or more.

The NRC has four certified nuclear reactor designs

Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR)  General Electric (GE) Nuclear Energy
System 80+  Westinghouse Electric Company
Advanced Passive 600 (AP600)  Westinghouse Electric Company
Advanced Passive 1000 (AP1000)  Westinghouse Electric Company

The AP600 and AP1000 are derived from the System 80+, so there are two designs (one boiler water and three pressurized water) with 2 variants on one of the designs.

In the bottom of this article is a partial list of the designs that have at least gone to pre-application with the NRC but were not certified. One was a version of CANDU heavy water reactor. CANDU reactors have been built and operated safely in other countries.

The NRC bills applicants for the time of NRC engineers at least $250/hr.

The NRC does not have enough money to process all the COL (combined operating license) applications in 42 months. However, some are not ready for prime time, because of deficiencies, and other license reviews have been suspended at the applicant's request. The situation is better with reactor design certification. There NRC expects to finish all three that it has docketed by 2011 (claim made in 2009)

Fed Reserve forecasts US economy to grow 0.3% more for 2011 over a prediction made two month ago

Minutes of the Fed's policy-setting meeting Jan. 25-26 showed central bank officials expect U.S. gross domestic product to increase between 3.4% and 3.9% this year. That compares with a November 2010 prediction the economy would expand between 3.0% and 3.6% in 2011.

Though the economy looks a bit stronger, central bank officials expect the unemployment rate to remain at a high level between 8.8% and 9.0% at the end of 2011, even after January's decline to 9.0%. Despite the recent surge in food and energy prices, inflation is seen between 1.3% and 1.7%, in line with the November projections and where the Fed wants prices to be.

Cameco Uranium to 2015

Cameco (Canada's largest and domiant uranium mining company) produced 22.8 million pounds of uranium oxide in 2010 (an increase from 20.8 million pounds in 2009)

Cameco expects to produce about 125 million pounds of U3O8 over the next five years from the properties listed below. Our strategy is to double our annual production to 40 million pounds by 2018, which we expect will come from our operating properties, development projects and projects under evaluation. Growth will be from US ISR, a little from Inkai in Kazakhstan and then from Cigar Lake.

Nvidia mobile chip roadmap to 75 times the performance of Tegra 2 by 2014

Today at Mobile World Congress (MWC), Nvidia demonstrated the quadcore Kal-el chip running in an Android tablet. We not only showed that it was alive. We showed it browsing the Web, running games and streaming amazing video. This wasn’t your average amazing video. It was 1440p video content running on a 2560×1600 panel. That will enable mobile devices to output to the highest resolution monitors or tablets equipped with a 10.1-inch display with 300 DPI.

Overall power consumption, meanwhile, won't be greater than Tegra 2, Phil Carmack, Nvidia Senior VP said. "Basically everything you can do on Tegra 2 is lower power on [Kal-El,]" he said.

Flexible high-performance carbon nanotube integrated circuits

Using NEDO's technology, the researchers continuously grow nanotubes in an atmospheric pressure chemical-vapor deposition process. The nanotubes are then collected on the filter and subsequently transferred onto a polymer substrate using simple gas-phase filtration and transfer processes to achieve clean, uniform carbon nanotube films. It takes only a few seconds to deposit the carbon nanotubes. This process may be adaptable to high-speed roll-to-roll manufacturing systems in the near future (hoping for commercialization by 2016).

Nature Nanotechnology - Flexible high-performance carbon nanotube integrated circuits

Carbon nanotube thin-film transistors are expected to enable the fabrication of high-performance, flexible and transparent devices using relatively simple techniques. However, as-grown nanotube networks usually contain both metallic and semiconducting nanotubes, which leads to a trade-off between charge-carrier mobility (which increases with greater metallic tube content) and on/off ratio (which decreases). Many approaches to separating metallic nanotubes from semiconducting nanotubes have been investigated but most lead to contamination and shortening of the nanotubes, thus reducing performance. Here, we report the fabrication of high-performance thin-film transistors and integrated circuits on flexible and transparent substrates using floating-catalyst chemical vapour deposition followed by a simple gas-phase filtration and transfer process. The resulting nanotube network has a well-controlled density and a unique morphology, consisting of long (~10 µm) nanotubes connected by low-resistance Y-shaped junctions. The transistors simultaneously demonstrate a mobility of 35 cm2 V–1 s–1 and an on/off ratio of 6 × 10^6. We also demonstrate flexible integrated circuits, including a 21-stage ring oscillator and master–slave delay flip-flops that are capable of sequential logic. Our fabrication procedure should prove to be scalable, for example, by using high-throughput printing techniques.

China's Thorium Reactor and Japan's targets 10 MW thorium miniFuji for 2016

Register UK - China has committed itself to establishing an entirely new nuclear energy program using thorium as a fuel, within 20 years. The LFTR (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor) is a 4G reactor that uses liquid salt as both fuel and coolant. China uses the more general term TMSR (Thorium Molten-Salt Reactor).

A private company founded by Kazuo Furukawa, designer of the Fuju reactor, called International Thorium Energy and Molen-Salt Technology Inc (iThEMS) aims to produce a small (10 MW) reactor within five years. Furukawa is aiming for a retail price of 11 US cents per kWh (6.8p per kWh). The Capital of IThEMS is expected to increase to 50 million Japanese yen soon (US$600,000, but they need $300 million to push ahead)

The UK Guardian describes the move by China to develop thorium nuclear reactors

Thorium Energy Conference- The Chinese announcement refers to a 20 year program, but rapid progress can be expected in the next 5 years towards a demonstration plant. China's program is well funded but Japan's is not well funded. Japan and other countries could be motivated to step up funding with true competition from China.

Nvidia demos quad-core Tegra and Qualcomm announce Quad-core Snapdragon for 2012

1. EETimes - Nvidia leapfrogged rival Qualcomm by showing a working version of its next-generation Tegra, a four-core mobile processor. The demo at the Mobile World Congress, described in an Nvidia blog, came one day after Qualcomm said it will ship a quad-core Snapdragon in early 2012.

Nvidia's Kal-El chip was demonstrated running in an Android tablet. It can support up to 2,560 x 1,600 pixel resolution and 1,440-progressive video thanks in part to a 12-core graphics unit on the chip that also supports 3-D audio.

Overall power consumption, meanwhile, won't be greater than Tegra 2, Phil Carmack, Nvidia Senior VP said. "Basically everything you can do on Tegra 2 is lower power on [Kal-El,]" he said.

February 15, 2011

Russia targets 100 MW fast-neutron SVBR-100 reactor for 2017

Rosatom said Feb 7 that design documents for the fast-neutron SVBR-100 had been drafted ahead of the planned construction of an industrial unit at JSC NIIAR, Russia’s Research Institute of Atomic Reactors in Dimitrovgrad.

The SVBR-100 is a 100-megawatt small modular reactor with lead-bismuth coolant. When using mixed oxide plutonium-uranium (MOX) fuel, it operates on a closed fuel cycle.

* modular design enables plants with different capacity in multiples of 100 MWe.
* standardized reactor module that is factory built
* allows advanced methods of flow arrangement of construction and reduces the investment cycle of NPP construction
* the design could be used for floating reactors

* can be used to replace coal-fired boilers especially in eastern Europe which has a lot of low grade dirty coal burned to make electricity.
* replace decommissioned nuclear reactors
* project is targeting construction of a pilot plant by 2017
* three main partners: Atomoenergoproekt OJSC (Moscow); Gidropress OJSC and the Russian state research centre in Obninsk, the Energy Physics Institute.

IBM Watson Videos

Transparent nanozirconia developed

Optical microscopy image of dry-compacted nanozirconia (fractured cross-section) comparing 3 nm hard-agglomerated conventionally produced nanozirconia (left) to Glidewell-produced 3 nm nanozirconia material (right). Conventionally produced 3 nm nanozirconia material is white opaque, whereas Glidewell’s gas-phase-condensated nanozirconia is transparent after compaction.

Glidewell Laboratories, industry-leading provider of dental lab products and services and manufacturer of BruxZir Solid Zirconia dental material, Research & Development team has moved closer to producing transparent nanozirconia by successfully synthesizing 3 nm zirconia nanocrystals produced by "bottom-up" nanotechnology.

Day two results of Jeopardy between Watson and Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter

Thermoelectric TAGS 85 improved by 25% to about ZT 1.05

Ames Laboratory researchers found that adding just one percent of the rare-earth elements cerium or ytterbium to a TAGS (group of thermoelectric materials is composed of tellurium, antimony, germanium and silver) material was sufficient to boost its performance by 25%.

Previous work at Harvard showed that Melt spinning TAGS 85 achieved ZT of 1.48. The Ames workd is a 25% improvement would be a ZT score from 0.85 to 1.05.

High-Performance (Ag x SbTe x/2+1.5)15(GeTe)85 Thermoelectric Materials Prepared by Melt Spinning

A new preparation process combining melt spinning and hot pressing has been developed for the (Ag x SbTe x/2+1.5)15(GeTe)85 (TAGS-85) system. Compared with samples prepared by the traditional air-quenching and hot-pressing method, electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity are lowered. The thermoelectric performance of the TAGS-85 samples varied with changing Ag content and reached the highest ZT of 1.48 when x was 0.8 for the melt-spun sample, compared with the maximum ZT of 1.36 for the air-quenched sample. The Seebeck coefficient of the melt-spun TAGS-85 alloys was improved, while both the electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity were decreased. The net result of this process is to effectively enlarge the temperature span of ZT greater than 1, which will benefit industrial application.

A ZT of 1.85 for 700K is about 15-20% heat to electricity conversion efficiency

Revolutionary nano-sheets to boost battery power and other applications

Researchers from the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nano-devices (CRANN) at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland and the University of Oxford in the UK have discovered how to split layered materials to give atom thin nano-sheets. Using these sheets, they have created a range of novel two-dimensional nano-materials possessing chemical and electronic properties that could enable new electronic and energy storage technologies.

The above press release is a follow up on the research papers that describe new ways to separate over new 150 materials into nanosheets

37 pages of supplemental material

Two-Dimensional Nanosheets Produced by Liquid Exfoliation of Layered Materials Method

South Korea has a robotic "Super Gun" the Super Aegis 2 and India claims they will have a hypersonic missile in 2012

1. Billed by its manufacturers DoDaam of South Korea as a "Total Security Solution," the Super Aegis is an automated turret system that supports a variety of weapons, from a standard machine-gun to a surface-to-air missile.

It is designed to repel an attacker from up to 3 kilometers away, using sophisticated thermal imaging software and camera systems to lock onto a human-sized target even in the dead of night

OECD nuclear generation up to November 2010

The OECD nuclear electricity generation for Jan-Nov 2010 was 1984.1 TWH which was 2.3% more than last year 2010 estimate including December, is 2160TWH to 2175 TWH (35-50TWH more than in 2009).

Metamaterials could enable wireless power beaming that is ten times more efficient

Arxiv - Metamaterial-Enhanced Coupling between Magnetic Dipoles for Efficient Wireless Power Transfer (23 pages)

Non-radiative coupling between conductive coils is a candidate mechanism for wireless energy transfer applications. In this paper, we propose a power relay system based on a near- field metamaterial superlens, and present a thorough theoretical analysis of this system. We use time-harmonic circuit formalism to describe all interactions between two coils attached to external circuits and a slab of anisotropic medium with homogeneous permittivity and permeability. The fields of the coils are found in the point-dipole approximation using Sommerfeld integrals, which are reduced to standard special functions in the long-wavelength limit. We show that, even with a realistic magnetic loss tangent of order 0.1, the power transfer efficiency with the slab can be an order of magnitude greater than free-space efficiency when the load resistance exceeds a certain threshold value. We also find that the volume occupied by the metamaterial between the coils can be greatly compressed by employing magnetic permeability with a large anisotropy ratio.

MIT Technology Review has coverage

A thin slab of metamaterial increases the efficiency of wireless power transmission by an order of magnitude. Microwave and laser beams can carry significant power but they also tend to fry anything that gets in their way. Inductive chargers are safer because they rely on a resonant effect between two closely spaced coils. But they are not particularly efficient at the best of times and what efficiency they do have drops off a cliff as the distance between the coils increases. The new idea is relatively simple. Urzhumov and Smith simply suggest placing a superlens between the two coils in an inductive charger. And that's it. The work they publish today is a detailed theoretical account of the improvements that such a system would produce. They say that such a lens would take the form of a thin, flat slab of metamaterial and that it would increase the efficiency from being inversely proportional to d^6 to inversely proportional to d^3.

Tyche Planet X is still just a theory

Bad Astronomer describes the work - Two astronomers, John Matese and Dan Whitmire, have theorized about the possibility of a previously-undiscovered planet way beyond Pluto for some time. This is not a crazy idea; we see planets orbiting other stars way out, and there’s other evidence big planets can be pretty far out from the Sun (mind you, evidence does not mean proof). As it happens, there are lots of chunks of ice orbiting the Sun pretty far out as well. Some of these have orbits which bring them into the inner solar system, and we seem them as long-period comets.

What Matese and Whitmire did was wonder how a big planet would affect the orbits of these comets. If you measured enough of them, would you see the effects of the gravity of this planet? They claim you can, and even gave the planet a tentative name: Tyche. I [Bad Astronomer Phil Plaitt] read their papers, and thought the data were interesting but unconvincing.

The UK Independent tried to play up the research

Nextbigfuture covered the theory of a dark Jupiter object on the edge of the solar system and the speculation that it could be found by the NASA Wise space telescope which is currently operating.

NASA researcher Kevin Parkin discusses microwave space propulsion

In an interview with Sander Olson, Kevin Parkin, the Deputy Director of the Mission Design Center at NASA Ames, discusses the potential benefits of using microwave power to send payloads to orbit. Microwave power should in theory provide a more efficient, more reliable, and less expensive method than conventional chemical propulsion approaches. Microwave propulsion could be used to put both humans and payloads into orbit, and laser propulsion could even be used for single-stage rockets to the moon.

Westinghouse has a new 200 megawatt nuclear reactor design

Westinghouse has announced a new 200 MW Small Modular Reactor It is only a pressure water reactor so it is not as advanced as some other reactor proposals but it could in theory be more easily licensed by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). However, the NRC is dysfunctional and has not certified any new reactor types in its decades of existence. Reactors that are allowed by the NRC

Currently there are four certified reactor designs that can be referenced in an application for a combined license (COL) to build and operate a nuclear power plant. They are:

   1. Advanced Boiling Water Reactor design by GE Nuclear Energy (May 1997);
   2. System 80+ design by Westinghouse (formerly ABB-Combustion Engineering) (May 1997);
   3. AP600 design by Westinghouse (December 1999); and
   4. AP1000 design by Westinghouse (January 2006).

The certified reactors are all variations on prior versions.

The Westinghouse SMR is a 200 MWe class, integral pressurized water reactor with all primary components located inside the reactor vessel. Passive safety systems and proven components – realized in the industry-leading AP1000® reactor design – are incorporated throughout to achieve the highest levels of safety and to reduce the number of components required. The Westinghouse SMR is fueled by an adaptation of our Westinghouse fuel design, the industry’s most proven and widely-used fuel design. It also leverages the latest U.S. NRC-licensed safety and security features.

James Ellobogen clarifies nanoprocessor speed potential and projects shrinking it by 1000 times and Aubrey de Grey on the telomere research

Foresight nanodot - James Ellobogen discusses the programmable nanoprocessor work

Nextbigfuture prior coverage of the Harvard and Mitre work indicated it could have a speed of 2 terahertz.

The supplementary material for our paper in Nature does mention the potential for 2 THz switching, but that is for individual nanodevices. That may be misleading, though, if one applies this figure to the entire system. As part of our design simulation process at MITRE, we calculate that with the present devices and the present interconnect strategy, the entire system probably can only be accelerated to operate at about 100 MHz. This is because of all the intrinsic resistances and capacitances in the interconnects and the way they combine in a tiny network. From our point of view this 100 MHz rate of operation will be OK, though, because it is well suited to a tiny controller. The 100 MHz rate is faster than most of the other tiny systems we want to sense and control.

Some better news, though, is that we do not feel quite so constrained when it comes to making the system much smaller in area and much more dense. We calculate that it is probably possible to scale the footprint of the system down by a factor of 600 to 1200 (i.e., 1000 in round numbers). That would provide the present computational functionality of our nanoprocessor tile in a footprint of only approximately 1 sq. micron, instead of the present 1000 sq. micron (e.g., 1 micron by 1 micron, instead of approx. 30 micron by 30 micron)

February 14, 2011

Stanford creates full duplex wireless to double the speed of existing wireless networks

Stanford researchers have developed the first wireless radios that can send and receive signals at the same time. This immediately makes them twice as fast as existing technology, and with further tweaking will likely lead to even faster and more efficient networks in the future.

Harvard finds the core pathway of aging is malfunctioning telomeres

Scientists at the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say they have identified the root molecular cause of a variety of ills brought on by advanced age, including waning energy, failure of the heart and other organs, and metabolic disorders such as diabetes. The scientists found that the basic cause of age-related health decline is malfunctioning telomeres — the end caps on cells’ chromosomes that protect them against DNA damage. As cells reach their predetermined limit of times that they can divide, the telomeres become shortened and frayed, making the chromosomal ends vulnerable to increased rates of unrepaired DNA damage.

UPDATE Aubrey de Grey (of SENS) opinion - It's not a very important paper. The presence of short telomeres makes cells unhappy, and they respond by changing their behaviour in various ways, including depression of mitochondrial activity. That tells us nothing at all about what happens in the absence of short telomeres, which is what we need to know for normal aging.

NBF analogy based on Aubrey comment - having no oil in your car causes parts to wear out faster but just maintaining oil levels is not sufficient to keep your car running for hundreds of years.

Journal Nature - Telomere dysfunction induces metabolic and mitochondrial compromise

172 pages of supplemental information

Middle East unrest in Iran, Bahrain, Yemen and more

Demonstrators took to the streets in Iran, Yemen and Bahrain on Monday, inspired by the anti-government revolts that toppled the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt over the last month.


Mousavi says the freedom movement is alive, but his campaign is fading as many Iranians feel the former prime minister lacks the courage to confront the establishment from which he sprang. Many Iranians critical of the government now seem unwilling to risk violence or arrest with displays of dissent. But the opposition's call has gained momentum on social networking websites, with more than 56,000 people pledging to participate on one protest group's Facebook page.

Brains versus computers - Watson versus Jennings and Rutter and opinions from Kurzweil, Wolfram, Moravec and others

0. The Atlantic has a liveblog of the Jeopardy match

7:10: Oh, Watson's got the Daily Double! He's wagering $1,000...and he's got it right. Ken gets a question correct about the 50s.

7:20: Watson doesn't appear to be getting any of these decades questions correct...Man is really coming back here in the second half. Watson really does like the Beatles though. He's tied for the lead with...Brad? What's happening Ken? Brad wants to be an actor for heaven's sake.

7:25: What have we learned tonight Trebek? "Watson is very bright, very fast, but he has some weird little moments..." Tomorrow is double Jeopardy and Wednesday is the final.

Spoiler space scores after the jump

Spray on Solar Panels using CIGS nanocrystals

Photovoltaic devices (PVs) were fabricated by spray-coating an ink of copper indium diselenide (CIS) nanocrystals as the light-absorbing layer. Without high-temperature post-deposition annealing, PVs were made on glass and plastic substrates with power conversion efficiencies of up to 1.9% and 1.1%

IEEE Spectrum covers this work and indicates if it works with 10% efficient, Korgel thinks it be used commercially in three to five years.

Commercialization is at the forefront of the University of Texas’ plans as a partnership with Konarka Technologies was announced in January.

Journal of Physical Chemistry C - Photoelectrochemical Characterization of CuInSe2 and Cu(In1−xGax)Se2 Thin Films for Solar Cells

Deposition of a CdS layer on CIS and CIGS films strongly enhanced the photocurrent; for example, a nanocrystal-CIS film showed about 100 times higher photocurrent with a thin CdS layer. Capacitance measurements and Mott−Schottky plots were obtained to find the flat band potential. Incident photon to current conversion efficiencies (IPCE) and absorbed photon to current conversion efficiencies (APCE) obtained from PEC measurements were about 20% and 40−70%, respectively.

Brian Korgel, a nanomaterials chemist at the University of Texas at Austin, is making nanocrystals for paintable solar panels. They are focused on 'CIGS'--copper, indium, gallium, selenide--and they make small particles of this inorganic material that they can disperse in a solvent, creating an ink or paint.

Korgel describes the tiny collection devices as a "solar sandwich." "So these devices are 'sandwiches,' where you have the metal contact on the bottom and metal contact on the top to extract the charge out; and the middle part is the part that absorbs out the light," explains Korgel.

This paint, made of the CIGS nanocrystals, can be sprayed on plastic, glass and even fabric to create a solar cell.

Paintable solar cells from a 2009 article

The current and future economics of 3D printing and factory production - companies like Zara that leverage new capabilities for new business models

There has been an active debate on this site about 3D printing/Additive manufacturing and if there is a significant shift that will cause localization of production. Localization of production meaning something like people making a lot of things at home.

The Economist magazine has more facts and analysis.

Engineers and designers have been using 3D printers for more than a decade, but mostly to make prototypes quickly and cheaply before they embark on the expensive business of tooling up a factory to produce the real thing. As 3D printers have become more capable and able to work with a broader range of materials, including production-grade plastics and metals, the machines are increasingly being used to make final products too. More than 20% of the output of 3D printers is now final products rather than prototypes, according to Terry Wohlers, who runs a research firm specialising in the field. He predicts that this will rise to 50% by 2020.

So the shift that is happening is still a slow and modest shift.

Slightly cheaper components is not enough reason to radically alter a larger manufacturing process but could mean that 3D Printers or additive manufacturing could be included for some steps of a factory process. A larger driving factor would be when additive manufacturing can make things that have superior performance and critical features versus traditional manufacturing.

Being able to make new products using additive manufacturing that could not be built before will be where there will be clear growth.

Population limits of the earth and the solar system factoring in improved technology

Optimized O’Neill/Glaser Model for Human Population of Space and its Impact on Survival Probabilities Starting
the program of colonizing the solar system with smaller habitats (64 – 2000 persons) results in peak costs that are reduced by about 75 percent and one third reduction in time for financial break even (year 25 for the optimized model).

Two contemporary issues foretell a shift from our historical Earth based industrial economy and habitation to a solar system based society. The first is the limits to Earth’s carrying capacity, that is the maximum number of people that the Earth can support before a catastrophic impact to the health of the planet and human species occurs. The simple example of carrying capacity is that of a bacterial colony in a Petri dish with a limited amount of nutrient. The colony experiences exponential population growth until the carrying capacity is reached after which catastrophic depopulation often results. Estimates of the Earth’s carrying capacity vary between 14 and 40 billion people. Although at current population growth rates we may have over a century before we reach Earth’s carrying limit our influence on climate and resources on the planetary scale is becoming scientifically established. The second issue is the exponential growth of knowledge and technological power. The exponential growth of technology interacts with the exponential growth of population in a manner that is unique to a highly intelligent species. Thus, the predicted consequences (world famines etc.) of the limits to growth have been largely avoided due to technological advances. However, at the mid twentieth century a critical coincidence occurred in these two trends – humanity obtained the technological ability to extinguish life on the planetary scale (by nuclear, chemical, biological means) and attained the ability to expand human life beyond Earth. This paper examines an optimized O’Neill/Glaser model (O’Neill 1975; Curreri 2007; Detweiler and Curreri 2008) for the economic human population of space. Critical to this model is the utilization of extraterrestrial resources, solar power and spaced based labor. A simple statistical analysis is then performed which predicts the robustness of a single planet based technological society versus that of multiple world (independent habitats) society.

Easyjet using Nanocoating that could reduce drag by 39%

EasyJet has announced the use of a nanocoating by a company called tripleO on its planes for a range of benefits, not least fuel savings and carbon footprint reduction. The coating reduces drag by up to 39%. TripleO established thirty-years ago, has a twenty-year heritage as a surface protectant for the US military, but it has only recently been made commercially available

BBC news has coverage

We've had lightweight composite materials, we've had mergers and we've even had lighter drinks trolleys and thinner carpets. Now Easyjet, one of Europe's largest airlines, thinks it has found a way to save even more money using a technology you cannot even see: a new paint job.

From Monday, it will be the first commercial airline to trial what it calls a "revolutionary nano-technology coating". The amount of polymer needed adds just 4oz (113g) to the overall weight of each jet. Before the slippery surface is applied, they give the plane a "polarising wash". The manufacturers say it could lower Easyjet's fuel consumption by up to 2%. It may not sound like much, but in aviation terms, it amounts to a planeload.

Last year, 40% of the company's costs were on fuel, a bill of more than £730m. If the polymer had been applied across the company's fleet, and if it had reduced costs by the suggested 2%, Easyjet could have knocked £14m off that.

EMC2 - Bussard Fusion - Status from the end of 2010

EMC2 quarterly report from the end of 2010

WB-8 device construction is completed. The first plasma was generated successfully on Nov. 1, 2010.

Dense Plasma Fusion Competitor to EMC2 assessment

Energy/Matter Conversion Corporation (aka EMC2) is currently studying the feasibility of net power from fusion using Dr. Robert Bussard’s Polywell confinement concept.

Japan Riken Targets Innovation 4 with 400K Superconductors, ZT 4 Thermoelectrics, 400 WH/kg batteries and 40% efficient solar cells

The principle of cross-correlation. By linking electron spins, charges and orbitals using a strongly correlated electron system, it is possible to achieve cross-correlation, an unusual form of responses of electricity, magnetism, light and heat.

Yoshinori Tokura, Riken Japan, has a vision for a revolution, which he calls ‘Innovation 4’. He believes that four key technological breakthroughs could once again change society as we know it: an increase in solar cell conversion efficiency to 40% or more, an increase in the thermoelectric conversion figure of merit to 4 or more, an increase in the critical temperature of superconductivity to 400 K or well above room temperature, and an in increase in battery energy density to 400 watt-hours per kilogram or more. “These numerical targets represent a tripling of existing performance indexes. Another goal is to achieve electronic information processing with minimal power consumption to conserve energy. If realized, ‘Innovation 4’ will lead to a sustainable society revolution, but it is difficult to achieve these breakthroughs merely by improving existing technologies.

Carnival of nuclear energy 39

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 39 is up at Cool Hand Nuke

Idaho Samizdat reports on Nuclear power in Turkey

Toshiba is “confident” it will seal a deal to build a 5.4 GWe nuclear energy power station on a Black Sea coastal site near Sinop. Norio Sasaki, Toshiba’s president, told the Financial Times 2/8 terms and conditions that remain to be negotiated include long-term risk insurance. Toshiba will supply its 1300 MW ABWR reactor design and not the Westinghouse AP1000.

This is the second nuclear deal for Turkey. In 2010 the Russian state-owned firmAtomstroyexport inked a deal for a 4.8 GWe nuclear power station at a Mediterranean costal site near Akkuyu.

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