March 14, 2015

Hypothetical EU Army and EU Air Force Compared to USA and Russia

The European President recently called for the formation of a 'European Army' in order for the continent to better face the growing threats on its doorstep from Moscow and others.

While Jean-Claude Juncker's proposal was dismissed by key member states almost as soon as it was announced, might not the formation of a European Air Force gain more traction at a time of heightened security concerns and squeezed defence budgets? With the equipment costs of air forces typically eclipsing those of armies and navies in terms of procurement, operation, and sustainment, the benefits of pooling resources would make economic sense and military sese.

If the EU was to combine its defence spending, it would have USD69.3 billion to spend on its air force. The US Air Force receives USD154.1 billion, while the Russian Air Force will get USD11.3 billion (the ruble halved in value recently).

According to IHS Jane's World Air Forces , the EU member states have approximately 1,370 fighters between them (as the EU Air Force is being billed as defensive, only aircraft with a predominantly air defence role have been counted), compared with 1,391 air defence fighters for the United States, and 1,276 combat aircraft for Russia

Confirmation of construction of China's second aircraft carrier with electromagnetic airplane launching

Several senior Chinese officials have confirmed that China is building its second aircraft carrier and will likely adopt an improved launch system for aircraft on the ship, a Chinese-language daily in Hong Kong reported Monday.

The Hong Kong Commercial Daily (香港商報) cited Liu Xiaojiang (劉曉江), a former political commissar of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, as saying that the government's industrial and manufacturing agencies are now in charge of the ship's construction.

Liu said that compared with the first carrier, the Liaoning(遼寧號), which was commissioned in September 2012, several improvements are being made to the second ship but concrete details are only known within those agencies responsible for the project.

The report also cited Ding Haichun (丁海春), deputy political commissar of the PLA's Navy, as saying that after the completion of the ship's construction, it will be turned over to the Navy for training maneuvers.

Electromagnetic aircraft launch systems (EMALS) require on the order of 60 megawatts of power. This would tend to indicate that the second aircraft carrier would be nuclear powered.

US electromagnetic aircraft carrier launch system

Southeast Asia regular and high speed rail network likely to be substantially complete by 2022

The Kunming–Singapore Railway refers to a network of regular and high speed railways that would connect China, Singapore and all the countries of mainland Southeast Asia.

The proposed network consists of three main routes from Kunming, China to Bangkok, Thailand: the Eastern Route via Vietnam and Cambodia; the Central Route via Laos, and the Western Route via Myanmar. The southern half of network from Bangkok to Singapore has long been operational, though a high-speed line has been proposed.

As of January 2014, construction of sections connecting China with Vietnam, China with Myanmar and Laos with Vietnam are under way.

China is helping Thailand to build High speed rail starting in 2015. Laos and the Singapore -Malaysia high speed rail sections appear likely to be agreed this year with Chinese construction companies.

China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) looks likely to win the bid for the first Southeast Asia high-speed railway line stretching from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, expected to begin construction in 2016, Beijing-based Caixin reports.

The project, which was agreed by Malaysia and Singapore two years ago, is expected to open for bids in the second half of this year. CRCC is offering the lowest price and the shortest construction time which may secure them the deal, according to several industry insiders close to the company.

The project, with a total length of 350 kilometers, is expected to be completed by 2020, according to Malaysia's local media reports, citing Syed Hamid Albar, chair of Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission.

CRCC has quoted estimated costs at only half of the Japanese bid, experts said.

In 2014, Thai army chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha announced plans to build two high-speed rail lines as part of a 741.4 billion baht transportation program. The Nong Khai to Map Ta Phut line, 737 kilometres (458 mi) in length, would run from the Laotian border near Vientane to the Gulf of Thailand. The Chiang Khong to Ban Phachi line, 655 kilometres (407 mi) in length, would run from Chiang Rai near the northern tip of Thailand to Ayutthaya just north of Bangkok. The two lines would allow trains to travel at a top speed of 160 km/h. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015 and will be completed in 2021.

In November 2014, after a meeting between Li Keqiang and Prayut Chan-o-cha, China agreed to lend Thailand funds to build dual-track standard gauge midspeed railways on the Bankok-Nong Khai, Bangkok-Map Ta Phut, and Kaeng Khoi-Map Ta Phut routes. The loans could be repaid with rice and rubber. On December 4, 2014, the Thai National Legislative Assembly voted 187-0 with seven abstensions to approve loans for the Nong Khai-Map Ta Phut and Kaeng Khoi-Bangkok lines. China would undertake construction and development of the lines but would not receive land use rights along the along the routes. On December 19, 2014, the two countries signed a memorandum to build the railways.

First successful penis transplant

In a ground-breaking operation, a team of pioneering surgeons from Stellenbosch University (SU) and Tygerberg Hospital performed the first successful penile transplant in the world.

The marathon nine-hour operation, led by Prof André van der Merwe, head of SU's Division of Urology, was performed on 11 December 2014 at Tygerberg Hospital in Bellville, Cape Town. This is the second time that this type of procedure was attempted, but the first time in history that a successful long-term result was achieved.

"South Africa remains at the forefront of medical progress," says Prof Jimmy Volmink, Dean of SU's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS). "This procedure is another excellent example of how medical research, technical know-how and patient-centred care can be combined in the quest to relieve human suffering. It shows what can be achieved through effective partnerships between academic institutions and government health services."

"Our goal was that he would be fully functional at two years and we are very surprised by his rapid recovery," says Van der Merwe. The end result of the transplant was the restoration of all the patient's urinary and reproductive functions.

"It's a massive breakthrough. We've proved that it can be done – we can give someone an organ that is just as good as the one that he had," says Graewe. "It was a privilege to be part of this first successful penis transplant in the world."

The 21-year-old patient had his penis amputated three years ago after a botched circumcision at a traditional initiation ceremony.

Prof André van der Merwe announced that surgeons at Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences performed the first successful penis transplant in the world. The marathon nine-hour operation was performed on 11 December 2014 at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.

Virginia Class Submarines

US Navy's total requirement is for 30 Virginia Class Attack Submarines. The Navy placed a bulk-buy contract for the first five ships and, in January 2004, placed a multiyear contract for the following five.

The Virginia-class of attack submarines surpasses the performance of any current projected threat submarine. They were designed as a cheaper alternative to the Cold War era Seawolf-class attack submarines, and are slated to replace aging Los Angeles class subs, seventeen of which have already been decommissioned.


The Virginias incorporate several innovations. Instead of periscopes, the subs have a pair of extendable "photonics masts" outside the pressure hull. Each contains several high-resolution cameras with light-intensification and infrared sensors, an infrared laser rangefinder, and an integrated Electronic Support Measures (ESM) array. Signals from the masts' sensors are transmitted through fiber optic data lines through signal processors to the control center. The subs also make use of pump-jet propulsors for quieter operations.

The hull size is length 377ft by beam 34ft and the displacement is 7,300t dived, which is smaller than the more expensive Seawolf attack submarine with displacement 9,137t dived.

The submarine is fitted with modular isolated deck structures, for example the submarine's command centre will be installed as one single unit resting on cushioned mounting points. The submarine's control suite is equipped with computer touch screens.

Weapon systems

The submarine is equipped with 12 vertical missile launch tubes and four 533mm torpedo tubes. The vertical launching system has the capacity to launch 16 Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) in a single salvo. There is capacity for up to 26 mk48 ADCAP mod 6 heavyweight torpedoes and sub harpoon anti-ship missiles to be fired from the 21in torpedo tubes. Mk60 CAPTOR mines may also be fitted.

Laos and China Close to High-Speed Rail Deal this year and would form part of link all the way to Singapore

China and Laos will sign a construction contract for a $7.2 billion high-speed railway project planned by cash-strapped Laos, linking the two neighboring countries and extending to Thailand, the Lao government official is charge of the project said.

“Now we are waiting to sign both parties’ contracts on construction between Laos and China,” the Ministry of Public Works and Transport official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFA’s Lao Service.

“We’re trying to push for the contract to be signed soon, and it is expected to be inked sometime between the middle and end of this year.”

NASA has budget to develop Europa multiple fly by mission

NASA’s 2016 budget proposal has funding to create a flagship Europa mission. In 2015, NASA received $100 million from Congress to begin preliminary work on such a mission, but was missing the commitment to further funding for a period long enough to plan a mission. NASA now has another $255 million budgeted over the next 5 years. NASA can now fully develop the Europa mission.

The mission will probably involve a spacecraft orbiting Jupiter and making multiple fly-bys of Europa, rather than landing on or orbiting Europa itself. This will make the mission much cheaper and safer, as Europa sits in a harsh radiation environment that can be dangerous for spacecraft. NASA will choose instruments for the spacecraft in spring this year, and aims for a launch date in the mid-2020s.

Star Wars 8 in 2017 and Star Wars Rogue One set for Dec 2016

Star Wars 8 is set for May 26, 2017

Rogue One is the first Star War stand alone movie. Rogue One will explores the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga. Rogue One will be directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) and written by Oscar nominee Chris Weitz (Cinderella, About a Boy, Antz). Rogue One is set for December 16, 2016. This movie will probably feature the rebel X-wing fighter squadrons.

There are reports that the concept art looks like soldiers with Halo exoskeleton armor.

Battery advances require integration of research with manufacturing and engineering

Countless breakthroughs have been announced over the last decade, time and again these advances failed to translate into commercial batteries. One difficult thing about developing better batteries is that the technology is still poorly understood. Changing one part of a battery—say, by introducing a new electrode—can produce unforeseen problems, some of which can’t be detected without years of testing.

LeVine describes what went wrong with Envia. In 2006 Envia had licensed a promising material developed by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory. Subsequently, a major problem was discovered. The problem—which one battery company executive called a “doom factor”—was that over time, the voltage at which the battery operated changed in ways that made it unusable. Argonne researchers investigated the problem and found no ready answer. They didn’t understand the basic chemistry and physics of the material well enough to grasp precisely what was going wrong, let alone fix it, LeVine writes.

With its experimental material for the opposite electrode, this one based on silicon, Envia faced another challenge. Researchers had seemingly solved the major problem with silicon electrodes—their tendency to fall apart. But the solution required impractical manufacturing techniques.

When Envia made its announcement in 2012, it seemed to have figured out how to make both these experimental materials work. It developed a version of the silicon electrode that could be manufactured more cheaply. And through trial and error it had stumbled upon a combination of coatings that stabilized the voltage of the Argonne material.

The results Envia had reported for its battery couldn’t be reproduced, understanding the problem became crucial. Even tiny changes to the composition of a material can have a significant impact on performance, so for all Envia knew, its record-setting battery worked because of a contaminant in a batch of material from one of its suppliers.

The story of Envia stands in sharp contrast to what’s turned out to be the most successful recent effort to cut the price of batteries and improve their performance. This success hasn’t come from a breakthrough but from the close partnership between Tesla Motors and the major battery cell supplier Panasonic. Since 2008, the cost of Tesla’s battery packs has been cut approximately in half, while the storage capacity has increased by about 60 percent. Tesla didn’t attempt to radically change the chemistry or materials in lithium-ion batteries; rather, it made incremental engineering and manufacturing improvements.

Best Colonization target in outer solar system is Titan

Titan is suggested as a target for colonization, because it is the only moon in the Solar System to have a dense atmosphere and is rich in carbon-bearing compounds. Robert Zubrin identified Titan as possessing an abundance of all the elements necessary to support life, making Titan perhaps the most advantageous locale in the outer Solar System for colonization, and saying "In certain ways, Titan is the most hospitable extraterrestrial world within our solar system for human colonization".

1. Titan has a lot of water ice.
2. Titan has 100 times the hydrocarbons as the Earth. Liquid methane lakes the size of the Great Lakes on Earth. Regular combustion engines or fuel cells could be run on the liquid methane.
3. Titan has an atmosphere that protects against radiation.

hydrosphere of earth 1.5×10^18 short tons
hydrogen 1.67X10^17
deuterium 2.5X10^13 tons

Solid core fission rockets would have enough thrust to weight ratio be able to mine Saturn's atmostphere.

Titan orbits Saturn once every 15 days and 22 hours. Like the Moon, and many of the satellites of the gas giants, its rotational period is identical to its orbital period; Titan is thus tidally locked in synchronous rotation with Saturn, and always shows one face to the planet.

Robert Zubrin identified Saturn, Uranus and Neptune as "the Persian Gulf of the Solar System", as the largest sources of deuterium and helium-3 to drive the pending fusion economy, with Saturn the most important and most valuable of the three, because of its relative proximity, low radiation, and excellent system of moons.

Titan has an atmospheric pressure one and a half times that of Earth. This means that the interior air pressure of landing craft and habitats could be set equal or close to the exterior pressure, reducing the difficulty and complexity of structural engineering for landing craft and habitats compared with low or zero pressure environments such as on the Moon, Mars, or the asteroids. The thick atmosphere would also make radiation a non-issue, unlike on the Moon, Mars, or the asteroids.

Titan has a surface gravity of 0.138 g, slightly less than that of the Moon. Managing long-term effects of low gravity on human health would therefore be a significant issue for long-term occupation of Titan, more so than on Mars.

March 13, 2015

Russia and India designing fifth generation stealth version of the Su-35S super flanker

Moscow and New Delhi have agreed to perform design work in India on what Russia claims would be a "fifth generation" version of the Su-35, an agreement that may lead to an Indian variant of the fighter jet, the Russian Military Complex chief said.

The announcement makes India the first country to sign a contract, however preliminary, for the S version of the Su-35.

Russia claims the Su-35S would be a fifth generation fighter, as opposed to the legacy fourth generation Su-35.

Russian industry sources said the fighter will be priced at $85 million. That could make it competitive with Dassault Aviation's Rafale, and could have implications for India's proposed purchase of 126 Rafales. New Delhi selected the Rafale as the preferred bidder in a protracted competition in 2012, but has yet to make a final decision on the purchase.

India remains dependent on Russia to supply weaponry and the two countries have been successful in conducting joint development programs involving advanced technologies, including the co-production of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile.

The Su-35S is the best fighter plane that the Russians are currently flying.

Superefficient, superlight cubesat propulsion that is also ten times cheaper than alternatives

Small satellites are becoming increasingly popular tools for Earth-imaging, communications, and other applications. But they have major control issues: Once in space, they can’t accurately point cameras or change orbit, and they usually crash and burn within a few months.

What these satellites lack is a viable propulsion system.

Accion Systems has developed a commercial electrospray propulsion system — their first is about the size of a pack of gum — made of tiny chips that provide thrust for small satellites. Among other advantages, Accion’s module can be manufactured for significantly less than today’s alternatives.

This technology could enable low-cost satellites, such as those known as “CubeSats,” to become more viable for various commercial and research applications, including advanced imaging and communications, where numerous satellites could provide global coverage.

Electric propulsion (EP) provides momentum for propelling spacecraft (in space, not for launch) by converting electrical energy into kinetic energy. Charged particles are electromagnetically accelerated within the propulsion device, and the opposite momentum reaction forces the spacecraft in the other direction. This is in contrast to chemical propulsion, which utilizes the exchange from chemical energy to kinetic.

Highly efficient use of propellant. EP systems provide more thrust per unit propellant compared to chemical systems. For the same mission, an EP system can use up to 1000 times less propellant by mass.

Ten Kilowatts beamed 500 meters in a proof of concept for space based solar power

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has conducted ground demonstration testing of "wireless power transmission," a new technology presently under development to serve as the core technology of the space solar power systems (SSPS) that are expected to be the power generation systems of the future. With successful completion of the test at the company's Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works, MHI has now verified the viability of long-distance wireless power transmission.

In the ground demonstration test, 10 kilowatts (kW) of power was sent from a transmitting unit by microwave. The reception of power was confirmed at a receiver unit located at a distance of 500 meters (m) away by the illumination of LED lights, using part of power transmitted. The transmission distance and power load mark new milestones in Japan with respect to length and volume of wireless power transmission. The testing also confirmed the performance of the advanced control system technology used to regulate the direction of the microwave beam so that it does not veer from the targeted receiver unit.

Automated Complex Molecular printer for making organic small molecules could speed drug development

A new molecule-making machine could do for chemistry what 3-D printing did for engineering: Make it fast, flexible and accessible to anyone.

Chemists at the University of Illinois, led by chemistry professor and medical doctor Martin D. Burke, built the machine to assemble complex small molecules at the click of a mouse, like a 3-D printer at the molecular level. The automated process has the potential to greatly speed up and enable new drug development and other technologies that rely on small molecules.

“We wanted to take a very complex process, chemical synthesis, and make it simple,” said Burke, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist. “Simplicity enables automation, which, in turn, can broadly enable discovery and bring the substantial power of making molecules to nonspecialists.”
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer. A machine in University of Illinois chemistry professor Martin Burke's lab assembles complex small molecules out of simple chemical building blocks, like a 3-D printer on the molecular level.

A block-by-block way to manufacture molecules

Carbon-based small molecules involved in biochemistry and drug design exhibit extraordinary structural diversity. But can we come up with a general set of building blocks from which a machine could put most of them together, in assembly-line fashion? Li et al. present progress toward this goal by showcasing the range of structures available via coupling reactions of fragments bearing a specific type of boronate group. They successfully made complex polycyclic structures by stringing together a linear precursor and then coaxing it to fold back on itself. They also developed a purification method that facilitates automation of the reaction and product isolation.
Science - Synthesis of many different types of organic small molecules using one automated process

Liquid water, possible non-Earth life and manned mission or colonization targets in our solar system

Oceans trapped under ice appear to be pretty common in the solar system and one of them, on a small moon of Saturn’s, appears to be quite hot. Scientists reported evidence for hydrothermal vents on the Saturnian moon Enceladus, with temperatures of its rocky core surpassing 194 degrees Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius) in spots. The discovery, if confirmed, would make Enceladus the only place other than Earth where such chemical reactions between rock and heated water are known to be occurring today — and for many scientists, it would make Enceladus a most promising place to look for life.

Any place with liquid water is a candidate for microbial extraterrestrial life. Mars, Titan, Europa, Ceres, Enceladus, and Ganymede have the presence of water ice and speculation that life may exists there. There are now six candidate locations for liquid water in solar system other than Earth.

The Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, another team reported signs of another under-ice ocean, on Ganymede, the largest of Jupiter’s moons. Scientists are already convinced that there is a large ocean, also covered by ice, on another Jovian moon, Europa. NASA’s Galileo spacecraft had also found hints of hidden water on Ganymede and on another of Jupiter’s moons, Callisto.

Journal of Geophysical Review - The search for a subsurface ocean in Ganymede with Hubble Space Telescope observations of its auroral ovals

Europa is estimated to have twice the amount of water as Earth.

Scientists have long suspected that there was an ocean of liquid water on Ganymede — the largest moon in the solar system, at about 3,273 miles (5,268 kilometers) across — has an ocean of liquid water beneath its surface. The Galileo probe measured Ganymede's magnetic field in 2002, providing some data supporting the theory that the moon has an ocean. It is estimated that Ganymede has more water than Earth.

Liquid water moons of gas giants and in asteroid belts could be common outside our solar system as well. The most common of the thousands of exoplanets that have been identified are gas giants.

Enceladus could have a 10 kilometer thick liquid water Ocean under 30-40 kilometers of ice.


Water appears to make up about 40 percent of Ceres' volume.

March 12, 2015

China makes BMP-3 Armored Vehicle knockoff but copying more popular western design

China's new VN12 armored infantry fighting vehicle is based off of a Soviet BMP-3 design but is modified to look like western armored vehicles. The BMP-3 was priced at about $3 to 3.5 million. A US Bradley fighting vehicle is about 6 million.

Designed originally based on the Soviet-built BMP-3, the VN12 is the export version of China's ZBD-97 armored infantry fighting vehicle. The vehicle nonetheless looks very different from the ZBD-97, which was produced for domestic consumers. The original Russian-designed vehicle was not popular among foreign buyers, according to the report.

To attract more overseas consumers, Beijing-based China North Industries Corporation redeveloped the vehicle to fit a more Western look.

VN12 strengthened the armor, increased internal volume, the overall weight increased to 23 tons, crew of 3 + 7, the maximum road speed of 70 km, using A water-cooled diesel engine 440kW of (97 type with 404kW diesel engine), so, VN12 improved mobility. range 500 km (97 type 400 km).

VN12 has two variants A turret installed 105 mm smoothbore gun, another 30 mm gun turret installation pieces HJ73D +2 anti-tank missiles, while 97 type installed 100 mm rifled gun (rifle gun) +30 mm 2A72 cannon, and can transmit 100 mm Bastion ATM missiles sighting system (sight-arming) with low light intensity increases as the system or thermal imaging.

The BMP-3 is the descendant of the famous BMP-1, whose appearance in the 1960s shocked Western observers with the idea that an infantry carrier could be a weapons platform as well as a battlefield taxi. The 19-ton BMP-3 could carry seven infantrymen behind an inch-and-a-half of armor.

The tracked BMP-1, which entered Soviet army service in 1969, was far more heavily armed than its contemporaries—and gave Soviet motor rifle units self-sufficient firepower if they dispersed in expectation of a nuclear strike.

The VN12 vehicle at the Zhuhai Airshow held in Guangdong last November. (Internet photo)

600 million year old animal fossil found in China, 60 million years older than prior oldest

Chinese scientists recently discovered a fossil of a primitive sponge animal believed to be 600 million years old, the oldest animal fossil in the world. The finding proves that sponges made their evolutionary debut 60 million years earlier than in the previously confirmed Cambrian Period (541-485.4 million years ago).

The discovery was published on Tuesday by Zhu Maoyan, a research fellow at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, a branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences known as NIGPAS. The report says that the Weng'an Biota in southwest China's Guizhou Province was the location of the discovery, which would end the academic debate on whether there are in fact animal fossils in the Weng'an Biota.

The fossil's discovery is the fruit of years of effort -- researchers from NIGPAS have been going to the Weng'an Biota to collect samples since 2008. They found a rice-grain-sized fossil of an adult animal in phosphate ore and confirmed that it was 600 million years old, the first fossil of a so-called "adult animal" unearthed from the region. Zhu added that the fossil's age was determined by radiometric dating.

"The fossil measures 2.5 cubic millimeters, almost the size of a grain of rice, and it looks like a chalice," said Dr. Yin Zongjuin of the NIGPAS. "All signs confirmed that it is a fossil of a primitive sponge," he said, adding that the location of the discovery is noted in the fossil's name, "Guizhou Shibei ['first cup'] Sponge."

Underground Ocean on Jupiter's Largest Moon Ganymede

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has the best evidence yet for an underground saltwater ocean on Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon. The subterranean ocean is thought to have more water than all the water on Earth's surface.

Identifying liquid water is crucial in the search for habitable worlds beyond Earth and for the search of life as we know it.
“This discovery marks a significant milestone, highlighting what only Hubble can accomplish,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “In its 25 years in orbit, Hubble has made many scientific discoveries in our own solar system. A deep ocean under the icy crust of Ganymede opens up further exciting possibilities for life beyond Earth.”

Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system and the only moon with its own magnetic field. The magnetic field causes aurorae, which are ribbons of glowing, hot electrified gas, in regions circling the north and south poles of the moon. Because Ganymede is close to Jupiter, it is also embedded in Jupiter’s magnetic field. When Jupiter’s magnetic field changes, the aurorae on Ganymede also change, “rocking” back and forth.

In this artist’s concept, the moon Ganymede orbits the giant planet Jupiter. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope observed aurorae on the moon generated by Ganymede’s magnetic fields. A saline ocean under the moon’s icy crust best explains shifting in the auroral belts measured by Hubble. Image Credit: NASA/ESAM

Kazakhstan targets 23400 tons of Uranium production for 2015 and Cameco 3000-4000 tons of Uranium at Cigar Lake

1. Kazatomprom, the world's biggest uranium producer, plans to increase output this year to 23,400 tU, up from 22,800 tU in 2014

2. Three US uranium producers say they are poised to ratchet up production quickly if prices swing higher after a four-year slump.

Colorado-based Ur-Energy looks to produce 750 000 lbs to 850 000 lbs this year at Lost Creek, Wyoming, most of which it would sell under eight utility contracts. If the spot price climbs to $50/lb from $38.75 currently, Ur-Energy would push production to Lost Creek's one-million pounds capacity, CEO Wayne Heili told Reuters at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto.

"The $50 mark is probably where we would say, if we can get more on the spot market than from our contracts, that's what we'll do: produce additionally for the spot market," he said.

Uranium Energy, which has operations in Texas, placed producing assets on standby in late 2013. A spot price around $45 would lead it to raise production from minimal levels, CEO Amir Adnani said.

Cameco is aiming for production of six-million to eight-million pounds (3000-4000 tons) at its new Cigar Lake, Saskatchewan, mine this year.

Solar Electricity will generate $5 trillion of cumulative revenue by 2035 and break into industrial markets per Deutsch Bank

Deutsch Bank expects solar electricity to become competitive with retail electricity in an increasing number of markets globally due to declining solar panel costs as well as improving financing and customer acquisition costs. Unsubsidized rooftop solar electricity costs between $0.08-$0.13/kWh, 30-40% below retail price of electricity in many markets globally. In markets heavily dependent on coal for electricity generation, the ratio of coal based wholesale electricity to solar electricity cost was 7:1 four years ago. This ratio is now less than 2:1 and could likely approach 1:1 over the next 12-18 months.

Deutsch Bank thinks solar has now become an investable sector and over the next 5-10 years, we expect new business models to generate a significant amount of economic and shareholder value.

Over the next 20 years, Deutsch Bank expects the electricity market to double to $4 trillion and expect the solar
industry to increase by a factor of 10. During this timeframe, the solar industry is expected to generate $5 trillion of cumulative revenue. By the year 2050, they expect global solar penetration rates to increase to 30%. They also see solar penetration rates increasing more rapidly in developing economies. India for example has recently announced targets to reach 100GW of solar capacity by 2022. Current installed generating capacity in India is ~280GW and the total installed generating capacity is estimated to reach 800GW by 2035. Assuming installed generating capacity reaches 400GW by 2022 timeframe, solar penetration would reach 25% of total capacity and nearly 60% of new installed capacity would be from solar sector. We believe the opportunity would be even bigger if companies start adding services to the solar PV offering and venture into adjacent markets such as wind and hydro. Over the next 20 years, they expect nearly 10% of global electricity production to come from solar.

Tesla's Gigafactory could lead not just the large scale battery market but the large scale use of solar for power industrial factories

Using an average 20% efficiency for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels, the Gigafactory's 10 million square foot roof would produce 850MWh of solar power daily. Lombardo estimates that the Gigafactory would have 85 wind turbines able to generate about 1,836 MWh of power daily.

Russia will start mass production amphibious bomber hovercraft drones in 2016 and they will be used at Arctic done base 400 miles from Alaska

Russian will create a 2-ton flying / amphibious bomber hovercraft drone. The 750-kilogram Chirok drone designed by the United Engineering Corporation is used as a prototype for the new machine.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence announced construction of an arctic drone base late last year, around 400 miles off the Alaskan coast.

Alexandr Gordeev explained the arcic base will be stationed around the Russian town of Anadyr, considered the administrative centre of the country’s eastern-most region of Chukotka and currently recruitment is underway for experienced personnel to be sent there.
Anadyr Russia

The military will be able to use the UAV for reconnaissance and as a percussion device. After the improvements he can rise to the height of six thousand. M and carry bombs, missiles and precision bombs. Tass is reporting mass production will start in 2016.

Theoretical studies of the components have been implemented. It uses the same technology, but the large apparatus must surpass its "little" counterpart with regards to a number of characteristics. According to TASS, the development initiative project is ready to be implemented.

The drone can carry up to 300 kilograms (661 lbs) of cargo, has a wingspan of 10 metres (32 ft) and can rise to an altitude of 6,000 metres (19,685 ft) and travel a distance up to 2,500 kilometres (1553 miles). It also possesses the ability fo carry various optical and electronic gear for monitoring purposes, in addition to high-precision weaponry.

Chirok aircraft-hovercraft is made exclusively of composite materials, while the fabric of its air cushion was developed in Russia and is patented by the Rostec Corporation. The air cushion is fully retractable in flight mode. Information about the Chirok’s propulsion system is classified.

With a payload of 300 kilograms, Chirok will be capable of carrying 2-3 passengers with luggage or take aboard inspection or surveillance equipment, as well as operate as an assault drone.

Euro slide and US dollar rise likely to continue through 2017

Deutsche Bank said on Tuesday it expects the euro to fall to parity with the dollar as early as the end of this year, and it forecast the single currency would drop to just 85 cents per euro for 2017.

Germany's biggest bank, the world's second-largest currency trader, had led the way last year in forecasting a devaluation of the euro, saying it expected a huge outflow of investment from Europe in the next two years.

But Deutsche analyst George Saravelos said the age of "Euroglut" has progressed faster than he expected. In a Euroglut, Europe's savings and the money brought in by Germany's large trade surplus pile up and get exchanged for higher-yielding currencies.

"European outflows have been even bigger than our initial expectations over the last six months," he wrote. "We now foresee a move down (for the euro) to $1.00 by the end of the year and a new cycle low of 85 cents by 2017."

Deutsche's previous forecast was for the euro to reach parity by the end of next year and 95 cents in 2017.

The EU is China's largest trading partner China will likely weaken its currency because of the massive slide in the value of the Euro.

Russian and Indian hypersonic missiles as early as 2020 and oxygen free fighter jet engines

A Russia-India joint venture is entering the final stages of work on a hypersonic missile.

Russians have announced creation of special fuel for hypersonic vehicles and missiles, as well as the creation of an oxygen-free engine for the PAK FA fighter jet.

Maxim Kuzyuk, CEO of the Aviation Equipment Holding (part of the state corporation Rostec), believes that the PAK FA engine can start without oxygen. “When creating the PAK FA, we were set the task of developing an oxygen-free starting system. Plasma ignition systems are installed in the main combustion chamber and the afterburner. This innovation is integrated into the nozzle with the plasma system – inside it, simultaneously with the admission of kerosene, a plasma arc is created,” said Kuzyuk. He underlined that this is a “unique” system, with no analogues anywhere in the word.

An Oxygen free system reduces weight, because there is no need to install special oxygen equipment on the plane itself, thus making unnecessary the deployment of corresponding terrestrial infrastructure.

During the Aero India-2015, Sudhir Mishra, Head of BrahMos Aerospace Ltd, announced that the development of a hypersonic missile would take from eight to ten years. “This will be the first hypersonic missile in the world,” he added.

BrahMos is a joint Russia-India project. Starting in 1998, the BrahMos was based on the Yakhont missile (export version of the P-800 Oniks missile), and has been developing missile weapons for the needs of the Indian Army.

Manned Mission to Mars Space Propulsion Comparison

An arxiv paper looks at possible engines for a manned Mars mission that are currently being tested or with flight proven capabilities. One propulsion system that was examined that is unproven is the “Pure Electro-Magnetic Thrust” (PEMT), presented in 2002 by Carlo Rubbia. In his proposal, the engine produces thrust as a Solar Sail, but uses a nuclear reactor as the power source.

The propulsion systems considered are:
• Common Extensible Cryogenic Engine (CECE) - a classical chemical propulsion;
• Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA) II - a nuclear thermal propulsion;
• RIT-XT, a modern electric propulsion;
• Pure Electro-Magnetic Thrust (PEMT) - a concept propulsion.

Cryogenic chemical systems have higher thrust then regular chemical rockets. Cryogenical chemical systems have Isp of about 465 seconds.

Nuclear thermal engines have been developed since the 1940s. A single propellant, usually hydrogen, is heated by the nuclear core and is expelled through a nozzle while expanding. The core, usually an uranium derivative (like dioxide or carbide) or plutonium, releases heat due to the nuclear reaction, providing energy to the gas expansion, and resulting in an Isp approximately the double of the chemical engines. The heat released is limited by the melting point of the materials.

March 11, 2015

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 251

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 251 is up at Neutron Bytes

Atomic Power Review – SMART SMR Moves Ahead – in Saudi Arabia and at Home

It has been announced that South Korea and Saudi Arabia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which includes the construction of SMART Small Modular Reactor nuclear plants. SMART is an integral-type small reactor, developed in 2012 after 15 years of research. It received the first-ever Standard Design Approval (SDA) from a regulatory body for a 100MWe (330MWth) integral reactor.

US Daily crude oil production highest since Nov 1972 and US all liquids oil hit an all time high of 14.56 million barrels per day

Nine dwarf galaxies discovered in orbit around the Milky Way

A team of astronomers from the University of Cambridge have identified nine new dwarf satellites orbiting the Milky Way, the largest number ever discovered at once. The findings, from newly-released imaging data taken from the Dark Energy Survey, may help unravel the mysteries behind dark matter, the invisible substance holding galaxies together.

The new results also mark the first discovery of dwarf galaxies – small celestial objects that orbit larger galaxies – in a decade, after dozens were found in 2005 and 2006 in the skies above the northern hemisphere. The new satellites were found in the southern hemisphere near the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud, the largest and most well-known dwarf galaxies in the Milky Way’s orbit.

Dwarf galaxies are the smallest galaxy structures observed, the faintest of which contain just 5000 stars – the Milky Way, in contrast, contains hundreds of billions of stars. Standard cosmological models of the universe predict the existence of hundreds of dwarf galaxies in orbit around the Milky Way, but their dimness and small size makes them incredibly difficult to find, even in our own ‘backyard’.

Arxiv - Eight New Milky Way Companions Discovered in First-Year Dark Energy Survey Data

March 10, 2015

US Navy has a vision of distributed lethality to counter area denial

The US Navy plans to distribute lethality throughout the Fleet, increasing combat power on each ship while ensuring those ships are more capable of operating in dispersed and network-denied environments.

Most enemy long-range anti-ship cruise missile (ASCMs) would likely be fired at 100-150 nm (nautical miles) or less. There are several potential missiles available to U.S. forces that could provide more than 150 nm range, such as the Norwegian Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM).

Cruisers and destroyers must adopt an air defense approach that frees up space for offensive missiles in Vertical launch System (VLS) magazines. This approach needs to enable more engagements to be shifted to smaller interceptors and non-kinetic systems such as electronic warfare.

The Mark 41 Vertical Launching System (Mk 41 VLS) is a shipborne missile canister launching system which provides a rapid-fire launch capability against hostile threats. The Vertical Launch System (VLS) concept was derived from work on the Aegis Combat System.

Broad Group of China completed a 57 story high rise in 19 days

Broad Group has a timelapsed video of a 57-floor 2-million-square-foot (180,000-square-meter) skyscraper fully built with energy-efficient and factory-produced components.

The building is about 200 meters tall. This is officially classified as a skyscraper.

Skyscraper is often used for buildings higher than 150 meter (492 ft). For buildings above a height of 300 meters (984 ft), the term Supertall can be used, skyscrapers reaching beyond 600 meters (1,969 ft) are classified as Megatall

Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) Architect Xian Min Zhang has released a time-lapse video of the construction of J57. The J57 represents a smaller prototype for a 205 story building that they plan to build. It is called the Sky City.

The J57 building has 19 atriums of 10 meters’ height each, 800 apartments, and office space for 4,000 people. Zhang claims that the use of its modular construction technique, which won a CTBUH Innovation Award in 2013, reduced the use of concrete by 15,000 trucks, which he says has nearly eliminated all the dust that would normally be released during conventional construction, an important advantage in pollution-ridden China. Zhang also says that all of the air inside the building is 99.9 percent pure, thanks to the tight construction and built-in air conditioning system. BSB’s parent company, Broad Group, manufactures air conditioners, air purifiers and other similar products.

New senolytic drugs eliminate senescent cells and improve cardiovascular function and improve healthspan in mice

A research team from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Mayo Clinic and other institutions has identified a new class of drugs called “senolytics” that in animal models dramatically slows the aging process—alleviating symptoms of frailty, improving cardiac function and extending a healthy lifespan.

“We view this study as a big, first step toward developing treatments that can be given safely to patients to extend healthspan or to treat age-related diseases and disorders,” said TSRI Professor Paul Robbins, PhD, who with Associate Professor Laura Niedernhofer, MD, PhD, led the research efforts for the paper at Scripps Florida. “When senolytic agents, like the combination we identified, are used clinically, the results could be transformative.”

the team homed in on two available compounds—the cancer drug dasatinib (sold under the trade name Sprycel®) and quercetin, a natural compound sold as a supplement that acts as an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.

Further testing in cell culture showed these compounds do indeed selectively induce death of senescent cells. The two compounds had different strong points. Dasatinib eliminated senescent human fat cell progenitors, while quercetin was more effective against senescent human endothelial cells and mouse bone marrow stem cells. A combination of the two was most effective overall

Cells Senscents is one of the seven categories of SENS aging damge

Aging Cell Journal - The Achilles’ Heel of Senescent Cells: From Transcriptome to Senolytic Drugs

Google Ventures and the Search for Extending human lifespan to 500 years and beyond

Bill Maris has $425 million to invest this year, and the freedom to invest it however he wants. He's looking for companies that will slow aging, reverse disease, and extend life. “If you ask me today, is it possible to live to be 500? The answer is yes,” Bill Maris, president and managing partner of Google Ventures, said one January afternoon in Mountain View, California.

Google Ventures has close to $2 billion in assets under management, with stakes in more than 280 startups. Each year, Google gives Maris $300 million in new capital, and this year he’ll have an extra $125 million to invest in a new European fund. That puts Google Ventures on a financial par with Silicon Valley’s biggest venture firms, which typically put to work $300 million to $500 million a year. According to data compiled by CB Insights, a research firm that tracks venture capital activity, Google Ventures was the fourth-most-active venture firm in the U.S. last year, participating in 87 deals.

Google has spent hundreds of millions of dollars backing a research center, called Calico, to study how to reverse aging, and Google X is working on a pill that would insert nanoparticles into our bloodstream to detect disease and cancer mutations.

Progress to factory assembled small modular Nuscale Light Water Reactor

NuScale Power has successfully installed a full-length test version of its nuclear-powered steam generator in Piacenza, Italy. The tests will provide important input into NuScale's Design Certification Application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which it expects to file in the second half of 2016. NuScale expects to deploy its first system for the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems' Carbon Free Power Project, with a potential site in Idaho. It plans to submit the UAMPS project for approval in 2017 and begin operations in late 2023. In late 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy selected NuScale for a commercialization project. It signed a $217 million cost-share contract with DOE in June.

Last week, the Washington state senate passed a bill requiring the state’s commerce department to “coordinate and advance the sitting and manufacturing of small-scale reactors,” according to the bill’s text. It goes on to define the technology in questionas, “a scalable nuclear power plant using reactors that each have a gross power output no greater than three hundred megawatts electric, and where each reactor is designed factory manufacturing and ease of transport, such as by truck, rail, or barge.”

There are many competing global small modular nuclear reactor projects.

China is building the HTR-PM high temperature reactor. It is expected to be in commercial operation in 2017. China is planning to build and buy 18 more in the next phase. They are expected to get to a cost of $1500/kw with volume production.

Nuscale Plant Overview

Each NuScale Power Module™ is a self-contained module that operates independently of the other modules in a multi-module configuration. However, all modules are managed from a single control room.

The reactor (1) measures 65 feet tall x 9 feet in diameter. It sits within a containment vessel (2). The reactor and containment vessel operate inside a water-filled pool that is built below grade. The reactor operates using the principles of natural circulation; hence, no pumps are needed to circulate water through the reactor. Instead, the system uses a convection process. Water is heated as it passes over the core (3). As it heats up, the water rises within the interior of the vessel. Once the heated water reaches the top of the riser (4), it is drawn downward by water that is cooled passing through the steam generators.

NuScale Power Module details include:

Thermal capacity – 160 MWt
Electrical capacity – > 50 MWe (gross)
Capacity factor – >95 percent
Dimensions – 76' x 15' cylindrical containment vessel module containing reactor and steam generator
Weight – ~ 700 tons as shipped from fabrication shop
Transportation – Barge, truck or train
Cost – Numerous advantages due to simplicity, off-the-shelf standard items, modular design, shorter construction times, <$5,000/KW Fuel – Standard LWR fuel in 17 x 17 configuration, each assembly 2 meters (~ 6 ft) in length; 24-month refueling cycle with fuel enriched less than 4.95 percent"

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