September 17, 2016

Adding 1000 GWe of new nuclear energy capacity by 2050

The nuclear industry can achieve the momentum required to create an additional 1000 GWe of new capacity by 2050, Agneta Rising, director general of the World Nuclear Association said. This target is essential, she said, if the world is to ensure the International Energy Agency's 2 Degree Scenario on climate change.

Connections of new nuclear power units doubled in 2015 to ten new reactors each year compared with five in 2014 and similar numbers in previous years.

Only nuclear power can ensure the clean, affordable and reliable electricity needed to meet increasing global energy demand whilst ensuring climate goals can also be achieved, Rising said.

She proposed the following schedule: 50 GWe of new capacity in 2016-2020, 125 GWe in 2021-2025 and 825 GWe in 2026-2050. That means a yearly connection rate of 10 GWe, 25 GWe and 33 GWe, respectively.

NASA and DARPA working towards quiet supersonic planes with XPlanes

The return of supersonic passenger travel is one step closer to reality with NASA's award of a contract for the preliminary design of a low boom flight demonstrator aircraft. This is the first in a series of X-planes in NASA's New Aviation Horizons initiative, introduced in the agency’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget. NASA said if funding comes through, the new planes could grace the skies as early as 2020.

NASA selected a team led by Lockheed Martin to complete a preliminary design for the QueSST X-plane. This endeavor supports NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology Project, which aims to better understand acceptable commercial supersonic aircraft sound levels across the country and develop a way for piloted aircraft to fly fast with low boom.

Lockheed Martin has worked with NASA for more than a decade to develop the tools and technology needed to make environmentally responsible commercial supersonic flight a reality.

QueSST is designed to fly at Mach 1.4, 55,000 feet above the ground. The aircraft is shaped to separate the shocks and expansions associated with supersonic flight to reduce the volume of the shaped signature. QueSST’s “heartbeat” will be dramatically quieter than the traditional “N-wave” sonic boom associated with the current supersonic aircraft in flight today. The Skunk Works team has been advancing this technology for the last 20 years as part of multiple efforts.

Lockheed will support the NASA led team to gauge community response to the sonic boom thump. NASA’s intention is to fly the QueSST aircraft demonstrator over communities across the country and collect data from civilians on noise acceptability levels, Buonanno said.

The demonstrator, at 90 feet long, will be smaller than future civil supersonic aircraft. The goal is to eventually have commercial supersonic transportation. The Concorde’s sound at cruising altitude was about 105 decibels, but Buonanno said that based on tests, the X-plane would generate 70 to 80 decibels of noise. Quick and quiet are the buzz words.

NASA's plan regarding the X-plane is extremely ambitious, setting out to develop a whole series of new X-planes over the next 10 years. One of the planes will be roughly the size of a business jet that burns low-carbon bio-fuels and generates such quiet sonic booms that people on the ground will barely hear them

Meanwhile, DARPA is working on a design of their own for an X-plane with a stacked wing frame that has a series of rotors mounted in between. The rear-mounted wing would create a vertical thrust for takeoff and landing, then rotate to provide horizontal thrust for cruise and second, smaller wing near the nose of the plane would work the same way. DARPA says its X-plane would fly as fast as 460 mph and could be in the air by as early as 2018.

Other planes that are now in development include the four-seat Tecnam twin replacing the wing and engines with a series of electric-powered propellers which aims to produce an emissions-free flight.

Another hybrid design that looks like a flying fish could be the airliner of the future, with turbofan engines in the back shielded by two vertical tails to protect people on the ground from engine noise.

Deploying Deep Learning at Scale for better data science and making inferences from data

In August, 2016, Intel is bolstering its artificial intelligence efforts by acquiring Nervana Systems for $400 million, a two-year-old startup considered among the leaders in developing machine learning technology.

In a video, Nervana's Naveen Rao discussed deep learning, a form of machine learning loosely inspired by the brain. Naveen explores the benefits of deep learning over other machine-learning techniques, recent advances in the field, the deep learning workflow, challenges in developing and deploying deep learning-based solutions, and the need for standardized tools for building and scaling deep learning solutions.

Convolutional Neural Nets are the main model. They are good for vision systems.

Recurrent Neural nets are good for modeling anything with time or sequence. Financial systems and Language models use RNN.

Stacked auto-encoders, Multi-layer perceptron and Deep belief networks are more fringe models.

A lot of the innovations in the next five years will come from the stacked auto-encoders in areas where we do not know what the objective is to start with.

Error rates for trained humans is 5% and now deep learning is at 3% for image and speech tasks.

US Army projects developing more accurate and lethal 30mm and 50mm guns

The US Army is spending about $40 million to $50 million per year on improving the technology for various guns and explosives.

Ground Based Networked Munitions Technologies (About $1 million per year 2015-2017)

This effort matures and demonstrates technology for improved capability remotely delivered area denial munition systems to include: networked munition architecture, low hazard effects, delivery mechanisms, and non-lethal response to tampering.

Extended Area Protection and Survivability (EAPS) (about $3 million in 2015)

This effort demonstrates the use of command-guided medium caliber projectiles for the interception and destruction of incoming rockets, artillery, and mortar rounds (RAM) and unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Optimized and demonstrated an integrated Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) capability, comprised of algorithms, fire control and command guided interceptor munitions.

Cluster Munitions Replacement Acceleration ($3 million in 2015 and 2016 and $8 million in 2017)

This effort matures and demonstrates ultra high reliability fuzing, advanced kill mechanisms, and alternative dispensing technologies for 155mm artillery to provide increased battlefield lethality with reduced unexploded ordnance (UXO) compliant with the Department of Defense (DoD) cluster munitions policy.

In 2016, continue maturation of a novel cluster munition policy compliant warhead for 155mm artillery; conduct arena testing of multiexplosive formed penetration optimized for effects against armored targets integrated into a 155mm artillery projectile compliant with DoD cluster munition policy; conduct static and ballistic testing on an integrated projectile, culminating in a Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 6 demonstration.

In 2017, they will validate the systems beginning to end capability as well as the system's ability to improve effectiveness against the desired target sets; mature and demonstrate various component designs in a system level solution. The effort will continue to improve and mature a variety of integrated unitary and submunition system concepts to mitigate the gap that will emerge with the loss of cluster munitions. Concepts such as a unitary projectile geared towards medium armor targets, a full bore submunition with a highly reliable triple function fuze, a concept that increases the size and fuze volume of the DPICM bomblet and incorporates high reliability fuzing while maintaining the traditional lethal mechanisms of DPICM. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 the efforts will optimize the concept of bomblet/system design and component space allocation to accommodate system level development and demonstrating concept performance through modeling and simulation. Efforts will mature system level designs of unitary solutions and improve initial system level performance. Efforts will continue to mature designs and exploit alternate technologies to mitigate risk; Develop evaluation criteria to assess concept performance; Integrate component technologies into system level solution that are effective against target sets.

Medium [30mm XM814, 30mm Mk310, 50mm PABM] Caliber Weapon Systems (About $10 million in 2015 and 2016 and $16 million i 2017

This effort matures and demonstrates advanced medium caliber ammunition, weapon, fire control, and ammunition handling systems optimized for remote operation. This effort demonstrates cannon-super high elevation engagement, high performance stabilization, remote ammunition loading, weapon safety and reliability, improved lethality, accuracy, ability to fire a suite of ammunition from non-lethal to lethal, and escalation of force capability in one system.

In 2015, Optimized technologies from Weapon, Fire Control and Turret functional areas together in preparation of demonstrating a system level platform integration with an advanced medium caliber weapon system within a Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) variant. In support of this effort, finalized and optimized a prototype turret and drive system to support the XM813 30mm weapon system; optimized and matured the advanced sensors (down range wind sensor, dynamic metrology sensor and improved laser range finder) and the scenario based fire control system supporting the XM813 30mm weapon system, 30mm armor piercing (AP) munition and the Mk310 30mm programmable air bursting munitions (PABM); performed the integration of these technologies within the BFV and demonstrated improved accuracy and lethality performance at a system level. Additionally, finalized 50mm fuze improvements and performed a fuze shoot off and demonstration to down select and optimize the burst point accuracy of the 50mm PABM munition.

Accurate Medium Caliber Armament system for stationary and fire on the move capability with turret/vehicle integration
• Programmable Air Bursting Munition (PABM): Optimized effects against Personnel targets (behind walls and in the open)
• Armor Piercing munition (APFSDS-T): Optimized effects against Materiel targets
• Integrated Fire Control Enhancements: Scenario Based Fire Control System (SBFCS), Graphical User Interface (GUI), dynamic MET Sensor, down range wind sensor and enhanced laser rangefinder

XM813 features
• Semi-automatic; up to 200 rounds per minute
• Computer controlled and electrically driven
• Closed bolt operation
• First round select
• Dual feed
• Link-less
• Optimized barrel
• Integral Mount configuration
• Dual Recoil System
• Semi-closed Bolt firing mode
• Fires the complete family of 30mm x 173mm ammunition
• Provides a growth path to fire SuperShot 40mm ammunition

• Improve burst point accuracy and PD reliability of fuze technology for 50mm PABM
• Validate and refine existing 30mm Error Budget model for use in 50mm system projections
• Develop turret to demonstrate growth from 30mm XM813 to 50mm Enhanced Bushmaster III
• Perform platform integration of turret for 50mm system level test and evaluation

In 2016, Continue to mature and optimize weapon, ammunition, fire control, and turret technologies for 50mm cannon; refine the ammunition fuzing approach to improve accuracy and lethality; analyze data collected from integration, test and demonstration to apply to system level improvements; upgrade fire control to meet system level requirements and design turret for integration into a prototype platform.

In 2017, will validate PABM fuze technology and warhead lethality data, iterating and improving as necessary; using a commercially developed barrel, demonstrate PABM and AP effectiveness against personnel and materiel targets; design and fabricate 50mm weapon and ammunition handling system (AHS) prototypes; exploit advances in advanced Fire Control hardware to improve system performance; mature Fire Control software

US Army will begin 50 Kilowatt laser testing in 2017 and then advance to 100 kilowatt tests and deployments through 2021

The US Army is spending from $17 million to $30 million per year from 2017 to 2021 on High Energy Laser (HEL) weapons technology.

The major effort under this project is the phased approach for mobile high power solid state laser (SSL) technology demonstrations that are traceable to the form, fit, and function requirements for a HEL weapon. At entry level weapon power of around 10 kW, SSL technology has the potential to engage and defeat small caliber mortars, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), surface mines, sensors, and optics. At full weapon system power levels of around 100 kW, SSL technology has the potential to engage and defeat rockets, artillery and mortars (RAM), UAVs, cruise missiles, sensors, and optics at tactically relevant ranges. HELs are expected to complement conventional offensive and defensive weapons at a lower cost-per-shot than current systems and without the need to strategically, operationally, or tactically stockpile ordnance. This effort utilizes a modular building block approach with open systems architecture to ensure growth, interoperability, and opportunity for technology insertions for maturation of laser, beam control, sensor/radar, integration of power and thermal management subsystems, as well as Battle Management Command, Control, and Computers (BMC3).

The program is made up of Laser System Ruggedization and High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrations (HEL MD).

Laser System Ruggedization

This effort ruggedizes laser systems for integration on Army platforms. Ruggedization includes modifications of the laser system to withstand vibration, temperature, and contamination environments expected on various Army platforms, while ensuring platform volume, weight, and interface specifications are met.

In 2016, the US Army is continuing ruggedization of 50 kW class solid state laser subsystem components; and begin ruggedization of the BMC3 subsystem.

In 2017, they will complete the ruggedization and preparation of platform to accept the 50 kW-class laser from Project 042; develop and integrate prime power and thermal management subsystems to support the 50 kW risk reduction testing in FY 2018 and optimize the command and control subsystem to manage the new laser, power, and thermal management subsystems.

Current army truck laser is 10KW but will be upgraded to 50 KW by 2017 and then later to 100KW

New US multipurpose enhanced hand grenade

Engineers at Picatinny Arsenal are working on the first new lethal hand grenade in more than 40 years, which is designed to give greater flexibility to the warfighter.

The multi-purpose hand grenade design will provide both fragmentation and blast overpressure more effectively and safely than its legacy counterparts. Once fielded, Soldiers will be able to select and use a hand grenade with different effects simply by flipping a switch.

Over the past five years, Picatinny engineers have been collaborating with Infantry School representatives, hand grenade cadre, as well as active duty Soldiers and Marines, to determine warfighter needs regarding hand grenades.

Our warfighter lost the capability of using an alternate lethal hand grenade when the MK3A2 concussion grenade was taken out of service in 1975 due to an asbestos hazard, leaving the M67 fragmentation grenade.

The grenade development at Picatinny is being performed by engineers with the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC.

The first new lethal hand grenade in more than 40 years is designed to give greater flexibility to the warfighter.

DARPA applying Artificial Intelligence for realtime cognitive electronic warfare

Modern radar and communications systems can subtly and quickly change their character, making them harder for U.S. aircraft and other platforms to jam or spoof. That reality is prompting DARPA to lead industry teams to apply artificial intelligence to electronic warfare. It's called "cognitive EW."

The difference between today's tech and that of the 1970s lies in the adoption of readily available digital processing. Such processing effectively allows operators to change aspects of the waveforms that radar and communications systems use. "The problem now is that if we continue to rely on that [old] approach, the radar waveforms we're expecting could be rapidly changed," Tilghman says. "Cognitive EW is being developed to deal with the unexpected."

DARPA's new approach uses machine learning algorithms to assess and characterize radar and communications emitters in real time. It learns their characteristics in the moment and then produces a countermeasure. It's not that the system is inventing new countermeasures on the fly. Rather, Tilghman says, cognitive EW "deduces the right set of countermeasures to employ." Of course, the secretive agency won't say how quickly the AI can assess and respond, only that the "time frame is sufficient to meet the needs of countering that radar."

This cognitive EW effort began in 2010 and is broken into two parts: Adaptive Radar Countermeasures (ARC) and Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic Warfare (BLADE). The two tracks exist because of the differing nature of thwarting an enemy's radar and its communications.

When cognitive EW makes its debut, possibly within a decade, observers speculate that it will function alongside modern systems like the Navy's Next Generation Jammer (used on the EA-18G Growler EW aircraft) or as an adjunct to the jamming capability of the F-35's active electronically scanned array radar (AESA). DARPA won't specify. "We're focused on the algorithms, the AI," Tilghman says. "The actual EW system we use is meant to potentially be anything."

The application of artificial intelligence to a variety of tangential areas is almost certain to follow. DARPA kicked off its Spectrum Collaboration Challenge earlier this year, challenging competitors to develop collaborative autonomous spectrum systems that work together to optimize bandwidth in dense communications environments.

September 16, 2016

Robot sales and growth are solid but not yet showing growth that might drive mass human unemployment

Robots for the automation of industrial tasks are on the rise in North America, according to a recently-released industry report from the Association for Advancing Automation. More than $800 million in orders were placed in the first half of 2016, setting a new purchasing high for the industry of 14,583 robots. This represents a 2% increase over the same period in 2015, which was itself a record-setter, according to the report. Automotive OEMs and component suppliers were primary drivers for the market.

Sales for the global robotics industry in 2014 were $10.7 billion, a 13% increase over 2013. There are now about 1.5 million robots at work globally, an increase of 11% over 2013. Adding supporting services such as integration, accessories, peripherals, software and systems engineering at a 3X multiplier, worldwide 2014 sales are estimated to be $32 billion.

The report suggests that rapid automation in China and global competition of industrial production are the main drivers for the sustained growth forecasts.

Readers can submit questions for Randell Mills of Brilliant Light Power

Nextbigfuture will interview Randall Mills of Brilliant Light Power shortly (still scheduling but probably next week)

Nextbigfuture has covered Brilliant Light Power aka Blacklight Power for many years.

The company and its founder Randell Mills claim new power. Brilliant Light power claims hydrinos exist. Hydrinos are a new form of hydrogen theoretically predicted by Dr. Mills and produced and characterized by BLP. Mills claims that Hydrinos are fractional orbital hydrogen. This goes against the quantum nature of hydrogen for standard physics. This has made them extremely controversial

Hydrinos are claimed to be produced during the BlackLight Process as energy is released from the hydrogen atom as the electron transitions to a lower-energy state resulting in a smaller radius hydrogen atom.

Brilliant Light Power, Inc. (BrLP) claimed they have continuously generated over a million watts of power from a new primary source until the cell vaporized from the intense heat. The power released by the conversion of hydrogen atoms from water molecules in to a lower energy form called “Hydrino” or dark matter is manifest as brilliant-light emitting plasma wherein the light is uniquely and extraordinarily essentially all high-energy light in the extreme ultraviolet. Using four cross-confirming methodologies, five validators have confirmed over a million watts of plasma power developed by BrLP’s so-called SunCell® at power gains of over 100 times the power to ignite the Hydrino reaction, and at power densities higher than any previously known energy source.

BrLP presented live demonstrations of the enormous power density and power gain by multiple methods. BrLP also presented an engineered SunCell® prototype having no moving parts that it believes is capable of producing 125 kW of electricity and is planned to be launched for initial commercialization in 2017.

I have already begun an initial exchange via email with Randall Mills

NBF Question - I am interested to know what I would see in a live demonstration that would prove that 65-150 times input power for the output power is being produced.

Randell Mills Answer - We shown these types of power gains as part of series of demonstrations on June 28th. The video is publicly available:

Moreover, we have five validation reports of power gain results of this magnitude at a remarkable power level of about 1 MW in less than a liter volume. These reports could be made available to you with some agreement on usage and with our redaction of the identify of the trace oxide chemical used. The presentation on Oct 26th will be focus on commercial systems, timeline, and go to market. At least one validator will be a speaker to cover the power balance measurements. There will be a live demonstration of the commercial design of the SunCell and possibly some power measurements of a non-commercial system setup for thermal or optical power balance measurements. The power balance of the commercial design will require the integration of the PV converter which is scheduled to be initially delivered in January 2017. The engineering firm and PV manufacturer representatives will be speakers as well to cover the respective timelines.

September 15, 2016

DARPA seek aerial dragnet to track drones in cities

When it comes to small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) such as commercial quadcopters, there is no comprehensive tracking system. And as off-the-shelf UAS become less expensive, easier to fly, and more adaptable for terrorist or military purposes, U.S. forces will increasingly be challenged by the need to quickly detect and identify such craft—especially in urban areas, where sight lines are limited and many objects may be moving at similar speeds.

To achieve the technically difficult goal of mapping small UAS in urban terrain, DARPA today announced its Aerial Dragnet program. The program seeks innovative technologies to provide persistent, wide-area surveillance of all UAS operating below 1,000 feet in a large city. While Aerial Dragnet’s focus is on protecting military troops operating in urban settings overseas, the system could ultimately find civilian application to help protect U.S. metropolitan areas from UAS-enabled terrorist threats.

“Commercial websites currently exist that display in real time the tracks of relatively high and fast aircraft—from small general aviation planes to large airliners—all overlaid on geographical maps as they fly around the country and the world,” said Jeff Krolik, DARPA program manager. “We want a similar capability for identifying and tracking slower, low-flying unmanned aerial systems, particularly in urban environments.”

Big advances in superstrong glued wood will enable lower cost 80+ story wooden skyscrapers

There have been big advances in “engineered” wood, such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) made from layers of timber sections glued together with their grains at right angles to one another. In much the same way that aligning carbon-fibre composites creates stronger racing cars, aircraft and golf clubs, CLT imparts greater rigidity and strength to wooden structures.

CLT-plate with three layers made from spruce

A recent experiment by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, a firm of architects, and Oregon State University, shows how strong engineered wood can be. The researchers used CLT in a hybrid form known as concrete-jointed timber. This featured an 11-metre wide CLT floor section with a thin layer of reinforced concrete spread across the surface. Thicker sections of concrete were added where the floor was supported by pillars. It was put into a giant test rig where a powerful hydraulic press pushed with increasing force onto the surface. The researchers wanted to see how the structure moved under load, but kept pressing in order to find its limits. The floor finally began to crack when the load reached a massive 82,000 pounds (37,200kg), around eight times what it was designed to support.

Advantages for wood skyscrapers

• Modern engineered wood can be as safe against fire
• Five times less material means less heavy equipment and fewer trucks to the work site
• Good delivery of airtight envelope
• Greater load distribution can reduce thickness of transfer slabs
• Light weight reduces load on foundations so less need for materials with high embodied energy (eg concrete)
• Need for robust upfront design may improve overall design and efficiency
• Robust finished wall will take sundry fixings
• Simple and fast onsite construction process
• Suitable for non-visible as well as exposed finishes
• Vapor-permeable wall construction

An architectural rendering of a 1,000-foot-tall wood skyscraper proposed for London. Source: PLP Architecture/University of Cambridge

The concrete covering the floor was mainly for sound insulation, but it helps to deal with the second worry: fire. The concrete adds a layer of fire protection between floors. In general, a large mass of wood, such as a CLT floor, is difficult to burn without a sustained heat source—for the same reason that it is hard to light a camp fire when all you have is logs. Once the outside of the timber chars it can prevent the wood inside from igniting. The big urban fires of the past, such as the Great Fire of London, which occurred 350 years ago this month, were mostly fuelled by smaller sections of timber acting as kindling.

There are yet more advantages to building higher with timber, adds Dr Ramage. For a start, the construction site would be a lot quieter without the heavy plant required to pound deep foundations, pump concrete and install steel supports. There would also be less construction traffic. Dr Ramage calculates that for every lorry delivering timber for a wooden building, five lorries would be needed to deliver concrete and steel. All these things may mean that once the total construction costs are calculated, a wooden building can work out cheaper.

Anders Berensson, the Swedish architect who designed Tratoppen, believes engineered wood will become the cheapest way to construct tall buildings in the future. Another benefit of the material, he says, is the ability to carve the wood readily. In his current design the number of each floor is cut into the building’s exterior.

China launches Tiangong-2 space lab

China has launched its second space lab, taking one step further in Beijing's plan to establish a permanent space station.

A Long March 2F rocket blasted off successfully at 10:04 p.m. local time Thursday (10:04 a.m. ET) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert carrying the lab known as Tiangong-2, which translates to "heavenly vessel," according to state media China Central Television.

A spacecraft will ferry a two-man crew to the lab in October -- China's first manned mission since 2013. The astronauts will remain in the lab for a month, where they will be carrying out experiments related to medicine, physics and biology. It's China's longest mission yet.

The Tiangong-2 and its predecessor, Tiangong-1, are prototypes for China's ultimate goal -- a permanent 20-ton space station, which is expected to launch after 2020.

The advanced Chinese space lab is capable of monitoring physics in outer space, studying the behavior of microgravity and observing gamma rays. Reports say that the new Chinese space lab can observe and analyze a total of 10 gamma rays per year.

To become the next super space giant, the Chinese Space Agency are launching one project after the other to prove their capability to dominate the space flight industry. The agency is all set to launch the second space lab Tiangong-2. The Long Mars 2F rocket will send Tiangong-2 to space. Both the space lab and the rocket have been positioned at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and are ready to take flight. The docking of the rocket and the space lab aired live on China. Tiangong-2 is scheduled for launch sometime between Sept. 15 and 20, according to CCTV News.

The Chinese space station will habituate an orbit of 393 kilometers above the Earth. Tiangong-2 is a 60-ton space station and will be a testing ground for life support systems and refueling processes

Tiangong-2 has the capability to observe gamma ray using its gamma-ray detector POLAR. POLAR is a joint project developed by the collaboration between China, Switzerland and Poland.

But China's ambitious plans don't stop there. The agency plans a rendezvous with the new space station and Tianzhou-1, the first cargo and refueling spacecraft of China.

Terrestrial Energy applying for $800M to $1.2B US loan guarantee to make a breakthrough first commercial molten salt nuclear reactor

Terrestrial Energy USA has been invited by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to submit the second part of its application for a US federal loan guarantee to support the licensing and construction of its Integrated Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR).

The company is applying for a loan guarantee of between $800 million to $1.2 billion to support financing of a project to license, construct and commission the first US IMSR. Idaho National Laboratory has been identified as a lead candidate site for the first 190 MWe commercial plant

The US DOE's loan guarantee program supports the financing of projects employing innovative advanced energy technologies that avoid, reduce, or sequester anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases. Terrestrial Energy USA applied for a guarantee under DOE's $12.6 billion solicitation for loan guarantees for the deployment of advanced nuclear energy projects, issued in 2014. The DOE's Loan Programs Office has now evaluated Part I of Terrestrial Energy USA's application and invited the company to submit the second part.

Molten salt reactors use fuel dissolved in a molten fluoride or chloride salt which functions as both the fuel (producing the heat) and the coolant (transporting the heat away and ultimately to the power plant). This means that such a reactor could not suffer from a loss of coolant leading to a meltdown. Terrestrial's IMSR integrates the primary reactor components, including primary heat exchangers to secondary clean salt circuit, in a sealed and replaceable core vessel. It is designed as a modular reactor for factory fabrication, and could be used for electricity production and industrial process heat generation.

Earlier this year, Terrestrial Energy USA parent, Canada-based Terrestrial Energy Inc, announced its plans to engage with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in a pre-licensing design review, a first step towards an eventual licence application.

Uber should be operating 100 self driving cars by the end of this year

Uber bought 100 Volvo XC90s that it hopes to retrofit with self-driving technology and have driving down the streets of Pittsburgh by the end of this year. While it’s probable that Uber bought the Volvos at a discount, the 2017 XC90s start at $45,750. And that is without all the pricey self-driving technologies added on

If initial efforts work, Uber will continue to buy cars and retrofit them with its own self-driving technology as the company ramps up its fleet of driverless cars. Whether it’s from Volvo or another automaker, Uber will likely have to buy, maintain and insure its own cars.

Currently self driving trips are limited to a well-defined area where Uber drivers and technicians have been testing vehicles for nearly 18 months. Only a handful of the self-driving vehicles are available, so not everyone who wants one will get one — or the free ride.

West coast of the US to Europe flights can already see discounts to below $200 one way should get occasionally below $100 by 2018

Norwegian Air is the world's fastest growing airline and it is leading the way in low cost international fares Norwegian is Europe’s third largest budget carrier after Ryanair and EasyJet. In October, 2015 they announced that an order for 19 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners at a price of $5 billion. It will take delivery of the planes between 2017 and 2020, and has an option to order an additional 10.

They already have one way flights as cheap as $150-200 from the US to Europe. The plan is have US to Europe sales with prices as low as $69 one way in 2017 when new 737 Max planes are delivered.

Norwegian's long haul operations will continue to focus on leisure markets, with growth coming particularly on routes between the US and European cities such as London, Paris, Barcelona and Rome. "We don't see any problems in placing these Dreamliners into the market", he said. Meanwhile, Norwegian's Asian long haul network remains limited to its Bangkok services from Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. Its ability to add further Asian routes is currently held back by the limited availability of traffic rights through Russian air space.

787 Dreamliners and updated 777X will transport the number of people that used to require a jumbo jet will enable airlines like Norwegian to have multiple flights per day on the same route. This will mean they can compete for the international business traveller. This will provide better economics for discount international carriers.

The Quarterly financial presentation reports their future growth plans, their profitability and price competitiveness.

Norwegian is using about 11 long range Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes for their current international flights. They will be adding about 10 Dreamliners each year, which will be used to increase the routes and frequency of flights. They will use 737 Max planes to fly from the east coast of the US to Europe.

By the of 2017, Norwegian will have twice their international fleet of 787s.

This could see fairly frequent one way West coast US to Europe fares below $150 one way. Currently prices occasionally get below $200 one way.

By the end of 2018, Norwegian long haul fleet will triple its current size and will likely see fairly frequent one way West coast US to Europe fares below $100 one way.

Other airlines have tried a low-fare approach on long-haul flights, with little success. But Bjorn Kjos, Norwegian’s ebullient chief executive, is confident that his unconventional approach will allow the airline to offer fares 50 percent cheaper than the competition’s.

Boeing 787 Dreamliners have longer range and can connect secondary international airports like Oakland and Sweden directly with no transfers.

Direct flights to non-hub airports means existing airlines cannot block out the gates at the hubs.

September 14, 2016

General Atomics delivers multiple pulsed power containers to the Navy for railgun testing and Navy and Army are accelerating 5000 mph high velocity projectile tests

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that it has delivered the first of multiple pulsed power containers to the U.S. Navy in support of the railgun development and testing program. Each container includes pulsed power modules and a pulsed power control system for ease of integration into the Navy's Command and Control infrastructure.

"Our advanced energy technologies coupled with our expertise in design, manufacturing, and testing enables us to provide the most energy-dense pulsed power systems available today," stated Nick Bucci, vice president of Missile Defense and Space Systems at GA-EMS. "We look forward to delivering the additional pulsed power containers to the Navy to support their testing and to help advance railgun capabilities now and into the future."

GA-EMS is an industry leader in the design of high energy density capacitors, which are the foundation of pulsed power systems. All manufacturing, assembly of the pulsed power modules, container integration, and complete system testing is done by GA-EMS. GA-EMS also recently announced the successful demonstration of record-breaking pulsed power capacitors in a repetitive fire mode, breaking its previous energy content record.

"We're realizing significant gains in our ability to pack more energy into large-platform capacitors," Bucci continued. "These next generation capacitors will enable significantly higher muzzle energies using a smaller pulsed power footprint, reducing the overall railgun system impact on host platforms."

Early proof of concept General Atomic Pulsed power

Rendering of the pulsed power shipping container concept

Blitzer railgun pulsed power

US Army Howitzer firing 5000 mph high velocity projectiles

An Army Howitzer is now firing a 5,000-miles per hour, high-tech, electromagnetic Hyper Velocity Projectile, initially developed as a Navy weapon, an effort to fast-track increasing lethal and effective weapons to warzones and key strategic locations, Pentagon officials said.

Firing from an Army Howitzer, the rail gun hypervelocity projectile can fire a 5,000-mile and hour projectile at enemy targets to include buildings, force concentrations, weapons systems, drones, aircraft,vehicle bunkers and even incoming enemy missiles and artillery rounds.

Howitzer firing high velocity projectile

AFRL Technology Demonstration Program progresses to AR1 Engines to replace Russian RD-180 rockets

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, successfully completed its final test series on its sub-scale oxygen rich preburner as part of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) program. Aerojet Rocketdyne tested the preburner at full power and full duration to provide key insights for future engines that use this engine cycle.

The HBTD program is developing key technologies for rocket engines that employ an oxygen-rich staged combustion (ORSC) engine cycle - the same cycle that is used for the Aerojet Rocketdyne AR1 engine - a potential replacement engine for the Russian RD-180. The reusable HBTD demonstrator engine is a 250,000 lbf thrust class engine that is capable of up to 100 flights, and features high-performance, long-life technologies and modern materials.

Hydrocarbon Boost Sub-Scale Oxygen Rich Preburner Test at AFRL

Research towards enabling minds as healthy and productive as twenty year olds in people who are 60-80

Memory performance typically declines with age, as does cortical structural integrity, yet some older adults maintain youthful memory. We tested the hypothesis that superagers (older individuals with youthful memory performance) would exhibit preserved neuroanatomy in key brain networks subserving memory. We found that superagers not only perform similarly to young adults on memory testing, they also do not show the typical patterns of brain atrophy in certain regions. These regions are contained largely within two major intrinsic brain networks: the default mode network, implicated in memory encoding, storage, and retrieval, and the salience network, associated with attention and executive processes involved in encoding and retrieval. Preserved neuroanatomical integrity in these networks is associated with better memory performance among older adults.

Can you make a person a super ager or are you born with it, and does it really make a difference in real life? A superager is someone who is in their 60-80s with minds as sharp as when they were twenty.

As we age beyond our 50s, our brains tend to shrink in volume. Memory also begins to decline.

These widespread brain changes are considered entirely normal, but mounting evidence suggests they may not be universal.

Certainly in Alzheimer's disease, for example, there is notable shrinkage in parts of the brain involved with storing and retrieving memories.

In 17 "super agers", several parts of the brain's memory machinery - including the anterior insula and orbitofrontal cortex and the hippocampus - appeared thicker and healthier than normal for people of their age.

The hope is there might be not just genetic factors that make people resilient but also things that people can do themselves, such as physical fitness and diet. Experts already know that certain factors, such as smoking and high cholesterol, age the brain faster.

Journal of Neuroscience - Youthful Brains in Older Adults: Preserved Neuroanatomy in the Default Mode and Salience Networks Contributes to Youthful Memory in Superaging


Decline in cognitive skills, especially in memory, is often viewed as part of “normal” aging. Yet some individuals “age better” than others. Building on prior research showing that cortical thickness in one brain region, the anterior midcingulate cortex, is preserved in older adults with memory performance abilities equal to or better than those of people 20–30 years younger (i.e., “superagers”), we examined the structural integrity of two large-scale intrinsic brain networks in superaging: the default mode network, typically engaged during memory encoding and retrieval tasks, and the salience network, typically engaged during attention, motivation, and executive function tasks. We predicted that superagers would have preserved cortical thickness in critical nodes in these networks. We defined superagers (60–80 years old) based on their performance compared to young adults (18–32 years old) on the California Verbal Learning Test Long Delay Free Recall test. We found regions within the networks of interest where the cerebral cortex of superagers was thicker than that of typical older adults, and where superagers were anatomically indistinguishable from young adults; hippocampal volume was also preserved in superagers. Within the full group of older adults, thickness of a number of regions, including the anterior temporal cortex, rostral medial prefrontal cortex, and anterior midcingulate cortex, correlated with memory performance, as did the volume of the hippocampus. These results indicate older adults with youthful memory abilities have youthful brain regions in key paralimbic and limbic nodes of the default mode and salience networks that support attentional, executive, and mnemonic processes subserving memory function.

EU targets free Wifi for every town, village and city in the EU by 2020 and for all European households to have download speeds of at least 100Mbps by 2025

The EU plans to create a “digital single market” in the EU. Some of the goals are for all European households, rural or urban to have access to superfast connectivity offering download speeds of at least 100 mbps, while all urban areas as well as major roads and railways should have uninterrupted 5G coverage.

The EU wants free Wi-Fi in every town, village, and city in the European Union, in the next four years.

A new grant, with a total budget of €120 million, will allow public authorities to purchase state-of-the art equipment, for example a local wireless access point. If approved by the the European Parliament and national ministers the cash could be available before the end of next year

The EU commission has also set a target for all European households to have access to download speeds of at least 100Mbps by 2025, and has redefined Internet access as a so-called universal service, while removing obligations for old universal services such as payphones.

The EU also wants to deploy 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication systems, across the European Union by 2025.

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is also promising to abolish roaming once and for all in his "State of the European Union" address on Wednesday morning.

Dwave Systems offers a course on programming the Dwave 2X Quantum Computer

Dwave Systems is offering a course -Programming the D-Wave 2X Quantum Computer in Finland

The D-Wave 2X quantum computer uses an adiabatic architecture with niobium flux qubits integrated on silicon wafers. The programming model is error tolerant and allows for native expression of optimization problems stated over boolean variables. This underlying capability allows for the execution of a wide class of optimization problems on the system. The challenge in using this system is to find efficient mappings from the application domain.

This training course has been custom designed for CSC to address the fundamentals and programming of the D-Wave 2X. A combination of lectures and hands-on practical labs will guide the students through the quantum phenomena harnessed in quantum computers, to examples in constructing their own quantum algorithm. It concludes with a hands-on laboratory in which students will formulate and execute programs on a live quantum computer in Canada. By the end of the course, participants will understand the programming model of the D-Wave quantum computer and what makes it so powerful for a diverse range of optimization problems.

It is recommended that attendees have or are working toward a degree in computer science, math, and/or physics, or otherwise have sufficient familiarity with algorithms and data structures.

The workshop will feature also a Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) session organized by CSC and Aalto University on quantum computing research activities in Finland and elsewhere and the future expectations. Snacks and drinks will be served. Feel free to prepare a short (10-15 min) talk about your research activities (not obligatory, of course).

CSC organizes the workshop in collaboration with the Centre for Quantum Engineering at Aalto University.

Lecturers - Edward Dahl and Sheir Yarkoni from D-Wave Systems Inc
990 EUR euros + VAT (24%) for Finnish universities, polytechnics and governmental research institutes
990 EUR euros + VAT (24%) for others
The fee covers all materials, lunches and refreshments.
Date: Oct 12-13, 2016
Register by Oct 5, 2016, the 24 seats on the course are filled in the registration order (first come, first served).

Boeing 737 Max jets will launch the age of $69 one way trans-Atlantic fares and it should start in March 2017

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA hopes to sell one-way tickets to Europe for $69 as early as 2017 by flying from U.S. airports that have low fees, Chief Executive Officer Bjørn Kjos said in an interview.

Norwegian has 100 737 MAX jets from Boeing on order and expects to receive five in 2017.

Boeing has said the 737 Max jets could be ready for delivery as early as March 2017.

The 737 max 8 will have a range of a little over 4000 miles.

According to Norwegian Air chief commercial officer Thomas Ramdahl, his airline is awaiting Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplanes to begin offering $69 trans-Atlantic flights.

Ramdahl told Business Insider that his airline plans to make an announcement around November or December of this year with firm details of the $69 fares.

"I can promise you that you will see trans-Atlantic flights on the 737Max next year," Ramdahl told us in an interview last week. "And that's when you will see the $69 fares."

The 737 MAX 8 features new fuel-efficient CFM LEAP-1B engines, upgraded avionics, and aerodynamics. As as result, the new jet offers airlines the range and performance to operate trans-Atlantic service with the lower cost of a narrow-body jet.

September 13, 2016

Russia also working on airplane mounted combat lasers

Russia is working on a plane equipped with a new-generation airplane based combat laser, a source in the Russian defense industry. The laser is being referred to as the A-60. It is part of the Sokol-Eshelon project.

There was Soviet era work in the 1960s-1980s on an A-60 airplane based laser.

Placing a laser in a plane with a large cargo capacity will be easier than efforts to mount lasers into jets.

The A-60 Soviet aviation laser system was to be installed on the Il-76 airplane. Source: Krasnaya zvezda

Russia shows video of new Armata tank driving over terrain and firing its gun

The Russian Defense Ministry has released video from a recent tank drill that shows, for the first time ever, the capabilities of the T-14 Armata. In the footage, Russia’s newest tank is shown negotiating hillocks and trenches.

Armata has a new modular armor system, unmanned turret, active and passive protection systems, digital tracking system and is allegedly coated with a stealth paint making it “invisible” to radar.

The first batch of 100 Armata tanks will come into service with Russia's ground troops in 2017-18, according to a statement from Vyacheslav Khalitov, deputy head of the Uralvagonzavod research and production corporation, the tank's manufacturer, to the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

The published price of a Т-14 Armata tank is about 250 million rubles ($3.8 million). The basic model has a 125-mm gun. However, according to the tank's designers and manufacturers, the Armata can be upgraded to a 152-mm gun.

The Т-14 is capable of firing 10 shots a minute at an effective range of up to 4.5 miles.

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