High Impact Technology Update

Convergence08 was this past weekend, Nov 15-16, 2008. There were many talks and discussions.

I gave an update on high impact technology. I did not have the proper connection for a Macbook and an older projector, so gave this talk with the slides as mainly my own notes.

A preamble was added. During the initial panel discussion on Artificial Intelligence Q and A an audience member mentioned: “when there no longer is scarcity and we have economic abundance…”. The first part of technology update relates to energy, and energy is the foundation of civilizations economy. Currently the world uses 15 Terawatts. The United States uses 4 Terawatts of electricity. Each person in the United States uses about 11KW. The world population in 2040 will be about 9 billion. For everyone in the world to be at the current average US level would take 99TW in 2040. For everyone to have five times the current average US level would take 500TW. This would be a minimum lack of scarcity situation. It would be getting everyone up to the energy usage level of an Obama defined rich person with $250,000/year and 55KW. Even if there was double the energy efficiency that would still be 250 TW. Factory mass produced deep burn fission power would require
One million reactors producing 250 MWe. If they were 50% efficient at converting heat to electricity and could burn 730 GWd/ton. 250,000 tons of Uranium or Thorium would be needed each year.

The world currently uses 1.5 billion tons of steel every year and 2.5 billion tons of cement. Currently only 46,000 tons of carbon fiber and about 100 tons of carbon nanotubes are produced per year. Even with ten to one efficiency because of higher strength to weight ratio and mixing the carbon materials, you would need at least 100 million tons of carbon nanotubes to fully convert to a high strength carbon nanotube world. To get to a world of abundance that would mean 1 billion to 10 billion tons of graphene, carbon nanotubes or diamond.

Energy Technology

Deep burn and seriously scaling nuclear power

Nuclear Fission
Hyperion Power Generation Uranium Hydride not a scam
Update on Hyperion Power Generation – 100 orders, target 4000 of the 27MWe reactors built from 2013-2023

China looks to factory mass produce a walk away safe high temperature 200 MW pebble bed reactor. First one to be completed 2013 followed by dozens more.

Molten Salt reactors like the Fuji Molten salt design could burn 99% of the fuel.

Russians have and are making breeder reactors. A smaller and newer Russian design is the Lead-Bismuth Fast Reactor (SVBR) of 75-100 MWe. [90 gwd/t]This is an integral design, with the steam generators sitting in the same Pb-Bi pool at 400-480°C as the reactor core, which could use a wide variety of fuels. The unit would be factory-made and shipped as a 4.5m diameter, 7.5m high module, then installed in a tank of water which gives passive heat removal and shielding. A power station with 16 such modules is expected to supply electricity at lower cost than any other new Russian technology as well as achieving inherent safety and high proliferation resistance

Very High Temperature Reactor could burn 65% of fissionable material

Deep burn high temperature reactor design for 500 gwd/t and europeans working on accelerator driven ultra high burn reactors with 700+gwd/t [after 2020].

75% of the new nuclear reactors are being built outside the OECD (developed world, US and Europe). Mainly in China, Russia and India.
Uranium can last for twenty thousand years even using 100 times the current level of power usage.

Nuclear Fusion
IEC fusion results from latest demo project are still being reviewed and have not been published.

IEC fusion traps a cloud of electrons and then has positive ions released that are drawn to electron and eventually collide to cause fusion.

Fantastic space propulsion if IEC fusion works

Focus fusion is another smaller fusion project which is technically promising but underfunded.

Focus fusion and the company behind it.

Tri-alpha Energy is a venture funded fusion project with $40+ million in investment.

TriAlpha is the brainchild of Norman Rostoker, a senior fusion researcher. He had previously collaborated with another researcher, Maglitch, on the MIGMA approach to advanced fuels. This approach involved shooting two counter-circulating beams of ions at each other in a confining magnetic field. It was not very workable, as the ion densities would always be very low. Rostoker combined this idea with another device, the Field Reversed Configuration, sending the beams into the FRC.

Dr. Hendrik Monkhorst of the Quantum Theory Project and his collaborator, Dr. Norman Rostoker of UC Irvine, designed a novel type of fusion reactor called the Colliding Beam Fusion Reactor (CBFR).

CBFR in Field Reversed configuration has a cylindrical shape, rotates at a high rate about its axis inside a solenoidal magnet, and thus produces a magnetic field that closes upon itself: a kind of self-confinement of fuel nuclei was established, with all confined particles flowing in the same direction. Protons rotate at a high rate, with an energy of about 1 MeV, and Boron 11 are slower, which causes the protons to literally ‘rear-end’ the Boron 11 with an energy at which fusion cross-section is highest. The collaborators found that plasma parameters could be set such that essentially all injected protons and Boron 11 undergo fusion to 4-Helium which were guided into Direct Energy Converter (DEC) devices. These devices turned their kinetic energy directly into electricity, unlike previous techniques where water was boiled, producing steam which drove turbines to eventually produce electricity. Resulting advantages included abundant fuel supply, nearly no radioactivity, no danger of runaway reactions or explosions, scalability of size and output power, easier engineering and maintainability.

Seaweed, fungus, waste and algae biofuels

Better Engines, hybrid and electric cars

Free piston and ecomotors diesel engine

Ultracapacitors and hybrid and electric cars

Superconductors and Thermoelectrics

Superconductors show increasing progress to room temperature.

Korea making 1300 HP engine for 2010

Thermoelectric progress and graphs explaining thermoelectrics

All thermoelectric articles

Exaflop and Zettaflop Computers
Onchip photonics needed for zettaflop computing

Tensilica configurable processors could make affordable and manageable energy efficient exaflop computers

Quantum Computers
128 qubit dwave quantum computer

Transformation Optics
Transformation optics

Avogadro Scale Computing
Digging into Avogadro scale computing work

DNA Sequencing
Gene sequencing category articles.

DNA Nanotechnology
DNA Nanotechnology category articles

Atomically Precise Manufacturing and Mechnosynthesis
Zyvex’s funded atomically precise manufacturing program

$3.1 million to validate diamond mechanosynthesis computational chemistry work

Micron Scale Claytronics
Micron scale claytronics

Brain Emulation
Brain emulation and the brain emulation roadmap