February 06, 2016

Optical lens just a billionth of a meter thick can make lighter mobile phones and cameras

A flat optical lens just a billionth of a meter thick will let us see living creatures as small as a single bacterium better than ever before. The new lens, developed by researchers at Swinburne University of Technology, promises to revolutionize much of the technology around us.

Driven by developments in photonic chips and nano-optics, the global race to create a practical ultrathin lens that breaks the diffraction limit — enabling a focus less than half the wavelength of light — had been gathering pace since the turn of the millennium.

The new lens, developed by researchers at Swinburne University of Technology, promises to revolutionize much of the technology around us.

The design of the GO lens. (a) Conceptual design and laser fabrication of the GO ultrathin lens. (b) Amplitude and phase modulations provided by the transmission and refractive index difference, respectively, between the GO and rGO zones.

Nature Communications - Highly efficient and ultra-broadband graphene oxide ultrathin lenses with three-dimensional subwavelength focusing

Army Paladin self-propelled howitzer fired high velocity projectile which could be used in any 155-mm and 5-inch guns

The USA Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) was set up four years ago to find and develop new uses for existing technologies, as well as making them cheaper and faster to get into service with troops.

One of the SCO’s priorities was adapting technology from “railguns”. Such guns use neither explosives nor propellant, but instead rely on electromagnetic forces to fire projectiles at speeds of up to 4,500mph – 50pc faster than conventional weapons – with greater range and destructive force.

The high velocity projectile is being adapted for Navy 5-Inch; Navy, Marine Corps, and Army 155-mm systems; and future electromagnetic (EM) railguns.

BAE has been working with the US Navy for years, and landed several development contracts to develop railguns and the so-called “hypervelocity” projectiles they fire. Mr Carter said some of the advances from the research are being used in existing weapons.

“The SCO has got a project on gun-based missile defence, where we’re taking some of the same hypervelocity smart projectiles that we developed for the electromagnetic gun – that’s the railgun,” Mr Carter said.

He said that instead of using railguns’ projectiles for offensive purposes, they could be used defensively in conventional systems, for purposes such as shooting down other missiles.

Just over month ago the SCO had tested firing high-speed missiles from a Paladin self-propelled howitzer – a system built by BAE – and found that it “significantly increased” the weapon’s range.

The US military has “hundreds” of Paladins in its arsenal that could benefit from the advance, Mr Carter said.

AE's Paladin self-propelled guns have test-fired the hyper-velocity projectiles

The Hyper Velocity Projectile is basically a flying hypersonic spike and is launched in a similar fashion as the sabot rounds fired by Main Battle Tanks. The super low-drag spike of a projectile whizzes through the air at hyper-velocity speeds (around 5,600mph), hence its name. Oh yeah, and it is guided.

The HVP’s sleek design allows it travel much farther than tradition naval gun shells, from 30 to over 100 miles depending on what it’s fired out of.

The HPV projectile will have different versions
* an air burst
* a kinetic energy penetrator
* high-explosive round.

Because of its high-speed and miniaturized and hardened internal guidance, it could be used against surface and a ground targets, but it could also be employed against air threats, as well.

If network connectivity is added to the HVP’s design, it could be guided in-flight with command updates coming from external sensors. This means it can hit moving vehicles using a remote sensor’s data, such as from an unmanned aircraft or a ship’s radar system. Under such a scenario, a HVP could be launched from 100 miles away, toward an enemy land mass, and a loitering unmanned aircraft tracking a vehicle could provide the projectile with terminal targeting information. The whole engagement would last about one minute.

It also means that the HVP could one day become more deadly than a surface-to-air missile, as its speed makes it almost impossible to defend against.

“BAE Systems is applying its expertise and technology to develop a hyper velocity projectile (HVP) using innovative and proven technologies,” said Joe Senftle, vice president and general manager of the company’s weapon systems business. “The HVP is a next-generation, guided projectile that will give the US Navy increased velocity, precision and extended range to address a variety of current and future threats.”

Mile high skyscraper proposed for Tokyo would be twice as tall as Burj Khalifa

Grumman will show off its sixth generation stealth jet fighter design during the Superbowl

Northrop Grumman appears poised to show off its Sixth generation fighter during Super Bowl Sunday. The defense titan released a new commercial online Friday.

Northrop Grumman provided a first look at its vision for the sixth-generation fighter in December. One of the most complicated parts, analysts have noted, is that if the stealthy planes include lasers, they will need to be built in a way in which the heat doesn’t give them away on enemy radar.

The United States Air Force and United States Navy are anticipated to field their first sixth-generation fighters in the 2025–30 time frame. The USAF is pursuing development and acquisition of a sixth-generation fighter through the F-X program to replace the F-22 Raptor, and the U.S. Navy is pursuing a similar program called the Next Generation Air Dominance to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

First Korean APR-1400 1400 megawatt nuclear reactor connected to the Grid

Unit 3 of South Korea's Shin Kori nuclear power plant was connected to the grid on 15 January and has started supplying electricity, plant owner Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced yesterday.

Shin Kori 3 - construction of which began in October 2008 - is the first Korean-designed Advanced Pressurised Reactor-1400 (APR-1400) to start up.

Having been issued with an operating licence for the unit by the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission on 30 October, KHNP began loading 241 fuel assemblies into the reactor on 4 November. The unit achieved first criticality on 29 December.

KHNP has since been conducting commissioning tests at the unit. These tests involve checking the unit's performance as its output is gradually increased to full capacity.

Shin Kori 3 is expected to enter commercial operation in May following the completion of these tests, KHNP said. It becomes South Korea's 25th operable power reactor.

Unit 4 at Shin Kori - also an APR-1400 - is expected to start operating in early 2017. Unit 3 had originally been due to begin operating at the end of 2013, with unit 4 following in September 2014. However, their operation has been delayed by the need to test safety-related control cabling and its subsequent replacement.

Two more of the 1350 MWe pressurized water reactors are under construction as units 1 and 2 of the Shin Hanul site in South Korea. Those units are expected to enter service in April 2017 and February 2018, respectively.

Two further APR-1400 units are planned for both the Shin Kori and Shin Hanul sites.

Four more APR-1400s are under construction at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates. All four are scheduled to be in operation by 2020.

China will build a high temperature nuclear reactor for Saudi Arabia

China and Saudi Arabia have signed a memorandum of understanding on the construction of a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTR). It was one of 14 agreements and memoranda of understanding signed yesterday during a meeting in Riyadh of Chinese president Xi Jinping and Saudi's Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

A demonstration HTR-PM unit is under construction at Shidaowan near Weihai city in China's Shandong province. That plant will initially comprise twin HTR-PM reactor modules driving a single 210 MWe steam turbine. Construction started in late 2012 and it is scheduled to start commercial operation in late 2017.

A proposal to construct two 600 MWe HTRs at Ruijin city in China's Jiangxi province passed a preliminary feasibility review in early 2015. The design of the Ruijin HTRs is based on the smaller Shidaowan demonstration HTR-PM. Construction of the Ruijin reactors is expected to start next year, with grid connection in 2021.

CNEC said it is actively promoting its HTR technology overseas and has already signed memoranda of understanding with Saudi Arabia, Dubai, South Africa "and other countries and regions" to consider the construction of HTR plants.

Although Saudi Arabia's nuclear program is in its infancy, the Kingdom has plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years. A 2010 royal decree identified nuclear power as essential to help meet growing energy demand for both electricity generation and water desalination, while reducing reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources.

Last September contracts were signed between the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) and KA-CARE (King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy) to support their cooperation in developing KAERI's SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor). This is a 330 MWt (100 MWe) pressurised water reactor with integral steam generators and advanced safety features.

February 05, 2016

In July 2015 there were electric planes crossing the English Channel and electric engines 5 times larger are being tested

On July 9, 2015 pilot Hugues Duwal appeared to cross the channel in a tiny Columban Cri-Cri. It’s name comes from French for “cricket”, and it is an unbelievably tiny airplane. If the E-Fan is a Smart Car, the Cri-Cri designed in the 1970s, resembles nothing so much as a Peel Trident, the world’s second-smallest car. The Cri-Cri is a half-sized cockpit put into the middle of a quarter-scale plane, with two small engines powering propellers that stick out in front of the cockpit like catfish whiskers. The wingspan is just 16 feet, so flying the whole plane is like wearing giant wings. If Duwal’s flight was indeed successful, and his CriCri was indeed an electric one and not the two-stroke engines common to Cri-Cris, then he may have under the cover of darkness snuck past Airbus and into the history books, or at least the books of minor aviation feats.

On July 10, 2015 an Airbus E-Fan crossed the english channel. The E-Fan is an electric plane that looks like the tiny, electric-smartcar version of an A-10 fighter. Powered only by batteries, it has two fans situated behind the cockpit, promising up to 45 minutes of flight time with a top speed of 137 mph. The E-Fan crossed the channel in about 40 minutes.

Airbus has stated that there are plans for development of a commercial regional electric powered aircraft in the near future.

The E-Fan 2.0 will go into production by 2017 with a side-by-side seating layout

E-Fan Specs

Crew: one
Capacity: one passenger
Length: 6.67 m (21 ft 11 in)
Wingspan: 9.50 m (31 ft 2 in)
Max takeoff weight: 550 kg (1,213 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Electric motor , 30 kW (40 hp) each via eight-blade ducted fans,each producing thrust of 0.75 kN (266 lb st), Battery: Lithium-ion 18650, with 207 Wh/kg per cel, total of 29 kWh at a battery weight of 167 kg

Maximum speed: 220 km/h (137 mph; 119 kn) all performance figures estimated
Cruising speed: 160 km/h (99 mph; 86 kn)
Endurance: 60 min
Lift-to-drag: 16:1

Another electric plane—the Pipistrel Alpha Electro—should've crossed the Channel as well, but the flight was reportedly blocked due to a dispute between the plane maker and Siemens (which made the electric motor in the Airbus Alpha Electro).

In 2014 China’s first passenger electric plane, the RX1E Ruixiang, was produced.

The RX1E Ruixiang isn’t just the first passenger electric plane produced in China, though. It is “the world’s first electric passenger plane that received an airworthiness certificate.”

The RX1E Ruixiang’s range is not that different from the range of the two-seat E-Fan that Didier Esteyne just used to fly across the English Channel. While Esteyne’s plane has about 50 minutes of flying time on a full charge, the RX1E has about 40 minutes of flying time. The RX1E maximizes its range with the use of lightweight carbon fiber, and its battery charges in about 1½ hours.

Elon Musk says he is close to solving electric passenger jets with vertical takeoff and landing

Elon Musk says he is close to working out how to build an electric jet which would take off and land vertically. The Tesla boss revealed his plans during a question-and-answer session at the Hyperloop Pod competition in Texas.

During an interview with Marketplace in October 2015, Musk said: "I do like the idea of an electric aircraft company. I do think one could do a pretty cool supersonic, vertical-take off and landing electric jet. That would be really fun."

When asked if he was just making things up, Musk said: "No, I have a design in mind for that, but I have too many things on my plate to do, and then of course there is the Hyperloop."

In 2014, Musk also mentioned his electric plane ideas during an interview with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), when he said he was "toying" with the concept, adding: "I would love to do it, but I think my mind would explode."

Musk's comments come in the same week which saw budget airline EasyJet announce it is looking at producing hybrid electric airliners. The plans describe a kinetic energy recovery system (Kers) similar to that used by Formula One cars, where energy created by braking when landing would be stored in a battery and used to run and even taxi the plane without using its jet engines.

Airbus vertical takeoff and vertical passenger electric planes

There was an EADS (Airbus) Voltair design for a vertical takeoff and vertical passenger electric planes. Elon Musk has talked about creating a supersonic certical takeoff and vertical landing electric passenger plane. This would enable airports without runways to be in cities.

The EADS all electric passenger plane design depends upon batteries achieving 1000 watt hours per kilogram and superconducting engines being developed. High temperature superconducting motors are expected to reach power densities of 7-8 kW/kg with almost no electrical losses. This compares to 7 kW/kg for today’s turboshaft engines. An essential requirement for the VoltAir concept is to have a light and low-drag airframe. Advanced carbon fiber composite materials are used, and an unconventional configuration with an optimum fuselage thickness-to-length ratio is selected to minimize aerodynamic drag while providing a maximum useful internal volume. The fuselage’s generous volume is used for a better integration of the landing gear, significantly improving the aerodynamic properties of the wing-to-fuselage junction.

Distributed small electric engines and batteries that also acted as part of the structure of a plane (as body panels) could be innovations that Elon Musk has for enabling commercially interesting electric passenger jets.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. In 2010, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 45.8 billion and employed a workforce of nearly 122,000.

Electric sport bikes with range up to nearly 200 miles on a single charge

Zero Motorcycles’ Z-Force® motor and power pack, the Zero S pulls hard to speeds above 90 mph and offers a city range of up to 197 miles with the optional Power Tank accessory. Or, take advantage of public charging stations and get back on the road three times faster with the new Charge Tank accessory.

The Zero SR shares the same DNA as the Zero S but is built for riders who simply want to go faster and accelerate harder. Featuring a larger 660 amp motor controller, the Zero SR delivers 25% more power (67 hp) and 56% more torque (106 ft-lb). To accommodate the increased output, its motor uses higher temperature magnets to ensure better performance during extended periods at higher speeds.

With more torque than most 1000cc sport bikes, the Zero SR pulls hard off the line…and just keeps pulling. Launching from 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds en route to a top speed over 100 mph, the Zero SR offers spirited riders an edge in competitive riding. From lap times at the local track day to sweeping the podium at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the Zero SR is fundamentally changing the way electric motorcycles are perceived.

2016 Zero S or DS, with the 9.8kWh battery pack: $10,995

2016 Zero S or DS, with the 13kWh battery pack: $13,995

2016 Zero SR or DSR, with the 13kWh battery pack: $15,995

2016 Zero FX or FXS, with the 3.3 kWh battery module: $8,495

2016 Zero FX or FXS, with the 6.5 kWh battery module: $10,990

Charge tanks for the S-series bikes cost $1,988, and power tank additional batteries cost $2,674.

In the United States, the E-motorcycle Federal Tax Credit covers 10% of the purchase price of a street legal electric motorcycle up to a maximum of $2,500. Motorcycle accessories may also be eligible for a 10% federal tax credit when purchased on the same invoice as your motorcycle. Some states and cities offer additional incentives.

Charging accessories may be eligible for a 30% federal tax credit when billed on a separate invoice. Both incentives are scheduled to end December 31, 2016.

The 2016 Zero SR, with the additional range batteries can cost $16801 with the 10% tax credits instead of $18669.

Saietta trying to be the Tesla of Electric motor superbikes

NGS (Next Generation Saietta) is a new breed of motorbike spearheading a new electric era for bikers, delivering superbike performance, a highly distinctive iconic design and unmatched personalisation.

NGS boasts a number of technology firsts including a revolutionary new electric motor, an innovative lightweight, immensely strong structural monocoque, industry-leading battery capacity and range, 3D printing of the body and even a new, highly distinctive roar!

NGS will undergo rigorous engineering testing throughout 2016 including taking part in an extensive race programme. First customer bikes will be delivered before the end of 2017 as part of a limited edition of up to 100 bikes priced around £50,000 (excluding local taxes, about US$70,000).

Next Generation Saietta

They previously had the £15,000 (US$21000) Saietta R that could go 105 mph

They have a powerful range of lightweight electric motors

Saietta Engineering made the first electric plane to cross the English Channel (mid-2015)

Hybrid electric motor bike that can go up to 40mph and other ebikes

Bolt Motorbikes has a hybrid electric bike that can reach 40mph and has up to 50 mile range on one charge. It uses iron phosphate batteries and costs about $5495.

28 mph electric bike for $599

There is a $599 electric bike called the Wave ebike that goes up to 28 mph and has a 52 mile single charge range

B52 Stealth Electric Bike

The B-52 stealth electric bike blends traditional pedal-power with 5.2kW of pure-electric thrust, all bolted to a motocross-inspired frame. With 250mm of rear wheel travel, paired-up with a 200mm front end, the B-52 drives through an advanced 9-speed sequential gearbox and stops with confidence, thanks to Magura hydraulic disc brakes.

Top Speed: 80km/h (49 mph)
Range: up to 80km (49 miles)

The Bomber utitilizes 72 volts 20ah of lifepo4 batteries. It has a $10,000 price.

First new US reactor since 1996 is nearly ready to start

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has approved the expenditure of a further $200 million on the completion of Watts Bar 2, which would bring final spending on the project to a total of up to $4.7 billion.

The scope of the project has increased by $125 million through regulatory orders and other items occurring since TVA's $4.5 billion estimate to complete the project was approved, Johnson said. These orders were particularly related to regulatory requirements brought in after the 2011 Fukushima accident and cybersecurity issues, which were not foreseen in the original budget.

Construction of Watts Bar 2, a 1165 MWe (net) pressurized water reactor, began in 1972 but work was suspended in 1985 when the unit was about 55% complete. TVA decided to resume work on the unit in 2007, awarding an engineering, procurement and construction contract to Bechtel.

This would make it the first nuclear plant to start up in the US since Watts Bar 1, which was licensed in 1996 after a similarly lengthy construction hiatus. It will also be the first US nuclear plant to comply with all the NRC's post-Fukushima upgrades as well as the newest cybersecurity requirements.

Watts Bar Unit 2 is essential to diversifying TVA’s power sources to ensure that the more than 9 million people served by TVA and their local power companies have affordable and reliable electricity generated in an environmentally friendly manner

February 04, 2016

DNA used to assemble nanoparticles into a copy of the crystalline structure of diamond

Using bundled strands of DNA to build Tinkertoy-like tetrahedral cages, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have devised a way to trap and arrange nanoparticles in a way that mimics the crystalline structure of diamond. The achievement of this complex yet elegant arrangement, as described in a paper published February 5, 2016, in Science, may open a path to new materials that take advantage of the optical and mechanical properties of this crystalline structure for applications such as optical transistors, color-changing materials, and lightweight yet tough materials.

"We solved a 25-year challenge in building diamond lattices in a rational way via self-assembly," said Oleg Gang, a physicist who led this research at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) at Brookhaven Lab in collaboration with scientists from Stony Brook University, Wesleyan University, and Nagoya University in Japan.

The scientists employed a technique developed by Gang that uses fabricated DNA as a building material to organize nanoparticles into 3D spatial arrangements. They used ropelike bundles of double-helix DNA to create rigid, three-dimensional frames, and added dangling bits of single-stranded DNA to bind particles coated with complementary DNA strands.

Science - Diamond family of nanoparticle superlattices

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