December 11, 2008

Energy and transportation developments to Watch in 2009 and a little beyond

The technological and other developments to watch is expanding to four parts:
1. Computers, robots, electronics and communication
2. Energy and transportation - this section
3. DNA/biotech/synthetic biology, nanotechnology
4. Medicine, life extension, space, manufacturing and anything else that was not covered

1. Candidates for nuclear fusion breakthroughs
Interial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) Fusion (EMC2fusion, inc/Bussard) Still awaiting results from 2008 experiments and funding of next experiments.

Update: Focus Fusion funded for $620,000+ and starting two years of experiments to prove viability. So significant news of some kind likely over the next two years. Dense Plasma Focus fusion

Not expecting to hear anything major for three or more years on the next few:
Tri-alpha energy / colliding beam fusion
General Fusion

2. National Ignition Facility should startup tests
This could lead to the funding and development of a fusion/fission hybrid proposal of Lawrence Livermore labs

3. More environmentally friendly oil recovery processes (THAI/Capri and economically superior method for recovering 2-4 times more oil from existing oilsands (up to 80% of the oil in place with integrated underground upgrading of the oil)

Petrobanks most significant project is at May River, located in the heart of our Whitesands oil sands leases. May River will be built in phases, eventually culminating with 100,000 ("bbl/d") of partially upgraded bitumen. The first phase is planned with production capacity of 10,000 to 15,000 bbl/d. Applications approved Nov 27, 2008. Construction could begin in early 2009 with project start-up in late 2009.

THAI oil process
could replace the current SAGD (steam assisted gravity drainage) and CSS (cyclic steam stimulation) systems used to extract bitumen that is too deep to mine. The process offers high recovery rates -- up to 80 per cent of the oil in place compared with 20 to 50 per cent for SAGD. It also uses little natural gas and water. In THAI, air is pumped under pressure into the toe of the reservoir, creating natural combustion to heat the cold heavy oil, which flows into horizontal pipes.

4. Major energy legislation
Obama energy plan. The US will pass major energy and climate change bill(s).

Thorium bill could be one of the bills passed.

Financial crisis - China, India, USA, Russia, etc... which energy projects continue ?

5. China High Temperature Reactor should start construction in 2009 and China's construction of regular reactors should continue to scale up
Russia breeder reactor continuing to 2012 completion.

6. Blacklight Power is scheduled to being commercial sales of their revolutionary power generators

Blacklight Power success would mean clean power using catalyzed hydrogen from water for about $500/KW. It would be a huge game changer that could also impact the chemistry and physics textbooks.

7. Cars will get more efficient and more electric

-Ecomotors (up to 60% efficient diesel engine) demo engine 2009 and in commercial vehicles 2011

Highway capable electric cars

such as the relatively inexpensive Indica electric car from Tata

Many analysts believe China could adopt electric cars faster than
elsewhere, largely because of its size and comparative lack of reliance on petroleum for transport

China BYD is the first plug in electric car
China BYD is scheduled to sell plug in electric hybrid to Israel in 2009 and Europe in 2010
An electric car overview is here

8. Does the Eestor ultracapacitor get launched and does Zenn launch a car using it in 2009 or not ?

There are many others working on revolutionary ultracapacitors

9. The electric wheel has been targeted to be in thousands of cars in 2010 and in the Venturi Volage car by 2012.

Three versions will be available in 2010 with three different sizes of Lithium-Ion battery module configurations, offering ranges of 150, 300 and 400 km (93, 186 and 248 miles). Drivers will have the option of changing from one module size to another in the same vehicle depending on their needs. Just like hybrids, the Active Wheels recover energy during braking to extend vehicle range. The in-wheel motors are reported to be 90% efficient, compared to about 15% efficiency for a conventional vehicle in city driving.

Test versions of the WILL are on the road now with production scheduled to start in 2010 with a first year output target of several thousand vehicles. The target price of 20 to 25,000 euros (USD$27 – 34,000) puts the Will in the affordable electric vehicle class, along with the much anticipated Chevy Volt. If you are willing to wait a bit longer, and spend a bit more, look for Active Wheels on the Venturi Volage in 2012.

10. Thermoelectrics and low temperature waste heat recovery could have major announcements and impacts to go along with expected continued progress.

11. Next gen biofuels -seaweed, algae, e-coli, jatropha and who carries forward China, Japan, USA, Brazil, India, others ?

12. Superconducting motors and superconducting wind turbines are slated for 2010 and increasing use of superconductors for parts of the grid.

Development of 1MW HTS Motor for Industrial Application Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute and Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co.

General Electric has successfully developed and tested a high speed, multimegawatt superconducting generator. The generator was built to demonstrate high temperature superconducting (HTS) generator technology for application in a high power density Multimegawatt Electric Power System (MEPS) for the Air Force. The demonstration
tested the generator under load conditions up to 1.3 MW at over 10,000 rpm. The new MEPS generator achieved 97% efficiency including cryocooler losses.

Multimegawatt Electric Power System (MEPS) MEPS would provide a substantial boost in power capability aboard aircraft while cutting generator weight by 1000 lbs and reducing thermal load. It is based on cryogenic cooling and high RPM generator technology, and has application for directed energy weapons and Naval vessel distributed power. It offers 4-8x the kW/lb of existing or developmental aircraft power systems. The weight savings and reduced thermal load of power onboard power generation will allow for more energy efficient flight and enable more accurate, more powerful weaponry.

US military is trying to get off of its own dependence on oil and wants to get planes and other vehicles more efficient or using other power entirely. The US military is also very concerned about upgrading the US power grid
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