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May 30, 2008

Focus Fusion and X-scan and the Company behind them

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (LPP) is the company that is trying to develop focus fusion

LPP is developing a portable, economical, extremely intense hard X-ray source using a dense plasma focus (DPF). DPF is the same core technology that is to be used for focus fusion.

Such a source, transportable by truck, will allow economical non-destructive inspection of the nation’s critical infrastructure, leading to savings in repair costs of at least five billion dollars annually.

A source with the power, photon energy and adjustability developed in this project will allow the use of Compton scattering, in which the X-rays are scattered off the material being probed and return to a detector on the same side of the object as the source. Compton scattering requires far higher X-ray power than does direct X-ray scanning, in which the detector is on the opposite side of the structure from the source, but has the great advantage that scanning can be done from one side. Such one-side scanning will greatly reduce the cost and time of inspections, making possible the timely preventive maintenance of infrastructure such as bridges, roads and buildings.

The X-ray source technology is being developed as a "spin-off" of our medium-term research into the use of the DPF as a source for fusion energy. Essentially the same technology can produce both useful energy and extremely intense x-ray pulses.

Our market projections, based on discussions with likely final customers, mainly state departments of transportation, indicate that our X-ray source integrated into an inspection system can yield sales of $20 million a year and profits of at least $3 million a year within two or three years of introduction into the market. We anticipate that, with the help of likely government funding, we will be able to begin marketing this device in three to four years.

LPP's research shows that, with our innovative approaches, a DPF can serve as an x-ray source with the capabilities required. It will be able to deliver a pulse of 100J of x-ray energy of 300keV photons in a pulse of 10 ns, a power output 30,000 times higher than existing linac sources.

To achieve our ambitious goals, LPP will employ five innovations, all of which have either been verified in practice, or are supported by extensive theoretical calculations. These are: (1) An overall quantitative model of DPF functioning that allows firm predictions of performance; (2) the use of the strong magnetic field effect to achieve easy adjustability of electron temperature; (3) a specific model of the critical plasmoid generation (collapse) phase of DPF operation which shows the approach to achieving high efficiency of energy transfer into the plasmoid that emits the x-rays; (4) a multi-scale "snapshot" method of simulating the collapse phase from scales of centimeters to microns and (5) a method of plasma diagnosis that eliminates previous confusion of plasma and electron beam emissions.


[The latest]LPP engineering analysis indicates that 5 MW focus fusion reactors could be produced for about $300,000 apiece. This is less than one-tenth of the cost of conventional electricity generation units of any style or fuel design. This means that once the prototype is successfully developed within five years, focus fusion generators will be the preferred technology for new electrical distributed generation.

More powerful units can be designed by accelerating the pulse repetition rate, although there are limitations due to the amount of waste heat that can be removed from such a small device. It is likely that units larger than 20MW will be formed by simply stacking smaller units together, with approximately the same cost per kW of generated power.


Current technical information

FURTHER INFORMATION
Previous article on focus fusion funding which has now been corrected

Another follow up on Focus fusion

The Focus Fusion google tech talk

New Iron based superconductors might resist magnetic fields over 100 Tesla


Researchers at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University have discovered that the new iron based family of superconducting material kept superconducting all the way up to 45 tesla. 45 Tesla is the most powerful magnet sustained field in the world. The researchers did not find the upper limit for magnetic field resistant superconductivity for the new material. Scientists are calling the material “doped rare earth iron oxyarsenides".

The new superconductors seem like they will be able to make improved MRI machines and research magnets, a new generation of superconducting electric motors, generators and power transmission lines.

Tesla is a unit of magnetic field strength; the Earth’s magnetic field is one twenty thousandth of a tesla.

A high tolerance for magnetic field is one of three key properties researchers hope for in superconductors. Also desirable are the abilities to operate at relatively high temperatures and in the presence of high electrical currents. Superconductors are used to make MRI and research magnets, and now they are being tested in a new generation of superconducting electric motors, generators, transformers and power transmission lines. Today, the most powerful superconducting magnet generates a field of about 26 tesla. If a superconductor could be found that tolerates a higher current and field, it may make possible more powerful magnets, opening up vast new research areas to scientists and power applications.

Based on both theoretical calculations and what we’re seeing from the experiments, it seems likely that this is a completely different mechanism for superconductivity. If it’s found that these materials can support high current densities, then they could be tremendously useful.



The hybrid 45 tesla magnet site



The Magnet Lab’s 100-tesla multi-shot, currently the most-powerful reusable magnet in the world. Designed to operate at 100 teslas, the multi-shot has so far been kept to 89.9 teslas, still a world record.

100-tesla multi-shot magnet, with its central insert coil being loaded.

All of the highest-field magnets are pulsed: a single swift current pulse sent through the assembly creates a field that rises, peaks, and decays (typically) within a few thousandths of a second. The short duration limits the heat and stress on the materials, so the highest fields can be contained without destroying the magnet.



The Los Alamos team is currently investigating how the Fermi surface evolves as the cuprate's composition changes. In comparing all the data (including the controversial results from an experiment conducted at Los Alamos in 1991), one sees dramatic changes in the Fermi surface as the materials get closer to the number of dopants that is optimum for the highest superconducting temperature. The Magnet Lab is continuing its quest to produce higher fields. Indeed, Mielke is spearheading a new electromagnet design, the "single-turn," named for its single loop of copper. The single-turn has already produced pulsed fields as high as 240 teslas. The field lasts but a few millionths of a second, and then—the magnet explodes! Remarkably, the magnet's design allows a sample to survive the explosion intact.

Mielke is planning to use the single-turn to measure the Fermi surface of plutonium and to investigate superconductivity in the heavy-electron metals, but he needs to refine his measurement techniques. "A changing magnetic field can generate an unwanted voltage—electromagnetic interference (EMI)—in the measurement probe," he explains. "It's hard enough to measure small signals in the 100-tesla magnet, where the field goes from nothing to everything in a few thousandths of a second. When the field ramps up in the single-turn's millionth of a second, the EMI is much higher, and the measurement becomes that much harder."


Pulsed fields of microseconds up to 300 Tesla are possible and the 100 tesla multi-shot can get 90 tesla for 25 milliseconds.

FURTHER READING
Preprint of the research paper

From Nature the research paper, Two-band superconductivity in LaFeAsO0.89F0.11 at very high magnetic fields

Researchers report resistance measurements of LaFeAsO0.89F0.11 at high magnetic fields, up to 45 T, that show a remarkable enhancement of the upper critical field B c2 compared to values expected from the slopes dB c2/dT 2 T K-1 near T c, particularly at low temperatures where the deduced B c2(0) 63–65 T exceeds the paramagnetic limit. They argue that oxypnictides represent a new class of high-field superconductors with B c2 values surpassing those of Nb3Sn, MgB2 and the Chevrel phases, and perhaps exceeding the 100 T magnetic field benchmark of the high-T c copper oxides.

The new iron based superconductors could open up a new path to room temperature superconductors

MRI magnets are usually in the 0.5 to 3.0 Tesla range

The most powerful MRI has a 9.4 Tesla field

Researchers and physicians hope that the 9.4T will usher in a new era of brain imaging in which they will be able to observe metabolic processes and customize health care.

Oncologists, for example, may one day be able to tailor radiation therapy based on a brain tumor's real-time response to treatment. Currently, physicians often must wait weeks to see if a tumor is shrinking in response to therapy. With the 9.4T, it will be possible to see if individual cells within the tumor are dying long before the tumor has begun to shrink.

It offers physicians a real-time view of biological processes in the human brain.


Magnetic field strength is an important factor in determining image quality. Higher magnetic fields increase signal-to-noise ratio, permitting higher resolution or faster scanning. However, higher field strengths require more costly magnets with higher maintenance costs, and have increased safety concerns

Better magnet material (such as the iron based superconductors) could also allow a magnet field strength at current levels with smaller magnets. Some MRI devices how weigh hundreds of tons.

Superconducting magnets at wikipedia


Current superconductors have enabled a 36.5 MW prototype engine for the navy that is three times smaller than the same power engine using ordinary wiring. The new iron superconductors might make engines even smaller or more powerful (if they can also carry a lot of current.)

Focus Fusion Follow Up

[From a reader who is a close follower of Focus Fusion]
Re: CMEF [Just reported funding of $600,000 part of $10 million], Eric [Founder and CEO of LPP] responded, "This is based on years-out-of-date info. The $600,000 never actually materialized, but LPP is again at the point where we think we will have money in hand very soon. But this time we will not say we have it until the bank tells us we do."

Correction: That funding situation did not happen and this is a link to the current funding situation

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc. is raising capital from accredited investors (those with more than $200,000 in income or $1,000,000 in assets) to finance a two-year experimental effort in New Jersey to demonstrate the scientific feasibility of focus fusion. The total cost of the experiment is $750,000, of which $200,000 has already been raised and an additional $100,000 has been pledged.


The most recent LPP news postings are:
LPP has performed some computer simulations of their process.

Highly repeatable experiments have been performed

In a presentation to the Seventh Symposium on Current Trends in International Fusion research, held a year ago, but recently released on the Web, Dr. Jan Brzosko reported that in 500 shots a DPF functioning at a peak current of 0.95 MA had neutron yields that had a standard deviation of only about 15%.


Focus fusion in Discover Magazine June 2008 (item #2).

It may sound too good to be true, but the technology, called focus fusion, is based on real physics experiments. Focus fusion is initiated when a pulse of electricity is discharged through a hydrogen-boron gas across two nesting cylindrical electrodes, transforming the gas into a thin sheath of hot, electrically conducting plasma. This sheath travels to the end of the inner electrode, where the magnetic fields produced by the currents pinch and twist the plasma into a tiny, dense ball. As the magnetic fields start to decay, they cause a beam of electrons to flow in one direction and a beam of positive ions (atoms that have lost electrons) to flow in the opposite direction. The electron beam heats the plasma ball, igniting fusion reactions between the hydrogen and boron; these reactions pump more heat and charged particles into the plasma. The energy in the ion beam can be directly converted to electricity—no need for conventional turbines and generators. Part of this electricity powers the next pulse, and the rest is net output.

A focus fusion reactor could be built for just $300,000, says Lerner, president of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics in New Jersey. But huge technical hurdles remain. These include increasing the density of the plasma so the fusion reaction will be more intense. (Conventional fusion experiments do not come close to the temperatures and densities needed for efficient hydrogen-boron fusion.) Still, the payoff could be huge: While mainstream fusion research programs are still decades from fruition, Lerner claims he requires just $750,000 in funding and two years of work to prove his process generates more energy than it consumes. “The next experiment is aimed at achieving higher density, higher magnetic field, and higher efficiency,” he says. “We believe it will succeed.”


[emails from a reader who has been following Focus fusion closely]
the power would be at about 0.2¢/kwh, not 1/20¢ (0.05¢). The generators would be from 5-20MW, depending on pulse rate (330 - 1320/sec.) The energy "profit" is actually from harvesting as current (via thousands of foil layers in the containment shell) the ~40% of output which occurs as X-rays. The alpha-beam pulse goes back into the capacitor bank to fire the next "shot", and the electron beam reheats the plasma.



A place for downloading animations and images.

May 29, 2008

Carnival of Space Week 56

Carnival of Space week 56 is up at the main Lifeboat Foundation blog.

Nextbigfuture contributed A reproducible cold fusion experiment might have been made and a promising regular nuclear fusion approach, plasma focus fusion, has received $10 million in funding

There were several articles about the Phoenix space craft landing on Mars


Phoenix spacecraft parachuting to a landing on Mars

Music of the Spheres discusses the possibility of other civilizations arising in our galaxy

Centauri Dreams talks about finding earth like worlds

Go see the other articles at the Carnival of Space week 56 at the main Lifeboat Foundation blog.

Blacklight Power claims 50KW prototype Hydrinos generator


Blacklight power claims a 50kw prototype device

UPDATE: Wikipedia details the controversy and doubts about the Hydrino theory upon which Blacklight Power bases their device.

Mills' work is not accepted by the scientific community, and has been largely ignored by it (as of November 2007, only four papers discussing hydrinos were present in the arXiv physics database, three of which say that hydrinos cannot exist. The only peer-reviewed evaluation, published in 2005 by Andreas Rathke of ESA, found "severe inconsistencies" in the theory, including a lack of "solutions that predict the existence of hydrinos". Rathke also noted that Mills' equations are not Lorentz invariant, a requirement of any theory that explains the behavior of particles moving close to the speed of light. Several scientists have issued informal evaluations of Mills' work, which are almost entirely negative. In spite of his work's flaws, Mills' company (Blacklight Power announced it had raised over $50M in venture capital. It has also given rise to a subsidiary company (Millsian Inc.) which has developed and released a molecular modeling program based on Mills' models.
news release contained endorsements from former Assistant Secretary of Energy Shelby Brewer and from Michael H. Jordan, who has served as CEO of various major corporations including PepsiCo Int'l. Foods and Beverages, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, CBS Corporation, and EDS.


The $50 million investment was made by respected investors

Credit Suisse First Boston CFO is on the board There are other current executives and retired executives from many big firms (Morgan Stanley and others.
END OF UPDATE

They expect to have pilot plants built and devices ready for delivery in 12-18 months. Below (hit 'read more') there is a chart which shows that Blacklight is targeting $250/KW which would be several times cheaper than existing power sources. They are also looking to scale up to megawatt power.

The Company uses a chemically generated or assisted plasma to form atomic hydrogen and a catalyst which react through a nonradiative energy transfer to form lower-energy hydrogen atoms called hydrinos. Since hydrinos have energy levels much lower than uncatalyzed hydrogen atoms, the energy release is intermediate between chemical and nuclear energies. The net enthalpy released may be over 100 times that of combustion. Blacklight Power is usually placed in the low energy nuclear reactions category, but they are different in being a new kind of chemistry.

85 page paper that describes the device and the science and research behind it.

134 page slide deck presentation.

Blacklight Power website


BlackLight has established a 53,000-square-foot modern research and development facility in Cranbury, NJ, equipped with over 10 million dollars worth of laboratory equipment. Currently, BlackLight has 22 full-time employees, 2 part-time employees, and 20 consultants. The majority of the employees are scientists, including 8 PhDs.


Management of Blacklight Power


Updated the comparison to other power generation systems


More discussion of applications for Blacklight Power technologies.

FURTHER READING ON COLD FUSION RESEARCH
6MB cold fusion and the future book, written in 2007 by Jed Rothwell

LENR-CANR site LENR, Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, also known as Cold Fusion. (CANR, Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reactions, is another term for this phenomenon.

101 page 2007 proceedings of the Japanese Cold Fusion conference 8 (in english)

26 pages of abstracts to the JCF8 conference

A US based journal on condensed matter physics

May 28, 2008

Corrected: Focus fusion does not have agreement with CMEF of Sweden



Previous outdated and incorrect: Focus Fusion has received funding of $600,000 with phased additional payments up to $10 million.

Correction: That funding situation did not happen and this is a link to the current funding situation

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc. is raising capital from accredited investors (those with more than $200,000 in income or $1,000,000 in assets) to finance a two-year experimental effort in New Jersey to demonstrate the scientific feasibility of focus fusion. The total cost of the experiment is $750,000, of which $200,000 has already been raised and an additional $100,000 has been pledged.


UPDATE: [From a reader who is a close follower of Focus Fusion and now confirmed]

Re: CMEF, Eric responded, "This is based on years-out-of-date info. The $600,000 never actually materialized, but LPP is again at the point where we think we will have $ in hand very soon. But this time we will not say we have it until the bank tells us we do."

The most recent news postings are:
LPP has performed some computer simulations of their process.

Highly repeatable experiments have been performed

In a presentation to the Seventh Symposium on Current Trends in International Fusion research, held a year ago, but recently released on the Web, Dr. Jan Brzosko reported that in 500 shots a DPF functioning at a peak current of 0.95 MA had neutron yields that had a standard deviation of only about 15%.


A place for downloading animations and images.

Focus fusion in Discover Magazine June 2008 (item #2).

It may sound too good to be true, but the technology, called focus fusion, is based on real physics experiments. Focus fusion is initiated when a pulse of electricity is discharged through a hydrogen-boron gas across two nesting cylindrical electrodes, transforming the gas into a thin sheath of hot, electrically conducting plasma. This sheath travels to the end of the inner electrode, where the magnetic fields produced by the currents pinch and twist the plasma into a tiny, dense ball. As the magnetic fields start to decay, they cause a beam of electrons to flow in one direction and a beam of positive ions (atoms that have lost electrons) to flow in the opposite direction. The electron beam heats the plasma ball, igniting fusion reactions between the hydrogen and boron; these reactions pump more heat and charged particles into the plasma. The energy in the ion beam can be directly converted to electricity—no need for conventional turbines and generators. Part of this electricity powers the next pulse, and the rest is net output.

A focus fusion reactor could be built for just $300,000, says Lerner, president of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics in New Jersey. But huge technical hurdles remain. These include increasing the density of the plasma so the fusion reaction will be more intense. (Conventional fusion experiments do not come close to the temperatures and densities needed for efficient hydrogen-boron fusion.) Still, the payoff could be huge: While mainstream fusion research programs are still decades from fruition, Lerner claims he requires just $750,000 in funding and two years of work to prove his process generates more energy than it consumes. “The next experiment is aimed at achieving higher density, higher magnetic field, and higher efficiency,” he says. “We believe it will succeed.”


From the focus fusion FAQ:

It is like a particle accelerator run in reverse. Such an electrical transformation can be highly efficient, probably around 80-90%. What is most important is that it is exceedingly cheap and compact. The whole apparatus of steam turbine and electrical generator are eliminated. A 20MW focus fusion reactor may cost around $500,000 and produce electricity for 1/20th of a cent per kWh. This is a hundred times less than current electric costs. Fuel costs will be negligible because a 20MW plant will require only twenty pounds of fuel a year.


UPDATE: [emails from a reader who has been following Focus fusion closely]
the power would be at about 0.2¢/kwh, not 1/20¢ (0.05¢). The generators would be from 5-20MW, depending on pulse rate (330 - 1320/sec.) The energy "profit" is actually from harvesting as current (via thousands of foil layers in the containment shell) the ~40% of output which occurs as X-rays. The alpha-beam pulse goes back into the capacitor bank to fire the next "shot", and the electron beam reheats the plasma.


From the multi-slide story board of how focus fusion works


1. The plasma sheet, carrying the current, is formed between the anode and cathode. It moves down the anode due to the interaction of the current and its magnetic field.

2. The plasma sheet bends inwards to the hole in the anode.
Plasma filaments are formed in counter rotating pairs.

3. The plasma sheet and filaments contract towards the center. The focus forms.
The filament pairs merge like a zipper. Energy is transferred from the outside to the central region

4. The plasma sheet and filaments continue contracting into the center

5. A rotating plasma vortex is formed in the center, carrying all the current



6. In the central vortex the filaments have formed one single rotating filament.

7. The filament forms a tight plasma helix

8. the helix starts to kink

9. And it becomes unstable and ...




10. ...knots itself up into a rotating plasmoid composed of plasma filaments.
The plasmoid, only microns across, contains the full energy that was fed into the device, in the ideal case

11. The magnetic field of the plasmoid causes it to shrink

12. The shrinking plasmoid rotates.
The electron beam that the plasmoid generates heats it up.

13. The temperature becomes high enough for some colliding protons and boron nuclei to overcome their electric repulsion

14. Protons and boron nuclei fuse and create unstable carbon-12 nuclei

15. The nucleus breaks up to form helium nuclei (alpha particles).
Energy is released as the kinetic energy of the alpha particles

16. The fast alpha particles heat the plasma and the fusion reactions occur faster and faster



17. An electric field creates a beam of fast ions (nuclei) that carry most of the fusion energy (shown in blue). An electron beam (shown in red) goes in the opposite direction

18. The plasmoid is evacuated by the beams

19. The energy in the ion beam is collected by a solenoid.
This direct conversion to electricity is very efficient and economical


Technical background on focus fusion.

Focus Fusion operates using a dense plasma focus (DPF) with hydrogen-born fuel. The fuel is in the form of decaborane (H14B10), a solid at room temperature which sublimates a gas when heated to moderate temperatures of around 100 C. As in any fusion reaction, when the hydrogen nuclei (protons) and boron-11 nuclei collide at high enough velocities, a nuclear reaction occurs. In this case, three helium nuclei (also called alpha particles) are produced, which stream off in a concentrated beam, confined by powerful magnetic field produced by the plasma itself.


FURTHER READING
Focus fusion is one of several non-Tokomak approaches to nuclear fusion


Time to Small Cost to Achieve Large scale chance
Concept Description Scale net energy Net Energy after small success Funded?

Plasma Focus 6 years $1M+ Sales X-scan 80% Y, $1.9m
Focus fusion website
Focus fusion US patent application
Working on a funded experiment with Chile 2006-2010
.

Bussard IEC Fusion 3-5 years $200 million 90% Y, $2m
My intro to Bussard fusion and update on prototype work
.

Tri-alpha Energy aka 8 years $75 million 60% Y, $50m
Colliding Beam fusion aka
Field Reversed Configuration
My review of the academic research before the funded stealth project
.

General Fusion aka 3-6 years $10-30 million 60% Y, $2m
Magnetized target fusion
Steam generated shock wave into spinning liquid metal
.

Multi-pole Ion beam
version of Bussard IEC 3-5 years $200 million 90% N
FP generation MIX IEC fusion
.

Koloc Spherical Plasma 10 years $25 million 80% N (self)
Attempt to create stable ball lightning plasma balls
In 2004, trying to generate 30-40cm plasma spheres


May 27, 2008

Reproducible Cold Fusion Excess Heat experiment ?


Photos and Annotations from Akito Takahashi taken at the Arata Cold fusion demonstration.

Yoshiaki Arata, a retired (now emeritus) physics professor at Osaka University, Japan, together with his co-researcher Yue-Chang Zhang, uses pressure to force deuterium (D) gas into an evacuated cell containing a sample of palladium dispersed in zirconium oxide (ZrO2–Pd). He claims the deuterium is absorbed by the sample in large amounts — producing what he calls dense or "pynco" deuterium — so that the deuterium nuclei become close enough together to fuse. Arata experiment has not been reproduced yet, but some observers believe that it seems reproducible.

After Arata had started the injection of gas, the temperature rose to about 70 °C, which according to Arata was due to both chemical and nuclear reactions. When the gas was shut off, the temperature in the centre of the cell remained significantly warmer than the cell wall for 50 hours. This, according to Arata, was due solely to nuclear fusion.

Rothwell also pointed out that Arata performed three other control experiments: hydrogen with the ZrO2–Pd sample (no lasting heat); deuterium with no ZrO2–Pd sample (no heating at all); and hydrogen with no ZrO2–Pd sample (again, no heating). Nevertheless, Rothwell added that Arata neglected to mention certain details, such as the method of calibration.




UPDATE: Follow up analysis on the amount of excess heat over time that was found




FURTHER READING
COLD FUSION UPDATE Blacklight power (a hydronos - new chemistry/physics company but one not connected to Dr Arata) claims to have a 50 KW prototype ready, which they are building factories for and expect to start deliverying and selling in 12-18 months


A twenty page description of the Arata work from 2003.

Pyncohydrogen (concentrated hydrogen described) from the Arata research paper


Paladium particle size is important


How the metallic lattice forces the gas molecules close together


The principle of the Arata reactor

1) Pycnohydrogen (ultrahigh density of hydrogen-lumps) never causes the nuclear fusion reaction.
2) Bulk metal never causes Pycnodeuterium, hence never causes the fusion reaction.
3) If materials easily form solid Pycnodeuterium, then they can cause strong solid nuclear fusion.
4) Solid Pycnodeuterium is by far the most excellent fuel for nuclear fusion, as compared with gaseous deuterium as used in thermonuclear fusion. Thermonuclear fusion requires an ultra high temperature plasma. Because a high temperature plasma requires high temperature, low density electrons, there is an excessively large Debye-shielding length and no neutralizing zone. The D-ion space charge becomes too large, just as in the vacuum state.

New Energy Times article from May 22, 2008

Photos taken at the demonstration Photos and Annotations from Akito Takahashi.

In other hot fusion news: Focus fusion has received $10 million in funding from Sweden.

Enhanced geothermal energy



Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), also sometimes called engineered geothermal systems, offer great potential for more than 100 GW of geothermal power which 40 times more than present geothermal power. Sandia national labs indicates ultimately geothermal global resources amount to 50,000 times the energy of all oil and gas resources in the world.

Ormat Technologies (775 person company, $1.8 billion market capitilization) is in talks wih Google for a possible geothermal project. Ormat is a leader in enhanced geothermal.

The EGS concept is to extract heat by creating a subsurface fracture system to which water can be added through injection wells. Creating an enhanced, or engineered, geothermal system requires improving the natural permeability of rock. Rocks are permeable due to minute fractures and pore spaces between mineral grains. Injected water is heated by contact with the rock and returns to the surface through production wells, as in naturally occurring hydrothermal systems. EGS are reservoirs created to improve the economics of resources without adequate water and/or permeability.


Ormat Technologies is featured in Cleanedge energy trends report
A 2008 survey by the Geothermal Energy Association predicted that 86 new projects underway in 12 states will more than double U.S. geothermal capacity to more than 6,300 megawatts (MW), enough to power some 6 million homes. [Probable completion over the next 5 years.] The U.S. is already the global leader in geothermal, with about 3,000 of the world’s 9,700 MW of current
generation. Overseas, Chevron dominates the landscape, with more than 1,200 MW of geothermal generation, mostly in Indonesia and the Philippines, accounting for more than 12% of the worlds geothermal electrical capacity.

Note: geothermal in the USA produced 16 billion kwh which is 2% of the nuclear power total and a few times more than solar power generated. Still if enhanced geothermal and other economical geothermal power can be added that would be a good and significant thing.

Project phases
Phase I: Identifying site, secured rights to resource, initial exploration drilling
Phase II: Exploratory drilling and confirmation being done; PPA not secured
Phase III: Securing PPA and final permits
Phase IV: Production Drilling Underway/Facility Under Construction
Unconfirmed: Proposed projects that may or may not have secured the rights to the
resource, but some exploration has been done on the site




Capacity Factor
Capacity Factor = Total Energy Produced / Energy Produced if at Full Capacity

Geothermal, hydroelectric and nuclear power provide baseload power 24 hours a day. Geothermal has an average plant uptime of 98 percent, while nuclear in the USA is 90% and coal is 70% uptime. Average geothermal electricity rates between 4-7 cents per kilowatt-hour.


Comparing Power Technologies
Technology Expected Capacity Factor (percent)
Coal 71
Nuclear 90
Geothermal 86-95
Wind 25-40
Solar 24-33
Natural Gas Combustion Turbine 30-35
Hydropower 30-35
Biomass 83


As geothermal technology progresses, resources that were once non-commercial are now being actively examined as feasible possibilities. Such resources might include the following:
• Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) – Often categorized under the antiquated term
‘Hot Dry Rock,’ EGS is thought by several experts to refer to any resource that requires artificial stimulation. This includes resources that have to be fully engineered, or ones that produce hydrothermal fluid, but sub-commercially. Regarding the latter, one expert states that, ‘As we go further, there might be projects that require more and more stimulation.’ Although EGS technology is still young and many aspects remain unproven, several projects are currently underway. If EGS technology proves commercially successful, it is expected to allow significantly increased extension of and production from existing fields, as well as utilization of geothermal energy in previously implausible locations.
• Hydrocarbon/Geothermal Co-Production – There is growing interest in producing
electricity from the thermal fluid that flows from several oil & gas wells. One project is currently underway in Wyoming, with several more in the planning stages. Geothermal co-production has been predicted to be capable of providing 1000-5000 MW to the 7 states in the Texas Gulf Coast Plain alone (McKenna et al., Oil & Gas Journal, September 5, 2005). Note that there is currently no geothermal electricity production in any of those states. Also, there appears to be renewed interest in production from the geopressured resources in Texas, Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico.
• Lower-Temperature/Flowrate Resources – With recent and continuing advances in
surface technology, new resources or those that were previously abandoned because of either sub-commercial temperatures or flow-rates are becoming increasingly viable options. Chena Hot Springs (Alaska) is currently producing 400 kW from a 165°F resource. Several projects aimed at utilizing similarly low-temperature or low-grade geothermal resources are currently in progress. Several in the industry predict that these advances will greatly increase the range of geothermal applications, some of which might include: waste heat stream recovery in industrial applications, small-scale electricity projects for communities or resorts (like Chena), and aquaculture.


Fracturing and multi-well technology has been developed for oilfield drilling


Geothermal resource map


FURTHER READING
Geothermal Energy Association

Geothermal technology part 1, 80 pages

Geothermal technology part 2, 89 pages

MIT had a study that 100GW of geothermal energy could be produced in the USA by 2050

May 25, 2008

Polymer containers could deliver enzymes to human cells

New Scientist reports on 200 nanometer polymer spheres that can get placed into living cells Nextbigfuture assumes that they could change the size to bigger to place larger amounts of material into cells. Human cells are about 20 microns across. Mitocondria are 1–10 micrometers across.

Aubrey de Grey has indicated :
if this works in vivo. It could certainly be used to deliver the microbial enzymes [of the SENS plan]. The SENS projects are working to identify what will break down indigestible junk inside cells which cause atherosclerosis and other diseases.

Lysosens project: identification of microbial enzymes capable of removing the recalcitrant wastes of damaged cellular components that our cells can’t break down and recycle on their own (cellular “junk”), and delivering these enzymes to the cellular “incinerator” (the lysosome).

So the polymer containers could be used to deliver identified enzymes to the cell.

The Mitichondria (Mitosens) project is making progress and there is alternative work from mainstream sources. The Sirtris molecule is 1,000 times more potent than resveratrol, and could lead to solutions for diseases of aging including cancer and diabetes, according to an article published in the journal Nature. Calorie restriction may operate via improving mitochondria function.