August 02, 2008

Simple and affordable defences against nuclear bombs and Katrina Hurricanes

A blast-wave overpressure of 5 pounds per square inch, which is associated with winds around 150 miles per hour, is enough to destroy wood-frame buildings and cause severe damage to brick apartment buildings. However, with simple and cheap construction improvements and retrofits it is possible to enable all wood-frame buildings to survive 5 PSI. Further construction improvements can increase the survivability of buildings and the people inside them.

There is an article that overviews the general concepts around re-inventing civil defense

Hurriquake nails add $15 to the price of a home and make a house 50% more resistant to a hurricane or strong winds (or over pressures from a nuke).

UPDATE: The nails fit in a modern nail gun

The Hurriquake nails have been widely available since 2006. They were only available in the Gulf region. Bostich, the manufacturer, added new production lines to meet nationwide demand. The nails are used in tens of thousands of homes since 2006.

The Hurriquake nail is widely available on and other hardware suppliers

The bottom section of the HurriQuake nail is circled with angled barbs that resist pulling out in wind gusts up to 170 mph. This "ring shank" stops halway up to leave the middle of the nail, which endures the most punishment during an earthquake, at its maximum thickness and strength. The blade-like facets of the nail's twisted-top -- the spiral shank -- keeps planks from wobbling, which weakens a joint. The
HurriQuake's head is also 25 percent larger than average to better resist counter-sinking and pulling through.

For purposes of very rough estimation, it is sometimes assumed that the radius of 5 pounds per square inch overpressure defines the circle for which the number of survivors inside would equal the number of fatalities outside, taking into account all the listed effects other than fallout. This would mean that the total number of early fatalities, other than from fallout, would be estimated as the population density multiplied by the area of this circle.

If every building could survive 5PSI then there would be no building failures for category 5 hurricanes or less and potentially no deaths outside the 5PSI radius of a nuclear blast for anyone inside a building. This would reduce the casualties from a nuclear bomb by half or more.

There is a new method of handling wood fibers so that cellulose fibres are undamaged. The mechanical tests shows undamaged cellulose paper has a tensile strength of 214 megapascals, making it stronger than cast iron (130 MPa) and almost as strong as structural steel (250 MPa). This would be a cheap way to increase the strength of construction material and further reduce the fatal blast radius. If cellustic fiber provided inexpensive reinforcement up to 20PSI, then the fatal blast radius for those inside buildings could be reduced to 35%. This would be five times lower fatal area or only 20% of the casualties.

As the technology becomes available and affordable continue to increase higher levels of robustness.

Level 1: Hurriquake nails and other cheap adjustments that are widely available now and in use for some new construction. Expect to get to 2-5 PSI and up to 10-15 resistant houses. Also need treatments for improved fire resistance. 50-70% casualty reduction.

Level 2: Use cellustic fiber that is almost up to the strength of steel (nanopaper made from wood), more steel framed construction, better concrete or carbon fiber, or graphene reinforcement. Stronger windows, doors OR monolithic domes for some new construction. Resistant PSI 10-25+. 60-85% casualty reduction. Add anti-radiation damage drugs (see the bottom of this article on new carbon nanotube based drugs that are 5000 times more effective.) Total 85-92% casualty reduction.

Level 3: Better materials (more advanced carbon nanotube, graphene reinforcement with hydrogen impregnated for radiation shielding) and designs. PSI 25-100+. 85-98% casualty reduction. Need anti-radiation gene therapy and anti-radiation drugs as the radiation casualties would be dominant.

Level 4: Molecular nanotechnology. PSI 1000+.
Integration of radiation to electricity systems Integrate room temperature superconductors for strong magnetic shielding. Rapid evacuation from utlity fog systems. Metamaterials that guide earthquakes shocks and other waves around buildings. 99.9%+ casualty reduction.

Buildings already provide substantial radiation shielding.

Shelter in Place: Shielding by Buildings

Buildings provide considerable protection from fallout.

- A brick building provides better protection than does a brick veneer building, which is better than that of a frame building.
- Multiple stories increase protection as well.
- The interior of a one-story building reduces exposure by 50 percent.
- A level below ground reduces exposure by 90 percent.
- Additional levels provide more shielding and increase the overall effectiveness above and below ground.
- The five-story building illustration, below, shows that the middle floors provide better shielding than the ground floor because fallout that covers the ground emits gamma radiation along with that on the exterior surfaces of the building.
- Moving to a higher floor in the building increases the distance from the ground source but, at some point, increases exposure from the source on the rooftop.
- The best option is to move to the center of the building away from the exterior walls (and below ground, if possible) or to a middle floor above ground.
- Note how the position in the building and surroundings affect the percentage by which exposure is reduced in various locations.

A new drug tested on mice and monkeys provides protection from radiation exposure.

Gene therapy has been shown to increase radiation survival from 50% to 80%

Dosage is translated to casualties on a linear scale which measures the probability of the victim dying of radiation sickness. At 250 REM, the number of deaths is assumed to be effectively zero; note that small children, the elderly, and those with existing medical problems could conceivably die at this dosage. 250 REM is sufficient to give most people mild to moderate radiation sickness. At 600 REM, death is assumed to be virtually certain, especially with the probable scarcity of medical care in the wake of an attack. Massive attacks on a small area such as a missile base can produce 600+ REM fallout up to several hundred miles away.

Medical management (treating the injured) is important to reduce fatalities. So it makes sense to harden medical facilities to 100 PSI or higher. Other facilities to harden are power generation.

Monolithic domes are inherently strong and with better concrete can achieve 100PSI resistance.

Advancing technology means that weapons are getting more and more powerful and eventually more nations and groups will have access to nuclear weapons or more powerful weapons. It would foolish to assume that we must safely walk a tight rope without a safety net. A moderate increase in building costs will mean more survivable buildings that will save lives from severe weapons and warfare.

When carbon nanotubes are cheap after 2015 or so, then it will easy to increase buildings to 100-4000PSI strength while maintain most of the aesthetic look.

Nuclear weapons effects

Strengthen buildings and be able to shift the reduced fatalities over to the higher PSI level distances.

Having an intact structure will save more people from the blast and reduce the radiation that they are exposed to. Both immediate radiation and fallout.

By reducing the fatal radius for nuclear weapons means it would take 4 times, 20 times or more nuclear bombs to threaten the same percentage of the population.

Wikipedia's entry on bunkers

Product literature and code compliance for Hurriquake nails

The Hurriquake nails help against earthquakes too

On Page 265 of applications for Carbon Nanotubes

functionalized with additional hydrogen species, the composite materials could serve as radiation protection from secondary radiation events. Imparting nanotubes into the midplane or on the surface could serve as radiation protection or as protection against lightning strikes.

Discussion of materials for shielding against ionizing radiation. The more hydrogen in the materials the better the shielding.

Lithium hydride is a popular shield material for nuclear power reactors, but is generally not useful for other functions. The graphite nanofiber materials heavily impregnated with hydrogen or any composite thereof may well represent a viable multifunctional component in future space structures. In this case study of
the graphite nanofiber, hydrogen content is ~ 68% wt while in laboratory in single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) hydrogen storage has been achieved ~ 10% wt.

Revolutionary methods of radiation shielding

(1) Active (electromagnetic) shield concepts:
• Electric fields.
• Magnetic fields (attached coils).
• Magnetic fields (deployed large-diameter coils or shields bearing magnets).
• Plasma methods (expand magnetic field, produce electric field).
Common elements:
• Many previous studies of physics for most; some studies of engineering.
• Requires space power to develop fields; requires superconducting magnets.
• To shield against GCRs one must have either very high fields or very extended fields.
• ∫ L BXdl
> 1,000 G km or V > 10**10 V.
Proposed figures of merit/discriminators:
• ∫ L BXdl
> 1,000 G km or V > 10**10 V.
• Smallest stored energies in field.
• Minimized effects of fields on crew and equipment (<2,000 G).
• Perceived practicality.
• Hazards.

(3) Novel materials concepts:
• Quasi-crystal H absorbers.
• Palladium, alloys as H absorbers.
• Carbon nano-material absorbers.
• Solid H.
• Metal hydrides.
• Borated CH2 and other compounds.
Common elements:
• Mass shielding.
• Goal is lowest average atomic mass achievable (polyethylene, CH2 is current “standard”).
• Dual use would modify the lowest average atomic mass rule.
• Neutron absorption.
• Structural or other use.
• Volumetric considerations.
Proposed figures of merit/discriminators:
• Average atomic mass number.
• Mass fraction of H.
• Dual use as construction material, neutron absorber, fuel, etc.
• Perceived practicality (fabrication, mechanical properties).
• Hazards

There is currently a 9 month study that started Jan 2008 to see if a new drug that is 5000 times more effective at preventing radiation injury in mice will work on humans.

The drug is based on single-walled carbon nanotubes, hollow cylinders of pure carbon that are about as wide as a strand of DNA. To form NTH, Rice scientists coat nanotubes with two common food preservatives -- the antioxidant compounds butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) -- and derivatives of those compounds.

"The same properties that make BHA and BHT good food preservatives, namely their ability to scavenge free radicals, also make them good candidates for mitigating the biological affects that are induced through the initial ionizing radiation event," Tour said.

Affordable (for wide deployment) and better radiation shielding and far more effective drugs could greatly reduce the deaths from ionizing and fallout radiation.

1987 Nuclear war survival skills book (300+ pages) by Kresson H Kearny

Some interesting tidbits. The overpressure from the Nagasaki air blast peaked at 65 PSI for buildings on the ground.

A lot of the protection was based on crude materials like lumber and dirt. By looking to upgrade the survivability of our regular houses and office buildings now and in the future, we need materials that people are happy to live and work in. Graphene with hydrogen impregnation reinforcing polymers could provide protection with thinner material, so that it would not look like we are living in bunkers even when 4-6 inch thick wall might be reducing radiation by 16 times or more.

Very high strength concrete mixtures (greater than 10,000 psi) have been around for decades.

Typical concrete mixes have about 4,000 psi. Reinforced concrete structures, depending on the type of concrete mix and steel employed, can support 300 to 500 times their combined weight and behave, according to general mechanics, as a single structural entity.

A team from the University of Tehran, competing in a contest sponsored by the American Concrete Institute, demonstrated several blocks of concretes with abnormally high compressive strengths between 50,000 and 60,000 PSI at 28 days. The blocks appeared to use an aggregate of steel fibres and quartz – a mineral with a compressive strength of 160,000 PSI, much higher than typical high-strength aggregates such as granite (15,000-20,000 PSI).

iCrete, which is now in common use in New York and is being used for Freedom tower, has a PSI strength over 14000 PSI.

Polymer concrete is concrete which uses polymers to bind the aggregate. Polymer concrete can gain a lot of strength in a short amount of time. For example, a polymer mix may reach 5000 psi in only four hours. Polymer concrete is generally more expensive than conventional concretes. (May be used in regular wood and steel formwork)

A monolithic dome made from 4000 PSI concrete would be able to easily survive 300mph winds which would put 1094 PSI pressure on a 100 foot diameter, 35 foot high dome. The shell is allowed 2,394 psi. The safety margin is actual three to four times.
Using iCrete a monolithic dome then the shell dome of that size could take 8379 PSI which is winds up to 900-1000 mph [overpressure PSI of about 50]. Using superconcrete with steel fibres and quartz the dome shell could take around 32000 PSI, which is winds up to 18000 mph or around 100 PSI overpressure.

Peak overpressure Maximum Wind Speed
50 psi 934 mph
20 psi 502 mph
10 psi 294 mph
5 psi 163 mph
2 psi 70 mph

Note that any higher construction costs are offset by lower maintenance costs and lower insurance for individuals and society. Monolithic domes can apply for home insurance discounts because of lower risks for fires and damage.

August 01, 2008

Carnival of Space Week 65

Carnival of space 65 is up at 21st century waves

Music of the spheres talks about solar power satellites

This site contributed an article about the latest and future thermoelectrics which has a space related angle for better RTGs

Colony Worlds talks about likely iron on Mars

There is a LOT more. Go check out the Space Carnival.

Confining light to 10 nanometers matching size of future lithography

Berkeley University has compressed light to 10 nanometers This will make possible smaller optical fibers, but it could lead to huge advances in the field of optical computing. Many researchers want to link electronics and optics, but light and matter make strange bedfellows, Oulton said, because their characteristic sizes are on vastly different scales. However, confining light can actually alter the fundamental interaction between light and matter. Ideally, optics researchers would like to cram light down to the size of electron wavelengths to force light and matter to cooperate.

Oulton had been working on combining plasmonics and semiconductors, where these losses are even more pronounced, when he came up with an idea to achieve simultaneously strong confinement of the light and mitigate the losses. His theoretical "hybrid" optical fiber consists of a very thin semiconductor wire placed close to a smooth sheet of silver.

"It's really a very simple geometry, and I was surprised that no one had come up with it before," Oulton said.

Oulton ran computer simulations to test this idea. He found that not only could the light compress into spaces only tens of nanometers wide, but it could travel distances nearly 100 times greater in the simulation than by conventional surface plasmonics alone. Instead of the light moving down the center of the thin wire, as the wire approaches the metal sheet, light waves are trapped in the gap between them, the researchers found.

Oulton believes the hybrid technique of confining light could have huge ramifications. It brings light closer to the scale of electrons' wavelengths, meaning that new links between optical and electronic communications might be possible.

This idea could be an important step on the road to an optical computer, a machine where all electronics are replaced with optical parts, Oulton said. The construction of a compact optical transistor is currently a major stumbling block in the progress toward fully optical computing, and this technique for compacting light and linking plasmonics with semiconductors might help clear this hurdle, the researchers said.

July 31, 2008

Superpower China in spite of aging population and pollution

The Washington Post had an article forecasting problems for China because of an aging population and too much pollution. Those are problems but they are not automatic killers of economic progress.

The Ukraine has had 7% GDP growth in spite of low birth rates and an average of 39.6 and a falling population. The population 65 years and over was already 16.6% in 2006.

China has a median age of 33, a higher birth rate and slightly increasing population. China 65 years and over population is 7.7% in 2007.

china's 2030 population is expected to be 1.6 billion The population in 2040-2050 could stabilize at around 1.5 billion to 1.6 billion. This means the over 65 population would be around the current level of the Ukraine. 334 million over 60 in 2050 and 100 million age 80 or older. So 230 million between 60 and 80. Assuming an even distribution. 57 million would be between 60 and 65. The over 65 level would be 17-18%.

The one child policy is already getting weakened, so China will likely see a moderate increase in birth rates between now and 2050.

China's currency will likely strengthen to the level of its calculated purchasing power parity

The International Monetary Fund forecasts that China will be at $9730 per capita PPP GDP in 2013. There are no forecasts for China's economic wheels to come off in the next 5 years. China would then be near the per capita wealth of the Ukraine ($10868) and still be at an average younger age with better demographics.

Air Pollution in England and The United States in 1950s and 1960s
There were substantial air inversions where air pollution killed hundreds and even thousands in New York and London during the 1950's and 1960s

In the United States between 1970 and 2006, citizens enjoyed the following reductions in annual pollution emissions:

carbon monoxide emissions fell from 197 million tons to 89 million tons
nitrogen oxide emissions fell from 27 million tons to 19 million tons
sulfur dioxide emissions fell from 31 million tons to 15 million tons
particulate emissions fell by 80%
lead emissions fell by more than 98%

This means that the USA had two to five times worse for most air pollutants in the 1950s and 1960s.

During the 1950's and 1960s the USA had higher economic growth.

Air pollution is bad. This site is not arguing in favor of air pollution. However, the reason to stop air pollution is to save in China's case 1-2 million lives per year and improve the health and lower the medical costs of those made sick by air pollution.

China is making large investments in cleaning up its environment and energy sources.

China efforts for an improved environment are substantial

China's 2020 energy source mix should be similar to the current energy mix in the United States (50% coal for electricity, the rest not coal with a lot of hydro, nuclear and wind.)

By 2020, China will be around the per capita economic level of todays Poland up to the level of Portugal.

So the statements that China will have too large an aging population before it becomes wealthy enough to handle it do not hold up to analysis.

China is not guaranteed to succeed, but the problems that they face are not insurmountable.

Latest economic projection for China by this site

Details coal related mass deaths from the London fog and the Buffalo Creek mountain top removal sludge dam break.

Exercise Pills

Sedentary mice that got the drug AICAR daily for four weeks were placed on a treadmill, they were able to run an average of about 550 meters, 44% farther than mice that had received only a placebo. AICAR tricks the body to react as if exercise had happened.

Another drug GW1516 combined with exercise gives mice an advantage. After five weeks of training, mice that got the drug were able to run for more than three hours, improving 68% more than mice that received only the training.

When the researchers dissected the mice that got the drug, they found that the number of high-efficiency muscle fibers had increased 29%.

These drugs could enhance the health of less active people and increase the health benefits to those who are active. The GW1516 pill can enhance exercise endurance so that a person could workout for longer sessions.

There is more on gene doping to create more natural EPO for higher endurance and IGF-1 for more muscles.


Trading Futures
Nano Technology
Netbook     Technology News
Computer Software
Future Predictions

MIT cost effective solar power storage and solar power roundup

EETimes reports that MIT has a new catalyst that makes electrolysis nearly 100% efficient in a cost effective way. This would make storage of intermittent power from solar and wind more cost effective. CNET also has coverage

MIT had recently developed special glass panels that concentrate light 40 times standard sunlight before delivery directly to the cell. They expect this technology to be commercialized in three years.

The system is so simple to manufacturer that the inventors expect it to be deployed within 3 years at little cost over standard window costs.

In other solar power news, from the New Scientist magazine, a new material could harness both visible and infrared photons, so it has a theoretical maximum efficiency of 63%, it creators say, and should give significantly better real-world performance. Current solar cells absorb visible light and have a maximum efficiency of about 40%. They add titanium and vanadium atoms into a conventional semiconductor, altering its electronic properties to create the intermediate energy level. It may prove challenging to insert enough titanium or vanadium to form a properly functioning intermediate energy level in the semiconductor.

The hard part of getting water to split is not the hydrogen -- platinum as a catalyst works fine for the hydrogen. But platinum works very poorly for oxygen, making you use much more energy," said MIT chemistry professor Daniel Nocera. "What we have done is made a catalyst work for the oxygen part without any extra energy. In fact, with our catalyst almost 100 percent of the current used for electrolysis goes into making oxygen and hydrogen."

MIT's patented formulation of cobalt phosphate was dissolved in water. When the electrical current is passed through it to initiate electrolysis, the catalyst attached itself to the oxygen electrode to increase its efficiency. When the electrical current was turned off, the cobalt phosphate dissolved back into water.

Nickel oxide catalysts are currently used to boost the efficiency of electrolyzers, and they worked equally well in MIT's formulation, Nocera acknowledged. He added that the toxicity of nickel oxide forces the use of expensive, hermetically-sealed water containers. MIT's patented catalyst formulation is "green," Nocera said, and can be used in inexpensive open containers.

Thin film solar continuing to improve and likely to sustain 50% year over year increases in deployment for five more years

Two genes found that make Schizophrenia 15 times more likely

Genetics is believed to be a main cause for 70% of schizophrenia.

If gene therapy can fix the genetic factors then schizophrenia could be reduced by 70%. This would save tens of billions of dollars each year in the USA and hundreds of billions of dollars around the world. It would reduce homelessness by up to 20% and reduce the number of people in prison and in hospitals.

Schizophrenia is a devastating disorder for most people who are afflicted, and very costly for families and society. The overall U.S. 2002 cost of schizophrenia was estimated to be $62.7 billion, with $22.7 billion excess direct health care cost ($7.0 billion outpatient, $5.0 billion drugs, $2.8 billion inpatient, $8.0 billion long-term care). (source: Analysis Group, Inc.)

The approximate number of people in the United States suffering from:

Schizophrenia: Over 2.2 million people
Multiple Sclerosis: 400,000 people
Insulin-dependent Diabetes: 350,000 people
Muscular Dystrophy: 35,000 people

The Prevalance Rate for schizophrenia is approximately 1.1% of the population over the age of 18 (source: NIMH) or, in other words, at any one time as many as 51 million people worldwide suffer from schizophrenia, including;

6 to 12 million people in China (a rough estimate based on the population)
4.3 to 8.7 million people in India (a rough estimate based on the population)
2.2 million people in USA
285,000 people in Australia
Over 280,000 people in Canada
Over 250,000 diagnosed cases in Britain

Approximately 200,000 individuals with schizophrenia or manic-depressive illness are homeless, constituting one-third of the approximately 600,000 homeless population (total homeless population statistic based on data from Department of Health and Human Services).


6% are homeless or live in shelters
6% live in jails or prisons
5% to 6% live in Hospitals
10% live in Nursing homes
25% live with a family member
28% are living independently
20% live in Supervised Housing (group homes, etc.)

Environmental factors that increase the risk of schizophrenia.

July 30, 2008

Hybrid plane with double Prius fuel efficiency.

Mark D Moore of NASA had a presentation at the Electric aircraft conference and described a hybrid plane that could achieve 720 mile range and 100mpg with a speed of 80 knots (92.2 mph)

The plane could fly from San Francisco, CA to Salt Lake City, Utah in less than 8 hours (using 8 gallons of gas) or from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less 4 hours (using 4 gallons of gas).

The proposal is to slightly modify a newly introduced electric sailplane by having several small electric engines for more safety and to add a compact combustion engine for more range.

The electric sailplanes and motorized gliders were discussed on this site as 438 mpg equivalent super-commuter planes with 100 mile range.

Electric planes are flying now. The Pipestrel electric glider plane exists now. The lightweight gas engines exist now.

The Pipestrel Taurus Electro, motorized electric glider plane, flying in the air. More photos of the Pipestrel Electro are here

The Pipestrel Electro will soon have a better continuous operation electric engine.

Lightweight gas engines are listed here.

The engine for the Raytheon Killer Bee UAV only weighs 16 lbs and can get up to 25HP.

The Revetec X4V2 is 105 kg and gets up to 87HP.

RadMax rotary engine is 42 lbs and 40 HP.

Integrating working engines with working electric planes. Iterate designs and build to perfect but the engineering is very close to creating working prototypes. It will then be a matter of scaling up production.

There are many experimental electric plane designs

All electric planes will get better range with expected improved technology

The small engines suitable for these light planes are also ideal for powering the DARPA exoskeleton, which would make real life iron men. Strength is boosted ten times.

CNET had coverage of the Pipestrel electro airplane

The glider weighs little more than 700 pounds and costs $133,000.

Richard Jones, a technical fellow at Boeing Phantom Works. The research group is designing a plane-car hybrid to travel up to 300 miles at a time. Jones believes that by 2030, precision navigation systems could make it easier to pilot a compact plane than to drive a car.

Engineer Greg Stevenson displayed a two-cycle diesel engine that weighs 18 pounds and can run on biofuels.

The Speculist has a take on making the electric/hybrid flying planes convert into cars by having the wing section detach. The electric/hybrid car would be like the lightweight Aptera three wheel car.

More Performance and cognitive enhancement

Popular Science looks at Juicing 3.0

Better nootropic cognitive enhancers coming
Modafinil is but one of a dozen or so “neural enhancers” currently available in pharmacies that scientists say could enhance athletic performance. Popping FDA-approved Parkinson’s meds and antidepressants might not seem like cheating, but studies suggest that a positive mental attitude improves mental focus, contributing to superior performance. Extra serotonin may foster a more positive mood, while both dopamine and norepinephrine seem to enhance motor control and muscle reaction time.

“Within the next few years, we’ll see the second generation of these drugs,” says Mark Gordon, an endocrinologist in Los Angeles. “Like all second-generation drugs, they will be stronger, longer-lasting, and have fewer side effects.” The pharmaceutical industry makes a fortune on these drugs, so nearly every major company has a brain booster or two in the works.

Myostatin Update
In lab tests, two injections of one mysostatin blocker produced a permanent 50 percent muscle gain in mice. “Just about every major pharmaceutical company is developing a myostatin-blocking drug to treat muscle-wasting diseases like muscular dystrophy,” Lee says. Because these medicines will use traditional antibody-based drug-delivery methods, a myostatin inhibitor could be on the market in five years.

Gene Doping
“Developing techniques that really work has been much harder than people first thought,” says Theodore Friedmann, director of the Human Gene Therapy Program at the University of California at San Diego and a consultant for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). There have been a few successes with gene therapy—in 2000, scientists “cured” severe combined-immune-deficiency syndrome in nine infants. It may take five years to work out issues for reliable enhancement.

Stem cell therapy and Engineered Stem cells
The potential uses of stem-cell therapy seem endless: from treating cancer and neurological diseases, to increasing muscle mass and bone density in the weak, to cultivating new organs in petri dishes.

“We can already make adult stem cells form muscle,” says Chris Evans, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. “But how to deliver stem cells to the appropriate muscle, and how to get that muscle to integrate these newcomers and gain additional function, remains a mystery.” Scientists expect this barrier to fall in a decade.

Similarly stem cells can be made to form brain cells.

Getting into the Zone
Athletes get the “in-the-zone” feeling where they have the sense that they can accomplish anything. When Boston Celtic Larry Bird talked about the game seeming to actually slow down during crunch time, helping him to read defenses more clearly and feel more fleet-footed, he was probably experiencing a natural dopamine high. Dopamine increases muscle-reaction speed and alters the perception of time. But these flow states, as they’re known among psychologists, are probably triggered by a surge of several mindscrambling, euphoria-inducing, reflex-quickening neurochemicals, such as norepinephrine and serotonin.

In 2004, neuroscientist Arne Dietrich, then at the Georgia Institute of Technology, identified anandamine—the body’s version of THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana—as the chemical most likely responsible for flow states. This theory received a boost this spring, when scientists at the University of Bonn in Germany found elevated levels of endorphins in the brains of test subjects. These molecules are too big to penetrate the blood-brain barrier on their own, so the current thinking is that anandamine ferries them in and that it’s the endorphins that provide the actual high. Still, most scientists think there are other neurochemicals in play, and figuring out the exact combination may take years.

Powering exoskeletons and other vehicles: Revolutionary electric and fuel engines

The highest power to weight ratio electric or combustion engines could be used to power the Sarcos exoskeleton [as well as enable radically more efficient planes, cars, motorcycles and scooters].

The Sarcos exoskeleton just needs a good powersource and engine to power the hydraulics for it to enhance the strength and endurance of someone who wears it by ten times

It should be possible for someone with the untethered Sarcos exoskeleton to carry and use a minigun A M134 7.62 minigun weighs 190 lbs (60 pounds for the gun and 130 lbs for 1500 rounds of ammo)

The gun used in Terminator 2, Matrix (mounted on helicopter) and other movies. In real life used in Vietnam for firing out of helicopters.

The XM312 50 caliber gun could also be carried and used by one soldier in exoskeleton armor It delivers lethal and suppressive fire out to 2,000 meters.

New electric and combustion engines could be up to the task. It may be necessary to make half size versions of these engines to reduce the overall weight. The person wearing the exoskeleton can carry 100-200kg without tiring so having 60-100kg of weight for the power supply is doable.

The electric engine could be recharged with a solar cell tent or generators at a base camp. The gas engine could get refueled from Humvees or MRAPs or other vehicles.

Besides the weigh of engine the batteries of fuel weight needs to be considered.

A 13.2 kg, 30KW (40HP) electric engine made by Pipestrel

This electric engine is being used to make hyperfuel efficient motorized glider planes

Revetec,a small Australia company, has created an engine that is 50% smaller, 50% lighter, has 50% lower emissions and is cheaper to manufacture than a conventional internal combustion engine of the same horsepower. It doubles the fuel economy.

The X4v2 petrol engine achieved a repeatable Brake Specific Fuel Consumption (BSFC) figure of 212g/kW-h (38.6% engine efficiency) with a best figure of 207g/kW-h (39.5%) at our requested target test of 2,000rpm with a BMEP load of 450kpa (approximately 75% load) and an air/fuel ratio of 15.2:1 using 98 RON petrol and a 10:1 compression ratio. We also achieved a BSFC figure under the same rev and load conditions using an air/fuel ratio of 14.5:1 of 238g/kW-h (34.4%).

At 2000 rpm the engine generated 18kw and at higher rpm up to 65kw [24-87HP] The full load torque ranged from 132.9 to 176.1 Nm between 1500 and 3500 rpm.

The production engine weight for the X4V2 is 105 kg.

The engine for the killer Bee UAV only weighs 16 lbs and can get up to 25HP. Needs to be built with higher endurance as it needs overhaul every 300 hours.

Power to weight ratio

Projected advances in engine and power storage to 2020

Preventing flu deaths

Researchers from Imperial College in London, England, isolated the receptor in the lungs that triggers the immune overreaction to flu.

With the receptor identified, a therapy can be developed that will bind to the receptor, preventing the deadly immune response. Also, by targeting a receptor in humans rather than a particular strain of flu, therapies developed to exploit this discovery would work regardless of the rapid mutations that beguile flu vaccine producers every year.

The flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people in an average year with epidemics reaching 1 to 2 million deaths (other than the spanish flu which was more severe

This discovery could lead to treatments which turn off the inflammation in the lungs caused by influenza and other infections, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Immunology. The virus is often cleared from the body by the time symptoms appear and yet symptoms can last for many days, because the immune system continues to fight the damaged lung. The immune system is essential for clearing the virus, but it can damage the body when it overreacts if it is not quickly contained.

The immune overreaction accounts for the high percentage of young, healthy people who died in the vicious 1918 flu pandemic. While the flu usually kills the very young or the sickly and old, the pandemic flu provoked healthy people’s stronger immune systems to react even more profoundly than usual, exacerbating the symptoms and ultimately causing between 50 and 100 million deaths world wide. These figures from the past make the new discovery that much more important, as new therapies based on this research could prevent a future H5N1 bird flu pandemic from turning into a repeat of the 1918 Spanish flu.

In the new study, the researchers gave mice infected with influenza a mimic of CD200, or an antibody to stimulate CD200R, to see if these would enable CD200R to bring the immune system under control and reduce inflammation.

The mice that received treatment had less weight loss than control mice and less inflammation in their airways and lung tissue. The influenza virus was still cleared from the lungs within seven days and so this strategy did not appear to affect the immune system's ability to fight the virus itself.

The researchers hope that in the event of a flu pandemic, such as a pandemic of H5N1 avian flu that had mutated to be transmissible between humans, the new treatment would add to the current arsenal of anti-viral medications and vaccines. One key advantage of this type of therapy is that it would be effective even if the flu virus mutated, because it targets the body's overreaction to the virus rather than the virus itself.

In addition to the possible applications for treating influenza, the researchers also hope their findings could lead to new treatments for other conditions where excessive immunity can be a problem, including other infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases and allergy.

July 29, 2008

The future of fast long range commuting: 438 mpg Commuter UAV

A better and faster path to efficient personal flight is emerging now. UAV guidance can fly and land planes without human pilots. There are new two seat electric planes emerging with 100+ mph speed and 438 mpg equivalent efficiency. This could be the safer and more efficient replacement system for long commutes, that is faster and better than robotic electric cars. This site has previously discussed transforming transportation with robotically driven electric cars in cities. Robotic UAV piloting would be added to create a scalable, environmentally friendly transportation system. The planes and the passengers could have parachutes or advanced airbag systems in case of failures. The lower speed of 100 mph would be comparable to car safety challenges. The glider like characteristics would make safety issues far easier to deal with as well.

The World's cheapest autopilot is about $110 add a FMA Co-Pilot for stabilization, a Hobbico SuperStar plane, some servos, and a 6-Channel radio system, and you have all the parts for a $440 unmanned aerial vehicle.

Security is not that much of issue for light robotic electric planes
The planes cannot carry much weight. If one were to load them with explosives then one would get similar effect with several large, cheaper robotic model planes.

Large RC model planes as big or bigger than as a person. Remote control model planes with 50kg of payload are not uncommon.

RC model plane with 21 foot wingspan

Security is not radically reduced and not changed much from carbombs.

The light gliders could have assisted short takeoff launching systems, which would be easy because they are so light.

The Pipestrel electric plane can takeoff with less than 100 meters of runway. An enhanced launching system could reduce the takeoff distance to 50 meters or less. The electric planes have to reach less than 100mpg to takeoff.

UAVs prove that robotic flight can be safe.

Longer range in Future
Improved electrical power sources will eventually allow longer range and higher speeds for electric planes, which would eliminate the need for more expensive high speed trains and transform long range aviation. High speed rail takes many years and billions of dollars to build.

Popular Science discusses a contest to make 100 mpg personal airplanes.

Greg Cole is building a two-seat electric plane called the Goshawk that he estimates will travel at an average speed of 102 mph and get the equivalent of 438 mpg.
The biggest obstacle is packing enough on board. Cole’s Goshawk can hold only enough lithium-ion batteries for a one-hour flight. This is still 100 mile range which is enough for a fast commute, especially with a battery swap/recharge upon landing.

Greg Coles company is Windward Performance, which makes the $41,000 Sparrowhawk sailplane.

The Goshawk was shown at the 2008 electric airplane symposium. the Goshawk would cruise at 115 knots on 21 horsepower.

And later in 2008, Slovenian plane-maker Pipistrel will begin selling its Taurus Electro, a glider that uses an electric motor on takeoff. “Electric propulsion is where it’s at,” Moore says. The clearest benefit is efficiency. Whereas piston engines extract about 20 percent of the energy in gas, electric motors use at least 90 percent of the power stored in batteries.

The Pipestrel battery-powered, self-launching motorglider would allow climbing to 6000 feet in a side-by-side seating, two-place aircraft on only 70 cents worth of electricity, soaring at a 40:1 glide ratio, and then recharging in less than 2 hours.

The Pipestrel motorglider would be powered by the AK30K016 electric motor, which weighs 14 kg, generates 30kw, 1800 RPM, 200Nm at 95% efficiency.

The Pipestrel motorized glider has 46kg of lithium batteries that store 6kwh of power.

Second engine is even lighter and made for continuous operation.

Plenty of Space in the system for all commuters

Consider the example of Toronto, which has 16 lanes for some highway sections (including feeder highways)

The area and density of Toronto:
City 630 km² (243.2 sq mi)
City 2,503,281
Density 3,972/km² (10,287.4/sq mi)

So for each cubic kilometer if everyone had a flying electric plane and had them all
flying at the same time. Assuming even one per child.
40 levels (25 meters between elevations, 11 story building in between each level)
100 planes on each square kilometer level. 10 rows of 10 planes. 100 meters between each plane.
A football field in between planes.
Only one cubic kilometer layer. Nothing flying below 1000 feet (except when landing or taking off) or above 6000 feet. Higher levels for larger planes.
Plenty of volume for each plane. Everyone in a car would gridlock the city. Travel in different directions can easily be split.

A fully utilized electric plane commuter system would be like a very sparse and roomy version of the 5th element. Plus the vehicles look more light plane like instead of like cars.

Even more space with less density out in the burbs and metro areas.
Urban 1,749 km² (675.3 sq mi)
Metro 7,125 km² (2,751 sq mi)
Urban 4,753,120
Metro 5,555,912

Overcrowding of electric planes will not be a problem for a long time, because it has to get popular and the planes have to be built and the factories for the planes have to be built. (decades)
Any building to building service would require vertical hover capable versions.
Parking would be an issue well before.

Licensed pilots would be a stepping stone situation until robotic flight is mainstream. Although good robotic would be the preferred option to make this the safest high volume transportation alternative.

Sport pilot licenses would be enough. 3 hours of dual training over 60 days and 20 hours of flight time.

Once someone was flying themselves for commuting or other purpose, then racking up the flight hours for a private pilot license would be easy.

There are almost 250,000 general aviation planes in the USA

So electric and hybrid planes in the $40,000-140,000 range will further expand those numbers. High volumes could bring the price down and numbers of these planes up. The growth could be faster than electric cars and closely trace the volume of hybrid cars.

Micropilot is leader in small UAV autopilots

- World’s smallest UAV autopilot; 28 grams, 4 cm by 10 cm
- GPS waypoint navigation with altitude and airspeed hold
- Completely independent operation including autonomous takeoff, bungee launch, hand launch and landing

The US Army is starting an ambitious UAV procurement program.

Current greener concrete

This site has reported on new concrete that is in development by Calera and Carbon Sense Solutions which would absorb CO2 from the atmosphere instead of releasing CO2 into the air.

The current green concrete technology that is being deployed is iCrete which produces 40% less greenhouse gases and is strongest concrete ever used in New York

33% of China's carbon footprint is for exports

33% of China's carbon footprint is to make exports. Most of the exports go to developed countries like the USA, Europe, Canada and Japan.

Matching the model to the dataset allowed the team to calculate that, in 2005, export sectors generated 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – 33% of China's emissions. Data is not yet available for more recent years. The calculation was done by Christopher Weber of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and colleagues.

Latest on possible war with Iran

Op ed in New York Times by Benny Morris, suggests Israel will almost surely strike Iran in the next 4-7 months. Benny Morris is a professor of Middle Eastern history at Ben-Gurion University, is the author, most recently, of “1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War.”

Steve Forbes opinion is online here.

The Israelis feel the window of opportunity to destroy or seriously disrupt Iran’s nuclear ambitions is fast closing. There is a very real possibility that if Barack Obama wins in November, the Israelis will take action before he is inaugurated on January 20. If McCain wins, the Jewish state will probably wait a few months longer to see what will unfold with his administration.

UPDATE: Nobody said this to me directly but I get the feeling from my talks that if the sanctions don't work, Israel is going to strike Iran," an attendee at the meeting quoted Obama as saying, according to ABC.

Technical analysis of any potential strike.

Ben-Ari and Long agree that Israel could very likely dismantle the Iranian nuclear program from the air. What comes after that—diplomatically, financially and strategically—remains open to debate. But the quality of Iran's antiaircraft equipment may drive the debate as much as the pace of any uranium enrichment project. Russia has indicated it is willing to sell its most sophisticated missile
system, the S-300P (NATO designation), to Iran. If Israeli military planners see a future threat looming that they cannot counter, a near-term strike might look more attractive.

From the UK guardian

Israel has always believed that negotiations with Iran were doomed to failure and that the ruling clerics had made a strategic decision to go nuclear which they would not abandon.

Israeli officials had hoped the Bush administration would take action, but they now have doubts and are considering their own unilateral military options.

Those options are limited. Israeli planes would have to fly a long way to reach their targets, presuming Jordan would not give its approval for overflights. The strikes would be aimed at deeply buried targets, with no certainty that all Iran's nuclear facilities are known to Israeli intelligence. The strikes could spur Iran's nuclear ambitions while failing to hobble them.

But Israel's government believes it has no choice but to strike in the hope of slowing down the programme, even if it has to strike again and again to keep it in check. It is derisive about Iran's claims to be pursuing a purely peaceful energy generation scheme, seeing Tehran's nuclear ambitions as an existential threat and for that reason, a government adviser said recently, the standards of proof are lower.

Iran has begun a new charm offensive to head off, or to mitigate, possible new international economic sanctions following its latest refusal to suspend, or even slow down its uranium enrichment program.

Detecting, preventing and more effectively treating Alzheimers

PET scans could detect Alzheimer's as early as 10 years before people show symptoms of the disease, allowing them to begin treatment earlier.

If the disease is detected ten years in advance it provides a lot of time for treatment and lifestyle change to slow or possibly prevent the occurence of the disease. Plus more and more drugs are being found that can reverse Alzheimer effects.

A study was published recently that showed a drug called AL 108, which is actually a new type of nasal spray, attacks those fibrous tangles. Patients given AL 108 showed significant improvement in short-term memory after just four weeks and exhibited no side effects.

Testing of the drug is in early phase 2 trials.

Functional MRI has been used to detect reduced connectivity between the hippocampus and posterior cingulated cortex in healthy children of parents with Alzheimers.

People with Alzheimer's disease who exercise have less brain damage in the area responsible for learning.

Researchers are finding that many of the modifiable health behaviors, like exercise, diet and smoking, that have been historically associated with heart disease are now associated with the development of dementia.

Those who use blood pressure drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) were 35 percent to 40 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia than people who didn't take the drugs.

Alzheimer's disease at wikipedia

26.6 million people worldwide were afflicted by Alzheimer disease in 2006, which could quadruple by 2050, although estimates vary greatly.

Perhaps half of those 85 or older will get Alzheimer's without improved prevention and lifestyle changes. This will be more of an issue as people live longer through life extension and better treatment of heart disease and cancer.

More on prevention with better diet and drugs

July 28, 2008

200mm wafer of 5mm superconducting chips

Dwave's CTO Geordie Rose is showing a picture of a 200mm wafer made of 5mm superconducting adiabatic quantum computing chips. There are about 1000 of the 5mm chips on the wafer.

The superconducting adiabatic quantum computing chips need dilution fridges for proper operation

Using a dilution refrigerator is the most powerful way to reach very low temperatures (a few thousands of degree above the absolute zero).

Adiabatic demagnetization can be used over the temperature range 4 kelvins down to microkelvins and the related room temperature application of Magnetic refrigeration.

Dry dilution refrigerator

Helium 3 refrigerator

20 page Hitchhikers guide to the dilution refrigerator

Variation in math ability at high levels

Via Marginal Revolution: Consistent with many earlier studies (JSTOR), what this study found was that the ratio of male to female variance in ability was positive and significant, in other words we can expect that there will be more math geniuses and more dullards, among males than among females.

Quoting from the study:

Greater male variance is indicated by VR [Variance Ratio]> 1.0. All VRs, by state and grade, are >1.0 [range 1.11 to 1.21].

If a particular specialty required mathematical skills at the 99th percentile, and the gender ratio is 2.0, we would expect 67% men in the occupation and 33% women. Yet today, for example, Ph.D. programs in engineering average only about 15% women.

Larry Summers in his infamous talk, was explicit about this point:

...if one is talking about physicists at a top twenty-five research university, one is not talking about people who are two standard deviations above the mean...But it's talking about people who are three and a half, four standard deviations above the mean in the one in 5,000, one in 10,000 class.

The expected gender ratio at 4 standard deviations from the mean you find a ratio of more than 3:1

The Wall Street Journal correctly reported on this when most other media did not

Virgin Galactic shows off White Knight 2

WhiteKnightTwo is a dual-hull quad-engine aircraft roughly three times larger than the original WhiteKnight. WK2 is the world's first all-composite full-sized aircraft. Everything apart from the engines and landing gear is constructed from ultra-lightweight composite materials.

Virgin Galactic expects to fly its first commercial space flights somewhere between 2009 and 2011.

Virgin galactic pictures

The most important thing is that is has no boom, the engines are on the outside. Any kind of payload can be put to it and have no interference with the cabin or the engines. WK2 can launch a light satellite at a much reduced cost over what is being done now with competing systems. WK2 is actually is large enough if you build a lightweight mercury capsule you can put a man in orbit.

WK2 will be an aerobatic aircraft, and will provide preview flights offering several seconds of weightlessness, before the actual suborbital event. It will have a service ceiling of about 60,000 ft or 18km, offering a dark blue sky to passengers.

White Knight Two has a twin boom with two jet engines per hull. One hull is an exact replica of that of SpaceShipTwo (to allow tourist training), and the other will carry cut-rate day-trippers into the stratosphere.

Scaled composites site

Brad Templeton on Robocars : great minds think alike

This site had published an article one week ago about creating robotic car exclusive zones in cities to enable a faster deployment of robotic cars.

Brad Templeton has written up several articles about the advantages of robotic cars for revamping the transportation system.

Brad's robocar mainpage.

Brad looks at the myth of green public transit. Note: public transit can be far more energy efficient in places like asia where there is very high density on the buses and trains.

In Japan, they have pushers to pack more people onto the trains.

Brad also has calculations which show that while agriculture remains an oil and energy intensive business we do not get great overall energy savings by going to walking and human powered biycle riding

Robocar only zones would allow for an effective and safe transition to lighter vehicles like electric bikes and trikes.

Brad looks at a roadmap to robocar transportation.

Brad discusses roadblocks to robocars

Design changes for robocars

Stories of a robocar future

Downsides of a robocar future

Brad writes about when robocars will happen.

Deliverybot variant

Bikebot variants

Deep burn and seriously scaling nuclear power to 2100 and beyond

Current world nuclear power is 611 million tons of oil equivalent. (multiply by 7.1-7.4 for barrel of oil equivalent)

This is from 64000 tons of Uranium per year being burned at about 5% efficiency. 3200 tons of Uranium if deep burn reactors were used.

Deep burn (50-99%) burn of uranium and thorium for nuclear power can be done with several fission reactor options.

Molten salt - 99% (two were built in the 60s and 70s, India,Japan, Europe have designs and research efforts to bring them back)

Fast neutron (Russia has active breeders since 1980 and has restarted building 800MW plant for 2012, will sell the tech to S Korea, Japan and others including China) Russia's current fast neutron reactors only have about 10-20% burn rates.

Fast neutron reactors are 60 times more efficient with the use of Uranium than typical reactors.

Very high temp gas reactors (65%)

[current High Temperature Pebble Bed Reactors TRISO fuel can achieve 16-18% burn as of 2009]

Accelerator driven reactors (EU)

Uranium hydride reactor (5-10%)

If one had a semi-economical fusion reactor one could process fission waste to enable all current reactors to achieve multi-pass deep burn. One fusion reactor per ten fission reactors.

1 kg of uranium from seawater was obtained by Japan. The japanese process is to use irradiated polymers and stick a braided net of it into the ocean and basically "fish" for 30-90 days for Uranium. There is 4 to 4.6 billion tons of Uranium in seawater. At the $160/kg price, this would be equal to $720 trillion for 4.5 billion tons. This process will not be needed for several decades because of 5.5 million tons of conventional uranium reserves which based on geology is likely 10 million tons of currently known formations and will increase substantally with new exploration.

Better laser enrichment (vs centrifuges) reduces overall material costs per kilogram to more than offset any increase in uranium prices.

There is more thorium than uranium in the earth's crust.

Conventional reactor construction has been as high as 12 completions in one year in the USA (1972) and 24 completions per year in the world (mid 1980s).

4.5 billion tons of Uranium vs the deep burn equivalent of the 3200 tons of Uranium we use today.

So Deep burn + Uranium from seawater means by 2030 using technology in hand one can have nuclear fission power ready to supply more than 1200 trillion tons of oil equivalent. (one ton of oil is equal to 7.1-7.4 barrels of oil.) that is before we go at more difficult to process uranium/thorium than seawater (there is more on earth and more in the solar system - asteroids, moon)

So nuclear fission would have 8500 trillion barrels of oil equivalent.

Looks like sufficiently easy energy to me. 850 times more than some estimates of total coal, oil and natural gas.

China is planning to buy 100 AP-1000 nuclear reactors for completion or being built by 2020. They will be factory mass producing high temperature reactors. India has indicated a deep commitment to using their thorium resources.

China and India the countries that need more energy the most are going deeply into nuclear fission power.

The electrification of the transportation and other parts of the world economy is happening over the next two decades. The transition is workable and the long term is workable.

Uranium from Seawater will be scalable when we need the process
In it's current state, the JAERI (uranium from seawater) technique can collect 1 ton of natural uranium in 240 days, using an apparatus weighing roughly 1000 tons (i.e. 3000 cages x 350 kg/cage).

Details on scaling up worked up by Japanese and Russians.

The recovery cost was estimated to be 5-10 times of that from mining uranium. More than 80% of the total cost was occupied by the cost for marine equipment for mooring the adsorbents in seawater, which is owing to the weight of metal cage for adsorbents. Thus, the cost can be reduced to half by the reduction of the equipment weight to 1/4.

So to produce 60,000 tons/year of uranium would take 60 million tons of absorbents using current inefficient lab scale methods. 15 million tons with currently foreseen improvements.

Link to polyethylene production.

Divert 1% of the polyethylene for 10 years when you decide to scale up the seawater extraction. Then you can make a little over 1 of the 10,000/ton year processes each year. In ten years you have 100,000/ton year.

The world capacity of polyethylene production increased up to 70 million tons per year, the polyethylene output in 2005 amounted to 65 million per year

The cost quote was 600,000 yen/ton unwoven + 87,700 yen per ton for polymerization
If the cost of polymerization were to increase then you can scale that cost factor up from the time of the study. The unwoven material is unlikely to go up that much because if new polyethylene got very expensive you can always recycle the hundreds of millions of tons of it that we already have.

Around 5.5 million tonnes of uranium that could be economically mined (at today's spot prices) has been identified around the world. That figure is up 17 per cent compared to that from the last edition of Uranium 2007: Resources, Production and Demand---a report colloquially known as the Red Book and co-published every two years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

And, according to the report, there's plenty more where that came from, with expected uranium discoveries based on the geologic characteristics of known resources jumping to 10.5 million tonnes (plus reserves increase if the dollar value of the uranium is higher. ie there is more there is we are willing to pay for it). Undiscovered conventional resources is expected to be triple this number. Plus there is 22 million tons estimated to be in phosphates. [see page 23 of the 2003 redbood presentation, Uranium from phosphates is mature].

Canada and France were the only countries to report exploration expenses in 2002 and only $18 million was spent looking for Uranium in 2003.

We will not go through the current reserves of uranium and thorium for decades. Plus with deep burn we would use current "nuclear waste" first. So seawater for uranium does not come into the picture for 5 decades or more. Plenty of time to perfect it before scaling.

Thorium/uranium fuel rods are close to being commercialized for use in existing reactors. The earth's crust has three times more thorium than uranium.

Environmental impact: Far less than fossil fuels. See how destructive mountain top removal mining for the US

See china's coal mining. Look at the processes for getting oil and oilsands.

Having nets in the oceans can be managed. the middle of the ocean off the continental shelf has minimal fish.
there are large dead zones where there are no fish
Fish farming produce 50% of our fish now so I would expect there to be almost no dependence on wild fishing
in twenty years.

Nuclear plants possible build and replacement reactors

What would an agressive build up of nuclear reactors from now up to and through 2100 look like ? Many have a disbelief in scaling and the speed with which we could move to nuclear and then the ability to use nuclear for thousands of years after 2100.

The current type of reactors are the primary ones built for the next 20 years. 2030-2040 would see a transition.
2020 onwards all current PWR reactors that had enough operating life left would have the 50% annular fuel uprate. Boiler water reactors would have different uprates for 30% gains.
Current reactors have already gotten extensions to 60 years of operation and extensions to 70-80 years is possible

Idaho national labs has a plan for the current light water reactors.

Stretch Goals:
1. Life extension of the current fleet beyond 60 years (e.g., what would it take to extend all lives to ~80 years?); and
2. Strong, sustained expansion of ALWRs throughout this century (e.g., what would it take to proceed uninterrupted from first new plant deployments in ~2015 to sustained build-rates approaching 10+/year?).

Current style light water reactors can get ==== high-burnup (HBU) fuel [85 Gwd/t target]. The HBU fuel program is expected to take about 10 years, and involves test and qualification of innovative fuels with uranium enrichment above 5%
The limit is 914 Gigawatt days per ton where 99%+ of the uranium/thorium is used in molten salt reactors.

More efficient use of uranium than current reactors at 20-50 Gigawatt days per ton.

Note: Japan is working to extend to 70 years for their plants

Achieving a build rate of 10 plants per year, which on a sustained basis equates to about 50 plants under construction at any point in time, will require substantial investment in workforce training and new or refurbished manufacturing capability.

More automation would reduce the staffing requirements while maintaining safety and operational efficiency.

Staffing an expanding nuclear industry.

Massive nuclear buildup is not constrained by raw materials.

Materials used for wind and other energy sources compared
Update on material usage for more modern wind turbines

Supply chain issues like large forgings for containment domes are being addressed.
To go along with the 600 ton forgings that are made by Japan steel, Russia can make forgings, and South Korea is taking orders for delivery in a couple of years, China and UK are also ramping up.
China is willing to use a technique used a couple of decades ago. Weld two 300 ton forgings together.
Candu and high temp reactors do not use the large 600 ton forgings. Areva (france nuclear) is looking at new designs that do not need the 600 ton forgings.

From 2010-2020 avg of 10-20 light water reactor completions per year
2013+ prove out commercial high temp reactor in china, Mass production start 2016+. 2 year construction times. (200MW)
2012+ uranium hydride reactors (25MWe)

2020-2030 avg of 30-50 light water reactor completions per year worldwide (new reactors at 1.5-1.8GW, before 50% power uprate)
30-100 high temp reactors/year (250MW using brayton cycle for higher efficiency)
50-200 uranium hydride reactors (30Mwe)

2030-2050 100-200 light water reactor completions per year worldwide. (3 GW avg, using better fuel with uprates)
50-1000 high temp reactors/year (300MW using higher efficiency design)
100-2000 uranium hydride reactors
100-200 molten salt reactors

2050+ Shift over to molten salt reactors and accelerator driven reactors and other designs that leave less than 1% waste.
Fully reprocess so that there is no left over uranium/thorium/plutonium.
Reactor life should be 80+ years
If you have 800 nuclear reactors then an avg of 10 per year need to be replaced with 80 year lifespan.
If you have 8000 reactors then an avg of 100 per year need to be replaced.
Uranium hydride type reactors need refueling every 5-10 years.
Current plants also need periodic refueling

Location for plants
Superconducting energy grid. So plants can be placed anywhere with virtually zero transmission losses.

Would use land currently used for coal plants (2000+ in the USA now), natural gas plants, and load up existing nuclear plant sites with more reactors.

Environmental impact: Far less than fossil fuels.

Depleted Uranium and what to do with the waste/unburned fuel
Initially the current 60,000 tons/year would scale up to 150,000-450,000 tons/year and then decrease as deep burn systems came online and eliminated the accumulated unburned fuel.

The volume of 60,000 tons is less than one container ship. Because of the density of the uranium, 60,000 tons can be stacked up on a basketball size court sized warehouse. I would leave the fuel onsite at the plants which usually have 2-4+ square miles of land.

Again leave the waste/unburned fuel until we deep burn it for energy.

By 2050+ we should be able to burn all of the uranium/thorium/plutonium. The rest has less than 30 year half life and a lot of that has economic and constructive uses.

Ramping up and Full scale nuclear society
How long does it take to ramp up to 17000GW ? 25-35 years.

Nuclear power is currently 6.3% of total power including oil.
16 times more than the 2800TWh would enough to replace other electrical sources and transportation if transportation if it was electrified.

Total electricity is 18300 TWh in 2007. So six times current nuclear is current world electricity. 2400 GW of nuclear replaces current world electricity (higher
operating load factor for nuclear)
+40% for 2020
+100 for 2030.
So 4800 GW of nuclear replaces projected 2030 electricity.

By that time the deep burn reactors should be all of the new reactor construction and seawater extraction of Uranium will have been further developed and refined and ready to step in to provide scaled up uranium demand. Most of the nuclear fuel use at that time will be from the legacy reactors with 10-15% of fuel used even with upgrading of the systems to annular fuel and other retrofits. A nuclear reactor fleet of pure deep burn total of 17000GW would only use 6500 tons/year about 10% of current uranium usage.

The optimistic build rate was 10-20 reactor completions for LWR and maybe 1000 of the high temperature reactors and uranium hydride reactors until 2020. The high temperature reactors that China is making will start off at 80 Gwd/t and go up to 240GWd/t (with the ability to burn existing "waste")
by 2020 we can apply the 50% power uprate to existing reactors so instead of 50Gwd/ton we get 75 GWd/t.

So by 2020, significant deep burn capability with 240 GWd/t. The uranium hydride reactors could go to 450-500GWd/t and thorium versions could be made.

Let us look on the high side and say 200 large 1.7GW reactors (50% uprated).
Existing reactors maintained and uprated.
480GWe from new large reactors. (75Gwd/t) 50,000 tons/year
Existing reactors 600GWe (70 GWd/t), 64,000 tons per year.
600 Small reactors 250 MWe reactors (HTR 250GWd/t) 3,000 tons per year able to use current waste)
1000 25MWe Uranium hydride (400 GWd/t) 900 tons per year

1230 GW using 118000 tons per year. 50% of worlds electricity assuming a 20% increase in usage up to 2020.

Parallel to the nuclear build (and more renewables like wind, solar and geothermal), convert transportation and other uses from fossil fuel to electric. Electric cars etc...

Until 2030, let us say avg 50 LWR completions. 500 over the decade.
Reactors from 2020 still around. 1080 GWe (80GWd/t further fuel refinement)
200,000 tons/year total

Small reactors from 2020.
New small reactors.
Molten salt reactors, larger volume of fast breeders, accelerator driven reactors come online.
4000GWe using 250,000 tons/year 100% of worlds electricity assuming a 100% increase from 2008. The GWe is less than current GW, but the operating efficiency is higher so more quad/TWh.

So it is 2040-2050 before currently known conventional reserves start getting tapped even with aggressive reactor build. More conventional reserves will be found. flyash from used coal is being processed. higher concentrations in phosphates and brine.

Build construction should be 2-3 years for the bigger reactors and 1 year for the factory mass produced small reactors. Those build times could be less with contour crafting (printing of concrete structures with carbon nanotube reinforcement)

After 70-80+ years the nuclear plants will be dis-assembled and decommissioned as designed and planned already. New reactors will go up where the old ones were.

Yes a lot of reactors willl be in the process of being built but they should be factory produced or mostly printed onsite. I am projecting a powerful society and civilization that continues to grow its GDP and build more. But instead of digging up 6 billion-10 billion tons of coal and building multiple coal plants per year it is making nuclear power with some wind, solar, geothermal as well.

The world has over 8000 coal plants now and thousands more natural gas plants and they are comparable in size to nuclear reactor facilities and refueling those coal plants takes massive use of trains and trucks. They also use water for cooling.

World use of concrete is about 2.5 billion tons per year and growing at 135 million tons per year.
World steel production is about 1.3 billion tons per year and is growing.

A future economy ten times, one hundred times or one thousand times bigger will be using a lot of materials and energy even when future efficiency is factored in.

This is what takes to make everyone rich. Everyone in the developing world like China and India and the other nations following them. Everyone in the currently developed world becoming richer.

Getting richer and having more economy means everything scales up.

Nuclear plant failure. there are containment domes and there are distances from reactors to population centers. The High temperature reactors are meltdown proof. Turn off the coolant, walk away and it does not meltdown.

By 2020-2025, the aggressive build plan will have displaced most coal
by 2030, a lot of oil and natural gas would be displaced.
The reduction in air pollution would save 2-3+ million lives per year.

Any nuclear accidents would still show a net gain in lives saved by getting out of coal and oil. Coal and oil and natural gas currently kill millions/year even without any accidents.

Genetically engineer people to be more radiation resistant. Do not leave people vulnerable and requiring perfectly safe systems. This will be needed anyway because human security will need to assume that dirty bombs or nuclear weapons might eventually be used. Not because any risk from nuclear reactors but because advancing technology makes it easier and easier to make weapons.


Iran already knows how to make nuclear weapons because they were told in the 1970s be Khan of Pakistan.

The list of technogies that could lead to nuclear weapons grade material is growing longer and longer. Centrifuges, lasers, nanotech membranes, molecular nanotechnology etc...

In the long run countries like Iran cannot be prevented from getting better weapons if they really desire them other by conquering or killing them.

The leave civilization vulnerable and try to keep control of the availability of weapons is not a sustainable approach.

Eventually we must assume that weapons will be available. Then it is a matter of deterring usage and limiting damage from weapons that are used.

A boxer cannot go into the ring assuming that they will not be punched and to fold when the first punch is landed.

Better houses and buildings can be made to resist over-pressures from nuclear weapons. Hurricane resistant nails and improved building standards are a first step. Reinforce buildings with carbon fiber and eventually carbon nanotube thread/straps.
Reduce the radius of catastrophoc damage from nuclear weapons.

Hurricane category five resistant building

Some of the materials that can be used are 8000PSI stuccomax and windows able to resist 10PSI.

Need to make more esthetically pleasing building with Cat 25 resistance.

Nuclear Blast damage range calculator

Overpressure Key
15 psi Complete destruction of reinforced concrete structures, such as skyscrapers, will occur within this ring. Between 7 psi and 15 psi, there will be severe to total damage to these types of structures.

5 psi Complete destruction of ordinary houses, and moderate to severe damage to reinforced concrete structures, will occur within this ring.

2 psi Severe damage to ordinary houses, and light to moderate damage to reinforced concrete structures, will occur within this ring.

1 psi Light damage to all structures, and light to moderate damage to ordinary houses, will occur within this ring.

0.25 psi Most glass surfaces, such as windows, will shatter within this ring, some with enough force to cause injury.

Current buildings have trouble at 1-2psi. This is stupid as they are not only not resistant to nuclear bombs at large distances but also to tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes.

Redesigns can be done to make buildings resistant to 7-15psi without greatly altering esthetics or greatly increasing costs.

New technology can take this up higher and if monolithic domes are esthetically acceptable then hundreds of PSI resistant buildings can be made.

If buildings are not destroyed or so easily set on fire then nuclear autumn issues are also reduced as most of the climate effects are from a lot of things being set on fire.

Nuclear for oilsands and discussions around uranium supply

Energy costs with externalities

Feed in tariffs for renewables

A better energy plan

Improving nuclear EROI through laser enrichment starting in 2012

Deaths per twh for different energy sources

China wants 100 westinghouse AP1000 reactors by 2020