August 22, 2009

Electric Cars: Mitsubishi (Now), Nissan 2010, BYD 2010, Toyota 2012, Honda by 2015

According to the director of EV [electric Vehicles] solutions at the California based company Aerovironment, full EVs currently in the development stages and expected to be ready for production within the next three years outnumber the plug-in hybrids and EREV [extended range electric vehicle] expected to reach the market within the same time frame.Aerovironment director Kristen Helsel said, "I though the majority would be plug-in, but by our numbers, 60% are full EVs vs. plug-ins."

1. Mitsubishi i-MiEV available now

Mitsubishi Motors started leasing its all-electric vehicle, the i-MiEV, in June, 2009.

2. China's BYD E6 - 2010
China's BYD Co. the Chinese auto maker part-owned by Warren Buffett's company, is finalizing plans for an all-electric battery car that would be sold in the U.S. next year [2010], ahead of the original schedule, Chairman Wang Chuanfu said.

He said BYD wants to build up its brand name in the U.S. by offering one of its most advanced cars, the five-seat e6, before eventually expanding its offerings.

Wang Chuanfu, the chairman of Chinese auto maker BYD, with one of the company's cars at the automobile show in Detroit in January. Mr. Wang said the company plans to pick a specific region within the U.S. and initially market "a few hundred" e6s, priced at slightly more than $40,000, through a small number of dealers. "In the beginning, our target customers are going to be government agencies, utilities and maybe some celebrities," Mr. Wang said. He added that BYD hopes to enter Europe with a similar strategy in 2011 or later.

BYD, which lists shares in Hong Kong, plans to sell up to 100 million new shares in mainland China ahead of a listing on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange as early as next year. The offering, which still needs government approval, could raise up to $500 million based on current prices.

3. Honda 2015 (or before)
Honda Motor Co Ltd plans to develop an electric car to debut in the U.S. market by around 2015 as tighter environmental regulations push demand for zero-emission vehicles, the Nikkei newspaper said on Saturday.

4. Toyota 2012
Toyota Motor Corp plans to launch an electric car by 2012

5. Volkswagen 2013
Volkswagen AG announced plans to launch electric cars for 2013. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, the Chairman of the Board of Volkswagen AG, said that VW would introduce its first electric car in 2013 and that it will be based on the same as the Up! New Small Family concept that was unveiled in 2007 (see the pics below). Dr Winterkorn estimating that electric vehicles would have a "global market share of 1 to 1.5% in 2020."

According to Dr. Winterkorn, to become mainstream, electric cars need: batteries with better energy density and faster recharging times (leading to a longer range), lower price premiums (he says "a price increase of a maximum €2,000/US$2,800 more than today"), and infrastructure "including nationwide recharging stations, intelligent network, and uniform standards."

But they say it could take decades for the vehicles to spread due to their high cost, limited driving range and long charging times with the current battery technology.

6. Nissan Leaf
Nissan Motor Co , Japan's third biggest automaker, unveiled its electric car "Leaf" earlier this month with plans to begin selling it in the United States, Japan and Europe towards the end of 2010. The Leaf travels up to 90 miles an hour, goes 100 miles between recharges and carries a price tag of $25,000 to $33,000.

7. Tesla Motors
Tesla Sport is available for about $125,000

8. Ford Electric Van 2010 and Electric Car 2011
Ford says they will have a commercial BEV (battery electric Vehicle) van available in the US on 2010 followed by a small car in 2011. The car will be based on the Fusion and marketed in urban areas. They're aiming for the car to have a 100 mile operating range and a production run of between 5,000 and 10,000 units.

Rapid Electric Vehicles (REV) offering $45,000 Ford fleet vehicle electric conversions.

9. BMW will have an electric version of the mini (summer 2009)

Mini USA Vice President, Jim McDowell, said that the company was still deciding whether to sell or lease the vehicles.

10. Aptera has an October, 2009 delvery date for its three wheeled electric vehicles

11. Hyundai introduced an all electric car for the South Korean market in 2009 and in NewZealand.

12. Fiat's electric Fiat Palio Weekend in production in Brazil; estimated cost $70,000 (U.S.)

13. China's Chery Automobile said on Thursday it has rolled out its first self-developed electric car, becoming the second home-grown car maker to tap potential demand for clean energy cars.

The model, known as S18, is capable of going as far as 150 kilometers on electricity when fully charged, with a maximum speed of 120 kilometres per hour, Chery said in a statement. Chery uses iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries for S18, which can be fully charged in 4 to 6 hours and 80 percent charged in half an hour, it said.

Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV was released in limited numbers in Japan this year.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Innovations

1. Optimum packaging for EV

Based on the “i” minicar’s rear-midship layout platform, “i MiEV” replaces the conventional engine, transmission and fuel tank with a lithium-ion battery system, motor, inverter and other EV components.
The long wheelbase, a feature of rear-midship layout, provides space for high capacity lithium-ion batteries under the floor. It also enables the motor and inverter to be installed in the space that used to house the conventional engine and transmission. “i MiEV” ensures ample cabin space for passengers(4-occupant capacity) and reasonable luggage compartment space in the rear. The installation of batteries under the floor makes the “i MiEV” ’s center of gravity low, which provides a more stable driving dynamic.

2. High Capacity Lithium Ion Batteries
EV batteries must have high energy density, and the “i MiEV” utilizes high energy density lithium-ion batteries. A module consists of 4 cells, and 22 modules make one battery pack. Thanks to the structure of the modules, which allows them to be installed in either a vertical or transverse position, each high-capacity battery pack can fit under the floor. With these batteries installed, the target range is 160km (driving pattern: Japan 10-15 mode) for fleet monitoring test vehicles in 2008.

3. Small, Highly Efficient Motor

Highly efficient motor can be built smaller than gasoline engine, while still producing high torque at low revolutions. The “i MiEV” ’s small, light weight, highly efficient permanent magnet synchronous motor provides sportier, quieter driving and power superior to the gasoline “i” ’s turbo charged 660cc engine.

4. Three types of battery charging systems

“i MiEV” accepts three types of battery charging systems: The household charger system (100V,200V) for charging at home or a parking lot, and the quick-charger system for speedy charging. With the household charger system, “i MiEV” could be charged from either a 100V or 200V ordinary electric outlet via the household charger plug located on the right side of the vehicle. With the quick-charger system, “i MiEV” could be charged in short time via the quick-charger plug located on the left side of the vehicle.

Joint research with Power companies

For the diffusion of EVs, infrastructure development is as important as developing the car itself. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation has been conducting joint research with power companies using the “i MiEV” . The power companies will evaluate and analyze EVs’ practical applicability and quick-charge compatibility, which will help to develop vehicles and infrastructure for safe and convenient EV use.

August 21, 2009

Maximizing Economic Growth and Aid to the Poor

Growth is Good

There is an essay "Who's afraid of economic growth?" which makes an excellent case in favor of economic growth and why those who are trying to stop or constrain it are wrong.

Behind today's trendy arguments about environmentalism, ethical living and happiness, there lurks a deep disdain for material progress. From an objective perspective it should be clear that economic growth has brought enormous social benefits and could bring many more in the future. Increasing affluence has enabled us to live longer and healthier lives than ever before. It has generally allowed a shortening of working hours and therefore more time for individuals to spend on leisure. Economic growth is also closely related to the development of science and culture.

* More growth = better environment
* More growth = less poverty

Poverty : Just asking for bigger handouts is a bad Plan
Note: Less poverty is not zero yet. But there is less growth and more poverty in Africa while there is more growth and less poverty in China. More growth can mean a better environment, such as being able to not burn wood or coal means the developed world does not have 1.6 million deaths per year from indoor air pollution.

Some make the argument that the US and Europe should give the poor in Africa and other places the money to get them out of poverty. In 2008, total net official development assistance (ODA) from members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) rose by 10.2% in real terms to USD 119.8 billion. This is the highest dollar figure ever recorded. It represents 0.30% of members’ combined gross national income (GNI). Private aid (About $40 billion) and voluntary transfers by people working in the United States (and developed countries) to family living abroad was about $122 billion. The official aid, private aid and transfers to family totalled to about 0.7% of GNI.

In spite of this level of aid:
According to the World Bank some 2.7 billion people still lived on less than $2 a day in 2001, of which 1.1 billion lived on less than a dollar. But the growth sceptics are not arguing for ambitious new development to bring Third World living standards up to those in the West. On the contrary, at every stage they cast doubt on the benefits of growth.

Would the OECD countries and its citizens give an additional $700 billion/year (not including additional administrative costs and inefficiencies in distributing and getting money and aid to people) to lift the 1.1 billion on less than a dollar a day to have everyone at $2+ a day (and top up the 1.6 billion on less than $2/day) ?

The US is looking at $9+ trillion in cumulative federal deficits from 2010-2019. If the US was to chip in one third, that would be 250 billion/year or about $3 trillion from 2010-2019 with a bit of additional interest. Alternatively or in combination if those 2.7 billion people had strong economic growth in their own countries then some percentage would get lifted out of poverty as was the case in China and India. Howver, $4 trillion in growth in China has still left some people in China at the less than $1 and $2/day levels.

Massive Pro-Growth Policies and 0.7% Aid

If there was economies in the developed world that were $100 trillion bigger then the 0.7% that flows over in aid would be $700 billion/year more. The US, Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe are about $35 trillion of the world's 61 trillion economy Each annual 1% increase in GDP growth over the 2010-2020 timeframe is $350 billion/year initially and increases and sustained over ten years would be about $4 trillion [or $28 billion in more aid].

China could have an economy of 90 trillion RMB by 2025 and if the exchange rate was 4 RMB to 1 US dollar would be $22.5 trillion. Per capita GDP would be $15,000 per person. China would likely be increasing international aid as its own economy continued to improve. 0.7% of $18 trillion [the increase in GDP from now] is $126 billion.

Closing the educational-achievement gap between the U.S. and higher-performing nations such as Finland and South Korea could boost U.S. gross domestic product by as much as $2.3 trillion, or about 16%, according to a new study by McKinsey & Co. [0.7% of that would be $16.1 in added aid each year].

Medical breakthroughs could accelerate the reduction in deaths due to infectious disease and other causes which would be a large boost to the economies of the poor countries. Healthier people are more productive.

Plus medical aid seems to have a multiplier effect where $1 of effort to eliminate a disease mean $10-20 worth of improvement to that developing economy.

Poverty statistics

McKinsey Suggests Plan For China Economy to Shift to 50% Household Consumption

Shifting China's economy towards services would do much more than strengthening the social safety net as a way to boost the miserly share of consumption in GDP, McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) said on Friday.

The 74 page report is here in pdf form and requires a free registration to view it. "If You've Got It, Spend It, Unleashing the Chinese Consumer"

The three broad categories for the recommendations are rebalance income and investment (boost 3.4-6%), directly stimulate (boost and expand the social safety net.

The conventional wisdom is that Chinese spend so little because they have to pay for health and education out of their own pockets and can look forward to at best a flimsy pension.

MGI estimated that reducing precautionary savings by reinforcing the social safety net would add only 0.2-1.1 percentage points to China's consumption share by 2025. The smallest impact of the three recommended broad actions.

Many of the policy changes that MGI identifies do not directly relate to consumer behaviour but rather aim to encourage more efficient investment and capital allocation, which would ultimately create faster growth in private income.

If China could raise the share of services in the economy to South Korea's level of 55 percent -- instead of the government's current goal of 49 percent -- the resulting job and income growth could boost the consumption share by up to 4.8 percentage points

MGI finds that a comprehensive program of reform would also enrich the global economy with $1.9 trillion a year in net new consumption, boosting China's share of the worldwide total to 13 percent—4 percentage points higher than its share without further effort. China's household income would also be 15% higher than current trends. Higher consumption will make China's growth sustainable.

The implied increase in GDP would be 0.8-1.2% over the projected 7.7% from 2010 to 2025.

MGI set out a wide range of policies that it said could raise the share of private household consumption to 45-50 percent of gross domestic product by 2025, or 6-11 percentage points more than the rate of 39 percent it is likely to reach on present trends. Consumption made up just 35.3 percent of China's GDP in 2008, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Japan's consumption share is 55 percent and the United States' is 71 percent, MGI noted in a report.

If China were to accomplish the transition mapped out by the report, its share of world consumption would increase to 11-13 percent in 2025, up from 9 percent projected today, according to MGI. In the process, China would account for more than a quarter of all new consumption worldwide over the next 15 years.

August 20, 2009

Nanotech Roundup:Platform for Supramolecular Nanoassembly, 3d 100nanometer cubes, nanoelectromechanical single-atom switch

1. Platform for Controlled Supramolecular Nanoassembly

We here present a two-dimensional (2D) micro/nano-fluidic technique where reactant-doped liquid−crystal films spread and mix on micro- and nanopatterned substrates. Surface-supported phospholipid monolayers are individually doped with complementary DNA molecules which hybridize when these lipid films mix. Using lipid films to convey reactants reduces the dimensionality of traditional 3D chemistry to 2D, and possibly to 1D by confining the lipid film to nanometer-sized lanes. The hybridization event was observed by FRET using single-molecule-sensitive confocal fluorescence detection. We could successfully detect hybridization in lipid streams on 250 nm wide lanes. Our results show that the number and density of reactants as well as sequence of reactant addition can be controlled within confined liquid crystal films, providing a platform for nanochemistry with potential for kinetic control.

A Platform for Controlled Supramolecular Nano-Assembly — Supporting Information (8 pages pdf)

2. Self-Assembly of Lithographically Patterned Nanoparticles

The construction of three-dimensional (3D) objects, with any desired surface patterns, is both critical to and easily achieved in macroscale science and engineering. However, on the nanoscale, 3D fabrication is limited to particles with only very limited surface patterning. Here, we demonstrate a self-assembly strategy that harnesses the strengths of well-established 2D nanoscale patterning techniques and additionally enables the construction of stable 3D polyhedral nanoparticles. As a proof of the concept, we self-assembled cubic particles with sizes as small as 100 nm and with specific and lithographically defined surface patterns.

Supporting info


A Nanoelectromechanical Single-Atom Switch

We have exploited the electromechanical properties of gated mechanical break junctions to form single-atom relays. The gate voltage can be used to reversibly switch between a monatomic contact with a conductance around 2e2/h and the tunneling regime. In tunneling, the source−drain conductance varies smoothly with gate voltage. The characteristics of the devices can be understood within a simple continuum model. It indicates that the elastic properties of the substrate facilitate the electromechanical tuning and that the details of the switching depend sensitively on the nanoscale geometry of the electrode tips.

Supporting info

Army and DARPA working to 2.3 Gigapixel Real Time Monitoring

DARPA is working on Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance - Imaging System (ARGUS-IS) program. ARGUS-IS is to provide military users a flexible and responsive capability to find, track and monitor events and activities of interest on a continuous basis in areas of interest.

Wired provides some details The Army launches a quest for a 2.3 gigapixel camera that could be packaged aboard a drone or a manned aircraft. The new device would be smaller and lighter than previous systems – and it would work in the infrared range too.

Airborne surveillance is moving fast. We’ve seen the 66-megapixel Angel Fire and 39-megapixel BuckEye sensors being used in operations, while the even more powerful Gorgon Stare is being flight tested next year. In February we reported on Darpa’s Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance - Imaging System (ARGUS-IS ), a 1.8 gigapixel flying eye which will be mounted in a 500-pound pod carried by a Predator or A160 Hummingbird robocopter. The ARGUS-IS makes for an impressive camera, with the resolution and processing power to track a large number of separate items including “dismounts” — people on foot — over a wide area, as well as “a real-time moving target indicator for vehicles throughout the entire field of view in real-time.”

In a new request for solicitations, it outlined the concept for a novel visible/infrared sensor that will cover a much larger area on the ground — with much higher resolution.

The sensor is required to be lightweight with low power consumption and to have significantly lower operating costs compared to existing systems, and must be able to operate from small aircraft, either manned or unmanned. In terms of specifics, the Army is looking for 2.3 gigapixels running at two frames per second. By my reckoning, this suggests continuous coverage of area of around sixty-two square miles at 0.3m resolution with a single sensor. That’s quite a step up from Angel Fire, which covers a tenth of the area at much lower resolution. And the new camera will work in the near-infrared range as well. This is useful for analysis, as sometimes things that are invisible in the normal range can be picked out easily in infrared; it also means that people can be illuminated without being aware of it.

At this point, the Army is still looking for proposals, and actual working hardware is some years down the line. However, the technology is moving fast and there is little doubt that the following generation will be much smaller than the 500-pound ARGUS. The PANOPTES being developed by Marc Christensen at Southern Methodist University with Darpa funding could potentially cut camera weight by a factor of ten by using a large array of small imaging elements.


Panoptes technology uses the power of a computer to combine overlapping images of dozens of tiny lenses — producing a clear picture without the size and weight of a large lens. The research should eventually provide helmet-mounted surveillance equipment for soldiers on the ground. Lens performance tends to improve with size, which is why a small cell phone camera can't produce a very good image.

PANOPTES: A thin agile multi-resolution imaging sensor.

Petrobank and Tristar become PetroBakken

On August 4, 2009, Petrobank and TriStar agreed to a strategic combination of TriStar and Petrobank's CBU. The combination will create a new publicly listed company, PetroBakken, that will be a premier, Bakken-focused, light oil exploration and production company.

Petrobank pioneered the horizontal fracture stimulation techniques that opened up the true potential of this substantial resource, and we continue to find new ways to improve well performance and expected ultimate recoveries from the Bakken. This zone is a marginal reservoir that has been tested and analyzed for more than 50 years, yet only recently have advances in technology created the opportunity to produce significant oil from the Bakken. Recent, repeated testing has allowed us to conclude that every time we increase the number of fracture stimulations in a given section of land, we increase productivity and expected ultimate recoveries from the zone.

Our efforts through early 2009 to further improve Bakken production have focused on increasing the intensity of fracture stimulation completions (fracs) by 38% in our long (1,400 metre) horizontals, by 200% in our short (700 metre) horizontals, and then by 400% in our short bilateral (two 700 metre horizontal legs from a single vertical well bore) horizontal wells. Recently, Petrobank also completed the first 20-stage fracture stimulation in Canada using Packers Plus technology. Our first two 20-stage frac wells have materially improved production performance compared to offset competitor wells and were initially free-flowing at rates in excess of 400 bopd. [This is double the flow rates of earlier Petrobanks Bakken oil wells in Saskatchewan] These results further demonstrate the potential of our strategy to cost-effectively increase fracture stimulation intensity and ultimate recoveries from the Bakken. We continue to build on our innovative approach to maximizing value from the Bakken resource.

We are now implementing our new drilling and completion strategy which is to drill long bilateral horizontal wells (two 1,400 metre horizontal legs from a single vertical well bore) with a total of 30 fracture stimulations (15 fracture stimulations in each horizontal leg). These are the first wells to be drilled this way, and Petrobank has successfully executed all the unique elements of this approach in other wells. By combining our two most highly effective solutions for maximizing productivity and expected ultimate recoveries, we have developed the most capital efficient oil recovery method for the Bakken, to-date.

We are also applying this approach to our large inventory of existing well bores. We have started to re-enter these horizontal wells and drill second parallel horizontal legs from the same vertical well, and complete them with higher intensity multi-stage fracs. Initial re-entry results have resulted in production increases of 80 to 150 bopd from previous well production rates prior to the re-entries.

Ongoing field efficiencies have resulted in a reduction of our Bakken production costs to $5.75/boe. This brings the average second quarter production costs for all of our CBU operations down to $6.52/boe, a 4% decrease from the $6.81/boe recorded in the first quarter of 2009 and a remarkable 27% reduction from the second quarter of 2008.

Including the TriStar assets, PetroBakken will have 330 net undeveloped Bakken sections with a drilling inventory of over 1,300 bilateral wells, only 407 of which have been assigned 2P reserves. This substantial drilling inventory combined with our innovative approach to drilling and completing Bakken wells are expected to contribute to a multi-year growth profile for PetroBakken.

Petrobank is developing the revolutionary THAI/Capri and other new oil recovery technoloyg.

Whitesands Project Update

They are showing that they can upgrade thick heavy oil (8-12 API) to light crude quality (36 API) using underground THAI/CAPRI technology. (Underground upgrading of oil). If successful and scaled up THAI/CAPRI could revolutionize the recovery and economics of heavy oil and oilsands reserves. The Canadian oilsands which is an amount of oil several times Saudi Arabian oil reserves could become cheaper and cleaner to develop and basically push off peak oil for a decade or two.

If they prove the superior economics of their process and higher recovery rates then all the other oil firms would license the technology and then you have ten of thousands projects (because the alberta oilsands are the size of Florida.) increasing the amount of oil recovered per day in Alberta and other places. Plus the THAI/CAPRI techniques are applicable to heavy oil in Saskatchewan, South America and other places. The CAPRI process is converting the heavy oil to about the API quality of Saudi light oil. This upgrading is happening underground and does not require waiting for more refineries. There is information below about the increased price of oil based on API.

Oilweek article on THAI/CAPRI

a main point about the [THAI/CAPRI] technology is that it´s not just an oilsands technology. "It addresses a lot of the issues with in situ oilsands development. It is a global heavy oil technology. It can be applied around the world in all kinds of reservoirs. Colombia, Venezuela, the United States, Saskatchewan, Russia, offshore Brazil. And we own the rights to it."

Energy investment strategies on Petrobank and the economics of their new oil recovery technology

During the second quarter production averaged 205 bopd, down 43 barrels per day compared to the previous quarter as operations were ramped down and stabilized in preparation for drilling the P1B and P2B wells. As previously reported, P1 was shut-in on March 31, 2009 and P2 was subsequently shut-in on July 24, 2009 to facilitate the drilling of the replacement wells for P1 and P2. Concurrent with the preparation for drilling the new wells, P3B air injection was reduced and production was stabilized at 100 bopd per day prior to and during the drilling and completion operations.

We commenced drilling P1B on July 5, 2009 and we completed drilling on July 16, 2009. This well is completed as a THAI well with a FacsRiteTM liner utilizing cartridge screens designed for superior downhole sand control, liner integrity and increased flow area. The FacsRite liner is manufactured by Absolute Completion Technologies in Alberta and internationally distributed by Schlumberger. This liner configuration has been used in projects worldwide but P1B is the first well in North America to be completed with the FacsRite design.

P2B is our second THAI/CAPRI well and drilling was completed on August 7, 2009. P2B has the same liner design as our successful P3B well. Both wells are expected to be completed, tied in and operational by the end of August, with production expected near the end of the third quarter.

P3B wellbore temperatures have been operating between 400 and 500 degrees Celsius, well within the CAPRI catalyst range. Produced light hydrocarbons from the P3B secondary separator averaged 36 degrees API and the combined P3B THAI/CAPRI production from the primary and secondary separators ranged from 12 to 15 degrees API, compared to a reservoir quality of 8 degrees API. The CAPRI upgrading effect has been measured at as much as 3 degrees API higher than THAI production, confirming a direct in-situ upgrading effect of the catalyst.

In the second quarter, we commenced a routine regulatory inspection of the surface facilities starting with the P1 production train. During the current drilling and completion operations, we will be able to complete the majority of the inspections prior to resuming full operations on all three wells. To-date, the facilities inspections have shown no evidence of any corrosion in the vessels and associated equipment.

Whitesands is now configured as a modified three well THAI/CAPRI demonstration site, which will allow us to continue to test new technology enhancements, such as oxygen enrichment, CO2 co-injection, and partial surface upgrading

May River Project

The May River Project is our first large-scale commercial THAI application on Petrobank's oil sands leases west of Conklin, Alberta. The May River design builds on the experience gained from Whitesands. The project will be built in phases, with initial production capacity of 10,000 barrels of THAI oil per day, and an ultimate capacity of up to 100,000 bopd. We expect to receive approval for the project near the end of the year

Kerrobert Project

Drilling has started. This two well project applies the THAI technology in a conventional heavy oil reservoir at Kerrobert and is a 50/50 joint venture with Baytex Energy Trust, who purchased True Energy Trust's Saskatchewan assets. This joint project will highlight the applicability of the THAI technology in Saskatchewan's conventional heavy oil resource base. We consider that a significant portion of the estimated 20 billion of barrels of unrecovered conventional heavy oil resources in Saskatchewan can be commercialized using THAI

API and Price

Generally speaking, oil with an API gravity between 40 and 45 commands the highest prices. Above 45 degrees the molecular chains become shorter and less valuable to refineries.

Light crude oil is defined as having an API gravity higher than 31.1 °API
Medium oil is defined as having an API gravity between 22.3 °API and 31.1 °API
Heavy oil is defined as having an API gravity below 22.3 °API.

Bitumen sinks in fresh water, while oil floats.

Crude oil with API gravity less than 10 °API is referred to as extra heavy oil or bitumen. Bitumen derived from the oil sands deposits in the Alberta, Canada area has an API gravity of around 8 °API. It is 'upgraded' to an API gravity of 31 °API to 33 °API and the upgraded oil is known as synthetic crude.

Oil prices for different API grade oil from the EIA.

THAI Process Benefits
• Minimal natural gas and water use
• Higher recovery rates - 70-80% of oil in place
• Improved economics
• Lower capital cost – 1 horizontal well, no steam & water handling facilities
• Lower operating cost – negligible natural gas & minimal water handling
• Higher netbacks for partially upgraded product
• Faster project execution time
• Lower environmental impact
• 50% less greenhouse gas emissions
• Net useable water production
• Partial upgraded oil requires less refining
• Smaller surface footprint
• THAI /CAPRI - step change heavy oil technologies
• Up to 804 mmbbls recoverable (based on SAGD) in Petrobanks Whitesand block

Petrobank is also big in Saskatchewans part of the Bakken Oil Formation

A coker or coker unit is an oil refinery processing unit that converts the residual oil from the vacuum distillation column or the atmospheric distillation column into low molecular weight hydrocarbon gases, naphtha, light and heavy gas oils, and petroleum coke. The process thermally cracks the long chain hydrocarbon molecules in the residual oil feed into shorter chain molecules.

Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) is the most important conversion process used in petroleum refineries. It is widely used to convert the high-boiling hydrocarbon fractions of petroleum crude oils to more valuable gasoline, olefinic gases and other products. Cracking of petroleum hydrocarbons was originally done by thermal cracking which has been almost completely replaced by catalytic cracking because it produces more gasoline with a higher octane rating. It also produces byproduct gases that are more olefinic, and hence more valuable, than those produced by thermal cracking.

Horizontal multistage fracturing being used by Pennwest

Bakken and Three Forks Sanish

Packers Plus multi-stage horizontal drilling

Venter Hopes Synthetic Life Will Be Possible in One Month

It is report in New Scientist that if the ability to build a synthetic genome can be combined with this technique to transplant it, then the dawn of synthetic life could be close. Indeed Venter hopes this biological milestone will be possible in just a month or so.

Bloomberg News has coverage of the work by Venter and his team on synthetic life.

When the transplanted bacteria in their previous effort failed to function, Venter’s team realized that the restriction enzymes might be interfering. By transplanting the DNA of the first bacteria, Mycoplasma mycoides, into yeast, whose genetics are easier to manipulate, they were able to modify the bacterial chromosomes in two important ways.

First they changed its properties in ways that could be beneficial for creating new products. Second, they converted pieces of the bacterial DNA to keep them from being recognized and attacked by the restriction enzymes. This allowed them to transplant the modified bacterial DNA into a second bacterium and bring the new form to life.

This most recent work edges Venter one step closer to creating synthetic life. He has already shown that genomes can be built from scratch, by taking the gene sequence of the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium and constructing it in the lab.

The next step will be to insert a lab-built genome into a bacterial cell, creating a brand new living organism. Avoiding recognition and destruction will be a very important part of this process.

If the ability to build a synthetic genome can be combined with this technique to transplant it, then the dawn of synthetic life could be close. Indeed Venter hopes this biological milestone will be possible in just a month or so.

Venter's quest for synthetic life ultimately aims to create purpose-built organisms that can carry out specific roles, such as producing biofuels or even making hydrogen.

"The advantage of synthetic DNA is that it allows even more radical changes than an engineered genome," says geneticist George Church of Harvard medical school. "The key advances in this paper seem to be the transfer of DNA derived from Mycoplasma from yeast into a different Mycoplasma strain."

Journal Science abstract: "Creating Bacterial Strains from Genomes That Have Been Cloned and Engineered in Yeast"

We recently reported the chemical synthesis, assembly, and cloning of a bacterial genome in yeast. To produce a synthetic cell, the genome must be transferred from yeast to a receptive cytoplasm. Here, we describe methods to accomplish this. We cloned a Mycoplasma mycoides genome as a yeast centromeric plasmid, and then transplanted it into Mycoplama capricolum to produce a viable M. mycoides cell. While in yeast, the genome was altered using yeast genetic systems, and then transplanted to produce a new strain of M. mycoides. These methods allow the construction of strains that could not be produced with genetic tools available for this bacterium

Science Magazine article "Two Steps Forward for Synthetic Biology" by Elizabeth Pennisi

Usain Bolt Runs 100 Meters in 9.58 Second, How Fast Could an Augmented Human Run ?

Usain Bolt set a new world record. The 22-year-old Jamaican recorded a time of 9.58 seconds to shave 0.11 off the mark he set last year when winning gold at the Beijing Olympics.

American Tyson Gay was second in a time of 9.71, with Jamaica's Asafa Powell claiming bronze in 9.84.

UPDATE: Usain Bolt has run 200 meters in a new record time of 19.19. His second hundred was almost exactly the same as the time for his previous record in the 100 meters.

British sports oddsmaker, Hills, offer 14-1 that by the end of the 2012 Olympics, the world record for 100m will be 9.39sec or lower. Sky Bet had 12-1 against cracking 19 seconds (before and for the last race where Bolt went 19.19). So people money on the line have 7-10% chances of getting 100 meters time down to 9.39 and 200 meters to below 19 seconds.

Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson showed that it is possible to use steroids to allow more intense training sessions (with faster recovery) and increased amounts of muscle to run faster sprints.

Testing on mice indicated that myostatin drugs had four times the muscle growth effect as high doses of steroids but with less side effects.

The japanese have created transgenic monkeys.

The maximum for a person running on two legs: Professor Peter Weyand, Southern Methodist University (Texas), known for his expertise in terrestrial locomotion and human and animal performance says that humans would soon have the ability to modify and greatly enhance muscle fibre strength. This would enable speeds of 45 miles per hour and 5 seconds times for 100 meters.

The fast four-legged runners or quadrupeds do seem to be advantaged versus bipeds in terms of the mechanics allowed by their anatomy. So to go even faster would require people to successfully adopt the running mechanics of four legged animals (running on hands and feet).

Wearable Enhancement and Some Practice For Your Fastest Sprint

A regular person who wanted to have their fastest sprint should use jumping stilts and go for a Powerbocking run

Velocity Stilts are Powerskips that have been modified with different bindings and stripped down to minimize weight, and resold by Stiltwerks, inc.

9.58 Seconds for 100 Meters in Miles per Hour (MPH)

* 9.58 seconds for 100 meters.
* 154.14 seconds to run 1609 meters (1 mile)
* 23.35 mph for Usain Bolt
* Tyson Gay 23.04 mph as the next fastest man ever
* A ten second 100 meters is 22.37 mph

The top thirteen men in the 100 meters

As of July 2009, 69 sprinters have broken the 10-second barrier with an official, legal time. Nearly all the sprinters who have beaten the 10-second barrier are of West African descent (with the exceptions of Australian runner Patrick Johnson and Namibian Frankie Fredericks).

It was only in 1983 that there was a sub-10 second time at low altitude.

The 10-second barrier is a term used in track and field athletics which refers to the physical and psychological barrier of completing the men's 100 metres sprint in under ten seconds. The achievement was traditionally regarded as the hallmark of a great sprinter, but its significance has become less important since the late 1990s as an increasing number of runners have surpassed the ten seconds mark.

The International Association of Athletics Federations states that runs are only legal if achieved with the use of fully automatic timing, a wind speed below 2.0 m/s, and without the use of performance enhancing substances. Wind gauge malfunctions or infractions may also cause sprinters' runs to be invalid.

The first sub-10 second finishes were recorded through the use of manual timing by stopwatch. Following the introduction of electronic timing, which is a more accurate timing method, the barrier was first officially broken by American athlete Jim Hines on 14 October 1968. He ran a time of 9.95 seconds to win the 100 metres at the 1968 Olympics, setting a new world record. Almost nine years passed before the barrier was broken again; Silvio Leonard ran 9.98 seconds on 11 August 1977. Both of these marks were recorded at a high altitude, which aids performance. Carl Lewis was the first sprinter to achieve the feat at a low altitude, with 9.97 seconds on 14 May 1983. Calvin Smith recorded a world record 9.93 seconds on 3 July 1983, and also became the first sprinter to run under ten seconds twice, repeating the feat in August that year.

A number of athletes broke the barrier during the 1980s but the 100 m final at the 1991 World Championships represented a new zenith in the event: six athletes ran under ten seconds in the same race, and winner Carl Lewis lowered the world record to 9.86 seconds

Cheetah fastest land animal and can reach speeds between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph)

An Ostrich can reach speeds of 45 mph (probably the fastest two legged animal.

A blog with a list of fast land animals

China and India Plans for Energy and Low Carbon Until 2050

1. Chinese legislators will debate a new resolution on climate change next week, the state media reported today as a high-powered research institute called for the country to reduce carbon emissions by 2030.

China has refused to set a cap on emissions because it wants to expand its economy to catch up with richer nations that historically pumped more carbon into the atmosphere during the process of development.

That official position has not changed, but several government-linked institutes have projected possible pathways for the emissions to peak.

The most authoritative of them, the nearly 900-page 2050 China Energy and CO2 emissions report sets out several scenarios for change. The Energy Research Institute (ERI) english website did not have the report yet

The most optimistic of them sees a fall by 2030, but this would require huge investments in renewable energy as well as financial and technical support from overseas.

The panel advised the government to invest 1 trillion yuan into low-carbon technology development each year until 2050.

"The money would be mainly used to introduce technologies that would raise the energy efficiency of end-users in industry, construction and transportation," Bai Quan, another panel member, was quoted as saying by The China Daily.

China has signalled that it may be willing to adopt carbon intensity targets relative to economic growth and to make a huge investment in "new energy", including nuclear, solar and more efficient coal plants

Some more information at a chinese news site.

Forbes reports, the ERI report was a collective study from dozens of climate policy experts from various Chinese state think-tanks, including the Energy Research Institute and the State Council Development Research Centre. Even though the contributing scholars usually advise the cabinet on policy-making, they denied their report was a definite blueprint of China’s future climate policy

2. India could obtain 50 percent of its power from atomic energy by 2050, the country's nuclear chief, Anil Kakodkar.

"The proportion of nuclear power by 2050 could well be around 50 percent -- 600-700 gigawatts -- if we successfully bring to bear the indigenous capability," Anil Kakodkar, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, was quoted as saying by the magazine Asian Nuclear Energy.

Up to now, India has said it expected to get around 25 percent of its energy from nuclear power by mid-century.

Kakodkar, however, predicted the 25 percent target would be hit by 2020.

3. Nuclear exports get a boost in Japan

Five companies have been selected for support under a Japanese scheme to support high-tech heavy nuclear manufacturing.

The Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry picked just five projects for support after a public invitation that ran for 20 days up to the start of July. It did not detail exactly how it would support the projects, but announced the lucky companies and their project areas:

- Japan Steel Works for ultra-large forging manufacturing
- Okano Valve Co for development of main steam safety valves
- Ebara Corporation for development of emergency core cooling system pumps
- Ishikawajima Heavy Industries for the development of ultra-large steam generators
- Kobe Steel for 3-D technology for forging atypical large steel ingots

Japan Steel Works is already in the process of tripling its capacity for supplying reactor main components to 12 sets per year by 2012.

New Direction for Tissue Engineering

Microstructure of passive and active F-actin solutions and networks
visualized by electron microscopy (A–C) and fluorescence microscopy (A–C
Insets, E, and F). (A) Passive solutions are isotropic, homogeneous, and unbundled.
(B) Active solutions ([myosin]/[actin]  0.02 and 5 mMATP) are still homogeneous
(Inset), but the myosin locally aligns and bundles the actin filaments. (C)
Active networks ([FLNa]/[actin]  0.005, [myosin]/[actin]  0.02, 5 mM ATP) are
macroscopically homogeneous, but small contractile foci are present (Inset); the
actin filaments extending out from these foci are bundled and aligned, but they
merge into a more isotropic network between the foci. (D) Proposed mechanism
of active stiffening: myosin filaments (blue) contract actin filaments (gray) toward
one another, thereby pulling against the FLNa cross-links (red) and generating
an internal stress. (E and F) Passive networks cross-linked by rigor myosin (0
mM ATP) show bundles and clumps, both in the presence (E) and absence (F) of
FLNa. For all panels, [actin]23.8M, and the average filament length is 15m.
F actin is fluorescently labeled by Alexa488-phalloidin. (Scale bars: InsetsA–C and
F, 10 m; A–C, 200 nm; E, 20 m).

New Scientist reports on a new direction for tissue engineering

A quivering blob of muscle proteins in a Harvard lab could lead to controllable biomaterials to replace damaged body tissue.

Under a microscope, the "active gel" looks like a throbbing tangle of fibres immersed in jelly. Created by David Weitz and his colleagues at Harvard University, it is made from a molecular net of the muscle protein actin held into shape by another protein, filamin. Each actin strand has around 300 molecules of another muscle protein, myosin, attached.

The gel stiffens when exposed to ATP, the chemical that cells use to store and release energy. It becomes 1000 times firmer, a change in elasticity of the same order as Jell-O setting, says Weitz.

The myosin molecules flex like miniature biceps, bunching up the actin strands and causing the network to "tense up".

The blob is similar to the adaptable but tough protein skeleton that as well as holding cells in shape also allows them to shape-shift as required, she says.

Weitz thinks his active gel design could be used to give a new twist to tissue engineering, which usually involves using a static scaffold to guide the growth of replacement tissues from stem cells.

Scaffolds with tunable elasticity could allow more complex structures to be grown, says Weitz. For example, a floppy, untensed blob could be moved into position and then set in place with a pulse of ATP.

An active biopolymer network controlled by molecular motors from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

We describe an active polymer network in which processive molecular motors control network elasticity. This system consists of actin filaments cross-linked by filamin A (FLNa) and contracted by bipolar filaments of muscle myosin II. The myosin motors stiffen the network by more than two orders of magnitude by pulling on actin filaments anchored in the network by FLNa cross-links, thereby generating internal stress. The stiffening response closely mimics the effects of external stress applied by mechanical shear. Both internal and external stresses can drive the network into a highly nonlinear, stiffened regime. The active stress reaches values that are equivalent to an external stress of 14 Pa, consistent with a 1-pN force per myosin head. This active network mimics many mechanical properties of cells and suggests that adherent cells exert mechanical control by operating in a nonlinear regime where cell stiffness is sensitive to changes in motor activity. This design principle may be applicable to engineering novel biologically inspired, active materials that adjust their own stiffness by internal catalytic control.

Full 6 page pdf of the paper

5 page pdf with supporting information

August 19, 2009

Avoidable Deaths Worldwide -Scope of issues and What can and is being done

WHO estimates that better use of existing preventive measures could reduce the global burden of disease by as much as 70%.

2008 World Health Report.

Accelerating the improvement in lowering deaths from infectious disease. The top chart shows that acute respiratory infections, diarrhoeal disease, Malaria, HIV/Aids and Tubercolis kill about 9 million people in 2009. Progress in developing vaccines to treat Malaria is helping. Infectious disease is an area where a lot of deaths could be avoided.

In the year 2000, indoor air pollution from solid fuel use was responsible for more than 1.6 million annual deaths and 2.7% of the global burden of disease (in Disability-Adjusted Life Years or DALYs). This makes this risk factor the second biggest environmental contributor to ill health, behind unsafe water and sanitation.Every year, indoor air pollution is responsible for nearly 800 000 deaths due to pneumonia among children under five years of age. The solution is to make burning solid fuel indoors less deadly or to avoid it all together.

Outdoor air pollution was found to account for approximately 1.4% of total mortality, 0.5% of all disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and 2% of all cardiopulmonary disease (World Health Report 2002). This is mainly from 2.5 to 10 micron particulates from the burning of coal and oil.

Newly Identified Persistent Free Radicals
Scientists have long known that free radicals exist in the atmosphere. These atoms, molecules, and fragments of molecules are highly reactive and damage cells in the body. Free radicals form during the burning of fuels or in photochemical processes like those that form ozone. Most of these previously identified atmospheric free radicals form as gases, exist for less than one second, and disappear. In contrast, the newly detected molecules — which Dellinger terms persistent free radicals (PFRs) — form on airborne nanoparticles and other fine particle residues as gases cool in smokestacks, automotive exhaust pipes and household chimneys. Particles that contain metals, such as copper and iron, are the most likely to persist, he said. Unlike other atmospheric free radicals, PFRs can linger in the air and travel great distances.

Once PFRs are inhaled, Dellinger suspects they are absorbed into the lungs and other tissues where they contribute to DNA and other cellular damage. Epidemiological studies suggest that more than 500,000 Americans die each year from cardiopulmonary disease linked to breathing fine particle air pollution, he says. About 10 to 15 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed in nonsmokers, according to the American Cancer Society. However, Dellinger stresses additional research is necessary before scientists can definitely link airborne PFRs to these diseases.

If the connection is made between airborne PFRs and disease, the solution is still to stop burning coal and oil.

Poor water quality continues to pose a major threat to human health. Diarrhoeal disease alone amounts to an estimated 4.1 % of the total DALY global burden of disease and is responsible for the deaths of 1.8 million people every year (WHO, 2004). It was estimated that 88% of that burden is attributable to unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene and is mostly concentrated on children in developing countries.

The millenium goals for 2015:

* halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to improved water supply;
* halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to both improved water supply and improved sanitation.

The results of this analysis point out that achieving the target for both water supply and sanitation would bring economic benefits; US$1 invested would give an economic return of between US$3 and US$34, depending on the region. Achieving this target would require an estimated additional investment of around US$11.3 billion per year over and above current investments. The benefits would include an average global reduction of diarrhoeal episodes of 10% and a total annual economic benefit of US$84 billion

* Access for all to improved water and sanitation services would cost around US$22.6 billion per year.
* Household water treatment using chlorine and safe storage would cost an additional US$2 billion on top of improved water and sanitation costs, taking the global cost to US$24.6 billion.
* Access for all to regulated in-house piped water supply with quality monitoring and in-house sewerage connection with partial treatment of sewage would require a total investment of US$136.5 billion per year

Politics and the situation where there is not enough money to implement plans using traditional technology is a feature that will be unlikely and slow to change. That is why more technology or new plans that can circumvent those factors is important to make more progress. We could have prevented polio deaths and did some with iron lungs, but it was not until vaccines were developed that big progress against polio was made.

Spend 136 billion/year on sanitation and clean water or create a cheap and effective diahrrea vaccines so that people can tolerate dirty water. Still work on clean sanitation but vaccinations could be 20 times cheaper and save 80-90% of the lives.

6 million deaths could be avoided by stopping the use of Tobacco.

Technology for helping Reduce Deaths

A set of 15 proteins found in urine can distinguish healthy individuals from those who have coronary artery disease (CAD), a new study has found. Coronary artery disease is the most common type of cardiovascular disease, occurring in about 5 to 9% (depending on sex and race) of people aged 20 and older.

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

Cost effective disease prevention

Iron deficiency: Iron fortification is very cost-effective in areas of iron deficiency. It involves the addition of iron usually combined with folic acid, to the appropriate food vehicle made available to the population as a whole. Cereal flours are the most common food vehicle, but there is also some experience with introducing iron to other vehicles such as noodles,rice, and various sauces.

The most cost effective strategy to reduce under-nutrition and its consequences combines a mix of preventive and curative interventions. Micronutrient supplementation and fortification - Vitamin A, zinc and iron – is very cost-effective. It should be combined with maternal counselling to continue breast feeding, and targeted provision of complimentary food as necessary. In addition, routine treatment of diarrhoea and pneumonia, major consequences of under-nutrition, should be part of any health improvement strategy for children. Childhood and maternal underweight was estimated to cause 3.4 million deaths in 2000, about 1.8 million in Africa. This accounted for about one in 14 deaths globally.

1.3 million people die each year from traffic accidents. Automation (robotic driving) even partial automation could help a great deal in reducing these deaths and injuries. Partial Automation: detection of imminient crash and auto-avoidance or reduction of crash severity (auto-brake), automation at intersections where disproportionate accidents occur.

Near term possibilities
Changes in driver behaviors are key, Degutis said. In many countries, truck, bus and other transport employees drive recklessly due to economic pressures, with little policing to restrain them. "The quicker they can do a route, the faster they can get there, the more money they make," she said. "There's just not that incentive to be safe. We have to create those incentives for safety."

Certain measures have successfully reduced traffic deaths in the United States and should work elsewhere, experts said.

According to Rosenberg, these interventions include simple, low-cost steps such as installing barriers along the median to prevent head-on collisions; converting four-way intersections into safer traffic circles; and installing speed bumps.

Encouraging governments to beef up policing of reckless or drunk drivers, as well as improving driver training, can also help decrease the carnage

Make roads safe is an action plan being promoted now

Road injury is conspicuous by its absence from the international development agenda. That is – quite literally - a fatal failure of political leadership. Measured on a narrow economic calculus, the costs of business-as-usual are enormous. Road injuries are costing many of the world’s poorest countries 1-3 per cent of the GDP, acting as a brake on economic growth. Simple cost-benefit analysis makes its own case for action. As this report documents, every $1 invested in road safety can save as much as $20 in lost earnings, reduced productivity, and health costs. Instead of asking themselves whether their country can afford to invest in road safety, finance ministers might ask themselves whether it can afford not to.

48 page world Health Organization study on current technology interventions to reduce road deaths and injury

A 19 page UK report looks at issues with increasing automation of driving

Nextbigfuture has proposed plans for electric powered all robotic driving

A parallel path to robotic transportation which could be deployed faster is to use robotic flying (shown with UAVs) to create safer and faster robotic commuter flying.

Mass robotic driving is closer than many people think with pod cars in Masdar city and in super warehouses and adjustable GPS aware cruise control for automatic energy efficient driving.

Life Expectency in the USA has increased and total deaths have fallen

The preliminary number of deaths in the United States for 2007 was 2,423,995, representing a decrease of 2,269 from the 2006 total. The crude death rate of 803.7 per 100,000 population was 0.83 percent less than the rate of 810.4 per 100,000 in 2006. The estimated age-adjusted death rate, which accounts for changes in the age distribution of the population, reached a record low of 760.3 per 100,000 U.S. standard population, 2.1 percent lower than the 2006 rate of 776.5. illustrates the pattern of decline in both crude and age-adjusted death rates from 1980 through 2007. In 2007, age-adjusted death rates decreased from 2006 by 2.1 percent for males and by 2.2 percent for females. All of the sex, race, and Hispanic origin groups described in this report showed significant decreases in the age-adjusted death rate in 2007 from 2006, with the exception of AIAN males, who experienced a decrease that was not statistically significant. The relative magnitudes of these decreases in age-adjusted death rates by sex, race, and Hispanic origin are:
* White males (1.7 percent)
* White females (1.8 percent)
* Non-Hispanic white males (1.4 percent)
* Non-Hispanic white females (1.4 percent)
* Black males (4.1 percent)
* Black females (4.0 percent)
* Non-Hispanic black males (4.1 percent)
* Non-Hispanic black females (3.9 percent)
* AIAN males (0.4 percent, not significant)
* AIAN females (4.7 percent)
* API males (4.2 percent) [Asia Pacific Islander - API)
* API females (4.8 percent)
* Hispanic males (5.5 percent)
* Hispanic females (6.6 percent)

Diseases of heart, decreased by 4.7 percent. The age-adjusted death rate for Malignant neoplasms decreased by 1.8 percent

The HIV death rate dropped 10 percent, the biggest one-year decline in 10 years

Michael Darling at the Speculist rightly points out that these statistics are really for the actual life expectency of people born around 1929 who ended up in America at the time of their death. Average age of death of those who died in 2007. Back in 1929 the estimate of life expectancy was 58, which was the actual of amount of life expectancy for people born in 1871. So people born in 1929 did 21 years better than those born in 1871. How will those born in 2009 actually do in terms of average lifespan ? Probably a lot better than 78 years. How about the average of the likely number of years of life left for people who are now 40 ? It is a lot more than 38 years because those alive now at 40 have made it past all infant and childhood and early adult risks. If you do a few things right (don't smoke, drink only in moderation, exercise, get checkups and know your family medical history and actively work to prevent or detect your personal risks) then you have a very good chance of making to 90+ years of age even without breakthroughs. Supporting Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) projects, like the recent successful fundraising for laser ablation of libofuscin, will help accelerate the life extension breakthroughs

National Vital Statistics Reports, preliminary data for 2007 has just been released. (51 page pdf)

August 18, 2009

Transformer Blows Up at Russian Hydroelectric Dam

Towns downstream of the station's dam were said not to be at risk

BBC News reports that an oil-filled transformer exploded at the Sayano-Shushenskaya power plant in Siberia, bringing down the ceiling of the turbine hall, which then flooded.

RusHydro, the operator of the power station, said the damage would run into "billions of roubles" and would take several months to repair. the accident has created a large oil slick that is now floating down the Yenisei river, which flows north through Siberia to the Arctic. Mr Shoigu said repairs would be difficult and take some time. "We're probably talking about years rather than months to restore three of the 10 turbines," he told state television.

76 people were likely killed. The owners of the Sayano-Shushenskaya power plant in Siberia say it is unlikely any survivors will be found.

Deaths per Terawatt Hour from all energy sources

Just because an energy source causes deaths does not mean we should not build it. Poverty and lack of energy also kills and depowering civilization at this point would kill a lot more, because we are dependent as a civilization on the energy.

We have to look at all the aspects of what we can build and what we could build and make choices that do not ignore the downsides and benefits for all energy sources. Hydro dams can also contribute to global warming.

Cost wise hydro dams are good.

Hydro, Nuclear, Wind, solar, geothermal are all still better than coal, oil and natural gas. Natural gas is better than coal and oil. Oil is better than coal (pollution and death wise. Although wars over oil can change the comparison).

CNano Technology has EPA Approval to Sell Carbon Nanotubes from 500 Ton/Year Plant

Applications which can use the large new supply of carbon nanotubes [click on the picture to the left for a larger image].

CNano Technology Limited (CNano) announced that it has received regulatory approval from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to sell multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) through its subsidiary in the USA. This approval of consent order places CNano on the short list of manufacturers approved to supply MWNTs in the United States under the strict nanotechnology regulations of the EPA. The approval results from the Pre-Manufacturing Notice (PMN) filed by CNano for the MWNTs produced at its 500 tons per year facility in Beijing, China.

The growing list of commercial applications for carbon nanotubes includes conductive plastics for electronics and automotive, structural composites for sporting goods and aerospace, conductive coatings for electronics and aerospace, electrodes for batteries, super capacitors and fuel cells among others.

June 22, 2009 was when the CNano carbon nanotube factory was first announced.

Nanowires Candidate For Future After CMOS

From 2007, the semiconductor industry will continue to see performance improvements after CMOS gate scaling runs up against physical limits, said Hiroshi Iwai, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Researchers can achieve higher transistor densities by pursuing reduced operating voltages, and nanowire or nanotube-based field-effect transistors (FETs) will eventually play key roles as well, he said. (H/T Sander Olson)

[University of Copenhagen] In 2009, Nanochemists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Nano-Science Center, Department of Chemistry at University of Copenhagen have developed nanoscale electric contacts out of organic and inorganic nanowires. In the contact they have crossed the wires like Mikado sticks and coupled several contacts together in an electric circuit. In this way they have produced prototype computer electronics on the nanoscale.

Nanowires 2007
FETs based on germanium, III-V materials or carbon nanotubes “would still be a little early for 2020, though they are good candidates afterwards,” said Iwai, a former Toshiba R&D manager.

Instead, devices could achieve high conduction at low voltages by using 1-D ballistic conduction, increasing the number of quantum channels and the number of nanowires or nanotubes in the channel.

FinFET-type structures with four conduction channels made of 1-D nanowires could achieve very high drive currents, he said, estimating that each wire could drive 77.5 mA at a 1 V power supply.

“This is an extremely high value,” he said, noting that already 21.6 mA/wire at 1.2 V was achieved experimentally by the Institute of Microelectronics (IME, Singapore), where the wire diameter equaled 3 nm. “By adjusting the wire width, the energy band mimimums become closer and we can increase the number of the conduction channels,” he said, with four bands likely for silicon-based nanowires.

By taking a vertical device in which the gate wraps around the channel and forming multiple nanowires to form discrete, complementary channels, charge-based devices could be extended much further than some are predicting, Iwai said.

Nanowires 2009

We already use various organic materials in, for example, flat screens, such as OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode). The new results show how small and advanced devices made of organic materials can become. Thomas Bjørnholm, Director of the Nano-Science Center, Department of Chemistry at University of Copenhagen explains:

- "We have succeeded in placing several transistors consisting of nanowires together on a nano device. It is a first step towards realisation of future electronic circuitry based on organic materials – a possible substitute for today’s silicon-based technologies. This offers the possibility of making computers in different ways in the future."

The researchers have used organic nanowires combined with the tin oxide nanowires in a so-called hybrid circuit. As in a Mikado game, the nanowires cross in a device consisting of 4-6 active transistor moieties. The devices have a low operational current, high mobility and good stability and that is essential in order for the material to be able to compete with silicon.

Duodecimom ? Tunisian Woman Expecting 12 Babies: Updated Fraud

From the UK Guardian, a Tunisian woman is due to give birth to 12 babies, which could be a world record.

UPDATED: This has turned out to be a complete fraud. Tunisian authorities did tests and the woman is not even pregant. She just has mental problems.

Octo is the prefix for eight as in octomom. Duodecim is the prefix for twelve.

There is still the issue of healthy delivery of all babies.

A primary benefit if there is a healthy and successful delivery of all babies is that the popular attention could shift Octomom to Duodecimom.

Successful Delivery of All Babies is Unlikely

Fertility experts warned of the high risks, however, with the possibility that the strain of carrying so many babies could lead to her going into labour after just 20 weeks, around halfway through a normal pregnancy and four weeks less than the UK's legal limit for abortion.

"I don't like to dampen her enthusiasm, but the chances are she will deliver at 20 weeks. I wouldn't even give her a one in 100 chance of even one surviving. It's frightening," Peter Bowen-Simpkins, a fellow at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists told the Daily Mail.

The record for multiple pregnancies was set in 1996, when a 23-year-old Greek Cypriot woman was pregnant with 11 babies. But nine had to be aborted to save the lives of two.

Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing- Eliezer Yudkowsky and Scott Aaronson

Eliezer Yudkowsky, Singularity Institute, Overcoming Bias, Less Wrong and Scott Aaronson, MIT talk for over an hour on Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing at

The disagreement they have is over timescale. One to ten decades versus a few thousand years. However, Scott Aaronson indicates that nothing in Eliezer Yudowsky position is counter to what Scott knows about physics and should be possible according to physics.

Percontations: Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Mechanics

When will we build the first superintelligence? (09:47)
Why quantum computing isn’t a recipe for robot apocalypse (07:46)
How to guilt-trip a machine (03:13)
The evolutionary psychology of artificial intelligence (08:07)
Eliezer contends many-worlds is obviously correct (08:43)
Scott contends many-worlds is ridiculous (but might still be true) (20:39)

There is work with Dwave System adiabatic quantum computer and google to improve/speed up machine learning and categorization which improves an aspect of artificial intelligence. Note: Scott Aaronson has been an outspoken critic of Dwave Systems adiabatic quantum computers.

How far away is the Singularity according to Scott Aaronson.

August 17, 2009

Nuclear Fuel Transitions: Higher Burnup, Thorium and More

Nuclear fuel burnup is measured in gigawatt-days per tonne and its potential is proportional to the level of enrichment. Hitherto a limiting factor has been the physical robustness of fuel assemblies, and hence burn-up levels of about 40 GWd/t have required only around 4% enrichment. But with better equipment and fuel assemblies, 55 GWd/t is possible (with 5% enrichment), and 70 GWd/t is in sight, though this would require 6% enrichment. The benefit of this is that operation cycles can be longer - around 24 months - and the number of fuel assemblies discharged as used fuel can be reduced by one third. Associated fuel cycle cost is expected to be reduced by about 20%.

The Nuclear Regulatory agency has approved Optimized ZIRLO fuel which can get 70 Gwd/t burnup

Advanced Precursor Assembly (APA) will soon begin their fourth cycle of operation and will reach burnup levels close to 70 GWD/t when discharged in 2010.

(121 page pdf) Nuclear Energy Agency report on the status of nuclear fuel transition. It lists many competing mainstream options on nuclear fuel. The transition to 70 GWD/t fuel is projected at 2015. Uranium usage will be 20-30% more efficient with a complete transition to 70 GWD/t fuel.


Thorium Power, inc looks to have its fuel validated for 2017-2018 and then installing in current reactors in 2021

Thorium Power, together with their development partners, expect to continue working with regulatory authorities to obtain regulatory clearance for insertion of several lead test assemblies, or LTAs, into an operating VVER-1000 reactor for final demonstration of our VVER SBU fuel technology. The LTA testing in an operating VVER-1000 reactor is expected to extend over for approximately 3 years. They have also performed initial research and testing of a similar seed-and-blanket fuel technology for application in Western pressurized water reactors, or PWR SBU fuel.

There are four groups of companies that collectively fabricate a large majority of the fuel used in the world’s commercial nuclear power plants: Areva, Westinghouse Electric Company, General Electric, and AtomStroyExport/TVEL.

Thorium/uranium nuclear fuel will offer significant advantages over conventional uranium fuel, including: (1) enhanced proliferation resistance of spent fuel, (2) improved reactor safety, (3) significantly reduced volume, weight and long-term radio-toxicity of spent fuel, and (4) cost savings in the back-end operations (spent fuel management) of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Other Nuclear Fuel Technologies: Click on Images for Larger Image

Nuclear Energy Improvement 1990-2006 and 2000 to 2006: More than all Wind Installed Ever
From 1990 to 2006, world nuclear energy capacity rose by 44 GWe (13.5%, due both to net addition of new plants and uprating some established ones) and electricity production rose 757 billion kWh (40%). The relative contributions to this increase were: new construction 36%, uprating 7% and availability increase 57%. The increase over the six years to 2006 (210 TWh) was equal to the output from 30 large new nuclear plants. Yet between 2000 and 2006 there was no net increase in reactor numbers (and only 15 GWe in capacity)

Wind is good and we should build more, but all the wind ever installed is still less than 200 TWh in one year as of 2009.