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January 23, 2010

Venezuela Oil and North Dakota Oil Updates

1. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated a mean volume of 513 billion barrels of technically recoverable heavy oil in the Orinoco Oil Belt Assessment Unit of the East Venezuela Basin Province; the range is 380 to 652 billion barrels. (4 page pdf)





Estimates of Original Oil-in-Place
A comprehensive study by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) established the magnitude of the original oil-in-place (OOIP) at 1,180 billion barrels of oil (BBO), a commonly cited estimate for the Orinoco Oil Belt (Fiorillo, 1987); PDVSA recently revised this value to more than 1,300 BBO (Gonzalez and others, 2006). In this study the median OOIP was estimated at 1,300 BBO and the maximum at 1,400 BBO. The minimum OOIP was estimated at 900 BBO, given the uncertainty of regional sandstone distribution and oil saturation (Fiorillo, 1987).

Estimates of Recovery Factor
Recovery factor, or that percentage of the OOIP that is determined to be technically recoverable, was estimated from what is currently known of the technology for recovery of heavy oil in the Orinoco Oil Belt AU and in other areas, particularly California, west Texas, and western Canada. The minimum recovery factor was estimated to be 15 percent, the recovery expected for cold production using horizontal wells. The median recovery factor was estimated to be 45 percent, on the assumption that horizontal drilling and thermal recovery methods might be widely used. The maximum recovery factor was estimated to be 70 percent, on the assumption that other recovery processes, in addition to horizontal drilling and steam-assisted gravity drainage, might eventually be applied on a large scale in the Orinoco Oil Belt AU.


The assessment of technically recoverable heavy oil and associated gas resources is shown in table 2. The mean of the distribution of heavy oil resources is about 513 BBO, with a range from 380 to about 652 BBO. The mean estimate of associated dissolved-gas resource is 135 trillion cubic feet of gas (TCFG), with a range from 53 to 262 TCFG. No attempt was made in this study to estimate either economically recoverable

2. North Dakota raised its forecast for oil output on growth in and around the Bakken Shale formation There is another 100,000 barrels a day in north Dakota from oil that is not in the Bakken.

Output may reach 300,000 to 400,000 barrels a day by mid- 2011 and stay at that level for 10 to 15 years, said Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Mineral Resources Department. The state’s previous estimate was 220,000 to 280,000.

The forecast was raised on discoveries by companies such as Continental Resources Inc., Helms said in an interview. Drilling advances are enabling producers to tap the Bakken, where rocks lack the porosity and permeability of conventional oil fields. The Bakken contributed to last year’s 7.5 percent gain in U.S. crude output, the biggest since 1955 and the first in 18 years. The Energy Department forecast a 1.8 percent increase in 2010.

The top end of North Dakota’s production projection would represent more than 7 percent of nationwide oil output





January 22, 2010

Carnival of Space 137


Carnival of Space 137 is up at noisyastronomer

This site provide the article on the risk of manmade sun explosions

The Bad Astronomer provides the picture of Mars and its frozen CO2







Robotic Taxibot at Airports for towing Planes and Saving Fuel - Perhaps Operational in 2011


Ricardo has demonstrated their taxibot for moving planes at airports, which they hope to have commericial in 2011.

The robotically driven vehicles could save billions each year in fuel. The demonstrator vehicle weighs 52 tonnes and is powered by twin, 500hp V8 diesel engines which operate a complex hydrostatic drive system as well as hydraulic systems handling the 4-wheel steering and aircraft pick-up and clamp actuators.

Once this testing is completed it is planned that the demonstrator vehicle will be shipped to Toulouse airport where the TaxiBot will be used in further tests in February 2010 with an Airbus owned A340-600 airplane weighing approximately 350 tonnes. The Ricardo team on the TaxiBot programme will continue to support the development work throughout this next phase based at Toulouse.


Ricardo has delivered a demonstrator robotic, pilot-controlled towing vehicle known as TaxiBot to Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

The demonstrator, a six-wheeled vehicle, is capable of towing Boeing 747 and Airbus A340 airliners.

The Taxibot is based on a Krauss Maffei PTS-1 aircraft towbarless tractor that has been redesigned, modified and rebuilt by Ricardo to install IAI's idea of a turret and energy absorption systems and controls.

On engaging with the TaxiBot, the nose wheel of the aircraft enters the vehicle turret that can rotate freely and hence take steering and braking requests directly from the nose wheel.

With the TaxiBot engaged the flight, crew can manoeuvre the aircraft around the taxi-ways of the airport, relying solely on auxiliary power units for on-board power and air conditioning needs.

The towing vehicle has the potential to reduce fuel costs and emissions, since at present aircraft taxiing to and from the airport terminal gate and runway is a major source of CO2 emissions, fuel consumption.

Ricardo has been involved in the project for IAI for 15 months and in June 2009, IAI and Airbus signed a memorandum of understanding for development of the Taxibot concept.

At present, the prototype assumes an operator in the vehicle, however, the control architecture of the vehicle allows for autonomous tug operation, so in future no tug driver would be needed for taxiing.



IAI’s Taxibot is a a tow-bar-less robotic tractor that would allow both wide and narrow body commercial airplanes to taxi to and from the gate and the runway without using their jet engines, while remaining under full pilot control at all times and removing all hazards to ground vehicle drivers. Unlike systems like Wheeltug, the system requires no modifications to airliner fleets. It does share the advantage of letting the pilot move and steer the aircraft on the ground, using the same controls and motions they’ve been trained to use during full engine maneuvers.

The Taxibot demonstrator is currently powered by 2 diesel engines, which drives 6 hydraulic motors in a typical “one in each wheel” hydrostatic drive architecture. For the prototype and serial production, IAI says that other hybrid electric solutions will be considered.

EADS and IAI report that an initial evaluation of this concept has shown promising results. IAI believes “Taxibot” could reduce annual fuel costs from $8 billion to less than $2 billion, CO2 emissions from 18 million tons to less than 2 million tons per year, and noise emissions by a significant margin. That last component is a less attention getting environmental component, but its significance will rise. The US Department of Transportation-led study “Trends in Global Aviation Noise and Emissions from Commercial Aviation for 2000 to 2025″ predicted that despite noise level improvements in next-generation airplanes, the number of people forced to deal with serious aircraft noise will rise from 24 million in 2000 to 30.3 million by 2025.

A June 2009 Memorandum of Understanding between IAI and EADS aims to take the next steps, and validate Taxibot’s potential. Airbus will participate in the feasibility studies, using an Airbus-owned A340-600 long haul airliner as the test subject. In addition to the ground tests in Toulouse, France, the MoU assessment phase will also cover regulatory, legal/product liability, environmental, and financial evaluations.

If all goes well during those 2009 assessments and subsequent operational demonstrations, IAI and EADS would look to a 3-way partnership with a vehicle manufacturer, in order to certify, produce, and sell Taxibot tractors to airports. Under current plans, Taxibot would be ready for first deliveries by the Q3 2011.






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the problem lasted from Jan 21-23, 2010. It is fixed now






Possibly Revolutionary Dry Contact Printing of Carbon Nanotubes Patterns to Any Surface


Rice University has developed dry printing of nanotube patterns to any surface which could revolutionize microelectronics and more.

Rice graduate student Cary Pint has come up with a way to transfer patterns of strongly aligned, single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) from a substrate to another surface – any surface – in a matter of minutes. The same substrate, with its catalyst particles still intact, can repeatedly be used to grow more nanotubes, almost like inking a rubber stamp.

Pint is primary author of the research paper, which also details a way to quickly and easily determine the range of diameters in a batch of nanotubes grown through chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Common spectroscopic techniques are poor at seeing tubes bigger than two nanometers in diameter – or most of the nanotubes in the CVD "supergrowth" process

ACS Nano - Dry Contact Transfer Printing of Aligned Carbon Nanotube Patterns and Characterization of Their Optical Properties for Diameter Distribution and Alignment

A scalable and facile approach is demonstrated where as-grown patterns of well-aligned structures composed of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) synthesized via water-assisted chemical vapor deposition (CVD) can be transferred, or printed, to any host surface in a single dry, room-temperature step using the growth substrate as a stamp. We demonstrate compatibility of this process with multiple transfers for large-scale device and specifically tailored pattern fabrication. Utilizing this transfer approach, anisotropic optical properties of the SWNT films are probed via polarized absorption, Raman, and photoluminescence spectroscopies. Using a simple model to describe optical transitions in the large SWNT species present in the aligned samples, polarized absorption data are demonstrated as an effective tool for accurate assignment of the diameter distribution from broad absorption features located in the infrared. This can be performed on either well-aligned samples or unaligned doped samples, allowing simple and rapid feedback of the SWNT diameter distribution that can be challenging and time-consuming to obtain in other optical methods. Furthermore, we discuss challenges in accurately characterizing alignment in structures of long versus short carbon nanotubes through optical techniques, where SWNT length makes a difference in the information obtained in such measurements. This work provides new insight to the efficient transfer and optical properties of an emerging class of long, large diameter SWNT species typically produced in the CVD process
.




"This is important since all of the properties of the nanotubes – electrical, thermal and mechanical – change with diameter," he said. “The best thing is that nearly every university has an FTIR (Fourier transform infrared) spectrometer sitting around that can do these measurements, and that should make the process of synthesis and application development from carbon nanotubes much more precise."

Pint and other students and colleagues of Robert Hauge, a Rice distinguished faculty fellow in chemistry, are also investigating ways to take printed films of SWNTs and make them all-conducting or all-semiconducting – a process Hauge refers to as "Fermi-level engineering" for its ability to manipulate electron movement at the nanoscale.

Combined, the techniques represent a huge step toward a nearly limitless number of practical applications that include sensors, highly efficient solar panels and electronic components.

"A big frontier for the field of nanoscience is in finding ways to make what we can do on the nanoscale impact our everyday activities," Hauge said. "For the use of carbon nanotubes in devices that can change the way we do things, a straightforward and scalable way of patterning aligned carbon nanotubes over any surface and in any pattern is a major advance."

Pint said an afternoon of "experimenting with creative ideas" as a first-year graduate student turned into a project that held his interest through his time at Rice. "I realized early on it may be useful to transfer carbon nanotubes to other surfaces," he said.

"I started playing around with water vapor to clean up the amorphous carbons on the nanotubes. When I pulled out a sample, I noticed the nanotubes actually stuck to the tweezers.

"I thought to myself, 'That's really interesting ...'"

Water turns out to be the key. After growing the nanotubes, Pint etches them with a mix of hydrogen gas and water vapor, which weakens the chemical bonds between the tubes and the metal catalyst. When stamped, the nanotubes lay down and adhere, via van der Waals, to the new surface, leaving all traces of the catalyst behind.

Pint, who hopes to defend his dissertation in August, developed a steady enough hand to deposit nanotubes on a range of surfaces – "anything I could lay my hands on" – in patterns that could easily be replicated and certainly enhanced by industrial processes. A striking example of his work is a crisscross film of nanotubes made by stamping one set of lines onto a surface and then reusing the catalyst to grow more tubes and stamping them again over the first pattern at a 90-degree angle. The process took no more than 15 minutes.

"I'll be honest – that was a little bit of luck, combined with the skill of having done this for a few years," he said of the miniature work of art. "But if I were in industry, I would make a machine to do this for me."

Pint believes industries will take a hard look at the technique, which he said could be scaled up easily, for embedding nanotube circuitry into electronic devices.

His own goal is to develop the process to make a range of highly efficient optical-sensing devices. He's also investigating doping techniques that will take the guesswork out of growing metallic (conducting) or semiconducting SWNTs

7 page pdf with supplemental information




Global Poverty Progress - Model Income Past, Present and Future

There is an analysis of the model income of the world from 1970 and 2006. Model income is the level of income that is most common in the world. The graphs show on the left vertical the population with a particular income level and the bottom horizontal shows the income level. In 1970 about 50 million people had $500 of income per year. In 2006, About 100 million had $5000 of income per year.








World poverty is falling. Between 1970 and 2006, the global poverty rate has been cut by nearly three quarters. The percentage of the world population living on less than $1 a day (in PPP-adjusted 2000 dollars) went from 26.8% in 1970 to 5.4% in 2006. 1970 to 2006, poverty fell by 86% in South Asia, 73% in Latin America, 39% in the Middle East, and 20% in Africa.




An Attempt to Project Foreward 40 Years on Model Income
Goldmans Sachs had a forecast of GDP for the top 22 countries until 2050 and this was used to approximate world GDP growth. Using wikipedia estimates of future population the mean average GDP per capita was calculated. This was used to approximate the shift in modal income into the future.

There are several ways that this method could be off.

1) The Goldman Sachs estimates could be wrong. In particular China's GDP is projected by some to be 20% of Goldmans estimate and some have it 200% of Goldman Sachs. Disruptive technology such as molecular nanotechnology, super robotics, cheap nuclear fusion or AGI could arrive and alter the economic picture.

2) The World GDP may not track proportionally with the GDP of the top 22.

3) The modal income may not shift exactly in proportion to the mean income.

4) The population projection could be off

The biggest source of error is the first and the degree of possible error shrinks for the factors listed.



Projected Modal Income is on the last line of the table.





Penn State has produced 100 mm diameter graphene wafers and Separate Arxiv Paper on 300 mm Deposition of Graphene


Picture - This graphene (100 mm / 4 inch) wafer contains more than 22,000 devices and test structures.

Researchers in the Electro-Optics Center (EOC) Materials Division at Penn State have produced 100 mm diameter graphene wafers,
a key milestone in the development of graphene for next generation high-power, high-frequency electronic devices. Graphene is the two-dimensional form of graphite and consists of tightly bound carbon atoms in a hexagonal arrangement resembling chicken wire. Thanks to the ability of an electron to move at 1/300th the speed of light through graphene (significantly faster than silicon), graphene is a candidate material for many high-speed computing applications in the multibillion-dollar semiconductor device industry

Separate 300 mm Deposition work

Arxiv - Highly Uniform 300 mm Wafer-Scale Deposition of Single and Multilayered Chemically Derived Graphene Thin Films

The deposition of atomically thin highly uniform chemically derived graphene (CDG) films on 300 mm SiO2/Si wafers is reported. We demonstrate that the very thin films can be lifted off to form uniform membranes than can be free-standing or transferred onto any substrate. Detailed maps of thickness using Raman spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy (AFM) height profiles reveal that the film thickness is very uniform and highly controllable, ranging from 1-2 layers up to 30 layers. After reduction using a variety of methods, the CDG films are transparent and electrically active with FET devices yielding exceptionally high mobilities of ~ 15 cm2/Vs and sheet resistance of ~ 1 k/sq at ~ 70 % transparency.



Details of the Penn State 100mm Wafer Work

The Penn State EOC is a leading center for the synthesis of graphene materials and graphene-based devices. Using a process called silicon sublimation, EOC researchers David Snyder and Randy Cavalero thermally processed silicon carbide wafers in a high temperature furnace until the silicon migrated away from the surface, leaving behind a layer of carbon that formed into a one- to two-atom-thick film of graphene on the wafer surface. The EOC wafers were 100mm in diameter, the largest diameter commercially available for silicon carbide wafers, and exceeded the previous demonstration of 50mm.

According to EOC materials scientist Joshua Robinson, Penn State is currently fabricating field effect transistors on the 100 mm graphene wafers and will begin transistor performance testing in early 2010. A further goal is to improve the speed of electrons in graphene made from silicon carbide wafers to closer to the theoretical speed, approximately 100 times faster than silicon. That will require improvements in the material quality, says Robinson, but the technology is new and there is plenty of room for improvements in processing.

In addition to silicon sublimation, EOC researchers Joshua Robinson, Mark Fanton, Brian Weiland, Kathleen Trumbull and Michael LaBella are developing the synthesis and device fabrication of graphene on silicon as a means to achieve wafer diameters exceeding 200mm, a necessity for integrating graphene into the existing semiconductor industry. With the support of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., EOC researchers are initially focusing on graphene materials to improve the transistor performance in various radio frequency (RF) applications.

With its remarkable physical, chemical and structural properties, graphene is being studied worldwide for electronics, displays, solar cells, sensors, and hydrogen storage. Graphene has the potential to enable terahertz computing, at processor speeds 100 to 1,000 times faster than silicon. For a material that was first isolated only five years ago, graphene is getting off to a fast start.






Human running speeds of 35 to 40 mph may be biologically possible

Peter Weyand and colleagues have published a paper which details how human running speeds of 35-40 mph may be biologically possible

Peter Weyands estimate of the fastest speed a human can run has been covered here before (he had indicated that 45 mph is possible for a modified human shaped runner).

The newly published evidence identifies the critical variable imposing the biological limit to running speed, and offers an enticing view of how the biological limits might be pushed back beyond the nearly 28 miles per hour speeds achieved by Bolt to speeds of perhaps 35 or even 40 miles per hour.

Usain Bolt ran at just over 22 mph over 100 meters. (peak speed of 28 mph)
Ostriches can run 45 mph.

In contrast to a force limit, what the researchers found was that the critical biological limit is imposed by time -– specifically, the very brief periods of time available to apply force to the ground while sprinting. In elite sprinters, foot-ground contact times are less than one-tenth of one second, and peak ground forces occur within less than one-twentieth of one second of the first instant of foot-ground contact.

The researchers took advantage of several experimental tools to arrive at the new conclusions. They used a high-speed treadmill capable of attaining speeds greater than 40 miles per hour and of acquiring precise measurements of the forces applied to the surface with each footfall. They also had subjects' perform at high speeds in different gaits. In addition to completing traditional top-speed forward running tests, subjects hopped on one leg and ran backward to their fastest possible speeds on the treadmill.

The unconventional tests were strategically selected to test the prevailing beliefs about mechanical factors that limit human running speeds –- specifically, the idea that the speed limit is imposed by how forcefully a runner's limbs can strike the ground.



However, the researchers found that the ground forces applied while hopping on one leg at top speed exceeded those applied during top-speed forward running by 30 percent or more, and that the forces generated by the active muscles within the limb were roughly 1.5 to 2 times greater in the one-legged hopping gait.

The time limit conclusion was supported by the agreement of the minimum foot-ground contact times observed during top-speed backward and forward running. Although top backward vs. forward speeds were substantially slower, as expected, the minimum periods of foot-ground contact at top backward and forward speeds were essentially identical.

According to Matthew Bundle, an assistant professor of biomechanics at the University of Wyoming, "The very close agreement in the briefest periods of foot-ground contact at top speed in these two very different gaits points to a biological limit on how quickly the active muscle fibers can generate the forces necessary to get the runner back up off the ground during each step."

The researchers said the new work shows that running speed limits are set by the contractile speed limits of the muscle fibers themselves, with fiber contractile speeds setting the limit on how quickly the runner's limb can apply force to the running surface.

"Our simple projections indicate that muscle contractile speeds that would allow for maximal or near-maximal forces would permit running speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour and conceivably faster," Bundle said.


Journal of Applied Physiology - The biological limits to running speed are imposed from the ground up

Running speed is limited by a mechanical interaction between the stance and swing phases of the stride. Here, we tested whether stance phase limitations are imposed by ground force maximums or foot-ground contact time minimums. We selected one-legged hopping and backward running as experimental contrasts to forward running, and had seven athletic subjects complete progressive discontinuous treadmill tests to failure to determine their top speeds in each of the three gaits. Vertical ground reaction forces (in body weights; Wb) and periods of ground force application (Tc; s) were measured using a custom, high-speed force treadmill. At top speed, we found that both the stance-averaged (Favg) and peak (Fpeak) vertical forces applied to the treadmill surface during one-legged hopping exceeded those applied during forward running by more than one-half of the body's weight [Favg = 2.71 ± 0.15 vs. 2.08 ± 0.07 Wb; Fpeak = 4.20 ± 0.24 vs. 3.62 ± 0.24 Wb±sem] and that hopping periods of force application were significantly longer [Tc = 0.160 ± 0.006 vs. 0.108 ± 0.004 s]. Next, we found that the periods of ground force application at top backward and forward running speeds were nearly identical, agreeing to within an average of 0.006 s [Tc = 0.116 ± 0.004 s vs. 0.110 ± 0.005 s]. We conclude that the stance phase limit to running speed is imposed, not by the maximum forces that the limbs can apply to the ground, but rather by the minimum time needed to apply the large, mass-specific forces necessary.




HULC Exoskeleton to Fuel Cell For Over 3 Days of Power

Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has selected Protonex Technology Corporation to develop power supply concepts that will enable the HULC robotic exoskeleton to support 72+-hour extended missions.

The Lockheed HULC exoskeleton was covered here Previously a jet fuel generator was needed to get this level of endurance.

Protonex will evaluate fuel cell-based power solutions that can be carried by the HULC, while at the same time powering the exoskeleton and the user’s mission equipment during extended dismounted operations.

"Integrating state-of-the-art power technology on the HULC is a whole system approach to meeting the needs of dismounted Warfighters and Special Operations forces," said Rich Russell, director of Sensors, Data Links and Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “With proper power management systems, the HULC can be used to recharge critical equipment while carrying heavy combat loads on an extended mission."

Dismounted Soldiers often carry loads greater than 130 pounds, including electronics and numerous extra batteries needed to operate gear and complete 72+-hour operations in the field. The HULC, equipped with an extended mission power supply with recharge capability, would enable dismounted Soldiers on these missions to carry fewer batteries




* Soldiers will be able to carry loads up to 200 pounds with minimal effort
* HULC uses four pounds of lithium polymer batteries will run the exoskeleton for an hour walking at 3mph, according to Lockheed. Speed marching at up to 7mph reduces this somewhat; a battery-draining "burst" at 10mph is the maximum speed
A soldier with a pack would normally go at 3 mph maximum and cover 10-12 miles in a day.
* Remote-controlled gun mounts weighing as little as 55lb are available, able to handle various kinds of normally tripod- or bipod-mounted heavy weapons

* HULC is basically a legs and body system only: there's no enhancement to the user's arms, though an over-shoulder frame can be fitted allowing a wearer to hoist heavy objects such as artilery shells with the aid of a lifting strop.

NOTE: Average humans walk 4 to 6 mph, but special operations soldiers are often expected to carry up to 150 pounds of supplies in their backpacks. 25mph speed with bionic boots (springing the step) would be covering almost a marathon distance in one hour.





New Ion Accelerator System Proposed for Shipping Container Nuclear and Conventional Explosive Security

Nuclear bombs and nuclear material are difficult to detect in the millions of shipping containers that are handled at ports. There are various active and passive systems but they are only partically effective. Ion accelerators using a range of energy levels should be faster and more discriminating (detect a high percentage of correct positives and have fewer false positives).

The combined cargo inspection system envisaged will automatically and reliably detect small, operationally-relevant amounts of concealed explosives and SNM. It will be cost-effective, employing largely-common hardware, but different reactions and data acquisition modes. The system is also inherently multi-level in the sense that, if an alarm is raised, the cargo item in question is subjected to further screening within the system itself, until it can be definitely cleared or declared suspect. Throughput is projected to be 10-20 aviation containers/hr.

At the heart of the concept is a dual-purpose accelerator for mass-2 ions, alternately delivering several mA (cw) of H2+ and sub-mA (pulsed) deuterons. As shown by the 9.172 MeV emission line data of the present work, beam quality requirements are only moderately stringent, which opens up the field to accelerator technologies that are compact and robust.

Note - Nextbigfuture observation is that this proposed security system could be made a lot smaller and cheaper if handheld proton beam accelerators could be built (DARPA proposed them and we covered them).

Berkeley labs is targeting 10 GeV for every one meter of laser-plasma accelerator.



To construct a practicable system with good performance characteristics, judicious choices of gamma-ray energies and populating reactions employing low-energy beams at sub-mA intensities are essential. To this end, a comprehensive literature study of reaction-induced, thick-target gamma
yields has been performed

The U.S. Government passed a Bill in 2007, which mandates that, within five years, 100% of all U.S.-bound maritime cargo, as well as all aviation cargo loaded onto passenger aircraft, be scanned for the above threat materials in foreign ports prior to shipment. Indeed, this implies that a very large number of inspection systems with capabilities beyond the present state-of-the-art will be needed, at a global hardware outlay estimated to exceed 5000M$ (more than 1000 systems, at ~5M$ each).



Arxiv - A Dual-Purpose Ion-Accelerator for Nuclear-Reaction-Based Explosives-and SNM-Detection in Massive Cargo (14 pages)

A concept is presented for a dual-purpose ion-accelerator, capable of serving as radiation source in a versatile, nuclear-reaction-based inspection system for massive-cargo. The system will automatically and reliably detect small, operationally-relevant quantities of concealed explosives and Special Nuclear Materials (SNM). It will be cost-effective, employing largely common hardware, but different reactions and data acquisition modes. Typical throughput is expected to be 10-20 aviation containers/hr, at the beam intensities specified below.

With such an inspection system, explosives are detected via g-Resonance Absorption (GRA) in 14N using 9.17 MeV g-rays produced in 13C(p,g), and SNM via Dual-Discrete-Energy g-Radiography (DEGR) with 15.11 & 4.43 MeV 12C g-rays from 11B(d,n). Simultaneously with the scan, 1-17 MeV neutrons from the latter reaction will yield complementary information, both on explosives and on SNM, via Fast-Neutron Resonance Radiography (FNRR). Few-view radiography will be implemented throughout, since spatial reconstruction of threat-object densities reduces false-alarm rates drastically.

Nevertheless, if a cargo item does alarm the system on SNM, confirmation of its presence and composition will be effected via a secondary-screening technique, namely, induced-fission decay-signatures, employing the 11B(d,n) neutrons. This should only be required in solitary cases and will thus not impede cargo flow to any appreciable extent. For explosives, the GRA/FNRR combination comprehensively covers the entire spectrum of substances in the arena and no secondary-screening technique should be required.

The essence of the accelerator concept is a fixed-energy machine, alternately delivering mass-2 beams of H2+ (3 mA, cw) and deuterons (0.2 mA, pulsed) for GRA and DEGR/FNRR, respectively. It will operate at precisely double the GRA resonance energy of Ep=1.746 MeV (namely, 3.492 MeV) and require beam-energy resolution no better than ~15 keV (FWTM).

This specification was confirmed in a recent measurement, first reported here, of the GRA emission-linewidth obtained with H2+ ions, when driving the resonance into the depth of a moderately-thick 13C target. For most acceleration techniques, such beam-energy resolution requirements are not unduly stringent, which works in favour of the high-current requirement. On deuteron beams there are no energy resolution constraints, as the 11B(d,n) reaction is nonresonant.

















January 21, 2010

High Energy Microwave Cannon for Disabling Cars and Improvised Explosive Devices Has been Field Tested


Eureka Aerospace has a high energy microwave cannon for stopping cars

Eureka Aerospace’s current High-Power Electromagnetic System (HPEMS) uses a compact, tunable power source and a high-gain antenna to beam microwave energy in the direction of targeted vehicles. Once emitted, these electromagnetic waves bring vehicles to a halt by inducing strong disabling currents in their ignition and control systems.

Specific key applications for HPEMS include:
• Immediate immobilization of cars and trucks on roads and multi-lane highways
• Non-lethal area denial to vehicles (high-value asset perimeter protection)
• Protection of ships and oil platforms on the open seas
• Neutralization and detonation of IEDs at standoff distances in excess of 100 m

The system would not work on 1970s or older cars that do not have a heavy reliance on electronics.










EMC Solar Claims Calcium Hydride Has Ten times the density of conventional molten salt solar storage


A cheap and effective way to store solar power is needed to increase the usability and adoption of solar power. Molten salt storage has been seen as one of the best ways to create solar power storage that is scalable to megawatt hours or more.

EMC Solar and partners are trying to achieve continuous, cost competitive, and modular configuration for large scale solar power production, in GWatt quantities.

Calcium hydride is chosen due to its ability to be broken apart using a thermal heat source, such as the sun. Calcium hydride provides up to 0.90 kW-hr/kg of heat when it converts to calcium and hydrogen.

Hydrogen is stored in a separate low temperature hydride tank. Two heat exchangers are used to extract the thermal energy from the hydrogen before storage in the low temperature hydride. The heat exchangers are required to extract the remaining 20% of the total system energy still in the 1100 C hydrogen before it is cooled to near room temperature.

A central triple walled reaction chamber holds both Calcium and Calcium hydride as liquids between 1000 C and 1100 C. Heat is extracted from the reaction chamber to drive one or multiple 100 kW high temperature Dual Shell Stirling engines operating at 50% conversion efficiency.

The thermal storage costs are substantially lower than a nitrate salt system and reflect both the simplicity of the calcium hydride system and the significant increase in power density. In the calcium hydride system the two liquids, calcium and calcium hydride, remain in the central reaction chamber. Only hydrogen is pumped between tanks

Proposed 100 kW solar system:

* Store 18 hours of thermal energy
* Down mirror focuses sunlight from heliostat field
* 4,690 kg Calcium
* 234 kg Hydrogen
* Reaction chamber insulated with a quartz window for solar heat input
* Two tank boron oxide high temperature heat exchanger for hydrogen
* Two tank nitrate salt low temperature heat exchanger for hydrogen
* Low temperature Sodium aluminum hydride tank holds 5% hydrogen by weight




The system uses a new low cost wire braced heliostat field with 50 square metres per panel at $100/metre squared in production. The new heliostat configuration eliminates the cosine effect, common with power tower designs, by utilising a parabolic mirror aligned with the sun throughout the day. The parabolic mirror is integrated with a quartz lens and side mirror which provides a 0.1 metre constant diameter focused light beam. The heliostat design has the added advantage of eliminating the power tower and replacing it with a small down mirror located directly above the reaction chamber.

Sunlight is focused through a quartz window, into the reaction chamber, onto an inverted molybdenum cone submerged in the liquid calcium which absorbs the solar energy. Major cost reductions occur due to the use of a down mirror system which allows the power head to be immersed within the reaction chamber inside the liquid calcium. This allows a significant increase in heat transfer capability. An insulated cover is placed between the quartz window and power head at night minimizing thermal losses.

The advantage of this system is that it is a completely reversible closed cycle. The intermittent sunlight can be chemically stored and released at a controlled rate for electric power production. The system uses materials which are low cost and provide a competitive electrical production facility for very large scale application.




RELATED READING
An 11 page paper on thermal energy storage and phase change materials by an unrelated researcher (2006)

The storage of thermal energy in the form of sensible and latent heat has become an important aspect of energy management with the emphasis on efficient use and conservation of the waste heat and solar energy in industry and buildings. Latent heat storage is one of the most efficient ways of storing thermal energy. Solar energy is a renewable energy source that can generate electricity, provide hot water, heat and cool a house, and provide lighting for buildings. Paraffin waxes are cheap and have moderate thermal energy storage density but low thermal conductivity and, hence, require a large surface area. Hydrated salts have a larger energy storage density and a higher thermal conductivity. In response to increasing electrical energy costs and the desire for better lad management, thermal storage technology has recently been developed. The storage of thermal energy in the form of sensible and latent heat has become an important aspect of energy management with the emphasis on the efficient use and conservation of the waste heat and solar energy in the industry and buildings. Thermal storage has been characterized as a kind of thermal battery.




2009 NASA Student Aeronatuics Presentations - Hypersonic, Supersonic and New Enabling Materials


Final Presenters for the Aeronautics Student Forum Summer 2009 (at NASA Langley)

Aerodynamics: Hypersonics
Student: Thomas Lambert, Senior, Carnegie Mellon University
Mentor: Victor Lessard, Aerothermodynamics Branch

The objective of this project is to explore a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) overset meshing technology to study surface heating augmentation caused by cavities on the heat shield of the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) at hypersonic speeds. This project will utilize a combination of PSU Applied Research Laboratory overset codes, SUGGAR and DiRTlib, along with NASA's Fully Unstructured Navier-Stokes flow code, FUN3D to explore the validity of overset unstructured meshes for aerothermodynamic calculations at hypersonic speeds. Computed aerodynamics and aeroheating results, utilizing different types of overset unstructured meshes, will be compared with calculations carried out by NASA's LAURA code on a non-overset structured grid system.

The Propulsion-Airframe Integrated Scramjet: Access to Space
Students: Melissa Street, Junior, Washington State University
Andrea Dickason, Junior, University of North Dakota
Mentor: Troy Middleton, Hypersonic Airbreathing Propulsion Branch,

Currently, propulsion-airframe integrated scramjets are one of the most promising airbreathing propulsion systems for access to space. Integration of the propulsion system with the airframe of the vehicle uses the forebody surface of the airframe to direct the airflow into the scramjet engine. The air ingested by the engine is then reacted with fuel in the scramjet combustor and exhausted along the aft-body of the airframe, creating thrust. This presentation will discuss some of the key components of the scramjet engine, the capabilities and limitations of the scramjet engine, and the current state of the art in scramjet propulsion.



Materials Research: Boron nitride nanosheets
Student: Tiffany Williams, Graduate Student, Cornell University
Mentors: Dr. John Connell, Dr. Yi Lin
Advanced Materials and Processing

This project is concerned with the synthesis and characterization of bimetallic nanoparticle decorated carbon nanotubes and the formation of hexagonal boron nitride nanosheet dispersions in various solvents. Characterization via various microscopic and spectroscopic methods will provide information about the morphological, physical, and chemical properties of these materials. These materials are anticipated to exhibit unique combinations of mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties, which would render them useful for potential aerospace applications.

Joint Project: Using sramjet technology for space access
Students: Chris Acuff, Junior, Mississippi State University
Kelcy Brunner, Junior, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Rita Groetz, Senior, University at Buffalo
Catherine Patrick, Senior, University of South Dakota
Mentors: Dr. Elizabeth Ward and Mr. Guy Kemmerly
Aeronautics Research Directorate & Science Directorate

With the successful flight of the X-43A scramjet at Mach 9.6 in 2004, the conceptualization of hypersonic air-breathing vehicles as a method of transportation proceeds closer to feasibility. To study the potential of scramjets, the engineering and scientific implications of scramjet use as a method of space access were explored by looking at a two-stage to orbit scenario. The chosen mission uses a preconceived reference vehicle to carry a payload into low earth orbit. Attention was focused on performing a variable weight analysis of the scramjet portion of the flight in MATLAB, studying the combustion chemistry and extrapolating the atmospheric effects associated with scramjet travel in the upper stratosphere.

Concept studies for UAV VTOL
Student: Guillermo Costa, Junior, California State Polytechnic Institute & University, Pomona
Mentor: William Fredericks, Systems Analysis Branch
Student partner in the project: Alison Snyder, Junior, Ohio State University

Two concept studies of a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for Project Reimar have been created. The design mission for these vehicles calls for both long endurance and vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability. To aid in performing these design studies a parametric, component-based modeling software called Vehicle Sketch Pad (VSP) was utilized. This software's key attribute is its ease of use, which greatly reduced many of the labor-intensive modeling practices found in other CAD packages and allowed for rapid design iterations after initial analyses were completed. The concepts were base-lined against similar existing UAVs, including the MLB V-Bat and the AeroVironment Skytote. Maintenance and operation (M&O) costs for each of the Reimar concepts are calculated and compared against existing UAVs with similar payload

Exploring the use of carbon nanotubes for Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Student: Kevin R. Antcliff, Sophomore, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Mentor: Mark Moore, Systems Analysis Branch
Materials made of carbon nanotubes have been of interest to many scientists because of their
remarkable characteristics. It is stiff, flexible and extremely elastic. These three characteristics make it an incredible candidate for a perfect spring that can store astonishing amounts of energy, i.e. Carbon Nanotube Springs (CNS). Current research efforts have included a literature search, interviews with technology experts, and development of the foundational objectives and approaches for investigating this use of CNS for aerospace applications. Initial efforts have been guided by understanding past attempts at achieving jump capability in insect, bird, mammal, and aircraft (yes, even aircraft have attempted to mimic nature through jumping behavior). Application analysis continues in small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, capable of Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) through new methods of design integration using this tremendous new technology

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Analytical Mechanical Associates and NASA Mark Moore Pushing Electric Aircraft - Niche Applications


Analytical Mechanical Associates (AMA) has been in the business of aerospace engineering for more than forty years.

Jan 20, 2010 (today) at American Helicopter Society meeting Mark Moore, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center and his colleagues will officially unveil the Puffin design

Scientific American has details

In principle, the Puffin can cruise at 240 kilometers per hour and dash at more than 480 kph. It has no flight ceiling—it is not air-breathing like gas engines are, and thus is not limited by thin air—so it could go up to about 9,150 meters before its energy runs low enough to drive it to descend. With current state-of-the-art batteries, it has a range of just 80 kilometers if cruising, "but many researchers are proposing a tripling of current battery energy densities in the next five to seven years, so we could see a range of 240 to 320 kilometers by 2017," says researcher Mark Moore.

* At up to 95 percent efficiency, electric motors are far more efficient than internal combustion engines, which only rate some 18 to 23 percent.

* Electric aircraft are much quieter than regular planes—at some 150 meters, it is as loud as 50 decibels, or roughly the volume of a conversation, making it roughly 10 times quieter than current low-noise helicopters.

The UK Register has coverage and perspective and history of the work of Mark Moore.

Wikipedia has a survey of Electric aircraft Several electric aircraft are in low volume commercial production.

The Lange Antares 20E is a self-launching motor glider with a 42-kW electric motor and SAFT VL 41M lithium-ion batteries. The motor actuates 2-blade fixed pitch propeller. It can climb up to 3,000 meters with fully charged cells. After launch it can function as a conventional, though heavy, glider (sailplane). Over 50 had been built as at January 2010.







AMA is involved in Hyper-X. Hyper-X (X-43A)is an experimental flight-research program that seeks to demonstrate airframe-integrated, "air-breathing" engine technologies that promise to increase payload capacity for future vehicles, including hypersonic aircraft (faster than Mach 5) and reusable space launchers.

Morphing Airplane
The numerical analyses of biologically inspired flight systems predict aerodynamic loads for further structural and controls research. The CFD software Fun3D and the potential flow code PMARC are used to calculate aerodynamic loads.


Amphibious Plane Design




A pdf from 2002 with Mark Moore and Nasa's vision of Personal Air Vehicles (PAV)
















James Gunderson, of Gamma Two Robotics interviewed by Sander Olson


James P. Gunderson, Ph.D., interviewed by Sander Olson

Dr. James Gunderson is the Systems Architect for Gamma Two Robotics. He has been actively researching robotics for the past two decades. Gamma Two Robotics has created two robots with "cybernetic brains" - computers that allow the robot to react and alter their behavior based on various environmental stimuli. These robots are equipped with sonar and will soon also have vision and hands, and will eventually be able to rewrite its algorithms and continuously learn. Gunderson believes that these "cybernetic brains" could be the first step toward artificial general intelligence



Gamma Two Robotics at CES 2010 Video



Interview
Question 1: Your company has developed two new robots, the Basic Service Level (BSL) model and the Wheelchair Level Mobility Assistant (WLMA). What is special about these robots?

Answer: Unlike most robots, our robots actually know what they are doing. Most industrial robots only follow preprogrammed courses. Even the romba robot cannot discern between a person and a chair. By contrast, our robots are constantly sensing the environment and building symbolic models of the environment. So they can alter their behavior based on their environment, much like a living system does.


Question 2: How do the robots sense their environment?

Answer: They make extensive use of sonar and thermal sensors, so no vision is currently involved. So these robots can not only differentiate between a person and a chair, but they can determine whether their chair has 4 legs or if it has wheels on the bottom.


Question 3: What is the "cybernetic brain" that powers these robots?

Answer: The cybernetic brain was designed by my wife, Dr. Louise F. Gunderson. She has a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering, and she and I examined how living organisms model their world. The cybernetic brain is directly based on this modeling.


Question 4: This brain sounds like an AI advance. Is there any chance that this "cybernetic brain" could be the first step towards artificial general intelligence?

Answer: Absolutely. The mechanisms in the brain are very generalized, and we designed our system to emulate the pre-frontal cortex of the human brain, the part that "thinks about thinking". So the cybernetic brains are generalized modules that are capable not only of learning, but of continuously altering their behaviors.


Question 5: To what extent can these robots learn?

Answer: Our robots incorporate three distinct types of learning. They can learn positionally - we are doing a demo here at CES 2009 in which we take a robot and teach it several new locations. As soon as it learns these it knows how to move between them. It also has an episodic memory that records every action that it takes and every decision that it makes and can recall that memory. The third component is its ability to rewrite its algorithms and restructure how it perceives the world. This third component does not yet exist, but this should be developed within the next decade.


Question 6: Do you have plans to add vision to these robots?

Answer: Yes, vision will be added during the next 18 months. Given the sensitivity of our sonar, there are a large number of tasks for which vision is unnecessary. But in the long run vision is essential, so we plan on incorporating vision into all of our models. Future models will include both vision and sonar.

Question 7: Several robotics companies have unveiled sophisticated robotic hands. Will Gamma Two Robotics license this technology and incorporate it into the BSL and WLMA models?

Answer: We are amenable to adding hands and arms to our models, and it should not be too difficult to do this. The difficult part is imparting fine-grained control to the limb, and that involves making new classes for the brain to inform it that it has the limbs to use. It also requires vision. But there are some wonderful robotic arms and hands available now, and we are eager to license them once we have upgraded our cybernetic brains to recognize and use them.


Question 8: Your robots currently lack the ability to open doors or climb stairs. How difficult will it be to add these capabilities to future robots?

Answer: There is actually a DARPA grant for robots to open doors. It is actually surprisingly difficult for a robot to open a door. But there are a number of University programs that are tackling this issue, and I'm confident that robots a decade hence will routinely be able to open doors and climb stairs.


Question 9: These robots can respond to verbal commands. How many commands can they respond to? Can they speak?

Answer: The entire interaction with our robots is via voice-input and voice-output. These robots have a fairly simple command language - they aren't doing natural language processing. They understand words like "go to" or "deliver" or "move" or "turn". They also have a semantic memory - the part of a living system that remembers things like "cars are things that drive on roads" and "chairs are things that you sit in". So interaction with these robots is both natural and straightforward.


Question 10: Both of your robots have wheels in place of limbs. Have you ever considered building a robot with legs?

Answer: One of the main problems with legs is power - legs require substantially more power to operate than wheels. Legs need not only to move forward but also to keep the robot off the ground. Our wheeled robots can run for four hours, but if we tried to put legs on the robots the run time would drop dramatically. The advantage to legs is that human spaces are designed for legged individuals. But since we are looking at a primary market for individuals with limited mobility, the limited mobility of our robots isn't a major problem.


Question 11: The U.S. military is investing heavily in robots. Do you have plans to develop any military robots?

Answer: We don't have plans to develop any military robots. Most of the military's robots are under operator control at all times, and robots just aren't sophisticated enough at this point to autonomously control weapon systems. Our primary focus is making robots that relieve workloads. We are looking at a program with the veterans administration for mobility assistance for veterans, but we have no plans for a combat robot.


Question 12: You have been doing robotics work for the past ten years. Is the pace of robotics development greater now than it was in 2000?

Answer: I don't think it is greater. The robotics programs in Academia have been fairly constant for the past 30 years. We have seen incredible progress on the hardware side of things, such as Honda's Asimo, and Boston Dynamics Big Dog. But what he haven't seen before now is the ability to move beyond preprogrammed or purely reactive motion. That is what makes our robots special.


Question 13: What field will be the biggest driver of robotics during the next decade?

Answer: I think the biggest driver for robotics during the next decade will be in the home health assistance field. With the burgeoning number of elderly people and the chronic and worsening shortage of workers to care for the elderly, this field could be transformed by robots. In the immediate future we are seeing demand for our robots from catering companies. Robot catered parties and events is a major draw for people.

Question 14: If Gamma Two Robotics succeeds as you hope, what types of robots will your company be offering in 2020?

Answer: By 2020 we plan on offering a full range of semi-autonomous robots for a wide variety of circumstances - robots to help the handicapped, robots for catering, and robots for home and office markets. To give one specific example, robots could be accompanying people to the grocery store and helping them shop. These robots will be able to function in the real world, will come standard with arms and vision, and will be able to follow general commands. They could become as indispensable in 2020 as cell phones are today.

Video interview with Dr. Louise Gunderson





New Way to Generate Thirty-six Times More Functional Blood Vessel Cells From Human Stem Cells Discovered


In a significant step toward restoring healthy blood circulation to treat a variety of diseases, a team of scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College has developed a new technique and described a novel mechanism for turning human embryonic and pluripotent stem cells into plentiful, functional endothelial cells, which are critical to the formation of blood vessels. Endothelial cells form the interior "lining" of all blood vessels and are the main component of capillaries, the smallest and most abundant vessels. In the near future, the researchers believe, it will be possible to inject these cells into humans to heal damaged organs and tissues. Scientists is hoping to transfer their methods to the clinic within the next five years.

The new approach allows scientists to generate virtually unlimited quantities of durable endothelial cells — more than 40-fold the quantity possible with previous approaches. Based on insights into the genetic mechanisms that regulate how embryonic stem cells form vascular endothelial cells, the approach may also yield new ways to study genetically inherited vascular diseases. The study appears in the advance online issue of Nature Biotechnology

Nature Biotechnology - Expansion and maintenance of human embryonic stem cell–derived endothelial cells by TGFβ inhibition is Id1 dependent

Previous efforts to differentiate human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into endothelial cells have not achieved sustained expansion and stability of vascular cells. To define vasculogenic developmental pathways and enhance differentiation, we used an endothelial cell–specific VE-cadherin promoter driving green fluorescent protein (GFP) (hVPr-GFP) to screen for factors that promote vascular commitment. In phase 1 of our method, inhibition of transforming growth factor (TGF)β at day 7 of differentiation increases hVPr-GFP+ cells by tenfold. In phase 2, TGFβ inhibition maintains the proliferation and vascular identity of purified endothelial cells, resulting in a net 36-fold expansion of endothelial cells in homogenous monolayers, which exhibited a transcriptional profile of Id1highVEGFR2highVE-cadherin+ ephrinB2+. Using an Id1-YFP hESC reporter line, we showed that TGFβ inhibition sustains Id1 expression in hESC-derived endothelial cells and that Id1 is required for increased proliferation and preservation of endothelial cell commitment. Our approach provides a serum-free method for differentiation and long-term maintenance of hESC-derived endothelial cells at a scale relevant to clinical application.

8 pages of supplemental information



This technique is the first of its kind with serious potential as a treatment for a diverse array of diseases, especially cardiovascular disease, stroke and vascular complications of diabetes," says Dr. Shahin Rafii, the study's senior author. Dr. Rafii is the Arthur B. Belfer Professor in Genetic Medicine and co-director of the Ansary Stem Cell Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

In recent years, enormous hopes have been pinned on stem cells as the source of future cures and treatments. Indeed, human embryonic stem cells have the potential to become any one of the more than 200 types of adult cells. However, the factors and pathways that govern their differentiation to abundant derivatives that could be used to repair organs have remained poorly understood.

A major challenge for Dr. Rafii's lab has been to improve their understanding, and hence control, of the differentiation process (how stem cells convert to various cell types), and then to generate enough vascular endothelial cells — many millions — so they can be used therapeutically.

To meet this challenge, the scientists first screened for molecular factors that come into play when stem cells turn into endothelial cells. Their findings led them to a strategy that significantly boosts the efficiency of producing these cells.

Then, the researchers tracked the differentiation process in real-time using a green fluorescent protein marker developed by Dr. Daylon James, the study's first author and assistant research professor in the Department of Reproductive of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. They found that when they exposed stem cells to a compound that blocks TGF-beta (a growth factor involved in cell specialization) at just the right time during cell culturing, the propagation of endothelial cells dramatically increased.

Even more striking, they found that the cells worked properly when injected into mice. The cells were quickly assimilated into the animals' circulatory systems, and functioned alongside normal vasculature.

To achieve long-lasting clinical benefits, there remain additional hurdles to exploiting endothelial cells generated in vitro. Indeed, a fundamental prerequisite to using vascular cells in regenerative medicine has been the proper assembly in vivo of new blood vessels from stem-cell-derived cells, according to Dr. Sina Rabbany, who is an adjunct professor at Weill Cornell Medical College and professor of bioengineering at Hofstra University. Dr. Rabbany emphasizes that, in addition to manipulating biological factors implicated in endothelial cell differentiation, the impact of blood flow on endothelial cells is critical to engineering durable, vascularized organs. With the plentiful supply of endothelial cells that the new methods provide, Dr. Rabbany's team is working to build biological scaffolds that model the microenvironment of the vasculature, so that the vessels they generate will be functional and long-lasting in patients.

Another major obstacle to clinical use of cultured endothelial cells is the potential of immune rejection when the cells are injected into a patient. To address this risk, one approach would be to create a large, genetically diverse bank of human embryonic stem cells that, on demand, could be converted into endothelial cells that are compatible with specific patients.

"Given the success rate our group has shown in generating human embryonic stem cells from donated normal and diseased embryos, this new approach has broad implications not only for regenerative medicine, but also for the study of genetic diseases of the vasculature," states Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, who is director and physician-in-chief of the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine as well as the director of the Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative Derivation Unit at Weill Cornell Medical College.

The new endothelial cell culture is currently being validated in ongoing research at Weill Cornell using a number of stem cell "lines," or "families" of stem cells. "Employing a highly sophisticated derivation technology, we have been able to generate 11 normal and diseased human embryonic cell lines from discarded embryos at the Tri-Institute Derivation Unit at Weill Cornell," states Dr. Nikica Zaninovic, an assistant professor at the Department of Reproductive of Medicine who is spearheading the human embryonic stem cell derivation effort. Using the new differentiation methods, several of these new embryonic stem cell lines have been turned into vascular cells.

Testing in humans is the next major step in verifying the ability of this breakthrough cell-based approach to restore blood supply to injured organs. Armed with this new technology and under the umbrella of support from the Ansary Stem Cell Institute and Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative (Tri-SCI), this team of scientists is hoping to transfer their methods to the clinic within the next five years.

The current study sheds light on the generation of human embryonic vasculature in ways that have not previously been feasible due to obstacles associated with the use of human embryonic tissue. As Dr. James explains, "The unbiased screening technique we used is a major technological advance that opens up possibilities for discovery of how human embryonic stem cells morph into the specific mature cells that compose the brain, liver, pancreas, and so on. Our general approach can be applied to additional human tissues and help other stem cell research groups develop and maintain specialized cell types in the larger effort to understand human development — and to heal many different kinds of human diseases and injuries."

A page with links to nine videos
Supplementary Video 1. Detection of vasculogenesis in Real-Time: hVPr-GFP+
cells appear at day 5 and connect to form primitive vascular tubules. Human
VPr-GFP EBs were cultured for 5 days and transferred to a live-cell imaging
chamber (TOKAI HIT™) for time-lapse confocal microscopy. These images
demonstrate the emergence of ECs in vasculogenic EBs. Optical Z-stacks were
scanned at an interval of 6 minutes for approximately 35 hours.

Supplementary Video 2. Real-Time Tracking of hESC-derived ECs: Remodeling
of hVPr-GFP+ vessel-like structures in adhering EBs. Human VPr-GFP EBs
were cultured in suspension for 8 days and then transferred to a Matrigel™-coated dish in a live cell imaging chamber. Beginning at day 8, timelapse confocal microscopy revealed the dynamics of endothelial migration in adhering hVPr-GFP EBs. Optical Z-stacks were scanned at an interval of 12 minutes for approximately 100 hours, and then at 3 static time points at days 12, 14 and 16.

Supplementary Video 3. Establishment of vascular patterning: Human VPr-
GFP+ cells form branching microvascular structures with closed lumens. EBs
transferred at differentiation day 8 to adherent conditions and cultured for an additional 17 days generate hVPr-GFP+ cells that are organized into closed, branching micro-vessels.

Supplementary Video 4. Tubulogenesis of human neo-vessels in vitro: Human
VPr-GFP+ cells reorganize into large vessel-like structures following extended differentiation in vitro. Human EBs transferred at differentiation day 8 to adherent conditions and cultured for an additional 17 days form large, vessel-like hVPr-GFP+ structures with closed lumens.

Supplementary Video 5. Whole-well immunodetection of mitotic hESC-derived
ECs in the absence of TGFβ inhibition. Human VPr-GFP EBs were sequentially
stimulated by cytokines and SB431542. ECs were isolated by FACS at day 14,
seeded at a density of 1500 cells per well of a 24 well dish, and then cultured for an additional 5 days in FGF2 and VEGF-A without SB431542. One well was stained with VE-cadherin and phospho-HistoneH3 and scanned using mosaic tiles. Phospho-HistoneH3 positive cells are shown in red and outlined in white. VEcadherin positive cells are shown in green. Nuclear counterstain is shown in blue.

Supplementary Video 6. Whole-well immunodetection of mitotic hESC-derived
ECs in the presence of TGFβ inhibition. Human VPr-GFP EBs were sequentially
stimulated by cytokines and SB431542. ECs were isolated by FACS at day 14,
seeded at a density of 1500 cells per well of a 24 well dish, and then cultured for an additional 5 days in FGF2 and VEGFA with 10μM SB431542. One well was stained with VE-cadherin and phospho-HistoneH3 and scanned using mosaic tiles. Phospho-HistoneH3 positive cells are shown in red and outlined in white. VEcadherin positive cells are shown in green. Nuclear counterstain is shown in blue. Note more than 98% of the cells are ECs expressing VE-cadherin.

Supplementary Video 7. Whole-well immunodetection of non-endothelial cell
types that emerge from hESC-derived ECs in the absence of TGFβ inhibition.
Human VPr-GFP EBs were sequentially stimulated by cytokines and SB431542.
ECs were isolated by FACS at day 14, seeded at a density of 1500 cells per well of a 24 well dish, and then cultured for an additional 5 days in FGF2 and VEGFA without SB431542. One well was stained with VE-cadherin and α-smooth muscle actin and scanned using mosaic tiles. Smooth muscle actin positive cells are shown in red. VE-cadherin positive cells are shown in green. Nuclear counterstain is shown in blue. Note the profound decrease in the number of VE-cadherin+ ECs.

Supplementary Video 8. Human ESC-derived ECs cultured in the presence of
TGFβ inhibitor form functional vessels in vivo. Human VPr-GFP+ cells were
isolated by FACS at day 14 and expanded in monolayer culture and injected in a MatrigelTM plug into immunodeficient mice followed by excision after 10 days after intravital labeling of functional vasculature by GIB4 and UEA lectins. Human VPr-GFP is shown in green; Griffonia simplificolia IB4 lectin is shown in blue; and Ulex europus agglutinin is shown in red.

Supplementary Video 9. Human ESC-derived ECs cultured in the presence of
TGFβ inhibitor form functional vessels in vivo. Human VPr-GFP+ cells were
isolated by FACS at day 14 and expanded in monolayer culture and injected in a MatrigelTM plug into immunodeficient mice followed by excision after 10 days after intravital labeling of functional vasculature by GIB4 lectin. Human VPr-GFP is shown in green; Griffonia simplificolia IB4 lectin is shown in blue.