August 06, 2011

Space Review looks at recent work towards Air Breathing Launch Vehicles

Space Review - Today, no true air-breathing spaceplanes or reusable boosters yet exist, but there is now renewed interest in air-breathing technology. At the same time, remarkable launch cost reductions in more conventional boosters are imminent due to the efforts of SpaceX and other firms.

My 2011 Singularity University Presentation on the Latest Developments in Nanotechnology

Embedded after the jump is my 2011 Singularity University presentation. Latest Developments and Current Capabilities in Nanotechnology.

I went over the following areas

- 2D and 3D Nanoscale patterning and manufacturing
- Quantum dots
- Self Assembly
- Memristors
- Sensors and electronics in living cells
- Carbon nanotubes and graphene
- Advice on nanotechnology

Nvidia Kepler GPUs delayed to 2012

1. Nvidia's next generation graphics card (Kepler) will not be released until 2012. Kepler will be succeeding the Fermi architecture and use a 28 nm production process. Kepler cards will triple the dual-precision floating point performance of Fermi and hit up to 6 dp GFlops, while its successor Maxwell (scheduled for a 2013 release) is expected to with almost 16 dp GFlops.

2. J.P. Morgan, the world’s largest investment bank, is using Tesla GPUs to speed up its risk calculations across a range of products. How much, you ask? J.P. Morgan saw 40 times speedups, thanks to Tesla silicon.

Carnival of Nuclear 64

The Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers 64 is up at Atomic Power Review

August 05, 2011

Human Google driver crashes robotic car

Jalopnik - A human driver driving Google's robotic car rear ended a regular car

The photo just looks like a minor collision with very little visible damage. One robotic Prius ran into the back of a regular Prius.

Google's Prius struck another Prius, which then struck her Honda Accord that her brother was driving. That Accord then struck another Honda Accord, and the second Accord hit a separate, non-Google-owned Prius.

Striking a car with enough force to trigger a four-car chain reaction suggests the Google car was moving at a decent clip. Google says its unable to provide us with a copy of any official accident report, but that may be the only way to know what happened for sure.

CNet has coverage

Swarms of tiny Smart Dust Spacecraft

IEEE Spectrum has an updated look at the spacecraft on a chip technology being developed by Mason Peck.

In the fall of 2005 at Cornell University, graduate student Justin Atchison and Mason Peck set out to create such miniature spacecraft. The aim of our project, called Sprite, is to fit everything a satellite might need on a 1-square-centimeter integrated circuit. The project finally took its first step into space on 16 May of this year, when the space shuttle Endeavour, on its final mission, carried three of our prototypes to the International Space Station. We'll find out in a couple of years how these first chips withstood the rigors of space. If all goes well, we then plan to launch smaller Sprites into orbit on their own, where they can be used to test new forms of propulsion that could ultimately take them to other planets.

H/T Centauri Dreams

NBF has looked at Mason Pecks work several times.

August 04, 2011

Superconductor market in 2017 and First Graphene product a flexible Touchscreen

1. In 2017, the market for superconductors will be worth approximately $8.83 billion, according to a new report.

Applications for superconductors are wide-ranging and diverse, following advancements which will see increased adoption of the technology within the medical, commercial and industrial markets. Rapid growth is expected in the emerging Asia-Pacific markets, particularly for superconducting magnetic storage systems.

Some companies working on superconductors - Zenergy Power Plc, American Superconductor Corporation, SuperPower Inc, Bruker Energy & Supercon Technologies Inc, Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd, Furukawa Electric Co Ltd, Oxford Instruments Plc, Hyper Tech Research Inc, Superconductor Technologies Inc, Japan Superconductor Technology Inc, LS Cable Ltd and Southwire Company Inc.

Economic Roundup for emerging countries, China and the USA

1. The combined output of the developing economies accounted for 38% of world GDP (at market exchange rates) in 2010, twice its share in 1990 (see upper chart). On reasonable assumptions, it could exceed the developed world’s within seven years. If GDP is instead measured at purchasing-power parity, which takes account of the fact that lower prices in poorer countries boost real spending power, emerging economies overtook the developed world in 2008 and are likely to reach 54% of world GDP this year. Even more impressive, they accounted for three-quarters of global real GDP growth over the past decade.

Graphene neural implants being developed to treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and more

Neural implants have the potential to treat disorders and diseases that typically require long-term treatment, such as blindness, deafness, epilepsy, spinal cord injury, and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. However, implantable devices have been problematic in clinical applications because of bodily reactions that limit device functioning time. Graphene neural implants could be made to last longer (perhaps 5 years) and could be smaller than current implants.

Mark Ming-Cheng Chen (Wayne State has an NSF grant) is studying the potential of graphene, a novel carbon material, in the development of a reliable, high-performance, long-term implantable electrode system to improve quality of life using nanotechnology

IEEE Spectrum looks at Autonomous Robots in the Fog of War

Last fall, two quarter-scale Piper Cub aircraft (two UAVs) and a Porsche Cayenne operated without any humans at the controls on an army robotics rodeo. Each robot had an onboard computer running collaborative software that transformed the three machines into an autonomous, interoperable system.

Back in 2000, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) had fewer than 50 UAVs in its inventory; by early 2010, it had more than 7000. None of these systems are fully autonomous.

Unmanned systems still fall short in three key areas: sensing, testing, and interoperability.

Cheaper and more efficient water desalination

In the new study, Elimelech and William Phillip, now at the University of Notre Dame, demonstrate that reverse osmosis requires a minimum amount of energy that cannot be overcome, and that current technology is already starting to approach that limit. Instead of higher water flux membranes, Elimelech and Phillip suggest that the real gains in efficiency can be made during the pre- and post-treatment stages of desalination.

Isolated Light Optical Waveguide will enable integrated nanoscale photonic devices

Researchers describe a new technique to isolate light signals on a silicon chip, solving a longstanding problem in engineering photonic chips.

An isolated light signal can only travel in one direction. If light weren't isolated, signals sent and received between different components on a photonic circuit could interfere with one another, causing the chip to become unstable. In an electrical circuit, a device called a diode isolates electrical signals by allowing current to travel in one direction but not the other. The goal, then, is to create the photonic analog of a diode, a device called an optical isolator. "This is something scientists have been pursuing for 20 years," Feng says.

Normally, a light beam has exactly the same properties when it moves forward as when it's reflected backward. "If you can see me, then I can see you," he says. In order to isolate light, its properties need to somehow change when going in the opposite direction. An optical isolator can then block light that has these changed properties, which allows light signals to travel only in one direction between devices on a chip.

Science - Nonreciprocal Light Propagation in a Silicon Photonic Circuit

Designing diamond circuits for extreme environments

This scanning electron microscope close-up shows how the components of a nanodiamond device are cantilevered above a surface of the electrical insulator silicon dioxide. (Davidson Lab)

A team of electrical engineers at Vanderbilt University has developed all the basic components needed to create microelectronic devices out of thin films of nanodiamond. They have created diamond versions of transistors and, most recently, logical gates, which are a key element in computers.

“Diamond-based devices have the potential to operate at higher speeds and require less power than silicon-based devices,” Research Professor of Electrical Engineering Jimmy Davidson said.

Briny Water appeas to be flowing in the spring and summer on Mars

Oblique View of Warm Season Flows in Newton Crater
An image combining orbital imagery with 3-D modeling shows flows that appear in spring and summer on a slope inside Mars' Newton crater. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars.

Dark, finger-like features that appear and extend down some Martian slopes during the warmest months of the Mars year may show activity of salty water on Mars. They fade in the winter, then recur the next spring.

Confirmation of geomagnetically trapped antiprotons which can be trapped with superconductors enable antimatter enabled space applications

The antiproton belt is around the inner radiation belt

Arxiv - The discovery of geomagnetically trapped cosmic ray antiprotons (10 pages)

The existence of a significant flux of antiprotons confined to Earth’s magnetosphere has been considered in several theoretical works. These antiparticles are produced in nuclear interactions of energetic cosmic rays with the terrestrial atmosphere and accumulate in the geomagnetic field at altitudes of several hundred kilometers. A contribution from the decay of albedo antineutrons has been hypothesized in analogy to proton production by neutron decay, which constitutes the main source of trapped protons at energies above some tens of MeV. This Letter reports the discovery of an antiproton radiation belt around the Earth. The trapped antiproton energy spectrum in the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) region has been measured by the PAMELA experiment for the kinetic energy range 60–750 MeV. A measurement of the atmospheric sub-cutoff antiproton spectrum outside the radiation belts is also reported. PAMELA data show that the magnetospheric antiproton flux in the SAA exceeds the cosmic-ray antiproton flux by three orders of magnitude at the present solar minimum, and exceeds the subcutoff antiproton flux outside radiation belts by four orders of magnitude, constituting the most abundant source of antiprotons near the Earth.

Extraction of Antiparticles Concentrated in Planetary Magnetic Fields (120 pages) by James Bickford

100 nanograms of antiprotons can be used to catalyze sub-critical nuclear reactions and drive a one metric ton payload to 100 km/sec. This capability would enable the first precursor interstellar missions. In comparison, if traditional chemical propellants were used for the same task, nearly 10^9 metric tons of hydrogen and oxygen would have to be launched into space. This would take 500,000 years by launching 20 tons everyday.

South Korea APR1400 Nuclear Reactor Construction and Indian Uranium

1. The reactor pressure vessel for unit 4 of South Korea's Shin-Kori nuclear power plant has been put in place. The unit is the second APR-1400 to be built and its schedule follows the first, Shin-Kori 3, by one year.

First concrete for Shin-Kori 4 was poured in August 2009 and the APR-1400 unit is scheduled to begin commercial operation in September 2014. Its schedule is running about one year behind that of Shin-Kori 3, the first APR-1400 to be built. Two more of the 1350 MWe pressurized water reactors are planned for construction at Shin-Ulchin and scheduled to start up in 2016 and 2017. Four have been ordered by Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation for the Braka plant in the United Arab Emirates to start between 2017 and 2020. The construction and power generation costs of the APR-1400 are reported to be 10% lower than those of OPR-1000 units.

China talks about new limits on coal and carbon but 2015 targets are weaker than last year targets

China is likely to soon begin a campaign to limit the absolute amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by certain industries in certain regions, a senior climate official told a forum on Wednesday. Sun Zhen, an official from the National Development and Reform Commission, said the campaign will be a step beyond the country's current goal of curbing its carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon it releases for each unit of its GDP. He also said the policy will lay the foundation for carbon-trading programs.

Reuters reported that officials have settled on a total energy cap of 4.1bn tonnes of coal equivalent (TCE) by 2015 – a level more than 25% higher than last year.

In 2010, China talked about limiting coal use to 3.8 billion tons in 2015.

August 03, 2011

DNA Strands That Select Nanotubes Are First Step to a Practical ‘Quantum Wire’

Wrapped up in their work: Molecular model shows a single-strand DNA molecule (yellow ribbon) coiled around an "armchair" carbon nanotube. Source: Roxbury, Jagota/NIST

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have tailored single strands of DNA that can be used to purify the highly desired “armchair” form of carbon nanotubes. Armchair-form single wall carbon nanotubes are needed to make “quantum wires” for low-loss, long distance electricity transmission and wiring.

Rice University uses an alternative approach by amplifying the growth of desired nanotubes. Armchair quantum wire is probably in milligram non-pure quantities now and the breakthrough may bump it up to semi-pure gram or kilogram quantities in 5 years. Rice University has 90% purity. The combination of the two approaches could achieve higher purity.

Journal of the American Chemical Society - Evolution of DNA Sequences Toward Recognition of Metallic Armchair Carbon Nanotubes

The Extraordinary Collapse of Jatropha as a Global Biofuel

The “extraordinary collapse of Jatropha as a biofuel” appears to be due to “an extreme case of a well intentioned top down climate mitigation approach, undertaken without adequate preparation and ignoring conflict of interest, and adopted in good faith by other countries, gone awry bringing misery to millions of poorest people across the world”.

Green car congress has coverage

In 2003, the Planning Commission of India decided to introduce mandatory biofuel blending over increasingly larger parts of the country with a target of 30% by 2020. The Planning Commission pushed for Jatropha as it was considered to be high, early yielding, nonbrowsable and requiring little irrigation and even less management. Now 85% of the Indian Jatropha farmers have stopped.

Research on Jatropha planting in Tanzania found the net present value of a five-year investment in Jatropha plantation was negative with a loss of US$ 65 per ha on lands with yields of 2 tons/ha of seeds and only slightly beneficial at US$9 per ha with yields of 3 tons when the average expected Jatropha seed yield on poor barren soils is only 1.7 to 2.2 tons/ha.

NBF has written positively about Jatropha before. It is basically a weed that people thought could grow on land not useful for farming to make a lot of biofuel.

Elon Musk Q and A video from AIAA Conference

SPACEX founder answers audience questions about Mars, heavy lift launch, crew capsules, the Falcon 9, the Dragon capsule and more during his American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics keynote address on August 1st 2011.

Looking at Spacex plans for Making Falcon Rockets Reusable to get to $50 per pound launch costs

Elon Musk at Spacex has spoken several times about making the Falcon launchers reusable.

Recently Spacex indicated that they have designs worked on on paper (computer models) that would solve the issues of reusability and get launch costs down as low as $50 per pound. The Falcon Heavy could get costs down to $1000 per pound.

Previously Musk said SpaceX will continue to pursue greater reusability -- "a fundamental long-term ambition", saying that a fully reusable system "is pivotal" to his intention to support the foundation of a sustainable human civilization on another planet. He points out that the cost of propellant for a Falcon 9 flight is around $150-$200,000, compared to $50 million for the vehicle, "so there is efficiency to be had".

The latest plan appears to be from brief comments
* restart the engines in order to slow down the first stage (not a full flyback) and shed some of the velocity.
* Less payload for fuel for restarting rocket to slow descent
* better thermal shielding and increased structural margins for recovery which also reduces the payload.
* the benefits of reusability should be a lot more than the decrease in the payload that goes up each time.

Falcon 9 reusability at wikipedia

"By [Falcon 1] flight six we think it’s highly likely we’ll recover the first stage, and when we get it back we’ll see what survived through re-entry, and what got fried, and carry on with the process. ... That's just to make the first stage reusable, it'll be even harder with the second stage – which has got to have a full heatshield, it'll have to have deorbit propulsion and communication.

So a iterative process of increasing heat shielding.

Both stages are covered with a layer of ablative cork, have parachutes to land them gently in the sea and have been marinized by using materials that resist salt-water corrosion, anodizing and paying attention to galvanic corrosion.

While many commentators are skeptical about reusability, Musk has said that if the vehicle does not become reusable, "I [Elon Musk] will consider us to have failed

August 02, 2011

Intentionally combining radio signals from different transmitters could allow mobile devices to download at much higher speeds

Steve Perlman's team is testing a new kind of wireless network that he says can fit thousands of times more data into the same amount of radio spectrum as a conventional one. The approach is known as DIDO, for distributed input distributed output, and is currently being tested around Palo Alto, California, and in rural Texas.

All wireless systems have access to a fixed portion of radio spectrum, and hence a fixed capacity for transmitting data, known as bandwidth. Today's wireless networks, like those that serve data to cell phones, share that bandwidth among the gadgets connected to the network. The more devices that connect, the smaller the slice for any individual user, and the slower the download speeds. By constrast, a DIDO system, says Perlman, "can offer the full bandwidth available to the network to every user."

If a DIDO network was rolled out to supplement today's cellular ones, it would use many small towers rather than the large ones typically used now. "You would rely on lots of little towers scattered about that will work together to target you with your own signal," says Perlman. "They could be on light poles, on top of buildings, in businesses." Those small base stations would be under the control of DIDO servers constantly calculating how to make signals that interfere in just the right way. Those signals could be altered to deal with changing radio conditions and transmitter availability as gadgets moved, even when users were driving.

19 page DIDO white paper - Distributed-Input-Distributed-Output (DIDO) Wireless Technology A New Approach to Multiuser Wireless

NASA's Next Mars Rover to Land at Gale Crater

Gale Crater: Future Home of Mars Rover Curiosity
This view of Gale is a mosaic of observations made in the visible-light portion of the spectrum by the Thermal Emission Imaging System camera on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter

The car-sized Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity, is scheduled to launch late this year and land in August 2012. The target crater spans 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter and holds a mountain rising higher from the crater floor than Mount Rainier rises above Seattle. Gale is about the combined area of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Layering in the mound suggests it is the surviving remnant of an extensive sequence of deposits. The crater is named for Australian astronomer Walter F. Gale.

This drawing of the Mars Science Laboratory mission's rover, Curiosity, indicates the location of science instruments and some other tools on the car-size rover.

Clockwise from upper left:

Mastcam is the Mast Camera instrument.
ChemCam is the Chemistry and Camera instrument.
RAD is the Radiation Assessment Detector instrument.
CheMin is the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument.
SAM is the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument.
DAN is the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons instrument.
MARDI is the Mars Descent Imager instrument.
MAHLI is the Mars Hand Lens Imager instrument.
APXS is the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer instrument.
The brush, drill, sieves and scoop are tools on the rover's robotic arm.
REMS is the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station.

Elon Musk of Spacex talks about a Reusable Falcon Heavy to get to $50 a pound to space

Elon Musk, CEO Spacex, gave a keynote to a roomful of aerospace engineers at the AIAA/AMSE/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference in San Diego on August, 2011
SpaceX’s first two priorities are to have a successful Dragon docking with the International Space Station (ISS) in December, followed by “convincing NRO and the Air Force we’re a good thing.”

Later this year or early next year, Musk expected to unveil a “super high efficiency” staged combustion engine.

The company’s Falcon Heavy rocket, to be flight demonstrated in late 2012 or early 2013, could deliver 10 to 15 metric tons to Mars, but Musk wants a vehicle capable of 50 metric tons and fully reusable. If Falcon Heavy could be made fully reusable, costs to LEO could be low as $50 to $100 a pound.

Kingdom Tower Mile high skyscraper new plan is for 1000 meters or two thirds of a mile

Aerial view of proposed Kingdom Tower. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Saudi Arabia unveiled plans Tuesday to build the world's tallest tower — a mixed-use structure that will rise two-thirds of a mile high — in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal signed a $1.23 billion contract with Bin Laden Group for the proposed tower, which will take just over five years to complete. The building is the centerpiece of the planned Kingdom City development being built outside Jeddah by Prince Alwaleed's Kingdom Holding.

Dramatic simplification paves the way for building a quantum computer

Controlling arbitrary quantum operations using additional degrees of freedom. (a) Logic circuit in which quantum operation O is implemented on a register of qubits (target register), conditional on the logical state of a single control qubit. (b) Our approach to implementing the circuit in (a). The target information carriers are four dimensional systems with logical states |0right fence,|1right fence,|2right fence and |3right fence. Initially and finally, only the bottom two 'qubit' levels (|0right fence and |1right fence) are populated. Controlled-Xa gates (equations 1 and 2) swap information between the qubit levels and the upper levels (|2right fence and |3right fence), on which O does not act. In this way, conditional on the state of the control qubit, the entire quantum state of the target register is temporarily moved into an effective quantum memory on which O does not act.

Dr Xiao-Qi Zhou and colleagues at the University of Bristol's Centre for Quantum Photonics and the University of Queensland, Australia, have shown that controlled operations — ones that are implemented on the condition that a "control bit" is in the state 1 — can be dramatically simplified compared to the standard approach. The researchers believe their technique will find applications across quantum information technologies, including precision measurement, simulation of complex systems, and ultimately a quantum computer — a powerful type of computer that uses quantum bits (qubits) rather than the conventional bits used in today's computers.

Nature Communications - Adding control to arbitrary unknown quantum operations

Although quantum computers promise significant advantages, the complexity of quantum algorithms remains a major technological obstacle. We have developed and demonstrated an architecture-independent technique that simplifies adding control qubits to arbitrary quantum operations—a requirement in many quantum algorithms, simulations and metrology. The technique, which is independent of how the operation is done, does not require knowledge of what the operation is, and largely separates the problems of how to implement a quantum operation in the laboratory and how to add a control. Here, we demonstrate an entanglement-based version in a photonic system, realizing a range of different two-qubit gates with high fidelity.

Kirk Sorensen has a Forbes Blog - The Future of Energy

Kirk Sorensen now has a regular Forbes Blog - The Future of Energy

Kirk Sorensen has been running the Energy from Thorium site and discussion forum on thorium

Kirk has started a thorium power company Flibe Energy.

Here are several of his first articles -

Fissile Material has the Midas Touch

The energy content in fissile material means that it is worth six times its weight in gold.

So unlike gold that can only be sold for money once, fissile material if properly used has the Midas touch–it can keep turning worthless uranium-238 or thorium into fissile material indefinitely.

The bad news is that we are not using fissile material properly in today’s nuclear reactors. We’re wasting its Midas touch. The good news is that we can build new reactors that will be able to exercise this amazing ability. They will change the world. They will be the future of energy.

N.R.C. Lowers Estimate of How Many Would Die in Meltdown

NY Times - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is approaching completion of an ambitious study that concludes that a meltdown at a typical American reactor would lead to far fewer deaths than previously assumed.

The conclusion, to be published in April after six years of work, is based largely on a radical revision of projections of how much and how quickly cesium 137, a radioactive material that is created when uranium is split, could escape from a nuclear plant after a core meltdown. In past studies, researchers estimated that 60 percent of a reactor core’s cesium inventory could escape; the new estimate is only 1 to 2 percent.

Europe's Plan to Move An Asteroid

Arxiv - Measurement requirements for a near-Earth asteroid impact mitigation demonstration mission

A concept for an Impact Mitigation Preparation Mission, called Don Quijote, is to send two spacecraft to a Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA): an Orbiter and an Impactor. The Impactor collides with the asteroid while the Orbiter measures the resulting change in the asteroid's orbit, by means of a Radio Science Experiment (RSE) carried out before and after impact. Three parallel Phase A studies on Don Quijote were carried out for the European Space Agency: the research presented here reflects outcomes of the study by QinetiQ. We discuss the mission objectives with regards to the prioritisation of payload instruments, with emphasis on the interpretation of the impact. The Radio Science Experiment is described and it is examined how solar radiation pressure may increase the uncertainty in measuring the orbit of the target asteroid. It is determined that to measure the change in orbit accurately a thermal IR spectrometer is mandatory, to measure the Yarkovsky effect. The advantages of having a laser altimeter are discussed. The advantages of a dedicated wide-angle impact camera are discussed and the field-of-view is initially sized through a simple model of the impact.

MIT Technology Review has coverage

In 2002, the European Space Agency began a program called Don Quijote to find out how best to perform such a deflection. Don Quijote involves sending two spacecraft to a near Earth asteroid; one to smash into it and the other to watch while in orbit above the impact crater. The goal is to change the asteroid's semimajor axis by more than 100 metres and to measure the change with an accuracy greater than 1 per cent.

Cold electrons provide better nanoscale imaging

Effect of electron temperature on structural degradation.

By firing a series of laser beams into rubidium gas cooled to 70 millionths of a kelvin - close to absolute zero electrons are slowly released and allows them to control which part of the rubidium gas they target, producing specific shapes in the electron cloud that's released.

The work reported this week in the journal Nature Physics will eventually allow scientists to watch how proteins react to different chemicals or how microscopic cracks propagate in the turbine blades of jet engines.

Nature Physics - Arbitrarily shaped high-coherence electron bunches from cold atoms

Protean Wheel Motors and batteries provides easy retrofit of vans and cars to plug in hybrid

Protean Drive™ is a fully-integrated, direct-drive solution. Each motor has a built-in inverter, control electronics and software – no separate large, heavy and costly inverter required. Direct drive reduces part count, complexity and cost, so there is no need to integrate traditional drive train components such as external gearing, transmissions, drive-shafts, axles and differentials. Protean Drive™ packages easily inside a conventional wheel and can use the original equipment vehicle bearing.

A European-based Vauxhall Vivaro equipped with Protean Electric's fuel-saving electric wheel motors showed a 300 percent fuel economy improvement in hybrid mode on a European drive cycle fuel test.

Protean Electric, a leading global supplier of in-wheel electric motors, and Millbrook Proving Ground, one of Europe's leading vehicle test and demonstration centers, partnered to produce the Vivaro diesel hybrid.

Retrofitting is important because there are 1 billion cars and trucks on the road and there are only 60 million new cars and trucks each year.

August 01, 2011

Researchers turn Kinect game into a 3D scanner

University of California, San Diego students preparing for a future archaeological dig to Jordan will likely pack a Microsoft Kinect, but it won’t be used for post-dig, all-night gaming marathons. Instead, the students will use a modified version of the peripheral Xbox 360 device in the field to take high-quality, low-cost 3D scans of dig sites.

Jürgen Schulze, a research scientist at UCSD’s division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), along with his master’s student, Daniel Tenedorio, have figured out a way to extract data streaming from the Kinect’s onboard color camera and infrared sensor to make hand-held 3D scans of small objects and people.

AMD's next-generation GPU architecture

VR-zone analyzes the next generation AMD GPU AMD's next generation GPU architecture was shown at their Fusion Summit a month ago, and expected to materialixe initially in the Radeon HD7000 series a 28 nm process before yearend 2011.

The 'next gen' AMD GPU is even more of a 'graphics-enabled vector processor' than the Nvidia Fermi in their current GeForce line up attempted to be. Basically, as you see here, we're talking about a mini Cray supercomputer on a chip, with X86-compatible 64-bit addressing and memory management, essentially able to share both virtual and physical memory with the X86 main processors in the system and, if somehow connected via HyperTransport or QuickPath (later doubted though due to the Intel licensing issues) to the CPU, could literally be a very tightly coupled co-processor with its own memory on a side, yet able to address all the main memory at near CPU speed, without PCIe bottlenecks.

Foxconn to use 1 million robots by 2014 to replace workers

China Daily - Foxconn Technology Group plans to use 1 million robots to replace simple working employees over a three-year span, China Business News reported on Monday, citing tycoon Terry Guo, who owns Foxconn. They expect to have 300,000 robots in 2012. The robots will be used simple assembly line procedures

Foxconn is the largest original equipment manufacture (OEM) electronics company in China and currently employs 1.2 million people along with implementing 10,000 robots.

The company has established an automation robotics division and is hiring engineers to design and fix the robots.

Experts said about 50 percent of the production process of electronic devices could be done by robots in the future.

A total of 8879 robots valued at $577.8 million were ordered by North American companies in the first six months of the year. When orders from outside North America are added, the totals are 10,476 robots valued at $667.9 million. RIA estimates that some 205,000 robots are now used in the United States. More than one million industrial robots are used worldwide.

Foxconn could double the current number industrial robots used worldwide by 2014 all by itself.

A Quick, Cheap Diagnostic Test for HIV and Other Infections

Quick test for HIV: This microfluidics chip can detect syphilis and HIV in just 15 minutes from one microliter of blood.
Credit: Curtis Chin, Columbia University

A simple microfluidics chip could improve health care in poor countries by making rapid diagnostic testing a reality.

Developed by Samual Sia and collaborators at Columbia University, the system was designed to be used in resource-poor settings. Field tests in Rwanda showed that the chip works as well as traditional laboratory-based HIV diagnostics. Sia wants to deploy the test in prenatal clinics in Africa.

Nature Medicine - Microfluidics-based diagnostics of infectious diseases in the developing world

MIT team designs concentrated solar thermal system that could store heat in vats of molten salts

Diagram shows the idealized arrangement of a vat of molten salt used to store solar heat, located at the base of a gently-sloping hillside that could be covered with an array of steerable mirrors all guided to focus sunlight down onto the vat.
Image: Courtesy of Alexander Slocum et al.

MIT team designs concentrated solar thermal system that could store heat in vats of molten salts, supplying constant power.

Nanofiber Regenerates Blood Vessels

Capillary action: The transparent circle in the center of this image is a nanomaterial designed to mimic the protein VEGF. Here, it has enhanced the growth of blood vessels in the membrane from a chicken egg after three days.
Credit: Matthew Webber

MIT Technology Review - A synthetic material may help to repair tissue after a heart attack, and aid transplants. Researchers at Northwestern University have created a nanomaterial that could help the body to grow new blood vessels.

Nanowire electronics that can be shaped to fit any surface and attach to any material developed at Stanford

Electronic circuitry composed of nanowires can now be fitted to a surface of almost any shape on an object made of virtually any material, using a new approach to fabrication and transfer of nanowire electronics developed by Stanford researchers.

Stanford researchers have developed a new method of attaching nanowire electronics to the surface of virtually any object, regardless of its shape or what material it is made of. The method could be used in making everything from wearable electronics and flexible computer displays to high-efficiency solar cells and ultrasensitive biosensors.

Nanoletters - Fabrication of Nanowire Electronics on Nonconventional Substrates by Water-Assisted Transfer Printing Method

Rice University develops indium-free transparent, flexible electrodes

The lab of Rice chemist James Tour lab has created thin films that could revolutionize touch-screen displays, solar panels and LED lighting. Flexible, see-through video screens may be the "killer app" that finally puts graphene -- the highly touted single-atom-thick form of carbon -- into the commercial spotlight once and for all, Tour said. Combined with other flexible, transparent electronic components being developed at Rice and elsewhere, the breakthrough could lead to computers that wrap around the wrist and solar cells that wrap around just about anything.

ACS Nano - Rational Design of Hybrid Graphene Films for High-Performance Transparent Electrodes

Rice University lab uses lasers to write supercapacitors on sheets of graphite oxide

Schematics of CO2 laser-patterning of free-standing hydrated GO films to fabricate RGO–GO–RGO devices with in-plane and sandwich geometries.

Turning graphite oxide (GO) into full-fledged supercapacitors turns out to be simple. But until a laboratory at Rice University figured out how, it was anything but obvious.

Rice Professor Pulickel Ajayan and his team discovered they could transform a sheet of GO into a functional supercapacitor by writing patterns into it with a laser. Scientists already knew that the heat of a laser could convert GO -- the oxidized form of graphite, or carbon-based pencil lead -- into electrically conducting reduced graphite oxide (RGO). By writing patterns of RGO into thin sheets of GO, the Rice researchers effectively turned them into free-standing supercapacitors with the ability to store and release energy over thousands of cycles.

Nature Nanotechnology - Direct laser writing of micro-supercapacitors on hydrated graphite oxide films

KLD Energy and electric motors with nano-crystalline cores are making progress

NBF wrote about KLD Energy and their electric motor with a nano-crystalline core back in 2009.

KLD Energy Technologies Inc. signed a deal to supply motor systems for a new line of electric scooters in Malaysia.

KLD expects to manufacture at least 40,000 kits in the first year. The scooters are being developed as part of the country's efforts to reduce pollution. Utilizing KLD’s motor system, Eclimo’s scooters can exceed 100 kilometers per hour and have a range of more than 100 kilometers. The new scooters will be available in Malaysia later in the year.
An existing Eclimo scooter with in wheel motor and batteries. KLD Energy will have their systems integrated into the next version

KLD has gotten $13 million from dozens of angel investors and said it should reach profitability this year. The company employs about 60 people.

Manipulating Light at Will

Duke electrical engineers have developed a man-made material that they say literally allows them to manipulate light at will.

They say that the results of their latest proof-of-concept experiments could lead to the replacement of electrical components with those based on optical technologies, which should allow for faster and more efficient transmission of information, much in the same way that replacing wires with optical fibers revolutionized the telecommunications industry.

The breakthrough revolves around a novel man-made structure known as a metamaterial. These exotic composite materials are not so much a single substance, but an entire structure that can be engineered to exhibit properties not readily found in nature. The structure used in these experiments resembles a miniature set of tan Venetian blinds.

Physical Review Letters - Controlling the Second Harmonic in a Phase-Matched Negative-Index Metamaterial

Siemens to supply eight 500 MW coal gasifiers to China

The SFG-500 gasifier developed by Siemens Fuel Gasification Technology in Freiberg.

Siemens Energy has received an order from China to deliver eight coal gasifiers. The units, with a thermal rating of 500 megawatts each, are for a coal gasification plant in Yili City in Xinjiang province. The plant converts locally mined subbituminous coal into synthetic natural gas (SNG) with the aim of reducing imports of natural gas for power and heat generation. In its first stage of completion, the plant is to produce around two billion cubic meters of synthetic natural gas per year. The customer is the power provider CPI Xinjiang Energy Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of China Power Investment Corporation, one of the five biggest power generators in China. The coal gasification plant is scheduled to go on line by the end of 2014.

This will be a substantial increase to coal gasification (turning coal into synthetic gas). Coal gasification is better than pulverized coal burning, but it is more environmentally harmful than nuclear power. All forms of coal power are far worse than nuclear power, hydroelectric power, wind power. Fossil fuels and biomass are the leading pollution sources for energy generation.

Ground based GPS mimicing for centimeter location accuracy

Small ground-based transmitters that mimic GPS satellites help receivers find their position with high accuracy. A new location technology accurate to a few centimeters will refine those services and unlock another wave of novel ideas, claims Australian company Locata. The company's technology can work alongside GPS to provide superaccurate positioning or fill in the gaps in places where GPS signals are blocked.

July 31, 2011

Highlights of the Krivit's third report on Rossi-Focardi Energy Catalyzer

Cold Fusion Now has gone through the Krivit's third report

Although most of the criticisms have been made elsewhere, Krivit has helpfully (for those critical of Rossi’s claims, at least) provided a clearinghouse for them.

Metamaterials used to mimic the Big Crunch

Experimental observation of the “end of time event” in a plasmonic hyperbolic metamaterial illuminated with 488 nm light.

Arxiv - Hyperbolic metamaterial interfaces: Hawking radiation from Rindler horizons and the "end of time"

Extraordinary rays in a hyperbolic metamaterial behave as particle world lines in a three dimensional (2+1) Minkowski spacetime. We analyze electromagnetic field behavior at the boundaries of this effective spacetime depending on the boundary orientation. If the boundary is perpendicular to the space-like direction in the metamaterial, an effective Rindler horizon may be observed which produces Hawking radiation. On the other hand, if the boundary is perpendicular to the time-like direction an unusual physics situation is created, which can be called "the end of time". It appears that in the lossless approximation electromagnetic field diverges at the interface in both situations. Experimental observations of the "end of time" using plasmonic metamaterials confirm this conclusion.

21 page paper

Steven B. Krivit has a new scientific analysis of the Rossi Focardi Energy Catalyzer

By Steven B. Krivit

[This article is Copyleft 2011 New Energy Times. Permission is granted to reproduce this article as long as the article, this notice and the publication information are included in their entirety and no changes are made to this article.]

[This issue of New Energy Times contains the third in a series of reports based on my interviews with Andrea Rossi, creator of a device he calls the Energy Catalyzer, or E-Cat, Sergio Focardi, professor emeritus at the University of Bologna, and Giuseppe Levi, a professor in the university’s Department of Physics, and based on my investigation of their claims of a low-energy nuclear reaction device that produces commercially useful levels of excess heat. The complete list of New Energy Times reports on this topic is here.]

Issue 37 of New Energy Times focuses entirely on the story of an Italian man, Andrea Rossi, who appears to live in Florida, and his extraordinary energy claim. His brief biography in English is here and in Italian is here. A German Web site called Eso Watch has collected a great deal of information about Rossi. Appendix 36 provides information about his criminal history in Italy

Daniel Hillis talk on Applied Proteomics

I was at the Singularity University on Friday giving a talk on the most recent developments and capabilities in nanotechnology. (I will shortly have my presentation posted with an article. I saw a talk by Daniel Hillis while I was there The talk was very similar to a TED talk Danny gave at the end of 2010.

- cancer must be thought of as a "verb" instead of a "noun."
- we are cancering all the time. It is only when the body's defences are being overrun with a revolution of cancer that it is a problem
- the categorization of cancer by location makes no sense. It is like ordering a library by the color of the books. It is a holdover from infectious disease where it is useful
- the genome and DNA bases are a parts list. They are the ingredients for a restaurant
- Proteins are the dishes served the restaurant
- His group is making progress on blood biomarkers for colon cancer
- they are making progress towards other early detection that would not require dangerous procedures
- they are working on mice for proving out new ways for long term cancer intervention

Debit limit real solutions and accounting and other tricks

I will be following up this article with a detailed posting on how to increase GDP growth and change regulations to increase the use of domestic resources over the next decade or two. Such changes can increase the revenues by trillions of dollars (without increasing taxes but by increasing the income and revenues that are available for taxation.) Increased digging up of domestic resources would by actual production of real wealth and would be money that is not sent overseas to buy resources.

This site has reviewed some McKinsey ideas on how to increase economic growth in the United States

Actually having effective removal of regulations that block growth and new oil and natural gas projects could get fast tracked to help with the fiscal situation and to get employment increased.

UPDATE - A deal has been made to raise the debt limit

The off topic observation is to note that the Treasury department has "extraordinary accounting tools" that it can use to give the government breathing room in the range of $150-billion when the Debt exceeds the Debt Ceiling.

Previously such breathing room would have meant many months of time. Now that adds about 5-6 weeks at the rate of $125 billion in borrowing per month.

Printing Planes enables designs that were known to be more efficient but were too costly with conventional manufacturing

Engineers at the University of Southampton have designed and flown the world’s first ‘printed’ aircraft, which could revolutionise the economics of aircraft design. The SULSA (Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft) plane is an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) whose entire structure has been printed, including wings, integral control surfaces and access hatches.

This is a followup to a an article a few days ago

No fasteners were used and all equipment was attached using ‘snap fit’ techniques so that the entire aircraft can be put together without tools in minutes.

The electric-powered aircraft, with a 2-metres wingspan, has a top speed of nearly 100 miles per hour, but when in cruise mode is almost silent. The aircraft is also equipped with a miniature autopilot developed by Dr Matt Bennett, one of the members of the team.

Laser sintering allows the designer to create shapes and structures that would normally involve costly traditional manufacturing techniques.

Another design benefit that laser sintering provides is the use of an elliptical wing planform. Aerodynamicists have, for decades, known that elliptical wings offer drag benefits. The Spitfire wing was recognised as an extremely efficient design but it was notoriously difficult and expensive to manufacture. Again laser sintering removes the manufacturing constraint associated with shape complexity and in the SULSA aircraft there is no cost penalty in using an elliptical shape.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 63

1. Margaret Harding goes over the realities of Entergy’s bet on fuel for Vermont Yankee (VY). Neither the naysayers, nor the supporters had it right. The fuel can be moved, but not easily. The fuel can be used in another reactor, but not easily. In any case, the cost probably will outweigh the benefits and Entergy is betting they will get to operate at least one fuel cycle of Vermont Yankee (VY).