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August 25, 2012

Recent Coal and Oil Related Deaths

This site has many articles that detail the statistics of deaths per terawatt hour caused by each energy source. Here we detail some recent events related to deaths cause by energy sources so that people can see more relatable events, people and situations instead of just the numbers and facts. This coverage is also to note the different reactions that people have to deaths caused by different kinds of energy sources. People freak out more about any deaths or risks of potential deaths from nuclear power versus actual deaths from coal or oil. People will also have more concern and there will be more news coverage of the deaths of good looking Americans than larger numbers of people in China.

1. Washington Post - The rail line that links the coal fields of West Virginia to Baltimore is expected to be closed for days. The business of cleaning up thousands of tons of coal, righting the toppled train cars and restoring service is complicated by two factors. The single track means there is no adjacent track that could serve as a platform for rail cranes that could upright the cars.

In addition, more than a dozen phone, electric and cable lines that run along tall poles are at right angles over the crash site, causing a dicey problem for the use of helicopters from above or large cranes from below.

CNN - Two teenage girls were killed early Tuesday when a train derailed on the bridge they were sitting on, spilling coal and burying the young women. The victims were buried under the coal. The two girls were part of the dance team at their school.

The train -- with two locomotives and 80 cars -- was going 25 mph when it jumped the tracks. The first 21 cars behind the locomotives derailed

NBF - note that when a train loaded with coal has a derailment the issue discussed is rail safety rather than the fact that the US coal industry needs 1 billion tons of coal every year and 40% of all rail freight is to move coal. If an accident had involved uranium fuel rods then the whole nuclear industry would be under fire.




Two killed as CSX train derails in Ellicott City overnight: The women had been tweeting from near the tracks before the CSX train hauling coal near Ellicott City derailed. Some of the train cars fell off the 20-foot-tall bridge and onto vehicles parked beneath.

Machima forecasts 24 billion connected devices will have a US$4.5 trillion financial impact in 2020

Between 2011
and 2020 the number of connected devices globally
will grow from 9 billion to 24 billion as the benefit of connecting more and varied devices is realised. The latest research by Machina Research on behalf of the GSMA examines the global impact of this emerging Connected Life on businesses, government and people, in terms of opening up new revenue streams, facilitating new business models, gaining efficiency savings and improving the way existing services are delivered. In total the global impact of the Connected Life is valued at USD4.5 trillion by the end of 2020.

NBF - This is basically taking the smart phone, tablet and mobile commerce markets and adding in various smart grids and machine to machine markets.

The Connected Life describes a world in which consumers and businesses use many different devices to experience compelling new services and ubiquitous Internet access delivered by advanced mobile networks. These devices will include the next wave of smartphones, tablets and consumer electronics, as well as many so-called machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. It’s a world where everything intelligently connects.

Connected devices will assist us with a wide range of daily tasks. For example, an intelligently connected vehicle will be able to identify when maintenance is required, assist with making the appropriate booking at a local garage, notify the garage in advance of specific work needed and then assist with navigation to the garage via the most efficient route. People with chronic diseases will use wirelessly-connected monitors to automatically transmit high-quality, granular and potentially real-time information to their healthcare providers. A smart meter will help to identify opportunities to save money by automatically monitoring homes’ and businesses’ energy consumption.

Holtec targets making 1000 Modular reactors, Each 140 Megawatts at $800 million

The Holtec HI-SMUR 140 light water reactor was presented in 2011. (26 pages) It will be factory mass produced.

Holtec, through its subsidiary, SMR L.L.C., is one of four finalists in the running for a $452 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The plan is for the U.S. to fund two small modular nuclear reactor designs that will become available for licensing and production by 2022. Holtec estimates it can build its new (140 MWe) plant for about $800 million. The company’s more likely future market is probably outside the U.S. The plant will need to sell 1,000 units to make the small nuclear reactors a financial winner.

The new reactor is named HI-SMUR 140, derived from Holtec Inherently Safe Modular Underground Reactor. As the above words in HI-SMUR's name indicate, its core is located completely underground, it is operated by gravity induced flow (no reactor coolant pump), it does not rely on off-site power for shutdown (Inherently Safe), and it can be installed as a single unit or a cluster at a site (Modular). Passive in every aspect of its operation, HI-SMUR's principal technical mission is "safety and security first." HI-SMUR’s principal safety credentials derive from locating the core underground in a reactor vessel that has no penetrations to provide a drain-down path for the reactor coolant. Eliminating the reactor coolant pump and the need for emergency or off-site power to cool the reactor core in the event of a forced shutdown, are among the distinguishing design features of HI-SMUR that define its mission of utmost safety and security. Other major features of HI-SMUR are its small footprint, minuscule site boundary dose, large inventory of coolant in the reactor vessel and its modularity, i.e., the freedom to build the number of units at a site to best suit the owner's projected power needs. The expected duration of the construction life cycle is 24 months.



Transformed Cities and self driving cars will be here sooner than you expect

New Scientist - Motor industry futurist Sheryl Connelly looks forward to the rise of megacities and self-driving cars. Nextbigfuture has been tracking the trends in cities and self-driving cars for several years.

Sheryl Connelly is looking at population trends.

Earth's population has hit 7 billion and will grow by 2050 to 9 billion. That means megacities of more than 10 million people will proliferate, and that raises questions about how people will live, work and - for Ford - move about. In Beijing today, they have 5-hour commutes. During the 2008 Olympics, they had 12 days of traffic gridlock. Our Traffic Jam Assist technology will drive your car for you in a jam while you relax. Later, cars will talk to each other to route around traffic. In 10 years they'll even talk to road infrastructure and drive in follow-the-leader style, jam-free platoons.

What other factors do you consider?
Well, populations are aging. And that has an effect on the community and on transport. One thing we're working on is engineering cars that are easy to drive at ever older ages. We do that using special suits that are designed to constrain our testers' dexterity to that of elderly people with restricted mobility.

Nextbigfuture - The overall global population increase is a factor but a more rapid shift is the changes from urbanization. People in the developing world are moving from rural areas to cities. The world urban population will reach 5 billion by 2030. This is up from about 3.5 billion now. The urban population is increasing at 1.8% per year.

ABI Research - Global driver assistance systems revenues are expected to grow from $22.7 Billion in 2012 to $460.8 Billion in 2017. Asia-Pacific will remain the leading ADAS market throughout the forecast period.

ABI Researchs new "Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)" market database provides detailed volume and value forecasts of all major driver assistance systems (Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning/Mitigation, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Driver Monitoring System, Night Vision, and Adaptive Headlights) through 2020 for North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Rest of the World.

August 24, 2012

Ecomotors gets more funding to accelerate commercializing opposed piston engines

Ecomotors has revealed plans to accelerate its research and development efforts and expand its product portfolio, after securing $32.5m in new funding.

The funding is expected to support the rollout of the company's Opposed-Piston-Opposed-Cylinder (opoc) to two customers, Navistar and Zhongding Holding Group, while also allowing the company to accelerate its work to develop a gasoline version of its engine that could be used in cars, light trucks, hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

According to EcoMotors, the opoc design contains 60 per cent fewer components than a conventional internal combustion engine, reducing its weight and improving its reliability. Moreover, the company claims that testing has shown it can deliver a 50 per cent reduction in both fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, making it a highly efficient replacement for both vehicle and stationary engines.

Lunar Space Elevator Kickstart for 2020 target

Cosmic log - There’s a new Kickstarter project, aimed at setting the stage for a lunar space elevator. Space-elevator backers are trying to restart a competition for ultra-strong tethers. And a Japanese company has pledged to get the thing built … by 2050.

The idea of building a "railway to the sky" has tantalized dreamers for decades: Just send a satellite up to geostationary orbit, 22,000 miles up (36,000 kilometers up). Send one line back down to Earth, and another line up to an altitude of about 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers) with a counterweight at the end. Secure Earth's end of the line so it's rock-solid, then start sending robotic climbers up and down the line, carrying cargo and passengers.

The key sticking point has to do with the tethers, or cables, or ribbons that would be required to connect a terrestrial liftport with the elevator's orbital destination. Whatever they're made of, that connecting material would have to be stronger than any material that's manufactured today. A synthetic polymer called Zylon ranks among the strongest available, and space-elevator advocates measure its strength per unit of density at 3.9 megayuris. (The "yuri" is an unofficial measurement unit that was named after Russian space-elevator pioneer Yuri Artsutanov.) The specific strength of steel is about 0.5 megayuris. But the stuff of space elevators would have to be on the order of 30 to 100 megayuris strong.

For years, NASA offered $2 million in prizes to encourage the development of 5-megayuri material, but that challenge expired after last year's contest. The International Space Elevator Consortium is trying to revive the prize program at a lower level, but that won't happen in time for this year's conference.



This is the LiftPort Group's basic model for its proposed Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure, also known as LSEI or "Elsie." LiftPort says the system can be constructed within eight years using commercial technology.

China, Boston Consulting and Economist Intelligence Unit claims rapid growth in the inland areas

China Daily - China is claiming that the inland regions keep the growth juggernaut rolling as coastal regions feel the heat.

While much of the international focus is on China's growth slowing down and the risk of a so-called hard landing, large swathes of the country, particularly in central and western areas, are enjoying unprecedented rates of growth.

This two-speed China is beginning to whet the appetite of the large multinationals as well as businesses from the rest of China that are finding that doing business in the mature coastal areas of Shanghai and Guangdong is becoming increasingly difficult.

New middle class and affluent will be in Tier 3 cities in the interior

Jury decides Samsung infringed on Apple patents

CNET - Jury verdicts favors Apple overwhelmingly in a landmark patent decision. The jury awarded $1.05 billion tied to infringements in Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The scorecard so far:

* Jury finds Samsung infringement of Apple utility, design patents for some (though not all) products
* Jury finds willful infringement on 5 of 6 patents.
* Jury upholds Apple utility, design patents
* Jury upholds Apple trade dress '983


330-foot-long ramp section of eight-lane Yangmingtan Bridge in Harbin China has Collapsed

NY Times - One of the longest bridges in northern China collapsed on Friday, just nine months after it opened, setting off a storm of criticism from Chinese Internet users and underscoring questions about the quality of construction in the country’s rapid expansion of its infrastructure.

A nearly 330-foot-long section of a ramp of the eight-lane Yangmingtan Bridge in the city of Harbin dropped 100 feet to the ground. Four trucks plummeted with it, resulting in three deaths and five injuries.

The 9.6-mile bridge is one of three built over the Songhua River in that area in the past four years.

Questions about the materials used during the construction and whether the projects were properly engineered have been the subject of national debate ever since a high-speed train plowed into the back of a stopped train on the same track on July 23 last year in the eastern city of Wenzhou.


A collapsed section of the Yangmingtan Bridge's ramp, in the city of Harbin, dropped 100 feet to the ground on Friday, killing three people and injuring five.

Researchers Develop Simplified Approach for High-Power, Single-Mode Lasers

When it comes to applications like standoff sensing — using lasers to detect gas, explosives, or other materials from a safe distance — the laser’s strength is of the utmost importance. A stronger and purer beam means devices can sense danger more accurately from a greater distance, which translates into safer workers, soldiers, and police officers.

Northwestern University researchers have developed a new resonator that creates the purest, brightest, and most powerful single-mode quantum cascade lasers yet at the 8-12 micron range, a wavelength of great interest for both military and industrial use.



Journal Applied Physics Letters - “Angled Cavity Broad Area Quantum Cascade Lasers,” (5 pages)


MIT researchers could produce stable nanocrystalline metals with exceptional strength and other properties

Most metals — from the steel used to build bridges and skyscrapers to the copper and gold used to form wires in microchips — are made of crystals: orderly arrays of molecules forming a perfectly repeating pattern. In many cases, including the examples above, the material is made of tiny crystals packed closely together, rather than one large crystal. Indeed, for many purposes, making the crystals as small as possible provides significant advantages in performance, but such materials are often unstable: The crystals tend to merge and grow larger if subjected to heat or stress.

Now, MIT researchers have found a way to avoid that problem. They’ve designed and made alloys that form extremely tiny grains — called nanocrystals — that are only a few billionths of a meter across. These alloys retain their nanocrystalline structure even in the face of high heat. Such materials hold great promise for high-strength structural materials, among other potential uses.

The new findings, including both a theoretical basis for identifying specific alloys that can form nanocrystalline structures and details on the actual fabrication and testing of one such material.

Science - Design of Stable Nanocrystalline Alloys

Stanford's new surfing robot opens ocean to exploration

A few days ago, Stanford marine biologists were excited to detect a white shark swimming along the California coast north of San Francisco. Although the biologists routinely monitor sharks, this particular moment marked the first step toward a "wired ocean" full of mobile robotic receivers and moored listening stations that can detect ocean wildlife as it swims by.

Although similar technologies have been used to monitor the ocean itself, specifically to investigate climate change, this is the first such experiment dedicated to wildlife.

In addition to providing researchers with near real-time data of sharks and other animals, the project supports a new iPhone and iPad app designed to give the public a more visceral connection to the ocean and the creatures within.

The Wave Glider robot – named Carey in honor of noted large pelagic fish biologist Frank Carey – is probing the Pacific Ocean off the California coast in an initiative led by Stanford marine sciences Professor Barbara Block and her research team to keep tabs on the comings and goings of top marine predators, and to provide better census data of all species in the area.


Professor Barbara Block and Keith Kreider of Liquid Robotics inspect the Wave Glider dubbed "Carey" just prior to deployment.

Abstracts from the Extracting Uranium from Seawater Conference

Here is the link to all of the presentations and abstracts from papers for the ACS Extraction of Uranium from Seawater conference

1. American Chemical Society Meeting - "Life cycle cost and energy balance of uranium recovered by a braid adsorbent system" paper by Erich Schneider

Life cycle discounted cash flow and inventory analysis methods are used to estimate the production cost and energy return on investment (EROI) of uranium recovered from seawater via a polyethelene-based braid type adsorbent. The estimates are built on original assessments of the cost and energy intensity of materials, capital equipment, labor and other inputs to the uranium production chain. If fresh adsorbent achieves a capacity of 2 grams of uranium (g U) / kg ads, as in trials off the coast of Japan, and the adsorbent may be reused 6 times with capacity degradation of 5% per recycle, the U production cost is estimated at $1230/kg U with a 95% confidence interval of [$1030/kg U, $1430/kg U]. If this uranium is used in a once-through fuel cycle, the EROI is found to be 22. Improving the capacity of the multi-recycled adsorbent to 6 g U/kg ads would reduce the cost by approximately a factor of three, as would attaining a very high capacity -- 20 g U/kg ads -- in a single-use adsorbent.

World Nuclear News - previous experiments have collected uranium from ocean currents by submerging long fibrous mats embedded with specially designed adsorbent compounds that chemically bind to uranium. After a few weeks in the sea, the mats are washed in mild acid to release the uranium and go on to be reused several times. Although these trials proved the principle of uranium extraction from seawater, the cost was prohibitively high - perhaps around $260 per pound. This compares badly to today's most economic mines on land, which produce uranium at around $20 per pound, while resources at higher costs up to about $115 per pound have already been identified that would last more than a century.

The latest research on seawater extraction was discussed at an American Chemical Society's (ACS's) meeting in Philadelphia and two groups presented new fibre technologies that stand to dramatically boost uranium recovery.

Conducting research for the US Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has worked with Florida firm Hills Inc to develop new adsorbent materials. Mats made from so-called 'HiCap' fibres, featuring high surface-areas, are irradiated and then reacted with chemical compounds that have an affinity for uranium. After an exposure period and extraction of uranium the mats require acid washing and conditioning with potassium hydroxide before re-use.

Oak Ridge said the fibres delivered five-times higher adsorption capacity, faster uptake and higher selectivity than the previous best. "These results clearly demonstrate that higher surface areas fibres translate to higher capacity," said Chris Janke, who led the project.

Another project presented at the ACS meeting concerned the use of fibres based on chitin - a long chain biopolymer that can be obtained from shrimp shells. Scientists at the University of Alabama led by Robin Rogers have been working to create a high-surface-area sorbent material from chitin resins sourced from the fishing industry. Rogers hopes the fibre may further help extraction of uranium from seawater.

The ACS summarised the session saying that the new techniques might reduce the cost of uranium from seawater to around $135 per pound. While this price remains uneconomic, the cost of nuclear fuel makes up only about 5% of the final cost of nuclear power. In this context, the feasibility of vastly increasing available supplies of uranium by tapping seawater, even at higher cost, assures nuclear power a feasible fuel supply for millennia to come. Further extensions to the resource timeframe could also be made by recycling uranium from used nuclear fuel, using advanced reactors that run on materials currently thought of as waste, or units that produce fissile fuel from non-fissile elements as they operate.

Big Uranium Deposits in Sweden

1. World Nuclear News - Newly revised figures have expanded resource estimates for Aura Energy's Haggan project to 800 million pounds U3O8 (307,718 tU), making the Swedish project the second largest undeveloped uranium resource in the world.

Haggan, previously known as Storsjon, forms part of a large uranium field in central Sweden, with uranium occurring with molybdenum, vanadium and zinc in black shales. The newly published JORC-compliant resource estimate shows an increase of nearly 170 million pounds over the 631 million pounds (242,710 tU) reported by Australian company Aura in August 2011 and includes mineralisation in the separate Marby permit area for the first time.

The company expects future drilling to increase the resource base still further. Current exploration targets based on already completed drilling stand at 440-840 million pounds U3O8 (169,200-323,100 tU). The latest resource figures use drilling results from only 25% of Aura's permit areas at Haggan, with the majority of its permits still to be tested.

The new figures put Haggan at number 2 in a list of the world's undeveloped uranium resources, according to Aura. Continental's Viken project, also in Sweden, takes the top spot with 1047 million pounds U3O8 (402,725 tU), with ARMZ's Elkon project in Russia in third place with 705 million pounds U3O8 (271,176 tU). Both Viken and Haggan contain uranium at low concentrations, with grades of only 0.02%.

According to Beeson, Aura is "rapidly progressing" with development activities at the Swedish site and is in negotiations with a potential strategic partner in relation to the project.

August 23, 2012

Nanocrystalline Cellulose wonder material from Wood Pulp becoming a $600 billion industry by 2020

New Scientist - Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), which is produced by processing wood pulp, is being hailed as the latest wonder material. Japan-based Pioneer Electronics is applying it to the next generation of flexible electronic displays. IBM is using it to create components for computers. Even the US army is getting in on the act, using it to make lightweight body armor and ballistic glass.

To ramp up production, the US opened its first NCC factory in Madison, Wisconsin, on 26 July, marking the rise of what the US National Science Foundation predicts will become a $600 billion industry by 2020.

NCC transparent but it also has eight times the tensile strength of stainless steel due to its tightly packed array of microscopic needle-like crystals. Even better, it's incredibly cheap.

Mechanical testing of thin film nanocellulose material (34 pages)

Nanocrystal cellulose has a young's modulose of 100 to 140 GPa.

Nextbigfuture first covered nanocrystalline cellulose in July 2011.




IBM Watson making progress to becoming a useful medical assistant for diagnosis and treatment planning

IBM is working with several US hospitals to build a virtual physicians' assistant using Watson, the AI that won the TV show Jeopardy.

To test the system, Watson was first tasked with answering questions taken from Doctor's Dilemma, a competition for trainee doctors that takes place at the annual meeting of the American College of Physicians. Watson was given 188 questions that it had not seen before and achieved around 50 per cent accuracy - not bad for an early test, but hardly ideal.

To improve, Watson is now absorbing records - tens of thousands at Sloan-Kettering alone - of treatments and outcomes associated with individual patients. Given data on a new patient, Watson looks for information on those with similar symptoms, as well as the treatments that have been the most successful. The idea is it will give doctors a range of possible diagnoses and treatment options, each with an associated level of confidence. The result will be a system that its creators say can suggest nuanced treatment plans that take into account factors like drug interactions and a patient's medical history.

Watson is answering basic questions based on the treatment guidelines that are published by medical societies and is showing "very positive" results, he adds.

The technology is particularly useful in oncology because doctors struggle to keep up with the explosion of genomic and molecular data generated about each cancer type. This means it can take years for findings to translate into medical practice. By contrast, Watson can absorb new results and relay them to doctors quickly, together with an estimate of their potential usefulness. "Watson really has great potential," says Audeh. "Cancer needs it most because it's becoming so complicated so quickly."

The IBM system could also approve treatment requests more quickly. At WellPoint, one of the largest insurers in the US, nurses use guidelines and patient history to determine if a request is in line with company policy. Nurses are now training Watson by feeding it test requests and observing the answers. Progress is good and the system could be deployed next year, says WellPoint's Cindy Wakefield. "Now it can take up to a couple of days," she says. "We hope Watson can return the accurate recommendation in a matter of minutes."

3000 cars and trucks in a vehicle to vehicle communication yearlong study

Nearly 3,000 cars, trucks and buses equipped with “connected” Wi-Fi technology to enable vehicles and infrastructure to “talk” to each other in real time to help avoid crashes and improve traffic flow began traversing Ann Arbor’s streets on August 20, 2012 as part of a year-long safety pilot project by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Conducted by University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), the road test, or model deployment, is a first-of-its-kind test of connected vehicle technology in the real world. The test cars, trucks and buses, most of which have been supplied by volunteer participants, are equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication devices that will gather extensive data about system operability and its effectiveness at reducing crashes.

According to DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), V2V safety technology could help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of four out of five unimpaired vehicle crashes. To accomplish this, the model deployment vehicles will send electronic data messages, receive messages from other equipped vehicles, and translate the data into a warning to the driver during specific hazardous traffic scenarios. Such hazards include an impending collision at a blind intersection, a vehicle changing lanes in another vehicle’s blind spot, or a rear collision with a vehicle stopped ahead, among others.

“Vehicle-to-vehicle communication has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety – but we need to understand how to apply the technology in an effective way in the real world,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “NHTSA will use the valuable data from the ‘model deployment’ as it decides if and when these connected vehicle safety technologies should be incorporated into the fleet.”

New Scientist has coverage.

MIT researchers produce complex electronic circuits from molybdenum disulfide

MIT researchers produce complex electronic circuits from molybdenum disulfide, a material that could have many more applications than graphene. The discovery of graphene, a material just one atom thick and possessing exceptional strength and other novel properties, started an avalanche of research around its use for everything from electronics to optics to structural materials. But new research suggests that was just the beginning: A whole family of two-dimensional materials may open up even broader possibilities for applications that could change many aspects of modern life.

The latest “new” material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) — which has actually been used for decades, but not in its 2-D form — was first described just a year ago by researchers in Switzerland. But in that year, researchers at MIT — who struggled for several years to build electronic circuits out of graphene with very limited results (except for radio-frequency applications) — have already succeeded in making a variety of electronic components from MoS2. They say the material could help usher in radically new products, from whole walls that glow to clothing with embedded electronics to glasses with built-in display screens.



Nanoletters - Integrated Circuits Based on Bilayer MoS2 Transistors

Chematica combines seven million chemicals into a complete network of reactions

Northwestern University scientists have connected 250 years of organic chemical knowledge into one giant computer network -- a chemical Google on steroids. This “immortal chemist” will never retire and take away its knowledge but instead will continue to learn, grow and share.
A decade in the making, the software optimizes syntheses of drug molecules and other important compounds, combines long (and expensive) syntheses of compounds into shorter and more economical routes and identifies suspicious chemical recipes that could lead to chemical weapons.

“I realized that if we could link all the known chemical compounds and reactions between them into one giant network, we could create not only a new repository of chemical methods but an entirely new knowledge platform where each chemical reaction ever performed and each compound ever made would give rise to a collective ‘chemical brain,’” said Bartosz A. Grzybowski, who led the work. “The brain then could be searched and analyzed with algorithms akin to those used in Google or telecom networks.”

Called Chematica, the network comprises some seven million chemicals connected by a similar number of reactions. A family of algorithms that searches and analyzes the network allows the chemist at his or her computer to easily tap into this vast compendium of chemical knowledge. And the system learns from experience, as more data and algorithms are added to its knowledge base.

Global Oil & Gas Capital Expenditure Breaks $1 Trillion Level

Global Data - increased activity in the Exploration and Production (E&P) sector will be the primary driver in pushing oil and gas capital expenditure (capex) to an enormous $1,039 billion for 2012, states the latest report by natural resources experts GlobalData.

The new report predicts that the total oil and gas capex will increase by 13.4% this year over the 2011 total of $916 billion, as oil companies intensify upstream operations across locations as diverse as offshore Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Circle.

North America is expected to witness the highest capex globally, with $254.3 billion, representing a share of 24.5% of the 2012 global total. Compared to a global average capex growth rate of 13.4%, North America is expected to witness a capex growth of 15.7%. The increase of unconventional oil and gas activities, especially the continuing exploitation ofshale oil and gas sites and the development of Canadian oil sands are the major drivers for these investments.

GlobalData predicts Asia-Pacific to follow very closely with a capex of $253.1 billion, while the Middle East and Africa are forecast to spend $229.6 billion.

This relates to energy analysis of the cost of replacing fossil fuels. If the world is spending more than trillion dollars per year on fossil fuels then shifting that same level of spending on replacement energy is perfectly reasonable. In total my calculation of the costs for nuclear energy to replace all additional fossil fuel for the next 35 years would be more in range of $30 trillion. This would be mostly nuclear power construction from China, South Korea, Russia and India.

Tissue Engineering the Brain, Eyes and Pituitary Glands

Nature - With his knack for knowing what stem cells want, Yoshiki Sasai has grown an eye and parts of a brain in a dish.

Yoshiki Sasai has impressed many researchers with his green-fingered talent for coaxing neural stem cells to grow into elaborate structures. As well as the optic cup, he has cultivated the delicate tissue layers of the cerebral cortex and a rudimentary, hormone-making pituitary gland. He is now well on the way to growing a cerebellum — the brain structure that coordinates movement and balance. “These papers make for the most addictive series of stem-cell papers in recent years,” says Luc Leyns, a stem-cell scientist at the Free University of Brussels.

Sasai's work is more than tissue engineering: it tackles questions that have puzzled developmental biologists for decades. How do the proliferating stem cells of an embryo organize themselves seamlessly into the complex structures of the body and brain? And is tissue formation driven by a genetic program intrinsic to cells, or shaped by external cues from neighbouring tissues? By combining intuition with patient trial and error, Sasai has found that it takes a delicate balance of both: he concocts controlled environments that feed cells physical and chemical signals, but also gives them free rein to 'do their thing' and organize themselves into issues. He sometimes refers to himself as a Japanese matchmaker who knows that, having been brought together, two strangers need to be left alone. “They know what to do,” he says. “They interact in a delicate manner, and if the external cues are too strong, it will override the internal ones.”

Sasai's work could find medical applications. Recapitulating embryonic development in three dimensions, it turns out, generates clinically useful cells such as photoreceptors more abundantly and efficiently than two-dimensional culture can, and houses them in an architecture that mirrors that of the human body. Sasai and his collaborators are now racing to implant lab-grown retinas into mice, monkeys and humans. The way Sasai sees it, maturing stem cells in two-dimensional culture may lead to 'next generation' therapy — but his methods will lead to 'next, next generation' therapy.


Uranium from seawater idea boosted with shrimp shells

BBC News - A report at the 244th meeting of the American Chemical Society described a new technique using uranium-absorbing mats made from discarded shrimp shells. The oceans hold billions of tonnes of uranium at tiny concentrations, but extracting it remains uneconomical.

Although these trials proved the principle of uranium extraction from seawater, the cost was prohibitively high - perhaps around $260 per pound. This compares badly to today's most economic mines on land, which produce uranium at around $20 per pound, while resources at higher costs up to about $115 per pound have already been identified that would last more than a century. The ACS summarised the session saying that the new techniques might reduce the cost of uranium from seawater to around $135 per pound.

Previously Japanese researchers had a design of a mat of plastic fibres impregnated with molecules that both lock onto the fibres and preferentially absorb uranium. That work culminated in a 2003 field test that netted a kilogram of the metal.

The mats can reach 100m in length, suspended underwater at depths up to 200m. They are withdrawn and rinsed with an acid solution that frees the uranium, and the cycle is repeated.

New research has focussed on improving both the braided fibres of the mat and the "ligand" that captures the uranium, which has most often been a molecule called poly-acrylamidoxime.

Several groups at the conference said they had been working on variations on this molecular theme, or variants of porous "nanoparticles" made of silica (the stuff of sand) or carbon.

Robin Rogers of the University of Alabama, who organised the symposium, outlined an improvement developed in his own group: seafood shells.

He said that in the wake of both Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill in the region, "we began working with the Gulf Coast Agricultural and Seafood Co-operative... and with the shrimpers and crabbers there, and found they were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to get rid of their waste [shells]".

"We discovered an 'ionic liquid' - a molten salt - could extract a very important polymer called chitin directly from shrimp shells," he added.

August 22, 2012

Ferroelectric materials could bring down cost of cloud computing and electronic devices

- A new class of organic materials developed at Northwestern University boasts a very attractive but elusive property: ferroelectricity. The crystalline materials also have a great memory, which could be very useful in computer and cellphone memory applications, including cloud computing.

A team of organic chemists discovered they could create very long crystals with desirable properties using just two small organic molecules that are extremely attracted to each other. The attraction between the two molecules causes them to self assemble into an ordered network -- order that is needed for a material to be ferroelectric.

The starting compounds are simple and inexpensive, making the lightweight materials scalable and very promising for technology applications. In contrast, conventional ferroelectric materials -- special varieties of polymers and ceramics -- are complex and expensive to produce. The Northwestern materials can be made quickly and are very versatile.

In addition to computer memory, the discovery of the Northwestern materials could potentially improve sensing devices, solar energy systems and nanoelectronics

Nature - Room-temperature ferroelectricity in supramolecular networks of charge-transfer complexes


Crystal structures of LASO complexes

Tianjin and other Chinese cities are releasing massive investment plans

China Daily - China's local governments are moving to release investment plans and pave the way for economic growth that is to be driven by additional spending on infrastructure and manufacturing.

Tianjin, in northern China, released a four-year investment plan on Tuesday that calls for spending 1.5 trillion yuan ($236 billion) on 10 industries, said a report on the municipal government website.

"In the next few years, Tianjin will concentrate on the development of petrochemicals, port equipment and the aerospace industry as it tries to make them stronger global competitors," the government's report said.

Besides that, priorities are being placed on the biotechnology, "green" food and new-materials industries, according to the report.

Tianjin's release of its stimulus plan comes a day after Chongqing announced a similar policy. Chongqing, for its part, proposes to put 1.5 trillion yuan over three years into seven strategic industries, including electronics and IT, automobiles, energy and advanced equipment, Xinhua News Agency reported. As much as 300 billion yuan is to go into electronics and as much as 200 billion yuan into automobiles. Zhang Dejiang, vice-premier and Party secretary of Chongqing, said at a conference on Monday that the municipality will place a priority on the development of the industrial sector

China spending on energy efficiency and pollution control and other China Economy News

1. China will spend US$372 billion into energy conservation projects and anti-pollution measures over the next three-and-a-half years, part of a drive to cut energy consumption by 300 million tonnes of standard coal. The investments will take China almost halfway to meeting its target to cut the energy intensity 16 percent below 2010 levels by 2015. The State Council plan said steel producers must reduce their energy use per unit of production by a quarter over the five years, coal-fired power plants by 8 percent and cement manufacturers by 3 percent.

China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, plans to cut its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

Over the past few years China has phased out thousands of old, inefficient factories and fossil fuel-fired power plants while becoming the world's biggest producer of renewable energy.

However, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and according to a recent report, China's carbon output grew by 800 million tonnes to 9.7 billion last year, or 29 percent of the world's total CO2 emissions.

2. Business Week / Xinhua - China connected 50.26 gigawatts of wind-generated capacity to the nation’s largest electricity grid as of this year, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing a statement from China State Grid Corp.

Growth in the on-grid wind power capacity was up 87 percent annually over the last six years, Xinhua reported, citing the larger of China’s two transmission operators. Grid-linked capacity will rise to 100 gigawatts by 2015 and 200 gigawatts by 2020, according to the report published yesterday.

Guardian Analysis of Nuclear Power has the Typical Bias

Oliver Tickell has a biased analysis of energy in the Guardian UK.

Tickell's analysis has - At a construction cost of about US$10 billion per reactor, we would need to dedicate US$110 trillion, or about two years' gross world product, while also providing for long-term liabilities.

NBF Corrections

In 2007, the reported cost for the first two AP1000 units under construction in China was $5.3 billion. The output of the AP1000 is 1,117 MWe. In 2009, the published cost for 4 AP1000 reactors under construction in China was a total of $8 billion. In 2010, the Chinese nuclear commission expect construction costs would fall significantly once full scale mass production is underway. In addition, a domestic CAP1400 design based on the AP1000 is due to start construction in April 2013 with a scheduled start of 2017. Once the CAP1400 design has been proven, work is scheduled for a CAP1700 design with a target construction cost of $1000/kW

China's nuclear plants are 2.5 times cheaper than the US$10 billion price quoted and could become 4 times cheaper. China is likely to build about half of the world's expected nuclear reactors and they will begin exporting them. South Korea has prices as good as China. Russia and India are close to the same price range.

Ames Laboratory, Etrema Products Inc., and Navy researchers discover new uses for Galfenol, a high tech alloy

Ames Laboratory and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division have developed new ways to form a high tech metal alloy which promise new advances in sensing and energy harvesting technologies.

To look at it, a length of wire fabricated in the Ames Laboratory looks much like the kind of steel wire a do-it-yourselfer could pick up at the local hardware store. A sheet form of the material, fabricated by EPI, looks equally unassuming. But these materials are made of a high tech alloy called Galfenol, and the new forms of this “smart material” may be the key to future manufacturing breakthroughs like the creation of vibration free, quieter motors.

Galfenol, composed primarily of gallium and iron, was co-discovered in 1999 by the Ames Laboratory and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division. Galfenol’s unique properties make it change shape when subjected to a magnetic field, and flexible enough for a variety of manufacturing processes.

The three organizations spent a decade designing the alloy, optimizing its properties and developing production processes. Now, they have perfected methods of producing the material in rolled sheet and in wire form, making it possible to use Galfenol-based smart parts in a variety of new applications, especially vehicle technologies, both commercial and military.


Ames Laboratory's Materials Preparation Center director Larry Jones draws a piece of Galfenol into an increasingly finer gauge wire.

Gold hits its golden age as a high-tech material

Lawrence Livermore National Lab - Despite its reputation as an inert material, nanostructured gold is a very promising candidate as a catalyst, optic, sensor, energy harvester as well as an energy storer.

The Laboratory's Juergen Biener and Arne Wittstock and colleagues have explored the field by editing a Royal Society of Chemistry book "Nanoporous Gold: From an Ancient Technology to High-Tech Material"

Gold in its nanoporous form changes its characteristics. For example, instead of gold's yellow color it appears coppery, it is getting mechanically stronger, it may change its macroscopic dimensions depending on its surrounding gas atmosphere, and catalyze chemical reactions already at room temperature.

The combination of a pure bulk gold material in conjunction with its nanostructure results in many impressive properties and a variety of possible technical applications. It is one of the best examples of a material that changes characteristics when going from macro to nanosize. Because of the value of gold as a precious metal and its chemical inertness, it can be a very green and sustainable material-resource and non-toxic for humans and the environment. In fact, in the USA in 2010 more gold was actually recycled from scrap than used.

Nanoporous gold. Credit: American Chemical Society

Big Bang theory challenged by big chill theory of Quantum Graphity

The start of the Universe should be modeled not as a Big Bang but more like water freezing into ice, according to a team of theoretical physicists at the University of Melbourne and RMIT University. They explore the formation of metastable defects at domain boundaries and the effects of domain structures on the propagation of bosons. They show that these structures should have observable background-independent consequences including scattering, double imaging, and gravitational lensing-like effects.

They have suggested that by investigating the cracks and crevices common to all crystals - including ice - our understanding of the nature of the Universe could be revolutionised.

Lead researcher on the project, James Quach said current theorising is the latest in a long quest by humans to understand the origins and nature of the Universe.

“A new theory, known as Quantum Graphity, suggests that space may be made up of indivisible building blocks, like tiny atoms. These indivisible blocks can be thought about as similar to pixels that make up an image on a screen. The challenge has been that these building blocks of space are very small, and so impossible to see directly.”

(Color online - right two pictures) Simulation of the propagation of a boson wavepacket over time. Different time instances, t, are superimposed; each instance is labeled with ( t,M). For clearer presentation, populations are multiplied by factor M so that the peak value at each time instant is approximately the same. a) The boson is initialized in domain-0 with k0 = (−1.6,−0.5). As the boson propagates through the domain boundary it undergoes refraction with angle of refraction | R| ≈ 8.8o . b) The boson is initialized in the domain. As this mode can not couple to resonant modes in domain-0 the boson will be completely reflected. Inset: Zoomed depictions of the domain boundary

Arxiv - Domain structures in quantum graphity (11 pages)

August 21, 2012

Carnival of Space 263

The Carnival of Space 263 is up at Dear Astronomer

"Universe Today - The US astronomy budget is facing unprecedented cuts with potential closures of several facilities. A new report by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Astronomical Sciences says that available funding for ground-based astronomy could undershoot projected budgets by as much as 50%.
"

Oakridge Absorbents five to seven times better at extracting uranium from seawater

Fueling nuclear reactors with uranium harvested from the ocean could become more feasible because of a material developed by a team led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The combination of ORNL's high-capacity reusable adsorbents and a Florida company's high-surface-area polyethylene fibers creates a material that can rapidly, selectively and economically extract valuable and precious dissolved metals from water. The material, HiCap, vastly outperforms today's best adsorbents, which perform surface retention of solid or gas molecules, atoms or ions. HiCap also effectively removes toxic metals from water, according to results verified by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

"We have shown that our adsorbents can extract five to seven times more uranium at uptake rates seven times faster than the world's best adsorbents," said Chris Janke, one of the inventors and a member of ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division.

New Scientist - To make this process more economical, ORNL chemical scientist Sheng Dai says US researchers used plastic fibres with 10 times more surface area than the Japanese design, allowing for a greater degree of absorption on a similar platform.

They tested their new design at the PNNL's marine testing facility in Washington State. The results show the new design cuts the production costs of a kilogram of uranium extracted from seawater from $1232 to $660.

While extracting uranium from seawater is still five times more expensive than mining uranium from the Earth, the research shows that seawater uranium harvesting could be a much-needed economic backstop for the nuclear industry moving forward into the 21st century.

First Atomtronic Radio Broadcasts Matter Waves

Arxiv - A Matterwave Transistor Oscillator

A triple-well atomtronic transistor combined with forced RF evaporation is used to realize a driven matterwave oscillator circuit. The transistor is implemented using a metalized compound glass and silicon substrate. On-chip and external currents produce a cigar-shaped magnetic trap, which is divided into transistor source, gate, and drain regions by a pair of blue-detuned optical barriers projected onto the magnetic trap through a chip window. A resonant laser beam illuminating the drain portion of the atomtronic transistor couples atoms emitted by the gate to the vacuum. The circuit operates by loading the source with cold atoms and utilizing forced evaporation as a power supply that produces a positive chemical potential in the source, which subsequently drives oscillation.

Oscillating circuits are the workhorses of many electronic devices. In particular, oscillating electrons emit electromagnetic waves, a mechanism that has lead to one or two applications that readers may have come across.

Seth Caliga and teams at the University of Colorado and National Institute for Standards and Technology in Boulder have built a version of this kind of circuit that works with atoms rather than electrons.

Patterning defect-free nanocrystal films with nanometer resolution

Films made of semiconductor nanocrystals — tiny crystals measuring just a few billionths of a meter across — are seen as a promising new material for a wide range of applications. Nanocrystals could be used in electronic or photonic circuits, detectors for biomolecules, or the glowing pixels on high-resolution display screens. They also hold promise for more efficient solar cells.

The size of a semiconductor nanocrystal determines its electrical and optical properties. But it’s very hard to control the placement of nanocrystals on a surface in order to make structurally uniform films. Typical nanocrystal films also have cracks that limit their usefulness and make it impossible to measure the fundamental properties of these materials.

Now, researchers at MIT say they have found ways of making defect-free patterns of nanocrystal films where the shape and position of the films are controlled with nanoscale resolution, potentially opening up a significant area for research and possible new applications.

Nano Letters - Nanopatterned Electrically Conductive Films of Semiconductor Nanocrystals


Biggest health concerns for American kids

A survey of American adults indicates that the biggest health concerns for American kids are

Inactivity (39%) 
Obesity (38%) 
Smoking (34%) 
Drug abuse (33%) 
Bullying (29%) 
Stress (27%) 
Alcohol abuse (23%) 
Teen pregnancy (23%) 
Internet safety (22%) 
Child abuse and neglect (20%)  

What comes after Finfets ?

In the lab, IBM, Intel and others have demonstrated the ability to scale finFETs down to 5nm or so. If or when finFETs runs out of steam, there are no less than 18 different next-generation candidates that could one day replace today’s CMOS-based finFET transistors.

The IC industry is already weeding out the candidates. In 2005, the Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC), a chip R&D consortium, launched the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), a group that is researching futuristic devices capable of replacing the CMOS transistor in the 2020 timeframe. NRI member companies include GlobalFoundries, IBM, Intel, Micron and TI. So far, the NRI has narrowed down and identified a handful of serious contenders: gate-all-around, silicon nanowires, tunnel field-effect transistors (TFETs), carbon nanotubes, graphene devices, and bilayer pseudo-spin field-effect transistors (BiSFETs). It’s still too early to determine which will win.

August 20, 2012

Korean Scientists develop lithium-ion battery that charges 120 times faster than normal

Extremetech - A group of Korean scientists, working at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), have developed a fast-charge lithium-ion battery that can be recharged 30 to 120 times faster than conventional li-ion batteries. The team believes it can build a battery pack for electric vehicles that can be fully charged in less than a minute.

The Korean method takes the cathode material — standard lithium manganese oxide (LMO) in this case — and soaks it in a solution containing graphite. Then, by carbonizing the graphite-soaked LMO, the graphite turns into a dense network of conductive traces that run throughout the cathode. This new cathode is then packaged normally, with an electrolyte and graphite anode, to create the fast-charging li-ion battery. Other factors, such as the battery’s energy density and cycle life seem to remain unchanged.

These networks of carbonized graphite effectively act like blood vessels, allowing every part of the battery to recharge at the same time — thus speeding up recharge by 30 to 120 times.



Carbon-Coated Single-Crystal LiMn2O4 Nanoparticle Clusters as Cathode Material for High-Energy and High-Power Lithium-Ion Batteries

Topological quantum computers

RIKEN researchers said in 2010 and 2011 that a superconducting topological insulator, if one existed, could be used for a new kind of very stable quantum computer

Arxiv - Chain of Majorana States from Superconducting Dirac Fermions at a Magnetic Domain Wall (5 pages)

We study theoretically a strongly type-II s-wave superconducting state of two-dimensional Dirac fermions in proximity to a ferromagnet having in-plane magnetization. It is shown that a magnetic domain wall can host a chain of equally spaced vortices in the superconducting order parameter, each of which binds a Majorana-fermion state. The overlap integral of neighboring Majorana states is sensitive to the position of the chemical potential of the Dirac fermions. Thermal transport and scanning tunneling microscopy experiments to probe the Majorana fermions are discussed.

(H/T Chris Phoenix)

RIKEN researchers have now demonstrated a magnetic topological insulator and that it may be useful eventually for dissipationless power transmission.


DNA Origami as a Carrier for Circumvention of Drug Resistance

New Scientist - DNA Origami Trojan horse was used delivered a dose of the drug that proved lethal to human breast-cancer cells, even though they had developed resistance to doxorubicin. "This is the first study to demonstrate that DNA origami can be used to circumvent drug resistance," says Hao Yan at Arizona State University in Tempe, who jointly led the work. The cancer cells may not recognise the DNA origami as a threat in the way that free doxorubicin is, he suggests. The folded DNA might also alter the pH inside the cells, increasing the drug's activity.

Journal of the American Chemical Society - DNA Origami as a Carrier for Circumvention of Drug Resistance

Although a multitude of promising anti-cancer drugs have been developed over the past 50 years, effective delivery of the drugs to diseased cells remains a challenge. Recently, nanoparticles have been used as drug delivery vehicles due to their high delivery efficiencies and the possibility to circumvent cellular drug resistance. However, the lack of biocompatibility and inability to engineer spatially addressable surfaces for multi-functional activity remains an obstacle to their widespread use. Here we present a novel drug carrier system based on self-assembled, spatially addressable DNA origami nanostructures that confronts these limitations. Doxorubicin, a well-known anti-cancer drug, was non-covalently attached to DNA origami nanostructures through intercalation. A high level of drug loading efficiency was achieved, and the complex exhibited prominent cytotoxicity not only to regular human breast adenocarcinoma cancer cells (MCF 7), but more importantly to doxorubicin-resistant cancer cells, inducing a remarkable reversal of phenotype resistance. With the DNA origami drug delivery vehicles, the cellular internalization of doxorubicin was increased, which contributed to the significant enhancement of cell-killing activity to doxorubicin-resistant MCF 7 cells. Presumably, the activity of doxorubicin-loaded DNA origami inhibits lysosomal acidification, resulting in cellular redistribution of the drug to action sites. Our results suggest that DNA origami has immense potential as an efficient, biocompatible drug carrier and delivery vehicle in the treatment of cancer.


This work was presented on April 12, 2012 at the Materials Research Society Symposium on DNA Nanotechnology

Flexible Aerogels that are 500 times stronger than silica aerogels

American Chemical Society - A major improvement in the world’s lightest solid material and best solid insulating material, described here today, may put more of this space-age wonder into insulated clothing, refrigerators with thinner walls that hold more food, building insulation and other products.

These materials are different from aerographite which are another recently developed improvement in the aerogel domain.

The report, on development of a new flexible “aerogel” ― stuff so light it has been called “solid smoke” ― was part of the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

Mary Ann B. Meador, Ph.D., explained that traditional aerogels, developed decades ago and made from silica, found in beach sand, are brittle, and break and crumble easily. Scientists have improved the strength of aerogels over the years, and Meador described one of these muscled-up materials developed with colleagues at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

“The new aerogels are up to 500 times stronger than their silica counterparts,” Meador said. “A thick piece actually can support the weight of a car. And they can be produced in a thin form, a film so flexible that a wide variety of commercial and industrial uses are possible.”

Flexible aerogels, for instance, could be used in a new genre of super-insulating clothing that keeps people warm in the cold with less bulk than traditional “thermal” garments. Tents and sleeping bags would have the same advantages. Home refrigerator and freezer walls insulated with other forms of the material would shrink in thickness, increasing storage capacity. Meador said that the aerogel is 5-10 times more efficient than existing insulation, with a quarter-inch-thick sheet providing as much insulation as 3 inches of fiberglass. And there could be multiple applications in thin-but-high-efficiency insulation for buildings, pipes, water heater tanks and other devices.



August 19, 2012

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 118

The Carnival of Nuclear energy 118 is up the ANS Nuclear Cafe

There are several articles which explain why the reports of mutant butterflies does not matter.


Income distribution in China and projected consumption

China Daily - China is moving to approve a plan to reduce income inequality.

A new income-distribution framework eight years in the making, has been tabled for approval by the State Council and is likely to be introduced in the second half of this year.

"If low-income families cannot afford a decent standard of living, rich families will not enjoy any sense of security. That is a problem for the world, not just China," Yang Yiyong, director of the Social Development Research Institute under the National Development and Reform Commission, said in an interview with China Daily.

As part of income-distribution reform, government agencies, at both central and local levels, will be urged to pass legislation to cut taxes and regulate executive pay in high-profit monopoly industries and private companies, Yang said.

The framework will see an enlarged middle-income group and high earners will pay more in tax.

The framework may use the Gini coefficient, an internationally accepted gauge of income inequality, or adopt a mix of indicators, such as urban-rural income disparity or wage differences among various industries.

The country’s Gini coefficient has already reached a high, if not dangerous level. It is close to 0.5, he said, a point that "is threatening" social security.



Waiting on the 25 kilowatt Wave Disk Engine

US News had an update on the Wave Disk Engine back in Febuary, 2012 Mueller said in February, 2012, they have four working bench prototypes. He said, "We have engines—real, working, good-sized models—running right now,".

ARPA-E funded the wave disk engine for $2.5 million. In a traditional internal combustion engine, air and fuel are ignited, creating high-temperature and high-pressure gases which expand rapidly. This expansion of gases forces the engine’s pistons to pump and powers the car. MSU’s engine has no pistons. It uses the combustion of air and fuel to build up pressure within the engine, generating a shockwave that blasts hot gas exhaust into the blades of the engine’s rotors causing them to turn, which generates electricity. MSU’s redesigned engine would be the size of a cooking pot and contain fewer moving parts—reducing the weight of the engine by 30%. It would also enable a vehicle that could use 60% of its fuel for propulsion.

Late in 2012, the plan is to have just a wave disk engine generating power through a 25-kilowatt battery, which will be capable of driving a full-size hybrid electric-gas vehicle. The team will turn one of them into a 25 kilowatt wave disk engine and generator package. "We'll be able to drive a full-sized hybrid, or even a hybrid SUV," he predicts.

NASA Proposal to Revive Nuclear Thermal Space Propulsion Development

Nuclear Thermal Rocket Propulsion for Future Human Exploration Missions (24 pages)


The presentation was made on June 27, 2012 for the NASA Future in Space Operations workshops
• Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) is a proven technology; 20 NTR / reactors designed, built and tested at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) in the Rover / NERVA programs

• “All the requirements for a human mission to Mars were demonstrated” – thrust level, hydrogen exhaust temperature, max burn duration, total burn time at power, #restarts

• The smallest engine tested in the Rover program, the 25 klbf “Pewee” engine, is sufficient
for human Mars missions when used in a clustered engine arrangement – No major scale ups are required as with other advanced propulsion / power systems

• In less than 5 years, 4 different thrust engines tested (50, 75, 250, 25 klbf – in that order)
using a common fuel element design – Pewee was the highest performing engine

• “Common fuel element” approach used in the AISP / NCPS projects to design a small (~7.5 klbf), affordable engine for ground testing by 2020 followed by a flight technology
demonstration mission in 2023. PWR sees strong synergy between NTP and chemical

• SAFE (Subsurface Active Filtration of Exhaust) ground testing at NTS is baseline; capital cost for test HDW is ~45 M$ with ~ 2M$ for each additional engine test (NTS Dec. 2011)

• Cost for engine development and ground testing will not “break the bank” & the system will have broad application ranging from robotic to human exploration missions



Surface Telerobotics from the International Space Station

HET Surface Telerobotics is an engineering test of a human-robot “opscon” for future deep-space human exploration missions (20 pages)

Major Events
• 2011-11-29 ISS Payloads Office authorization received
• 2012-01-30 ISS Research Planning Working Group approval received
• 2012-09 Ground demo of film deployment mechanism on K10 rover
• 2012-12 ISS-to-ground communications test (Incr 33-34)
• 2013-06 Crew test session #1 (Incr 36)
• 2013-07 Crew test session #2 (Incr 36)
• 2013-08 Crew test session #3 (Incr 36)