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July 26, 2014

Cameco still on track for over 8000 tons of uranium production in 2018

A temporary halt to jet boring at Cameco's Cigar Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan has forced the company to revise its ore production target date (from late 2014 into early 2015). Cameco's long-term annual production target of 18 million pounds (8,164 tonnes) U3O8 by 2018 will not be impacted.

July 25, 2014

Safety approval for first Japanese reactor restarts

Sendai nuclear power plant units 1 and 2 have draft approval to restart and generate electricity again. The final stages in Japan's new licensing regime could be completed in October.

The draft approval means that the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) considers the two reactors, and the plant as a whole, to be safe for operation. This represents by far the major part of the licensing process which began on 8 July 2013 when NRA formally announced its new requirements.

Applications for 15 other reactors remain at the review stage with Takahama 3 and 4 said by the NRA to be the next most advanced.

BRICS countries are building about 75% of the worlds new nuclear reactors and are forming a new BRICS energy association

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced plans to establish a BRICS "energy association" that will include a fuel reserve bank and an energy policy institute. BRICS is a grouping of major emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Fifty of the 66 nuclear reactors currently under construction are in BRICS states.

Russia signed a number of nuclear power cooperation agreements that coincided with Putin's visit to South America. On 12 July, Rosatom director general Sergey Kiriyenko and Argentina's minister of planning, investments and services, Julio Vido, signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy. Rosatom plans to participate in the tender in the third quarter for construction of the third unit at the Atucha nuclear power plant.

On 15 July, Rusatom Overseas chief executive Dzhomart Aliyev and Camargo Correa President Dalton Santos Avancini signed a memorandum of understanding with Brazilian Camargo Correa on building an additional spent fuel storage facility and a nuclear power station in Brazil.

The document envisages an expansion of bilateral cooperation in nuclear power, in particular, the construction of engineering and technical facilities at the Brazilian operational Angra nuclear power plant and partnership in the construction of new nuclear power units in Brazil.

On 16 July, Putin held talks with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on broadening their partnership in the energy and defence sectors. Modi has reportedly invited the Russian leader to visit the construction site of Kudankulam 2 during their annual summit in New Delhi, in December. The two countries signed a general framework agreement in April on units 3 and 4.

The key development of the BRICS summit was the launch the long-awaited New Development Bank and a Currency Reserve Pool. With combined resources of $200 billion, they are aimed at fostering greater financial and development cooperation among the five emerging markets.

July 24, 2014

Carnival of Space 363

The Carnival of Space 363 is up at Chandra X-ray Space telescope blog


io9 Space - The current generation of telescopes have found hundreds of exoplanets. The next generation will find thousands. Depending on the tools we develop, we might be within decades of finding life on alien worlds.

A new pair of telescopes are launching soon: the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in 2017, and the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018. Kepler has found us hundreds of worlds; TESS is designed to track thousands of stars for that brief dimming that indicates the presence of a planet.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be all about transit spectroscopy: picking the most likely worlds, and looking for signs of life. Light from the distant star will filter though its atmosphere, and if Webb is as good in practice as it is on paper, that tiny bit of altered light will be enough for us to analyze and characterize the atmosphere of alien worlds.


Wheat disease Powdery Mildew was stopped with gene editing

Researchers have created wheat that is resistant to a common disease, using advanced gene editing methods.

Advanced genome-editing techniques have been used to create a strain of wheat resistant to a destructive fungal pathogen—called powdery mildew—that is a major bane to the world’s top food source, according to scientists at one of China’s leading centers for agricultural research.

To stop the mildew, researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences deleted genes that encode proteins that repress defenses against the mildew. The work promises to someday make wheat more resistant to the disease, which is typically controlled through the heavy use of fungicides. It also represents an important achievement in using genome editing tools to engineer food crops without inserting foreign genes—a flashpoint for opposition to genetically modified crops.

Nature Biotechnology - Simultaneous editing of three homoeoalleles in hexaploid bread wheat confers heritable resistance to powdery mildew

Lasers make fiber optic tubes out of thin air and can be used for communication, sensing and weapon applications

Milchberg and his lab report using an “air waveguide” to enhance light signals collected from distant sources. These air waveguides could have many applications, including long-range laser communications, detecting pollution in the atmosphere, making high-resolution topographic maps and laser weapons.

Because light loses intensity with distance, the range over which such tasks can be done is limited. Even lasers, which produce highly directed beams, lose focus due to their natural spreading, or worse, due to interactions with gases in the air. Fiber-optic cables can trap light beams and guide them like a pipe, preventing loss of intensity or focus.

Milchberg’s air waveguides consist of a “wall” of low-density air surrounding a core of higher density air. The wall has a lower refractive index than the core—just like an optical fiber. In the Optica paper, Milchberg, physics graduate students Eric Rosenthal and Nihal Jhajj, and associate research scientist Jared Wahlstrand, broke down the air with a laser to create a spark. An air waveguide conducted light from the spark to a detector about a meter away. The researchers collected a strong enough signal to analyze the chemical composition of the air that produced the spark.

The signal was 1.5 times stronger than a signal obtained without the waveguide. That may not seem like much, but over distances that are 100 times longer, where an unguided signal would be severely weakened, the signal enhancement could be much greater.


Illustration of an air waveguide. The filaments leave 'holes' in the air (red rods) that reflect light. Light (arrows) passing between these holes stays focused and intense. Credit: Howard Milchberg

Optica - Collection of remote optical signals by air waveguides

July 23, 2014

Elon Musk says 500 mile range electric car will soon be possible

Elon Musk explains why the Tesla Model S has twice the range of the Nissan Leaf and why Tesla will soon have electric cars with 500 mile range

Tesla Electric cars have the highest energy density battery in the world, twice that of the Nissan Leaf. But their range is more than twice that of the Leaf so we come into other factors: what’s the drag co-efficient of the car, how much does it weigh, what’s the efficiency of the motor and gearbox, what’s the rolling resistance? All those factors affect the range.

Recently Telsa Model S was assessed against a whole bunch of other cars for drag efficiency, in a drag queen contest! Our car came out best with a drag co-efficient of 0.24.

Elon says it will be possible to have a 500-mile range car. In fact we could do it quite soon, but it would increase the price. Over time you could expect to have that kind of range.

Carbon Nanotubes May Protect Electrodes for commercial version of Focus Fusion and machining has delayed the Tungsten electrode to September, 2014

While LPPFusion’s research team expects to eliminate the major sources of electrode erosion, enough to get rid of significant impurities in the plasma, some erosion will still exist. It won’t be enough to bother us during the current experimental phase, but once they are engineering a generator that fires 200 times second, remaining erosion will limit the lifetime of the electrodes. But there may be a way to protect the electrodes better—with a coating of carbon nanotubes.

Neil Farbstein of Vulvox Nanobiotechnology Corporation suggested to LPPFusion joint development of a coating of CNT to protect the future beryllium electrodes in the Focus Fusion generator. While more research is needed, the extraordinary qualities of CNTs may help to reduce two sources of erosion. The first is sputtering. In this process, high energy ions from the plasma hit against atoms in the electrode, knocking them out of the material one by one. Beryllium is only slowly eroded by sputtering, but CNTs may be still better. Due to their structure, with sheets of atoms surrounding tiny voids, CNTs can allow high energy ions to slow down gradually, dissipating their energy without knocking off so many atoms.

Second, between shots, a layer of boron may form on the electrodes after the molecules of the decaborane feed gas break apart. If the boron condenses fast enough to form a continuous layer, the current from the next shot will have to vaporize it off. (Boron does not conduct electricity at all well.) Since the vaporization temperature of boron is much higher than that of beryllium, some of the beryllium electrode will also vaporize, causing erosion.

Genetically Modified mosquito swarms will be used on a commercial scale to hopefully prevent 50 million incidents of dengue fever per year

Genetically modified mosquitoes will be raised on a commercial scale for the first time, in a bid to stem outbreaks of dengue fever in Brazil. But it is unclear how well it will work.

Next week biotech company Oxitec of Abingdon, UK, will open a factory in Campinas, Brazil, to raise millions of modified mosquitoes. Once released, they will mate with wild females, whose offspring then die before adulthood. That should cut the number of dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. In April, Brazil's National Technical Commission for Biosecurity (CTNBio) approved their commercial use.

The mosquitoes could be an important step forward in controlling dengue, which affects more than 50 million people every year, with a 30-fold increase in the last 50 years. There is no vaccine or preventive drug, so all anyone can do is to spray insecticide on a large scale in a bid to kill dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Russia will be building 1200 MWe fast neutron reactors as the core of its next generation nuclear fleet

Russia plans to start construction of three BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactors before 2030. OKBM Afrikantov has said it envisages about 11 GWe (9 of the 1200 MW plants) of such plants by 2030, possibly including South Urals plant.

The BN-1200 reactor for Beloyarsk will generate 1220 MWe and have a 60-year life. The core of a fast reactor is much smaller than that of a normal nuclear reactor, and it has a higher power density, requiring very efficient heat transfer.

We associate fast reactors with our strategic goal of a closed nuclear fuel cycle," Romanov said. The first of these units will be located at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in Zarechny, in the Urals, he said.

Last month, Rosenergoatom engineers brought to criticality Beloyarsk 4 - a 789 MWe fast-neutron reactor of the BN-800 design.

Power units with BN reactors have a "unique competitive advantage" and the BN-800 will be able to operate for about 100 years.

July 22, 2014

Video shows Spacex did soft land the Falcon 9 first stage last week

Following last week's successful launch of six ORBCOMM satellites, the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage reentered Earth’s atmosphere and soft landed in the Atlantic Ocean. This test confirms that the Falcon 9 booster is able consistently to reenter from space at hypersonic velocity, restart main engines twice, deploy landing legs and touch down at near zero velocity.




Carnival of Nuclear Energy 218

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 218 is up at Yes Vermont Yankee

NEI Nuclear Notes - Higher and Higher: EEI Uncovers The Cost of Electricity in Germany

Ever since Germany decided to phase out nuclear energy in the wake of Fukushima, local activists have been touting the results of the shift, known in German as the "Energiewende." But what has the cost been to the nation's economy. NEI's Mark Flanagan looks at a recent EEI report that's full of interesting details.

Household electricity prices in Germany have more than doubled, increasing from €0.14/kilowatt hour (kWh) ($0.18) in 2000 to more than €0.29/kWh ($0.38) in 2013.

This outcome has occurred with many of the nuclear plants still operating, so these costs presumably will only go higher after the plants close in 2021. (The cost for household electricity in the U.S. is about $0.13/kWh , for comparison).

The rapid introduction of renewable energy sources has caused in wholesale prices in Germany for baseload to fall dramatically from €90-95/megawatt hour (MWh) in 2008 to €37/MWh in 2013. This has created a large amount of load and margin destruction for utilities that built and financed thermal plants. Many new gas-fired power plants have been rendered uneconomical, leaving owners to shore up their balance sheets by undertaking large divestitures of some of their holdings, as well as by reducing their operational costs.

Wait – shouldn’t household prices go down if wholesale costs decline?

This is being caused by subsidies granted to renewable energy sources and a provision of Germany’s renewable energy law that mandates electric companies buy renewable energy ahead of thermal-powered energy regardless of need.

Patent troll patent invalidated and ordered to pay costs of the legal case

When Santa Barbara startup FindTheBest was sued by a patent troll called Lumen View last year, it vowed to fight back rather than pay up the $50,000 licensing fee Lumen was asking for. Company CEO Kevin O'Connor made it personal, pledging $1 million of his own money to fight the legal battle.

Once FindTheBest pursued the case, the company dismantled the troll in short order. In November, the judge invalidated Lumen's patent, finding it was nothing more than a description of computer-oriented "matchmaking."

Patent troll ordered to pay the legal costs

The judge overseeing the case has ruled that it's Lumen View, not FindTheBest, that should have to pay the defendants $200,000 in legal expenses. In a first-of-its-kind implementation of new fee-shifting rules mandated by the Supreme Court, US District Judge Denise Cote found that the Lumen View lawsuit was a "prototypical exceptional case."

Mall of the World, a temperature-controlled pedestrian city in Dubai that will be the largest domed city

Dubai has a project to develop the world’s largest mall (8 million square feet or 183 acres), largest indoor park, cultural theatres and wellness resorts with a capacity to host over 180 million visitors annually.

Dubai Holding plans to build the world’s largest domed city: Mall of the World, in Dubai. The temperature-controlled city (also a first) will occupy a total area of 48 million square feet — the largest indoor theme park in the world. It will be covered by a glass dome that will be open during the winter months.

The project will also house the largest shopping mall in the world, with an area of 8 million sq. ft. in the form of a temperature-controlled covered retail street network spreading over 7 kilometers. It will also include 20,000 hotel rooms catering to all types of tourists, and a cultural district with theaters built around New York’s Broadway, Ramblas Street in Barcelona, and London’s Oxford Street.



New Era of rapid Brain Imaging allows brain imaging and understanding of interactions at the cellular level across the brain

Detailed high resolution brain imaging has been made one hundred times faster. Stanford University researchers who developed the new method CLARITY to see the brain in greater detail said that it could mark a new era of rapid brain imaging, allowing researchers to see in much greater detail not only how parts of the brain interact on a cellular level but also to better understand those interactions across the entire brain.

Cellular structure and neuron firing

It allows for three-dimensional visualization that is both granular and wide enough to encompass the entire brain. Said Sanchez, “Traditionally, with the optogenetic technique, you really don’t have the structure to go along with the activation. That’s why the Neuro-FAST program is so exciting.”

DARPA Neuro-FAST project builds off of the recently developed CLARITY process, as well as recent discoveries in genetics, optical recordings, and brain-computer interfaces. By combining all four areas, Neuro-FAST seeks to allow researchers to individually identify specific cell types, register the connections between organizations of neurons, and track their firing activity using optical methods in awake, behaving subjects. Neuro-FAST researchers must overcome the dual challenges of achieving single-neuron resolution while simultaneously being able to analyze activity from large numbers of neurons to acquire detailed modeling of the dynamic wiring of neural circuits that cause behavior. Such models would then be coupled with brain activity in real-time to better understand how brain processes work. Neuro-FAST envisions development of novel optical methods to enable the necessary recording.

The data generated by this process would be unlike any previously produced by the neuroscience community and would feed a growing body of knowledge about brain function and form. In addition to fundamental rodent research already underway, Neuro-FAST will expand the processes to non-human primate brains and whole-organ human tissue samples from existing repositories to create a deep understanding across higher-order mammals.

If successful, Neuro-FAST will support pioneering research into brain function over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales to better characterize and mitigate threats to the human brain and facilitate development of brain-in-the loop systems to accelerate and improve functional behaviors.

Nature Protocols - Advanced CLARITY for rapid and high-resolution imaging of intact tissues.



July 21, 2014

Neuroscience biofeedback improved novice sniper shooting by 100% by helping soldiers get into the right mental zone

A previous DARPA program yielded some remarkable insight into the potential for better soldier performance through focused brain states. Amy Kraus, a former DARPA program manager, on Monday told a group at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, the work that she presided over succeeded in finding the secret mental secret that preceded good marksmanship. “It turns out the expert marksman has a brain state,” she said, “a state that they enter before they take the perfect shot. Can I teach a novice to create this brain state? The answer was yes.”

She said that by recognizing that state, researchers were able to improve the ability of regular people to improve their marksmanship by 100 percent. “These are recordable, measurable, algortyhmical,” Kraus said.

Neuroscience-based assessments can be used to accelerate military skill acquisition and provide quantitative evidence of successful training by detecting, in real-time, cognitive and physiological states of the trainee under various conditions.

The research focuses on:
(a) integrating brain monitoring capabilities into rifle marksmanship training;
(b) identifying psychophysiological characteristics of expertise using expert marksman as a model population;
(c) developing a sensor-based feedback system—information that would not be available under current training conditions—to accelerate novices in the acquisition of marksmanship skills, and
(d) identifying neurocognitive factors that predict marksmanship skill acquisition.

Plastic to Pavement

India has 15000 tons of plastic waste every day. This amount should double in 5 years.

5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) of plastic roads have been laid in India in at least 11 states.

Solving India’s garbage problem requires more than a technological solution. In a country where throwing garbage onto the roads and littering in public areas are acceptable behaviors, it’s going to require a social transformation. “With respect to the technology it has been proven already,” Vasudevan says. “Culture is now the most important part.”

Gurusamy Bodhilakshmi, secretary of Naganakulam Panchayat-Level Federation of the SHGs (self-help groups), explains how the women buy plastic from a network of local businesses and homes and how they conduct awareness drives in schools and colleges. They are trying to build a local market around plastic, so it is treated as a commodity rather than as garbage. The group has had some success. It collects plastic from about 8,000 households. It buys plastic at 7 rupees a kilo (12¢ per 2.2 pounds) and sells about 1,000 kilos a month, at 30 rupees a kilo, to government agencies that use it for roads. Many of the group’s members make a modest living off the enterprise.



July 20, 2014

Jibo the first family robot could revolutionize personal robotics by solving ease of use robotics like iPads for tablets and iPhones for smartphones

JIBO, The World's First Family Robot, has raised $864,000 on Indiegogo and still has 26 days left to go on its crowdfunding campaign.

It is scheduled to be available by December 2015, Jibo will be capable of interacting with its owners; for now, it is just a prototype, but that could soon change.

Social robotics - that's the idea behind Jibo, and Cynthia Breazeal, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has worked in the field for years. Involved in MIT's Personal Robots Group, she has been focusing on developing the principles, techniques, and technologies for personal robots.

Breazeal and her team used simple approach towards designing Jibo. At first glance, the 11-inch tall robot -- with a six-inch base -- resembles more of a retro television than a 21st century robot. But rest assured, it will be loaded with all the amenities of current technology, such as Bluetooth and WiFi.

Come next December, Jibo is expected to be able to have the following capabilities that will allow him act as an assistant, reminding you of upcoming events; a storyteller, complete with sound effects, graphics and physical movements to boot; a photographer, noticing smiles to automatically take a photo; a messenger and telepresence avatar, allowing users to communicate; as well as act as an companion.

How JIBO Works
Setup

* Follow JIBO's instructions to connect him to your WiFi network
* Teach JIBO to recognize your face & voice
* Learn what you can ask JIBO to do
* Download the JIBO mobile app (Android & iOS) to connect JIBO to your mobile devices
* Connect to Devices

Your JIBO Network can include:

* Mobile devices
* Personal computers
* Other JIBOs



Targeted improvements in more efficient agriculture can improve world agriculture productivity by over 40%

Feeding a growing human population without increasing stresses on Earth's strained land and water resources may seem like an impossible challenge. But according to a new report by researchers at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, focusing efforts to improve food systems on a few specific regions, crops and actions could make it possible to both meet the basic needs of 3 billion more people and decrease agriculture's environmental footprint.

The report, published today in Science, focuses on 17 key crops that produce 86 percent of the world's crop calories and account for most irrigation and fertilizer consumption on a global scale. It proposes a set of key actions in three broad areas that that have the greatest potential for reducing the adverse environmental impacts of agriculture and boosting our ability meet global food needs. For each, it identifies specific "leverage points" where nongovernmental organizations, foundations, governments, businesses and citizens can target food-security efforts for the greatest impact. The biggest opportunities cluster in six countries — China, India, U.S., Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan — along with Europe.

"This paper represents an important next step beyond previous studies that have broadly outlined strategies for sustainably feeding people," said lead author Paul West, co-director of the Institute on the Environment's Global Landscapes Initiative. "By pointing out specifically what we can do and where, it gives funders and policy makers the information they need to target their activities for the greatest good."



Science - Leverage points for improving global food security and the environment

3D Pillared Boron Nitride could have applications in nanoelectronics, gas storage and composite materials

An unusual three-dimensional porous nanostructure called pillared boron nitride (PBN) could achieve a balance of strength, toughness, and ability to transfer heat that could benefit nanoelectronics, gas storage, and composite materials that perform multiple functions, Rice University engineers have discovered.

The 3-D prototypes they made (using computer simulations) fuse one-dimensional boron nitride nanotubes and two-dimensional sheets of boron nitride. The extremely thin sheets of boron nitride are stacked in parallel layers, with tube-shaped pillars of boron nitride between each layer to keep the sheets separated.

Among 3-D boron nitride’s unusual properties:

* Can be stretched about 45 percent of its length without breaking in the direction of the columns.

* Carries heat relatively fast in all 3-D directions. “This feature is ideal for applications that require materials or coating with the capability of extremely fast thermal diffusion to the environments,” said Rouzbeh Shahsavari, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and of materials science and nanoengineering. “Examples include car engines or computer CPUs where a fast heat transfer to the environments is critical in proper functioning.”

* Has a very porous and lightweight structure. Each gram of this Swiss cheese-like structure has a surface area equivalent to three tennis courts. Such a high surface area lends itself to customized applications, such as efficient gas storage and separation — in vehicles that run on hydrogen cells, for example.

* Is an electrically insulating material, so it could complement electrically conductive graphene-based nanoelectronics — for example, in the next generation of 3-D semiconductors and 3-D thermal transport devices, which could be used in nanoscale calorimeters, microelectronic processes, and macroscopic refrigerators.



The Journal of Physical Chemistry C - Synergistic Behavior of Tubes, Junctions and Sheets Imparts Mechano-Mutable Functionality in 3D Porous Boron Nitride Nanostructures

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics raised $182000 from the crowdfunding effort and another $135,000 from new investors

The crowdfunding campaign of LPPFusion, Inc. and the Focus Fusion Society was a great success, raising $182,000, or 91% of our original goal of $200,000. (This includes $2,000 in Bitcoins not counted in the number on the Indiegogo website.) We received contributions from 1,923 individuals, many of whom gave more than once.

The campaign greatly increased our visibility with coverage in Fortune, Extremetech, Gizmag, IEEE Spectrum, and Tageszeitung Kurier, a major Austrian newspaper. With over 70,000 users of the Indiegogo site we estimate that around a million people have now heard in some way about our Focus Fusion project. That publicity in turn led to $135,000 in new investments so far, with over 30 inquiries from potential investors.

Together these developments have put our Focus Fusion project on a much more solid financial basis. We will be continuing to crowdfund the remaining money for our goal on our LPPFusion website. And we will be reaching out to our new thousands of supporters to organize to get the word out more widely.

Human Longevity Inc will try to defeat all of the diseases of aging to make 100 the new 60 and have healthier people living longer

Craig Venter is teaming up Dr. Robert Hariri, who once worked directing cell therapy operations at Celgene, a biopharmaceutical company, and engineer Dr. Peter Diamandis, chairman of the X Prize Foundation. Karen Nelson, who headed the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), will lead the microbiome team. They launched a new company called Human Longevity Inc.

Studies — including projects at JCVI — have shown the bacteria, fungi and other creatures living in and on the human body affect diseases from cancer to eczema and dandruff. Hariri says their byproducts may also affect how well we age. “If you eliminate these various diseases, you eliminate the things contributing to unhealthy aging,” Hariri said.

“We believe the key to … make 100 the new 60, is something well within our grasp.”

Stem cells, the body’s master cells, secrete compounds that affect tissues and may be able to turn back the clock on some diseases associated with aging, he added.

It’s just a good time to tackle these kinds of projects, said Diamandis. The science is there, for one. “There is also this explosion of massive computational power,” said Diamandis, whose first X Prize challenge offered $10 million in 1996 to inspire commercial space ventures. (Burt Rutan won in 2004 with SpaceShipOne, a piloted rocket plane.)

“The time for creating extended high-performing humans genetically is now. We believe the key to … make 100 the new 60, is something well within our grasp.”

The new company doesn’t aim to extend human life so much as to help keep people healthy as they get older.

“The challenge is when you live into your 80s, 90s, to 100, living in a way that is decrepit and old is of zero value,” Diamandis said.

So, the goal is to battle all the diseases of aging, Venter said.

China's air traffic congestion is made worse by military control and will need to be loosened to handle more increase from 2001 commercial jets today versus 4200 commercial jets in 2020

China's air force controls airspace and allots only 20 percent to civil aviation. With China’s three biggest airlines planning to add at least 273 planes in the next three years, traffic congestion that already delays 25 percent of flights is set to worsen.

“At present, the limited airspace resource has restricted the development of civil aviation,” said Li Jiaxiang, the head of Civil Aviation Administration of China. “We will strive to further open up the airspace,” he said in Beijing yesterday.

Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines have expanded their fleet as economic growth spurs air travel demand in the world’s most populous nation. China is expected to have 4,200 commercial aircraft in 2020, compared with the current fleet size of 2,001 with 46 airlines, CAAC’s Li said.