April 17, 2015

Graphene Hybrid supercapacitors storing as much as lead acid batteries which is six times commercial supercapacitors

Researchers at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute have successfully combined two nanomaterials to create a new energy storage medium that combines the best qualities of batteries and supercapacitors.

Supercapacitors are electrochemical components that can charge in seconds rather than hours and can be used for 1 million recharge cycles. Unlike batteries, however, they do not store enough power to run our computers and smartphones.

The new hybrid supercapacitor stores large amounts of energy, recharges quickly and can last for more than 10,000 recharge cycles. The CNSI scientists also created a microsupercapacitor that is small enough to fit in wearable or implantable devices. Just one-fifth the thickness of a sheet of paper, it is capable of holding more than twice as much charge as a typical thin-film lithium battery.

The new hybrid supercapacitor developed at UCLA stores large amounts of energy, recharges quickly and can last for more than 10,000 recharge cycles.

Batteries run just about everything portable in our lives such as smartphones, tablets, computers, etc. Although we have become accustomed to the rapid improvement of portable electronics, the slow development of batteries is holding back technological progress. Thus, it is imperative to develop new energy storage devices that are compact, reliable, and energy dense, charge quickly, and possess both long cycle life and calendar life. Researchers have developed hybrid supercapacitors that can store as much charge as a lead acid battery, yet they can be recharged in seconds compared with hours for conventional batteries.

Abstract - Engineering three-dimensional hybrid supercapacitors and microsupercapacitors for high-performance integrated energy storage

Supercapacitors now play an important role in the progress of hybrid and electric vehicles, consumer electronics, and military and space applications. There is a growing demand in developing hybrid supercapacitor systems to overcome the energy density limitations of the current generation of carbon-based supercapacitors. Here, we demonstrate 3D high-performance hybrid supercapacitors and microsupercapacitors based on graphene and MnO2 by rationally designing the electrode microstructure and combining active materials with electrolytes that operate at high voltages. This results in hybrid electrodes with ultrahigh volumetric capacitance of over 1,100 F/cm3. This corresponds to a specific capacitance of the constituent MnO2 of 1,145 F/g, which is close to the theoretical value of 1,380 F/g. The energy density of the full device varies between 22 and 42 Wh/l depending on the device configuration, which is superior to those of commercially available double-layer supercapacitors, pseudocapacitors, lithium-ion capacitors, and hybrid supercapacitors tested under the same conditions and is comparable to that of lead acid batteries. These hybrid supercapacitors use aqueous electrolytes and are assembled in air without the need for expensive “dry rooms” required for building today’s supercapacitors. Furthermore, we demonstrate a simple technique for the fabrication of supercapacitor arrays for high-voltage applications. These arrays can be integrated with solar cells for efficient energy harvesting and storage systems.

Saudi Arabia trying to replicate Dubai success with four new cities and one will cost $67 billion

Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead with plans to complete building work on a new megacity in the desert.

The King Abdullah Economic City, or KAEC (pronounced ‘cake’), will be slightly larger than Washington DC and home to approximately two million residents.

Covering 70 square miles, the metropolis is costing £67 billion ($100 billion) and lies 100km from Jeddah, the commercial hub of the kingdom, near the Red Sea.

So far 15 per cent has been built, as public facilities and residential areas are still under construction. Plans include a port, industrial complex, a financial island, beach facilities and residential neighborhoods.

KAEC is one of four new cities being built to diversify an economy that is overly dependent on oil. Already it has its own website showing plans, maps and including details on how to invest.

‘We’re not competing with Jeddah’s Islamic port – but we are going to take business away from Jebel Ali in Dubai. That’s because of our quicker, more automated offloading and customs procedure.’

The Saudi's are trying to replicate the success of Dubai


Carnival of Nuclear Energy 256

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 256 is up at Yes Vermont Yankee

[Canadian Energy Issues] The most recent reported concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) at the Keeling Observatory in Mauna Loa Hawaii ( April 9 2015) shows 404.65 parts per million. This is the highest it has ever been in human history.

It takes roughly 7.8 billion metric tons of CO2 dumped into the global air to increase the concentration by one part per million (according to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at the Oak Ridge lab in Tennessee). One year ago the global concentration hit 400 ppm for the very first time. So for it to have gone from 400 to 404.65 ppm means we humans have, collectively, in the space of a single year, dumped 36.27 billion tons of the stuff into our air.

Ontario Canada has, since 2003, reduced annual electric power CO2 emissions by around 27 million tons. They did this not with a cap and trade system, nor with a carbon tax. They did it by simply adding and using more nuclear capacity. There were four nuclear reactors sitting idle and in need of refurbishment. So they refurbished them. Twenty-seven million tons. Done.

Elon Musk Battery Singularity - 1000 Gigabattery factories for Grid Storage and car domination

JB Strauble is the CTO of Tesla Motors. In a video of an Energy Summit Keynote, he talks about the energy density of batteries doubling every ten years and how this will not only enable electric cars to beat combustion engine cars but also to transform energy storage on the grid.


If 100 million homes in the USA had 4 kilowatts of nameplate solar capacity (1kw net power) and needed to store that power for 8 hours (10AM to 4PM power to 6pm-midnight and 6AM-8AM) that would be 800 GWh. This would be the capacity of 16 Gigabattery factories. This would be less than 10% of the grid energy storage needs of the United States. The US uses 4500 TWh of electrical power (and 10 times that amount when currently non-electric transportation and industrial power usage is counted.)

100 Gigabattery factories would be needed to produce the batteries for 50 million cars each year. Complete domination of energy grid storage could see a demand for 900 more Gigabattery factories.



$100-150 per kwh would displace combustion engine cars and also signal Energy Grid Storage Transformation

A summary paper in Nature, presents an original systematic review, analysing over 80 different estimates reported 2007–2014 to systematically trace the costs of Li-ion battery packs for BEV manufacturers. We show that industry-wide cost estimates declined by approximately 14% annually between 2007 and 2014, from above US$1,000 per kWh to around US$410 per kWh, and that the cost of battery packs used by market-leading BEV manufacturers are even lower, at US$300 per kWh, and has declined by 8% annually. Learning rate, the cost reduction following a cumulative doubling of production, is found to be between 6 and 9%, in line with earlier studies on vehicle battery technology. We reveal that the costs of Li-ion battery packs continue to decline and that the costs among market leaders are much lower than previously reported. This has significant implications for the assumptions used when modelling future energy and transport systems and permits an optimistic outlook for BEVs contributing to low-carbon transport.


The International Energy Association has a roadmap for energy storage to 2050





April 16, 2015

China looks to ramp up nuclear power construction

There are calls to start construction on as many as 500 new nuclear reactors domestically in China by 2050, and even more abroad, China could single-handedly more than double the number of reactors worldwide. China will need to build as many as 10-12 reactors a year, roughly double France’s record pace in the 1980s.

Experts believe China has the production capacity to meet the demanding schedule, it is currently projected to approve no more than six to eight new reactors this year, potentially ramping up to 10 or more annually by the beginning of the next decade

President Xi had a speech which suggests, the government’s interest in nuclear energy goes beyond economic concerns. Beijing claims the industry is also key to reducing the ubiquitous haze from the country’s many coal-fired power plants.

Curbing smog is a top priority for China’s leadership, which is nervous that failure to solve the problem may lead to social unrest.

Concern over the issue seems to have added some pressure to speed up construction.

In March, He Yu, chairman of state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group, argued that the country will need to adopt an even more aggressive nuclear development strategy if it hopes to meet its goal of increasing power generated from sources other than fossil fuels to 20 percent of its energy mix by 2030.

“On the strategic level, we should make it clear that nuclear power is central to our national energy supply,” he told China Economic Net, adding that the country should aim to build as much as 200 gigawatts of capacity in the next 15 years. Current plans call for 150 gigawatts.


New Star Wars Awakens Trailer and New Ant man Trailer

The new Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser #2 has a voice over with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and Chewie at the end.





Ant man looks good too.


In Vitro Fertilization accounts for 1.5% of births in the USA

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology represents the greater majority of in vitro fertilization clinics in the United States. Their report showed that doctors at these clinics performed 165,172 procedures, including IVF, with 61,740 babies born as a result of those efforts in 2012. In 2012 in the USA, more than 3.95 million babies were born. IVF treatments account for about 1.5% of all babies born in the United States in 2012.

IVF has cost about $15000 per treatment in the USA. In other countries, the cost can be 5 to ten time less. In 2013,Belgian researchers tested a shoebox-sized IVF laboratory built from cheap glass tubes that uses baking soda and citric acid to create the carbon dioxide needed for fertilization to occur. Pregnancy rates matched those from a standard laboratory and set-up costs are 85-90% lower. With fewer tests and less monitoring, running costs are slashed, too. Though of no use when the man’s sperm is sub-par and thus needs to be injected into the egg under a pricey microscope, it should be sufficient for about 70% of infertile couples, says Willem Ombelet of the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology, who led the first trial.

The Low-Cost IVF Foundation, a non-profit based in Switzerland, is working with Zambia’s health ministry to set up an IVF programme later this year. Costs will be shaved wherever possible, with the biggest saving coming from using clomiphene citrate, an oral drug that provides a modest boost to ovulation and costs just $12 per IVF attempt, instead of the standard injectable drugs, which cost thousands.

The number of babies born as a result of assisted reproduction technologies (ART) reached an estimated total of 5 million in 2012. ICMART (International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies) data for 2011 indicated that around 1.5 million ART cycles are now performed globally each year, producing around 350,000 babies. This number continues to rise. The two most active countries of the world are the USA and Japan, but the most active region by far is Europe.

Globally one in six couples face infertility issues. IVF is one of the popular treatments that has benefitted childless couples, single mothers, and LGBT community. It involves specific and complicated procedures with mixed proportion of both success and failure. According to CDC, 1.5 million to 2 million cycles of IVF is performed worldwide every year, and about 55 percent of the reported cycles are carried out in Europe. The Global IVF Devices market is growing at high pace, promising high return on investment. The Global IVF Devices Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.80 percent during the 2014-2019 forecast period.

While other ART procedures offer success rates of about 33 percent for patients below 35 years, the average rate of success for IVF is about 40 percent. The increase in technological innovation in assisted reproduction enables couples to select embryos of their choice and have an offspring with the closest genetic resemblance to them.

DARPA 2016 Includes 150 kilowatt laser live fire tests

DARPA has its 2016 budget.

High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS)

HELLADS program had funding of 26.6 million in 2014 and 14.1 million in 2015.

Description: The goal of the HELLADS program is to develop a high-energy laser weapon system that will provide an order of magnitude reduction in weight compared to existing laser systems. HELLADS will enable high-energy lasers (HELs) to be integrated onto tactical aircraft and will significantly increase engagement ranges compared to ground-based systems, in addition to enabling high precision/low collateral damage and rapid engagement of fleeting targets for both offensive and defensive missions. Advancements in beam control and other subsystems that are required for the practical integration of a laser weapon into existing tactical platforms will be explored. With the assistance of the Services, the HELLADS program will pursue the necessary analysis, coordination, and design activity for a prototype laser weapon system incorporating the HELLADS laser system and the ABC turret into air-, ground-, or sea-based tactical vehicles. While the prototype laser weapon system module is in design and development, the HELLADS 150 kilowatt (kW) laser will be made available for demonstration opportunities and transition to the Army, Navy, or Air Force.

FY 2014 Accomplishments:
- Completed laboratory checkout and government acceptance of 150 kW laser; packaged laser and shipped for integration into the high power laser demonstrator system.
- Continued risk reduction test of tracking systems for dynamic targets, demonstrated aim point accuracy to support lethal power delivery to test targets in representative battlefield environments.
- Completed high power optics insertion, safety system checkouts, range communications protocol check, and initial high power static operation of laser weapon demonstrator to verify the laser and its subsystems can safely demonstrate lethal effects on mortars and rockets.
- Commenced live fire tests against rocket and mortar fly-outs to demonstrate lethal laser power at mission-relevant ranges.
- Completed preliminary design and detailed design of laser weapon module prototype's subsystems for integration on a specific air-, ground-, or sea-based tactical vehicle.

FY 2015 Plans:
- Complete live fire tests against rocket and mortar fly-outs to demonstrate lethal laser power at mission-relevant ranges.
- Transport demonstrator laser from Army mission (rocket/mortar) relevant ground test site to mountain peak test site to mimic Air Force missions for precision air-to-ground and airborne self-defense demonstrations.






General Atomics shows off a combat laser module in the 50 kilowatt range

General Atomics has a new third generation combat laser. The technology was originally developed under the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS, Gen 1) program. The Gen 3 Laser employs a number of upgrades resulting in improved beam quality, increased electrical to optical efficiency, and reduced size and weight. The recently certified Gen 3 laser assembly is very compact at only 1.3 x 0.4 x 0.5 meters. The system is powered by a compact Lithium-ion battery supply designed to demonstrate a deployable architecture for tactical platforms.

The Gen 3 HEL tested is a unit cell for the Tactical Laser Weapon Module (TLWM) currently under development. Featuring a flexible, deployable architecture, the TLWM is designed for use on land, sea, and airborne platforms and will be available in four versions at the 50, 75, 150, and 300 kilowatt laser output levels.

The GDS was employed by an independent measurement team to evaluate the beam quality of the Gen 3 system over a range of operating power and run time. According to JTO’s Jack Slater, “The system produced the best beam quality from a high energy laser that we have yet measured with the GDS. We were impressed to see that the beam quality remained constant with increasing output power and run-time.”

With run time limited only by the magazine depth of the battery system, beam quality was constant throughout the entire run at greater than 30 seconds. These measurements confirm that the exceptional beam quality of this new generation of electrically-pumped lasers is maintained above the 50 kilowatt level.

Following this evaluation, the independent team will use the GDS again to conduct beam quality measurements of the GA-ASI HELLADS Demonstrator Laser Weapon System (DLWS). The HELLADS DLWS includes a 150 kilowatt class laser with integrated power and thermal management.

Evan Ackerman at IEEE Spectrum has pictures from a trade show of a laser module.

NBF- I believe they are saying that the 50 kilowatt laser might be one module. The 300 kilowatt laser would be six modules. The General Atomics laser testing press release talks about maintaining power over the 50 kilowatt level in the completed tests and they were moving on to 150 kw tests.

The weight of the system is dependent on its output power and the number of shots you want. General Atomics engineers say that they’ve gotten it down to just 4 kilograms per kilowatt.

The 300 kilowatt system would be 1200 kilograms. This would only have a few shots with lithium ion battery power. The navy design for a 300 kilowatt laser would have a power and heat management system that would weigh about 560 tons.

It looks like a non-functioning mockup at the trade show. Tests of the 50 kw system are probably in a bigger unit.

Warrior Web exosuit gets about a 10% net improvement in walking with load

Steve Jurvetson had a video and picture of the latest DARPA Warrior Web exosuits from Harvard and SRI at a Feb, 2015 meeting.

The Harvard team uses linear actuators on the side of the backpack (instead of twisting filaments with the SRI team) to get a 10% net improvement in walking with load. The backpack is just a weight load; all of the actuators and batteries are in the black box.

SRI exosuit for DARPA warrior web

Harvard exosuit for DARPA warrior web



Simple unpowered walking assist clutch is like removing a 7-20 pound backpack by putting a spring in your step

For over a century, scientists have tried to make it easier for people to walk. Evolution has shaped an extremely efficient human gait, but even with Mother Nature's improvements we still spend more energy walking than on any other activity.

The solution: a mechanical clutch that fits in the palm of your hand.

It is lightweight, unpowered, wearable exoskeleton (the walking assist clutch) to reduce the energy cost of human walking. This wearable boot-like apparatus, when attached to the foot and ankle, reduces the energy expended in walking by around 7%.

If a 7% improvement in walking with a robotic exoskeleton doesn't seem very impressive, consider that it is approximately equivalent to removing a 10-pound backpack. And, given this device's simplicity, it would be extremely low-cost to produce. (Keep in mind that the Bionic Man's 60 MPH hardware came with a six million dollar price tag.)

The walking assist clutch is also lightweight and requires no power source, so there are no batteries to recharge or replace.

The HULC, lower body exoskeleton was so heavy and required so much energy to power it that DARPA recently abandoned the project.



The exoskeleton comprises rigid sections attached to the human shank and foot and hinged at the ankle. A passive clutch mechanism and series spring act in parallel with the calf muscles and Achilles tendon.

Nature - Reducing the energy cost of human walking using an unpowered exoskeleton

Cheap and easy to manufacture Carbon nanotube sensors detects meat spoilage and another detects fruit ripeness

MIT chemists have devised an inexpensive, portable sensor that can detect gases emitted by rotting meat, allowing consumers to determine whether the meat in their grocery store or refrigerator is safe to eat.

The sensor, which consists of chemically modified carbon nanotubes, could be deployed in “smart packaging” that would offer much more accurate safety information than the expiration date on the package, says Timothy Swager, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Chemistry at MIT.

It could also cut down on food waste, he adds. “People are constantly throwing things out that probably aren’t bad,” says Swager, who is the senior author of a paper describing the new sensor this week in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

The sensor is similar to other carbon nanotube devices that Swager’s lab has developed in recent years, including one that detects the ripeness of fruit. All of these devices work on the same principle: Carbon nanotubes can be chemically modified so that their ability to carry an electric current changes in the presence of a particular gas.

The researchers tested the sensor on four types of meat: pork, chicken, cod, and salmon. They found that when refrigerated, all four types stayed fresh over four days. Left unrefrigerated, the samples all decayed, but at varying rates

The new device also requires very little power and could be incorporated into a wireless platform Swager’s lab recently developed that allows a regular smartphone to read output from carbon nanotube sensors such as this one.

The researchers have filed for a patent on the technology and hope to license it for commercial development.

NBF - The Smartphone update would be amusing the first few times. Ping. You have rancid meat.

This MIT device, based on modified carbon nanotubes, can detect amines produced by decaying meat. Photo: Sophie Liu

Angewandte Chemie - Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube/Metalloporphyrin Composites for the Chemiresistive Detection of Amines and Meat Spoilage

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