October 23, 2014

Carnival of Space 376

The Carnival of Space 376 is up at the Urban Astonomer

Universe Today - ‘Death Star’ Ocean? Seven Moons That Could Host Huge Hidden Liquid Reservoirs

Newly released data from the Cassini spacecraft suggests there are big liquid reservoirs underneath the surface of Mimas, a moon of Saturn.

A global layer of liquid water thick enough to decouple the crust from the mantle is believed to be present on Titan, Europa and, with less certainty, Callisto, Ganymede and Triton. A magma ocean is thought to be present on Io. Geysers have been found on Saturn's moon Enceladus, possibly originating from about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) deep ocean beneath an ice shell.

The asteroid Ceres appears to be differentiated into a rocky core and icy mantle and may harbour a liquid-water ocean under its surface.

Not enough is known of the larger Trans-Neptunian objects to determine whether they are differentiated bodies capable of possessing oceans, although models of radioactive decay suggest that Pluto, Eris, Sedna, and Orcus have oceans beneath solid icy crusts at the core-boundary approximately 100 to 180 km thick.

There is the hypothesis that Uranus and Neptune possessing hot, highly compressed, supercritical water under their thick atmospheres.

Science - Constraints on Mimas’ interior from Cassini ISS libration measurements

Universe Today - Moons of Confusion: Why Finding Extraterrestrial Life may be Harder than we Thought

China stockpiling Genetically Modified Crops in event of a Future Agricultural crisis

378 Chinese groups employing thousands of scientists are engaged in Genetically Modified Crop research. The government will have spent some $4 billion on GMOs by 2020. Researchers are using the latest modification technologies and drawing from high-throughput genomic analysis of thousands of crop strains, accelerating the pace of discovery.

China is building a storehouse of genetically modified crop strains for future use.

* there are large scale field trials
* there are vast storehouses of GMO seeds
* billions are being spent on GMO research

Elon Musk Solar Scaling plans could enable solar power to go from unsubsidized 18 cents per kwh to 9 cents

Solar panel costs are not as important now, it is balance of system costs. Although having higher efficiency panels reduces the size of the solar installation which reduces balance of system costs.

Home solar is dominated by Solar City and Vivint which together are half of the US residential market SolarCity climbed from 28% to a record 36% share of the U.S. residential installer market from the first to the second quarter of 2014, according to new data from GTM Research. Over the same period, Vivint Solar nearly doubled its market share to 15%

Solar City scaling from unsubsidized 18 cents per kwh to 9 cents per kwh

In sunny states like California, solar power from Solar City is at an unsubsidized 18 cents per kwh. However, is subsidized which brings it down to 12-15 cents per kwh for many locations. This is cheaper than the lowest tier of PG and E electricity at 15.5 cents. There are four pricing tiers and they increase and usage increases and go up to about 25 cents per kwh. In 15 years, Solar Cities scaling and technology plans could bring the unsubsidized price of home solar electricity down to about 9 cents per kwh. This would be lower than the average price of US electricity at 12 cents per kwh. Elon Musk also plans to provide batteries for power storage so that the solar power does not burn off as heat at the feeder stations on the one way power grid.

China Cuts 2020 Target for Offshore Wind Power by 60%

China slashed its forecasts for offshore wind power by 60 percent, an acknowledgment that installations are being held up by the cost and complexity of the technology.

The nation is expected to install about 2,000 megawatts of capacity by 2015 and 10,000 megawatts by 2020, the National Energy Administration estimates. That’s less than the ambition in 2011 to generate 5,000 megawatts of power from offshore turbines by 2015 and 30,000 megawatts by 2020, enough for 32 million homes.

The estimates if they hold true would mark the first time China has missed one of its goals for renewable energy and is a setback for the $15 billion industry, which is seeking to produce a clean supply of electricity from one of nature’s most reliable energy sources.

Worldwide the fastest growing energy sources are
1. Coal (Since 1995, over 15,000 TWh added worldwide)
2. Natural gas (Since 1995, over 10,000 TWh added worldwide)
3. Hydro (Since 1995, over 1500 TWh added worldwide, up to 3663 TWh in 2012)

In 2011, 438TWh was produced by wind power.

World energy consumption in tons of oil equivalent

Age of Ultron Trailer

Get your first look at Ultron trying to tear apart Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the rest of the world in the first official teaser trailer for Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron," in theaters May 1, 2015.

Over 500 exo-comets studied around Beta Pictoris which is 63 light years away

The HARPS instrument at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has been used to make the most complete census of comets around another star ever created. A French team of astronomers has studied nearly 500 individual comets orbiting the star Beta Pictoris and has discovered that they belong to two distinct families of exocomets: old exocomets that have made multiple passages near the star, and younger exocomets that probably came from the recent breakup of one or more larger objects.

Beta Pictoris is a young star located about 63 light-years from the Sun. It is only about 20 million years old and is surrounded by a huge disc of material — a very active young planetary system where gas and dust are produced by the evaporation of comets and the collisions of asteroids.

Artist impression of exocomets around Beta Pictoris

Nature - Two families of exocomets in the β Pictoris system

Vanadium Flow Battery Fix the Grid for High Levels of Solar Power

Imergy Power has a new generation of vanadium flow batteries that dramatically lowers the cost and increases the performance and flexibility of energy storage systems for utilities, renewable energy projects, microgrids, and commercial and industrial customers.

The ESP30 series has a power capability of up to 50 kilowatts (kW) and can store up to 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity. The power and capacity of the ESP30 make it well suited for a variety of demanding energy storage applications, including peak shaving, demand response, energy shifting, renewable energy firming, and microgrid or back-up power.

It is the first battery from Imergy to use secondary sources of vanadium like mining slag, fly ash, and other environmental waste. As a result of this technology and other developments, Imergy will be able to lower the cost of its flow batteries from $500 per kilowatt hour, already an industry benchmark, to under $300 per kilowatt hour.

The ESP30 operates within a far wider temperature range than lithium ion or other storage solutions and is air-cooled. The storage duration can be extended by increasing electrolyte concentration and volume. Built in a modular fashion from replaceable components, the ESP30 has a lifetime that is effectively unlimited.

Vanadium has is a special material with four different oxidation states. A single element can act as a battery so it does not wear out.

Vanadium utility grade batteries could be placed by the feeder stations to enable shifting of the power generated by solar power on homes by four hours. 4 billion kwh of vanadium batteries could be used to enable the intermittent power of solar energy in the USA which is generated at the wrong time for when consumers need to use it to the right time. These batteries can be completely discharged without damage. Lithium ion and other batteries only last a certain number of charge and discharge cycles and cannot be fully discharged without damage.

There is also over a billion tons of Vanadium in the flyash coal waste that has accumulated over decades. 10 kilograms of vanadium is needed for every kwh of battery. So 40 million tons would be needed for 4 billion kwh. If 100 million houses in the USA had 4 kilowatts of solar power, then that would produce a peak of 400 Gigawatts but the energy generation would be at best be for about 6 hours during the day on sunny days.

Imergy's process does not require highly pure Vanadium. They can handle more contaminated vanadium, which is cheaper and easier to get from the flyash.