Friday, September 30, 2011

Flibe Energy in the UK, part 1: DECC and AMR

Part 1 out a 3 part series.
  1. The UK is planning to shut down most of their advanced gas-cooled nuclear reactors over the next decade, along with a great number of their coal-fired power generation facilities. [ comment: they will need a replacement source of energy]
  2. Flibe Energy travelled to the United Kingdom to participate in the launch of the Weinberg Foundation, a new non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to the advancement of thorium and the fluid-fuelled reactor. [ comment: link to a video of Sorensen's group meeting with members of Parliament over lunch, and a session of the House of Lords]
  3. Finally we came to the highlight of the day and the true reason for our trip to the UK–the “launch” of the Weinberg Foundation in the River Room of the Palace of Westminster.  Energy Future: Guest Kirk Sorensen speaks at Weinberg Foundation Launch 

Electrodynamic Tether Propulsion- can you use it for Single Stage to Orbit?

The idea is to get that final bit of thrust needed in order to get to orbit.  By the time a spacecraft is to that point, it will be hypersonic, but less than orbital velocity.  The idea is to be able to reduce mass using propellant-less thrust.  The same system can be used later for reentry as well.

In an earlier post, getting energy from reentry was discussed so as to provide active cooling.  That method entails a means to reject energy into space by way of a solid state laser.  By using a similar method, generating electricity from heat, you can store- via a capacitor- some of these electrons not used for active cooling. Upon reaching sufficient altitude, deploy an electrodynamic tether and send the current into the tether which will add lift.  That gives a propellant-less boost, saving mass and helping get to orbit.   The same tether's current can be reversed and be useful in storing electrons for the descent back down.  The energy will go into the capacitor, causing drag, while the tether will used a little later on in order to provide lift so as to slow down the descent.  This bleeds off energy while keeping the use of mass to a minimum.

Both systems, laser cooling, and electrodynamic tethers, will be useful in ascent and descent, while helping save enough mass so as to make the Single Stage to Orbit concept more feasible.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Laser cooling for spacecraft reentry

The usual technique is to cool things down to near absolute zero. But the proposition here is a bit different. The problem to be solved is getting rid of a lot of heat that does unpleasant things to spacecraft.  What to do about this heat?

Can you cool something large that is really hot?  How?  I am currently looking at solid state lasers.  Now, what happens when you do the laser cooling a bit differently?   Let's say that something's really hot and you can convert that to electricity, and then use that electricity to start up a laser.  Send that light energy out of the system by way of the laser.  The laser could be sent out into space, perhaps in a convenient direction, of course.

Is it possible to use the heat of reentry to make this electricity and then convert it to a laser that is fired into space?  The energy is rejected into space away from the vehicle in a form that does it no harm.  The energy loss to the system is the means by which the spacecraft can survive reentry.

The laser produces no thrust as photons have no mass.  The production of electricity leads to energy losses, which is normally an inefficiency, but in this case, it is an advantage, as that leads to the cooling that we are after.

I'll look further into this in order to figure if this is a practical way of approaching this problem.

Free Energy Truth: Rossi eCat US Partner Firm: Is It KPCB?

Rossi eCat US Partner Firm: Is It KPCB?

Comment: What got my attention was the Bloom Box.   I've never heard of it before.  It appears to work, as it has several well known corporations who are using it.

Anyway, there's not a whole lot of time to comment upon the Free Energy post linked above.  I wanted to make note of the Bloom Box.

I don't understand the Bloom Box, you see.  I need to get up to date on that.  If it looks good, I will have something to post about it later, time permitting.


The Bloom Box uses Scandium, a rare element, usually found with Rare Earths.  These can be found on the moon.  They can be found on the Earth as well, but evidently not in great abundance as I quote from Wikipedia:
 The absence of reliable, secure, stable and long term production has limited commercial applications of scandium. Despite this low level of use, scandium offers significant benefits. Particularly promising is the strengthening of aluminium alloys with as little as 0.5% scandium. Scandium-stabilized zirconia enjoys a growing market demand for use as a high efficiency electrolyte in solid oxide fuel cells.

What about making Scandium?  You can try to make it from Calcium, if you have neutrons.  But that looks to be easier said than done.

Just conquer space and all this stuff will be in such abundance that you won't know what to do with it all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Elon Musk and Reusable Rockets

Musk says making a reusable rocket is "super damn hard".  But that is where the fun begins, to borrow a phrase.

progress on reusability "sucks", say Musk

Well, the fun begins, but only in thinking about it. Musk has built rockets, I can only speculate about them.  I don't want to seem too presumptuous, so let's keep it real.  There's a rival of sorts of Musk's in the UK who is building an SSTO, the Skylon,, which I'd like to speculate upon for a little bit.  A Skylon would be an Single Stage to Orbit, fully reusable, fast turnaround type of spacecraft.   Just what we want in terms of re-usability.

First, let me mention that I've looked at the Saturn IV-B from the Apollo Era to get an idea about relative masses of hydrogen and oxygen.  Let's say the ratios can be altered somehow.  If so, you can save a lot of mass if you use a lot of hydrogen and a lot less oxygen.  Instead of carrying the oxygen, pull the oxygen out of the atmosphere.  The S IV-B had a ratio of 4 kg oxygen for every kg of hydrogen.

Now, if that ratio can be reduced to something less than the Saturn, it could lead to significant mass savings.  The Skylon concept is an attempt at doing this.  I am using the Saturn rocket as an example because of sixties rocket guy said that this rocket had nearly enough thrust to get to orbit on its own.  This may not be realistic though, and the Skylon's mass is closer to the mass of the Falcon 9.

But the Skylon is horizontally launched.  My thought is, what if you can make it launch mostly vertical?  Or go vertical really soon after getting airborne? 

The idea is to take atmospheric oxygen with as little drag penalty as possible.  Use as little oxygen as you can while in the densest part of the atmosphere.  Gain enough altitude and defer forward thrust until higher in altitude.  Shift to forward thrust while still having enough oxygen to propel the spacecraft forward.  This is to avoid the use of on-board oxygen for as long as possible.  Gain as much velocity as is permissible and then convert to a conventional rocket mode only when absolutely unavoidable. 

The SR71 Blackbird could fly up to 100,000 feet, and was an air-breather.  Let's say you get to 100k, then go horizontal.  The Blackbird could go Mach 3, but we need a lot more than that.
The speculation of mine isn't likely to produce a flight trajectory chart like the one above of the Skylon, though.  So, perhaps going vertical soon after takeoff isn't feasible.  On the other hand, Elon Musk was asked about using atmospheric oxygen, and he believes that it isn't worth it because of the extra drag.  Hence the early vertical ascent.  Is it feasible to go vertical early, or is it better to wait?

The Skylon is said to be able to carry significant amount of cargo.  What if further mass saving could gained by reducing mass further?  Let's say a bare minimum for a two man crew.

Let's say you can save your use of oxygen and reduce the mass for cargo to a bare minimum.  The above discussion is only into the ascent part.  The descent can be discussed at another time, as I am out of time.


Additional thoughts about going vertical early in the trajectory:
  • throttle down on ascent so as to conserve fuel, reduce drag
  • use the nitrogen taken from the atmosphere for active cooling  
  • reverse direction of engines' thrust, use it for braking on reentry 

More about E-cat, gold and LENR

Seriously, the idea of making gold this way is a disservice to the idea of wealth creation.  When it comes to gold, you can't do anything with it.  Sure, it is a traditional store of value, but you can't use it for much of anything. 

Contrast this with platinum, which can be used for catalysts.  You can make fuel cells much more affordable if you can come up with a source of platinum.  I can look further into that today, if I get the time.

If you want platinum, you can mine it, or in this case, you can even make it.  But why?  Platinum is usually found with platinum group metals, and you have to start with a platinum group metal (pgm) in order to get it to platinum by way of neutrons and beta decays.  Since pgms are valuable in their own right, it makes sense to use it all, instead of converting it to platinum.  But you may be able to convert it if you want more platinum.  For this, you need neutrons. 

The trouble with neutrons is that it this means radioactivity, which is a problem.  You don't want to go there.

Rather than make platinum from pgms, you can mine them off the moon.  Or some folks think you can.  This is what I'll look into further, since I purchased Wingo's book "Moonrush".  It is about mining the moon for pgms, if I am not mistaken.

I am going to check back into Platinum Moon, which I read last year and wrote about on this blog.  The author is said to have gotten his inspiration from Wingo's book.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Whimsical idea: create your own gold mine

This is an idea that is similar to the old alchemist's dream of turning lead to gold. What you could do instead is to turn mercury into gold. How? You need a source of neutrons and a some Hg 196, an isotope of mercury, which is in sparse concentration in nature.
the isotope needed would only be in concentrations of less than 1 percent
It appears that mercury will accept a neutron, since it has a pretty good size barn .  There's two problems (that I know of).  1) getting a source of neutrons and 2) getting the isotope needed, since it is rather sparse.  Assuming you could do that, you could make gold by bombarding the mercury with neutrons.  It will beta decay (electron capture) into gold, which assumes that you get a stable isotope.

How do you get neutrons?  Usually this is done with radioactive sources ( as far as I know).  There may be a couple other ways.  The first way is by making a Polywell device and fusing deuterium.  This will produce your neutrons all right, but you may want to slow them down.  Also, you don't know if this is going to produce the number you need in order to make it worthwhile.

Another way is by way of LENR.  Widom Larsen proposes that a suitable hydride can make ultra low momentum neutrons.  These neutrons, assuming that they exist, can be used to bombard the mercury and make gold.

mercury to gold?  you gotta be kiddin' me

This is a bit whimsical because- once you make the gold, and assuming that you can make a lot of it at a relatively cheap price ( quite a presumption by the way), you will have destroyed its economic basis.  Sort of self defeating.  But diamonds can be made artificially.  If there was no way to tell them from the real ones, diamonds would be worthless. ( ha ha)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Morning Summary, 9/26 Posting will be light

It looks like I am going to be busy for awhile.  I will keep you posted on my thoughts as the days unfold.

For now, I am keeping my eyes on the following: gold, Presidential politics, and developing technology.  As for developing technology, the E-cat of course.  I think we need a space program worthy of the name, too.

One more thing about politics, I'm really getting interested in Cain.  I think he could be the answer.  For now, I am out of time.  I'll try to come back before lunch for another short post.

Also, with respect to gold, it took a big dive over night and bounced.  I am a bit surprised by that, frankly.

Thanks for coming by.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Have I got a book for you (sort of)

I see that a new book is out:  Secrets of the E-cat, but not at Amazon.  When I tried to find that title on Amazon, I got cats , you know, the furry, four legged type.  I'm not a catblogger.


Ah! Now I see where you can get one.  It is a pdf format and you can get it here.  That may help that writer, but what does it do for me?


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Skylon spaceplane

NextBigFuture post on Feb 7 , 2011

This looks like a promising SSTO concept. It really looks like a flyable rocket. It combines rocketry with jet engines in an all-in-one package, which confers reusability and fast turnaround potential via mass reduction. Mass is your number one enemy in getting to orbit. The more mass, the more propellant needed.  Since propellant itself has mass, this increases the mass penalty even further, and so on.

Consider the now retired Space Shuttle: it's liftoff mass was 4.47 million pounds, with a payload capacity of 53000 pounds.  The the liftoff mass to payload mass ratio was 83 to 1.  On the other hand, the proposed Skylon does much better - 23 to 1.

The Skylon people hope it can be reused up to 200 times.  Presumably, since it will take off and land like a plane, it should have a fast turnaround time.  Thus, it promises to fulfill what Elon Musk of SpaceX once described as the Holy Grail of rocketry.

I will study the pdf file about it and report more on this as I learn more.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blue Origin's pedigree, second stage recovery IV

The title may appear to be an oxymoron, but stick with me.

I'll start with the present and work backwards in time.  Blue Origin is developing the New Shepard, which is a suborbital craft.  It appears to be designed for space tourism, not for space exploration.  Perhaps at some point, there may be more ambitious projects for this concept, but this is all I know for now.

The New Shepard is based upon the DC-X design.  It was developed in conjunction with Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative , and subsequently transferred to NASA in the Clinton era.  This craft was intended to start with suborbital flights and then orbital flights as experience and knowledge was gained.  It was intended to be a SSTO project, which had its roots in some research done in the Apollo Era, looking forward to post Apollo, now known as the Shuttle Era.

The DC-X really didn't get that far in achieving its goals.  But let's look at its origins, as we continue going back into time.   A European variant of an integral Single Stage to Orbit design, called BETA, was itself a consequence of a design that didn't get off the drawing boards.

The BETA concept is characterized by the following features:
  1. A short conical body (small length/diameter ratio, low c.g.) with heat-shield for re-entry
  2. Use of the heat-shield as a plug-nozzle for performance increase
  3.  A propulsion system consisting of 12 or more single high-pressure LH2/ LOX engines arranged around the central plug-nozzle (heat-shield)
  4.  6 retractable legs for the final vertical landing phase.  
The author (Dietrich E Koelle?) came to the following conclusions:
  1. The development of a single stage ballistic space shuttle is feasible with the present technology.
  2. The transportation cost Earth-to-Orbit can be reduced to some 200 $/kg or less.  
  3. The single-stage concept allows new possibilities for launch ranges since no
    danger by expendable parts or stages has to be expected. This means that launches from and landings within Europe would be feasible.
  4.  The BETA Concept seems to be a solution for specific European requirements since there is no manned space flight programme, there does not exist the 500 km/550 space station target orbit, and there is no requirement for a large cross range capability.

"From the very principle the BETA Concept seems to be the final solution for the space transportation problem since it combines operational simplicity with lowest cost both for development and specific payload cost."

But it wasn't implemented.

But where did the BETA come from?  It was an updated version of Douglas SASSTO, from the Apollo Era.

The SASSTO was intended to put a small capsule into orbit by using ideas from S-IVB upper stage of the Apollo Era Saturn rocket.

Alright, now note this:
Bono noticed that the S-IVB stage, then just starting to be used operationally, was very close to being able to reach orbit on its own if launched from the ground. Intrigued, Bono started looking at what missions a small S-IVB-based SSTO could accomplish, realizing that it would be able to launch a manned Gemini capsule if it was equipped with some upgrades, notably an aerospike engine that would improve the specific impulse and provide altitude compensation.[2] He called the design "SASSTO", short for "Saturn Application Single-Stage To Orbit". [comment: emphasis mine, quite impressive that this rocket existed almost half a century ago.]
It appears that a renewed effort at an SSTO could achieve the results desired.  The inflatable heat shield could be used in place of aerospike engines, if these are too difficult to perfect.  They may even be used as a safety margin, since the mass of such a device should be small.

A second stage recovery wouldn't be necessary if there's no second stage.  You will need a powerful enough rocket to get to space, plus solve the knotty problem of finding a way to get back without destroying the rocket on reentry.  That's a technical problem that may be solvable.

Blue Origin may not be interested in tackling this problem, but somebody may be able to.  Anybody listening?

Hybrid cars may have a useful lesson to teach, second stage recovery III

Hybrid cars use regenerative braking in order to recharge their batteries. Could this principle have other applications? With respect to making rockets fully reusable, could the heat energy from reentry be used for some useful purpose? The idea I had, which may or may not be practical, is to use that heat in an active cooling system.

How would this work? Here are a couple ideas in the roughest form. I haven't had time to refine this, so please excuse this if it is impractical or full of errors. I wrote it last night just prior to retiring for the evening.

I wonder what would happen if you were to somehow use the heat of reentry for thrust. Set up a heat exchanger and run some reaction mass through the heat exchanger and send the hot gas out a nozzle for thrust. Would that be feasible?

Another idea:

Let's say that you want to harvest the heat generated by reentry for running a cryogenic cooler which in turn cools the heat shield. The heat shield provides energy for a Stirling engine, which is attached to another Stirling engine in reverse.

A Stirling engine in reverse is a cryogenic device, which can take the hot side of the energy generator and make it cold again. The cold side feeds back into the energy generator's cold side. This will cycle back and forth synergistically providing cooling to the shield, while the shield provides energy for the cooler.

It occurred to me that you could use this on the way up as well. For example, the rocket nozzle needs to be cooled down. Let's say you want to condense some oxygen out of the atmosphere on the way up. You can attach this system to the cooling system of the nozzle so as use that heat for the generation of oxygen by condensation from the cryocooler. The oxygen can be used for thrusting on the way down, or on the way up.

I am spending some time reading up on the subject. On the subject of reentry during the Apollo Era, I found that the space capsules were designed to produce what is called a "bow shock", which deflected some of the energy away from the craft. It also produced a lot of drag, which was needed to slow down the capsule.

With respect to the idea mentioned above, there has been some study on the concept.  This has led me to a discussion of aerospike engines, but how did I get here?  What does that have to do with reentry?  Puzzling.

I will stop this post here.  Too much detail needs to be mastered.  Frankly, I don't know what I'm doing, so maybe it is best to stop posting about this for now.  Perhaps, after awhile, I will return to it.


Inflatable heat shields are an intriguing possibility.  I'll have to return to this later.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Graphene-Based Supercapacitors

with energy density of nickel hydride batteries (NextBigFuture)

Among the many industrial applications of capacitors, the new capacitors developed in this research offer promises as power sources for electric and hybrid vehicles, which require high energy density.

If this holds up, you can forget about hybrids. Capacitors have an infinite number of charge/discharge cycles and can be charged/discharged fast. The key may be in figuring out how to exploit this capability.

Second stage recovery, II

Prior to coming across the flyable Saturn V stuff, I was reading up on making the second stage survivable. In order to accomplish that, I checked into some information about the Shuttle's heat protective tiles.

It looks like the mass of the tiles was such that it could be added to a second stage so that it doesn't burn up on reentry. The second part is to assure it isn't damaged as it contacts the water. Of course, there would be parachutes in order to slow down the impact, but even so, the impact may be significant enough to cause damage. So far, I've haven't checked any further on that possibility.

Flyback version of the Saturn rocket

When I saw this, I was surprised, to say the least.  Something that I've written about here several times, was actually considered during the Apollo Era.   A bit reassuring that, even though the idea wasn't mine, that it could be feasible after all.  If flyback version of the Saturn first stage is feasible, surely a smaller version is just as feasible, if not more.

Here are other links to more information on the proposition.  A picture down below:
Flyable rocket, first stage of the Saturn rocket in the Apollo Era
 More pics below:

The above schematics were of an early Shuttle concept using Saturn V rocketry.  The Saturn V was discontinued.  It looks like this design may have given a faster turnaround than the SRB's, because of the ability to flyback, and to be refueled quickly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

E-cat and Wikipedia

I am not that familiar with how articles are produced on Wikipedia.  I do use it a lot though, so going through this article is something of an education.

First thing I noticed is that the article's editor(s) are under sanction.  Then I came across this:
Abd placed under involuntary mentorship

Who's Abd?  When I clicked on his name, it said Abd was banned.  Not much info there.  But there's an explanation of what the discipline entails.  Rather than repeat it here, you can read it through it, if you wish.

Articles of Steven Krivit may have had something to do with status of the E-cat on Wikipedia.  Especially since it was a critical review.  Some reassurance may be taken from this:
Krivit is not a reliable source -- see my comments in the section above 'Levi strongly denies'. --Brian Josephson (talk) 17:20, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
One more little snippet here:
This page was last modified on 14 September 2011 at 23:51.
The story continues.


I don't know how this happened, so let me just explain it briefly.  I went to Brian Josephson's site and watched the video there.  There were some links to download some files that I thought I may share here.  I downloaded one of them, but my computer wouldn't play it.  So, I clicked on the "open files" by using the internet, and one of the files that could open it was called Free File Open or something like that.  I started to install it, and the virus protection software I had flagged it as a trojan.  I had it removed immmediately and I'm in process of scrubbing all references to it from that computer.  I am using another computer now while that is in process.  Needless to say, do not use this Free File Open program.  It may be infected with a really bad virus.

I took down the link above to Josephson's site.  He will have to track down the problem on his end, in case he learns anything about this.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Second stage recovery

The SRBs from the Shuttle could be recovered.  What about a second stage?  Is it possible to do that?   The goal would be to make a second stage that can get to orbit and be recoverable after completing its mission.  It would be stacked on top a solid rocket booster, with a recoverable oribiter stacked on top of it.

Let's leave speculation about the design for another discussion, and consider the logistics of recovering it after its mission.

The Falcon 9 second stage can get to orbit.  Now, suppose you could get it back in good shape.  The location for splashdown would most likely have to be a long way from any land mass.  Presumably, it would splash down in the Pacific.

The great distances would cause a delay.  If you want a fast turnaround, this is a problem.  How to overcome the vast distance back to Florida?

Idea: Put a rocket inside one of these planes. Why? To speed up processing. It may need to splash down in the Pacific, be transported by boat which docks at the nearest island with a suitable airport. The rocket is loaded in the plane and sent back to Florida and unloaded and processed for the next launch.

Boeing 747 Large Cargo
Aero Spacelines Super Guppy
Aero Spacelines Pregnant Guppy

It says on the link that the Pregnant Guppy actually transported the Saturn second stage rocket.  The S-IV second stage dimensions were 40 feet long by 18 feet in diameter.  The last stage of this rocket, which was never flown, was the Centaur.  But the Centaur stage was the Earth Departure Stage.  The second stage, presumably, could get you to orbit.  (cross your fingers, there)

You might need to work on the size of the rocket, but since this kind of thing has been done before, it isn't out of the question.

Update 9/20/11:

This is actually an interesting subject.  I've been reading about it this morning.  It so happens that the Ares I second stage has a design very similar to the Saturn second stage mentioned.  However, it is an expendable design.

Secondly, the cost of an Ares I is high, but can come down if there were more launches.  The cost of launches can be brought down to a comparable cost of the Soyuz, which we are renting from the Russians.  If you were to make the Ares fully reusable, frequent launches would be desirable.

Instead of a capsule on top, try putting a Dream Chaser on top.  It may look something like this:

Dream Chaser on top of an Atlas 
 An Atlas V and an Ares I have about the same payload capacities.  But the Ares I could be partly reusable and ultimately, it may be possible to make it fully reusable, if the second stage can be made to be recoverable.

There is surplus cargo capacity, so that there is more mass capacity for extra hardware in order to make this happen.

The first launches could use expendable second stage.  Development can continue so as to make it fully reusable and then you can proceed to make the turnaround go faster.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 70

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 70

Brian Wang's address is wrong, to go to the carnival click here.  Looks like a good link in the comments section too.

Let’s Argue About The Right Things

Paul D. Spudis

  • “debate” has focused on either or both of two points: what rocket to build and where to go, and not on sustainability
  •  the real debate is not about launch vehicles or spacecraft or even destinations; it is about the long-term – the paradigm or template of space operations
  • debate about what to build, where to go and how to do it must be formulated towards attainment of Mars
  • If our goal is to “sail on the ocean of space,” we need a navy. 
  • Reliable and frequent access to the entire Solar System, not one or two destinations, should be our ultimate goal
  • We have been arguing about the wrong things.
  • A cost-effective, sustainable human spaceflight program must be incremental and cumulative

We should concentrate first upon cost effective means to LEO before we do anything else.  The way towards that near term goal would be to make a fully reusable launch system with a fast turnaround time.  This is what Jeff Greason and Elon Musk have as goals.  Musk says fast turnaround time is the "holy grail".  Why isn't this national space policy?  The government, for its part, seems to have given up on the project.  Progress was made with the Shuttle program, but reusability doesn't appear to be the goal anymore.  The goal now seems to be relegated only to the reuse the components that made up the Shuttle.  The goal should be more ambitious than that.

Flags and footprints are for ego trippers.  Affordable access to space is for the money grippers.  (That's co opting a phrase from Winning Through Intimidation, a book by Robert Ringer.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Is The SLS?

Aero-Analysis: You May Or May Not Know The Details About The Shuttle’s Replacement Launch Vehicle On October 11, 2010 President Obama signed The NASA Authoriz

This looks like the DIRECT project I wrote about last November.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

DPF Fusion Propulsion

Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) Fusion Systems for Space Propulsion

This was a Next Big Future post last year. I don't think I've seen it before. This idea seem intuitive to me from observing the diagrams and illustrations of how the DPF works. It seems like a natural for space propulsion. The post here seems rather more involved than I anticipated for the device.

Surprising to me that work proceeds on this as of the time this post was written. If it continues to this day, it is hard to imagine why anyone would want to build chemical rockets. This would make chemical rockets obsolete. ( Unless I am missing something important)

I brought up that last bit of info because NASA announces its new SLS that won't fly any earlier than 2017. By 2017, the tech could very well be obsolete. Not only with respect to this possible breakthrough, but consider what others (SpaceX and Xcor) are doing as well.

Free Republic "Ping" List for Cold Fusion

Looks like the E-cat  is well represented.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BECNF and the E-cat

For a reaction sequence, this looks a whole lot better than Widom Larsen. The sequence goes straight to copper 63. In the case of Widom Larsen, you could go down a few complicated pathways.

In addition, the beta decays occur faster with BECNF. Notice that the slowest reaction is 3.333 hours, as opposed to months or years with some of the beta minus decays in the Widom Larsen scenario.

It could turn out that Rossi Focardi's E-cat is truly a cold fusion device.  If so, it is actually a surprise to me.  I wrote before that I didn't think there was any such thing as cold fusion.  Not to say that this convinces me of the reality of cold fusion, but Widom Larsen left me somewhat disappointed.  This sequence makes it plausible ( to me) as an energy producing possibility.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Put up, or shut up

Sorry that I can't post more about the E-cat.  But I'm not in the business of being a cheerleader.  Nor do I care for all the drama.  Give me results, I say.  Let's see the goods.  "Show me the money."  Capiche?

Like it has been said so many times before, a picture is worth a thousand words

Limits to Growth?

Galactic-Scale Energy

There's a problem with projecting too far out into the future. Just 10 years ago, there was talk about paying off the debt. Now debt is running away from us. Times change. You can't project too far. As an intellectual exercise, it does show some limitations, yet the limitations don't mean anything, because the premise is absurd. Economic growth must end, but so must all things. It therefore, tells you little.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thorium Energy Future

India's Thorium Reactor

What nuclear fusion has promised,
but can't realize

Energy from Thorium

  A cubic meter of average Earth's crust has 12 grams of Thorium in it.  That would be enough to power your life at current Western standards for ten to fifteen years. -Kirk Sorensen, Google Tech Talk  
That would mean that you don't need a rich deposit of Thorium in order to have useful amounts of it.  Likewise, if it is a rich deposit, not much ore needs to be mined and processed so that you can get a lot of energy out of it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dream Chaser

This looks like a contender for an actual system that may see some action in the future. Mind you, I'm not picking winners here. Not to say that someone else may get the nod.

Here's a screenshot from the SpaceDev site which shows an animated version of the Dream Chaser on top of a rocket, presumably an Atlas V.
One thing that I am checking out is if this will fit on top of an SRB, which was to be used with the Ares I rocket, now canceled.  It would be a way to mate a reusable booster with the reusable Dream Chaser.  Not that they would actually want to put their Dream Chaser on a solid rocket booster.  In fact, the word is out that the Atlas V will launch the Dream Chaser.

Was the SRB ever in the running?

As for dimensions, the SRB and the Atlas V are very similar.  Performance wise, well, I don't know.  The SRB is supposed to fire for about 2 minutes.  But it generates a lot of thrust.  Both SRBs in the Shuttle configuration provided 83% of the liftoff thrust, but only 60% of the mass.

What that would mean in terms of altitude and velocity for a 25,000 pound craft, I can only guess.  The shuttle weighed 10 times as much.  A single SRB just might be enough to get to orbital velocity and altitude. But could it be recovered?

The Ares I was designed to send the Orion into orbit.  The Orion's mass came in at twice what the Dream Chaser's.  With far less mass, all the Dream Chaser may need is just a little more boost from its own onboard rockets in order to reach orbit.  I'm not 100% sure of that, though.  Maybe a lot less than 100%.

This isn't a flyable rocket, but it could all be 100% reusable, if the SRB could be recovered in good shape.

Thanks for coming by and have a great evening.

Morning Summary, 8/4

Well, it's getting late this morning, and I still haven't made a post.

I'm running into problems reporting on nuclear physics because I don't have enough background and lack the time to obtain it.  That didn't stop me from reading more about the subject this morning.  But, there wasn't anything I could post about it.

What it did do is make me wonder a bit about the Widom Larsen theory.  You know, if you look at these theories long enough, you could start having doubts. Doubts about Widom Larsen?  Yes.  But not to worry.  If you read about it enough, there are doubts about all theories.  They are, after all, just theories.  The problem starts when a theory is taken as absolute truth.   Like climate change.

In science, can there be such a thing as absolute truth?  But with religion there is.  Religion has the certainty that science lacks.

Turning from science, I went back to politics.  What I found is this disenchantment with Obama.  His supporters are disappointed.  They want him to fight harder.  I was tempted to make fun of Obama on the basis of this disenchantment.  Shall I mention the idea I had?  Yes, but only briefly.  You see, there is this slang word known as "weenie" which seems to apply to these stories.  A "weenie" is an ineffectual male, which is basically what it boils down to.  So, is Obama a weenie?  That's the humor, or I thought so.  I suppose there will be some who will not be amused.

I like to point out something that I've mentioned from time to time. That is about a sense of humor. There isn't enough of that right now. "If you can't take a joke, you shouldn't be living." That's a quote from a guy I used to work with in the old days. Well, how about it people- can you take a joke?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

FuturePundit: Food Challenge For Mars Mission

FuturePundit: Food Challenge For Mars Mission

ISS in trouble?

Spacex mission could be delayed but Cautious Optimism that Russia can get a mission to keep Crew in Space Station

This could mean a potential loss of the ISS.   Let us hope that is not the case.

Morning Summary, 8/3

Good morning.

It appears that I have reached a snag in my armchair physics studies. It will take a long time to study it all in order to be able to understand it properly. After spending some time on it this morning, the significance of my lack of understanding was becoming more clear to me.

After reaching my age, I have noticed a tendency of mine- many times than what I care to remember- to take on more than I can chew. And here I am, having done it again.

With respect to "cold fusion", it is enough for me to say that I understand it to be incorrect use of language.  I respect language enough to want to make that distinction.  Cold, in this sense, means low energy.  Fusion in this sense, means strong nuclear force.  Putting those terms together appears oxymoronic.  In order to bring about fusion, one needs high energy to overcome the Coulomb barrier and bring the strong nuclear force into play.  Therefore, it would seem to be a contradiction in terms.  Hence, the confusion of cold fusion.

Low energy nuclear reactions seem to be the more correct term.  It is not fusion, it is not overcoming the Coulomb barrier, it does not invoke the strong nuclear force.  It invokes the weak nuclear force instead.  The forces in the Standard Model of Particle Physics are:  strong, weak, and electromagnetic.  Strong and weak nuclear forces are substantially different from each other.  For example, the Coulomb barrier implies electromagnetic force.   Likewise, weak nuclear force involves beta decay; not fusion, nor fission.  Fusion and fission belong to the strong nuclear force.  Beta decays do not make bombs.  But they can be used to make energy.

It has taken me awhile to get to this point.  But I haven't got a lot of time.  Let's just leave it at this point.  I think I've got it now- so as to understand these most basic points.  No need to pass myself off as an expert.  Let that distinction be made clear.  I am just an ordinary guy trying to understand a difficult subject.  And write about it as best I can.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Google Moon

Like Google Earth, there is Google Moon.  You can see the Apollo landing sites here.  But not in great detail.

I wanted to see more detail, but this was good enough for my purposes.  My purpose was to check out the idea that you could drive across the lunar surface from the poles to the equator.  That seems doubtful to me now because of the ruggedness of the lunar landscape.

The rovers on the latter missions covered some distance, it appears.  The distance between the poles and the equator would be in at least 1500 miles or so.  The surface would have to be relatively level to make that long of a trip.  That doesn't exist on the Earth either, but the Moon is even more rugged than that.  Plus, whatever conveyance you have will not be up to the journey, most likely.


By the way, here's a video of a mission to produce a 3D map of the lunar surface. It doesn't give that much detail though.

Video: Why are tar sands evil, again?

Nine out of every 10 calories you eat come from fossil fuels. If it wasn't for fossil fuels, the machinery to harvest crops and to bring them to market could not work. You can't feed a world with animal power. Can't be done. So, to say that oil is evil is to say that most people alive today are evil because they must eat.

No? How else do you propose to feed people then? Windmills and solar power? Not enough energy there. For if there was enough, it would certainly be done. It can't be done because the need is too great.

The only other alternative is nuclear, which is probably considered even more evil by these people. Evidently, they are ignorant, or suicidal. Either way, they are not worth listening to.

Destination: Moon or Asteroid? Part III: Resource Utilization Considerations

The Once and Future Moon, Paul Spudis

The verdict is Moon First.   I agree.   So, how do we do this?

Here's a start:

EML1 Building by QuantumG

Ultra low momentum neutron catalyzed nuclear reactions on metallic hydride surfaces

via New Energy Times ( Widom-Larsen )

If low energy neutrons can be detected, does that prove the Widom Larsen theory?  After all, where do they come from?  I scanned the file and looked for evidence of such an observation.  A few excerpts from the file:

  • These will rarely be experimentally
    detected. In this regard, ultra low momentum
    neutrons may produce “neutron rich” nuclei in substantial
    quantities. These neutrons can yield interesting reaction
    sequences [19, 20]. Other examples are discussed below in
    the concluding section.

  • In summary, weak interactions can produce neutrons
    and neutrinos via the capture by protons of heavy electrons.
    The collective motions of the surface metallic hydride
    protons produce the oscillating electric fields that
    renormalize the electron self energy, adding significantly to
    the effective mass.

Along with the slow neutrons, you may want to find heavy electrons.
  • laser light fields can “dress” an electron in
    a non-perturbation theoretical fashion with an additional
    mass as in (5). Such mass modifications must be applied
    to electrons and positrons when pairs can in principle be
    blasted out of the vacuum [9, 10] employing colliding laser
    beams. The mass growth in the theory appears in a classic
    treatise on quantum electrodynamics [8]. 

  • The classical equation (21) holds true in the fully quantum
    mechanical theory if the electron density ˜n represents the
    electron density at the proton position [ comment: emphasis in the original] 

 One explanation applies the analogy of a single goose flying through an atmospheric disturbance as opposed to a flock of geese.  The flock has a better chance of making it through.  Think of it as a flock of electrons trying to get to the proton in order to form the low energy neutron.

There may be a problem verifying this.  How do you observe neutrons of this type that are rarely observed.  And how do you find the heavy electrons?  It may not be easy, but it doesn't say it is impossible.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Destination: Moon or Asteroid? Part II: Scientific Considerations

    Destination: Moon or Asteroid? Part II: Scientific Considerations

    Part II of a three part series.

    Many body effects, many theories

    Is it time to throw away the gasoline cans because of the energy revolution?  We are still waiting.  Seems like everyone is looking for the one single answer that fits all observations.

    excerpts from

    • What fuels the E-Cat? Rossi states that he uses micrometer grain
      sized nickel dust enriched to contain more of two useful isotopes,
      N-62 and N-64. 

    • The nickel is then processed to increase the number of
      surface tubercles (protrusions) to provide greater area for heat
      producing reactions with hydrogen gas under pressure. A secret
      catalyst is added to break apart the molecular hydrogen gas (H2) into
      atomic hydrogen (H1).

    • To make it simple, what happens is that nickel has a
      particularity that protons spread from it's surface with extreme
      efficiency very close to the nucleus, even if repelled by the so
      called coulomb barrier forces. When we inject protons of hydrogen at
      high pressures and temperatures, they go pretty close to the nucleus
      of the nickel. At those points we have nuclear effects that produce
      gamma rays which add more energy. We increase the pressure leading to
      extremely high pressures... similar to ones that happen inside White
      Dwarf stars. In that situation the so called Gamow Factor, which is a
      probabilistic calculation of the coulomb repelling forces, is
      overcome. At that point enough energy is produced to make it worth
      being recorded." - Andrea Rossi


    It can be recalled that the phenomenon LENR or "cold fusion", is a surface phenomenon.   Rossi's quote above fits with idea of maximizing the surface area.   Maximize the surface area, maximize the effect.

    BECNF theory posits that there is a many body effect on the surfaces.  Same with Widom Larsen's theory- relying upon the actions of quasiparticles on surfaces, which corresponds somewhat with BECNF theory.  

    There are many theories about "cold fusion".  It has been said that there are too many.  So, I pose the question, as I heard Edmund Storms posed in a similar vein, what if there is more than one way to skin the nuclear cat?  Many body effects, too many causes?  [ those last questions may be too cute, sorry]

    Widom Larsen and BECNF -comparison and contrast

    Widom Larsen Theory and Zawodny at NASA Aviation Unleashed

    Comment: The significant thing about Widom Larsen is that it requires no new physics. No need to overcome the Coulomb barrier, as neutrons are formed, which are captured by the nucleus. It is pointed out that this could not be fusion, since it isn't a proton which is entering a nucleus of an atom, but a neutron instead. Beta decay will account for subsequent transmutations.

    This theory does not explain the E-cat.  It will require electric input to allow the electrons to merge with the protons forming the neutrons.  So far as I know, the E-cat is requiring only heat. 

    Krivit on Widom Larsen  theory .

    Krivit gives a simpler explanation of Widom Larsen.

    The key point is that it is different from BECNF in that it doesn't overcome the Coulomb barrier as BECNF does.  Therefore, it would seem that the burden of scientific proof is higher for BECNF.  Yet, Rossi's device is said to be operational.  As far as I know, there is no device yet that employs the principles of Widom Larsen.

    There are some similarities with the BECNF theory covered here previously. (see label on left sidebar for a list of these posts)   Both theories posit that quasiparticles allow unusual events to occur.

    In the case of Widom Larsen, low energy neutrons are formed.  The neutrons can be absorbed by nickel nucleii and release energy due to beta decay.

    In the case of BECNF, the Coulomb barrier gets suppressed by the Bose Einstein condensation.  This allows close enough proximity of ordinarily repelling like electrical charges- protons and nickel nucleii- so that they can fuse and release energy.

    These unusual events lead to the production of heat which explains the "cold fusion" phenomenon.  It is important to clarify though, that Widom Larsen theory is definitely not fusion.

    Both theories rely on the many body theories of quantum mechanics.