Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Space Based Solar Power Status

  • the progress status of SSPS in Japan
  • the advantages of Japan's SSPS technology
  • Other Space Based Solar Work
  • Solaren and other small companies that have made big Space Solar promises
  • Space Island Group, Orbital Power Corp
  • National Space Society tracks Space Solar Power Developments

It may be useful to start small and ramp it up if you can make it work.  Let's say you want to power something the size of the ISS, which uses about a quarter Megawatt of power.  That something could be a VASIMR.  Put four or more of these in geosynchoronous orbit and beam the power down to an orbiting VASIMR in order to allow it to get to various places in LEO or to a higher orbit.

Ultimately, you could have solar power device manufacturing on the moon and launch it from the moon.  The moon requires much less energy to get out the gravity well.  In addition to that, there's no atmosphere to contend with.

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Has Repeatable Power Pulses

Next Big Future


Sounds like great news.  By the way, I favor this concept for powering rockets.  I think it may be a perfect application for Dense Plasma Focus.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hope, skepticism for cold fusion

Boston Globe  By D.C. Denison


  • The Italian scientist who says he has developed the world’s first cold fusion reactor ...visited the State House last week ...Andrea Rossi made the trip at the invitation of the Senate’s minority leader, Bruce Tarr
  • Tests have been scarce and secretive, perhaps because Rossi has said that his technology is still unpatented. [emphasis added]
  • Tarr, who is active in alternative energy legislation, said he invited Rossi to put the state in line for hosting any prospective development of cold fusion.
  • After the meeting, Rossi, who paid his own way to Massachusetts, was enthusiastic about a possible partnership with the state.
  • “I’m already planning to come back soon,’’ he said. “We are all hoping to get something started in a matter of weeks, not months.’’

Hard to assess, nobody in Massachussetts seems to willing to go out on a limb.  The sticking point could be the patent, which isn't forthcoming unless something unusual happens.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Boeing Tapping Heritage Programs for Space Taxi Design

“For this program, we’re going to be pulling heavily off of our human space experience and our commercial aircraft experience to develop a safe, reliable and affordable system,” Chuck Hardison, Boeing’s production and ground systems manager for the CST-100
Comment:  That's a four year lag with no US based manned launches.  Was this necessary?

By the way, I wanted to speculate further on the Quicklaunch system.  An idea came to me to launch carbon into LEO by this method.  It won't melt or present a problem if it gets thermalized.  A rigid tungsten alloy can encapsulate it.  Subsequent missions could be determine if a fuel can be made in space from this carbon and additional fuels sent up by other methods, or by Quicklaunch.  The idea is to practice in situ resourcing.  By using a rather sturdy material, such as carbon, and combining it with hydrogen, one might gain the  benefits of cheaper access to space for the bulk of the material.  Hydrogen, being lighter, should not be as costly to lift in great quantities, should it not be feasible to send it up by Quicklaunch.

Note: Carbon and Tungsten have the highest melting points of all the elements.  It could survive a hot ride up.

Highly efficient oxygen catalyst found

Rechargeable batteries and hydrogen-fuel production could benefit

ScienceDaily (Oct. 28, 2011) — A team of researchers at MIT has found one of the most effective catalysts ever discovered for splitting oxygen atoms from water molecules


I found this from the comment section of the Nuclear Ammonia post referred to in an earlier post.  Here's a reference to a pdf file which describes Nuclear Ammonia as a killer app.  The final cost over a 30 year period would not be insubstantial.  However, it should be kept in mind that the cost of what we are doing now may be an order of magnitude higher.  In other words, this would be cost effective, not to mention, cleaner.

The Thorium technology and ammonia ideas are not new.  Thorium fuel cycles were experimented with decades ago.  The same is true of the an ammonia powered auto, in which an updated version can be seen in this video below:

Rossi is not a threat to the 99%, but is a threat to the 1%

Before anybody jumps all over me for the title to this post, let me say straight up that I don't approve of Occupy Wall Street. I know I'm using their terminology and maybe even some of their thinking, and no, I have not turned Commie pinko.

It is a simple observation and logical conclusion based upon fact. Rossi claims he has a cold fusion device that works, but the US Patent Office will not grant a patent to his device or any other cold fusion device. Those are the facts. It is also a fact that the efficacy of the device doesn't matter at all. Cold fusion has been proclaimed to be impossible, no matter what evidence there may be to the contrary.

Cui bono? Who benefits from this? Lets take the two possibilities- that Rossi is a fraud, and the other- Rossi is not a fraud.

Let's take the fraud case first. If Rossi is a fraud and he gets a patent anyway, what happens? He sells a few devices that don't work and everybody will find out that he is a fraud. Who is harmed? There are a few people who can be harmed in this case, but on the whole, only a few people will be harmed. There's a process that may enable them to redress their harms, but let's say that not all harm can be made whole. At the worse, a small minority will be harmed. The amount of harm to each of these people will be relatively small. The device is not terribly expensive. It is true that it isn't cheap either, but at the worse, it won't bankrupt the buyers, in all likelihood. Therefore, the threat to the public is small and manageable.

On the other hand, let's look at the possibility that Rossi is not a fraud. Who benefits? Rossi does of course. But in addition to Rossi, millions, or perhaps even billions of people can benefit from his device. Who is harmed? The people who have a stake in the status quo. Those people are most likely rich and powerful, and will not be happy to have this new competitor who will take a significant amount of market share from them. Their properties will no longer be as valuable. Their harm will be permanent and irreversible in terms of their current situation. The only way for them to benefit is to stop Rossi. Or buy him out. In this case only a few are harmed and a great many people stand to benefit.

The ratio may not be 1% vs the 99%, but the principle is the same. The great majority are being denied an opportunity to better themselves and it is the "powers that be" who stand in the way of progress. The risk is small and the potential benefit is huge. So why not grant a patent?

I leave the answer to that question to you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nuclear Cement

Energy From Thorium

  • In the recent Nuclear Ammonia article post, ammonia was illustrated as a fuel that could propel vehicles in a zero carbon era.
  • Using nuclear heat and power, chemical engineers can design plants to synthesize CHx fuels from any carbon source.
  • Project Green Freedom is conceived by Jeffrey Martin and William Kubic of Los Alamos National Laboratory. The idea is to use a nuclear power plant to provide the energy to synthesize fuel, and use the air flow of the cooling towers as a source for carbon from CO2 that makes up about 0.035% of the atmosphere.
  • The lime cycle has been used to make mortar for construction for millennia.
  • This process is the conception of Darryl Siemer, a retired nuclear chemist from Idaho National Labs. Heat from a liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) would be transferred to the kilns to heat the sand and limestone.
  • The process would be carbon neutral, because the fuel synthesized and eventually burned would release CO2 into the atmosphere that would be absorbed by cement hardening as it is used in construction.
Comment:  This reminds me of what I wrote about before.  You can do better than carbon neutral with this, you can go carbon negative if you can recapture the carbon and recycle it.  Thus you will close the carbon cycle and be more efficient in the use of energy as well.

I'll have to look up the post on nuclear ammonia.  I wrote about using ammonia in fuel cells as well.


Here's another video with Kirk Sorensen discussing a lot of the history of nuclear power and Thorium's place in it. He explains what went wrong and how it might be corrected.

The title of it is called "LFTR in 5 Minutes - THORIUM REMIX 2011", but it is about 2 hours long, so watch the first 5 minutes if you are in a hurry. On the other hand, if you have the time, it is well worth watching the entirety of the video.

The Boron Swan: Unleashing Unexpected Breakthroughs

Uploaded by FocusFusionSociety on Oct 13, 2011

LPP's lead scientist Eric Lerner discusses the need for diversity in clean energy and in particular fusion research, during the lunch panel at the New Jersey Tech Council's Clean Tech Summit, October 4th at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. The panel's full title: "Life After Fukushima -- What happens after a "Black Swan" event? What is the impact of innovative technologies?"

Commet:  The video is short in duration, unfortunately.

Rossi will meet with state of Massachussetts for two days

Next Big Future

Comment:  The title of the post may seem misleading, but bear with me.  Check the comment section where Brian Wang (presumably) makes that comment.  I don't see it in the post, but evidently the reference is in the link or somewhere.  You'll have to look for it.  As of this writing, I have not.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Plan to establish first lunar base and gas stations in space

gizmag  h/t Transterrestrial Musings

Comment:  Amazing talk.  Here's somebody who wants to do it privately and he is raising money.  He wants to do it in seven years.  Wow.

His plan is a lot cheaper than Paul Spudis' plan.  Who wins that race?

Oil and gas wells find new life with geothermal - environment

22 November 2011 - New Scientist  h/t Al Fin Energy

Comment:  These could be like stranded wind- too far away from anywhere that can be useful. It may be useful to use these to make energy on the spot.  That's in contrast to actually trying to plug these into the grid.  However, these may work better that way since it is a predictable and constant source of energy, albeit a modest amount per well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

E-Cat and cold fusion, open letter to Andrea Rossi

Brian Josephson adds that he doesn't necessarily looks up to Celani's offer (which, for secrecy reasons, doesn't match the refutability standards DECC have indicated), but highlights the matter of the benefit that could follow a scientific test.

- Brian Josephson, Nobel Prize Laureate

I agree that a scientific test would dispel doubts.  It doesn't have to be a threat to Rossi's interests.

George Nield speaking at ISPCS

I found this from the Quicklaunch Facebook Page. I have a question and answer posted there, in case you're interested.

Frankly, I wasn't familiar with the ISPCS!  Helluva note, I tell you.  I've been blogging on this subject for over a year now and my ignorance of this astounds me.

Quicklaunch was at this conference, so I was looking for some videos to put up here of that conference.  I first one I found was of George Nield.  Nield was a guest on the Space Show on several dates listed here.  If you are like me and are amazingly ignorant of a so many things, a great introduction can be had from Dr. Space, as he does an outstanding job of introducing his guests.

It is an interesting talk below and if you have the time, I recommend watching it all the way through.

Incidentally, ISCPC has their own YouTube Channel here.


Robert Bigelow remarks at the conference

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quicklaunch series: Sprint rockets

I've just added this as a new category because I think it is an interesting concept which I want to explore further.

In order to follow this thread, click on that label which follows this post.  All posts on that subject will come up and you can easily follow it there.  At the moment of this writing, I've not attached all the labels yet.  By the end of the morning, that task should be complete.

I'll write a post for today on this subject, and I've already updated the previous post.  I'm adding it again on the top post because I want to emphasize the point.

On the recent Space Show, John Hunter spoke of Sprint rockets, which were part of an operational program, albeit short lived, which were designed for missile defense.  The program was discontinued almost immediately, which, in retrospect, appears to be another one of the inexplicable actions of our failing government.  If there was one program that definitely should not have been scrapped, it was this one.

But that is beside the point of this post, but the point is well taken in connection with the rest of this blog.  As long as I'm referring to my dissatisfaction with this ridiculous decision making process that we seemed to be afflicted with these days, I'll remind anyone interested that I have a entire category dedicated to that subject.

No, the point is that these rockets were very, very fast.  Since "Charles"  (Pooley) of Micro Launchers called to challenge John Hunter of Quicklaunch on  this concept, a bit of devil's advocacy led to investigate the feasiblility of the idea.    Sprint rockets are fast, but not as fast as Hunter's Quicklaunch vehicle.  The top speed of the Sprint was Mach 10, which it reached very quickly.  Thermal issues appeared to be of concern, so Charles' objections need to be answered, I would think.  Running some numbers that's about 7600 mph for the Sprint and 13000 mph for the Quicklaunch.  Hunter needs to explain how he can protect his payload when the thermal issues are going to me much greater than the Sprint.  Hunter responded to Charles by asking him to prove it on the blackboard, which Hunter says he's already done.

The Sprint webpage, referred to above, does not rule out the possibility of Quicklaunch.  That's key.  It only says that:
Within seconds, the missile reached a speed of Mach 10+, and the extreme thermodynamic heating demanded sophisticated ablative shielding (the nose was already glowing red-hot less than a second after launch).

This is probably a similar technology which the shuttle used upon reentry.

Hunter's idea is to put his payload inside, but that may be a problem because of the intense heat, and the extraordinary amount of high g acceleration.

As for the blackboard component of this discussion, Hunter mentioned Johns Hopkins, which I will go to next.   However, I'm probably not qualified to get very far with that.  My math skills are not that advanced.

Update: approx 2pm

I found one pdf file associate with John Hopkins.  It did indeed have John Hunter included amongst the authors.  One thing that I found was that his numbers appear to be much better than the ones mentioned in this file.  The report does say that this method of launching satellites- using gas guns- is technically feasible.

Unless Hunter knows more than what was reported in this 1999 file, I'd say his claims run the risk of being overblown.  It will fly, most likely, but for what purpose?  If the costs really are as attractive as he claims, which I can't see in this report, this could be a viable new option.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Electric bus charges wirelessly at University of Utah

A new transit route through the heart of the campus will feature a full-size city bus, operated with an electric motor. But it will never need to be plugged in. Instead, it will get its energy wirelessly thanks to a magnetic field emanating from the pavement.
 Comment: This technology appears to have advanced greatly over the last several years.  With this much progress, it bears watching.  The significance of electricity is not only in its cleanliness and quiet operation.  Electrical motors are much more efficient than internal combustion engines.   Even if the electricity is produced using fossil fuels, economies of scale and the superior efficiency should make the concept economically worthwhile as well.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kenneth Murphy on Nov. 8th Space Show

This show got my attention, so I downloaded it on a mp3 format file and listened in.

The reason that I'm interested, is of course, that I"m so focused upon going to the moon first.

Unfortunately, for those such as myself who would prefer to go the Moon first, this current resident of the White House has determined that we don't need to go there again since we have been there before.

That's true, that we have been there before, but only for flags and footprints. If the only point is to go to the Moon, then we are really done with it. But what if the Moon has plenty of good economic reasons to go there? Why not go there for economic reasons, besides just going there to look cool and take pictures? If there was an economic reason to go there, the incentive would in place for cost controls that would make it profitable as an economic enterprise.

The last part of the show, which was over 2 hours long, was that same gloom and doom about America that has turned me off in the past. But the warning is definitely there, for anybody who is bothering to look. One point is that none of the young generation wants to study science and engineering for the purpose of space exploration and development because there's not proper incentive for them to do so. As mentioned above, the one incentive to go there was pulled right out from under them when Obama canceled the Constellation program.

Mind you, this is not just political bashing. Obama didn't just modify the program, he canceled it outright. What would it have taken to make things just a little differently than what was already scheduled? Like keeping the Ares I and canceling the Ares V type rockets. You could then slightly modify the shuttle and make it for cargo only.

The Ares I could be close to operational now if it hadn't been canceled. The lower stage has been tested already. The second stage could have been what has just been tested recently and now will probably be canceled itself. The J2X could have been that second stage with the only remaining thing left as the capsule itself, which is nearly ready now.

Murphy wants to go around NASA altogether. If that happens, those in government have nobody to blame but themselves. Not only that, but the government is failing us, and this is but one example of how they are doing it.

We now how a heavy lift rocket on tap, but will be quite expensive. The trouble now is that same rocket will itself be canceled before it ever gets built. What if it was just a plain old Shuttle C, with minimal modifications and need for research and development?  Could that not have been done?  But it won't be and now this latest incarnation is vulnerable.

Murphy says that we need to bring value to the space program, or it won't survive.  There's no value in developing hardware and then scrapping it and never using it, or under-utilizing it.  It happened with the Saturn V, it happened with the Shuttle, and it has happened with Constellation.  Even the ISS was going to be canceled before Obama rescued it.  It isn't just Obama, it's the entire political class who do not have proper incentive to get value for the taxpayer.  The space program is a high profile example of why governments incentives are skewed toward inefficiency and waste.  The excuse is that they never have enough money, but if they didn't waste so much money, they'd be able to get more done.

Murphy says we need to develop cis lunar architecture.  This would save money, but the incentive, as mentioned, is in another direction.  The incentive is in making heavy lift rockets, which are expensive.  Super rockets as opposed to the use of a refueling infrastructure, which would be more economical.  Value, as Murphy suggests, is not properly incentivized in government, as it is in the private sector.

Another problem is cultural.  Too many people out there don't see value in space.  Even those amongst the religious sort, there is some "uncomfortable" feelings associated with the idea of settling or exploring space.  They actually fear the threat to their belief systems with regard to the settlement of space.  This doesn't show much faith, but the very opposite.  Why would anyone fear that unless one is really insincere in one's belief?  Great confidence and faith are incompatible with fear.  Frankly, I don't believe that a truly Christian person would feel any threat whatsoever with space exploration and settlement.  In this respect, I think the leadership in this segment of our society is also to blame.  Fearful people do not belong in leadership positions.

In sum, what it would take to get back on track would be to improve incentives.   To achieve that, the space advocacy community must do a bit of evangelizing upon the opportunities and values of space.  That community is small, so it needs to be expanded.  The public needs to be educated and motivated, so as to be steered away from irrational fears.  Provided that the community can reach enough people, and properly expanded, the politicians will be incentivized into paying and attention and making the proper decisions in the future that will assure a future for mankind in space.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

John Hunter of Quicklaunch is interviewed by Sander Olson (June interview )

Next Big Future

This was an interview done back in June this year, about the same time that Hunter was on the Space Show.  Looks like I missed this interview at that time, since it isn't referenced in the post indicated in bold.

I'm writing this post in connection to the nuclear Jules Verne post, which I spent some time this morning thinking about.  That particular concept doesn't appear to be a project that anybody is actually working on at this moment, unless it is the Chinese, but Quicklaunch appears to be a going concern.  I got curious about his progress, so I listened to the space show broadcast once again.  There was a Facebook page mentioned, in which I found a link to Quicklaunch's webpage.  There's not a whole lot of information there, which is a bit of a let down.

Quicklaunch has figured in the speculative couple of posts here titled "The Elements of a Space Exploration Infrastructure".  It looks like one of these can be emplaced on the moon so as to facilitate moving goods around the lunar surface.  It would be advantageous to do so, at least at first, since this method of transport would require the least amount of infrastructure.  As the lunar colony gets built out, a lunar transportation system could be substituted in its place.

By the way, the nuclear Jules Verne most likely would not work because of the atmospheric drag would be too great.  You need as little surface area as possible, plus you'd need something that could withstand the enormous amount of heat, which isn't likely.  A small scale nuke, like a suitcase nuke, may be workable in the technical sense.  However, everyone knows what the no nukes will do to that idea.  Suitcase nukes can get as small as a half a kiloton, if memory serves.  That's about a million pounds of tnt.  Aside from the anti nuke types, you'd have other problems as well, such as destruction of your launch site after every launch.  Better get it right the first time.

Hunter's business angle is to launch a lot of fuel for space exploration.  He says it will take a lot of fuel in order to get each astronaut to Mars.  He means to get that business. 

What if he used it to make a moonstalk instead?  It would take an enormous number of shots to do that though.  You need about 6000 tons at EML-1 for a moonstalk ( don't quote me on that).  Either you get it there from the lunar surface by a lot of launches from there, or from the Earth.  It would seem to be an easier task on the moon because of its lack of atmosphere and shallower gravity well.

A VASIMR could be used to take a lot of mass to EML-1.  It would be like a tug.  The Earth based Cannon could get mass to LEO and the VASIMR could take it the rest of the distance.  Let's say you were to take a smaller version of the cannon to the moon, then use it to build up the moonstalk.  That would simplify getting the matter in place at EML-1, or so I am speculating.

There are smaller versions of the Cannon, which can be set up on solid ground.  The Quicklaunch system, by the way, is emplaced in the ocean, or deep body of water.  These smaller versions could do the job on the moon, or so I speculate.  Hunter said on the space show that these things need to be muzzle loaded.  That may be tricky on the moon, therefore complicating the matter.


I'm listening to this show for the second time today.  There are some fine points that I'd like to make note of:

  1. He says that you only have to heat the hydrogen to 1500 deg K in order to get the 6 km/sec velocities.  This temperature is reachable by using concentrated solar power.
  2. Length of the gun is proportional to the mass desired to be shot cubed.  For example, if you double the length, then cube the payload deliverable.
  3. Small payloads are possible, as small as 200 lbs.  Start up costs for that is only $50 million.  Sweet spot is between 100-1000 lbs.
  4. Million pounds per person propellant to get to Mars : comment- if you launch from EML3, you could do a lot better than that (I think).
  5. First shots goals will be 3 clicks per sec ( 3 km/sec I gather).  comment: Faster than escape velocity of the moon.
  6. Recommends John Hopkins and SHARP to "Charles".  Charles likes to be challenging.  Hunter also recommended one of Andersons books on hypersonics.
Update: 11/17/11

Hunter mentioned his challenges with social media, which reminded me that I'm on Facebook too.  It sometimes doesn't occur to me to use that, but this reminds me to use it more in the future.  Let's see what that does.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Cold Fusion Now: Citizen’s Petition calls for open support of cold fusion technology.

    by Ruby Carat


    The government has looked at this twice in the past- cold fusion, that is.   A petition might work, but probably will be ignored.   It won't help that the name is written Energy "Catalizer", which is misspelled.  This will give the impression of being non serious, since catalyze, with the letter "y", as opposed to the letter "i", is the correct spelling.  It may seem nitpicking, but that's probably how it will be seen.

    I don't like signing it.  It won't make any difference and besides, if it did, Obama gets the credit, and I don't like Obama anyway.  Ok, I just signed it.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    The New Space Race?

    TCS Daily

    Comment:  Assuming the Chinese are actually trying to use nuclear explosions for propulsion, what exactly can anyone do about it?  Do we join in and start doing it ourselves?  There are better ways.  This isn't necessarily something that we should emulate.

    Besides, we already had NERVA during the Apollo Era.  This was a nuclear powered upper stage for the Saturn V rocket.  It was already tested and found space worthy.  Like the Saturn V itself, it was canceled.  Our problem is that we've got an active bunch of opponents to space.  They believe that space is just an expense, not an asset.  It is this manner of thinking that's the problem- not the Chinese.

    h/t Instapundit


    Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, has a different take.


    Brian Wang of Next Big Future posted on a variation on that concept here.  It could be in compliance with treaty obligations since it wouldn't involve atmospheric explosions.  A Jules Verne type nuclear powered space gun.


    This may be only a coincidence, but here goes anyway.  It so happens that the masses referred to here could be enough to be an anchor weight for a moonstalk.  Simply launch the mass to the Earth Moon Lagrange point and use that as an anchor for a moonstalk.  This would greatly simpify access to the lunar surface.  You wouldn't need any new nor exotic materials.   Just the will to get it done.


    Go to this website, hit control-f to bring up text search.  Highlight "The Thunderwell Story" in the usual way, plug it into the text search box (control-v) and the result should put you squarely in the part of the text about nuclear rocket propulsion- ie. "space gun", which was actually an underground nuke test in 1957.  It sent a concrete plug into space ( maybe) at a speed calculated at 5 to 6 times the escape velocity of the Earth.

     This may be a plausible way to send large masses into a location, such as EML-1.  You'd have to figure out how to keep it from burning up in the atmosphere, of course.  You'd have to figure out a lot more than that.  But it may be possible.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    A limitless power source for the indefinite future

    Kurzweil Blog

    • The basic concept, invented in the late 60s by Dr. Peter Glaser of Arthur D. Little: a large platform, positioned in space in a high Earth orbit continuously collects and converts solar energy into electricity.
    • Its findings include:  Space solar power appears to be technically feasible within 10–20 years using technologies existing now in the laboratory;
    • It appears to be economically viable in the next 1–3 decades under several different scenarios for future energy markets, including potential government actions to mediate environment/climate change issues;
    • Low-cost Earth-to-orbit transportation systems appear to be technically feasible during the coming 20–30 years using technologies existing in the laboratory now;
    • Flight experiments are needed, and policy-related and regulatory issues must be resolved.
    • “Without any doubt the components technology for space solar power as well as various system concepts have been developed and tested successfully,” says Dr. Neville I. Marzwell, NASA-JPL Advanced Concepts and Technology Innovation Manager (recently retired).
    • Space-based solar power is a technologically ready path over the wall to sustainable high tech civilization on Earth

    Why launch from the ground when it is a lot easier to launch from the moon?  Most of the materials needed to make the solar panels are available on the lunar surface.  It only lacks a will to do the project.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Bussard Fusion Update

    New Energy and Fuel

    • As of September 30, 2011, the WB-8 device has generated over 500 high power plasma shots.
    • The newest device has an eightfold increase in magnetic field strength compared to prior WB series devices, with the expectation of higher performance.
    • So far as we know, the group is led by Richard Nebel and Jaeyoung Park. The latest report has Mr. Park leading the group.
    • What is known is that the experimentation facility is a fully outfitted to measure the confinement and the details needed to design the next step in the scaling of the machine to match the theory.
    If anyone wants to knock Rossi for being too secretive, they ought to look at these guys.  Not to mention it is a publicly funded effort.  If it were private, it would be nobody's business.  Since it is public, you'd think it was everybody's business.  However, it is Navy, and they want to keep it secret.

    It is harder to find hard information on this than with the E-cat.  But nobody's calling these guys frauds.

    In general, I like the concept because it doesn't require heat.  This was the hardest part to get my mind around.  Everybody knows that fusion requires heat.  But this doesn't require heat, it uses electrons.  The electrons are confined and form a "well" deep enough to impart enough energy for fusion to take place.  Beats constructing a huge building in order to house a tokomak which confines the plasma, which is hot enough to melt anything it touches.  As opposed to melting your reactor, the Polywell's trick is to keep those electrons under confinement so that it will provide the energy necessary for fusion.

    I look at the Polywell as a type of capacitor.  A capacitor confines electrons and releases them when you need them.  A capacitor is like a battery, but it doesn't hold nearly as much energy.  If somebody can figure out how to hold as much energy as a battery, it would be a great step forward.  A big technical problem seems to be in keeping the magnets cooled down.  The magnets confine the electrons, and the magnets cannot be allowed to get too hot.  I don't why, but it probably has something to do with their effectiveness.  If they "thermalize", it is a show stopper.

    I've spent a little time browsing the Talk Polywell forum.  I don't like forums much.  I guess it is a matter of taste.  Not my bag, baby.  A little Austin Powers lingo there.

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    What's new on the fusion front? (Rossi on top of list)

    What's new on the fusion front?

    • Efforts by the Italian-based Leonardo Corp. to harness low-energy nuclear reactions (the technology formerly known as cold fusion) have reawakened the dream of somehow producing surplus heat through unorthodox chemistry. Today, Pure Energy Systems News reported that Leonardo's Andrea Rossi signed an agreement with Texas-based National Instruments to build instrumentation for E-Cat cold-fusion reactors.
    Well, at least MSNBC did one thing right, anyway.  (H/T Instapundit)


    I'm a bit late with this story as it was covered yesterday:

    National Instruments signs to do E-Cat controls: Next Big Future

    Comment:  If you check the comments section below the story, the big time skeptics are snorting their disapproval.  I suppose Rossi could be pulling everybody's leg, but I still don't get what he gains from doing this.  If this is a fraud, it will be discovered in time.  But these guys are so damn sure that it is a fraud.  Let's see where Rossi goes from here.  I'd like to see where it ends before judging it all in advance.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    The Obama administration postpones XL pipeline decision – probably until after the 2012 election

    Keystone XL pipeline delayed: Does that help Obama?

    excerpts from The Christian Science Monitor
    • The Obama administration announced Thursday that it is delaying the Keystone XL pipeline, a Canadian-backed project that promised to create thousands of American jobs, generate billions in annual state tax revenues, and increase Canadian crude oil imports to America by as much as a quarter billion barrels per year.
    • While the project’s promised benefits seem to make its eventual go-ahead virtually certain, delaying it would rescue President Obama from having to make a politically difficult decision a year before he stands for reelection.
    • According to the pipeline operator, TransCanada, the pipeline extension is designed to bring an additional 700,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, the largest crude reserves in North America, across America’s heartland to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.
    Radical Environmentalism trumps jobs.  This was a project that would cost no taxpayer funds- in fact it would help economic growth and create new revenues.  This was a concession to the environmentalist lobby.  The Republicans should remind voters every day until election day of what Obama has just done.  That makes his jobs rhetoric just a lot of empty meaningless words.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Obama’s Keystone XL Kops

    Rich Lowry - National Review Online

    Well, at least there's somebody over at NRO who hasn't lost their minds and let themselves be led around by the nose with this sexual harassment BS.

    Use of Supercritical Water Could Cut Costs for Ethanol

    Technology Review
    h/t EGO OUT

    • Renmatix, a startup based in Kennesaw, Georgia, is using water at high pressure and temperature to transform wood chips into sugar, which can then be fermented to make biofuels and other chemicals. The company says the process can produce sugar for the same price as making it from sugarcane, which has led to profitable biofuels production in Brazil.
    • Instead of using enzymes or acids, Renmatix employs supercritical water—water at very high temperatures and pressures. [ comment:  Doesn't this seem like Thermal Depolymerization?  Technology that Andrea Rossi worked on in the seventies?]
    • Turning biomass into sugar using supercritical water involves first grinding biomass into small particles, then dissolving cellulose in water.
    It would be better to use the hydrogen in a fuel cell.  Fuel cells are more efficient than burning it in an internal combustion engine.  Here's a process to reform ethanol into hydrogen.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    NASA prepares for moon tourism

    USA Today

    some day space tourists may be on the way to the Apollo mission lunar landing sites

    And you know the one thing that tourists love to bring home.


    So, the space agency released guidelines this summer on protecting lunar landing sites and artifacts.

    Comment:  Good luck on that.  Unless you set up some kind of enforcement mechanism, how are you going to protect the sites?


    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Docudharma ...blogging the future

    Marrying Stranded Wind and Freight Rail Electrification

    The darker the blue, the windier it is- that's better for power generation

    • It should, I hope, be clear that much of the best resource is in areas that do not have the highest electricity consumption.
    • That right of way is used to establish long distance High Voltage DC trunk lines to bring sustainable energy from the places that have it to places the need it [ comment:  What if you can do away with high voltage trunk lines?  What I'm saying is, why does this have to be necessary?  Couldn't you make your fuel "in situ" and use it on the spot?  That is, synthesize fuel from wind power.  You can synthesize methanol and then use the methanol in a fuel cell, or use the methanol to make diesel.  How to build the synthesis plants?  You could possibly use airships to bring in the construction equipment and supplies to build the plants.  After finishing construction, the airships could bring raw materials for the synthesis of the fuel.  The fuel can be also be transported to fuel depots in a like manner.]

    The next step is to see if airships can operate in high altitudes. That might be a problem, as most of these windy areas are in high altitudes.  This may be achievable if the effort needed was deemed to be worthy.


    Strolling through memory lane.  Here's a post almost a year old which describes how methanol can be synthesized in a nuclear reactor.  Substitute wind power for nuclear power and you can synthesize methanol that way.  It is all a part of the master plan to switch to the hydrogen economy.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Italian cold fusion machine passes another test

    MSNBC  | 11/3/2011 | Natalie Wolchover

    There's more and more coverage, but is there more and more acceptance?

    Tesla Motors presents the 3rd Millennium electric sedan- MODEL S

    Tesla Motors presents the 3rd Millennium electric sedan- MODEL S


    • Tesla Model S offers the responsiveness and agility expected from world’s best sports cars while providing the ride quality of a sedan.
    • Tesla’s uniquely quiet powertrain have been combined with scrupulous noise engineering to obtain the sound dynamics of a recording studio.
    • Assume average energy usage per mile is approximately 300Wh/mile (188Wh/km).
    • can bring tough competition for cars such as the BMW 5-series
    • 3,825 pounds (1,735 kg) 
    •  0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.6 seconds
    • base price of US$57,400 
    This article could have been better written.  It is hard to tell from reading it what its actual range is.  It may be up to 300 miles.
    Model S offers pioneering architecture with three battery option each achieving unprecedented range of 160 miles (standard) when fully charged using a 42 kW·h battery pack (24 kW·h/100 mi, 108 mpg) and battery pack will contain 5,000 lithium-ion cells, 230 miles and 300 miles. [comment: Huh?  Is it 160, 230, or 300?  Maybe it is an option, but that could have been made clearer here.] 

    Electric cars are still no bargain.  But it appears that Tesla is approaching the market with a strategy that makes sense.  But this won't make much of a dent in the demand for oil.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Are you a betting man? revisited

    I was just thinking about this again this morning.  What would it take to end the controversy?  A friendly bet? Something that would satisfy even the most hard core skeptic?  How could you arrange this?

    There's somebody I won't name who might be interested in seeing, but not necessarily betting, on a possibility of just testing this thing under certain conditions.  One that might satisfy him would be to collect the water that goes through the E-cat, and then measure the heat in it and its mass.  This would take place after shutdown.

    I checked the amount going through the E-cat on the Oct 6 test.  The rate was  .91 g per sec.  That figures out to  3276 g or 3.276 liters per hour.  Multiply that by 8 hours for a test and you get 26.208 liters for an entire test.  The idea is to insulate it so that it would keep its heat throughout.  Such a container would not be terribly big.  It could be insulated and a small pump installed that could keep the water mixed.

    One problem is that the water is actually steam, so it has to be cooled down a little before going into the container.  To do that, just repeat that part of the test that was done on Oct 6th.  Run it through some heat exchangers until it got below the boiling point, then let it go into the container.  Then you can measure the heat from that process, plus the remaining heat in the container in order to measure all of the heat generated during the test.

    A second problem is from the secondary water source.  I'm thinking of making this a small scale demo so that we won't have to use much hardware.  That means cooling this water down too so that it doesn't get too hot.

    In order to do this, just set up a radiator, such as one that you may see in a car.  This can cool down the water so that you can recirculate it over and over again.  We are measuring the delta t at the heat exchanger, so it doesn't have to be any one set temperature.  Just as long as the difference is such that it can cool down the steam coming off the E-cat.

    In the Oct. 6th test, the rate of flow on the secondary heat exchange was 640 liters per hour.   That would require a pretty large container.  In order to avoid that, the radiator can be called upon to cool the water back down.  Perhaps a fan that blows through the radiator would be helpful as well.  Perhaps at this point, you could limit the amount of water at the secondary to about 80 liters, or about the size of a 20 gal barrel.

    At 640 liters per hour, it would circulate the complete contents of the barrel 8 times every hour.  This means that it has about 8 minutes to cool down after going through the radiator.  This may be enough to keep it cool. The return could come in at the top and be drawn from the bottom.  It would first go through the radiator and then empty back into the barrel.  You would need a pump that could pump at that rate for that long. Probably no big deal.

    In terms of equipment, you now have 3 20 gal barrels, two of them filled with water.  One of these is to go through the E-cat, and one would go through the heat exchanger.  The third is to collect the water and measure its temperature at the end of the test.  It could be already half full, since you are not going to use all of that one barrel.  This third barrel will be fully insulated and have a pump to recirculate the water so that it always well mixed.

    The location of the test should be remote in order to eliminate the possibility of any hidden energy source.

    To test remotely, you need to be far away from the grid.  That means a portable generator which can power up the E-cat device until it reaches self sustain mode.  The generator will need to run the pumps and so forth. Such a generator wouldn't be all that big.  It just needs to be big enough to do this task, which isn't all that demanding.

    All of this equipment could fit into a van, I would estimate.  The generator, the 3 barrels, the pumps, the control equipment and the E-cat unit itself.  None of these items are all that big.  It shouldn't be too demanding a task to get it all into a van.

    Take the van out into the countryside, and set up the equipment.  Run the test.  Take the measurements and see who's right.

    The costs?  You may be able to rent some of this stuff, so you won't have to buy it.  It shouldn't be terribly expensive.

    The last part may be the most difficult.  Getting an E-cat to test.  That may mean buying one.  Who would want to buy one of these things?  Not me.  Rossi wants 2k for each kilowatt.  A 2.7 killowatt device would cost 5400 bucks.  You would need to buy one and set the sucker up and so forth.  The test could run in the thousands of dollars.  Then you would have to have a way to judge who won the bet.

    If enough people wanted to, they could set up the scenario and share the expense.  The losers would end up paying for the test.

    Let's say it would cost 10 grand to buy an E-cat and set it up.  If you can get enough people to get in on the bet, you may be able to cover that cost by a factor of two.  Then you would need even money on the bet.

    Twenty grand may do it.  Ten grand to buy the E-cat and set it up.  Ten grand purse to pay the winners and make it a no lose if you win.  The losers lose their ten grand.