Category Archives: alternative fuels

Nuclear Energy, Act 2

From physorg.com:

(AP) — Global warming and rocketing oil prices are making nuclear power fashionable, drawing a once demonized industry out of the shadows of the Chernobyl disaster as a potential shining knight of clean energy.

Britain is the latest to recommit itself to the energy source, with its government announcing support Thursday for the construction of new nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants produce around 20 percent of Britain’s electricity, but all but one are due to close by 2023.

However, some countries hopping on the nuclear bandwagon have abysmal industrial safety records and corrupt ways that give many pause for thought.

China has 11 nuclear plants and plans to bring more than 30 others online by 2020. And a Massachusetts Institute of Technology report projects that it may need to add as many as 200 reactors by 2050.

Of the more than 100 nuclear reactors now being built, planned or on order, about half are in China, India and other developing nations. Argentina, Brazil and South Africa plan to expand existing programs; and Vietnam, Thailand, Egypt and Turkey are among the countries considering building their first reactors.

The concerns are hardly limited to developing countries. Japan’s nuclear power industry has yet to recover from revelations five years ago of dozens of cases of false reporting on the inspections of nuclear reactor cracks.

The Swedish operators of a German reactor came under fire last summer for delays in informing the public about a fire at the plant. And a potentially disastrous partial breakdown of a Bulgarian nuclear plant’s emergency shutdown mechanism in 2006 went unreported for two months until whistle-blowers made it public.

Nuclear transparency will be an even greater problem for countries such as China that have tight government controls on information. Those who mistrust the current nuclear revival are still haunted by the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl reactor and the Soviet Union’s attempts to hide the full extent of the catastrophe. Further back in the collective memory is the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979.

The revival, the International Atomic Energy Agency projects, means that nuclear energy could nearly double within two decades to 691 gigawatts – 13.3 percent of all electricity generated.

“We are facing a nuclear renaissance,” Anne Lauvergeon, CEO of the French nuclear energy firm Areva, told an energy conference. “Nuclear’s not the devil any more. The devil is coal.”

In the mainstream perception, global warming is man-made (an argument for another time). Fossil fuels such as coal is a villain because it is just plain dirty when it is burned. The smoke rises into the upper atmosphere, the CO2 particles mix with the water particles forming hydrogen sulfide acid which is carried by the prevailing winds. When these clouds reach a mountain range they have to go over, voila! Acid rain falls. That’s not so good for plant life, it tends to kill them.

So what do we do in the meantime to maintain our collective lifestyles of consumerism and personal excess? What do the expanding nascent powers India and China use to feed their growing consumerism?

Nuclear power say the big-shots. Nuclear reactors being built now are safer with fewer moving parts they say.

That may be so. But nuclear fission has a problem that will always be a bugaboo. Radioactive waste. More to the point, storage of the stuff. Nobody wants it, nobody needs it and one of the main reasons older reactors are being shut down. They run out of storage space.

Personally, I think the money they plan on using to build nuclear reactors ought to be used to develop cheaper launching systems in order to launch large solar collector satellites. Solar power is cheaper, safer and it doesn’t pose a storage problem. Even the Pentagon thinks solar is the way to go.

Nuclear energy has it’s own unique problems and solutions for the nations that plan to build their reactors. Radiation and storage aren’t the only issues. Politics play into it as well.

Ask the Iranians.

Original article

 

Ancient Lunar Cities, Martian Microbes and NASA

From rumormillnews.com:

The former manager of the Data and Photo Control Department at NASA’s Lunar Receiving Laboratory during the manned Apollo Lunar Program, Ken Johnston, has released quite a number of sensational statements recently in the USA. The specialist said that U.S. astronauts found ancient ruins of artificial origin and a previously unknown technology to control gravitation when then landed on the Moon. Astronauts took pictures of the objects that they found, but NASA ordered Johnston to destroy the images. Johnston did not follow the order. He said that the U.S. government had been keeping this information a secret for 40 years.

Johnston’s startling Apollo allegations have recently appeared in a new book, “Dark Mission: the Secret History of NASA,” co-authored by former NASA consultant and CBS Science Advisor, Richard C. Hoagland and Mike Bara, an aerospace engineering consultant. According to Kay Ferrari, JPL Director of the SSA Program (in a phone call to Johnston last week), it was Johnston “being quoted [as] criticizing NASA in Hoagland’s new book, ‘Dark Mission,'” that prompted her to ask for Johnston’s resignation from the SSA Program. When Johnston refused, citing First Amendment protections of free speech afforded all NASA employees, even those at JPL, Ferrari apparently decided to remove him arbitrarily from the SSA Program this week without cause.

I have heard of this before in my many researches on the subject. The news usually gets covered up quickly. But it’s increasingly more difficult for governments to keep news like this censored for very long given the Internet’s ever growing evolution. And Hoagland is already infamous in the eyes of the military-industrial-congressional-complex controlled NASA with his “Face On Mars” expose’s. The only thing saving Hoagland’s life in my view is the “plausible deniability” aspect of his claims. But for how much longer can these things be covered up? The longer you try to keep it a secret, the more attention it’ll draw. Witness what happened with Area 51.

Some people are claiming that the ancient lunar cities, and the discovery of water on Mars for that matter are the “real” reasons we are planning to go back to the Moon and Mars.

After Bu$hco announced going back to the Moon and humans exploring Mars eventually, China was quick to jump on the bandwagon and push their budding space technology to the limit. In fact, their timetable is almost 2-5 years ahead of ours. And I’m certain they’re not afraid to have a few “hero-martyrs” along the way in order to keep that schedule. Russia in the meantime, is using their extensive knowledge about long space endurance to plan a Mars mission ahead of everyone else. And we know their space program has alot more “heroes” littered along the road than we do.

I find this to be a good thing. If the real reasons for going back to the Moon and Mars involves ET instead of mining He3 (deuterium) for advanced nuclear reactors is fine with me. At this point in time, it’s something that’s long overdue.

Hoagland and Bara’s Dark Mission Site

Electrical power from space: Soon to be reality?

From The Guardian :

At some point before 2050, satellites collecting solar power and beaming it back to Earth will become a primary energy source, streaming terawatts of electricity continuously from space. That’s if you believe a recent report from the Pentagon’s National Security Space Office, which says confidently that we will see “a basic proof-of-concept within 4-6 years and a substantial power demonstration as early as 2017-2020”.

It’s obvious in some ways: above the atmosphere, a solar cell receives about 40 times more energy per year than an equivalent site on the ground, due to the absence of atmospheric scattering and seasonal or nightly reductions in light.

The NSSO suggests that an orbiting spacecraft with solar panel arrays would be comparable to current ground-based installations spanning hectares and, eventually, a few square kilometres. Then that energy can be sent to the ground – using, the Pentagon suggests, a giant laser or microwave beam.

The report, Space Based Solar Power as an Opportunity for Strategic Security, suggests optimistically that one application will be the beaming of “energy aid” via satellite into conflict and disaster zones, minimising the human cost of resource wars and catastrophic events caused by global warming.

“The technology has been in development for a while,” says Joseph Rouge, associate director of the space office. “The truly hard and expensive part is going to be getting it into orbit. We’ll need regular launches and on-orbit robotic assembly systems. It’s a $10bn [£4.8bn] programme, but by 2050 it could deliver 10% of America’s power needs.”

I’ve been speculating on this for a while now. For the past seven years while the neocons have been in power, all of the government’s efforts have been concentrated in the Middle East in the hopes of securing oil fields and protecting/expanding Israel. All of the U.S. energy policy has revolved around oil and ways of either securing in it other countries, or attempts to expand drilling into the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. This is no surprise since the present regime is run by oil men (Cheneyburton & Bu$hco) and their propensity for secrecy, especially when it comes to energy policy.

Apparently that bastion of hardcore conservatism, the Pentagon, is the only forward thinking institution we have in place at the moment, because the aforementioned study was issued by them! Also it is interesting to note that the Pentagon space office is using a study issued by a German company that acknowledges the existance of Peak Oil and that we’ve already passed that point:

The space office sees energy supply as one of strategic importance as oil supplies dwindle; according to a report by Germany’s Energy Watch Group published last week, “peak oil” output occurred last year, and will fall by 7% annually to half its present levels by 2030. The space office notes that all remaining oil resources are estimated to contain 250 terawatt-years of energy; but that a one-kilometre wide band in geosynchronous orbit receives about 212 TW-years of energy each year.

Pretty ironic, wouldn’t you say? It’s a sad day for America when the only agency that has the pull to advance energy policy into the 21st century is the military. And it still can’t be funded by the government. The job will be bid out:

As of today, none of the agencies is funding a space solar power launch. Rouge says: “This is a commercial venture. The US government could be an initial customer, but they won’t be the ones to build it.” 

So in the final analysis, the system might not be built at all unless some private company(s) invents a cheap launch system. Maybe that is the best way to do it anyway. Competition between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison helped create the modern power grid in New York City which was the model on which the national grid was built.

We can only hope it will usher in an era of peace instead of perpetual resource wars.

James Bloom Guardian article

Fusion reactors with no magnetic confinement and Biochar Tech

I received an interesting comment/email to my previous thread about Dr. Robert Bussard and fusion power from a gentleman named Erich J. Knight. Mr. Knight’s brief letter described a method of fusion power that was doable now with present technology and without magnetic containment. He was kind enough to provide me with some links to some major corporations that are doing this right now.

Electron Power Systems :

We have discovered how to make plasma toroids, called EST’s (Electron Spiral Toroid’s) that remain stable in air with no magnetic fields for containment. This EST can be added to well-known fusion technology to build small fusion reactors with no magnetic containment. We accelerate EST’s magnetically. We plan to collide two EST’s together to cause fusion reactions. The colliding EST fusion reactor has several potential advantages over other fusion reactors. First, it needs no external magnetic fields for containment, a great advantage in cost and size. Second, EST’s are small, so the process can occur in small increments, avoiding the need for a large container of heated plasma. Third, the EST is charge neutral and so has ion densities many orders of magnitude greater than ion beams.

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics/Chilean Nuclear Commission :

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics and the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN) have agreed to collaborate on a three-year experimental test of the “focus fusion” approach to fusion energy. The project will use the Speed-2 plasma focus device at CCHEN’s Thermonuclear Plasma Laboratory in Santiago, Chile, one of the two largest plasma focus devices in the world. The experimental team at CCHEN of four scientists, headed by Dr. Leopoldo Soto, will collaborate with Eric Lerner, President of LPP and Executive Director of the Focus Fusion Society, and with other researchers.

The project will consist of three phases. In the first, beginning in July, 2006, the team will duplicate and improve on the experimental results earlier obtained at Texas A&M University indicating that the plasma focus can achieve the high ion energies, above 100keV (the equivalent of one billion degrees C), that is needed to burn hydrogen-boron fuel. Hydrogen-boron fuel can produce energy in the form of charged particles, eliminating radioactivity and potentially allowing inexpensive direct conversion into electricity. The experiments will considerably extend the earlier work because the new tests will be conducted at higher peak current, will have better diagnostic instruments, and will have more optimized electrodes.

These last two links are for a biocharcoal process that is carbon negative called pyrolysis. The product is a bio-oil and fertilizer. The process was invented by Ancient Amazon River tribes :

Dynamotive Energy Systems, an energy solutions provider based in Vancouver, British Columbia, that is one of several companies pioneering the use of pyrolysis, a process in which biomass is burned at a high temperature in the absence of oxygen. The process yields both a charcoal by-product that can be used as a fertilizer, and bio-oil, which is a mix of oxygenated hydrocarbons that can be used to generate heat or electricity.

Because the charcoal by-product, or “agrichar,” does not readily break down, it could sequester for thousands of years nearly all the carbon it contains, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Along the way, it would boost agricultural productivity through its ability to retain nutrients and moisture.

(http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=5670236C-E7F2-99DF-3E2163B9FB144E40)

And Terra Preta, a company Mr. Knight whose site he co-administers :
http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/?q=node

I can’t even pretend to give a comment about fusion technology other than the basics. Super-hot lasers exploding pellets of helium3 seems the way to go, but what do I know, I’m a tech, not an engineer. I’m just the guy that calibrates and fixes the stuff these guys dream up. And not fusion reactors either!

The biocharcoal looks like an economical way to get the bang from the carbon cycle without putting the carbon into the air. It looks almost too cheap and easy. But you know what, if I ever get the chance to retire from this NWO rat-race chasing debt (and my tail!) bullsh*t, I’d give this method of power generation some serious thought. That and the fact that I actually understand the process enough to build something myself if I had to! 😎

Dr. Robert Bussard, Fusion Power and Interstellar Flight Visionary

Robert Bussard, a giant when it came to interstellar space flight concepts, passed away recently. He was 79 years old. He was best known for creating the concept of the Bussard Ram-jet fusion method for interstellar space travel. His later works involved inventing practical methods for fusion power reactors.

The concept of the Bussard ram-jet is simple, accelerate the spaceship up to 6% c ( lightspeed), unfurl 6,000 kilometers (later revised to 60,000 kilometers) of electromagnetic “wings” or “scoop” to put a negative charge on hydrogen atoms to “suck” them up like a huge vacuum cleaner, compress them down and use the “fuel” to run the fusion reactor and propel the ship to .99 c. The reason being once after the ship reached .06 c, the process would start to be self sustaining.

Later studies of the concept proved the method to be impractical due to the fact that you have accelerate the ship first (that first .06 c is a bitch) and the drag coefficient tended to cancel out what acceleration you got out of it.

But the concept inspired three of my favorite novels; Tau Zero, written by Poul Anderson, Orbitsville by Bob Shaw and A Deepness In The Sky by Vernor Vinge (who also coined the term “technological Singularity). All made the Bussard ram-jet method of starflight an essential plot device. Especially Orbitsville, I loved the flickerwing ships! Even Gene Roddenberry employed the concept on his Starfleet vessels like the Enterprise, the warp nacelles are in fact bussard collectors with linear particle accelerators that strip hydrogen atoms for fuel (anti-protons)!

The renewed interest with interstellar travel is fuelled by the almost daily discovery of extrasolar planets, especially one in particular, Gliese 581d, which may be the first Earth-type extrasolar world discovered. Old tech that has been on the shelf such as Orion (nuclear-pulse/bomb/pusherplate) is being updated (yes bombs, as in nukes!).

Solar sail and laser propulsion are being considered again and last, but probably the most important one, some variance of antimatter propulsion. The form of anti-matter tech that’s showing the most promise and can probably provide the speed necessary is an anti-matter initiated, helium3 fuelled fusion torch. Only a few micrograms of anti-matter is needed to light off the heavy helium3 atoms and once lit, it’ll boost a small payload to 10-15% c easily. Enough for a 30-40 year flyby journey to Proxima Centauri. To get to Gliese 581d in that amount of time would require a real small payload, but one capable of producing a sizable electromagnetic field to protect it from hard x-rays and interstellar dust hitting the field with the power of atomic bombs (all interstellar probes will need shielding).

The idea of a spaceship “living off the land” so to speak was beautiful. You can get up to lightspeed on minimal fuel and once the process started, it was self-sustaining. Too bad engineering reality threw cold water on it.

But that doesn’t diminish Bussard’s vision in the least. His ideas prompted research in finding ways to get practical fusion power to the people, forever banishing energy shortages to the history books. For that he shall always be remembered.

Links about Robert Bussard :

Remembering Robert Bussard

Dr. Robert W. Bussard Has Passed

Fiction using the Bussard Ram-jet concept :

Tau Zero

Orbitsville

A Deepness In The Sky

Continuing Work on Dr. Bussard’s Project:

Dr. Robert Bussard’s Polywell Fusor Project

Asian Nations Plan to be next Space Super-Powers

Asian giants Japan, China and India are engaged in a race to map lunar resources and make the moon a platform to explore planets beyond, amid a renewed burst of global space activity.

Asian giants Japan, China and India are engaged in a race to map lunar resources and make the moon a platform to explore planets beyond, amid a renewed burst of global space activity.

Japan flagged off the Asian lunar race on September 14 when it successfully launched its first lunar orbiter. China plans to launch its own probe before the end of the year, followed by India in the first half of 2008.


“We want to investigate the moon, to know more about the whole of the moon,” Keiji Tachikawa, president of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, said in this southern Indian city.

JAXA, as the agency is known, will carry out more robotic missions before a landing and astronaut on the moon, said Tachikawa in a brief interview Monday.Missions to the moon and to Mars and international cooperation top the agenda of a five-day global conference in Hyderabad that brought together 2,000 space professionals, including scientists, astronomers and astronauts.


“There is a great revival of interest in exploring various planets,” said Sun Laiyan, head of the China National Space Administration. China’s Chang’e 1 lunar probe is being transported to the launch site and “if everything goes fine, will be launched by the end of the year,” said Sun, adding that China will consider a manned moon mission in the future.

India’s Chandrayaan 1 lunar probe will be launched in March or April 2008, said B.N. Suresh, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram.


Preparatory work is in “full swing” at the Sriharikota space station in southern India, where the craft is being assembled, the launch vehicle readied and antennae installed to receive data from the moon, Suresh told AFP.

Space exploration is going to go on with or without the U.S. Probably without being my guess.

The American Empire is bankrupt, monetarily, morally and our science programs are being usurped by fundamentalists in our schools in their attempt to merge Church and State.

We are going the way of the Old British Empire after WWII with our oil refineries, cars and cheap gasoline while their industries and Navy still used coal to fire them. We may end up with Iraq’s oil and possibly Iran’s, but can we compete with new Superpowers running on fusion energy fuelled by helium3 mined from the Moon’s surface?

Maybe it won’t be so bad speaking Chinese. They’re already teaching it in my daughter’s high school.

Original Article


Is The Moon a Future Interplanetary Gas Station?

From the Daily Galaxy :

Chinaspace_2A week after Russia claimed a vast portion of the Arctic sea floor, accelerating an international race for the natural resources as global warming opens polar access, China has announced plans to map “every inch” of the surface of the Moon and exploit the vast quantities of Helium-3 thought to lie buried in lunar rocks as part of its ambitious space-exploration program.

China_space_walk_moon_landing_2_2 Ouyang Ziyuan, head of the first phase of lunar exploration, is quoted on government-sanctioned news site ChinaNews.com describing plans to collect three dimensional images of the Moon for future mining of Helium 3: “There are altogether 15 tons of helium-3 on Earth, while on the Moon, the total amount of Helium-3 can reach one to five million tons.”

“Helium-3 is considered as a long-term, stable, safe, clean and cheap material for human beings to get nuclear energy through controllable nuclear fusion experiments,” Ziyuan added. “If we human beings can finally use such energy material to generate electricity, then China might need 10 tons of helium-3 every year and in the world, about 100 tons of helium-3 will be needed every year.”

While Bu$hco and Club Neocon have been planning on weaponizing Near Earth Orbit with updated nuclear toys, the Russians and Chinese have been going ahead with plans on mining and colonizing the Moon to get at the Helium3 motherlode. So what are the Neocon-idiots going to do when they get their missiles in orbit? Oh, that’s right, they can get their missile platforms blinded from cheap Chinese lasers from the ground and get their asses blown from orbit by fusion powered space craft fueled by helium3!

Well, one can never accuse neocon-men of foresight! (foresk*n on Richard Cranium maybe…oops, gotta keep it clean here!)

Oh well, read the entire article here , it’s pretty good!

Friday Science

Remember the Pioneer spacecrafts, numbers 10 and 11 respectively? These machines were the precursors to the two Voyagers that first mapped the Outer Solar System, and thusly were the first human made items to leave our little star system. (The Voyagers received more press).

Well, it seems that some unknown force, other than gravity is having an effect on them and is altering their trajectory outside of the Solar System:

The ‘Pioneer anomaly’ – the mystifying observation that NASA’s two Pioneer spacecraft have drifted far off their expected paths – cannot be explained by tinkering with the law of gravity, a new study concludes.

The study’s author suggests an unknown, but conventional, force is instead acting on the spacecraft. But others say even more radical changes to the laws of physics could explain the phenomenon.

Launched in the early 1970s, NASA’s Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft are drifting out of the solar system in opposite directions, gradually slowing down as the Sun’s gravity pulls back on them.

But they are slowing down slightly more than expected and no one knows why. Some physicists say the law of gravity itself needs revising, so that gravity retains more strength in the outer solar system. But there has been disagreement about whether such modifications would accurately predict the orbits of the outer planets.

But Kjell Tangen, a physicist at the firm DNV in Hovik, Norway says there might be a more conventional explanation:

“…conventional physics – such as drag due to dust grains in space, or the emission of heat from small nuclear generators on board, known as RTGs, in some directions more than others – probably causes the anomaly, Tangen says. But he admits a definitive cause remains elusive.”

That’s big of him. At least the guy isn’t as hide-bound as other scientists when faced with an anomaly, he left an out.

Read the story; Exotic cause of ‘Pioneer anomaly’ in doubt

Here’s one for you “Cool Fuels” people:

A recipe for fuel: take the carbohydrates like starch and cellulose that make up the majority of plants. Use enzymes to break them down into fructose, the sugar found in fruits and honey. Mix this fructose with salt water and hydrochloric acid. Add a solvent—in this case butanol also derived from plant matter—to protect the resulting hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) from reacting with the water, then extract it. This versatile molecule can be used to create plastic polymers or other chemicals. And by the way, adding a copper-coated ruthenium catalyst can also convert the HMF to DMF (2,5-dimethylfuran), a fuel that provides more energy than ethanol.

“It should be a great fuel,” says James Dumesic, a chemical engineer at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, who, along with his colleagues, discovered the new process, “DMF has the energy density of petroleum.”

I don’t know squat about alternative fuels, I just thought if it came down to it, I would just start using my old tired feet again if I couldn’t afford to buy gas anymore. Maybe they’ll get this alternative fuel thing down to a science, but until they do, I’ll just buy me a good pair of walking shoes, break them in, and then save them for that inevitable day.  A new process can turn plants into energy-dense fuel

Here’s an article from Space.com that kind of ties in with the virtual reality theme from yesterday.

Imagine that you want to be an astronaut on a mission to Mars, but for some reason you can’t? Enter the European Space Agency:

The European Space Agency is calling for volunteers to participate in “Mars500,” a nearly two-year-long simulation of a journey to the Red Planet, the organization announced in a recent statement. The goal of the experiment is to prepare “for future human exploration missions to Mars.”

“We are currently looking for volunteers to take part in a 520-day simulated Mars mission,” according to an ESA statement released Tuesday. “To go to Mars is still a dream and one of the last gigantic challenges.”

During the simulation, men and women “Martianauts,” as you might call them, will watch Earth disappear into the blackness of space as they munch on the same kinds of food available on the International Space Station. ESA will even attempt to simulate the 40-minute time delay for radio signals to travel from the craft to Earth and back, as the volunteers work and live in extremely isolated conditions.

Once the group “arrives,” about half-way through the simulation, they will explore the faux surface of Mars, the statement said. The entire experiment is expected to be carried out in a 2,150-square-foot facility in Moscow-about the floor space of a two-story house.

The ESA plans to ramp up to the long simulation with two 105-day studies starting in mid-2008, for which they also seek volunteers. The 520-day simulation would follow in late 2008 or early 2009, according to the statement.

Four volunteers will be selected for each of the missions.

Do you want to volunteer? Just beware of that brain-computer interface!

Volunteers Sought for Simulated Mars Mission