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Sent:                                           Wednesday, December 13, 2017 6:24 PM


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   As our nation now is on alert with the latest study (Dec. 6, 2017, Technology Review) based on satellite observations that temperatures could rise nearly 5°C by 2100, citing the paper published in Nature magazine  by Patrick Brown of the Carnegie Institution, the odds that the climate will warm past 4°C have now increased to 93% probability. We can see the trend also in the Popular Science issue (July/August, 2017) showing a steep, linear trend in TEMPERATURE from the 1970s onward. Of course, IRI has been giving the public ADVANCE NOTICE of this same inconvenient news of a 5°C "indebtedness" for over ten (10) years now, based on the NASA James Hansen 400,000 year climate history graph on our homepage which has been annotated by myself to emphasize his predictive calibration of CO2 levels, now exceeding 400 ppm, which "tows" or drags the temperature and sea level with it in a precise, quantitative manner.

   For our first story, MIT offers some help to counter this seriously disturbing development. It is a new method for capturing forcing one atom of oxygen off of CO2 with a special membrane, leaving carbon monoxide on the other side to be converted into fuel by combining it with hydrogen or methane. In a related story from the same institution, David Keith from MIT presents his fifteen minute lecture on geoengineering which is also an eye-opener with the best climate models and how even 2°C increase in temperature creates hurricanes automatically in the computer model!

   In our second story, we find another surprising development with UCLA finding an onboard method for generating hydrogen fuel on the fly. Combining a supercapacitor with a hydrogen fuel cell and a solar cell, the opportunity has come to generate both electricity and hydrogen fuel.

   Our third story  continues the concept of battery power with the completed construction of the world's largest Li-Ion battery by Tesla's Elon Musk in South Australia. Each 129 MWh Tesla Powerpack can store enough power for more than 30,000 homes. A smaller version, called the Tesla Powerwall  is also available for home use.

   The fourth story is more of a detective story regarding fusion power. Los Alamos National Lab has found a major problem with helium being formed from a byproduct of fusion that percolates out of containment walls causing small cracks. The hope is now that the problem has been identified, a quick solution may be found and we can start enjoying fusion-powered electricity from our local utility that was promised by the government decades ago.

   Regarding our introductory discussion of global warming, our fifth and last story offers an interesting  and low tech solution that draws heat away with advanced materials, which then can radiate it literally into space. SkyCool Systems  is working to commercialize the product to keep buildings cool without costly fan-forced air conditioning.The SkyCool panels spun out from Stanford have demonstrated a 21% savings (up to 70% according to Inc. magazine) in an office building's cooling electricity by radiating in a mid-infrared band that is not absorbed by the atmosphere, as well as throwing back nearly all of the heat in sunlight with a reflection trick.


Have a Happy Holiday!


Tom Valone, Editor


1) MIT Creating New Method to Convert CO2 into Fuel 



By  Brad Jones, December 2017


Researchers at MIT have created a new method of turning carbon dioxide emissions from power plants into a useful product. The resulting substance could be used as fuel for cars, trucks, and planes, as well as chemical feedstock with a large variety of applications.


MIT postdoc Xiao-Yu Wu developed the new membrane-based system alongside Ahmed Ghoniem, the Ronald C. Crane professor of mechanical engineering. The membrane itself is made from a compound of lanthanum, calcium, and iron oxide. It works by allowing oxygen from carbon dioxide to pass through while leaving carbon monoxide on the other side.


The scientists behind the project report that the membrane is 100 percent selective when it comes to oxygen. The separation process is driven by extremely high temperatures, with a high of 990 degrees Celsius.


It's crucial that the oxygen that separates off from the carbon monoxide continues to flow through the membrane until it has reached the other side. This could be accomplished using a vacuum, but that technique would require a great deal of energy. Instead, a stream of fuel - such as hydrogen or methane - will be employed, as these substances are easily oxidized and don't require a pressure difference to ferry the oxygen atoms through the membrane.



2) Solar Supercapacitors create Hydrogen Fuel and  Electricity


By November 2016


Hydrogen-powered vehicles are slowly hitting the streets, but although it's a clean and plentiful fuel source, a lack of infrastructure for mass producing, distributing and storing hydrogen is still a major roadblock. But new work out of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) could help lower the barrier to entry for consumers, with a device that uses sunlight to produce both hydrogen and electricity.


The UCLA device is a hybrid unit that combines a supercapacitor with a hydrogen fuel cell, and runs the whole shebang on solar power. Along with the usual positive and negative electrodes, the device has a third electrode that can either store energy electrically or use it to split water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen atoms - a process called water electrolysis.


To make the electrodes as efficient as possible, the team maximized the amount of surface area that comes into contact with water, right down to the nanoscale. That increases the amount of hydrogen the system can produce, as well as how much energy the supercapacitor can store.

"People need fuel to run their vehicles and electricity to run their devices," says Richard Kaner, senior author of the study. "Now you can make both fuel and electricity with a single device."



3) Construction of Tesla's Largest Li-Ion Battery Completed 


By Paul Ridden, New  December 2017


Back in March, Tesla's Elon Musk promised to have a proposed battery storage system at the Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia up and running within 100 days, or he'd foot the bill. The project clock started ticking in September and the deadline for the big switch on is December 1, and South Australia's Premier Jay Weatherill has today confirmed that it's built and ready to "be energized."


Weatherill has confirmed that the Tesla Powerpacks have been fully installed on site and connected to the Hornsdale Wind Farm, and are now undergoing testing to make sure that the batteries meet standards set by the Australian Energy Market Operator and the South Australian Government. The Premier is set to join company reps to officially launch the battery storage facility next week.


"While others are just talking, we are delivering our energy plan, making South Australia more self-sufficient, and providing back up power and more affordable energy for South Australians this summer," said Weatherill. "The world's largest lithium ion battery will be an important part of our energy mix, and it sends the clearest message that South Australia will be a leader renewable energy with battery storage."


When it goes live, the 129 MWh Powerpack system will be capable of meeting on-demand power delivery for more than 30,000 homes.




 4) One Step Closer to Carbon-Free Fusion Power


By Brian Santo, Electronci Products Mag. December 2017



For a so-called "noble" gas, helium has been one of the biggest impediments to making fusion power practical. Helium has corrupted every type of material ever used to make reactor chambers - or had until the recent discovery of nanocomposites that are still subject to helium corrosion, but which seem to channel the damage well enough that fusion power might be one major step closer to becoming a practical energy option.


Stars are essentially fusion reactors. Inside stars, pairs of protons slam together and fuse to become deuterium (one of two forms of hydrogen). When they fuse, they emit a positron and a neutrino. Positrons encounter electrons, and the two annihilate each other, producing gamma rays that are the ultimate source of sunlight. Meanwhile, stray protons collide with deuterium atoms, forming helium (He).


Helium, like other noble gases, is colorless, odorless,  and inert; it is not toxic, nor is it a greenhouse gas. That would ordinarily make it a completely harmless byproduct. But helium is also incredibly light, and because of that, it tends to insinuate itself into and through most other materials. That's of no consequence whatsoever in stars, but it's a significant problem when scientists are producing fusion inside reactors.


In fusion reactors, helium bubbles weasel their way into the containment walls, accumulating into bubbles that end up percolating out of the material, ultimately creating blisters on the outside walls and generally undermining the structural integrity of the material. The researchers described the effect in nuclear fusion systems as "devastating."


Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory tried different processing techniques, trying to find some combination of materials that might be somehow impervious to helium corrosion. Based on the responses of different materials in previous experiments, the researchers decided to try a vanadium-copper-vanadium sandwich of nanolayers. They had some expectations of what might happen but were surprised by the result.


Read More Here



5) High Tech Mirrors Send Heat Into Space



By James Temple, MIT Tech Review  December 2017


In the small rear suite of a light industrial building near the San Francisco airport, Eli Goldstein looks over a set of silver panels tilted on metal racking. The panels look like simple mirrors, but as ­Goldstein walks around them, he points out the black water pump along the left edge, the copper pipes running beneath the surface, and the metal box at the base.


What his company, SkyCool Systems, has built is a cooling technology that can act as a condenser-a standard component of any commercial air-conditioning or refrigeration system that lowers the temperature of incoming refrigerant, converting it from a vapor to a liquid. But instead of relying on electric fans, as condensers typically do, this one relies upon advanced materials that can draw away heat and release it into the upper atmosphere or even into outer space.

Goldstein and his fellow cofounder, Aaswath Raman, believe the Stanford spinout's panels could significantly decrease the costs and energy demands of air-conditioning and refrigeration. That would ease one of the biggest drains on the electrical grid, and one of the most significant sources of greenhouse-gas emissions.









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