Future Energy eNews February 5, 2003 Integrity Research Institute

1) Worlds First Electric Plane Powered by a Fuel Cell www.aviationtomorrow.com

2) Nuclear Fusion Can Theoretically Power a Spacecraft http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993294

3) NASA Boost Funding for Nuclear Propulsion


4) Update on Car that Runs on Air (update from last FE eNews) www.theaircar.com

5) Alliance to Save Energy Commends President's Call for an Energy Bill www.yourenergyfuture.com

6) Hydrogen-Powered Vehicle at Least Ten Years Away


Editor's Note: We express our deep sympathy for the families of the crew of Columbia. It is tragic to see how dangerous our present mode of space transportation really is. IRI expresses its commitment to conveying the cutting edge of futuristic energy & propulsion, lobbying for declassification of field propulsion used in black project vehicles, and praying for an end to atmospheric braking which is the most dangerous way to come home from space. - TV

1) World's First Fuel Cell Powered Airplane Set to Debut This Year


Featured in the Boston Globe (9/14/02), Business Wire (July, 2001), AirVenture Today (July, 2001), Aviation Week & Space Technology (August, 2001), Flying (October, 2001), and Plane and Pilot (October, 2001).

The Electric Airplane, or Eplane, developed around an all-carbon French-built DynAero Lafayette III, donated by American Ghiles Aircraft of Dijon, France, will be powered by an advanced electric motor supplied by UQM Corp. There are three flight development stages. First, the plane will be equipped with advanced high-energy, lithium-ion batteries and flown. It will have about a 100-mile range. Then, it will be equipped with a combination of the batteries and a 10-15kW fuel cell, and will have a 250-mile range. In its final form, it will fly solely on the power of a fuel cell and have a 500-mile range, with emergency assist from reserve Li Ion batteries.

In order to push the program along in time to unveil the Electra-plane project at the 2001 annual air show at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, American Ghiles put an all-out overtime effort into building the 19-foot, lightweight, low-drag airplane, completing the job in record time, far ahead of the typical production time of 1,500 to 2,000 hours.

The Eplane was funded by the Foundation for Advancing Science and Technology Education, known as FASTE, founded in 2000. FASTE's chief goal is to provide education and stir interest among students and the general population in science and technology. http://www.fastecfund.org/

2) Nuclear fusion could power NASA spacecraft

10:29 23 January 03 New Scientist http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993294

Duncan Graham-Rowe

The journey time from Earth orbit to Mars could be slashed from six months to less than six weeks if NASA's idea for a nuclear fusion-powered engine takes off.

The space-flight engine is being developed by a team led by Bill Emrich, an engineer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He predicts his fusion drive would be able to generate 300 times the thrust of any chemical rocket engine and use only a fraction of its fuel mass.

That means interplanetary missions would no longer need to wait for a "shortest journey" launch window. "You can launch when you want," Emrich says.

The principle is to sustain an on-board fusion reaction and fire some of the energy created out the back of the spacecraft, generating thrust. Of course, harnessing fusion is no easy task. Scientists have struggled to contain the super-hot plasmas of charged ions needed for fusion reactions.

Bare nuclei

To achieve fusion, scientists heat the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium to at least 100 million kelvin. This strips electrons from the isotopes, creating a plasma of bare nuclei. If this plasma is hot and dense enough, the two types of nuclei fuse, giving off neutrons and huge amounts of energy.

javascript:displayWindow('/misc/popup_ns.jsp?id=ns99993294F1',826+40,433+40)Fusion jetjavascript:displayWindow('/misc/popup_ns.jsp?id=ns99993294F1',826+40,433+40)

Fusion jet

However, the plasma can only be contained by strong magnetic fields, and creating containment fields that do not leak has proved very difficult. What is more, no one has managed to generate a stable fusion reaction that passes the "break-even" point, where the reaction is generating more energy than it takes to sustain it.

Fortunately for Emrich, the reaction would not need to go far beyond the break-even point to generate thrust. And containment is less of a headache because you actually want some of the plasma to escape, he says. "That's where the thrust comes from."

The problem is 100 million kelvin is not hot enough to generate thrust. At that temperature, the fusion reaction only generates neutrons, which are uncharged and therefore cannot be steered and fired through a magnetic jet nozzle. To produce thrust, you need charged particles.

Bold solution

Emrich is proposing a bold solution. He wants to use microwaves to heat the plasma to 600 million kelvin, triggering a different kind of fusion reaction that generates not neutrons but charged alpha particles - helium nuclei. These can then be fired from a magnetic nozzle to push the craft along.

Emrich has tested the idea with a scaled-down version using an argon plasma. He found that he could get around many of the containment problems by using a long, cylindrical magnetic field with powerful magnets at each end (see graphic).

In a fusion drive, the fields at the end could easily be controlled to release the highly energetic alpha particles and propel the craft.

If fusion researchers can ever achieve stable, break-even fusion, Emrich believes a full-scale fusion drive - perhaps 100 metres long - could be ready and waiting within two decades. He will reveal his plan in full at a space technology forum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, next week.

10:29 23 January 03

Fusion Education Website: http://fusedweb.pppl.gov/

US Office of Fusion Energy: http://wwwofe.er.doe.gov/

3) NASA boosts nuclear propulsion plans


15:08 20 January 03 New Scientist http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993285

Will Knight and Damian Carrington


NASA has requested a "very significant" increase in funding for the development of nuclear propulsion systems for spacecraft, according to Sean O'Keefe, the administration's chief.

Existing chemical rocket technologies have restricted missions to the same speed for 40 years, he said. "With the new technology, where we go next will only be limited by our imagination."

O'Keefe revealed the significant new emphasis in an interview with Los Angeles Times: "We're talking about doing something on a very aggressive schedule to not only develop the capabilities for nuclear propulsion and power generation, but to have a mission using the new technology within this decade."

The request has been approved by US President George Bush and will now pass to Congress for approval. NASA's Nuclear Systems Initiative will also be renamed Project Prometheus.

Triple speed

Researchers believe new nuclear propulsion systems could triple the current speed limit for space travel of 29,000 kilometres per hour. This would make it possible, for example, get to Mars in two months, rather than six. But NASA has dismissed media speculation that it is planning a nuclear-fuelled mission to take astronauts to Mars.

O'Keefe's statement emphasised the technology, rather than any specific destinations. "The laws of physics are the only things controlling how fast we go anywhere," he said. "So until we beat the technical limitations ... you basically end up arguing about fantasy missions."

NASA's last budget request for its nuclear propulsion and power programme was $800 million over five-years. The value of the new, increased request has not yet been revealed.

Continual thrust

The power available from chemical propulsion systems is limited by the quantity of fuel that can be lifted out of Earth's gravity and into space. Spacecraft therefore use short bursts of power and coast towards their destination. Nuclear devices would deliver thrust continually, building up to much faster speeds.

The type of nuclear technology NASA plans to develop is not clear. In May 2002, O'Keefe told Senators: "We have got to find a 'leap ahead' technology."

Possibilities include improved ion drives. These use a nuclear reactor to supply electrically charged particles, which are expelled to drive a craft travelling through space. Such engines have already been used on NASA spacecraft like Deep Space One.

Fission reactor

NASA researchers have also suggested "nuclear-enhanced air-breathing rockets" to launch spacecraft from Earth. In these, a uranium dioxide fission reactor would heat hydrogen from an on-board tank to 2500C. The hot hydrogen would then be mixed with air from outside the rocket and combusted at almost 4000 C.

NASA launched one rocket with a nuclear fission unit in 1965. The Soviet Union is believed to have made 33 such launches. Despite billions of dollars of research in the 1950s and 1960s, nuclear propulsion was abandoned due to technical and political difficulties.

Nuclear generators already provide compact and long-lasting power sources for electronics aboard spacecraft too far from the Sun to rely on solar power. These radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) provide power by converting heat, produced through the natural decay of a radioactive isotope, into electricity. RTGs have been used on 25 different NASA spacecraft including Viking, Galileo, Cassini and Voyager.


15:08 20 January 03

4) Welcome to the future of automotive transportation

Moteur Developpment International (MDI) www.theaircar.com

It looks as if MDI's compressed-air engine will be one of the major discoveries of the new century. The inventor, Guy Nègre, has developed an engine capable of propelling a car up to 110 Km/h, that can cover a distance of 300 km with one tank refill and a cost of less than a cent per kilometre. Not only providing "Zero pollution" but also purifying the air.

Automobiles are one commodity we cannot give up: it forms part of our living standard, but the pollution of our cities affects our quality of life. According to "El Periódico", (9/1/2000): "The pollution produced by traffic causes thousands of deaths in Europe", as well as the problems resulting from the pollution caused by the internal combustion engine.

MDI's engine is the ideal system for storing energy in the form of clean, light and safe compressed air.

How does it work?

The car owes its range to the underfloor storage tanks made of wound carbon fibre with thermoplastic liner, which store 90m3 of air at a pressure of 300 Bar. The expansion of air in the cylinder pushes the piston.

The air that leaves the exhaust pipe is even cleaner than the air that entered, now that prior to the air injection phase the air is filtered. The air conditioning system makes use of the expelled cold air. Due to the absence of combustion the oil change is done rarely, every 50.000 km.

Basic system

The first piston (1) sucks in and compresses air from the atmosphere. This air is compressed and heated by the piston and when the piston pauses high-pressure air is injected from the storage tank. The expansion of the mixture pushes the piston and turns the engine.

Main characteristics of the mono energy compressed air engine

Cylinder capacity in cm3:

566 cm3 x 4 cylinders.

Max power in ch-CEE (KW-CEE):

25 cv at 3500 Rpm.

Torque max in Kgm-CEE (nm-CEE):

6.3 (61.7)At 800-1300 rpm.


Electronic air injection.

Amount of oil and change freq.:

0.8 Liter for 50.000 Km (Soya oil).

Official Representative for the UK, Spain, Portugal and Latin America

Travessera de Gràcia, 15
08023 Barcelona (Spain)
Tel: +34 93 362 37 00
Fax: +34 93 362 37 01

www.theaircar.com (English)
www.motordeaire.com (Spanish)
www.motormdi.com (Portuguese)

http://www.theaircar.com/contacts.html×More contacts

http://www.theaircar.com/investors_contactform.html×Investor form


5) Alliance Commends President's Call for an Energy Bill
The Need to Act on Legislation to Strengthen Jobs, National Security is Growing - Jan. 30, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- An alliance of labor and business organizations today enthusiastically endorsed President Bushs State of the Union appeal to Congress for comprehensive legislation that would boost energy development at home and for energy efficiency.

Bruce Josten, Executive Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued the following statement on behalf of the Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth, a broad coalition of more than 1,300 organizations representing energy consumers, producers and workers:

"We commend the President for recognizing that Congress should pass energy legislation. The need for a comprehensive energy bill is even greater now than when the Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth was founded over two years ago. The House and Senate leadership and the President have all recognized that we must enact national energy legislation to ensure a secure, affordable, and reliable energy future."

For more information about the Alliance, see our website: http://www.yourenergyfuture.com/www.yourenergyfuture.com.One of the most frequently asked questions regards the safety of the air tanks, which store 90m3 of air at 300 bars of pressure. Many people ask whether this system is dangerous in case of an accident, and whether there is an explosion risk involved. The answer is NO. Why? Because the tanks are the ones already used to carry liquefied gases on some urban buses, and therefore make use of the technology that is already used to move buses on natural gas. That means that the tanks are prepared and certified to carry an explosive product: methane gas.

In the case of an accident, with air tank breakage, there would be no explosion or shattering, now that the tanks are not metallic. Due to the fact that they are made of glass fibre the tanks would crack longitudinally, and the air would escape, causing a strong buzzing sound with no dangerous factor. It is clear that if this technology has been tested and prepared to carry an inflammable and explosive gas, it can also be used to carry air.

A final matter with reference to the air tanks, is the improvement that MDI contributed to the original structure. In order to avoid the so-called 'rocket effect', this means to avoid the air escaping through one of the tank's extremities causing a pressure leak that could move the car, MDI made a small but important change in the design. The valve on the buses' tanks are placed on one of the extremities. MDI has placed the valve in the middle of the tank reducing the 'rocket effect' to a minimum. The MDI car also has a small compressor designed to fully refill the tanks in 3 to 4 hours.

In France, the first car series are in production (December 2002) and the first cars will be used to assist float orders.

What is its maximum range?
The range is dependent on the speed. At 50 km/p/h the range is over 300 km. At 100 kmh it is reduced to one third of that. In an urban environment the car can run for up to 10 hours.

What is the average estimate price?
Between 8.000 and 10.000 $ for the basic vehicle: taxi, van, pick-up truck or "family car".

What are the guarantees on the car?
The MDI car is guaranteed against all effects of conception or fabrication.

6) Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles at Least a Decade Away

By Peter Behr and Greg Schneider
Washington Post
Thursday, January 30, 2003; Page A09

President Bush's vision of a hydrogen-powered, non-polluting "Freedom" car for the next generation of American motorists pulled out silently from a Newport Beach, Calif., garage yesterday morning with Gregg Kelly at the wheel, bound for his office 10 miles away.

Kelly, president of a California robotics company, happens to drive a Toyota prototype of a hydrogen-fueled car, one of a handful in the United States today.

It will take at least a decade before a host of technological, economic and political barriers are overcome, permitting a fleet of these revolutionary vehicles to appear on U.S. highways, industry experts said.

But by including the goal of hydrogen fuels in his State of the Union message Tuesday, Bush has opened the door to a fledgling movement that has already attracted a surprising coalition of supporters.

Environmentalists, automakers, oil companies and coal producers, engineering labs and strategists have seized on hydrogen as an almost too-good-to-be-true power source. It is abundant in water and air, it burns cleanly and it could free the nation from its dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

"For President Bush to frame the goal as he did is significant," said Jeremy Rifkin, consultant and author of a book advocating a transition from oil and gas to hydrogen. "How much is made of this, time will tell."

The president said he hoped that Americans born today would learn to drive in hydrogen-powered cars, a schedule that auto experts said could technically be met. But whether these vehicles will be commercially available depends on a huge array of variables.

First, the technology is still incomplete and unaffordably expensive.

The specially equipped Toyota Highlander that Kelly drives has no price tag. The Japanese manufacturer, after investing millions of dollars in research, lent the vehicle to a University of California research project that Kelly's company supports. "My checkbook isn't fat enough," Kelly said.

The car is powered by electricity generated in a fuel cell by chemically combining hydrogen and oxygen. The engine spits out water drops instead of the carbon dioxide and other pollutants generated by burning gasoline.

With foreign manufacturers committed to press ahead, Detroit's carmakers have had to accelerate their research programs. In June, Ford Motor Co. will unveil a prototype car that uses hydrogen to power an internal combustion engine -- part of a "bridging strategy" to help ease hydrogen into the marketplace until fuel cells are fully developed.

General Motors Corp. has developed a fuel cell-powered, car-sized "skateboard" -- four wheels attached to a platform less than a foot thick, to which any kind of car body could be buckled.

Rather than use fuel cells, BMW has refitted 10 of its $70,000 Model 745 sedans with hybrid engines that burn either gasoline or liquid hydrogen directly. It could be mass producing them by the end of the decade at a "reasonable" cost for its customers if there were enough hydrogen fueling stations to power them, said spokesman Gordon Keil. "We're trying to get [fuel suppliers] interested in hydrogen. We've not met with a lot of enthusiasm."

As daunting as the engineering challenge is the need for a national hydrogen fuel infrastructure -- factories to produce the fuel, pipelines and trucks to distribute it and stations to store and sell it. Environmentalists dream of a totally "green" strategy in which solar or wind power is used to separate hydrogen from water -- an approach whose costs now would be prohibitive. A nearer prospect is producing hydrogen from natural gas or coal, however in either case, the carbon dioxide byproduct would have to be injected underground to avoid a huge increase in greenhouse-gas emissions, experts say.

Rifkin argues that an eventual scarcity of oil and gas, decades ahead, will push prices of these fuels up to a point where hydrogen becomes cost-competitive. "It isn't a problem that will yield to technology alone," agreed David M. Nemtzow, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.

While all the major automakers are developing fuel-cell technology, most are cautious about hyping it. "We don't want to get too exuberant about it in that sense, overselling it," said Greg Dana, vice president for environmental affairs at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Fresh in some minds is the experience of the Clinton administration, which launched a high-profile, $1.5 billion research venture with the Detroit automakers a decade ago to produce an 80 miles-per-gallon family car. No cars emerged, and the Bush administration halted the venture in favor of its hydrogen strategy.

Some of the president's political opponents contend the hydrogen option is a way of deflecting criticism over administration policies favoring energy production over conservation. "The president seems content with the auto industry's approach: 'Don't make us do anything today,' " said the Sierra Club's Daniel Becker.

Others say it does not go nearly far enough. Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D), chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, said yesterday, "It's moving in the right direction. But his proposal is rather timid. I think we need a bolder plan."

Bush's spending plan for the hydrogen project, $1.5 billion over five years, represents a $500 million increase over his current budget. The administration proposes to earmark $273 million for the 2004 fiscal year, but did not offer many specifics yesterday. The funding would support research on fuel cells, vehicle technology and distribution issues.

The magnitude of the goal demands an effort on the scale of the Apollo Moon project, Dorgan said yesterday. "You have to set benchmarks for five, 10 years out."

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