Subject:                          FW: Future Energy eNews




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Future Energy eNews




January 2017 TOC




Dear Tom,


Here at the nerve center of future energy, we RESIST to focus on fossil fuels. Instead, to make the world great, we would like to let you know about this week's PBS feature NOVA program called, "The Search for the Super Battery" to be aired on Wednesday, February 1st at 9 PM.  As utilities are moving to battery use for smoothing out demand, the "super battery" is a popular goal for many applications. Check out the trailer at . Also, take another 5 minutes to see the amazing high school student energy and science inventions (Story #4) that are on par with graduate students, thanks to a top-grade aerospace engineer turned teacher.


We also remind everyone that the Call for Papers is still open for our upcoming COFE9  in July, 2017. Potential speakers simply need to send in their title, abstract (paragraph summary), and a bio of themselves by email to by the end of February, 2017. A final paper is optional but always invited. We of course need a PowerPoint slideshow however for a 40 minute presentation on energy, propulsion, or bioenergetics research.


As we futurists start to consider the possibility of pilot-free flight in Story #1, the option of short shuttle, "flying cars" is the focus of more than one company, with helicopters going electric, in a related article. The reality of "full autonomy" for self-driving cars is still being examined, as in IEEE Spectrum (Jan. 23, 2017) so it is understandable that 3D movement will be more complicated than 2D ground transportation for any computer program so autonomous taxis will probably be commonplace initially.


In Story #2, we offer some background info on the state-of-the-art for utility-sized energy storage batteries. Tesla and SolarCity are pioneering such technology. However, it is interesting that the largest installation in the world already exists here in San Diego California. So far, it seems that Li-Ion batteries are preferred but we'll see what the PBS special on NOVA tells us this week.


With Story #3, we are finally seeing the country's first offshore wind farm being tested off the coast of the Atlantic. From we are also seeing that solar, for the first time, is now about equal to the cost of wind  so both renewable energy sources are making big strides in ramping up to industrial and utility level performance at $1.6 million/MW from an average of 58 countries, which also is about half the price of coal in some countries.


Story #4 is one of the most exciting stories we have run in years. Maybe it is because, as a former college teacher, I always wondered if students can do original research as well as graduate students. Check out the high school student energy and science inventions that are on par with university level research, including professional poster sessions, thanks to a top-grade aerospace engineer turned teacher Andy Bramante . STEM students can be grown in the lab!


Our last Story #5 offers some wonderful support for the IRI electrotherapy initiative at  that we have offered to the public. UCSF spearheaded a clinical study published in Spine Journal, June 2016, Volume 16, Issue 6, Pages 770-776 on intervertebral discs (IVD) which shows that pulsed EMF (PEMF) reduces IVD degeneration and does not reduce cell viability. The article also acknowledges the past therapeutic effect of PEMF on bone healing and reducing symptoms of arthritis but indicated that this is the first study on IVD effects in normal and inflammatory environments. IRI is proud to offer more non-invasive, electrotherapy information at  which we believe is the future bioenergetic medicine.


Onward and upward,

Thomas Valone,  Editor









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1) Autonomous Air Taxis will Take Off in 2017



By Philip Roth, IEEE Spectrum January 2017


In the future, the joke goes, airliners will each have a pilot and a dog. The dog will be there to bite the pilot if he touches the controls, and the pilot will be there to feed the dog.  It's no joke, though, when NASA scientists begin entertaining the idea of replacing the copilot with a wideband connection to a ground controller. Who will take over the plane should the pilot become incapacitated? Nor is it a joke to carry the argument to its logical conclusion and do away with the pilot altogether.


It's a beguiling vision. An autonomous airplane reliable enough to be trusted by passengers and air-safety regulators could save not just on salaries but also on the cost of managing the glitch-prone minuet by which well-rested flight crews are united with the planes they're supposed to fly. That logistical problem will get harder as the pilot shortage worsens, and it will be hardest of all for short-hop air service, where the pilot-to-passenger ratio is high.


Now comes a slew of startups that propose to serve that very niche with tiny, autonomous aircraft. Most would be powered by electricity, use multiple propellers or ducted fans, take off vertically or nearly so, and range perhaps a few tens of kilometers.


Vahana, a tilt-wing, autonomous air taxi that's been developed by Airbus's Silicon Valley outfit, A3, is supposed to begin testing later this year. The German company e-Volo, already known for lofting a pilot in an elaborate multicopter, says it's gearing up to make an autonomous version. Zee Aero, reportedly personally funded by Google cofounder Larry Page, offers another example, and Uber yet another. And Terrafugia, a veteran in the flying-car space-at last, a proper use for that bit of biz lingo!-is also talking about making a model that's autonomous.


When so many new startups are pursuing the same goal, it's tempting to think there must be something there. But hope springs eternal in tech land, and so does the propensity to promise big. All these companies have proven tight-lipped (not one returned inquiries from IEEE Spectrum), which suggests that there might be less here than meets the eye.

Spectrum reported on Terrafugia, the one company that has a real history, back in 2007, in our January special issue. We called the company a "loser" for describing a flying car it said it was about to bring to market. It didn't happen.


"It can be done-we could be flying around in pilotless planes, just as we could be living on cities on Mars-but is it worth the cost and the effort?" asks Patrick Smith, author of the Ask the Pilot column, which ran for years in Salon magazine. "I fly airplanes for a living, and my jaw drops when I hear people say that flying is already mostly automated. Even the most 'automated' flight is still subject to so much human input and subjective decisions."


So why then are all these startups starting up? "It'd be a novelty, not necessarily meant even for profit, but as a way to prove and build the technology," Smith suggests.


And should one of these outfits ever offer seats to the paying public, would you entrust your life to a robotic pilot? "People want a pilot in the cockpit, to know there's someone in charge who shares their fate," says Missy Cummings, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot, now a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke University. "I don't think we'll ever have a passenger airliner be a drone-there will always be some version of a Captain James T. Kirk on board." But, she adds, things are different for hops of, say, 50 miles (80 kilometers), where for some people, at least, convenience might outweigh fear.


"It's technologically achievable in the near term; as for the regulatory problem, I think we'll see it in China first," Cummings says. "Ehang [in Guangzhou, China] is supposedly doing a test in March."


The company claims that its roboplane has already carried a passenger, and if it performs the feat in public, we'll let you know. And if it doesn't.


This article appears in the January 2017 print issue as "Fly Robotic?"





2) Energy Storage Batteries for Utilities 



By Stephen Edelstein, Green Car Reports January 2017


Tesla and SolarCity Energy Storage Array in American Samoa

Biggest tests being done in California


From the perspective of both renewable-energy advocates and electric utilities, grid scale energy storage offers many potential benefits. By storing energy in battery packs for later use, energy storage can make intermittent renewable sources like solar and wind into more reliable forms of power. It also helps utilities "balance" the gird by absorbing excess energy during periods of low demand, and releasing it during periods of peak demand.


Yet energy storage has not been tested on a large scale by U.S. utilities.

Until now, that is. California now has three completed energy-storage sites, constituting the biggest test yet for the technology.


The states passed an energy-storage mandate, but development did not pick up until a massive 2015 gas leak in Aliso Canyon, a large-scale environmental disaster that also cut off fuel to local power plants.


The leak started at a Southern California Gas Co. storage facility in October 2015, and lasted several months. 

In that time, it released greenhouse-gas emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of 1.7 million cars.


Infrastructure company AES built an energy-storage array for utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) in Escondido, California, about 30 miles from San Diego. 

Billed as the largest installation of its kind in the world, it uses lithium-ion batteries from Samsung, and reportedly has enough capacity to power about 20,000 homes for four hours.


AES is also installing a smaller energy-storage array for SDG&E in El Cajon, which is also near San Diego.


Tesla also recently completed an array for Southern California Edison near Chino, California.

Energy storage is often talked about in the context of renewable energy, because it allows power to be available when the sun is not shining, or the wind is not blowing.


But it can also benefit utilities by putting a more consistent load on generating resources, in turn putting less stress on the grid. Energy-storage battery packs can be charged during periods of low demand, and discharged when demand increases.


In California, it is hoped that energy storage will lessen dependence on natural-gas "peaker" plants, which are typically used to meet sudden demand spikes because they can start up and shut down quickly. But the "peaker" plants are expensive to operate, and produce greenhouse-gas emissions.


Despite the benefits to utilities, and California legislation encouraging use of renewable energy and requiring utilities to add energy-storage systems, real activity did not pick up until after the Aliso Canyon gas leak.


The site of that leak may reopen, following a review by safety regulators, reports UPI.

The California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources said this week that public hearings would be held in February regarding a possible reopening.


Meanwhile, AES-the company installing the two SDG&E energy-storage arrays-has an agreement with Southern California Edison to build an array in Long Beach, with a projected completion date of 2020.


Related articles


Calculating the Full Cost of Electricity-Know Your History   The structure of the electricity industry-of generation, delivery, and use of electricity over the past century-has evolved significantly  17 Jan 2017


They need to store an order of magnitude more than anything yet seen 19 Dec 2016


Why the Automotive Future Will Be Dominated by Fuel Cells Range, adaptability, and refueling time will put hydrogen fuel cells ahead of the competition




3) Long Island Wind Power Being Tested Offshore


By Diane Cardwell, The New York Times  January 2017


Only a few years ago, the long-held dream of harnessing the strong, steady gusts off the Atlantic coast to make electricity seemed destined to remain just that. Proposals for offshore wind farms foundered on the shoals of high costs, regulatory hurdles and the fierce opposition of those who didn't want giant industrial machinery puncturing the pristine ocean views.


Now the industry is poised to take off, just as the American political landscape and energy policy itself face perhaps the greatest uncertainty in a generation.


Last fall, five turbines in the waters of Rhode Island - the country's first offshore farm - began delivering power to the grid. European energy developers like Statoil and Dong Energy are making big investments to bring projects to American waters. Last year in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, signed into law a mandate that is pushing development forward.


And in New York, after years of stymied progress, the Long Island Power Authority has reached an agreement with Deepwater Wind, which built the Rhode Island turbine array, to drop a much larger farm - 15 turbines capable of running 50,000 average homes - into the ocean about 35 miles from Montauk. If approved by the utility board on Wednesday, the $1 billion installation could become the first of several in a 256-square-mile parcel, with room for as many as 200 turbines, that Deepwater is leasing from the federal government.


"We're developing this first offshore wind project in federal waters, but it's really a gateway project to other locations around Long Island," said Thomas Falcone, the power authority's chief executive. "We're now at a point where developers can build projects at prices where utilities are willing buyers, and to me that is a very big deal."


These projects could also become an important test case in establishing just how far states can go to to pursue their clean energy agendas under the Trump administration. Before putting steel in the water, the project would need federal approvals and policies that are in doubt amid Washington's changing of the guard.


Wind power has finally become viable for a number of delicately interlaced reasons. It has taken favorable state policies and technological and economic advances to spur the current level of activity, as well as interest among developers and investors, including foreign oil and gas companies that see offshore wind as an important part of their corporate strategies. In Europe, where the offshore wind industry is far ahead of the United States', costs have plummeted to roughly half of what they were five years ago, said Thomas Brostrom, who runs United States operations for Dong Energy, the Danish oil and gas giant and a leading offshore wind developer.


As the industry has grown, manufacturers have been able to take advantage of economies of scale and cut their prices. At the same time, turbines have grown ever larger, allowing them to capture and produce more energy on the same site.




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4) Empowering Teen Research Students



By  FOX News, Jan. 17, 2017 - 5:18 - 

Summary by Thomas Valone, Integrity Research Institute


Excellence in STEM: High school teacher brings unique expertise to empower science research students



Andrew Bramante, GHS Teacher of Science Research

Andrew Bramante, GHS Teacher of Science Research

STEM Star Teacher Andy Bramante trains students at Greenwich High School to become genius scientists on par with university graduate research assistants. Their solutions to problems from lab research is presented at conferences a poster sessions. One of his students found a non-invasive assay card test for the ebola virus, another invented a tattoo-based biosensor for atherosclerosis plaque in the arteries, another student found a way to increase charge rate and capacity for Lithium-Ion batteries. Some of Bramante's students have gone to the White House, others have won Intel and Google science competitions, besides the usual science fairs.


IRI believes that the genius of Andy Bramante, a noted aerospace engineer, provides the framework for exciting and state-of-the-art equipment necessary for training high school students to think like professional research scientists. If more senior scientists are willing to take an early retirement to go into teaching, the shortage of engineers can be bridged with STEM students ready to contribute to the advancement of science.


Watch the five (5) minute video. It is truly inspiring what high school students are capable of with the right training. Maybe there is hope for blue collar workers who need to move into more technical jobs as well.




5) PEMF treatment reduces expression of genes associated with disc degeneration


By Stephanie L. Miller, Dezba G. Coughlin, Dezba G. Coughlin, Erik I. Waldorff, James T. Ryaby, Jeffrey C. Lotz,


Ed. Note:  This is a recent, breakthrough, scholarly article which demonstrates the efficacy of PEMF for reducing spinal disc degeneration. IRI is proud to support such research results with its experimentally proven, also shown to increase bone density with before and after tests, in about a six month period. With 50% of older Americans affected to some degree with disc or bone degeneration, electrotherapy is a very promising avenue to choose.


Orthofix International N.V. (NASDAQ:OFIX), a diversified, global medical device company, today announced results of a cellular study designed to determine how pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy affects gene expression of intervertebral discs (IVD) cells in normal and inflammatory environments. Published online in  The Spine Journal, results indicate PEMF therapy may reduce cellular inflammation and degradation associated with degeneration in human IVD cells.


"The results of this study are clinically important as they demonstrate PEMF has disease modifying activities that may, in the future, provide a minimally-invasive solution for patients living with painful degenerative disc disease," said Dr. Jeffrey C. Lotz, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chair of Research, at the UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and co-author of the journal article. "While an important first step, more studies are needed to determine if this is indeed a viable option for managing inflammation and impaired healing associated with painful intervertebral discs."


In an in-vitro human cell culture and microarray gene expression study, cells were stimulated to elicit the inflammatory environment associated with degenerative disc disease (DDD). The cells were exposed to the Orthofix Physio-Stim®PEMF for four hours daily. At day four, this study revealed that cells treated with PEMF showed a reduction in proinflammatory markers and a decrease in degeneration of the cellular matrix relative to the control group, although this reduction did not persist to day seven.


"We continue to support preclinical evaluation of PEMF technology to confirm and validate the potential for new clinical applications," said Orthofix Chief Scientific Officer and co-author James Ryaby, Ph.D. "We remain committed to furthering the body of clinical evidence that drives best medical practice and improved patient outcomes. We believe this study suggests that PEMF may be an important future treatment option for patients suffering from degenerative disc disease."

Intervertebral disc degeneration is one of the most common mechanical causes of chronic low back pain. It occurs when the usually rubbery discs lose integrity as a normal process of aging. In 2010, low back pain was ranked as the third most burdensome condition in terms of mortality or poor health in the U.S. by the National Institutes for Health.     







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