FUTURE ENERGY eNEWS
I was in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA, last week for presentations to MUFON on "The World Needs New Energy" which, due to the encouragement of both groups, was expanded to become an autobiographical marathon slideshow and video shorts lasting two hours.
and MUFONOC www.mufonoc.org
It was great connecting with West Coast people, including Chris Patton, a filmmaker who is working on a movie about new energy. His main theme for the movie is that we tend to re-invent the same energy technologies about every twenty years, if the previous release never took off. The Wally Minto Wheel (Patent #3,636,706) from Popular Science, March 1976 is one that is coming back. Another one is the compressed air car, for which Chris found a passive, no energy input, 30 psi to 3000 psi converter that the military invented years ago. I'll report on further developments as they happen with Chris, when he says its okay to share the info.
Also don't forget to register today for COFE3
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Thomas Valone, PhD Editor
|1) Laboratory-Scale Superconducting Mirrors for Gravitational Microwaves -- Prof. Podkletnov proposed basic concept and experiment years ago|
IFsuperconducting sheets reflected gravitational waves...wouldn't our most sensitive experiments have spotted this by now? Maybe they have. In the couple of weeks since he introduced the idea that superconducting sheets can reflect gravity waves, Raymond Chiao from the University of California, Merced, has been busy with a couple of buddies working out how big this effect is.
Let's review the idea. Chiao's claim is that gravity has a fundamentally different affect on localised particles compared to delocalised ones and that a type 1 superconductor contains both: ordinary ions and electrons that make up the ionic lattice of the superconductor and the superconducting Cooper pairs of electrons which are entirely delocalised.
The ions and electrons can be thought of as "freely floating, non-interacting "dust particles" undergoing free-fall motion along well defined trajectories (i.e., geodesics)," he says.
Whereas the position of Cooper pairs is entirely uncertain and so cannot be influenced by gravity in the same way. When a superconductor is struck by a gravitational wave, "this causes the Cooper pairs to undergo non-geodesic motion relative to the geodesic motion of its ionic lattice," says Chiao.
In other words, the gravitational waves give the ionic lattice a good shaking but leave the Cooper pairs untouched.This separationof charge causes the superconductor to become electrically polarised, generating a restoring force known as the Coulomb force. Chiao and co describe it like this: "The enormous back-action of the Coulomb force on the motion of the Cooper pairs, greatly enhances the mass supercurrents generated by the wave, so that they become strong enough to produce reflection."
Chiao and co ask how big is this effect of a gravitational wave on a thin superconducting sheet compared to the effect on an ordinary conducting sheet. The answer? 42 orders of magnitude bigger.
Yep, 42 orders of magnitude.
That has all kinds of implications. The title of Chiao's last paper on this topic was : "Do Mirrors for Gravitational Waves Exist?" He and his mates now feel able to answer this question with the following statement:
"We therefore conclude that laboratory-scale superconducting mirrors for gravitational microwaves exist."
That's a tantalising quote but what are they hinting at?
One experiment springs to mind that might be capable of seeing this effect. Gravity Probe B is a space-based experiment designed to spot the geodetic effect and frame dragging, two tiny forces predicted by general relativity.
The experiment consists of four perfectly round spheres, each about the the size of a baseball, that spin rapidly and so behave like gyroscopes. Each sphere has a thin superconducting coating which allows its spin and any changes to it to be measured precisely.
If there were an obvious interaction between a superconducting films and gravitational waves, wouldn't Gravity Probe B have picked them up somehow? After all, in his previous paper Chiao says that a superconducting sphere is the perfect shape for a graviational wave antenna.
As it turns out, the experiment has been throwing out anomalous results ever since it was launched. The team has puzzled over them for years now and lately come to the conclusion that they are the result of some imperfections in the shape of the spheres. This seems rather unlikely given the testing regime that Gravity Probe B underwent during its tortuous history.
Could the real cause of Gravity Probe B's problems be reflections from passing gravitational waves?
Laboratory-Scale Superconducting Mirrors for Gravitational Microwaves
The Physics arXiv Blog produces daily coverage of the best new ideas from an online forum called the Physics arXiv on which scientists post early versions of their latest ideas.
|2. PG&E Hopes To Capture Solar Power From Space by 2016--
A large scale 24/7 solution to climate change and energy production
Sharon Gaudin, April 14, 2009, Computer World.
California utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is looking to outer space to find a new source of solar power to generate cheaper and cleaner electricity. PG&E utility is working with Solaren Corp. to use orbiting solar panels to generate electricity
PG&E yesterday announced that it is seeking approval from state regulators to sign an agreement to purchase power from Solaren Corp., a Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based company that promises to generate energy using solar panels that will be launched into Earth's orbit. Eight-year-old Solaren has contracted with the utility to deliver 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power over a 15-year period, according to PG&E.
Gary Spirnak, CEO of Solaren, said in a blog post that the company expects to begin generating space-based solar power for PG&E by 2016.
"Why would anyone choose so challenging a locale to generate electricity? For one, the solar energy available in space is eight to ten times greater than on earth," wrote PG&E in a company blog. "There's no atmospheric or cloud interference, no loss of sun at night, and no seasons. That means space solar can be a baseload resource, not an intermittent source of power."
Solar power, if not actually space-based solar power, has been the focus of much research in recent years. The push to bypass the use of expensive, nonrenewable energy from foreign sources has spurred research into solar-powered cars that can run all day long and studies of technology that would turn windows in large buildings into solar panels.
PG&E reported that its plan is to convert the power collected in the space-based solar panels into radio frequency energy that will then be transmitted to a receiving station in California. At that point, the energy will be converted into electricity and moved into the San Francisco-based utility's power grid.
Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc., said he's eager to see how this plan moves ahead at a time when a sagging economy means research dollars are in short supply but when a burgeoning green consciousness has companies and utilities looking for clean, renewable energy supplies.
"The hard part is getting that power back to Earth in a workable way," he said. "This is an effort that's worth some research dollars. Right now it's in the realm of science fiction, but tomorrow it could be our best hope for clean, constant, energy."
PG&E noted in the blog that the challenge with space-based solar power is in making it work at an affordable price. Solaren's team, the utility noted, includes satellite engineers and scientists with experience working for the U.S. Air Force and Hughes Aircraft Co. Spirnak worked as a spacecraft project engineer in the Air Force and as director of advanced digital applications at Boeing Satellite Systems.
"Collecting solar energy in space and transmitting it to Earth offers a significant untapped energy resource," said Spirnak. "This will be the world's first [space solar power] plant. While a system of this scale and exact configuration has not been built, the underlying technology is very mature and is based on communications satellite technology."
PG&E noted that NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy began studying the possibility of solar power satellites in the 1970s and then again during the 1990s.
|3. ConocoPhillips Energy Prize is a Joint Initiative of ConocoPhillips and Penn State University -- Stimulus money from industry and academia for new energy |
ConocoPhillips Press Release, May 1, 2009 http://www.conocophillips.com/Tech/energyprize/index.htm
The ConocoPhillips Energy Prize is a joint initiative of ConocoPhillips and Penn State to recognize new ideas and original, actionable solutions that can help improve the way the nation develops and uses energy. In 2009, the program will award up to $300,000 in cash prizes to further the development of innovative ideas and solutions in three areas:
Developing new energy sources, including new ways to develop alternative energy.
Improving energy efficiency, such as new methods to significantly reduce the amount of energy consumed in the United States.
Combating climate change, including solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
By creating an open forum for new energy ideas, we can create a path to a more secure and environmentally conscious energy future.
"Providing adequate, reliable and diverse supplies of energy; significantly improving energy efficiency; and taking action on climate change are challenges that will require innovative technology, resource commitments and responsible stewardship by energy producers and consumers alike. With help from Penn State and its award-winning Energy Institute, the ConocoPhillips Energy Prize is one way to generate excitement and interest in fostering new energy ideas and solutions that will ultimately benefit society."
Jim Mulva, Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips
"Our focus is on developing clean, reliable and affordable energy, and through the ConocoPhillips Energy Prize, we can help spur technology research and development in this area of focus. We are pleased to work with ConocoPhillips on this endeavor, while encouraging the nation's brightest minds to turn their ideas into reality."
Dr. William Easterling, Dean of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
How it Works
Following the 12 p.m. Central deadline on May 1, 2009, entries are no longer being accepted for the 2009 ConocoPhillips Energy Prize.
The entries are now being reviewed by a qualified panel of experts, which will select up to five finalists. Concepts will be judged on the basis of creativity, scalability, commercial viability, and sustainability. Finalists will be announced in August 2009. The finalists will present their concepts at an awards event in October 2009, where the winner and two runners-up will be announced.
Finalists will initially receive $25,000 to help further develop their concepts. The winner will receive an additional $100,000, the first runner-up will receive another $50,000, and the second runner-up will receive another $25,000.
Please check back later this year to learn more about the finalists, winner and runners-up, as well as the 2010 program.
May 1, 2009 - Entries due
August 2009 - Finalists announced
October 2009 - Awards event
Energy Prize Judges
Submissions for the ConocoPhillips Energy Prize are evaluated by a panel of expert judges. Concepts are judged on the basis of creativity, scalability, commercial viability, and sustainability.
Dean, Mass Communications and Information Studies
University of South Carolina
Dr. Ralph Cicerone
National Academy of Sciences
Dr. Peter Jackson
Senior Director, Oil Industry Activity
Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA)
Dr. James Kimble
Fellow, Biofuels and Long-Range Technology (retired)
Dr. Chunshan Song
Director, EMS Energy Institute Professor of Fuel Science and Chemical Engineering, Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University
Andrea Ferdinand (ConocoPhillips) 281-293-1149
A'ndrea Messer (Penn State) 814-865-9481
|4. Roll Up Solar Panels -- A convenient portable power source |
As opposed to conventional silicon solar panels, which are bulky and rigid, these lightweight, flexible sheets could easily be integrated into roofs and building facades or on vehicles. Such systems could be more attractive than conventional solar panels and be incorporated more easily into irregular roof designs. They could also be rolled up and carried in a backpack, says the company's cofounder and president, Xunming Deng. "You could take it with you and charge your laptop battery," he says.
Amorphous silicon thin-film solar cells can be cheaper than conventional crystalline cells because they use a fraction of the material: the cells are 1 micrometer thick, as opposed to the 150-to-200-micrometer-thick silicon layers in crystalline solar cells. But they're also notoriously inefficient. To boost their efficiency, Xunlight made triple-junction cells, which use three different materials--amorphous silicon, amorphous silicon germanium, and nanocrystalline silicon--each of which is tuned to capture the energy in different parts of the solar spectrum. (Conventional solar cells use one primary material, which only captures one part of the spectrum efficiently.)
Still, Xunlight's flexible PV modules are only about 8 percent efficient, while some crystalline silicon modules on the market are more than 20 percent efficient. As a result, Xunlight's large modules produce only 330 watts, whereas an array of crystalline silicon solar panels covering the same area would produce about 740 watts.
United Solar Ovonic, based in Auburn Hills, MI, is already selling flexible PV modules. The company also uses triple-junction amorphous silicon cells, and its modules can be attached to roofing materials. But Xunlight's potential advantage is its high-volume roll-to-roll technique. "If their roll-to-roll process allows them to go to lower cost and larger area, that's the central advantage," says Johanna Schmidtke, an analyst with Lux Research, in Boston. "But they have to prove it with manufacturing."
Other companies, notably Heliovolt and Nanosolar, are in a race to make thin-film panels using copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) cells. These have shown efficiencies on par with crystalline silicon and can be made on flexible substrates. In comparison with amorphous silicon, CIGS is a relatively difficult material to work with, and no one has been able to create low-cost products consistently in large quantities, says Ryan Boas, an analyst with Photon Consulting, in Boston.
Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), especially rooftop applications, would be the biggest market for flexible PV technology, Boas says. That's because flexible products are inherently very light, in addition to being quick and easy to install. "Imagine carrying a roll of flexible product on the roof and unrolling it," he says. "Workers are already used to unrolling roofing material."
But there are hidden risks and costs associated with BIPV, Schmidtke says. "BIPV is often touted as low cost," she says, "but in actuality, you've got greater risk in terms of a watertight system [for roofing materials] or fire risk, and that increases total installation cost." However, BIPV does have the advantage of being more aesthetically pleasing, which is important to consumers, she says.
So far, Xunlight has raised $40 million from investors. In December, the state of Ohio gave the company a $7 million loan to speed up the construction of a 25-megawatt production line for its flexible solar modules. The company expects to have commercial products available in 2010.
More AC Power from Solar Panels05/18/2009 Ink-Jet Printing for Cheaper
Xunlight, a startup in Toledo, Ohio, has developed a way to make large, flexible solar panels. It has developed a roll-to-roll manufacturing technique that forms thin-film amorphous silicon solar cells on thin sheets of stainless steel. Each solar module is about one meter wide and five and a half meters long.
|5. Virgin Atlantic Flies on Biofuel -- other airlines soon to follow|
Enviromental Leader, Feb 2008,
Virgin Atlantic has flown one of its Boeing 747 jumbo jets on biofuel from London Heathrow to Amsterdam. The aircraft flew using a biofuel composed of babassu oil and coconut oil, both found in everyday cosmetic products, such as lip balm and shaving cream. No modifications were made to either the aircraft or its engines to enable the flight to take place. You can see some video here
"Today marks a biofuel breakthrough for the whole airline industry," said Sir Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic. "Virgin Atlantic, and its partners, are proving that you can find an alternative to traditional jet fuel and fly a plane on new technology, such as sustainable biofuel. This pioneering flight will enable those of us who are serious about reducing our carbon emissions to go on developing the fuels of the future, fuels which will power our aircraft in the years ahead through sustainable next-generation oils, such as algae."
Boeing, GE Aviation and Imperium Renewables, worked with Virgin on the project.
For Boeing, the test marks a successful response to Airbus which, earlier this month, flew an A380 using a liquid fuel processed from gas in the first stage of a test flight program to evaluate the environmental impact of alternative fuels.
Environmental competition between the two manufacturers was stepped up in June, when Airbus announced it would reduce CO2 emissions from its planes by half between now and 2020 and appealed to Boeing to take take part in an industry conference on protecting the environment.
Meanwhile, environmentalists are calling Virgin's inaugural flight a publicity stunt, The Press Association reports, saying that biofuel crops are raising food costs in developing countries, damaging the environment and displacing indigenous local populations.
"This is a company hell-bent on unrestrained airport expansion, starting with a third runway at Heathrow which would almost double the number of flights from one of the world's biggest airports," said Greenpeace chief scientist, Dr Doug Parr. "Biofuels can often cause more damage to the environment than fossil fuels, and Virgin is using this flight to divert attention from an irresponsible, business as usual attitude to climate change."
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, www.aiaa.org
Reuters (6/23/08, Hayashi) reported
"Japan Airlines Corp (JAL) said on Monday it planned to fly Asia's first commercial jet flight powered by biofuel before next March, as part of an international drive to reduce CO2 emissions from aviation." The carrier "will use a Boeing 747 aircraft with engines made by Pratt & Whitney." If the flight occurs as planned, "JAL will be the first Asian carrier to make such a flight and the fourth worldwide after British airline Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand and Continental Airlines." According to Reuters, "details such as the source of the fuel and the route of the demonstration flight will be decided by August." It noted, however, that "Boeing has previously been looking at algae as a source of biofuel."
The AP (6/23) added that "JAL will use a biofuel mixed with kerosene in one of four engines on the jet, with the three remaining engines powered by ordinary jet fuel or kerosene." The company "said it plans to use a new generation of biofuel made of non-edible materials to avoid using potential food sources."
According to Aviation Week (6/23, Warwick, Norris), JAL "is the fifth airline to announce a biofuel demonstration." In addition to the previously mentioned airlines, "[l]ow-cost carrier JetBlue Airways...has partnered with Airbus, A320 engine supplier International Aero Engines and Honeywell process technology company UOP to develop and test sustainable biofuel, aiming for certification by 2013." JAL also announced that "high fuel prices are forcing it to close down its 747-400 flight training base at Moses Lake in Washington." The company "plans to begin phasing out passenger 747s in 2009," and will not fly cargo-oriented 747s "in sufficient numbers to warrant a special flight training section."
Future Energy eNews is provided as a public service from Integrity Research Institute, a Non-Profit dedicated to educating the public on eco-friendly emerging energy technologies.
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