Story #1 is very hopeful with lots of cited research activity at the
end but is also synchronistic since the co-discoverer of cold fusion, Dr. Martin
Fleischmann, died this month. Along with astronaut Neil
Armstrong who also just passed away, Martin was a cornerstone pioneer
in my life. We were fortunate to spend a day with him about ten years
ago for a private lecture on the "Past and Future of
Cold Fusion that IRI arranged (which is also available on ancient
VHS tapes for only $5 by sending us an email, fax or phone call and
say you saw it on the eNews. If ordering online, add this in
the comment field for special $5 price). Martin was a great scientist
who warned us not to send our kids into cold fusion research since it
was so controversial but also conveyed the ironic "spook
story" of Dr. Edward Teller calling Martin immediately after the
Utah university press conference in 1989 to see if he could
"make a bomb out of cold fusion". Story #1 shows that slow
steady progress has been made in the cold fusion arena with many new
developments for peaceful use of the energy generation, also
accompanied by an exclusive contribution from Dr. Paul Werbos. The
visionary advocacy that IRI has demonstrated for cold fusion research
over the past decade now is beginning to look like it is vindicated,
which is also true for "oceanic iron seeding" presented
by COFE3 speaker Russ
George and his Planktos-Science.com, (DVD
available) which has been finally "hailed a success"
by Nature magazine. The article in New
Scientist from last month indicates the key to
success in the Eifex experiment was the high silicic
acid in a Southern Ocean rotating eddy that was seeded with iron
sulfate so that the resulting algae bloom was rich in diatoms. The
diatoms have silica cell walls, making them harder to eat and more
likely to sink than plankton with calcium carbonate shells. This is
the single most important part of the puzzle to
sequester at most, an estimated one (1) gigaton of CO2 each
year, or about a tenth of our current global emissions,
which is better than all of the
rest of the crazy ideas for slowing the accumulation of atmospheric
CO2 that will reach 400 ppm in only a couple more
years, for the first time in over a half million years. Hopefully,
Richard Branson's $10 million prize is still available for this
now-proven CO2 sequestration scheme.
#2 refers to a new group in the Netherlands that will be
hosting a Breakthrough Energy
Conference on November 9-11, 2012 in Hilversum, the
media capital of Holland. I will be one of the invited speakers as
well as many of my colleagues. It promises to be a groundbreaking and
exciting conference. We encourage all to attend.
want to carry a flexible battery that works? Now you can with the latest LG
Chem development in portable power that even powers an MP3
player for 10 hours in Story #3.
the algae fuel market and biofuels have been criticized by many
politicians, we see new growth and development still emerging in this
field. Story #4 shows the innovative solution that is now reaching
the end of an $11 million pilot study with algae treatment of
wastewater in Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae
last Story #5 probably reflects a world record. For the first time in
recorded history, 600 million people were suddenly driven
back into the Stone Age with the wrenching effect of an
electrical grid failure on a national level in India. The story
emphasizes the fallacy of centralized power and paints a hopeful
picture of decentralized "microgrids" with battery storage
and renewable energy, much the same as advocated by another energy
and the Rocky Mountain Institute. Now, out of necessity,
India's Infosys company is embracing the same
philosophy presented by Amory over three decades ago (ref.: the 1978
book, "Soft Energy
Paths") in order to secure the unstable central
electrical grid with backup power supplies. Since all nationally
centralized grids are unstable and regularly deprive millions of
people of their electricity with weather-related storms (e.g., East
Coast storm June 29, 2012), IRI advocates private microgrids for
pioneering individuals and neighborhoods.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK AND GET
10% OFF ANY ITEM IN OUR CATALOG!
1) New Burst of Energy for LENR
Jeff Nesbit, US
News Report, August 9, 2012
decades of wandering in the scientific wilderness, cold fusion may be
returning to the land of the acceptable.
It's been more than 20
years since esteemed researchers Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann
electrified the world with news that they'd observed
low-energy nuclear reactions, or LENR, at the atomic level that
generated excess heat, holding out the promise of "cold
fusion" that did not require the blast furnace of nuclear
fission as part of the energy-creating process.
Cold fusion is, conceivably,
a third type of nuclear reaction (after fission and so-called hot
fusion) that somehow occurs at relatively low temperatures. When Pons
and Fleischmann, two of the world's leading electrochemists at the
time, reported in 1989 that their tabletop, experimental apparatus
had produced anomalous heat that could only be explained by some sort
of a nuclear process, the race to define or explain cold fusion
began. Pons and Flesichmann also reported that they'd observed small
amounts of nuclear reaction byproducts.
However, because the
Pons-Fleischmann results couldn't be repeated consistently--and since
it was also discovered that they had not, in fact, observed any
nuclear reaction byproducts--cold fusion has largely been rejected,
and Pons and Fleischmann discredited, by the mainstream scientific
While there have been
sporadic reports of LENR findings of "excess
heat"--basically, that "something happened" that
defies explanation--there is still no generally accepted theoretical
model of cold fusion.
In fact, the notion of
"cold fusion" can be something of a dead end, with
virtually no one interested in funding serious research in the effort
and reputable scientists leery of ruining their careers by pursuing
what some might consider alchemy.
Two separate Department
of Energy panels (first in 1989 and then again in 2004) largely
dismissed the cold fusion theory and recommended against any sort of
a new DOE program to adequately study it, although both did indicate
that some sort of modest financial support for small experiments
might be warranted.
Despite all this, the
hope that cold fusion somehow works and that clean, abundant, free
energy might be just around the corner has been an alluring siren
call for a few researchers working quietly in the past two decades.
And now, it seems, some relatively interesting players seem at least
willing to test the waters to finally determine whether cold fusion
is real and can be modeled and tested properly with real
equipment...or whether it's just a myth after all.
The notion that some big
players are showing interest in LENR has set the small community of
researchers who have continued to investigate cold fusion buzzing.
LENR is real, these researchers claim, even if cold fusion research
is almost never published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In
short, they've been asking places like DOE or others to jump in the
water with them and see if more than 100 largely unsubstantiated (and
non-peer-reviewed) reports of observed excess heat effects by some unexplained
interaction of hydrogen or deuterium with metals like nickel,
platinum, or palladium mean something.
This small community of
researchers working with tiny budgets claims that to have made
substantial progress in the past few years. But it can't explain the
observed effects within the current standard model. And no one can
explain how transmuting one material into another at the nuclear
level--e.g., nickel nano-powder and hydrogen into copper at low
temperatures (freeing up excess energy at the atomic level with no
harmful nuclear byproducts or radiation)--is feasible or even
possible. But that hasn't stopped the patenting process, and there
are a few now that explore LENR systems that use this process in
concert with electromagnetic stimulation.
But what has inspired
hope within this small community are several recent developments:
LENR demonstration projects recently initiated at respected places
like MIT, the University of Missouri, and the University of Bologna;
public presentations by executives at one of the world's largest
instrument companies, National Instruments, apparently designed to
attract the top LENR researchers into a project to test and quantify
observed LENR effects; and a July report from the European
Commission's research and development center that LENR at least has
sustainable future energy technology potential.
But near the top of the
cold fusion research community's hit parade are musings from NASA,
like the fact that the agency apparently filed two LENR-related
patents last year and that a leading NASA scientist has indicated
that LENR is real enough to pay attention to and study. Boeing and
NASA may even be testing aircraft using LENR or other similar
The benefits of LENR
would be obvious: It would be green, safe, and carbon-free, capable
of cheaply replacing current energy sources. The most common
experimental LENR tests use nickel and hydrogen--the most abundant
metal and gas on Earth--in a non-combustion process to allegedly form
copper plus energy. The promise alone is almost certainly why
reputable, big players are at least paying attention now.
None of this says that
cold fusion is real. None of this means that senior executives at big
companies like Boeing or National Instruments or senior officials at federal
agencies or departments like NASA, the U.S. Navy, or DOE are willing
to commit publicly to spending meaningful taxpayer dollars on cold
fusion research. In fact, the Navy reportedly shut down its LENR
research in California earlier this year after a news report
on its efforts led to unwanted publicity.
But it does beg the
question: If some big players and research agencies think LENR is
real enough to study, test, quantify and even patent, is cold fusion
back in the game?
Of Paul Werbos
It looks like a win for
NASA Langley on this one. Not 100% yet, but far enough.
The article spells out the details. What's more, US News being
what it is, certain folks can now dance in the streets.
So maybe I should comment a little on what has been won. The cat is
largely out of the bag now anyway.
In its caveats, the article notes that the phenomenon has yet to be
reconciled with the standard model of physics, which says that cold
fusion = LENR is impossible.
Actually, my views on this subject were conditioned by two special
1. I ran the NSF workshop in 1990, which happened at about the same
time as the DOE workshop mentioned in the article, but got a bit
2. I had been a student of Julian Schwinger, who played a prominent
role in this stuff.
I first heard about cold fusion at the time of the initial
Pons/Fleischmann announcement, where they said they could produce
lots and lots of free neutrons in a simple apparatus which any good
high school physics lab could reproduce. My first reaction was a huge
groan -- do they understand what people can DO with lots and lots of
neutrons? How long could we survive in a world where any high school
could breed bomb-grade nuclear material?
(If anyone out there imagines that US nuclear detection is protecting
us from the resulting threats... well, experts know better.) I did
initially contact a Congressional office, and had a few discussions
here and there about the security issues, all pro bono.
Openness in science is a fundamental thing, but letting any crazed
high school goth blow up the city where he lives... and opening the
door to Al Qaida and drug dealer types ... well, there are certain
Which we will start to encounter soon.
I still worked with EPRI to hold a major workshop to get a better fix
on what was going on.
At first, it seemed as if there were THREE types of cold fusion --
the very small kind (Jones) good for research but not of high impact,
the safe and significant kind (Appleby) and the scary as hell kind
I began to be excited by the possibility that NSF might fund the safe
and innocuous kind, while establishing some kind of liaison with
highly classified national lab work which would map out the scary
kind just to understand it better and monitor any emerging risks.
There were important discussions with Pons and with Schwinger as part
of that, some quiet and some in sessions.
But Ed Teller came in to talk to me and to my Division Director about
the details. He showed quickly how even the "safe" kind
could easily be adapted to make big bombs. I hadn't thought of it...
but anyone WANTING to kill lots of people, with a very basic
background, probably would think of it. There are enough of those
people around, and the new developments already encourage that.
Please forgive me, but I see no reason to say more, even though
Dennis Bushnell knows more than what I have said here about this.
The other part was the scary part, which has two aspects.
Pons explained to me at the conference why he decided not to tell
everyone about X, even though not doing so would really hurt his
But I see substantial signs that X too is being reinvented, and will
be coming to a gun store near you before too long. He did say enough
to me to be convincing.
Then comes the Schwinger part. For folks who think that perpetual
motion machines made by auto mechanics are far more promising
than anything from the mainstream, Schwinger is not so
interesting. But for folks like me, who thinks that understanding
what you are doing is a key predictor of what's possible... Schwinger
knew a lot more than all but a handful of the mainstream, even though
he was a major scion of the mainstream.
Schwinger did say that cold fusion is real, and my memory says he did
play a key part in the X discussions.
I remember one session where a physicist did a standard calculation
(first order perturbation as I recall), and concluded with "this
is clearly impossible according to theory."
Then Schwinger got up and said: "You forget whose theory you are
talking about." (Schwinger shared the Nobel Prize for
discovering Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), the first canonical
quantum field theory. I also took courses where he developed what
people now call "Feynmann path integral quantum field
theory," back when Feynmann hadn't gotten that far.) At that
time, he merely mentioned that there are higher order terms here, and
nonperturbative approaches possible.
I later learned that Schwinger was in many ways the founder of
Nonequilibrium Green's function methods, which underlie our best
modern ability to understand complicated condensed matter systems
such as the solid state structures in which cold fusion takes place.
But even that was maybe not the really big issue.
Back in 1969, Schwinger published a paper in Science, A Magnetic
Model of Matter, which presented an alternative to the quark theory,
the prototype of today's quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the strong but
less tested half of today's "standard model of physics."
(The other half is called electroweak theory, EWT, which subsumes QED
and Maxwell's Laws and such.)
The revenge of cold fusion does present negative effects for world
security, but there is hope it may at least help put the advancement
of basic science back on track, in my opinion.
The story on that is not linear; please have patience.
First of all, it seems clear to me in retrospect that Schwinger's successful
guidance to Pons and Fleischmann was influenced by how he had a
different model of the nucleon (neutron and proton) in his mind. I
look at X and I look at his model, and it's really clear. So even if
cold fusion can't be explained in the standard model of physics
(maybe, maybe not), perhaps it will reaffirm a better model which
Second, a few years back, I decided to check the literature, to try
to find out why QCD has been treated with so much religious reverence
(despite snide remarks from leading empirical researchers like
Makhankov, Rybakov and Sanyuk) while Schwinger's model was not
Had people done experimental analysis to compare the two? Or was it
just a matter of religion excluding science?
On a quick check... (see one of my papers at arxiv.org, easy to
search to find).. it seemed like the latter. There IS some empirical
data out there, and it tends to favor the Schwinger model over the
QCD model. Yet more definitive experiments could be done.
It seemed to me like the
worst bankruptcy of science that we would not do those critical
experiments! I approached the author of one of the key papers, a
respected Japanese nuclear physicist named Sawada, and we even
coauthored a paper, which I blithely tried to insert into arxiv.org
But then it came out. Sawada had ALSO done work on cold fusion, and
was heavily blacklisted (in part for understandable reasons), and I
immediately joined him in the blacklist. Lots of paper trail to prove
this. In punishment for his work on cold fusion, no consideration at
all of the clear empirical points he made, or of the possible new
This year, I have explored this a bit further. You may have heard of
Putin's speech a couple of years ago where he said that Russia is
working on a new nuclear technology as far beyond fission and fusion
as those are beyond gunpowder. I wondered at the time what this could
be. A later chapter of the book Topological Solitons by Professor
Nick Manton of Cambridge University explains a lot of what is going
on. One of the key players is Protvino, where my wife got her first
PhD in such stuff! But not from the same guy.
The key issue is: "Is baryon conservation absolute?" If so,
the complete conversion of neutrons and protons (without a supply of
antimatter at hand) to energy is impossible. But that in turn
basically depends on just what constituents the proton and neutron
are really made of.
In QCD, it really is impossible. If the neutron and proton are made
up of fundamental solitons, in which baryon number (or baryon number
multiplied by three) is a topological charge, then the efforts at
Protvino are doomed to failure. But in Schwinger's model is true, OR
IF ANY OTHER MODEL of the nucleon is true in the same family (nucleon
neutrality hypothesis is satisfied), it should be possible, in
principle. In practice, it would require a variant of X to actually
do it. In other words, a variant of the technology which people are
groping towards for more powerful cold fusion also has the potential
to give us a planet-busting bomb.
And so, the Faustian souls out there might immediately say:
"Hey, cool! I doubt it, but it sounds like fun. Let's see if we
can blow up the earth.
Wow would that be a gas! We would be ever so famous!" (The
former exclamation is certainly true, and the latter certainly not,
assuming no observers other than humans.)
My reaction is that we really need to do empirical basic research on
these things in earth orbit or beyond, once we get past the obvious
But that's not realistic without low-cost access to space. The
announcement of DARPA's recent hypersonics initiative sounded really
great, like our first hope of preserving and advanced the key
enabling technologies since the demise of the old Boeing TAV/RASV
program ... but the actual BAA is not well focused or funded enough
to live up the early announcements.
We really are at a critical point now.
back to table of
Breakthrough Energy Conference November 2012 in Holland
Breakthrough Energy Movement by Jeroen van
We are excited to announce
our first conference to be held on November 9, 10, 11 in Hilversum Holland. Tickets are
now on sale.
We have put together
a world class program which will cover breakthrough
technologies and their world-changing implications. Together we will
take a journey into the past, present and future of our energy
landscape. With over 18 speakers, two conference
rooms and a 3 day program, this event is designed to focus on the
full scope of Breakthrough Energy Technologies.
Energy Movement Conference 2012 Holland
The first day is about the
Science. What is Breakthrough Energy?What
are the breakthroughs of this time? What are the basic principles?
How are they scalable and applicable in today's society?
On the second day we will
discuss the implications. How will these technologies impact our
lives and our planet? How will it affect our economic and political
structures? Why should we care?
Lastly, on the third day we
will begin with the history and end with the future. How did we get
here? What can we expect in the near future? What is the role of
activism, media and journalism? How can we educate ourselves?
Ongoing conversations hint
towards possible live demonstrations of breakthrough energy
information go to:
back to table of contents
Bendy Batteries Lets You Wear Gadgets Power Supply
Ferguson 22 August 2012, New Scientist,
are going round the bend. A flexible, lithium-ion battery can fit
inside the cable for your earphones so you can wear it round your
I am wearing party lights, unplugged!
Developed by a team at Pusan National
University in South Korea, the battery is made
from electrode strands coiled into a hollow core and surrounded by an
outer electrode tube. It could make future gadgets lighter because
they will no longer need an integrated battery. Flexible
displays or wearable electronics will be less bulky
too. It might mean you can wear your power source on the wrist, round
your neck or any another part of the body, its creators say.
In tests, a prototype continuously operated a red LED screen and
iPod Shuffle even when researchers tied the battery in a knot. Je
Young Kim of Korean firm LG Chem and a co-creator of the device, says
the battery can power a small MP3 player for up to 10 hours and
provide 5 minutes of emergency calls from a cellphone (Journal of
The team's goal is to have the battery ready for mass production
by 2017, for use in MP3 players or as emergency back-up power for
cellphones. "This may be the first cornerstone of the wearable
energy era," says Kim.
transistors weave comfort into electronics
Bourzac 09 November 2011, New Scientist
THE next generation of wearable electronics
could be a lot more comfortable, thanks to transistors made from
cotton fibres. Such transistors may soon make for wearable
electronics as comfy as your favourite pair of jeans or T-shirt.
Some electronic textiles, such as shirts that
integrate heart-rate monitors, are already on the market. But these
products incorporate wires and bulky boxes of electronics, saysAnnalisa
Bonfiglio at the University of Cagliari, Italy, who
led the new work in cotton. What's more, metal and silicon -
materials typically used to build electronics - are difficult to
weave into fabric, while conductive
polymer fibres that can be woven do not match the
comfort levels most people expect from their garments.
Cotton, by contrast, is perfect to wear but not
a good conductor.
Bonfiglio and colleagues have now found a way
to make cotton conductive enough to use in transistors, the devices
at the heart of most electronics. They did it by giving cotton fibres
a coating of gold nanoparticles combined with a conductive polymer.
This material forms the gate of the transistor, which regulates the
flow of current from one electrode to another.
To make a full transistor, the researchers
coated the conductive cotton with a semiconducting polymer, which
carries current between two electrodes - spots of conductive silver
paint at either end of the cotton strand. Varying the voltage in the
gate as current flows in the circuit makes the transistor switch
between being very conductive and resisting current.
The transistors, which look and handle like
cotton thread, can be electrically connected to one another, and to
other cotton components, simply by knotting them. The team's work
will be published this month in the journal Organic
Cotton transistors won't match the speed of
silicon transistors in typical microprocessors any time soon, but
they could perform simple computational tasks. For example, a carpet
could count the number of people in a room or sense the temperature.
The new transistors also promise to make
wearable biosensors better. In separate
work, Nicholas Kotov at
the University of Michigan in Ann
Arbor has coated cotton threads in nanotubes and antibodies that
change their conductivity in the presence of blood. Such sensors
could warn medics if a soldier is wounded. Kotov says cotton
transistors would make sensors more sensitive, because they can
back to table of contents
Greener Alternative: Energy from Algae
Jonathan Trent, New Scientist, 22 August 2012
Before we run out of fossil oil, we will
thoroughly tap the sea floor, find and frack wells wherever they may
be, and excavate and extract the most recalcitrant of oil shales. In
so doing, we will fuel our lifestyle for a few more decades at the
cost of releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide, adding to global
warming, melting ice caps, raising sea levels, acidifying oceans -
and setting course for a future for which there are few optimistic
In the face of all this, scientists
are racing to find alternatives. Biofuels are my passion but they
have had rather a bad press, from complaints about displacing food
production to the inefficiency of soya beans and the carbon footprint
of ethanol. Microalgae have a low profile but they deserve a much
higher one, since the fossil oil we mine mostly comes from microalgae
that lived in shallow seas millions of years ago - and they may be
key to developing sustainable alternative fuels.
Algae are single-celled organisms that thrive
globally in aqueous environments and convert CO2 into
carbohydrates, protein and natural oils. For some species, as much as
70 per cent of their dry weight is made up of natural oils. Through
transesterification (the process of adding three molecules of alcohol
to one molecule of natural oil), the algae oils can be transformed
into renewable fuels.
Microalgae hold great promise because some
species are among the fastest growing plants alive and are therefore
one of the best sources of biomass, while other species have been
estimated to produce between 18,700 and 46,750 litres of oil per
hectare per year, nearly a hundred times more than soya beans' 468
litres per hectare per year.
But there are big unsolved problems at which
governments should be throwing funds and brainpower as if we were
involved in a Manhattan project. For example, since few
species of microalgae have been domesticated, we don't know how to
grow them reproducibly or economically. At what scale will algae
farming be efficient? To put this in perspective, US planes use 80
billion litres of fuel per year. To supply this fuel from microalgae
at the lower end of the estimated production rate would take 4.2
million hectares - twice the area of Wales.
Luckily, there may be a good way to cultivate
this much algae while solving the ethical problem of producing
biofuel without competing with agriculture. Freshwater algae can be
grown in wastewater (effectively, water with fertiliser), or marine
algae can be grown in a blend of seawater and wastewater. In both
cases, wastewater provides a growth medium and the algae clean the
wastewater by removing nutrients and pollutants from it. So there's
no competition for fresh water needed elsewhere, no reliance on
synthetic fertiliser, and the environment benefits.
The UN estimates that the world produces around
1500 cubic kilometres of wastewater annually, of which more than 80
per cent is untreated. This means there is an ample supply of
nutrient-rich water for the algae, while algae treatment is available
to offset the environmental impact of wastewater.
There remains the question of how and where to
grow the algae. A few species are cultivated commercially on a small
scale, in shallow channels called raceways or in enclosures called
photobioreactors (PBRs). Raceways are relatively inexpensive, but
need flat land, have lower yields than PBRs and problems with
contamination and water loss from evaporation. PBRs have no problems
with contamination or evaporation, but algae need light, and where
there is light, there is heat: a sealed PBR will cook, rather than
grow, algae. And mixing, circulating and cleaning problems send costs
Assuming we can fix this, the question of
siting remains. In order not to compete with agriculture, PBRs must
use non-arable land reasonably close to a wastewater treatment plant.
But in most cities, wastewater plants are surrounded by
infrastructure, so installing PBRs on thousands of hectares around
the plants would affect roads, buildings and bridges - again driving
up costs prohibitively.
A solution occurred to me: for coastal cities,
we should try a system I call OMEGA - Offshore Membrane Enclosures
for Growing Algae. Some 40 to 60 per cent of Earth's population lives
near a coast, most of the biggest cities are near a coast, and nearly
all coastal cities discharge wastewater offshore.
How does OMEGA work? It uses PBRs made from
cheap, flexible plastic tubes floating offshore, and filled with
wastewater, to grow freshwater, oil-producing algae. It would be
easier to build the systems in protected bays, but breakwaters could
also be constructed to control waves and strong currents. The water
need not be deep or navigable, but a few things are crucial,
including temperature, light, water clarity, frequency and severity
of storms, boat traffic, nature and wildlife conservation.
The salt gradient between seawater and
wastewater can also be exploited to drive forward osmosis. Using a
semipermeable membrane, which allows water, but not salt, pollutants
or algae to pass through, wastewater is drawn into the saltwater with
no added energy. In the process, algae are concentrated in
preparation for harvesting and the wastewater is cleaned, first by
the algae, and then by forward osmosis. This produces water clean
enough to release into the marine environment or recover for reuse.
If OMEGA's freshwater algae are accidently
released, they die in seawater, so no invasive species can escape
into the ecosystem. In fact, OMEGA can improve conditions by
providing a large surface for seaweed and invertebrates to colonise:
part floating reef, part floating wetland. Then there are the extra
possibilities of developing wind or wave power and aquaculture -
growing food such as mussels.
OK, if it's so good, where is it? For the past
two years, backed by NASA and the California Energy Commission, and
about $11 million, we have crawled over every aspect of OMEGA.
In Santa Cruz, we built and tested small-scale PBRs in seawater
tanks. We studied OMEGA processing wastewater in San Francisco,
and we investigated biofouling and the impact on marine life at the
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in Monterey Bay.
I'm now pretty
confident we can deal with the biological, engineering and
environmental issues. So will it fly economically? Of the options we
tested, the OMEGA system combined with renewable energy sources - wind,
solar and wave technologies - and aquaculture looks most promising.
Now with funds running out and NASA keen to spin off OMEGA, we need
the right half-hectare site for a scaled-up demonstration. While
there is enthusiasm and great potential sites in places ranging
from Saudi Arabia to New
Zealand, Australia to Norway, Guantanamo Bay to South
Korea, as yet no one has committed to the first ocean deployment.
We could be on the threshold of a crucial
transition in human history - from hunting and gathering our energy
to growing it sustainably. But that means getting serious about every
option, from alpha to OMEGA.
Jonathan Trent studied at Scripps Institution
of Oceanography, University of California,San Diego,
specialising in extremophiles. He is lead scientist on the OMEGA project at
NASA's Ames Research Center in California.
This essay is based on a talk he gave at TEDGlobal 2012 and a paper in Biofuels
Power Outages Might be Avoided One Day
Kevin Bullis, New Scientist August
Microgrids, an increasingly popular
solution in the developing world, could take the pressure off India's
struggling national grid.
Some 600 million people
in India have been left without power after parts of the country's
massive electricity grid collapsed Tuesday. While the cause isn't yet
clear, the outage isn't surprising. India's grid has long been
strained, with demand often exceeding supply by hundreds of
megawatts, forcing regular rolling blackouts in some areas.
A big part of the solution
is obvious: more power plants, more power lines, and an increased
supply of coal and other fossil fuels-in India, many power plants
don't operate at full capacity because they can't get enough fuel.
But another part could be technology that's already starting to catch
on in many parts of the developing world: microgrids.
Instead of relying only
on large, centralized power plants, microgrids supply a small area
with electricity from distributed sources-such as diesel generators
combined with solar panels with battery storage. These localized
grids can operate either attached to the national grid or apart from
it, in many cases allowing businesses and hospitals and other
organizations to keep going without a hiccup when the larger grid
The technology is already
becoming popular in India because businesses can't simply count on
the grid. "There is a tremendous amount of investment that
Indian companies have to make in captive generation as a backup
strategy," says Rohan Parikh, head of green initiatives at
Infosys, a software company with 10 campuses across India, each with
its own backup power supply. Infosys is also working on the software
that helps control microgrids.
Microgrids are an
extension of on-site generators, or dedicated power supplies,
sometimes called captive generation. But they have several advantages
over the simple backup diesel generators that are keeping many
essential services in India going right now. They use a variety of
resources for power, not just diesel generators, which makes them
more reliable. So they can keep running, at least in a limited way,
even if supplies of diesel fuel get cut off.They can also be
cleaner-if solar is used as part of the energy mix. And now that
solar panel prices have fallen, distributed solar can be cheaper than
running diesel generators alone for backup power. "Solar power
is very attractive when compared to diesel generators in the
daytime," Parikh says.
Microgrids also offer
benefits for the larger grid. Utilities can call on businesses
running microgrids to disconnect to ease strain during times of peak
demand. That could reduce the number of power outages in a country
are no panacea. There's a limit to the amount of solar power that can
be installed on a given site, for example. Parikh estimates that
on-site solar will only ever account for 10 to 15 percent of the
power demands of a given campus-there's just not enough roof space
and open land to do much more than that. Batteries are also too
expensive to store much solar power for use when the sun isn't
shining. Therefore, to some extent, microgrids will need to rely on
conventional fossil fuels to keep running.
may also be important as countries such as India continue to develop,
bringing power to more people even as power demand increases. One
vision is that, as India develops, it could become a network of many
microgrids, each connected but able to survive independently. Outages
that affect entire states could become a thing of the past.
news reports suggested that there are 600 million people who lost
power with this week's outages, that's almost certainly an
overestimate-if only because hundreds of millions of people in India
didn't have grid power to start with. Some of these people are
starting to get power for the first time, via microgrids.
About Integrity Research Institute
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.
of the 30 minute DVD "Progress in Future Energy" is
available by sending an email with
"Free DVD" in subject and mailing address in
Your generous support is
welcome by making a tax deductible donation on
our secure website
- Scott Kelsey, Missouri State, explaining Rejuvamatrix, Pulsed EMF
therapy to increase the length of DNA telomeres, which directly
affect our lifespan.
- Max Formitchev-Zamilov, Penn State, discussing Cavitation Induced
Fusion, that will soon provide power generation and heat
- Christopher Provaditis, from Greece, explaining Inertial
Propulsion and who teamed up recently with Boeing for their space
- PJ Piper of QM Power, discussing the motor invented by
Charles Flynn, with a revolutionary parallel path that gives
double and triple efficiency.
- Dr Thorsten Ludwig from Germany (GASE) discussing
the mysterious Hans Coler motor that WWII British Intelligence