Friday, December 31, 2010

Climate change

This assumes we just stop outputting CO2 at some point and are passive. But humans are anything but passive, this is what got us into this mess in the first place.
So the article doesn't take into things like sequestration and other active attempts to reverse the trend.
I am confident in 50 year we will be able to completely re-terraform earth back to normal.
We will be able to deliberately control the amount of atmospheric gases, solar radiation reaching earth, and chemistry of the oceans and become the masters of our climate.

Why do I think this?

GA, AI, super computers.

And progress in Material science, renewable energy, Self replicating robotics, genetics and artificially accelerated evolution, Computational chemistry and simulation of quantum molecular dynamics.
The machines (beyond computers) under human guidance will do the research needed to reverse things.
So it's will be just a matter of energy required needed to do this.
I believe it will take more power to put the CO2 back then when we released it from burning fossil fuels.

Essentially give back that energy that we used for the past 100 years + interest.

As much as I disagree with Kurzwell on many things, some parts of his Singularity theory are dead on and will be able to reverse this trend.
So getting fusion working, space solar or some other massive power source going is critical to do this.
The key here is to use the amount of available resources as best as possible to devise future solutions before we get wiped out as a species.

I have faith that technology will save us.
But it may get a lot worse before it gets better.

Project - Mc Lab / Magic Chemist, in a Box.

Maybe I was a bit naive when I drafted this. Or maybe I am just lacking the right letters after my name.

Project - Mc Lab
Magic Chemist, in a Box.
John L. Sokol - Jan 2009

Magic Chemist, in a Box is the simplest way to explain something that is right out of Star Trek. Magic Chemist is a supercomputer that explores chemical space and detects new chemicals, and formulas then catalogs them in a database.
Once complete, Magic Chemist is capable of performing; a quantum simulation of the atoms in the chemicals interacting, determine the properties, existence and variation of these molecules, how they interact with other molecules. It can report their physical properties, chemical changes and stability.

More importantly it can intelligently search for chemicals that are optimal for different applications. In addition Magic Chemist will perform stimulated experiments without a lab or wet chemicals, thus preventing; fumes, toxins, disposal, regulations and human resource needs. This can and will be done with incredible speed and accuracy.

This could lead to large improvements in super conductors, semi conductor, solar cells, carbon sequestration, water purification, bio-fuels, batteries, super capacitors, paints, dyes, food and medical applications.

Is There Currently Anything On The Market Like This?
Initial research shows that there is nothing currently like this on the market. The fields of computational chemistry and computational biology use these types of simulations, however they are usually run on PCs or small computers in hopes of providing some understanding of things that have already been discovered or isolated in other research. The field of computational chemistry date back to the late 1930's and by the 1950's it was used to understand the benzene ring. Today there are about 20 off the shelf applications for running these types of simulations.

One of the largest is "protein folding at home", it uses Distributed Computing. A process where people around the world participate by leaving the application running on their PCs thus donating time to the project.

What is Unique About This Project
None of the current projects are pragmatic. In addition, they are not searching for practical profitable formulas that can revolutionize entire industries. In addition, there hasn’t much attention has been given to chemists by computer people. In general they seem to just get to borrow some CPU cycle on a super computer but don't generally get to purchase that level of hardware for just their application. However, this is currently being done by geneticist and biologists.

What Are The Steps To Achieve This?
  1. Design and build hardware capable of performing the required simulations very quickly. I estimate I can build create a 2 to 4 Petaflops for $1M USD.
  2. Log these results. (Chemical Space) of the infinite possible molecules and chemical interactions possible. This information can continuously be data mined for gems. In addition, revenues could be generated by selling copies or charging for access to the database. This would require a copyright and/or patent as well.
  3. Set the system up in a feed back loop to a targeted search for the most likely chemicals to try.

Project Financing
I am seeking $500,000 for an initial design feasibility study.

This initial design feasibility study would include further investigation of the hardware design, investigation of the code available and what needs to be written. The next step is to get demonstration code working to understand the CPU requirements of the system. We would next hire several technical consultants in the fields of physics and computational chemistry to assist and verify the accuracy of our design and plans. Ideally later these would be early hires in to our company.

The next round of financing would require another $30M in funding to proceed towards the completion of final design.

I am expecting that the first major discoveries could be within 3 to 4 years after funding, less than 12 month after turning on the system. I would like the first target to be "the" optimal dielectric for use in Super Capacitors that would replace batteries technology in almost everything from laptops to Electric vehicles. They charge almost instantly, never wear out, and are non-toxic.

Exit Strategy
Because of the nature of the project, advantages don’t lie within typical business strategies. In essence the plan is not to exit because of the value of information and discoveries produced.

This is a Golden Goose.
Supply electricity and some manpower in one side and out pops a stream of new discoveries that can be sold, licensed or rolled in to another company to produce and sell it. You will not want to patent this internal technology, publish or press release this. It would be best to keep all traces of the existence of this secret.

Compare this to a stock predictor that works, as long as no one knows about it, you have the advantage. In some respects this is like a pharmaceutical company but without the regulations. It's a long research cycle with huge payoffs. But after we discover something we could know very quickly if it will pay off or not commercially.

Responses and Addition discussions. 

Dear John,

I don't have the reference, but about a decade ago I saw an estimate  on how many petaflops it would take to solve the Material Science Inverse Problem:  i.e., input the desired characteristics of the  material, be it "transparent aluminum" from the Star Trek movie, or a super dielectric or cheap room temperature superconductor that would found an industry and make you a billionaire, and have some  supercomputer cluster grind away with numerical solutions of quantum mechanics and output the chemical formula and structure of the desired super-material.

I don't think that we're quite at the computational power needed, yet, but I'll bet we're getting close.

There are dozens of Quantum Mechanics software packages that do minimum energy and minimum entropy and so forth.

I've written a (not accepted) paper on those relevant for Computational Biology, and what is needed to break through.

We are still learning what questions to ask, as well as the design  requirements for the needed software.

This is at the fractal border between theoretical and applied and computational research.  Institutions with good track records keep submitting grant applications for this.  We, as de-institutionalized  outsiders, are pretty well kept away from the feeding trough. Except that great enough research papers can be done once in a while, and published, and then one can bid on who gets the administrative overhead for research in which one is Principal Investigator.
But cool research is cool research, and I'll do it even when somebody pays me.

Good questions, John. I know you as a prolific and brilliant inventor whose ideas you can reduce to practice, and hence you are deeper in Pragmatism than Theory.  But I've found you a quick study at Theory,


The rewards for something like this can be priceless for the Human race.  From Carbon sequestration to solar panels and all the way to construction of the space elevator.

Yea, I am winging it here on the theory, it is over my head. That why I have friends like you around.
I don't think that we're quite at the computational power needed, yet,but I'll bet we're getting close.

Digging up computational power, now this is something I can do.
And petaflops aren't that hard to reach these days, I can get there on 1 million if I build an application specific machine based on FPGA's or some sort of Cell processor like they are using for computational biology.  I agree using off the shelf PC parts wouldn't get us that far unless we did the SETI at home, where we take advantage of people's unused PC's computing power.

There are probably all kinds of short cuts we could also take too for reducing the calculations to be able to eliminate molecules that are clearly not suitable, this would also speed things up a whole lot.

I find most college code to be terrible, and inefficient unless they are specifically CS students and even then it's rare.

But if I can get some working code from some place, I can clean it up, optimize it and even work on some custom HW platform to run it.   Also Genetic Algorithms could really speed the discovery process.

I mean how much computation would be required to simulate say an H2O molecule and test it's properties?



Youtube: The Parallel Revolution Has Started: Are You Part of the Solution or Part of...   
Quantum Simulations Group at Lawrence Livermore National Labs
simulations [modeling material processes using quantum molecular dynamics methods]
For example, nanoscale materials could improve cooling technologies in military equipment and reduce the size of gamma radiation detectors being developed for homeland security.

Why sustainable power is unsustainable
Founder of IdeaLab TED speech
Used Genetic Algorithms to develop solar collector design.

Bill Gross of Idealab Talks About his Dream of Cheap Solar Power
This company
is doing something similar to what you have suggested, except that they do this internally, for the pharmaceutical industry.

GPUs Used To Crack WiFi Passwords Faster

Applications of Quantum Mechanics

computational chemistry/supra molecular polymers

Below are links relating to nanotechnology/supra molecular polymers, etc.
french patent
netherlands patent
ibm patent

article on materials applications,M1

google book

I believe Supercaps will win out over battery technology

Article: Graphene-based supercapacitor hits new energy storage high


I'd like to know about longevity. Does it continue to store energy after 100 charges or 1000 charges? No mention made of that.

Caps don't have any degradation with charge discharge cycles like batteries.

They never wear out!

There are electrolytic caps that that are used in TV's and they dry out with heat, that's not usage related.  There life is depended on the oil used evaporating and not the capacitor itself.

But a graphene based supercap can charge almost instantly. can also discharge just as fast.

Caps typically can't hold a charge as long as a battery though.  So maybe a month or two sitting idle it would loose much of it's charge where a battery would still keep it.

From a theoretical side, of a cap was made from layer of superconductor and super dielectric, then it would have an almost unlimited storage capacity, limited only be the electrical breakdown of the materials.

When I was studying materials it was interesting to find that the best dielectrics had superconducting "zones" in them that would hold repelling charges.  I didn't quite understand it all, but it seemed that it was a similar problem to making superconductors.

So I suspect a cryogenic capacitor device if developed could hold massive power.

As I mentioned in my reply that was the electrolyte causing problems in just that one type of cap. There are many types of caps most will last for ever or to be more precise do not degrade from use.  Think of a radio circuit.  The caps charge and discharge million of times per second. 

The fundamental operation of a cap is two conductors with an insulator.   The charge is determined by distance and surface area.
Nothing deteriorates.
With electrolytic the insulator is the boundary between a coated metallic surface and the electrolyte that form a super thin insulated layer in only one polarity. Before. Nanotech it was the most efficient way. Is it still dirt cheap.  Paper and foil soaked in an oily electrolyte


If there are super conductors, then are there are there super non-conductors?

Like a super dielectric?

Is this possible, what would it look like? Is cold better for dielectrics?

If this is possible then battery's are dead.

The capacitors energy storage goes up at the square of the voltage.
EEStor a vendor to GM for the volt came up with super caps that operate at 3600V while most super cap research was going for  thinner and lower voltage dielectrics.  The EEstor is the first supercap to be at 400 Watt hr per KG where Li-Ion batteries are at 200 and 1700 in the lab.

With a super dielectric we could do 1Million Volt caps that could store enough energy to power an electric vehicle for months with far higher power to weight ratios then hydrocarbons or batteries.

I had an idea to use computational chemistry to explore this, but maybe there is already something in the literature?

Dear John,

"If there are super conductors, then [are there] super non-conductors?"--JS

   Heaviside calls a "conductor" an "obstructor". It obstructs the passage of electromagnetic energy. The superconductor has a zero propagation speed for electromagnetic waves. The degree of obstruction is the ratio of the speed of light in vacuum to its speed in the dielectric- the index of refraction. This is the source of the dielectric constant, which is simply another way of expressing the index (~lost knowledge, by the way).  So THE "super" dielectric is the vacuum, since the speed of light in vacuum cannot be exceeded.

"The capacitors energy storage goes up at the square of the voltage...
With a super dielectric we could do 1Million Volt caps that could store enough energy to power an electric vehicle for months with far higher power to weight ratios then hydrocarbons or batteries." --JS

Only if it also has a "super" dielectric breakdown strength. Resend-
  It a common misconception that raising the voltage of a capacitor increases its energy storage density. This isn't true!

There are four major variables- the plate area, the gap , the dielectric constant ( a ~linear function of permittivity), and the dielectric breakdown strength, which is the maximum do-not-exceed electric field strength, in e.g. volts/meter,  for a given material.

Consider the equations for capacity and for energy stored-

(1) C = constant1*A/d  , where the constant1 is material permittivity, A is the plate area and d is plate gap, and for energy

(2) E = CV^2/2  (This is what makes increasing the voltage look very tempting.)

Substitute (1) into (2) to get

(3) E = constant2*A*V^2/d  (with the 2-factor absorbed into constant2)

Multiply through by A/A to get

(4) E = constant2* (AV)^2/Vol

 Assume that the volume of a capacitor made out of materials X and Y is proportional to its mass, i.e. constant density for any size, then

(5) Vol = A*d   (and mass = Vol* density)

Remember, to increase the voltage means that the gap, d, has to increase in linear proportion to maintain the same safety factor for a give dielectric breakdown strength.

> Only if it also has a "super" dielectric breakdown strength.

That's really what it's about a crystals (most likely) ability to resist conducting electricity and also have the mechanical strength to resist the mechanical forces to punch a hole through.

Vacuum doesn't make for a good HV capacitor.

JVP you'd appreciate this link, seems there is some geometric structures that make this material Super-K CCTO CaCu3Ti4O12 a very good dielectric, it has some interesting properties at low temperatures too.

The point of a super dielectric is to keep the gap distance as small as possible while increasing the voltage.
One article I found



>It's a common misconception that raising the voltage of a capacitor increases its energy storage density. This isn't true!

>Remember, to increase the voltage means that the gap, d, has to increase in linear proportion to maintain the same safety factor for a give dielectric breakdown strength.

The problem is with manufacturing.  With ultra thin dielectrics the smallest imperfections will kill the device.  So building thick dielectrics are less affected by defects.

 It's the difference between clean rooms where a spec of dust will kill your device vs. something that can be made in a machine shop and full of dust and debris with no affect what so ever.

I'll never forget back in High School we made a Induction heater, the powersuppy was running at over 10KV and we made a massive bank of capacitors from sheets of glass and aluminum foil.  Point being is that had we used lower voltages and thinner dielectrics then the precision and defect tolerances would have dropped accordingly.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Once-Darling Ethanol Losing Friends In High Places

From Slashdot:

"It's now conceivable, says BusinessWeek's Ed Wallace, that the myth of ethanol as the salvation for America's energy problem is coming to an end. Curiously, the alternative fuel may be done in by an unlikely collection of foes. Fervidly pro-ethanol in the last decade of his political career, former VP Al Gore reversed course in late November and apologized for supporting ethanol, which apparently was more about ingratiating himself to farmers. A week later, Energy Secretary Steven Chu piled on, saying: 'The future of transportation fuels shouldn't involve ethanol.' And in December, a group of small-engine manufacturers, automakers, and boat manufacturers filed suit in the US Court of Appeals to vacate the EPA's October ruling that using a 15% blend of ethanol in fuel supplies would not harm 2007 and newer vehicles. Despite all of this, the newly-elected Congress has extended the 45 cent-per-gallon ethanol blending tax credit that was due to expire, a move that is expected to reduce revenue by $6.25 billion in 2011. 'The ethanol insanity,' longtime-critic Wallace laments, 'will continue until so many cars and motors are damaged by this fuel additive that the public outcry can no longer be ignored.'"

African Villages Glow With Renewable Energy

From Slashdot:
"The NY Times reports that as small-scale renewable energy becomes cheaper, more reliable and more efficient, it is providing the first drops of modern power to people who live far from slow-growing electricity grids and fuel pipelines in developing countries playing an epic, transformative role. With the advent of cheap solar panels and high-efficiency LED lights, which can light a room with just 4 watts of power instead of 60, these small solar systems now deliver useful electricity at a price that even the poor can afford. 'You're seeing herders in Inner Mongolia with solar cells on top of their yurts,' says energy adviser Dana Younger. In addition to small solar projects, renewable energy technologies designed for the poor include simple subterranean biogas chambers that make fuel and electricity from the manure of a few cows, and 'mini' hydroelectric dams that can harness the power of a local river for an entire village. 'It's a phenomenon that's sweeping the world; a huge number of these systems are being installed,' says Younger."

Friday, December 17, 2010

‎ Who needs Uranium when you can have "clean" Thorium?

An obscure metal that could energise our world... It's called thorium, it's eco-friendly, and there's lots of it. Many scientists say it could even replace uranium as a nuclear power source. But despite its potential, the metal is yet to gain a foothold in the market. RT's Laura Emmett explains why...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One Giant Cargo Ship Pollutes As Much As 50M Cars

from Slashdot:

"One giant container ship pollutes the air as much as 50 million cars. Which means that just 15 of the huge ships emit as much as today's entire global 'car park' of roughly 750 million vehicles. Among the bad stuff: sulfur, soot, and other particulate matter that embeds itself in human lungs to cause a variety of cardiopulmonary illnesses. Since the mid-1970s, developed countries have imposed increasingly stringent regulations on auto emissions. In three decades, precise electronic engine controls, new high-pressure injectors, and sophisticated catalytic converters have cut emissions of nitrous oxides, carbon dioxides, and hydrocarbons by more than 98 percent. New regulations will further reduce these already minute limits. But ships today are where cars were in 1965: utterly uncontrolled, free to emit whatever they like."

According to Wikipedia, 57 giant container ships (rated from 9,200 to 15,200 twenty-foot equivalent units) are plying the world's oceans.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Notes on Heat Reduction on Roof

Recently, we decide to reduce the heat load on one of our building. Thereby having a cooler building during the day, and reducing the need for air conditioning and fans - and reducing our electrical load on the system.

Much of the information I've read up until now has stated that "insulation" is the way to reduce temperature change - and thereby reduce our energy consumption. So three candidates were investigate for cost at Home Depot.

* Reflectix "Radiant Barrier" 500 sq.ft. roll
* Insulafoam 4'x8' panel
* Solarflex paint (data sheet) 287 sq.ft. coverage per 5 gallon bucket

Its worth noting that painting would likely have a lower labor cost, and painting reflects the a portion of the heat versus being a barrier to heat.


product cost/unit cost per sq. ft. cost for 5000 sq. ft.
Reflectix Radiant Barrier $66/roll $0.1320 $660.00
Insulfoam panel $7 $0.2188 $1,093.75
Solarflex roof paint $70 $0.2438 $1,219.51

Thursday, August 26, 2010

GE’s Ecomagination Challenge- $200 million funding

GE’s Ecomagination Challenge is a $200 million call to action for businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, and students to share their best ideas and come together to take on one of the world’s toughest challenges – building the next-generation power grid to meet the needs of the 21st century.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cooling computers will be a growth industry.

A rough analysis by Jon Peddie gives us the rough numbers to indicate this will not only be a growth industry, but because cooler computer run faster, require less energy, and live longer - the "recycling" of computer systems will soon be a major portion of the computer industry. That is, not only will building be big, but recycling and reusing what we have will, by defacto, be a large fraction of the industry (my rough guess, at least 1/10 or 1/20).

Quadrillions and Quadrillions of Cycles


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Peak Phosphorus May Follow Peak Oil

From Facebook:  David Brin - We  face a crisis in phosphorus, which Asimov called “life’s bottleneck.” The best deposits of phosphate rock, source of phosphorus for fertilizer, will be gone in 50 to 100 years. Yet we flush it away: human urine is an effective fertilizer when combined with wood ash, lessening the need for agricultural chemicals. We must begin to efficiently recycle/capture the phosphorus in wastewater.

The global demand for phosphate rock, a source of phosphorus for fertilizer, could outstrip supply in 20 years. To avert a future food crisis, researchers say, the world must shift away from mining phosphate rock and recycle more phosphorus from human and animal waste.

Here’s an excellent site: 15 Facts you absolutely need to know about phosphorus:
Phosphorus is essential to growing sufficient food to feed a burgeoning population. Three countries control 73% of the world’s known reserves of phosphate rock, with China and Morocco being major suppliers; Europe has virtually no reserves. The U.S. has reserves in Florida and North Carolina, which may be depleted in a few decades. Yet, there’s enormous overuse/waste of phosphorus; runoff of phosphorus in waterways causes algal blooms, which leave dead zones. It’s crucial to recapture/recycle phosphorus instead of flushing it away. Sweden is leading the way, developing new toilets to separate wastewater for agricultural use.

Pecunia non olet, Latin for “Money does not smell”, referred to the tax on urine instigated by Roman emperor Nero. Urine was collected in pots from public latrines, where it was sold for use by tanners and launderers; these buyers paid the urine tax. Later, Emperor Vespanius taxed the people using the public toilets. Urban mining of our wastes will be the wave of the future:,1518,690450-2,00.html

Urine contains abundant nitrogen, phosphorus & potassium. Tests showing that human urine is an effective fertilizer:

GM's Volt out, Porshce steps out.

GM's Volt is out at $41,000

Meanwhile Porsche jumps into the game

Let's not forget Volkswagon


(added by John)  from Slashdot:
"The Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid supercar, first shown as a concept at this spring's Geneva Motor Show, got official approval as a production model today from the company's board of directors. Just consider the specs: a 500-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-8 engine with a 9200-rpm redline, 0-to-62-mph acceleration of 3.2 seconds, and top speed of 198 miles per hour. Oh, and did we mention it gets 78 miles per gallon on the European cycle? The astounding fuel efficiency comes courtesy of an E-Drive mode that lets the 918 Spyder drive up to 16 miles on pure electric power, though [ahem] not at 198 mph."

Electric Vehicles Charging Stations Exempted from Public Utility Regulations

KQED's California Money has a short report:

At the same time in NY and NJ

Partners With Laz Parking to Provide Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Throughout the New York and New Jersey Metropolitan Areas


Nuclear Energy Now More Expensive Than Solar

From Slashdot:

"According to an article on the New York Times, a historical cross-over has occurred because of the declining costs of solar vs. the increasing costs of nuclear energy: solar, hardly the cheapest of renewable technologies, is now cheaper than nuclear, at around 16 cents per kilowatt hour. Furthermore, the NY Times reports that financial markets will not finance the construction of nuclear power plants unless the risk of default (which is historically as high as 50 percent for the nuclear industry) is externalized to someone else through federal loan guarantees or ratepayer funding. The bottom line seems to be that nuclear is simply not competitive, and the push from the US government to subsidize it seems to be forcing the wrong choice on the market."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Future of Electric Cars

On Thursday, July 29, 2010, KQED's Forum Program discusses the future of electric cars.

Guests from GM, EPRI, & NRDC. Or if you like, car producer (rep), energy producer (rep) & environmentalist.


  • Britta Gross, director of global energy systems and infrastructure commercialization for General Motors
  • Mark Duvall, director of electric transportation for the Electric Power Research Institute
  • Simon Mui, clean vehicles and fuels scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

KQED's Forum discusses with experts the status of solar energy in California

This hour show discusses the viability for home owners. This in light of recent actions by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Future of Solar in California


  • Danny Kennedy, president and co-founder of Sungevity, a Berkeley-based residential solar installation company.
  • Eicke Weber, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany
  • Severin Borenstein, professor at U.C. Berkeley's Haas School of Business and co-director of The Energy Institute
  • Todd Woody, reporter for The New York Times and Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tesla/Toyota progress on All Electric

ON Mon, Jul 12, 2010 -- 3:57 PM KQED Radio's "California Money" reports:
Toyota is reportedly developing battery-powered test versions of its Lexus-RX and RAV-4. Some details given.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Power Grids, Energy Storage and the Politics

NPR's Fresh Air interviews journalist Joel Achenbach about the modern issues with update the Power Grid System, Storing the energy, and the politics of the moving target. He talks about the "Smart Grid" in popular terms -- Not much technical details.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"Living on Earth" Gets the Straight Poop on Bacteria Eating Oil

Microbiologist Ronald Atlas, at the University of Louisville, has real experience with dealing with bacteria to eat oil, etc., and testified in front of Congress and the White House.

Public Radio tracks California's Progess to be 33% green power by 2020

This link will track the progress in a series. But the first two parts are extremely interesting. A green company (Solargen) tries build a solar farm, but get local opposition. Includes maps, videos, and interactive information.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Electric companies screw over people that converted to Solar.

A number of utility companies are changing to new digital meters that don't allow people who generate power to get credit for power put back in to the grid.

See story:

Man goes green, now sees red

May 24: A Texas man's solar upgrades actually increase his power bill. He blames the electric company's new meter. KXAS reporter Ken Kalthoff has the story.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Corn-based plastic

Polylactic acid (PLA), a plastic substitute made from fermented plant starch (usually corn), is quickly becoming a popular alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics.

Polylactic acid or polylactide (PLA) is a biodegradable, thermoplastic, aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch (in the U.S.) or sugarcanes (rest of world).

NatureWorks LLC (formerly Cargill, Inc.) is the main source for PLA corn-resin pellets 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bill Gates on energy: Innovating to zero!

At TED2010, Bill Gates unveils his vision for the world's energy future, describing the need for "miracles" to avoid planetary catastrophe and explaining why he's backing a dramatically different type of nuclear reactor. The necessary goal? Zero carbon emissions globally by 2050.

Friday, January 8, 2010

super caps will win for electric vehicles

Read:   Battery Costs For Electric Cars Versus Prius from future pundit

Battery technology is too expenive heavy, takes too long to charge and needs replacing every 5 to 10 years.
There are also concerns that the exotic metals and chemicals need make them will in short supply if we try to scale up the number of electric vehicles on the road.

My argument for supercaps winning is this.
I am telling ya, supercaps will win. There is a system for bussed now where they can recharge at each stop.

I can easily see highways and roads with spots that can recharge cars as they are driving.
They can be every few feet or even every few miles along the road, maybe make a special lane for them.  Dynamic mircopayments can be done for charging for the electricity sold and it can be supply from solar along road side or off the grid.

See a story I wrote with my vision for this.

Google Applies To Become Energy Marketer

Google consumes massive amounts of electrical energy to power its data centers across the country and world. Now it has created a subsidiary, Google Energy LLC, and applied (pdf) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to become a utility-scale energy trader. Google's stated aim is to be able to purchase renewable energy directly from producers at bulk rates, pursuing its goal of becoming carbon neutral. It is likely that Google Energy would also permit Google's own renewable energy projects to sell their energy at more favorable rates. Google reportedly does not have plans to actively become an energy broker, a la Enron.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cool site - Maproom

hydrophobic Materials important for Solar panel cleaning

Solar Panels need to be washed and cooled.

When panels get dirty and there efficiency drops. Keeping them clean is important.

As they heat up there efficiency drops too.

Many are looking in to hydrophobic chemical coatings that repel water and allow a slight spray of water to remove all dirt easily.   It also can be used cool the panels also.

My concern is evaporation looses could be huge on a large scale.
Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water
A German developer, Solar Millennium, announced plans to build two large solar farms here that would harness the sun to generate electricity, creating hundreds of jobs. But then things got messy. The company revealed that its preferred method of cooling the power plants would consume 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, about 20 percent of this desert valley’s available water.

Below are some of my rough notes on hydrophobic materials

Best bet's for glass coatings.
US patent 6,245,387 Capped silicone film and method of manufacture thereof

Other coatings of interest.


perfluorooctanesulfonamide (PFOSA),
Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid C8HF17O3S (PFOS), Now banned.   Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in May 2009

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) PFOA,  Now banned.

perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS)    3M reformulated Scotchgard and since June 2003 has replaced PFOS with PFBS.  silicone-based

Aquapel not a silicone-based compound PPG Industries



General listing for suppliers.

Tiny Battery Traps Solar Power To Run An Entire House

(this was mailed to me by a friend)

A small disc could be the solution for the efficient and cheap storage of the sun’s energy. A Utah-based company has found a new way to store solar energy – in a small ceramic disk which can store more power for less. Researchers at Ceramatec have created the disk, which can hold up to 20-kilowatt hours, enough to power an entire house for a large portion of the day.

The new battery runs on sodium-sulfur — a composition that typically operates at greater than 600°F. “Sodium-sulfur is more energetic than lead-acid, so if you can somehow get it to a lower temperature, it would be valuable for residential use”, Ralph Brodd, an independent energy conversion consultant, says.

Ceramatec’s new battery runs at less than 200°F. The secret is a thin ceramic membrane that is sandwiched between the sodium and sulfur. Only positive sodium ions can pass through, leaving electrons to create a useful electrical current.

Ceramatec says that batteries will be ready for market testing in 2011, and will sell for about $2000. The disk has not yet been manufactured for residential use, but the creators have spoken  optimistically about the possibility.

The convergence of two key technologies — solar power and deep-storage batteries — has profound implications for oil-strapped the US.

“These batteries switch the whole dialogue to renewables,” said Daniel Nocera, professor of energy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who sits on Ceramatec’s advisory board. “They will turn us away from dumb technology, circa 1900 — a 110-year-old approach — and turn us forward.”

Research on Plastics that Conduct Electricity Receives Funds

Rhett Smith, a Clemson chemistry assistant professor, has been funded by the National Science Foundation CAREER Award to peruse his research regarding the new plastic material that can conduct electricity. The
plastic material is said have enormous uses in a variety of applications like in thin, lightweight and flexible plastic electronic devices that include ultrathin, flexible television displays, computer screens and many other portable electronic devices.

However, the most important aspect of this research aims at utilizing this material to develop thin-film solar cells. There is no need to explain how these thin-film solar cells will contribute to the ongoing efforts to harness renewable energy from the sun. This special material is capable of absorbing and emitting different colors and
therefore is ideal for the production of thin-film solar cells. The total amount of funding, that is $598,000, will assist Rhett to make further advancements in his studies of synthesis and applications of organic and inorganic materials for plastic electronic technologies.

Transparent conductors

Super Efficient Next-Generation Solar Cells From Nanotubes

From Technology Review

Carbon nanotube photovoltaics can wring twice the charge from light.

Today’s solar cells lose much of the energy in light to heat. Now researchers at Cornell University have made a photovoltaic cell out of a single carbon nanotube that can take advantage of more of the energy  in light than conventional photovoltaics. The tiny carbon tubes might eventually be used to make more-efficient next-generation solar cells.

“The main limiting factor in a solar cell is that when you absorb a  high-energy photon, you lose energy to heat, and there’s no way to recover it,” says Matthew Beard, a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO. Loss of energy to heat limits the efficiency of the best solar cells to about 33 percent. “The material that can convert at a much higher efficiency will be a
game-changer,” says Beard.

Researchers led by Paul McEuen, professor of physics at Cornell, began  by putting a single nanotube in a circuit and giving it three electrical contacts called gates, one at each end and one underneath.  They used the gates to apply a voltage across the nanotube, then illuminated it with light. When a photon hits the nanotube, it
transfers some of its energy to an electron, which can then flow  through the circuit off the nanotube. This one-photon, one-electron process is what normally happens in a solar cell. What’s unusual about  the nanotube cell, says McEuen, is what happens when you put in what he calls “a big photon” — a photon whose energy is twice as big as the energy normally required to get an electron off the cell. In
conventional cells, this is the energy that’s lost as heat. In the  nanotube device, it kicks a second electron into the circuit. The work was described last week in the journal Science.

There’s evidence that another class of nanomaterials called quantum  dots can also convert the energy of one photon into more than one electron. However, making operational quantum-dot cells that can do  this has proved a major hurdle, says Beard, whose lab, led by Arthur Nozik, is working on the problem. One of the challenges with quantum-dot solar is that it’s very difficult to get the freed electrons to leave the quantum dot and enter an external circuit. “The  system is teasing you; you can’t get those charge carriers out, so  what’s the point?” says Ji Ung Lee, professor of nanoscale engineering at the State University of New York in Albany. “McEuen’s group has shown this in a system where you can get the extra carriers out.”

McEuen cautions that his work on carbon nanotube photovoltaics is  fundamental. “We’ve made the world’s smallest solar cell, and that’s not necessarily a good thing,” he says. To take advantage of the nanotubes’ superefficiency, researchers will first have to develop methods for making large arrays of the diodes. “We’re not at a point where we can scale up carbon nanotubes, but that should be the  ultimate goal,” says Lee, who developed the first nanotube diodes while a researcher at General Electric.

It’s not clear why the nanotube photovoltaic cell offers this  two-for-one energy conversion. “It’s mysterious to us,” says McEuen. However, the most likely reason is that while conventional solar materials have only one energy level for electrons to move through, carbon nanotubes have several. And two of them just happen to be very well matched: one of the energy levels, or bandgaps, is twice as high  as the other. “We may have gotten lucky, and it has very little to do with the fact that it’s a carbon nanotube,” says McEuen. This means,
McEuen hopes, that even if it proves too challenging to make arrays of  nanotube solar cells, materials scientists can look for pairs of materials that have these kinds of matched bandgaps, and layer them to
make solar cells that do with two materials what the single nanotube cells can do. “Maybe the answer won’t be in nanotubes, but in another pair of materials,” McEuen says.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Genetic Algorithms to optimize solar power.

Bill Gross, the founder of Idealab, talks about his life as an inventor, starting with his high-school company selling solar energy plans and kits. Learn here about a groundbreaking system for solar cells -- and some questions we haven't yet solved.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Europe unites to build renewable energy 'supergrid'

Sun, wind and wave-powered: Europe unites to build renewable energy 'supergrid'