Future Energy eNews July 22, 2003 Integrity Research Institute
1) Tungsten Crystals Violate Planck's Law -Called "an energy source, they emit more energy than quantum mechanics allows, says Sandia Labs.
2) Heat the Floor, Not the Air -Radiant heating of floor cost 40% less to operate than forced air heating. (Something to consider now that natural gas is becoming scarce.)
3) Solar Cells Attracts $6.5 M- One of the latest signs that alternative energy companies are attracting serious financial interest in high-technology circles. Focus is cheaper solar cells.
4) Canada is Losing Ability to Supply Natural Gas- Like this week's Time magazine article (July 21, 2003 "US is Running Out of Energy"), the NY Times notes that natural gas shortage is imminent.
5) Transforming a Dream to a Marketable Product -IEEE offers advise for starting a business, with main points emphasized.
6) Miscellaneous Energy Links -British Energy; Environmental groups; OPEC; Empty energy bill.
1) Tungsten Crystals Could Provide More Power for Electrical Devices
ScientificAmerican.com --Sarah Graham -- July 02, 2003
Light would seem to be a hard thing to hold on to but that's just what so-called photonic crystals can do. Made of microscopic metal bars arranged into interlocking lattices, photonic crystals trap light of a particular frequency inside. And by introducing impurities at specific sites, scientists can bend the light along a prescribed pathway. Now scientists have found a new use for photonic crystals made of tungsten. Instead of bending light inside a crystal, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have used a tungsten lattice to filter input energy so that it exits the crystal only in desired frequency bands. The heated lattices are said to emit significantly more energy than solid filaments can, paving the way for a possibly superior energy source.
Shawn Lin and his colleagues have been researching the tiny tungsten lattices for a number of years and were the first to take the crystals down to micron dimensions. The lattice they are currently working with is made up of tungsten rods that are half a micron wide and 1.5 microns apart. When the researchers placed the lattice in a vacuum heated to 1,250 degrees Celsius, they found that it converted radiation with an efficiency of 34 percent and emitted about 14 watts per square centimeter. Both of these results are significantly higher than the results predicted by the well-known Planck's law, which models the maximum emissions expected at specific wavelengths from ideal solid materials. Kazuaki Sakoda of Japan’s Nanomaterials Laboratory at the National Institute for Materials Science notes that the "work clearly demonstrates that even Planck’s law--the starting point of the era of quantum mechanics [used to predict these interactions]--can be modified."
The dramatically improved output values are seen only at the specific frequencies that the lattice's inner dimensions allow to escape. This property could help to improve the performance of some heat-driven engines. For example, photonic crystals could funnel excess heat from a power plant's generator and release it over a much smaller band of frequencies to drive engines--such as those in electric-powered cars that can absorb energy only within a small range--much more efficiently. The researchers report their latest findings in two papers that will appear in the journals Optics Letters and Applied Physics Letters.
2) Heating the Floor, Not the Air
By JAY ROMANO May 4, 2003 NY Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/04/realestate/04HOME.html?ex=1058932800&en=71bb2cc875e8dc78&ei=5070&pagewanted=print
While most people would rather not think about thermostats, radiators, registers and fuel-oil deliveries for at least five or six months, heating experts say that now is the ideal time for any major renovation or replacement of a home's heating system. And by many accounts, one of best ways to heat a house is with a radiant heating system.
"For comfort, ease of maintenance, value and energy-efficiency, you're not going to beat radiant heat," said David Lovesky, the owner of C&N Mechanical, a heating and air-conditioning contractor in Bloomfield, Conn. "We're talking about a system that can cost up to 40 percent less to operate than a conventional warm-air system and comfort that is unsurpassed."
Mr. Lovesky explained that with conventional heating systems — including forced-warm-air, hot-water baseboard, steam- or hot-water radiator and electric baseboard — the temperature in the house is maintained by heating up the air. Since air is not very good at retaining heat, however, and since the air in a room tends to move around quite a bit, heating a house by using warmed air can result in drafts and uneven heating.
A radiant heating system turns that strategy on its head.
"What happens with a radiant system is that instead of heating air, we're heating objects," Mr. Lovesky said. "Basically, the whole floor becomes a radiator." He said that with a radiant heating system, water or other liquid that has been heated is circulated through hydronic tubing imbedded in the floor or attached to its underside. The floor, then, transfers heat to objects on it — sofas, tables, chairs, appliances, draperies and even walls — with the warmth in the room concentrated where the people are.
"Radiant heat is ideal for homes with cathedral ceilings," Mr. Lovesky said. "And since there are no radiators or heat registers to worry about, there are no concerns about furniture placement."
There are, however, other concerns relating to the cost and ease of installation.
A radiant heating system can cost 50 to 100 percent more than a conventional hot water baseboard system, depending how big and complex the system is and how much of the original system has to be replaced.
For example, Mr. Lovesky said, in homes that have basements with unfinished ceilings, it may be possible to attach the tubing to the underside of the floor above, weaving the tubing in the space between the joists. When that is done, he said, it is usually necessary to cover the tubing with aluminum to direct the heat up toward the floor and then to insulate the underside of the aluminum.
It is also possible to install radiant heating even in areas where access to the underside of a floor is not available.
Ann Woodard, marketing manager for Stadler-Viega, a radiant heating system manufacturer in Bedford, Mass., said her company's Climate Panel System is installed on top of an existing subfloor.
"This system was developed for the retrofit market," Ms. Woodard said. The panels are 7 or 10 inches wide, 48 inches long and a half inch thick with a precut channel into which the hydronic tubing can be inserted after the panels have been installed. (The system uses PEX tubing, high-density cross-linked polyethylene that can withstand high temperatures and pressures and which does not permit chemical reactions between the tubing and the liquid flowing through it.)
"The panels generally get installed on top of the subfloor," she said, and conventional flooring can be installed over the panels.
Henry Gifford, owner of Gifford Fuel Saving, a heating and air-conditioning consultant in Manhattan, said that while a radiant system can be a highly efficient way to heat a house, planning and design are critical.
For example, Mr. Gifford said, it is usually wise to "zone" the system so that every room can be controlled independently. In most cases, he said, that is accomplished by running a separate loop of tubing to each zone, with the various loops originating and terminating at a distribution manifold.
It is also important, he said, to design the system to adjust the temperature of the water flowing through the tubing to respond to changes in outside temperature. Mr. Gifford said that with most conventional hot-water heating systems, the water is heated to a preset temperature — generally around 180 degrees Fahrenheit — and then circulates that heated water to radiators throughout the house. The temperature inside the house is then maintained by a single centrally located thermostat.
With a properly designed a radiant system, the heat output to each zone is the result of both the temperature of the water and the circulation of that water within an individual zone. As the outdoor temperature gets colder, Mr. Gifford explained, the controls automatically increase the temperature of the water in the tubing, thereby increasing the heat available to the system as a whole. Then, he said, individual thermostats in each zone turn the heat on or off — by starting or stopping the circulation of water —- to meet the particular needs of that zone.
Mr. Gifford pointed out that while radiant heating can be installed in selected rooms in a house that already has a hot water heating system — a bathroom, kitchen or living room, for example — it is still necessary to take into consideration the size and layout of the room.
For example, he said, since a living room typically has lots of floor area, it is fairly easy to install enough tubing in the floor to adequately heat the room. It may not be so easy to accomplish the same thing in a kitchen or bathroom, however, where cabinets and fixtures take up much of the floor space.
Those who want a warm kitchen or bathroom floor but who do not have hot-water heat can install an alternative form of radiant heating powered by electricity.
Terry Allen, marketing manager for Orbit Manufacturing in Perkasie, Pa., said his company makes electric radiant heating cable that can be installed in a floor much as hydronic tubing is installed.
"The cable is normally installed in a wet-bed of cement or thin set and then covered with tile or hardwood," Mr. Allen said. He pointed out that the system — which costs anywhere from $5 to $15 a square foot installed — is not intended to heat the whole room. "We're basically warming a floor in a house that already has central heat," he said.
Information about radiant heating systems is available on the Internet site of the Radiant Panel Association (Radiant Panel Association ), based in Loveland, Colo.
2) $6.5 Million Being Invested in a Venture on Solar CellsBy AMY CORTESE June 19, 2003 New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/19/technology/19SOLA.html?ei=5070&en=12824cf37f94c7c6&ex=1058932800&pagewanted=print&position=
A start-up company that is working to develop and produce cheaper solar cells says it will announce today that it has raised $6.5 million from two leading venture capital firms.
The investment is one of the latest signs that alternative energy companies are attracting serious financial interest in high-technology circles,
The money raised by the company, NanoSolar, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is seen as a harbinger because of the strong Silicon Valley pedigree of the venture capital firms — Benchmark Capital and US Venture Partners — and the track record of its chief executive and co-founder, R. Martin Roscheisen. He has already helped start three successful companies. The most recent, eGroups, was sold toYahoo in 2001 for $720 million.
NanoSolar is one of several companies with promising technologies aimed at narrowing the gap between the cost of solar power and energy from fossil fuels. With conventional information-technology companies in a protracted slump, investors are taking a fresh look at companies working on renewable energy.
Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a venture capital firm in Redwood City, Calif., invested $6.5 million last year in Konarka Technologies, a company in Lowell, Mass., developing low-cost flexible solar panels. And Idealab, a technology incubator in Pasadena, Calif., led by Bill Gross, is behind Energy Innovations, a start-up company working on an engine that could convert sunlight into electricity.
"We think that there's a tectonic shift coming," said Tim Draper, a partner at Draper Fisher. With a finite supply of fossil fuels, over time the price of conventional energy will increase, he said. "That allows some of these alternatives to come in."
Solar power, in particular, is going through a new cycle of innovation as advances in materials science and nanotechnology, which uses materials as small as molecules, are paving the way for approaches that could drastically lower the cost of solar energy.
A new generation of solar cells based on lightweight conductive plastics could cost as little as $40 a square meter, compared with $400 for the silicon panels that have been used since the 1970's. These so-called organic solar cells could make solar a viable option even without government subsidies, experts say.
Unlike silicon, plastic cells do not require high temperatures or equipment similar to that used to manufacture computer chips. They are also more flexible and therefore may be easier to use in a range of places, including rooftops, window blinds, cars, or even clothing.
Plastic cells have their drawbacks, however. They are less efficient than silicon, at least for now, and are not expected to hit the market until 2005.
NanoSolar asserts that it has solved some of the thorniest problems inherent in working with organic materials. The company, applying technology licensed from Sandia National Labs, says it has brought an architectural approach to the process, using self-assembling nano-structures that should substantially improve the energy efficiency of its solar cells.
Arati Prabhakar, a partner at US Venture Partners, said that NanoSolar's approach holds great promise. But, she cautioned, "it's very, very early stage."
3) Canada Is Losing Ability to Fill U.S. Natural Gas Needs
By BERNARD SIMON June 26, 2003 New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/26/business/worldbusiness/26GAS.html?ei=5070&en=07e0d60c2c3f6202&ex=1058932800&pagewanted=print&position=
TORONTO, June 25 — For years, Canada has been the safety valve for the United States natural gas market, pumping supplies across the border to ease shortages and keep prices reasonably stable. But the recent surge in gas prices suggests that the days when Americans could look north for relief are over.
Barring a serious slump in the American economy that would significantly reduce demand, industry experts say, the United States will need every cubic foot of Canadian gas it can get, and then some. But Canadian production is, for the moment at least, at its maximum: it will be at least five years before Canada will again be in a position to act as a swing supplier, the experts say.
From now until 2008, "the best the Canadian industry can do would be to keep production flat," said Mark G. Papa, chairman and chief executive ofEOG Resources of Houston, one of the few gas producers to increase output from its Canadian wells last year. A fall of 1 to 2 percent over that time is more likely, Mr. Papa said.
Tight gas supplies in the United States pose a threat to economic growth, said Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, which lowered interest rates today in response to general weakness in the American economy. Mr. Greenspan told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on June 10 that the country could not expect Canada to make up for falling production in the United States, and that new facilities were needed to import liquefied natural gas from Asia, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.
On Thursday, Spencer Abraham, the secretary of energy, will meet with top government and industry officials and members of Congress to discuss tight natural gas supplies at a conference in Washington organized by the National Petroleum Council, an advisory group that reports to Mr. Abraham.
North American natural gas prices are quoted in dollars per million British thermal units, a measure of raw energy content. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, they peaked at more than $6.50 earlier this month, up from about $3.65 a year ago; gas for July delivery traded yesterday at $5.76. Stored supplies of natural gas are near record lows in the United States, and have also fallen sharply in Canada.
Canada now supplies 16 percent of United States' gas, double its share a decade ago. "The Canadians have come to the rescue on the supply front," said Rhone Resch, vice president for energy marketing at the Natural Gas Supply Association, a producers' trade group in Washington.
But last year, Canadian production fell for the first time since 1986. Thomas R. Driscoll, an analyst atLehman Brothers in New York, said in a recent report that he expected a further decline of 2 percent to 4 percent for this year.
The problem is that gas reserves in western Canada are being depleted more quickly than readily recoverable new reserves can be found. Martin King, an analyst atFirstEnergy Capital in Calgary, said, "There's a growing realization that there's no good, cheap gas left."
Hal Kvisle, chief executive ofTransCanada PipeLines, also of Calgary, which operates one of the continent's most extensive gas pipeline networks, estimated that without any new discoveries, Canada's output would drop by 20 percent a year. But Mr. Kvisle said he was optimistic that western Canada would provide enough new gas to maintain Canada's output of about 17.5 billion cubic feet a day, even if producers would have to work quite hard to do it.
According to a survey of 95 companies by Nickle's Daily Oil Bulletin of Calgary, additions to gas reserves last year, totaling 3.7 trillion cubic feet, were the lowest since 1996, and down 23 percent from the record set in 2001.
The gas industry thought it had a huge new find three years ago with the discovery of the Ladyfern field in British Columbia. But Ladyfern has been a disappointment.
The underground pressure in the field has fallen rapidly, making it more difficult to bring the gas to the surface; also, water has seeped into many wells.
According to Mr. King, output from Ladyfern has fallen by about two-thirds from a peak in mid-2002 and it alone accounts for about half of the overall decline in western Canadian production this year.
There have been other setbacks, too. For example, development of a remote but promising offshore field in Nova Scotia, Deep Panuke, has been delayed.
Recent high gas prices could encourage companies to move into regions like the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, where gas pools are deep, the geology is relatively complex and production costs are correspondingly higher.
According to Mr. King, drilling a single well in the foothills can cost 3 million to 10 million Canadian dollars ($2.2 million to $7.4 million), compared with just 150,000 Canadian dollars ($111,000) for a small, shallow well in southern Alberta.
But Peter Hunt, a spokesman forConocoPhillips Canada in Calgary, said, "Last time there was a marked increase in exploratory drilling due to higher prices, all that we managed to do was to replace what we were already producing."
EOG Resources expects to increase its output in Canada by about 8 percent this year, after a 22 percent rise in 2002, mostly from shallow wells in southern Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan.
But Mr. Papa said that most of EOG's wells were too small to interest the industry's major players, who have few promising places to turn. "A lot of companies are not able to spend their cash flows, because they're short of geological prospects to drill in North America," he added.
Today's supply squeeze has heightened interest in two ambitious long-term projects intended to bring gas from Alaska and the Canadian Arctic to the lower 48 American states. Last week, a consortium led byImperial Oil, Exxon Mobil's Canadian unit, completed a partnership agreement with the aboriginal peoples in the Northwest Territories and with TransCanada PipeLines for a 800-mile pipeline linking new gas fields in the Mackenzie River delta to TransCanada's main network.
This pipeline, expected to cost about $3 billion, would have a capacity of about 1 billion cubic feet a day, equal to almost 2 percent of American consumption. An even bigger project, reaching gas fields in northern Alaska, would carry 4 billion to 5 billion cubic feet a day; the estimated cost is $26 billion.
Both projects still face a number of hurdles, including regulatory and environmental approvals, and perhaps Congressional action, as well as financing arrangements. According to industry executives and analysts, the Mackenzie Delta pipeline is unlikely to be completed before 2008, and the Alaska project might follow two to five years later.
Mr. Kvisle of TransCanada said that the prevailing high price for gas "gives producers more incentive than would otherwise be the case" to move ahead with such ambitious projects. But the companies know, he added, "that the price that matters is the price 6 or 20 years in the future."
5) Transforming a Dream to Marketable Product
BY CAROL GOODALE IEEE The Institute 07 July 2003 08:00 A.M. http://www.theinstitute.ieee.org/inst_art.jsp?isno=07031&arnumber=07031_7w.careerentrepreneur§ion=4
So you have an idea for a great new product, and you’re even thinking of using it to launch a technology-based business.
"Think again," say expert business advisors.
When it comes to transforming a technology into a marketable product, "It’s not a Field of Dreams situation," says business consultant Randy Harmon, referring to the motion picture of that name. Harmon and others were presenters earlier this year at the Entrepreneur Workshop sponsored by the IEEE Princeton/Central Jersey Section and the IEEE Jersey Coast Section, both in New Jersey, USA.
"If you build it, they will come," is a theme of this Hollywood movie about one man’s wild dream of attracting fans to a baseball diamond he built in the middle of a cornfield. Many technology entrepreneurs are inventors, says Harmon, and inventors often "sincerely believe that if they develop the technology and get it to perform as they envision, the markets and customers will come."
But, warns Harmon, aspiring entrepreneurs need to do their research. As director of the Technology Commercialization Center of the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers of Rutgers Business School in Newark, N.J., USA, Harmon helps would-be entrepreneurs learn about the special start-up and development needs of science, technology, and Internet-based businesses.
Assess people and markets
You must also assess a market’s viability as well as your ability to sell into that market. "From a technical point of view, the potential market may represent significant opportunity, but financially or from a business view, can you reach that market?," asks Gerhard Franz. As chair of the IEEE Princeton/Central Jersey Section and principal in his own management consulting firm, A.G. Franz Associates, in Plainsboro, N.J., USA, he specializes in marketing and sales. For a small company, Franz says, even handling sales to a large corporation may be difficult.
"The goal," says Larry Chong, who advises early stage technology companies as managing director of Princeton Strategic Management Inc., in New Jersey, "is to produce a product informed by the marketplace."
Chong, often a presenter at IEEE workshops for entrepreneurs, emphasizes the differences between the skills of inventors and the skills of entrepreneurs. Inventors want to perfect their product first, but entrepreneurs first want to get to market. "Products are always going to evolve," Chong says. "Businesses need to be willing to take a product with 80 percent functionality to the marketplace." The other 20 percent of development will continue, Chong says, but "if you wait to enter the marketplace, you lose time and money."
Build an effective team
Early stage businesses can find a supportive environment at business incubators that offer administrative help as well as business counseling and other support services. For example, he points out, in New Jersey there is a network of about a dozen incubators across the state. And the National Business Incubation Association includes information about the activities of business incubators around the world at its Web site atwww.nbia.org.
Strategic alliances with other companies can also help smooth the path to marketability. So can angel investors, individuals who fund high-risk early-stage businesses. "Typically, angel investors might be successful business persons interested in giving a little back. The trick is how to find them," says Harmon. Attorneys, accountants, and investor networking organizations are some of the people who can help track down these investors.
After the early "bootstrapping" stages — where start-up businesses are typically funded by personal savings or through friends and families — venture capital steps in. Harmon says that when trying to attract venture capital, "the single most important thing is the management team. Venture capitalists invest in people, especially a team of people, more than in the technology."
It’s also important to have legal and financial advisors on board. In the IEEE Entrepreneur Workshops, presenters from the legal firm of Hale and Dorr LLP in Princeton, N.J., address intellectual property concerns, outsourcing arrangements so your team can get outside assistance, and labor and employment laws that must be followed.
The IEEE Princeton/Central Jersey Section is planning another Entrepreneur Workshop in September focusing on how to prepare a business plan. More information about this workshop can be found athttp://ewh.ieee.org/r1/princeton-centraljersey/.
To learn more about the Technology Commercialization Centers in New Jersey, visithttp://njsbdc.com/scitech/.
[See "InMat Blazes Path to the Marketplace" to learn how one start-up was able to focus on short-term projects that worked to secure financing.]
6) Miscellaneous Energy Links
BUSINESS / WORLD BUSINESS |June 4, 2003
British Energy, which owns nuclear power plants around the world, lowered its estimate of what its power plants were worth.
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who is sponsoring a special TESLA Conference for the Centennial of the Wardenclyffe Tower (1903-2003) on November 8-9, 2003.