Future Energy eNews IntegrityResearchInstitute.org Nov. 25, 2007
SOURCE URL: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/alchemistsDream.php
From the Institute of Science in Society in the UK
ISIS Press Release 24/10/07
Allen Widom at Northeastern University Boston and Lewis Larsen of Lattice Energy recently proposed a mechanism that could account for a wide range of fusion and transmutation reactions  (for an accessible account read How Cold Fusion Works http://www.i-sis.org.uk/HowColdFusionWorks.php , SiS 36). They suggested that the surface of metallic hydrides fully saturated with protons develop collective electron and proton surface plasma oscillations (plasmons) that enable the electrons to gain sufficient mass to be captured by protons resulting in ultra-low momentum neutrons. In a subsequent paper, they showed how these ultra-low momentum neutrons could be absorbed (captured) by heavier nuclei to produce new elements across the Periodic Table . The expected chemical nuclear abundances resulting from such neutron absorption fit the available low energy transmutation experimental data quite well.
The important feature of such nuclear transmutations is that they do not need special mechanisms to penetrate the high Coulomb barrier, as proposed in other models.
First of all, the experimental distribution in atomic mass number A of the low energy nuclear reaction products measured in laboratory chemical cells are similar to the nuclear abundances found in our local solar system and galaxy. Furthermore, these maxima and minima in abundances resemble those predicted in the ultra-low momentum neutron absorption reaction cross-section (the likelihood of interactions), treating the neutron as a wave. Thus, it raises fundamental questions as to whether the conventional astrophysical account of how the elements are created in our stars and galaxies under thermonuclear conditions is correct.
The prediction based on treating the ultra-low momentum neutron as a wave results in a quasi-periodic curve: the peaks of reaction corresponds to the neutron wave fitting inside the spherical model potential wells of the nuclei, the radius of the well varying with atomic mass.
Data on the yields of transmutation product in an experiment using light water containing Li2SO4 in an electrolytic cell are plotted on the graph (see Figure 2). As can be seen, there is a reasonable correspondence between the experimental points and the predicted peaks and troughs of the neutron cross-section. The magnitude of the transmuted nuclear yields varies from one experimental run to another, but the agreement with the predicted curve remains over all experiments, and regardless of whether the electrode is titanium hydride, palladium hydride or layered Pd-Ni hydride.
Figure 2. Experimental abundance of elements (filled circles) superimposed on neutron absorption cross-section as a function of atomic mass (continuous line)
When the neutron wavelength within the well reaches resonance with the radius of the well, a peak appears in the scattering strength. If we associate resonant couplings with the ability of the neutron to be virtually trapped in a region near the nucleus, then for intervals of atomic mass numbers around and under the resonant peaks, we could expect to obtain recently discovered neutron ‘halo’ nuclei (nuclei that have a clear separation between a normal core nucleus and a loosely bound low-density ‘halo’ of neutrons outside the core). The spherical potential well model predicts the stable regions for the halo nuclei and thus the peaks in observed nuclear transmutation abundances.
The neutrons yielding the abundances in our local solar system and galaxy have often been previously assumed to arise entirely from thermonuclear processes and supernova explosions in the stars. These assumptions may be suspect in the light of the evidence from low energy nuclear reactions. Widom and Larsen remark: “It appears entirely possible that ultralow momentum neutron absorption may have an important role to play in the nuclear abundances not only in chemical cells but also in our local solar system and galaxy.”
The story of [how] our universe has been created may well have to be rewritten.
3) AERO Energy Award Program
AERO Press Release, November 1, 2007 www.AERO2012.com
Advanced Energy Research Organization, LLC (AERO) announces an up-front
$200,000 licensing award and minimum $5 million two year royalty program
for a qualifying new energy breakthrough.
The Charlottesville, VA energy research company is leading a world-wide
search for promising, out-of-the-box inventors and scientists who have
provable energy generation inventions that need support, further
development and widespread public exposure.
AERO CEO Steven M. Greer MD notes that, "Over the past 100 years, many
major energy breakthroughs have withered on the vine, died with the
inventor or been absorbed into secretive corporate or government
programs. It is AERO's mission to see that these new technologies are
protected, supported and massively disclosed to the public so that we
can go beyond our current addiction to oil, gas and coal and begin a
new, sustainable era in human history.
AERO is uniquely qualified to see that such technological innovations
make it to market. Our network includes 'A-list' celebrities, Nobel
Prize winners, current and former heads of State and millions of people
who follow our work. The inventor or team that has a qualifying system
for energy generation will have the full force, support and protection
of this unique, global network."
The criteria for the Award program are:
* The invention must be already built, robust and running reliably,
with a net exportable (usable) power output of at least 1 kilowatt
* The system must use no power from the power grid and if batteries
or capacitors are used, they must remain fully charged.
* The system must create no greenhouse gases or other polluting
emissions and must be a closed loop system (that is, the output
energy is sufficient to run the energy needs of the system and
also provide the minimum 1 kilowatt of usable net power.)
* If it is a water-to-fuel system, the system must be able to
electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen to create enough
on-demand fuel to run the system (again, closed-loop) and create
the minimum 1 kilowatt of net usable power.
* Solar, wind and geothermal are excluded from the system, as these
systems already exist.
* The inventor must be willing to license the system to AERO, LLC.
* The system must be able to pass performance and efficiency testing
by three independent scientific groups and be fully reproducible
from plans by an independent third party (AERO will sign a
non-disclosure agreement with the inventor(s) as needed to assure
* The system must not use radioactive materials or other materials
that are an environmental hazard or biohazard.
* The inventor must be willing to bring the system to Virginia to be
tested and this testing must be transparent and open (no hidden
"black box" tests).
The winning inventor or team will receive $200,000 up-front as a
licensing award (see our sample licensing agreement
will be guaranteed a minimum of $5 million in royalty payments within
two years of the creation of a manufacture-ready, beta-tested system. If
the current prototype needs further R and D to attain manufacture, UL
listed readiness, AERO will provide the support to reach this
To apply for this award program or for further information, contact AERO
Please feel free to pass this message on to any individuals, mailing
lists or discussion boards where there may be interest. Thank you.
4) New Plastic Strong As Steel, Breakthrough Plastic
Membrane Could Cut CO2 Emissions and Purify Water
October 12, 2007 - A new membrane that mimics pores found in plants has applications in water, energy and climate change mitigation.
Announced today in the international journal Science, the new plastic membrane allows carbon dioxide and other small molecules to move through its hourglass-shaped pores while preventing the movement of larger molecules like methane. Separating carbon dioxide from methane is important in natural gas processing and gas recovery from landfill.
The new material was developed as part of an international collaboration involving researchers from Hanyang University in Korea, the University of Texas and CSIRO, through its Water for a Healthy Country Flagship.
"This plastic will help solve problems of small molecule separation, whether related to clean coal technology, separating greenhouse gases, increasing the energy efficiency of water purification, or producing and delivering energy from hydrogen," Dr Anita Hill of CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering said.
"The ability of the new plastic to separate small molecules surpasses the limits of any conventional plastics.
"It can separate carbon dioxide from natural gas a few hundred times faster than current plastic membranes and its performance is four times better in terms of purity of the separated gas."
The secret to the new plastic lies in the hourglass shape of its pores, which help to separate molecules faster and using less energy than other pore shapes. In plant cell membranes, hourglass-shaped pores known as aquaporins selectively conduct water molecules in and out of cells while preventing the passage of other molecules such as salt.
The research shows how the plastics can be systematically adjusted to block or pass different molecules depending on the specific application. For example, these membranes may provide a low energy method for the removal of salt from water, carbon dioxide from natural gas, or hydrogen from nitrogen.
Each of these small molecule separations has impact on Australia's interrelated issues of water scarcity, clean energy, and climate change mitigation.
"The new plastic is durable and can withstand high temperature, which is needed for many carbon capture applications. Heat-stable plastics usually have very low gas transport rates, but this plastic surprised us by its heightened ability to transport gases," Dr Hill said.
The research is a partnership between Hanyang University Korea, led by Professor Dr Young Moo Lee and, the University of Texas, led by Professor Benny Freeman, and CSIRO.
Dr Hill and her team analysed the material, which was initially engineered by Ho Bum Park at Hanyang University, to show how it worked.
"Because it is so much more efficient than conventional plastic membranes, this material has huge potential to reduce the environmental footprint of water recycling and desalination," Director of the Water for a Healthy Country Flagship Dr Tom Hatton said.
"Our Flagship, with state governments, water utilities and university partners, is working overtime to improve the sustainability of our water resources. We know how to desalinate and we know how to recycle and the challenge is to do this more efficiently and reliably without adding to greenhouse gas emissions.
"This global partnership has the goal of generating scientific understanding that underpins the development and implementation of new membrane technologies for energy and the environment.
"It is also a demonstration of how collaboration across boundaries can produce transformational science with potential societal benefits."
October 05, 2007 - By mimicking a brick-and-mortar
molecular structure found in seashells, University of Michigan researchers
created a composite plastic that's as strong as steel but lighter and
It's made of layers of clay nanosheets and a water-soluble polymer that shares chemistry with white glue.
Engineering professor Nicholas Kotov almost dubbed it "plastic steel," but the new material isn't quite stretchy enough to earn that name. Nevertheless, he says its further development could lead to lighter, stronger armor for soldiers or police and their vehicles. It could also be used in microelectromechanical devices, microfluidics, biomedical sensors and valves and unmanned aircraft.
Kotov and other U-M faculty members are authors of a paper on this composite material, "Ultrastrong and Stiff Layered Polymer Nanocomposites," published in the Oct. 5 edition of Science.
The scientists solved a problem that has confounded engineers and scientists for decades: Individual nano-size building blocks such as nanotubes, nanosheets and nanorods are ultrastrong. But larger materials made out of bonded nano-size building blocks were comparatively weak. Until now.
"When you tried to build something you can hold in your arms, scientists had difficulties transferring the strength of individual nanosheets or nanotubes to the entire material," Kotov said. "We've demonstrated that one can achieve almost ideal transfer of stress between nanosheets and a polymer matrix."
The researchers created this new composite plastic with a machine they developed that builds materials one nanoscale layer after another.
The robotic machine consists of an arm that hovers over a wheel of vials of different liquids. In this case, the arm held a piece of glass about the size of a stick of gum on which it built the new material.
The arm dipped the glass into the glue-like polymer solution and then into a liquid that was a dispersion of clay nanosheets. After those layers dried, the process repeated. It took 300 layers of each the glue-like polymer and the clay nanosheets to create a piece of this material as thick as a piece of plastic wrap.
Mother of pearl, the iridescent lining of mussel and oyster shells, is built layer-by-layer like this. It's one of the toughest natural mineral-based materials.
The glue-like polymer used in this experiment, which is polyvinyl alcohol, was as important as the layer-by-layer assembly process. The structure of the "nanoglue" and the clay nanosheets allowed the layers to form cooperative hydrogen bonds, which gives rise to what Kotov called "the Velcro effect." Such bonds, if broken, can reform easily in a new place.
The Velcro effect is one reason the material is so strong. Another is the arrangement of the nanosheets. They're stacked like bricks, in an alternating pattern.
"When you have a brick-and-mortar structure, any cracks are blunted by each interface," Kotov explained. "It's hard to replicate with nanoscale building blocks on a large scale, but that's what we've achieved."
6) Berkeley Lab's Ultraclean Combustion Technology For Electricity Generation Fires Up in Hydrogen Tests
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, http://www.lbl.gov/Tech-Transfer/techs/lbnl0916.html
August 03, 2007 - BERKELEY, CA - An experimental gas
turbine simulator equipped with an ultralow-emissions combustion technology
called LSI has been tested successfully using pure hydrogen as a fuel - a
milestone that indicates a potential to help eliminate millions of tons of
carbon dioxide and thousands of tons of NOx from power plants each
The LSI (low-swirl injector) technology, developed by Robert Cheng of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, recently won a 2007 R&D 100 award from R&D magazine as one of the top 100 new technologies of the year.
The LSI holds great promise for its near-zero emissions of nitrogen oxides, gases that are emitted during the combustion of fuels such as natural gas during the production of electricity. Nitrogen oxides, or NOx, are greenhouse gases as well as components of smog.
The Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability initially funded the development of the LSI for use in industrial gas turbines for on-site (i.e. distributed) electricity production. The purpose of this research was to develop a natural gas-burning turbine using the LSI's ability to substantially reduce NOx emissions.
Cheng, Berkeley Lab colleague David Littlejohn, and Kenneth Smith and Wazeem Nazeer from Solar Turbines Inc. of San Diego adapted the low-swirl injector technology to the Taurus 70 gas turbine that produces about seven megawatts of electricity. The team's effort garnered them the R&D 100 honor. It is continuing the LSI development for carbon-neutral renewable fuels available from landfills and other industrial processes such as petroleum refining and waste treatments.
"This is a kind of rocket science," says Cheng, who notes that these turbines, which are being used to produce electricity by burning gaseous fuels, are similar in operating principle to turbines that propel jet airplanes.
DOE's Office of Fossil Energy is funding another project in which the LSI is being tested for its ability to burn syngas (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide) and hydrogen fuels in an advanced IGCC plant (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) called FutureGen, which is planned to be the world's first near-zero-emissions coal power plant. The intention of the FutureGen plant is to produce hydrogen from gasification of coal and sequester the carbon dioxide generated by the process. The LSI is one of several combustion technologies being evaluated for use in the 200+- megawatt utility-size hydrogen turbine that is a key component of the FutureGen plant.
The collaboration between Berkeley Lab and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, WV, recently achieved the milestone of successfully test-firing an LSI unit using pure hydrogen as its fuel.
Because the LSI is a simple and cost-effective technology that can burn a variety of fuels, it has the potential to help eliminate millions of tons of carbon dioxide and thousands of tons of NOx from power plants each year.
In a letter of support to the R&D 100 selection committee, Leonard Angello, manager of Combustion Turbine Technology for the Electric Power Research Institute, wrote: "I am impressed by the potential of this device as a critical enabling technology for the next generation coal-based Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle power plants with CO2 capture-This application holds promise for the gas turbines in IGCC power plants that operate on high-hydrogen-content syngas fuels or pure hydrogen."
How the LSI works
The low swirl injector is a mechanically simple device with no moving parts that imparts a mild spin to the gaseous fuel and air mixture that causes the mixture to spread out. The flame is stabilized within the spreading flow just beyond the exit of the burner. Not only is the flame stable, but it also burns at a lower temperature than that of conventional burners. The production of nitrogen oxides is highly temperature-dependent, and the lower temperature of the flame reduces emissions of nitrogen oxides to very low levels.
"The LSI principle defies conventional approaches," says Cheng. "Combustion experts worldwide are just beginning to embrace this counter-intuitive idea. Principles from turbulent fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and flame chemistry are all required to explain the science underlying this combustion phenomenon."
Natural gas-burning turbines with the low-swirl injector emit an order of magnitude lower levels of NOx than conventional turbines. Tests at Berkeley Lab and Solar Turbines showed that the burners with the LSI emit 2 parts per million of NOx (corrected to 15% oxygen), more than five times times less than conventional burners.
A more significant benefit of the LSI technology is its ability to burn a variety of different fuels from natural gas to hydrogen and the relative ease to incorporate it into current gas turbine design - extensive redesign of the turbine is not needed. The LSI is being designed as a drop-in component for gas-burning turbine power plants.
This technology is available for license for gas turbines and certain other fields of use. For information, go to http://www.lbl.gov/Tech-Transfer/techs/lbnl0916.html
Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, CA. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California. Visit our website at http://www.lbl.gov./color>
* For more information about low-swirl combustion research, see:
* For more information about DOE's FutureGen initiative, see:
5) Garage scientist aims to thwart OPEC
Nathan VanderKlippe, Financial Post Published: Friday, November 16, 2007
Cold fusion would solve world's energy woes. Trouble is no one so far has made it work
Tucked away in the back corner of an old mattress warehouse in this Vancouver suburb sits a silver sphere not much larger than a human head. Like some mad inventor's futuristic Chia pet, it sprouts numerous wires that lead to banks of capacitors, batteries capable of delivering their charge at lightning speed.
It could easily pass for a school science project from some overly keen teen -- complete with its very own home-made flourishes, like a particle detector hidden inside a stovepipe and held together with black electrical tape.
But if this is a science project -- and in many ways that is what it is for Michel Laberge, the 40-something PhD who has spent five years building and perfecting it -- it is among the most ambitious ever conceived. This modest assemblage of wires and dreams is in fact a home-brew nuclear-fusion reactor -- if reactor is the right word to describe a device that has in the past few years achieved a micro-second's worth of miniscule energy output just seven times.
But for Mr. Laberge, a slightly dishevelled Quebecer who built his fusion device in an old gas station on an island near Vancouver, it is the prototype for something enormous -- something that, in his words, "will actually save the planet."
He admits it is a lofty goal.
"This is an outrageously ambitious project," he says. "Thousands of physicists have spent billions every year for the last 40 years [trying in vain to produce fusion] and I'm saying I'm going to take those guys and do it."
Mr. Laberge is hardly alone in the corner of the country that bred the hydrogen fuel cell more than two decades ago. Ballard Power Systems Inc. pioneered that technology, which promised cars that dripped nothing but water from their tailpipes, not far from where Mr. Laberge and his three-man company, General Fusion, are working today.
Last week, Ballard announced that it had sold off its automotive fuel cell division and admitted that the hydrogen-powered car remains little more than a distant dream. Ballard will now focus on the decidedly less glamorous work of making fuel cells for forklifts, backup power and cogeneration units that produce power and heat for homes.
But if Ballard has stumbled, the tech-friendly environment its early successes fostered in B.C. is flourishing, with dozens of small to medium-sized companies working on everything from fuel-cell-powered cell phones to revolutionary new kinds of batteries.
Few, however, embody the bold promise of new technology as well as Mr. Laberge, who has drawn around him some of the same people who first saw Ballard's promise. One of them is Michael Brown, now executive director of Chrysalix Energy Management, Canada's largest clean energy venture capital fund.
"If this form of fusion works, this is worth not millions but more than billions," Mr. Brown said. "I used to say that you can have a one-comma opportunity, a two-comma opportunity or a three-comma opportunity. This may be a four-comma opportunity. You write out a number with zeroes and four commas, that's a big number."
The reason: if fusion works, it will use as an energy supply a material -- deuterium -- that is so prevalent it could power all of earth's needs for millions of years. And it will do it cheaper than coal power, completely without greenhouse gases and without risk of nuclear meltdown (a coal plant produces more radiation than a fusion plant would).
If it were achieved, fusion could almost instantly end the most vexatious issues confronting society today: climate change and peak oil.
There is no dispute that the "if" needs to be bolded, capitalized and triple underlined, given that vast sums of money and the world's brightest scientific minds have so far been unable to create a fusion reaction that produces more energy than it sucks up. Most have been abysmal failures.
Yet history has taught that men in garages working with shoestring budgets can do remarkable things. Take the Wright brothers, for instance, or Craig Venter, the surf-bum-turned-scientist who sequenced the human genome at a pace and cost considered impossible.
That those examples are exceedingly rare has not tempered Mr. Laberge's ambitions, despite his unlikely path into his current field. As a student, he had studied laser physics before landing a job at Creo Inc., the B.C. maker of printing technology that was bought out by Eastman Kodak Co. in 2005.
Two weeks before his 40th birthday, however, he looked at his life's work and gulped.
"I said, 'Ok what am I doing here? I'm making printing so cheap that I can fill your mailbox with junk mail. This is what my hard work produces here -- cheap junkmail'," he said.
Thinking back to his PhD studies, which had brought him into contact with fusion, he quickly latched onto that idea.
"I knew that the energy situation of the planet is a complete disaster -- and we're going straight for total disaster -- so we need some solution to that," he said. "I decided that fusion is the solution so I say, 'Ok, I'm quitting Creo and I'm going to do fusion myself'."
Begging and borrowing from friends and family, he managed to cobble together enough cash to begin his work.
Where nuclear fission produces electricity by splitting apart atoms -- a process that can release enough energy to level cities -- fusion is exactly the opposite. It works to join atoms together, a process that also produces enormous energy.
But it is exceedingly difficult to achieve because it involves melding together the protons of two atoms that naturally repel. The only way to do it is to create a shockwave in a sphere that will press together the atoms in the centre with extraordinary pressure and temperatures of 100-million degrees Celsius.
Sustaining those conditions has proven impossible in the nearly eight decades since fusion was first proposed as a theory. The world record is the production of 16 megawatts of power for less than a second, and the most intensive global effort to beat that mark is a hugely expensive one. ITER, a recently formed international research and development project whose partners include the European Union, Japan, China, India and the United States, plans to build a fusion reactor in France with a budget of 10-billion euros, a construction time of 10 years and no ambitions to produce marketable electricity.
Mr. Laberge believes he can build a functioning prototype fusion unit for $50-million in half a decade, and produce commercial electricity with a $500-million reactor. General Fusion has already raised $1.4-million this year, and has pencilled-in commitments for another $5-million to $6-million as part of a financing campaign.
He is not crazy. Although he has not described his successes or methods in refereed publications -- "basically because I really don't like writing papers," he says -- some of Canada's leading fusion physicists say there is no reason to doubt he has achieved fusion.
They do, however, question whether he can succeed.
"What he has done is not enough because everybody can get fusion. It doesn't take anything," said Emilio Panarella, a long-time fusion scientist with the federal government who now runs Ottawa-based Fusion Reactor Technology, Inc., and has his own backyard project to solve the fusion puzzle.
"But the objective is so important that any enthusiastic person that joins this race is to be applauded not reprimanded."
Mr. Laberge himself is strikingly upfront about his own somewhat modest successes. In well over 30 tries, he has created fusion in only seven, and each produced an infinitesimal amount of energy.
Not only that, it now takes him a week between attempts. For fusion power to work, he needs to be able to make an attempt once a second. He figures that a bigger machine that produces compression with steam-powered pistons, instead of the bits of exploding foil he currently uses, will solve those issues.
But for that to work, he will need to make steam-powered pistons act with space-age precision. For atoms to stick together, they need to be hit with a perfect compression wave that will come from all sides of the sphere at exactly the same time. It is akin to compressing a balloon without letting it get misshapen -- except Mr. Laberge has to synchronize the compression from 200 different pistons in one-millionth of a second.
Whether Mr. Laberge can pull it off remains a potentially show-stopping question that he hopes to answer in the next two years with a pared-down, $10-million prototype.
If he can, he will be about 60% of the way to creating fusion power. Still, there is no doubt that those investing in this gambit are rolling the dice, and Mr. Brown hopes to convince big oil and utility companies to invest as one strategy for his retrieving his money if the technology doesn't work.
"The chances are that we will lose our money," he admits. "But it's not one-in-a million odds. I think we're in the 20% to 25% likelihood of getting through the first part, and if we do succeed the prize is unbelievably big. So from a risk-reward perspective, this is a risk that's worth taking."
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