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  • richardmitnick 1:02 pm on September 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Clean Energy, , , , New science,   

    From WCG: “Supercharging Environmental and Climate Change Research” 

    New WCG Logo

    WCGLarge

    World Community Grid (WCG)

    10 Jul 2017 {Just popped up in social media.]

    Summary
    IBM invites scientists to apply for grants of supercomputing power through World Community Grid, meteorological data from The Weather Company, and IBM Cloud storage to support their environmental and climate change research projects.

    World Community Grid supports research that tackles our planet’s most pressing challenges, including environmental issues. That’s why we’re pleased to announce a new partnership with The Weather Company (an IBM business) and IBM Cloud to provide free technology and data for environmental and climate change projects.

    Environmental scientists have long been warning the public about the effects of climate change, and many researchers attribute events such as this summer’s record temperatures in western Europe and the worst drought since the 1940s in parts of Africa to climate change caused by humankind’s activities. The future consequences of climate change could include rising sea levels, potential crop loss, and harsh economic consequences throughout the world. And as funding for scientific research shrinks in many countries, the gap between what scientists must discover–how to mitigate or adapt to climate change–and their resources for such discovery is growing ever wider.

    Thanks to the contributions of volunteers all over the globe, World Community Grid is ready to address that gap. Since 2004, our research partners have completed the equivalent of thousands of years of work in just a few years, including enabling advances in environmental science.

    For example, scientists at Harvard University used World Community Grid to run the Clean Energy Project [see below], the world’s largest quantum chemistry experiment with the goal of identifying new materials for solar energy. In just a few years, they analyzed millions of chemical compounds to predict their efficiency at converting sunlight into electricity. Their discovery of thousands of promising compounds could advance the development of cheap, flexible solar cell materials that we hope will be used worldwide to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to the fight against climate change.

    Other environmental research projects conducted with help from World Community Grid have included new water filtration technology [see below], watershed preservation and crop sustainability.

    That’s why we’re pleased to announce that IBM is inviting scientists around the world to apply for grants of supercomputing power from World Community Grid, meteorological data from The Weather Company, and IBM Cloud storage to support their climate change or environmental research projects. Up to five of the most promising environmental and climate-related research projects will be supported. This support, technology, and data can support many potential areas of inquiry, such as impacts on fresh water resources, predicting migration patterns, and developing models to improve crop resilience.

    Proposals for projects will be evaluated for scientific merit, potential to contribute to the global community’s understanding of specific climate and environmental challenges and development of effective strategies to mitigate them, and the capacity of the research team to manage a sustained research project. And like all other World Community Grid projects, researchers who receive these resources must agree to abide by our open data policy by publicly releasing the data from their collaboration with us.

    Scientists from around the world can apply at http://climate.worldcommunitygrid.org, with a first round deadline of September 15.

    There’s still time to mitigate or adapt to the effects of climate change, and scientific research will continue to play a crucial role in how our planet addresses this crisis. We hope you will join us by giving your computers the ability to work around the clock for science.

    Scientists Apply Here.

    See the full article here.

    Ways to access the blog:
    https://sciencesprings.wordpress.com
    http://facebook.com/sciencesprings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
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    Stem Education Coalition

    World Community Grid (WCG) brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”
    WCG projects run on BOINC software from UC Berkeley.
    BOINCLarge

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

    BOINC WallPaper

    CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE? YOU BET!!

    My BOINC
    MyBOINC
    “Download and install secure, free software that captures your computer’s spare power when it is on, but idle. You will then be a World Community Grid volunteer. It’s that simple!” You can download the software at either WCG or BOINC.

    Please visit the project pages-

    FightAIDS@home Phase II

    FAAH Phase II
    OpenZika

    Rutgers Open Zika

    Help Stop TB
    WCG Help Stop TB
    Outsmart Ebola together

    Outsmart Ebola Together

    Mapping Cancer Markers
    mappingcancermarkers2

    Uncovering Genome Mysteries
    Uncovering Genome Mysteries

    Say No to Schistosoma

    GO Fight Against Malaria

    Drug Search for Leishmaniasis

    Computing for Clean Water

    The Clean Energy Project

    Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together

    Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

    Help Fight Childhood Cancer

    Help Conquer Cancer

    Human Proteome Folding

    FightAIDS@Home

    faah-1-new-screen-saver

    faah-1-new

    World Community Grid is a social initiative of IBM Corporation
    IBM Corporation
    ibm

    IBM – Smarter Planet
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  • richardmitnick 9:04 am on September 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clean Energy, , High-tech mirror-like optical surface, Stanford professor tests a cooling system that works without electricity,   

    From Stanford: “Stanford professor tests a cooling system that works without electricity” 

    Stanford University Name
    Stanford University

    September 4, 2017
    Taylor Kubota

    Stanford scientists cooled water without electricity by sending excess heat where it won’t be noticed – space. The specialized optical surfaces they developed are a major step toward applying this technology to air conditioning and refrigeration.

    1
    A fluid-cooling panel designed by Shanhui Fan, professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, and former research associates Aaswath Raman and Eli Goldstein being tested on the roof of the Packard Electrical Engineering Building. This is an updated version of the panels used in the research published in Nature Energy. (Image credit: Aaswath Raman)

    It looks like a regular roof, but the top of the Packard Electrical Engineering Building at Stanford University has been the setting of many milestones in the development of an innovative cooling technology that could someday be part of our everyday lives. Since 2013, Shanhui Fan, professor of electrical engineering, and his students and research associates have employed this roof as a testbed for a high-tech mirror-like optical surface that could be the future of lower-energy air conditioning and refrigeration.

    Research published in 2014 [Nature] first showed the cooling capabilities of the optical surface on its own. Now, Fan and former research associates Aaswath Raman and Eli Goldstein, have shown that a system involving these surfaces can cool flowing water to a temperature below that of the surrounding air. The entire cooling process is done without electricity.

    “This research builds on our previous work with radiative sky cooling but takes it to the next level. It provides for the first time a high-fidelity technology demonstration of how you can use radiative sky cooling to passively cool a fluid and, in doing so, connect it with cooling systems to save electricity,” said Raman, who is co-lead author of the paper detailing this research, published in Nature Energy Sept. 4.

    Together, Fan, Goldstein and Raman have founded the company SkyCool Systems, which is working on further testing and commercializing this technology.

    Sending our heat to space

    Radiative sky cooling is a natural process that everyone and everything does, resulting from the moments of molecules releasing heat. You can witness it for yourself in the heat that comes off a road as it cools after sunset. This phenomenon is particularly noticeable on a cloudless night because, without clouds, the heat we and everything around us radiates can more easily make it through Earth’s atmosphere, all the way to the vast, cold reaches of space.

    “If you have something that is very cold – like space – and you can dissipate heat into it, then you can do cooling without any electricity or work. The heat just flows,” explained Fan, who is senior author of the paper. “For this reason, the amount of heat flow off the Earth that goes to the universe is enormous.”

    Although our own bodies release heat through radiative cooling to both the sky and our surroundings, we all know that on a hot, sunny day, radiative sky cooling isn’t going to live up to its name. This is because the sunlight will warm you more than radiative sky cooling will cool you. To overcome this problem, the team’s surface uses a multilayer optical film that reflects about 97 percent of the sunlight while simultaneously being able to emit the surface’s thermal energy through the atmosphere. Without heat from sunlight, the radiative sky cooling effect can enable cooling below the air temperature even on a sunny day.

    “With this technology, we’re no longer limited by what the air temperature is, we’re limited by something much colder: the sky and space,” said Goldstein, co-lead author of the paper.

    The experiments published in 2014 were performed using small wafers of a multilayer optical surface, about 8 inches in diameter, and only showed how the surface itself cooled. Naturally, the next step was to scale up the technology and see how it works as part of a larger cooling system.

    Putting radiative sky cooling to work

    For their latest paper, the researchers created a system where panels covered in the specialized optical surfaces sat atop pipes of running water and tested it on the roof of the Packard Building in September 2015. These panels were slightly more than 2 feet in length on each side and the researchers ran as many as four at a time. With the water moving at a relatively fast rate, they found the panels were able to consistently reduce the temperature of the water 3 to 5 degrees Celsius below ambient air temperature over a period of three days.

    2
    This photo from 2014 shows the reflectivity of the mirror-like optical surface Fan, Raman and Goldstein have been researching, which allows for daytime radiative sky cooling by sending thermal energy into the sky while also blocking sunlight. The people in this photo (left to right) are Linxiano Zhu, PhD ‘16, co-author of the [Nature], Fan and Raman. (Image credit: Norbert von der Groeben)

    The researchers also applied data from this experiment to a simulation where their panels covered the roof of a two-story commercial office building in Las Vegas – a hot, dry location where their panels would work best – and contributed to its cooling system. They calculated how much electricity they could save if, in place of a conventional air-cooled chiller, they used vapor-compression system with a condenser cooled by their panels. They found that, in the summer months, the panel-cooled system would save 14.3 megawatt-hours of electricity, a 21 percent reduction in the electricity used to cool the building. Over the entire period, the daily electricity savings fluctuated from 18 percent to 50 percent.

    Right now, SkyCool Systems is measuring the energy saved when panels are integrated with traditional air conditioning and refrigeration systems at a test facility, and Fan, Goldstein and Raman are optimistic that this technology will find broad applicability in the years to come. The researchers are focused on making their panels integrate easily with standard air conditioning and refrigeration systems and they are particularly excited at the prospect of applying their technology to the serious task of cooling data centers.

    Fan has also carried out research on various other aspects of radiative cooling technology. He and Raman have applied the concept of radiative sky cooling to the creation of an efficiency-boosting coating for solar cells. With Yi Cui, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and of photon science at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Fan developed a cooling fabric.

    “It’s very intriguing to think about the universe as such an immense resource for cooling and all the many interesting, creative ideas that one could come up with to take advantage of this,” he said.

    Fan is also director of the Edward L. Ginzton Laboratory, a professor, by courtesy, of applied physics and an affiliate of the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy.

    This work was funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) of the Department of Energy.

    See the full article here .

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    Stem Education Coalition

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

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  • richardmitnick 1:31 pm on August 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Clean Energy, , , ,   

    From PPPL: “PPPL physicists essential to new campaign on world’s most powerful stellarator” 


    PPPL

    August 28, 2017
    John Greenwald

    KIT Wendelstein 7-X, built in Greifswald, Germany

    1
    Fish-eye view of interior of W7-X showing graphite tiles that cover magnetic coils. (Photo courtesy of IPP.)

    Physicists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are providing critical expertise for the first full campaign of the world’s largest and most powerful stellarator, a magnetic confinement fusion experiment, the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) in Germany. The fusion facility resumes operating on August 28, 2017, and will investigate the suitability of its optimized magnetic fields to create steady state plasmas and to serve as a model for a future power plant for the production of a “star in a jar,” a virtually limitless source of safe and clean energy for generating electricity.

    The W7-X started up in December, 2015, and concluded its initial run in March, 2016. The facility has since been upgraded to prepare for the high-power campaign that is set to begin.

    Deeply involved in the new 15-week run are PPPL physicists Sam Lazerson and Novimir Pablant, who are spending two years at the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics in Greifswald, Germany. Lazerson, who previously mapped the W7-X magnetic fields with barn-door sized magnetic coils built by PPPL, heads a task force that will plan and run a series of experiments on the stellarator. Pablant, who designed an x-ray crystal spectrometer to record the behavior of W7-X plasma, will operate the diagnostic together with a German spectrometer and will contribute to planning and executing research.

    First run in designed configuration

    “This will be the first run of the machine in its designed configuration,” said David Gates, who heads the stellarator physics division at PPPL and oversees the laboratory’s role as lead U.S. collaborator in the W7-X project. The new run will test a device called an “island divertor” for exhausting thermal energy and impurities. The campaign will also increase the heating power of the stellarator to eight megawatts to enable operation at a higher beta — the ratio of plasma pressure to the magnetic field pressure, a key factor for plasma confinement.

    Such progress marks steps toward lengthening the confinement time of the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions within the optimized machine. “The goal is to increase plasma confinement compared with traditional stellarators,” said Gates.

    Going forward, Max Planck engineers plan to install a U.S.-built “scraper element” on the W7-X after completion of the initial 15-week campaign. The following phase will study the ability of the unit, originally designed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and completed at PPPL, to intercept heat flowing toward the divertor and improve its performance. Plans call next for installation of a water-cooled divertor in 2019 to further increase the allowable pulse length of the stellarator.

    See the full article here .

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    PPPL campus

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University. PPPL, on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. Results of PPPL research have ranged from a portable nuclear materials detector for anti-terrorist use to universally employed computer codes for analyzing and predicting the outcome of fusion experiments. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:40 pm on August 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Clean Energy, , , , World's Biggest Solar Thermal Power Plant Just Got Approved in Australia   

    From Science Alert: “World’s Biggest Solar Thermal Power Plant Just Got Approved in Australia” 

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    16 AUG 2017
    DAVID NIELD

    1
    Crescent Dunes near Las Vegas, the blueprint for the new plant. Credit: Solar Reserve.

    The onward march of renewables continues: an Australian state government has greenlit the biggest solar thermal power plant of its kind in the world, a 150-megawatt structure set to be built in Port Augusta in South Australia.

    As well as providing around 650 construction jobs for local workers, the plant will provide all the electricity needs for the state government, with some to spare – and it should help to make solar energy even more affordable in the future.

    Work on the AU$650 million (US$510 million) plant is getting underway next year and is slated to be completed in 2020, adding to Australia’s growing list of impressive renewable energy projects that already cover solar and tidal.

    “The significance of solar thermal generation lies in its ability to provide energy virtually on demand through the use of thermal energy storage to store heat for running the power turbines,” says sustainable energy engineering professor Wasim Saman, from the University of South Australia.

    “This is a substantially more economical way of storing energy than using batteries.”

    Solar photovoltaic plants convert sunlight directly into electricity, so they need batteries to store excess power for when the Sun isn’t shining; solar thermal plants, meanwhile, use mirrors to concentrate the sunlight into a heating system.

    A variety of heating systems are in use, but In this case, molten salt will be heated up – a more economical storage option than batteries – which is then used to boil water, spin a steam turbine, and generate electricity when required.

    The developers of the Port Augusta plant say it can continue to generate power at full load for up to 8 hours after the Sun’s gone down.

    The Crescent Dunes plant in Nevada will act as the blueprint for the one in Port Augusta, as it was built by the same contractor, Solar Reserve. That site has a 110-megawatt capacity.

    Renewable energy sources now account for more than 40 percent of the electricity generated in South Australia, and as solar becomes a more stable and reliable provider of energy, that in turn pushes prices lower.

    Importantly, the cost of the new plant is well below the estimated cost of a new coal-fired power station, giving the government another reason to back renewables. The cost-per-megawatt of the new plant works out about the same as wind power and solar photovoltaic plants.

    But engineering researcher Fellow Matthew Stocks, from the Australian National University, says we still have “lots to learn” about how solar thermal technologies can fit into an electric grid system.

    “One of the big challenges for solar thermal as a storage tool is that it can only store heat,” says Stocks. “If there is an excess of electricity in the system because the wind is blowing strong, it cannot efficiently use it to store electrical power to shift the energy to times of shortage, unlike batteries and pumped hydro.”

    Authorities say 50 full-time workers will be required to operate the plant, using similar skills to those needed to run a coal or gas station. That will encourage workers laid off after the region’s coal-fired power station was closed down last year.

    Solar thermal has been backed to the tune of AU$110m ($86m) of equity provided by the federal government.

    And as renewables become more and more important to our power grids, expect to see this huge solar thermal plant eventually get eclipsed by a bigger one.

    “This is first large scale application of solar thermal generation in Australia which has been operating successfully in Europe, USA and Africa,” says Saman.

    “While this technology is perhaps a decade behind solar PV generation, many future world energy forecasts include a considerable proportion of this technology in tomorrow’s energy mix.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 11:32 am on August 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A copper catalyst that converts carbon dioxide into ethanol, , , Clean Energy, , How do you make ethanol without growing corn?,   

    From Stanford: “How do you make ethanol without growing corn?” 

    Stanford University Name
    Stanford University

    June 20, 2017 [Delayed waiting for a link to the science paper.]
    Mark Shwartz

    1
    SLAC scientist Christopher Hahn sees his reflection in a copper catalyst that converts carbon dioxide into ethanol. | Image credit: Mark Shwartz.

    Most cars and trucks in the United States run on a blend of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol, a renewable fuel made primarily from fermented corn. But producing the 14 billion gallons of ethanol consumed annually by American drivers requires millions of acres of farmland.

    A recent discovery by Stanford University scientists could lead to a new, more sustainable way to make ethanol without corn or other crops. This technology has three basic components: water, carbon dioxide and electricity delivered through a copper catalyst. The results are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “One of our long-range goals is to produce renewable ethanol in a way that doesn’t impact the global food supply,” said study principal investigator Thomas Jaramillo, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Stanford and of photon science at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    “Copper is one of the few catalysts that can produce ethanol at room temperature,” he said. “You just feed it electricity, water and carbon dioxide, and it makes ethanol. The problem is that it also makes 15 other compounds simultaneously, including lower-value products like methane and carbon monoxide. Separating those products would be an expensive process and require a lot of energy.”

    Scientists would like to design copper catalysts that selectively convert carbon dioxide into higher-value chemicals and fuels, like ethanol and propanol, with few or no byproducts. But first they need a clear understanding of how these catalysts actually work. That’s where the recent findings come in.

    Copper crystals

    For the PNAS study, the Stanford team chose three samples of crystalline copper, known as copper (100), copper (111) and copper (751). Scientists use these numbers to describe the surface geometries of single crystals.

    “Copper (100), (111) and (751) look virtually identical but have major differences in the way their atoms are arranged on the surface,” said Christopher Hahn, an associate staff scientist at SLAC and co-lead lead author of the study. “The essence of our work is to understand how these different facets of copper affect electrocatalytic performance.”

    In previous studies, scientists had created single-crystal copper electrodes just 1-square millimeter in size. For this study, Hahn and his co-workers at SLAC developed a novel way to grow single crystal-like copper on top of large wafers of silicon and sapphire. This approach resulted in films of each form of copper with a 6-square centimeter surface, 600 times bigger than typical single crystals.

    Catalytic performance

    To compare electrocatalytic performance, the researchers placed the three large electrodes in water, exposed them to carbon dioxide gas and applied a potential to generate an electric current.

    The results were clear. When the team applied a specific voltage, the electrodes made of copper (751) were far more selective to liquid products, such as ethanol and propanol, than those made of copper (100) or (111).

    Ultimately, the Stanford team would like to develop a technology capable of selectively producing carbon-neutral fuels and chemicals at an industrial scale.

    “The eye on the prize is to create better catalysts that have game-changing potential by taking carbon dioxide as a feedstock and converting it into much more valuable products using renewable electricity or sunlight directly,” Jaramillo said. “We plan to use this method on nickel and other metals to further understand the chemistry at the surface. We think this study is an important piece of the puzzle and will open up whole new avenues of research for the community.”

    See the full article here .

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    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

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  • richardmitnick 2:55 pm on August 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , California, Clean Energy, Climate policies study shows Inland Empire economic boon, , ,   

    From UC Berkeley: “Climate policies study shows Inland Empire economic boon” 

    UC Berkeley

    UC Berkeley

    August 3, 2017
    Jacqueline Sullivan

    1
    UC Berkeley researchers found that the proliferation of renewable energy plants — like the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm shown above — is responsible for over 90 percent of the direct benefit of California’s climate and clean energy policies in the Inland Empire. (iStock photo).

    According to the first comprehensive study of the economic effects of climate programs in California’s Inland Empire, Riverside and San Bernardino counties experienced a net benefit of $9.1 billion in direct economic activity and 41,000 jobs from 2010 through 2016.

    Researchers at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education and the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at Berkeley Law report that many of these jobs were created by one-time construction investments associated with building renewable energy power plants. These investments, they say, helped rekindle the construction industry, which experienced major losses during the Great Recession.

    When accounting for the spillover effects, the researchers report in their study commissioned by nonpartisan, nonprofit group Next 10, that state climate policies resulted in a total of $14.2 billion in economic activity and more than 73,000 jobs for the region during the same seven years.

    Study focal points

    2
    Inland Empire residents are at especially high risk for pollution-related health conditions. This hazy view from a Rancho Cucamonga street attests to the region’s smog problem. (Photo by Mikeetc via Creative Commons).

    Because smog in San Bernardino and Riverside counties is consistently among the worst in the state, residents are at especially high risk of pollution-related health conditions.

    “California has many at-risk communities — communities that are vulnerable to climate change, but also vulnerable to the policy solutions designed to slow climate change,” said Betony Jones, lead author of the report and associate director of the Green Economy Program at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education.

    In the Inland Empire, per capita income is approximately $23,000, compared to the state average of $30,000, and 17.5 percent of the residents of Riverside and San Bernardino counties live below the poverty line, compared to 14.7 percent of all Californians.

    The Net Economic Impacts of California’s Major Climate Programs in the Inland Empire study comes out right after the state’s recent decision to extend California’s cap-and-trade program, and as other states and countries look to California as a model.

    Cap-and-trade

    After accounting for compliance spending and investment of cap-and-trade revenue, researchers found cap and trade had net economic impacts of $25.7 million in San Bernardino and Riverside counties in the first four years of the program, from 2013 to 2016.

    That includes $900,000 in increased tax revenue and net employment growth of 154 jobs through the Inland Empire economy. When funds that have been appropriated but have not yet been spent are included, projected net economic benefits reach nearly $123 million, with 945 jobs created and $5.5 million in tax revenue.

    Proliferation of renewables

    The researchers found that the proliferation of renewable energy plants is responsible for over 90 percent of the direct benefit of California’s climate and clean energy policies in the Inland Empire. As of October 2016, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties were home to more than 17 percent of the state’s renewable generation capacity, according the California Energy Commission.

    3
    Researchers found that altogether, renewables like the solar panels pictured above, contributed more than 60,000 net jobs to the regional economy over seven years. (iStock photo)

    “Even after accounting for construction that would have taken place in a business-as-usual scenario, new renewable power plants created the largest number of jobs in the region over the seven-year period, generating 29,000 high-skilled, high-quality construction jobs,” said Jones.

    The authors compared the jobs created in the generation of renewable electricity with those that would have been created by maintaining natural gas electricity generation. “While renewables create fewer direct jobs, the multiplier effects are greater in the Inland Empire economy,” Jones said. “Altogether, renewable generation contributed over 60,000 net jobs to the regional economy over seven years.”

    Rooftop solar, energy efficiency programs

    The report looks at the costs and benefits of the California Solar Initiative, the federal renewables Investment Tax Credit, and investor-owned utility energy efficiency programs, which provide direct incentives for solar installation and energy efficiency retrofits at homes, businesses and institutions. These programs provided about $1.1 billion in subsidies for distributed solar and $612 million for efficiency in the Inland Empire between 2010 and 2016.

    While researchers calculated benefits for these two programs separately, they identified the costs of these programs to electricity ratepayers together. When the benefits are weighed against these costs, the total net impact of both programs resulted in the creation of more than 12,000 jobs and $1.68 billion across the economy over the seven years studied.

    The report’s authors suggest that officials and/or policymakers:

    Develop a comprehensive program for transportation, the greatest challenge facing in California’s climate goals;
    Expand energy efficiency programs to reduce energy use in the existing building and housing stock while reducing energy costs and creating jobs and economic activity;
    Ensure that the Inland Empire receives appropriate statewide spending based on its economic and environmental needs;
    Develop transition programs for workers and communities affected by the decline of the Inland Empire’s greenhouse gas-emitting industries.

    “California continues to demonstrate leadership on climate and clean energy, and results like these show that California’s models can be exported,” said Ethan Elkind, climate director at the UC Berkeley Center for Law, Energy and the Environment.

    Noel Perry, founder of Next 10, said the report gives policymakers and stakeholders the concrete data needed to weigh policy options and investments in the Inland Empire and beyond.

    See the full article here .

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    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

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  • richardmitnick 9:44 am on June 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Clean Energy, , Human waste used as biosolids for fertilizer, Macdonald campus in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, , McGill gets $3 million to fund research into cutting greenhouse gases, Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions caused by water and fertilizer use in agriculture,   

    From McGill via Montreal Gazette: “McGill gets $3 million to fund research into cutting greenhouse gases” 

    McGill University

    McGill University

    1

    Montreal Gazette

    June 14, 2017
    John Meagher

    2
    McGill professor Grant Clark displays human waste used as biosolids for fertilizer, on test fields at Macdonald campus on Monday. The federal government is investing in the university to conduct research on greenhouse gas mitigation in agriculture. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

    McGill University researchers at Macdonald campus in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue got some welcome news Monday when the federal government announced nearly $3 million in funding for research projects that will help farmers cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    Local Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia and Jean-Claude Poissant, Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Agriculture, announced $2.9 million in funding at a press conference for two McGill projects aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions caused by water and fertilizer use in agriculture.

    Scarpaleggia said the funding will “enable our agricultural sector to be a world leader and to develop new clean technologies and practices to enhance the economic and environmental sustainability of Canadian farms.”

    A project led by Prof. Chandra Madramootoo, of McGill’s Department of Bioresource Engineering, will receive more than $1.6 million to study the effects of different water management systems in Eastern Canada.

    The aim is to provide information on water-management practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing agricultural productivity.

    The second project, headed by McGill Prof. Grant Clark, also of the Department of Bioresource Engineering, will receive $1.3 million. The project will research best management practices for the use of municipal bio-solids, a by-product of wastewater treatment plants, as a crop fertilizer.

    “I’m a firm believer in science-based policy,” Clark said. “And we require the support of government to develop the knowledge to promote that policy.

    “I would also like to acknowledge the government’s support of real concrete action to (address) climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Clark said the research project will examine how to “reduce, reuse, recycle, reclaim” the use of nutrients and organics in agriculture

    “If were are going to develop a sustainable agricultural system, we must be conscious of how we conserve resources, reduce inputs as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build and preserve the health of our soils,” he said.

    “We are interested in linking the intensive food production required to support a growing global population with the recycling of organic wastes from our municipal centres,” Clark added.

    “The objective of the program is to use the residual solids from the treatment of municipal waste waters, or biosolids, as fertilizers for agricultural production. So this mirrors the natural cycling of nutrients or organic carbon that we see in nature. However, we can’t just go out and poop in the field. The cycle is a little more involved in order that we preserve public health and hygiene.”

    Scarpaleggia described the research work being done at the Macdonald campus in Ste-Anne as “world class.”

    “The federal government has always recognized the enormous value of Macdonald campus as a world-class research facility,” said the MP for Lac-St-Louis riding.

    “They’re doing groundbreaking work here in any areas of agriculture, including water management, which is a particular interest of mine. So it’s very important to channel some research funds to Macdonald campus.”

    Scarpaleggia said the McGill projects being funded by federal government will promote job growth in the green economy.

    “As we move ahead with climate change policies, we are, as a consequence, stimulating research, stimulating industrial innovation. We’re making that jump to the green economy with all its benefits in terms of employment and high value-added jobs.”

    The federal funding, which comes from the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP), was made on behalf of Lawrence MacAuley, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

    “The Government of Canada continues to invest in research with partners like McGill University in order to provide our farmers with the best strategies for adapting to climate change and for producing more quality food for a growing population while keeping agriculture clean and sustainable,” said Poissant.

    The AGGP is $27-million initiative aimed at helping the agricultural sector adjust to climate change and improve soil and water conservation. McGill’s agronomists and scientists are involved in 20 new research projects being conducted across Canada, from British Columbia to the Maritimes.

    See the full article here .

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    All about McGill

    With some 300 buildings, more than 38,500 students and 250,000 living alumni, and a reputation for excellence that reaches around the globe, McGill has carved out a spot among the world’s greatest universities.
    Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill is a leading Canadian post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 11 professional schools, 300 programs of study and some 39,000 students, including more than 9,300 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 8,200 international students making up 21 per cent of the student body.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:31 am on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Clean Energy, , , Harnessing the energy generated when freshwater meets saltwater, ,   

    From Penn State via phys.org: “Harnessing the energy generated when freshwater meets saltwater” 

    Penn State Bloc

    Pennsylvania State University

    phys.org

    May 29, 2017
    Jennifer Matthews

    2
    Credit: Pennsylvania State University

    Penn State researchers have created a new hybrid technology that produces unprecedented amounts of electrical power where seawater and freshwater combine at the coast.

    “The goal of this technology is to generate electricity from where the rivers meet the ocean,” said Christopher Gorski, assistant professor in environmental engineering at Penn State. “It’s based on the difference in the salt concentrations between the two water sources.”

    That difference in salt concentration has the potential to generate enough energy to meet up to 40 percent of global electricity demands. Though methods currently exist to capture this energy, the two most successful methods, pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) and reverse electrodialysis (RED), have thus far fallen short.

    PRO, the most common system, selectively allows water to transport through a semi-permeable membrane, while rejecting salt. The osmotic pressure created from this process is then converted into energy by turning turbines.

    “PRO is so far the best technology in terms of how much energy you can get out,” Gorski said. “But the main problem with PRO is that the membranes that transport the water through foul, meaning that bacteria grows on them or particles get stuck on their surfaces, and they no longer transport water through them.”

    This occurs because the holes in the membranes are incredibly small, so they become blocked easily. In addition, PRO doesn’t have the ability to withstand the necessary pressures of super salty waters.

    The second technology, RED, uses an electrochemical gradient to develop voltages across ion-exchange membranes.

    “Ion exchange membranes only allow either positively charged ions to move through them or negatively charged ions,” Gorski explained. “So only the dissolved salt is going through, and not the water itself.”

    Here, the energy is created when chloride or sodium ions are kept from crossing ion-exchange membranes as a result of selective ion transport. Ion-exchange membranes don’t require water to flow through them, so they don’t foul as easily as the membranes used in PRO; however, the problem with RED is that it doesn’t have the ability to produce large amounts of power.

    3
    Photograph of the concentration flow cell. Two plates clamp the cell together, which contains two narrow channels fed with either synthetic freshwater or seawater through the plastic lines. Credit: Pennsylvania State University

    A third technology, capacitive mixing (CapMix), is a relatively new method also being explored. CapMix is an electrode-based technology that captures energy from the voltage that develops when two identical electrodes are sequentially exposed to two different kinds of water with varying salt concentrations, such as freshwater and seawater. Like RED, the problem with CapMix is that it’s not able to yield enough power to be viable.

    Gorski, along with Bruce Logan, Evan Pugh Professor and the Stan and Flora Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering, and Taeyoung Kim, post-doctoral scholar in environmental engineering, may have found a solution to these problems. The researchers have combined both the RED and CapMix technologies in an electrochemical flow cell.

    “By combining the two methods, they end up giving you a lot more energy,” Gorski said.

    The team constructed a custom-built flow cell in which two channels were separated by an anion-exchange membrane. A copper hexacyanoferrate electrode was then placed in each channel, and graphite foil was used as a current collector. The cell was then sealed using two end plates with bolts and nuts. Once built, one channel was fed with synthetic seawater, while the other channel was fed with synthetic freshwater. Periodically switching the water’s flow paths allowed the cell to recharge and further produce power. From there, they examined how the cutoff voltage used for switching flow paths, external resistance and salt concentrations influenced peak and average power production.

    “There are two things going on here that make it work,” said Gorski. “The first is you have the salt going to the electrodes. The second is you have the chloride transferring across the membrane. Since both of these processes generate a voltage, you end up developing a combined voltage at the electrodes and across the membrane.”

    To determine the gained voltage of the flow cell depending on the type of membrane used and salinity difference, the team recorded open-circuit cell voltages while feeding two solutions at 15 milliliters per minute. Through this method, they identified that stacking multiple cells did influence electricity production. At 12.6 watts per square meter, this technology leads to peak power densities that are unprecedentedly high compared to previously reported RED (2.9 watts per square meter), and on par with the maximum calculated values for PRO (9.2 watts per square meter), but without the fouling problems.

    “What we’ve shown is that we can bring that power density up to what people have reported for pressure retarded osmosis and to a value much higher that what has been reported if you use these two processes alone,” Gorski said.

    Though the results are promising, the researchers want to do more research on the stability of the electrodes over time and want to know how other elements in seawater— like magnesium and sulfate— might affect the performance of the cell.

    “Pursuing renewable energy sources is important,” Gorski said. “If we can do carbon neutral energy, we should.”

    No science paper referenced.

    See the full article here .

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    Penn State Campus

    WHAT WE DO BEST

    We teach students that the real measure of success is what you do to improve the lives of others, and they learn to be hard-working leaders with a global perspective. We conduct research to improve lives. We add millions to the economy through projects in our state and beyond. We help communities by sharing our faculty expertise and research.

    Penn State lives close by no matter where you are. Our campuses are located from one side of Pennsylvania to the other. Through Penn State World Campus, students can take courses and work toward degrees online from anywhere on the globe that has Internet service.

    We support students in many ways, including advising and counseling services for school and life; diversity and inclusion services; social media sites; safety services; and emergency assistance.

    Our network of more than a half-million alumni is accessible to students when they want advice and to learn about job networking and mentor opportunities as well as what to expect in the future. Through our alumni, Penn State lives all over the world.

    The best part of Penn State is our people. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in communities near our campuses and across the globe are dedicated to education and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:27 pm on May 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clean Energy, , , Tokamak Energy's ST40 fusion reactor   

    From Science Alert: “The UK Just Switched on an Ambitious Fusion Reactor – and It Works” 

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    1 MAY 2017
    FIONA MACDONALD

    1
    Tokamak Energy

    First plasma has been achieved.

    The UK’s newest fusion reactor, ST40, was switched on last week, and has already managed to achieve ‘first plasma’ – successfully generating a scorching blob of electrically-charged gas (or plasma) within its core.

    2
    Tokamak Energy

    The aim is for the tokamak reactor to heat plasma up to 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit) by 2018 – seven times hotter than the centre of the Sun. That’s the ‘fusion’ threshold, at which hydrogen atoms can begin to fuse into helium, unleashing limitless, clean energy in the process.

    “Today is an important day for fusion energy development in the UK, and the world,” said David Kingham, CEO of Tokamak Energy, the company behind ST40.

    “We are unveiling the first world-class controlled fusion device to have been designed, built and operated by a private venture. The ST40 is a machine that will show fusion temperatures – 100 million degrees – are possible in compact, cost-effective reactors. This will allow fusion power to be achieved in years, not decades.”

    Nuclear fusion is the process that fuels our Sun, and if we can figure out a way to achieve the same thing here on Earth, it would allow us to tap into an unlimited supply of clean energy that produces next to no carbon emissions.

    Unlike nuclear fission, which is achieved in today’s nuclear reactors, nuclear fusion involves fusing atoms together, not splitting them apart, and it requires little more than salt and water, and primarily produces helium as a waste product.

    But as promising as nuclear fusion is, it’s something scientists have struggled to achieve.

    The process involves using high-powered magnets to control plasma at ridiculous temperatures for long enough to generate useful amounts of electricity, which, as you can imagine, is far from simple.

    Over the past year there have been some big wins. Scientists from MIT broke the record for plasma pressure back in October, and in December, South Korean researchers became the first to sustain ‘high performance’ plasma of up to 300 million degrees Celsius (540 million degrees Fahrenheit) for 70 seconds.

    3
    MIT Bob Mumgaard/Plasma Science and Fusion Centre

    4
    Michel Maccagnan/Wikimedia Commons

    In Germany, a new type of fusion reactor called the Wendelstein 7-X stellerator has been able to successfully control plasma.

    Wendelstein 7-AS built in built in Greifswald, Germany

    But we’re still a long way off being able to put all those pieces together – finding an affordable way to generate plasma at the temperatures required for fusion to occur, and then being able to harness it for long enough to generate energy.

    ST40 is what’s known as a tokamak reactor, which uses high-powered magnetic coils to control a core of scorching plasma in a toroidal shape.

    The next step is for a full set of those magnetic coils to be installed and tested within ST40, and later this year, Tokamak Energy will use them to aim to generate plasma at temperatures of 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million degrees Fahrenheit).

    In 2018, the team hopes to achieve the fusion threshold of 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit), and the ultimate goal is to provide clean fusion power to the UK grid by 2030.

    Whether or not they’ll be able to pull off the feat remains to be seen.

    But the company is now one step closer, and as they’re not the only ones with a tokamak reactor in development, it will hopefully only speed up the race to get a commercial fusion reactor online.

    Watch this space.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 7:19 am on March 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clean Energy, , , ,   

    From NYT: “A Dream of Clean Energy at a Very High Price”, a Now Too Old Subject 

    New York Times

    The New York Times

    MARCH 27, 2017
    HENRY FOUNTAIN

    1
    Source: ITER Organization Mika Gröndahl/The New York Times

    SAINT-PAUL-LEZ-DURANCE, France — At a dusty construction site here amid the limestone ridges of Provence, workers scurry around immense slabs of concrete arranged in a ring like a modern-day Stonehenge.

    It looks like the beginnings of a large commercial power plant, but it is not. The project, called ITER, is an enormous, and enormously complex and costly, physics experiment. But if it succeeds, it could determine the power plants of the future and make an invaluable contribution to reducing planet-warming emissions.

    ITER, short for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (and pronounced EAT-er), is being built to test a long-held dream: that nuclear fusion, the atomic reaction that takes place in the sun and in hydrogen bombs, can be controlled to generate power.

    First discussed in 1985 at a United States-Soviet Union summit, the multinational effort, in which the European Union has a 45 percent stake and the United States, Russia, China and three other partners 9 percent each, has long been cited as a crucial step toward a future of near-limitless electric power.

    ITER will produce heat, not electricity. But if it works — if it produces more energy than it consumes, which smaller fusion experiments so far have not been able to do — it could lead to plants that generate electricity without the climate-affecting carbon emissions of fossil-fuel plants or most of the hazards of existing nuclear reactors that split atoms rather than join them.

    Success, however, has always seemed just a few decades away for ITER. The project has progressed in fits and starts for years, plagued by design and management problems that have led to long delays and ballooning costs.

    ITER is moving ahead now, with a director-general, Bernard Bigot, who took over two years ago after an independent analysis that was highly critical of the project. Dr. Bigot, who previously ran France’s atomic energy agency, has earned high marks for resolving management problems and developing a realistic schedule based more on physics and engineering and less on politics.

    “I do believe we are moving at full speed and maybe accelerating,” Dr. Bigot said in an interview.

    The site here is now studded with tower cranes as crews work on the concrete structures that will support and surround the heart of the experiment, a doughnut-shaped chamber called a tokamak. This is where the fusion reactions will take place, within a plasma, a roiling cloud of ionized atoms so hot that it can be contained only by extremely strong magnetic fields.

    2
    By The New York Times

    Pieces of the tokamak and other components, including giant superconducting electromagnets and a structure that at approximately 100 feet in diameter and 100 feet tall will be the largest stainless-steel vacuum vessel ever made, are being fabricated in the participating countries. Assembly is set to begin next year in a giant hall erected next to the tokamak site.

    3
    At the ITER construction site, immense slabs of concrete lie in a ring like a modern-day Stonehenge. Credit ITER Organization

    There are major technical hurdles in a project where the manufacturing and construction are on the scale of shipbuilding but the parts need to fit with the precision of a fine watch.

    “It’s a challenge,” said Dr. Bigot, who devotes much of his time to issues related to integrating parts from various countries. “We need to be very sensitive about quality.”

    Even if the project proceeds smoothly, the goal of “first plasma,” using pure hydrogen that does not undergo fusion, would not be reached for another eight years. A so-called burning plasma, which contains a fraction of an ounce of fusible fuel in the form of two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, and can be sustained for perhaps six or seven minutes and release large amounts of energy, would not be achieved until 2035 at the earliest.

    That is a half century after the subject of cooperating on a fusion project came up at a meeting in Geneva between President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. A functional commercial fusion power plant would be even further down the road.

    “Fusion is very hard,” said Riccardo Betti, a researcher at the University of Rochester who has followed the ITER project for years. “Plasma is not your friend. It tries to do everything it can to really displease you.”

    Fusion is also very expensive. ITER estimates the cost of design and construction at about 20 billion euros (currently about $22 billion). But the actual cost of components may be higher in some of the participating countries, like the United States, because of high labor costs. The eventual total United States contribution, which includes an enormous central electromagnet capable, it is said, of lifting an aircraft carrier, has been estimated at about $4 billion.

    Despite the recent progress there are still plenty of doubts about ITER, especially in the United States, which left the project for five years at the turn of the century and where funding through the Energy Department has long been a political football.

    The department confirmed its support for ITER in a report last year and Congress approved $115 million for it. It is unclear, though, how the project will fare in the Trump administration, which has proposed a cut of roughly 20 percent to the department’s Office of Science, which funds basic research including ITER. (The department also funds another long-troubled fusion project, which uses lasers, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.)

    Dr. Bigot met with the new energy secretary, Rick Perry, last week in Washington, and said he found Mr. Perry “very open to listening” about ITER and its long-term goals. “But he has to make some short-term choices” with his budget, Dr. Bigot said.

    Energy Department press aides did not respond to requests for comment.

    Some in Congress, including Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, while lauding Dr. Bigot’s efforts, argue that the project already consumes too much of the Energy Department’s basic research budget of about $5 billion.

    “I remain concerned that continuing to support the ITER project would come at the expense of other Office of Science priorities that the Department of Energy has said are more important — and that I consider more important,” Mr. Alexander said in a statement.

    While it is not clear what would happen to the project if the United States withdrew, Dr. Bigot argues that it is in every participating country’s interest to see it through. “You have a chance to know if fusion works or not,” he said. “If you miss this chance, maybe it will never come again.”

    But even scientists who support ITER are concerned about the impact it has on other research.

    “People around the country who work on projects that are the scientific basis for fusion are worried that they’re in a no-win situation,” said William Dorland, a physicist at the University of Maryland who is chairman of the plasma science committee of the National Academy of Sciences. “If ITER goes forward, it might eat up all the money. If it doesn’t expand and the U.S. pulls out, it may pull down a lot of good science in the downdraft.”

    In the ITER tokamak, deuterium and tritium nuclei will fuse to form helium, losing a small amount of mass that is converted into a huge amount of energy. Most of the energy will be carried away by neutrons, which will escape the plasma and strike the walls of the tokamak, producing heat.

    In a fusion power plant, that heat would be used to make steam to turn a turbine to generate electricity, much as existing power plants do using other sources of heat, like burning coal. ITER’s heat will be dissipated through cooling towers.

    There is no risk of a runaway reaction and meltdown as with nuclear fission and, while radioactive waste is produced, it is not nearly as long-lived as the spent fuel rods and irradiated components of a fission reactor.

    To fuse, atomic nuclei must move very fast — they must be extremely hot — to overcome natural repulsive forces and collide. In the sun, the extreme gravitational field does much of the work. Nuclei need to be at a temperature of about 15 million degrees Celsius.

    In a tokamak, without such a strong gravitational pull, the atoms need to be about 10 times hotter. So enormous amounts of energy are required to heat the plasma, using pulsating magnetic fields and other sources like microwaves. Just a few feet away, on the other hand, the windings of the superconducting electromagnets need to be cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero. Needless to say, the material and technical challenges are extreme.

    Although all fusion reactors to date have produced less energy than they use, physicists are expecting that ITER will benefit from its larger size, and will produce about 10 times more power than it consumes. But they will face many challenges, chief among them developing the ability to prevent instabilities in the edges of the plasma that can damage the experiment.

    Even in its early stages of construction, the project seems overwhelmingly complex. Embedded in the concrete surfaces are thousands of steel plates. They seem to be scattered at random throughout the structure, but actually are precisely located. ITER is being built to French nuclear plant standards, which prohibit drilling into concrete. So the plates — eventually about 80,000 of them — are where other components of the structure will be attached as construction progresses.

    A mistake or two now could wreak havoc a few years down the road, but Dr. Bigot said that in this and other work on ITER, the key to avoiding errors was taking time.

    “People consider that it’s long,” he said, referring to critics of the project timetable. “But if you want full control of quality, you need time.”

    See the full article here .

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