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Friday, August 24, 2012

A SIMPLE SOLUTION FOR OUR ENERGY PROBLEM: Part 2

I received a range of responses to my posting yesterday, so thought I'd share with you some input from colleagues.  All of them came via e-mail, but one might have explained why I get essentially no comments to this blogsite:  

BTW, your blog site's bot detector is too finicky. Tried maybe twenty times, but couldn't pass the type the following two illegible words filter. 

I'll definitely need to look into this.  (IN FACT, CAN SOME OF YOU READING THIS TRY TO COMMENT AND LET ME KNOW BY E-MAIL--patkentak@hotmail.com--IF THIS IS A MAJOR PROBLEM?)

The person who reported the above is PhD physicist Ray Kamada from the state of Washington, who manages his science and design company.  I don't think he'll mind my mentioning his name.  He also sent me information about potential enhancements to the lithium battery, as Lithium-air batteries have 5 to 15 times the potential of lithium ion.  He indicated that IBM might have found a material that overcomes the problematic degradation issue.

I have a personal interest in metal-air batteries, for my recent discussions with THE expert on campus, Bor Yan Liaw, suggest that these might ultimately replace lithium.  It was nearly forty years ago that I spent some time at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory working on the aluminum-air battery for one important reason.  It rarely gets mentioned, but Hawaii actually has "interesting" deposits of bauxite (perhaps 500 million tons of aluminum oxide).  I then felt that geothermal electricity could be utilized to build a new industry.  Of course, it would today be impossible to mine for bauxite in Hawaii.

More from Ray, suggesting that the Martin Experiment showed potential for controlling global warming.  From the Huffington Post:  Ocean Fertilization Study Finds That Dumping Iron Might Help Remove Atmospheric Carbon Through Algae.  I've regularly followed this potential solution, for researchers at the University of Hawaii, led by David Karl, have been at the forefront.  As that article indicated, though, you need to be particularly pioneering to get anything done, for there are watchful environmental eyes against doing anything these days.

There were several other comments, and a couple expressed some concern that I was, maybe, giving up.  Well, not really, for I attach here the response to another e-mail not even remotely related to this matter, but appropriate to the notion of my continuing the effort:

While we must face the reality that there is no such thing as ample, cheap and clean energy, we can't continue to sit around awaiting a miracle.

Thus, while I haven't totally abandoned hope, and one of the responses (from Ray Kamada--who subsequently sent a second) provided a few rays of light, I'm more and more getting disenchanted about:

  -  the timely development of the hydrogen economy (I don't see this becoming commercial in my lifetime--I was a lot more optimistic when I first drafted the bill in 1980), 

  -  fusion (perhaps a century away--spent two assignments on the laser version of fusion with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), 

  -  biofuels from algae (will be too expensive for some time to come--this was my first project with EPRI in 1974), and 

  -  next generation aviation (neither the hydrogen aircraft nor biosubstitutes for jet fuel will be available when our state economy tanks soon after oil jumps to $200/barrel--but I tried, as I wrote the legislation for the National Aerospace Plane a third of a century ago, and the Department of Defense subsequently spent a couple of billion on it, but for a decade and more now has been a black, or secret, program).

Having largely failed (well, let's put a positive spin on this and give me some credit for helping lay the groundwork for future success) with the above options, I continue to try with the Blue Revolution.

My final passion is the Pacific International Ocean Station.

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Typhoon Tembin, now at 85 MPH, is doing strange things.  As best as I can determine, the storm rolled over southern Taiwan, strengthened in the Taiwan Strait, and will now make a circular u-turn, subsequently marching across the east side of the country:


Category 4 Typhoon Bolaven, at 145 MPH, is heading straight for Naha, and could yet meet up with Tembin:


The Republican National Convention remains anxious about Tropical Storm Isaac, but current models show him cruising to the west in the Gulf and only bringing some wind and rain to Tampa:


All the relevant computer models project that Tampa should hardly be affected.

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