Archive for April 2011
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(h/t to GlobalSpec) Not unpredictably, Japan’s ongoing nuclear problems are going to reshape how nations allocate their future energy investments, and a new report from McIlvaine Company estimates that $200 billion will be retargeted to fossil and renewable energies.
McIlvaine, a market research company, says China and India, in particular, are likely to increase their reliance on coal, although this shift will be transitional. The company’s website says, “Despite the recent advances in extracting gas from unconventional sources such as shale, there will not be a massive shift to gas-fired power. The reason is that gas can be converted into liquid products. Any big disparity between the price of oil and gas will eventually be eliminated by building gas-to-liquid plants. Since the price of oil is predicted to increase, gas will follow suit and be too expensive to be the main power plant fuel. A new perspective is being formed relative to coal. Since the economic life of a coal-fired power plant is as short as 25 years, investment in new coal-fired power plants is now being viewed as a bridge to a post 2040 policy with lower reliance on fossil fuels and more on renewable.”
Regarding renewables, the company says that the beneficiaries will be wind power (+$40 billion) and solar (+$20 billion).
Stanford University researchers say they have combined the development of a microchip packed with 100,000 unique protein sensors and a new analytical model that could test the occurrence and strength of drug interactions, to predict potentially adverse affects before in vivo testing.
The group, led by materials science engineer Shan Wang, have been working on a system of nanotags, magnetic nanosensor technology and analytical approaches that is 1,000 times more sensitive then current systems and can monitor thousands of simultaneous interactions within a few minutes. This compares with current techniques that take hours to monitor four simultaneous interactions.
In a Stanford news release, Wang says, “You can fit thousands, even tens of thousands, of different proteins of interest on the same chip and run the protein-binding experiments in one shot.
Richard Gaster, a MD/Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering and medicine, frames the significance of their work this way in the release: ”In theory, in one test, you could look at a drug’s affinity for every protein in the human body. … Let’s say we are looking at a breast cancer drug. The goal of the drug is to bind to the target protein on the breast cancer cells as strongly as possible. But we also want to know: How strongly does that drug aberrantly bind to other proteins in the body?”
The basic first step is to place a sample of each of the proteins (e.g., from a variety of organs or tissues) on one of the sensors in the microchip array. Then, they attach a magnetic iron oxide nanotag to the drug that needs to be tested, and then expose the array to the drug to see which proteins the drug binds with.
As a specific example of an application, Gaster says, “We can see how strongly the drug binds to breast cancer cells and then also how strongly it binds to any other cells in the human body such as your liver, kidneys and brain. … The rate at which a protein binds and releases, tells how strong the bond is.”
Their work — using a 1,000-sensor chip — is published in a paper in Nature Nanotechnology (doi:10.1038/nnano.2011.45). They say existing chip fabrication techniques could easily allow as many as 100,000 sensors, and thus test an enormous range of proteins.
Wang’s research group claims to be able to “detect target molecules down to the single molecule level.” They also say that sensors are insensitive to solution buffer, pH or ionic strength.
They also say their analytical model can quantify the binding at sensitivities as low as 20 zeptomoles of solute.
This is good news. Now that the Recovery Act monies have been allocated, ARPA-E funding opportunities are going to be increasingly important for the development of advanced ceramic, glass and other materials for energy-related applications.
The five new technology areas, and their acronyms, are:
Plants Engineered To Replace Oil ($30 million) — The DOE says the goal of PETRO is to find technologies that optimize the biochemical processes of energy capture and conversion to develop a new generation of energy-rich crops. ARPA-E wants to create biofuels for half their current cost.
High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage ($30 million) — With HEATS, ARPA-E wants “revolutionary cost-effective thermal energy storage technologies.” The DOE announcement says it is particularly interested in four areas: 1) new nonintermittent, cost-competitive solar thermal power plants; 2) advanced nuclear power plants capable of responding to peak demand; 3) fuel produced from thermochemical reactions to store solar energy; and 4) new HVAC systems for electric vehicles that use thermal storage to improve the driving range of electric vehicles by up to 40 percent. ARPA-E says it is interested “in all forms of thermal storage such as sensible heating, phase change, super-critical systems and thermochemical storage.”
Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies ($30 million) — Because of strategic-sourcing RE problems, ARPA-E is looking to REACT to deliver early-stage technologies that provide substitutes or alternatives for electric vehicle motors and wind generator applications. DOE says five RE elements —neodymium, dysprosium, terbium, europium and yttrium — are of great concern because of the role they play in energy production and the level of supply-interruption risk each faces. ARPA-E mentions interest in high-energy density, low-rare earth content permanent magnetic materials; nonpermanent magnet motors coupled high-permeability low-loss soft magnetic materials; and high-temperature superconductor generators.
Green Electricity Network Integration ($30 million) — Included in GENI technologies are grid-related control software and high-voltage hardware. ARPA-E specifically desires controls capable of managing a 10-fold increase in wind and solar power, and “resilient power flow control hardware — or the energy equivalent of an internet router.”
Solar Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology ($10 million) — These technologies are envisions as part of the DOE SunShot program. Through Solar ADEPT, ARPA-E is seeking methods to extract and deliver solar power more efficiently through advanced magnetics, semiconductor switches and charge storage. The DOE believes these technologies can slash power conversion costs by up to 50 percent for utilities and 80 percent for homeowners. ARPA-E mentions interest in magnetic materials with high operating flux densities (while achieving electrical resistivity exceeding 1mOhm-cm and exhibiting high thermal conductivity); solid-state switch technologies and wide-bandgap devices (using materials such as SiC, GaN, GaN on Si, diamond and ZnO); new circuit topologies and converter architectures; and charge storage devices with high power densities and high reliability.
I should note that there is a lot more detail available about what APRA-E has in mind in each of the project funding opportunity announcements (in PDF form). The easiest approach is to go to the full FOA page and then click on the separate FOAs to select the projects that are of interest.
DOE notes that this is the fourth round of ARPA-E funding opportunities and that 121 projects in 30 states are receiving financial support.
Here’s what we are being told:
The company is pleased to announce the employment of Mr. Anthony Day. Day brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience from his 21years in the refractory industry and will be primarily responsible for business growth in Pennsylvania and New England States. We are also now selling refractories for foundry industry into the Peruvian market with our agency distributor MERSUD.
Osram Sylvania today announced plans to offer a comprehensive portfolio of energy-efficient lighting fixtures for commercial and residential use. The Sylvania fixture line is the latest expansion of the company’s solid state lighting portfolio, which includes LED modules, power supplies, controls, lighting services and the number one line of LED retrofits in North America.
APC is pleased to announce the launch of its online forum. The company will use this section of its website to facilitate general discussions about the use and application of piezoelectric ceramics and piezo devices.
Kyocera Solar Inc. and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest today announced the completion of a 1.4 megawatt solar electric system on the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, just north of San Diego, Calif.
Murata Electronics North America announced that Kirk brings to the new role more than 27 years of engineering, marketing and management experience in the electronics industry. Kirk had previously held the position of president, CEO, and a director of RF Monolithics Inc.
With over 30 locations worldwide including the U.S., Asia, and Europe, H.C. Starck offers local support to customers and is pleased to exhibit at this year’s Society of Vacuum Coaters TechCon 2011 Exhibition, going on now in Chicago, Illinois - Booth 1214. By responding to the demand to lower the cost-per-watt, H.C. Starck’s Fabricated Products Group developed sputtering targets with superior sputtering performance for thin film PV energy applications.