I was at CPAC a couple weeks back and did the rounds with the radio announcers there. Talk show Host Rick Trader graciously gave me the replay of the interview which I’m posting here. https://youtu.be/qF_l5X7Kv8w

Faxing Pipelines

11th September 2008

An interesting article here. Arizona Mulls New Water Source: Ocean

According to the article:

The water for Arizona’s future needs may lie off the coast of a popular Mexican resort, in the Gulf of California.

State officials are studying the idea of importing filtered ocean water from an as yet unbuilt desalination plant in Puerto Peñasco, 60 miles south of the U.S. border.

Such a project would raise a host of political, economic and environmental issues, and it’s not clear who would pay the construction costs, which could top $250 billion.

Did you read that: 250 billion. That’s with a B. I figure that has to be a typo. But I don’t know.

The New York Times discusses Alaska Governor Palin’s gas pipline from the North Slope. The cost is 40 billion for a 1700 mile pipeline. Its a long way from being built.

Gallon for gallon — gas is more valuable than water. So water pipelines need to be cheaper than gas pipelines. How to do that?

Recently I posted a piece about the importance of cheaply researching (by way of computer modeling)a new kind of energy efficient, easy to manufacture, easy to repair kind of pipeline   for shipping water inland 1000 miles and more at little extra cost –beyond the cost of desalination.

There’s another step to the process. So what would happen once you had several different material and design specs for a pipeline in the computer… what then. Well the way to get down costs for a big project is to do a 3D fax of the pipeline–maybe changing the material and design specs as the pipeline snaked its way up through the inland desert.

This technology is already in fast forward.

USC’s ‘print-a-house’ construction technology

Caterpillar, the world’s largest manufacturer of construction equipment, is starting to support research on the “Contour Crafting” automated construction system that its creator believes will one day be able to build full-scale houses in hours.

This technology would easily adapt to the creation of pipelines by way of this extrusion mechanism.

Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, says the system is a scale-up of the rapid prototyping machines now widely used in industry to “print out” three-dimensional objects designed with CAD/CAM software, usually by building up successive layers of plastic.

They want to move from plastic to concrete.

“Instead of plastic, Contour Crafting will use concrete,” said Khoshnevis. More specifically, the material is a special concrete formulation provided by USG, the multi-national construction materials company that has been contributing to Khoshnevis’ research for some years as a member of an industry coalition backing the USC Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies (CRAFT), home of the initiative.

The feasibility of the Contour Crafting process has been established by a recent research effort which has resulted in automated fabrication of six-foot concrete walls.

Consider if they can go from plastic to concrete–it won’t be long before they can do just about any material. Not just any material. Any design as well. They can already extrude walls.

The feasibility of the Contour Crafting process has been established by a recent research effort which has resulted in automated fabrication of six-foot concrete walls.

The project has major backing:

Caterpillar will be a major contributor to upcoming work on the project, according to Everett Brandt, an engineer in Caterpillar’s Technology & Solutions Division, who will work with Khoshnevis. Another Caterpillar engineer, Brian Howson, will also participate in the effort.

The goals for the project are really everything needed to develop pipeline extrusion machines.

Goals for this phase of the project are process and material engineering research to relate various process parameters and material characteristics to the performance of the specimens to be produced. Various experimental and analytical methods will be employed in the course of the research.

Future phases of the project are expected to include geometric design issues, research in deployable robotics and material delivery methods, automated plumbing and electrical network installation, and automated inspection and quality control.

Somebody needs to be developing a pipeline script to be ready when these machines are ready to read the instruction set.

The environmentalist case for using wind and solar now dovetails with national security concerns for getting off dependence on foreign oil. You can see it in T-Boone Pickens ads on tv now. Something similar is afoot with water. Only in this case rising sea levels would seem to force the same change as falling rainfall in desert regions. Read this LA Times article about environmentalist Carl Hodges making the environmental case for shipping seawater inland to neutralize sea-level rise (as well as raise food and fuel.)

Hodges only wants to ship seawater a little way inland. I don’t think he quite understands the technological revolution underway currently.

In May 2007 I posted that IBM Predicts Big Changes in Water Production & Distribution in 5 Years

imho in order to have a successful 21st century water policy– desalinated water from the ocean will need to be piped to deserts 1000 miles inland on a vast scale. In order for this to be done economically — a way needs to be devised to cheaply create in bulk very low maintenance pipes that push water uphill over long distances with little or no added energy cost. In order to cheaply invent these pipes–a computer modeling system will have to be undertaken.

There are three variables that I can think of right off that might be modeled to push water uphill passively: some variation of hydrophobic vs hydrophillic material inside the pipe. Some variation of heat & cold conduction from the outside to the inside of the pipe. Some variation of shape inside the pipe. Nor is it clear that a pipe needs to be completely hollow. A redwood tree pushes immense amounts of water straight up daily. In fact, according to this physorg article tree branching key to efficient flow in nature and novel materials. Finally, some allowance for solar energy to be used for pumping can be made for early models as the cost of solar power falls under the cost of coal in the next few years.

What would be the algorithms to use in the computer models? First of all, I think that materials simulations are already well understood. What may not be so well understood is the flow of water across complex materials & surfaces and the interaction of that in a pipe. So the idea is to find algorithms that enable researchers to test new materials either singly or in combination with others–and with different shapes– as they interact with water in a pipe. What algorithms? NIST is going come out with a new library of mathematical references.

NIST releases preview of much-anticipated online mathematics reference

That’s a whole library of equations on which to base algorithms.

My suggestion would be three formulas. These are not algorithms. But they could be incorporated into algorithms. One formula models the flow of water over complex shapes and variable materials. Another formula models water in a pipe. A third models how fluids separate from a surface under certain conditions See below.

140-year-old math problem solved by researcher

Academic makes key additions to the Schwarz-Christoffel formula

A problem which has defeated mathematicians for almost 140 years has been solved by a researcher at Imperial College London.

Professor Darren Crowdy, Chair in Applied Mathematics, has made the breakthrough in an area of mathematics known as conformal mapping, a key theoretical tool used by mathematicians, engineers and scientists to translate information from a complicated shape to a simpler circular shape so that it is easier to analyse.

This theoretical tool has a long history and has uses in a large number of fields including modelling airflow patterns over intricate wing shapes in aeronautics. It is also currently being used in neuroscience to visualise the complicated structure of the grey matter in the human brain.

A formula, now known as the Schwarz-Christoffel formula, was developed by two mathematicians in the mid-19th century to enable them to carry out this kind of mapping. However, for 140 years there has been a deficiency in this formula: it only worked for shapes that did not contain any holes or irregularities.

Now Professor Crowdy has made additions to the famous Schwarz-Christoffel formula which mean it can be used for these more complicated shapes. He explains the significance of his work, saying:

“This formula is an essential piece of mathematical kit which is used the world over. Now, with my additions to it, it can be used in far more complex scenarios than before. In industry, for example, this mapping tool was previously inadequate if a piece of metal or other material was not uniform all over – for instance, if it contained parts of a different material, or had holes.”

Professor Crowdy’s work has overcome these obstacles and he says he hopes it will open up many new opportunities for this kind of conformal mapping to be used in diverse applications.

“With my extensions to this formula, you can take account of these differences and map them onto a simple disk shape for analysis in the same way as you can with less complex shapes without any of the holes,” he added.

Professor Crowdy’s improvements to the Schwarz-Christoffel formula were published in the March-June 2007 issue of Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society.



Navier-Stokes Equation Progress?

Penny Smith, a mathematician at Lehigh University, has posted a paper on the arXiv that purports to solve one of the Clay Foundation Millenium problems, the one about the Navier-Stokes Equation. The paper is here, and Christina Sormani has set up a web-page giving some background and exposition of Smith’s work.

Wikipedia describes Navier-Stokes Equations this way:

They are one of the most useful sets of equations because they describe the physics of a large number of phenomena of academic and economic interest. They are used to model weather, ocean currents, water flow in a pipe, motion of stars inside a galaxy, and flow around an airfoil (wing). They are also used in the design of aircraft and cars, the study of blood flow, the design of power stations, the analysis of the effects of pollution, etc. Coupled with Maxwell’s equations they can be used to model and study magnetohydrodynamics.

MIT solves 100-year-old engineering problem
Elizabeth A. Thomson, News Office
September 24, 2008

The green ‘wall’ in this 3D movie shows where a fluid is separating from the surface it is flowing past as predicted by a new MIT theory. MIT scientists and colleagues have reported new mathematical and experimental work for predicting where that aerodynamic separation will occur. Click here to read more
When these equations pass peer review they’ll be very helpful in algorithms that model fluids flowing in a pipe.

Jeez, here’s still another amazing innovation. Get this. A couple of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have figured out how to make water boil at a 30 fold increase in the number of bubbles created per unit of energy. That means that energy costs to create steam would drop by 30 fold. This process “could translate into considerable efficiency gains and cost savings if incorporated into a wide range of industrial equipment that relies on boiling to create heat or steam.”

Ya think one of them might be desalinaton? Hmm well also there is the Kanzius effect. An efficient heat transfer process there might make the 3000 degree flame net energy for the process. As well you might be able to get more steam for less energy to reduce costs of a kanzius steam reformation process. or efficiently boiled water might be injected into gypsum deposits. imho the salt would play hell on the nanorods that coat the copper sufaces mentioned in the article below. but if you could desalt and heat the water before it hit the nanorod copper plates the steam could be used to drive electrical generation more efficiently to reduce costs of membrane desalination. Finally, a word about pipelines. Maybe an efficient heat transfer material in combination with hydrophobic materials would enable cheaper ways to push water uphill in a pipe. Anyhow check out the article below. Interesting stuff. There’s a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Pr

As well as the write up below in PhyOrg.

Anyhow consider the article below.

New nano technique significantly boosts boiling efficiency

 A scanning electron microscope shows copper nanorods deposited on a copper substrate. Air trapped in the forest of nanorods helps to dramatically boost the creation of bubbles and the efficiency of boiling which in turn could lead to new ways of coo ...

A scanning electron microscope shows copper nanorods deposited on a copper substrate. Air trapped in the forest of nanorods helps to dramatically boost the creation of bubbles and the efficiency of boiling, which in turn could lead to new ways of cooling computer chips as well as cost savings for any number of industrial boiling application. Credit: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute/ Koratkar

Whoever penned the old adage “a watched pot never boils” surely never tried to heat up water in a pot lined with copper nanorods.

A new study from researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows that by adding an invisible layer of the nanomaterials to the bottom of a metal vessel, an order of magnitude less energy is required to bring water to boil. This increase in efficiency could have a big impact on cooling computer chips, improving heat transfer systems, and reducing costs for industrial boiling applications.

“Like so many other nanotechnology and nanomaterials breakthroughs, our discovery was completely unexpected,” said Nikhil A. Koratkar, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer, who led the project. “The increased boiling efficiency seems to be the result of an interesting interplay between the nanoscale and microscale surfaces of the treated metal. The potential applications for this discovery are vast and exciting, and we’re eager to continue our investigations into this phenomenon.”

Bringing water to a boil, and the related phase change that transforms the liquid into vapor, requires an interface between the water and air. In the example of a pot of water, two such interfaces exist: at the top where the water meets air, and at the bottom where the water meets tiny pockets of air trapped in the microscale texture and imperfections on the surface of the pot. Even though most of the water inside of the pot has reached 100 degrees Celsius and is at boiling temperature, it cannot boil because it is surrounded by other water molecules and there is no interface — i.e., no air — present to facilitate a phase change.

Bubbles are typically formed when air is trapped inside a microscale cavity on the metal surface of a vessel, and vapor pressure forces the bubble to the top of the vessel. As this bubble nucleation takes place, water floods the microscale cavity, which in turn prevents any further nucleation from occurring at that specific site.

Koratkar and his team found that by depositing a layer of copper nanorods on the surface of a copper vessel, the nanoscale pockets of air trapped within the forest of nanorods “feed” nanobubbles into the microscale cavities of the vessel surface and help to prevent them from getting flooded with water. This synergistic coupling effect promotes robust boiling and stable bubble nucleation, with large numbers of tiny, frequently occurring bubbles.

“By themselves, the nanoscale and microscale textures are not able to facilitate good boiling, as the nanoscale pockets are simply too small and the microscale cavities are quickly flooded by water and therefore single-use,” Koratkar said. “But working together, the multiscale effect allows for significantly improved boiling. We observed a 30-fold increase in active bubble nucleation site density — a fancy term for the number of bubbles created — on the surface treated with copper nanotubes, over the nontreated surface.”

Boiling is ultimately a vehicle for heat transfer, in that it moves energy from a heat source to the bottom of a vessel and into the contained liquid, which then boils, and turns into vapor that eventually releases the heat into the atmosphere. This new discovery allows this process to become significantly more efficient, which could translate into considerable efficiency gains and cost savings if incorporated into a wide range of industrial equipment that relies on boiling to create heat or steam.

“If you can boil water using 30 times less energy, that’s 30 times less energy you have to pay for,” he said.

The team’s discovery could also revolutionize the process of cooling computer chips. As the physical size of chips has shrunk significantly over the past two decades, it has become increasingly critical to develop ways to cool hot spots and transfer lingering heat away from the chip. This challenge has grown more prevalent in recent years, and threatens to bottleneck the semiconductor industry’s ability to develop smaller and more powerful chips.

Boiling is a potential heat transfer technique that can be used to cool chips, Koratkar said, so depositing copper nanorods onto the copper interconnects of chips could lead to new innovations in heat transfer and dissipation for semiconductors.

“Since computer interconnects are already made of copper, it should be easy and inexpensive to treat those components with a layer of copper nanorods,” Koratkar said, noting that his group plans to further pursue this possibility.

Source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The Pipeline

14th September 2006

As I’ve mentioned from time to time, as to the goal of seawater desalination research — my favorite idea is just a pipe with a semi permiable membrane that you stick out in some part of the ocean with a good coastal current or rip tide.

There’s nothing like it out there right now. What’s currently being built is an Under Ocean Floor Intake and Discharge Demonstration System at Long Beach California.

Together with its funding partners, Long Beach Water is also undertaking design and construction of an Under Ocean Floor Intake and Discharge Demonstration System, the first of its kind in the world, that will seek to demonstrate that viable, environmentally responsive intake and discharge systems can be developed along the coast of California.

That plant incidently expects to save 20%-30% in energy costs for RO.

Using a small 9,000 gallon-per-day pilot-scale desalter, the Long Beach Water Department has reduced the overall energy requirement (by 20 to 30 percent) of seawater desalination using a relatively low-pressure two staged nano-filtration process, developed by Long Beach Water engineers, known as the “Long Beach Method.”

This unique process is now being tested on a larger scale. With funding assistance from the United State Bureau of Reclamation and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Long Beach Water is conducting research at a constructed 300,000 gallon-per-day, fully operational facility incorporating the two-stage nano-filtration process. This large-scale facility is needed to verify the energy savings when employing full-scale membranes and energy recovery units, among other things. The goal is to verify energy savings of the two-stage nano-filtration process and to optimize the process so that it can be duplicated.

But the Long Beach intake discharge system should only be considered first generation. So what’s the next generation? Interestingly enough, according to this article in photonics.com some researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) have used steel tubing to grow carbon nanotubes.

NEWARK, N.J., Aug. 7, 2006 — In less than 20 minutes, researchers can now seed, heat and grow carbon nanotubes in 10-foot-long, hollow thin steel tubing. The ground-breaking method will lead to improvements in cleaner gasoline, better food processing and faster, cheaper ways to clean air and water, the scientists said.

Mitra.jpg“The work took us three years to develop and get right, but now we can essentially anchor nanotubes to a tubular wall. No one has ever done anything like this before,” said lead researcher Somenath Mitra, PhD, professor and acting chair of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) department of chemistry and environmental science. Graduate and post-doctoral students who worked on the project are Mahesh Karwa, Chutarat Saridara and Roman Brukh.

This is especially interesting because of the work at Lawrence Livermore announced back in June.

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have created a membrane made of carbon nanotubes and silicon that may offer, among many possible applications, a less expensive desalination.

Methane Molecules Flowing Through Carbon Nanotube
Artist’s rendering of methane molecules flowing through a carbon nanotube less than two nanometers in diameter. (Click here to download a high-resolution image.)

The nanotubes, special molecules made of carbon atoms in a unique arrangement, are hollow and more than 50,000 times thinner than a human hair. Billions of these tubes act as the pores in the membrane. The super smooth inside of the nanotubes allow liquids and gases to rapidly flow through, while the tiny pore size can block larger molecules. This previously unobserved phenomenon opens a vast array of possible applications.

The team was able to measure flows of liquids and gases by making a membrane on a silicon chip with carbon nanotube pores making up the holes of the membrane. The membrane is created by filling the gaps between aligned carbon nanotubes with a ceramic matrix material. The pores are so small that only six water molecules could fit across their diameter.

“The gas and water flows that we measured are 100 to 10,000 times faster than what classical models predict,” said Olgica Bakajin, the Livermore scientist who led the research. “This is like having a garden hose that can deliver as much water in the same amount of time as a fire hose that is ten times larger.”

Of course anything you stick out in the ocean is going to quickly encrust in barnicles algae and such. One solution, I’ve mentioned previously is sharkote — a US navy funded coating announced last year.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida engineers have developed an environmentally friendly coating for hulls of ocean-going ships based on an unlikely source of inspiration: the shark.

UF materials engineers tapped elements of sharks’ unique scales to design the new coating, which prevents the growth of a notoriously aggressive marine algae and may also impede barnacles, according to preliminary tests.

If more extensive testing and development bear out the results, the shark-inspired coating — composed of tiny scale-like elements that can actually flex in and out to impede growth — could replace conventional antifouling coatings. These coatings prevent marine growth but also leach poisonous copper into the ocean.

“The copper paints are wonderful in terms of keeping the ship surface clean, but they are poisonous and they accumulate at substantial rates in harbors,” threatening marine life, said Anthony Brennan, a UF professor of materials science and engineering and the lead developer of the coating. “By contrast, there are no toxins associated with our surface.”

Brennan’s project is being sponsored by the U.S. Navy, the world’s largest maritime ship owner, which has contributed at least $750,000 to the effort so far.

A National Science Foundation funded project at Rutgers Camden has recently developed a new polymer-coating process which might be appropriate for sharkote and the desalination pipes.

As gas prices continue to soar, the Navy will be eager to learn of research underway at Rutgers University–Camden. “Barnacles that attach to naval ships are a huge cost to the Navy. Imagine if you drove a car with a parachute attached; this extra drag force requires more gas,” says Daniel Bubb, an assistant professor of physics at Rutgers-Camden, who has developed a new method for coating polymers.

Used in a variety of industries, including protecting battleships from freeloading barnacles, polymers are materials made from long chains of molecules.

Thanks to a $129,463 National Science Foundation grant in its third year, Bubb and his team (including a post-doctoral fellow, undergraduate, and graduate students) are refining this new coating process. By employing a pulsed laser deposition technique, a high-power laser is focused onto a target material in a vacuum chamber, creating a plume of vaporized material. The object that is to be coated is placed in the path of the vapor. The Rutgers-Camden research team then tunes the laser to a specific vibrational mode of the polymer to ease the vaporization process and limit photochemical and photothermal damage.

This research will benefit many industries that rely solely on the most commonly used method of spin-coating, a viable technique for certain applications but inefficient for coating devices that are too large or small for its apparatus.

“With spin-coating, it’s difficult to layer and adhesion can be a problem” says Bubb, whose research also could improve biocompatibility in devices that require coating only on very specific and sensitive areas.

The Rutgers-Camden researcher also has advanced coating polymers that are too thermally sensitive by treating materials with a solvent before using the laser. This aspect of the research is funded through a $35,000 Cottrell College Science Award.

A model for moving from R&D to manufacturing might be a deal signed by Los Alamos National Labratories and CNT Technologies Inc. in which CNT bought the rights to some nano tech developed by the Los Alamos Labs.

Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman

LANL has big plans for nanoscience
By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
August 22, 2006 A Seattle company has bought the rights to a nanotechnology development at Los Alamos National Laboratory and plans to manufacture a new product in the city’s research park based on lightweight nanotubes that are 100 times stronger than steel.

The lab has made some longer carbon nanotubes, which makes them easier
to weave into super-strong materials. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter in size. A nanotube is a long carbon molecule and its typical size is about two to three nanometers in diameter and up to five millimeters long. The company has developed a product called SuperThread made of these nanotubes.

“What we’re working with is nanotubes that are one to five millimeters long,” Tremper said. “But those are longer than anybody else’s at the moment. It’s the longer length that allows us to spin the fibers into threads and make a usable product.”

Tremper said his company plans to have a pilot plant based at Los Alamos Research Park within six months that will produce one kilogram of SuperThread a day.

“And that will allow us to give major quantities of samples to companies and government agencies that need material that is ultra strong and ultra light,” he said.

Full-scale production — if everything goes smoothly with the pilot project — would come in about 18 months.

Tremper said the pilot plant in Los Alamos would have 15 to 20 employees. He said it’s unclear where a full-scale production factory would be located, but he said the factory would have hundreds of employees. The company is seeking investors.

The lab researchers working on the technology and the company will be in the same building, Peterson said.

Kudos to Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman for pushing nanotechnology research.

Also Monday, U.S. Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., announced a new federal nanotechnology research effort that will be based at New Mexico’s national laboratories.

Los Alamos National Laboratory received $18.3 million for a research center, and Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque received $57 million. The U.S. Department of Energy is establishing research centers at three other labs as well.

“It is vital that our nation remain competitive with the rest of the world when it comes to science and technology, so the work being done at DOE labs is particularly important,” Domenici said in a news release.

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