Tuesday, May 24, 2011

U.S. Navy backs fusion reactor project

Plasma shines within EMC2 Fusion's WB-7 device, the predecessor to the WB-8 inertial electrostatic confinement vessel currently being used for fusion experiments. EMC2 Fusion

By Alan Boyle
10 May 2011

A Navy-funded effort to harness nuclear fusion power reports that its unconventional plasma device is operating as designed and generating "positive results" more than halfway through the project.

The latest quarterly update from EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. comes amid other signs that seemingly oddball approaches to fusion research may not be all that oddball after all. Just last week, General Fusion announced that Amazon.com's billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, was part of a $19.5 million investment round to further the company's plan to take advantage of a technology called magnetized target fusion. Another billionaire, Paul Allen, is an investor in Tri Alpha Energy, which is working on its own hush-hush fusion project (and occasionally publishing its research).

EMC2 Fusion doesn't have tens of millions of venture capital to play with — but it does have a $7.9 million Navy contract to test a plasma technology known as inertial electrostatic confinement fusion, also known as Polywell fusion. The idea is to accelerate positively charged ions in an electrical cage to such an extent that they occasionally spark a fusion reaction, releasing energy and neutrons. The concept was pioneered by the late physicist Robert Bussard, and carried forward by the EMC2 Fusion team in Santa Fe, N.M.

Some of the leading team members went on leave from Los Alamos National Laboratory to work on EMC2. Rick Nebel, the Los Alamos engineer who led the company since Bussard's death in 2007, retired from the company last November. Taking his place as acting chief executive officer is Jaeyoung Park. The 41-year-old physicist says he's given up his position at Los Alamos to focus fully on EMC2.

"We had a lot of milestones to meet in the last six months or so," Park told me today. "It's been pretty hectic." …

Fusion goes forward from the fringe

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Japan ‘plans solar panels for all new buildings'

A technician inspects newly installed solar panels. AFP / File, Boris Horvat

TOKYO,’May 22 (AFP) — Japan is considering a plan that would make it compulsory for all new buildings and houses to come fitted with solar panels by 2030, a business daily said Sunday.

The plan, expected to be unveiled at the upcoming G8 Summit in France, aims to show Japan's resolve to encourage technological innovation and promote the wider use of renewable energy, the Nikkei daily said.

Japan has reeled from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and the nuclear crisis they triggered as it battles to stabilise the crippled Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant.

On Thursday, the first day of the two-day summit in Deauville, France, Prime Minister Naoto Kan is expected to announce Japan's intention to continue operating nuclear plants after confirming their safety, the Nikkei said without citing sources.

But he is also expected to unveil a plan to step up efforts to push renewable energy and energy conservation.

Kan believes that the installation of solar panels would help Japan realise such goals, the Nikkei said.

He hopes that technological innovation will drastically bring down costs of solar power generation and thereby make the use of renewable energy more widespread, it said.

Japan 'plans solar panels for all new buildings'

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ridgeblade home wind turbine

RidgeBlade home wind turbine. ridgeblade.com

This design looks dead brilliant. From the company site:

The ridgeblade is a cross flow turbine fitted on the ridge line at the top of a building and uses the existing roof area to collect and focus the wind. This is where the wind is forced to travel over the roof surface, accelerating the airflow though the turbine. And whilst the unit is fixed to the roof and doesn’t turn to face the wind, the advanced blade design means that it works in 70% of wind directions.

The ridgeblade is an innovative, affordable and effective way of harnessing the wind's power to produce renewable electricity.

The ridgeblade addresses the issues associated with traditional micro-wind generation technologies.

The unique design means it can reliably produce electricity in low or variable wind conditions whilst creating very little visual impact.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Renewable energy can power the world, says landmark IPCC study

UN's climate change science body says renewables supply, particularly solar power, can meet global demand

A solar power plant in the Mojave desert. Photograph: AP

By Fiona Harvey, www.guardian.co.uk
9 May 2011

Renewable energy could account for almost 80% of the world's energy supply within four decades - but only if governments pursue the policies needed to promote green power, according to a landmark report published on Monday.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body of the world's leading climate scientists convened by the United Nations, said that if the full range of renewable technologies were deployed, the world could keep greenhouse gas concentrations to less than 450 parts per million, the level scientists have predicted will be the limit of safety beyond which climate change becomes catastrophic and irreversible.

Investing in renewables to the extent needed would cost only about 1% of global GDP annually, said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC.

Renewable energy is already growing fast – of the 300 gigawatts of new electricity generation capacity added globally between 2008 and 2009, about 140GW came from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, according to the report.

The investment that will be needed to meet the greenhouse gas emissions targets demanded by scientists is likely to amount to about $5trn in the next decade, rising to $7trn from 2021 to 2030. …

Renewable energy can power the world, says landmark IPCC study

Monday, May 16, 2011

Prominent climate denialist paper retracted due to plagiarism

 Abstract of the infamous climate denialist paper by Said and Wegmen, 2007. The paper has since been retracted by the journal, Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, for plagiarism.

By DeepClimate
15 May 2011

It’s been a long time coming, but there has now been an official finding in at least one of the complaints concerning the dubious scholarship of GMU professors Edward Wegman and Yasmin Said. According to Dan Vergano of USA Today, the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis  (CSDA) has officially confirmed that Said, Wegman et al 2008, a follow up to the infamous Wegman et al report to Congress, will finally be retracted following complaints of plagiarism and inadequate peer review.

The CSDA paper, Social Networks of Author–Coauthor Relationships, was a follow up to the 2006 report to congress by Wegman, Said and Rice University professor David Scott. Both the Wegman report and Said et al claimed that the “entrepreunerial” style of co-authorship in paleoclimatology demonstrated lax peer review in the field, while the “mentor” style of an established professor collaborating with former students would be less problematic. All three of Wegman’s 2008 co-authors – Said, Walid Sharabati and John Rigsby – were former or current students

I first discovered apparent plagiarism in the Wegman report in December 2009. I later documented massive cut-and-paste in the social network analysis background sections of both the report and the CSDA paper in April 2010. At the time, I pointed out that both Wegman and Said had acknowledged federal funding from research offices associated with the Department of Defence and the National Institute of Health.

And I also noted that the paper had sailed through from submission to acceptance in a mere six days, suggesting that it had not been properly peer reviewed at all. That astonishing fact and the deeply flawed analysis belied the paper’s central premise; indeed, as John Mashey has noted, this is a prime example of self-refuting paper. …

Retraction of Said, Wegman et al 2008, part 1

By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY
15 May 2011

Evidence of plagiarism and complaints about the peer-review process have led a statistics journal to retract a federally funded study that condemned scientific support for global warming.

The study, which appeared in 2008 in the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, was headed by statistician Edward Wegman of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Its analysis was an outgrowth of a controversial congressional report that Wegman headed in 2006. The "Wegman Report" suggested climate scientists colluded in their studies and questioned whether global warming was real. The report has since become a touchstone among climate change naysayers.

The journal publisher's legal team "has decided to retract the study," said CSDA journal editor Stanley Azen of the University of Southern California, following complaints of plagiarism. A November review by three plagiarism experts of the 2006 congressional report for USA TODAY also concluded that portions contained text from Wikipedia and textbooks. The journal study, co-authored by Wegman student Yasmin Said, detailed part of the congressional report's analysis. …

The congressional report, requested by global warming skeptic Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and the study concluded that climate scientists favorably publish one another's work because of too-close collaboration. They suggested this led to the consensus that the Earth is warming. …

Computer scientist Ted Kirkpatrick of Canada's Simon Fraser University, filed a complaint with the journal after reading the climate science website Deep Climate, which first noted plagiarism in the Wegman Report in 2009. "There is something beyond ironic about a study of the conduct of science having ethics problems," Kirkpatrick says. …

Climate study gets pulled after charges of plagiarism