Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Zombie-Proofed House

All Images from All-that-is-interesting

Above you can see the zombie-proof house with all shutters fully closed. In this setting, the only access into the house is via a drawbridge, which must be lowered for entry.
Now you can see the shutters as they begin opening. Notice the large front heavy steel shutter which is electrically controlled.
Concrete shutters are now fully opened, revealing the side windows and front entrance and windows.
Here you can see the lowering of the drawbridge -- the only access to the house when all shutters are closed in full zombie-proof mode.
This is the house as it would normally be seen, with no zombies in the vicinity. Regular patrols by ground and from the air are mandatory, to assure the absence of zombies. A constant seismic surveillance is likewise necessary, to guard against the dreaded tunneling zombies.
After the sun goes down, the house would normally be fully closed in, due to the increased threat of nocturnal zombie attack. Immediately after this photograph was taken, a zombie spotting was reported two houses down, requiring an immediate shuttering-in. Eternal vigilance becomes second nature inside the zombie zone.

First published at Al Fin, the Next Level

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Penetrating the Chinese Mountain

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Peak Oil: Meet Sophisticated Coal-Biomass to Liquids CBTL

There is more than 250 billion tons of recoverable U.S. coal reserves – equivalent to an estimated 800 billion barrels of oil, compared to Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves of 260 billion barrels

_National Mining

Accelergy's Coal Biomass to Liquids (CBTL) process utilises direct liquifaction of coal (using hydrogen from gasification of algal biomass and coal), combined with advanced catalytic processing of hydrotreated coal and hydrotreated algal lipids, to produce advanced hydrocarbon liquid fuels at high yields.

Accelergy is developing its coal biomass to liquids technology in several locations across the US, in China, and for the US military.
In the United States, Accelergy is working on demonstration facilities in Pennsylvania, Montana, and North Dakota. Accelergy's process can be tuned to utilize a wide range of feedstocks, and the company is currently exploring the use of both coal and natural gas in the U.S, along with biomass.

The company is also targeting its efforts in China since the country already has a small number of synthetic fuels plants where coal is converted to a liquid, he said. China is also the world's largest producer and consumer of coal.

Consider these facts about CBTL [Coal Biomass to Liquids]:

Abundant Supply: There is more than 250 billion tons of recoverable U.S. coal reserves – equivalent to an estimated 800 billion barrels of oil, compared to Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves of 260 billion barrels. (Source: National Mining Association)

Environmental Benefits: Combining the Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) and Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) processes, Accelergy removes 20% of the CO₂ emissions associated with standard refining methods, resulting in cleaner fuels that reduce nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions and enabling use of higher efficiency engines.

Reliable Sources: Coal currently provides more than half of the nation’s electricity and is the largest single source of overall domestic energy production at more than 31% of the total, according to the National Mining Association. Additionally, our feedstocks can be grown domestically an land deemed unsuitable for food crop cultivation. _Accelergy

More on direct coal liquefaction:
• Direct liquefaction processes add hydrogen to the hydrogen deficient organic structure of the coal, breaking it down only as far as is necessary to produce distillable liquids.
• Coal dissolution is accomplished under high temperature (~400 0 C) and pressure (~1500-3000 psi) with hydrogen and a coal-derived solvent.
• The coal fragments are further hydrocracked to produce a synthetic crude oil.
• This synthetic crude must then undergo refinery upgrading and hydrotreating to produce acceptable transportation fuels. _Direct Liquefaction of Coal PDF
More on Accelergy's licensing of Exxon Mobil technologies

Accelergy patent dealing with a related but variant process

More on Accelergy's potentially lucrative move into the Chinese market

Accelergy's approach to CBTL is rather sophisticated, involving some advanced Exxon Mobil technology along with other imaginative innovations. The fact that Accelergy is working with the US military, with civilian US entities, and inside China, indicates that the company is following an aggressive path of expansion and development.

Taken from a previous posting at Al Fin Energy

With its vast resources of coal, natural gas, bitumens, kerogens, oil, uranium, thorium, and more, North America is well situated to transition from the fossil fuel age to the advanced fission / fusion age.

Bad government is a far greater threat to North America and Europe than resource depletion, climate catastrophe, or overpopulation doom. Fear only bad government and the accompanying twin demons of debt and demographic decline.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Billionaire Peter Thiel, Sponsor of Seasteading, Hates Boats


The website "" provides an interesting profile of the billionaire backer of the Seasteading Institute, Peter Thiel. One of the things you learn is that Thiel doesn't particularly like boats, and doesn't plan to be an early adapter of seasteading. Another thing you will learn is that Thiel is something of a maverick provocateur.
If the seasteading movement goes forward as planned, Thiel won't be one of its early citizens. For one thing, he's not overly fond of boats, although maybe, as Friedman says, "he just needs to be on a large enough structure." Thiel characterizes his interest as "theoretical." But whether Thiel himself heads offshore or not, there's a whole lot of passion underlying that theoretical interest. Thiel put forth his views on the subject in a 2009 essay for the Cato Institute, in which he flatly declared, "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible." He went on: "The great task for libertarians is to find an escape from politics in all its forms," with the critical question being "how to escape not via politics but beyond it. Because there are no truly free places left in our world, I suspect that the mode for escape must involve some sort of new and hitherto untried process that leads us to some undiscovered country."

Until a libertarian colony can be established in outer space—Thiel is bullish on that idea, too, though he thinks the technology needs at least a half-century to develop—seasteading will have to suffice. "[It's] not just possible, or desirable," he said in an address at the 2009 Seasteading Institute Conference, "but actually necessary." _Details

Also check out this Cato-at-Liberty article on seasteads from the perspective of tax havens. It includes a 9 minute video on the economic benefits of tax havens.

This short article on Peter Thiel and seasteading at The, includes a number of criticisms of seasteading from a small number of web personalities.

The near-term vision of seasteading as promoted by The Seasteading Institute is not particularly inspiring. Front man Patri Friedman does alright in public speaking, media appearances, and writing articles. But he does not have the type of maritime heavy industry background that would inspire confidence in truly serious investors.

Seasteading is desperately in need of a "killer app," and it is not clear that offshore gambling, banking, and tax havens will be good enough -- particularly if the legal question of sovereignty is not settled.

In a global boom economy, seasteading might have better prospects, and a lot more millionaire and billionaire investors. But there is a need for more "heavy hitters" with backgrounds in large marine structures and financing, and in the various offshore industries which might bring quick profits to such a speculative venture.

The challenge of building a robust seastead able to stand up to anything the ocean might throw at it, is not as great a challenge as building a robust space elevator to geosynchronous orbit. But it is still a significant challenge.

The challenge of raising new generations of young people with practical real world competencies, plus a sense of adventure, is likewise a significant challenge -- given the state of today's perpetual adolescent incompetents, psychological neotenates, and academic lobotomates. But challenges tend to bring out the greatness in innovators.

Stay tuned.

Taken from an earlier article at Al Fin, the Next Level


Peak Oil: Meet Primus' Competitive Biomass to Gasoline $1.95/Gal

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More information on Primus
GCC article about Primus' plans
Primus’s process is based on a proprietary variant of the ExxonMobil Methanol-to-Gasoline process, simplified to produce standard gasoline without need for separation or further treatment, the company says. The Primus process consists of three main steps:
  1. Gasification of biomass (feedstock flexible) to produce a syngas;
  2. CO2 separation and scrubbing of the syngas;
  3. catalytic liquid fuel synthesis using a four-stage catalytic system (the MTG variant).
Primus says that its gasoline is cost-competitive with fossil fuels without subsidies, utilizing carbon-efficient and high fuel-yielding non-agricultural biomass that does not compete with foodstocks.

A February 2011 report from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conclude that gasoline produced via the methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) route (earlier post) using syngas from a 2,000 dry metric tonne/day (2,205 US ton/day) biomass-fed facility could have a plant gate price (PGP) of $1.95/gallon US ($0.52/liter). _GCC

The biomass is pelletised, then gasified. The syngas is converted to methanol, and the methanol is converted directly to gasoline, via Exxon Mobil's highly efficient MTG process -- as modified by Primus. More on MTG:
In the MTG process, dimethylether (DME), the dehydrated derivative of methanol, is reacted over a ZSM-5 zeolite catalyst, on which the chain growth of molecules is sterically hindered, thus allowing only production of gasoline and lighter material. The gasoline product from the MTG process has more than 51 compounds, similar to straight-run gasoline in a petroleum refinery.

This mixture is then separated using a process similar to that used in a gasoline refinery. The design utilized in the NREL model utilizes five distillation columns to separate the remaining gas, LPG, light gasoline, and heavy gasoline. The remaining gas is sent to the fuel combustor. The light gasoline continues without further treatment. The heavy gasoline could proceed through a durene isomerizer in order to eliminate the presence of the 1,2,4,5-tetramethylbenzenes by converting them to 1,2,3,5-tetramethylbenzenes. This stream would then be merged with the light gasoline. The two product streams are LPG and gasoline. _GCC

This is an entirely renewable biomass to gasoline process which is likely to impact the fossil fuels markets in good time. Perhaps the main obstacle to a large scale adoption of biomass to liquid fuels, is the current very cheap price of natural gas.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Welcome to Utopia!

Images via Gizmag

Project Utopia has more in common with an oil rig than it does with a yacht, and in the word's of the consultancy, "breaks the traditional naval architectural mould which the market has come to expect and offers a truly unique outlook free from any conventional design constraints."

...Yacht Island Design's Project Utopia measures some 330 ft (100 m) in length and breadth, spans 11 decks and has the equivalent floorspace of a present-day cruise liner - indeed, and I'm sure this will be a draw-card to any aspiring wealthy megalomaniacs, there is enough space to create an entire micro-nation.

First and foremost, the island's design is stable, being based on a four legged platform and designed for minimum motion in the most extreme sea conditions. Each leg supports a fully azimuthing thruster and with four such units, the design can redeploy between desired locations at slow speed. _Gizmag

The Project Utopia seastead design is clearly oriented toward the luxury-loving wastrel segment of the population. And yet, even the idle rich are human, and deserve their moments of pleasurable idylls. If a billionaire wishes to finance the experimental movement of the land-lubbing race of humans out onto the open sea, who am I to object?
As always, naked girls sold separately. ;-)


Friday, September 16, 2011

Is The Missing Carbon Being Turned Into Diamonds?

Scientists have speculated for some time that the Earth's carbon cycle extends deep into the planet's interior, but until now there has been no direct evidence. The mantle–Earth's thickest layer –is largely inaccessible...Analysis [of lower mantle diamonds] shows compositions consistent with the mineralogy of oceanic crust. This finding is the first direct evidence that slabs of oceanic crust sank or subducted into the lower mantle and that material, including carbon, is cycled between Earth's surface and depths of hundreds of miles.

The research is published in the September 15, 2011, online Science Express.__Physorg

Climate models have been unable to account for all the "missing carbon," the carbon being released into the atmosphere that seems to "disappear," from view in unaccountable fashion. But is it possible that the oceans are taking this carbon and turning it into carbonaceous rock which is being transformed by Earth's mantle into diamond?
The oceans are voracious consumers of atmospheric carbon. Dissolved CO2 immediately turns into bicarbonate ion almost in entirety. Oceanic sea life rapidly turns this bicarbonate into both biomass and calcium carbonate shells. This organic and inorganic carbon sinks to the seafloor, which over time is subducted into the Earth's mantle.
After the heat and pressure of the mantle have transformed carbons within the subducted oceanic crust into other forms -- including diamond -- some of the transformed carbon is returned to the crust in upwelling mantle plumes.

The lesson for scientists, in all of this, is not to jump to conclusions before all the facts are in. When it comes to the carbon cycle and global climate, the facts have just begun to come in. But we are nowhere close to being justified in coming to conclusions. Stop treating computer models as if they were the actual physical phenomenon being studied! Models are not reality. Stop treating them as such.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

German Designed MTO Sport Gyrocopter Comes to Tomball PD


Tomball, Texas, is a small community near Houston. Its police budget is too small to afford its own helicopter, so the town is looking for ways to monitor itself from the air without busting its budget. Tomball has turned to the autogyro, lowly cousin to the costly helicopter, and is likely to come out ahead for having done so.
The MTOsport needs roughly the length of a football field to take off, climbs at 13 feet per second and can hit 115 mph. It’ll hover at a relatively low speed, allowing it to mimic a helicopter circling an area under observation.

...the unpowered rotor makes the aircraft safer than a helicopter because you’re already in auto-rotation. In a helicopter, the pilot has to nose the craft down and hope autorotation starts before the chopper hits the ground. If we lost power now we’d simply glide down.

...The big advantage is, of course, cost. A modern police helicopter ready for service can run anywhere from $1.5 million to $4 million. They’re also expensive to operate, averaging around $1,000 per hour with a two-pilot crew.

The Auto-Gyro MTOsport loaded up with radios and painted costs about $75,000 and about $50 an hour to operate, due in part to the fact that it burns regular pump gas. That’s roughly the cost of buying and operating two top-of-the-line squad cars.

...Tomball can’t justify the cost of a helicopter program, so it has to rely upon Houston or Harris County when it needs one. Coordinating the flight and lining everything up can take an hour or more, if a chopper is available at all. But an officer on standby can have the MTOsport airborne in about 10 minutes, including the pre-flight check. That can make a big difference in a metropolitan county with about 4.1 million people.

“By putting a trained pilot and a trained tactical flight officer in this aircraft up over the city of Tomball and the surrounding area, we’re able to essentially deploy the equivalent of 20 police officers,” Haulk says. _Wired

The autogyro will be grounded at night and during inclement weather. But on the whole, the cost savings from this unconventional aircraft should allow Tomball to foil and solve a wide range of criminal activities, as well as aiding in search and rescue tasks.


Friday, September 02, 2011

Pumping Water and Aerosols to the Stratosphere


Geoengineers like to think big. They are drawn to projects which are geared to a planetary scale. Such a project is this British Royal Society project to pump water 1km into the sky, using a helium balloon tethered water hose.

If that test run is successful, they will be aiming to repeat the experiment at an elevation of 20km.
... a team of British academics will next month formally announce the first step towards creating an artificial volcano by going ahead with the world's first major "geo-engineering" field-test in the next few months. The ultimate aim is to mimic the cooling effect that volcanoes have when they inject particles into the stratosphere that bounce some of the Sun's energy back into space, so preventing it from warming the Earth and mitigating the effects of man-made climate change.

Before the full-sized system can be deployed, the research team will test a scaled-down version of the balloon-and-hose design. Backed by a £1.6m government grant and the Royal Society, the team will send a balloon to a height of 1km over an undisclosed location. It will pump nothing more than water into the air, but it will allow climate scientists and engineers to gauge the engineering feasibility of the plan. Ultimately, they aim to test the impact of sulphates and other aerosol particles if they are sprayed directly into the stratosphere.

If the technical problems posed by controlling a massive balloon at more than twice the cruising height of a commercial airliner are resolved, then the team from Cambridge, Oxford, Reading and Bristol universities expect to move to full-scale solar radiation tests.

The principal investigator, Matthew Watson, a former UK government scientific adviser on emergencies and now a Bristol University lecturer, says the experiment is inspired by volcanoes and the way they can affect the climate after eruptions.

"We will test pure water only, in sufficient quantity to test the engineering. Much more research is required," he said, in answer the question of what effect a planetary-scale deployment of the technology could have.

Other leaders of the government-funded Stratospheric particle injection for climate engineering (Spice) project have investigated using missiles, planes, tall chimneys and other ways to send thousands of tonnes of particles into the air but have concluded that a simple balloon and hosepipe system is the cheapest. The research is paid for by the government-funded Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

"The whole weight of this thing is going to be a few hundred tonnes. That's the weight of several double-decker buses. So imagine how big a helium balloon do you need to hold several double-decker buses – a big balloon. We're looking at a balloon which is possibly 100-200m in diameter. It's about the same size as Wembley stadium," said the Oxford engineering lecturer Hugh Hunt in an interview earlier this year.

"This hose would be just like a garden hose, 20km long and we pump stuff up the pipe. The nice thing about it is that we can really have a knob, if you like, which we can control to adjust the rate at which we inject these particles."

While the October experiment is expected to have no impact on the atmosphere, it could also be used to try out "low-level cloud whitening", a geo-engineering proposal backed financially by Microsoft chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates.

In this case, fine sea salt crystals would be pumped up and sprayed into the air to increase the number of droplets and the reflectivity in clouds. Together, many droplets are expected to diffuse sunlight and make a cloud whiter. _Guardian
There are quite a few other types of crystals and compounds which could be sprayed into the stratosphere besides sea salt crystals or pure water. But to go far beyond those simple compounds, the experimenters would likely have to jump a large number of environmental hurdles.

At this stage, no one seems to be worried that such experiments might block too much sunlight, but that should be a concern for any geoengineering project of this type.

Modern climate science is still in its infant stages of understanding of the atmosphere. Climate models are pathetic trash compactors -- parsimonious garbage in / garbage out number crunchers. If grant-hungry climatologists get the answers they want, they publish them. If not, they go back and tweak the models until they do get the answers they want. A terrific scam if you can get it.

Eventually, climate science will stumble upon the scientific method, and claim to have invented it from scratch. That would be alright, if only climatologists would indeed take the scientific method seriously for once.

In the meantime, all of you geoengineers tread softly on this planet. Recent climate trends have been very nice. If you botch it up, a lot of us will not be happy.


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