Archive for the ‘nuclear energy’ category: Page 44

Jun 5, 2021

A Great Deal of Work Lies Ahead in the Development of In Vivo Reprogramming as a Therapy

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, business, genetics, life extension, nuclear energy

The latest from Calico. A bit technical.

Reprogramming of ordinary somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) was initially thought to be a way to obtain all of the patient matched cells needed for tissue engineering or cell therapies. A great deal of work has gone towards realizing that goal over the past fifteen years or so; the research community isn’t there yet, but meaningful progress has taken place. Of late, another line of work has emerged, in that it might be possible to use partial reprogramming as a basis for therapy, delivering reprogramming factors into animals and humans in order to improve tissue function, without turning large numbers of somatic cells into iPSCs and thus risking cancer or loss of tissue structure and function.

Reprogramming triggers some of the same mechanisms of rejuvenation that operate in the developing embryo, removing epigenetic marks characteristic of aged tissues, and restoring youthful mitochondrial function. It cannot do much for forms of damage such as mutations to nuclear DNA or buildup of resilient metabolic waste, but the present feeling is there is nonetheless enough of a potential benefit to make it worth developing this approach to treatments for aging. Some groups have shown that partial reprogramming — via transient expression of reprogramming factors — can reverse functional losses in cells from aged tissues without making those cells lose their differentiated type. But this is a complicated business. Tissues are made up of many cell types, all of which can need subtly different approaches to safe reprogramming.

Today’s open access preprint is illustrative of the amount of work that lies ahead when it comes to the exploration of in vivo reprogramming. Different cell types behave quite differently, will require different recipes and approaches to reprogramming, different times of exposure, and so forth. It makes it very hard to envisage a near term therapy that operates much like present day gene therapies, meaning one vector and one cargo, as most tissues are comprised of many different cell types all mixed in together. On the other hand, the evidence to date, including that in the paper here, suggests that there are ways to create the desired rejuvenation of epigenetic patterns and mitochondrial function without the risk of somatic cells dedifferentiating into stem cells.

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Jun 4, 2021

How Going to Mars Could Save Earth

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, nuclear energy, space travel

Article I just wrote about how going to Mars is actually good for protecting life on Earth, too.

People often lump going to Mars or the Moon into a this/that fight when it comes to bettering the life of the Earth and its inhabitants. But, it’s not that simple.

The technology we master in the pursuit of space colonization (starti n g at the Moon and Mars / space stations) will serve to advance that on Earth. The things we learn will help provide a guide for what to do on this future planet, and not just life beyond it. Sure, in-situ resource utilization/production will generate rocket fuel on extraterrestrial bodies. But, things like the NASA Kilopower nuclear reactor can lay the groundwork for alternative energies deployed on Earth at scale. I imagine thorium reactors will follow suit while we still try to deploy fusion at a consumer scale and not just a research basis.

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Jun 3, 2021

Chinese fusion reactor sets world record

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, physics, sustainability

China has announced a milestone in the development of clean, sustainable energy by setting a new world record for the longest duration of temperatures needed for fusion to occur.

The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) located in Hefei, Anhui Province, is the successor to HT-7, China’s first superconducting tokamak, which retired in 2013. The Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HIPS) is conducting the experiment for the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Professor Gong Xianzu, a researcher at the CAS Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) who is leading the project, announced the breakthrough. The reactor achieved not one but two milestones. Firstly it reached a plasma temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds. This is 20% hotter and five times longer than last year, when EAST managed 100 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds. Secondly, it reached an even higher peak temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius, lasting for 20 seconds.

May 22, 2021

Researchers develop advanced model to improve safety of next-generation reactors

Posted by in categories: engineering, nuclear energy, sustainability

When one of the largest modern earthquakes struck Japan on March 11, 2011, the nuclear reactors at Fukushima-Daiichi automatically shut down, as designed. The emergency systems, which would have helped maintain the necessary cooling of the core, were destroyed by the subsequent tsunami. Because the reactor could no longer cool itself, the core overheated, resulting in a severe nuclear meltdown, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

Since then, reactors have improved exponentially in terms of safety, sustainability and efficiency. Unlike the light-water reactors at Fukushima, which had liquid coolant and , the current generation of reactors has a variety of coolant options, including molten-salt mixtures, supercritical water and even gases like helium.

Dr. Jean Ragusa and Dr. Mauricio Eduardo Tano Retamales from the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University have been studying a new fourth-generation , -bed reactors. Pebble-bed reactors use spherical fuel elements (known as pebbles) and a fluid coolant (usually a gas).

May 10, 2021

Are We on the Brink of a New Age of Scientific Discovery?

Posted by in categories: computing, nuclear energy, particle physics

In 2001 at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, a facility used for research in nuclear and high-energy physics, scientists experimenting with a subatomic particle called a muon encountered something unexpected.

To explain the fundamental physical forces at work in the universe and to predict the results of high-energy particle experiments like those conducted at Brookhaven, Fermilab in Illinois, and at CERN ’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, physicists rely on the decades-old theory called the Standard Model, which should explain the precise behavior of muons when they are fired through an intense magnetic field created in a superconducting magnetic storage ring. When the muon in the Brookhaven experiment reacted in a way that differed from their predictions, researchers realized they were on the brink of a discovery that could change science’s understanding of how the universe works.

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May 8, 2021

MIT: On Course to Create a Fusion Power Plant

Posted by in categories: engineering, nuclear energy

How an MIT engineering course became an incubator for fusion design innovations.

“There is no lone genius who solves all the problems.”

Dennis Whyte, director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), is reflecting on a guiding belief behind his nuclear science and engineering class 22.63 (Principles of Fusion Engineering). He has recently watched his students, working in teams, make their final presentations on how to use fusion technology to create carbon-free fuel for shipping vessels. Since taking on the course over a decade ago, Whyte has moved away from standard lectures, prodding the class to work collectively on finding solutions to “real-world” issues. Over the past years the course, and its collaborative approach to design, has been instrumental in guiding the real future of fusion at the PSFC.

Apr 30, 2021

Look inside this lab where scientists are recreating the energy of the sun to produce nearly unlimited clean energy

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

At TAE Technologies lab in California, scientists are building a nuclear fusion machine to recreate the energy of the sun, stars and lightening here on Earth.

Apr 24, 2021

Z-Pinch fusion-based nuclear propulsion

Posted by in categories: military, nuclear energy, space

Circa 2013

Fusion-based nuclear propulsion has the potential to enable fast interplanetary transportation. Due to the great distances between the planets of our solar system and the harmful radiation environment of interplanetary space, high specific impulse (Isp) propulsion in vehicles with high payload mass fractions must be developed to provide practical and safe vehicles for human space flight missions.

The Z-Pinch dense plasma focus method is a Magneto-Inertial Fusion (MIF) approach that may potentially lead to a small, low cost fusion reactor/engine assembly [1]. Recent advancements in experimental and theoretical understanding of this concept suggest favorable scaling of fusion power output yield [2]. The magnetic field resulting from the large current compresses the plasma to fusion conditions, and this process can be pulsed over short timescales (10−6 s). This type of plasma formation is widely used in the field of Nuclear Weapons Effects testing in the defense industry, as well as in fusion energy research. A Z-Pinch propulsion concept was designed for a vehicle based on a previous fusion vehicle study called “Human Outer Planet Exploration” (HOPE), which used Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) [3] propulsion.

Apr 21, 2021

Approaching a Singularity, When The Number of Humans Alive Will Equal The Number Who Have Ever Died

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, genetics, life extension, nuclear energy, singularity, sustainability

There are several key technologies converging on an inevitable effect, namely a dramatic, explosive increase in human population. Currently around 40% of Earth’s total land area is dedicated to agricultural production to feed seven billion people, but, interestingly, while the human population will increase, the land area required to sustain this population will decrease, approaching zero land area to sustain a trillion human lives. In this era, bulk elements such as gold will have no value, since they will be so easy to produce by fusion separation of elements from bulk rock. Instead, value will be attached to biological material and, most importantly, new technologies themselves.

The several key emerging technologies that make this state of affairs unstoppable are listed along with aspects of their impact:

1) Most important is fusion energy, an unlimited, scalable energy, with no special fuel required to sustain it. This will allow nearly all agriculture to be contained in underground “vertical farm” buildings, extending thousands of feet downwards. Cheap artificially-lighted, climate-controlled environments will allow the maximum efficiency for all food crops. Thus, agriculture will take up close to zero surface area, largely produced underground on Earth or the Moon.

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Apr 18, 2021

How Bill Gates’ company TerraPower is building next-generation nuclear power

Posted by in categories: engineering, nuclear energy

TerraPower’s ability to achieve those goals will be in no small part due to the money and influence of the company’s founder.

“The most important factor is that Bill Gates is behind this,” principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology department of nuclear science and engineering Charles Forsberg tells CNBC Make It. “The most important factors in developing a new reactor are money and very competent people. Bill Gates brings both to the project.”

Here’s how TerraPower is building advanced nuclear power plants.

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