Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Nuclear News, Battery Advances, Biotech Symposium, More

First, Brian Wang has a nice partial summary of the state of the art in nuclear power technology for fission and fusion. From pebble bed reactors to liquid fuel thorium reactors to several fusion contenders, this article looks at the cutting edge of nuclear.

Next, Brian Westenhaus has a very nice look at the mysterious EEStor battery / capacitor technology slated to power electric vehicles of the future. Humans are on the verge of understanding energy storage -- just give them time.

The 31st Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals runs for 3 days in San Francisco. It started yesterday and ends tomorrow.
Among the papers presented in one of the twin opening oral presentation sessions were several describing potential new engineered genetic pathways to produce biobutanol.

Biobutanol continues to attract interest based on its properties compared to ethanol such as its higher energy content, the ability to be transported in existing pipelines, and the ability to blend at higher ratios without impacting engine performance. At least one company, Gevo, is also looking at butanol as an intermediate to renewable hydrocarbon fuels. _More here
Finally, Forbes recently did a mediocre piece on the great biofuels battle between chemistry and biology. The Forbes piece illustrates what happens when a journalist relies on one relatively poor primary source for an article, without doing the necessary footwork to get the inside scoop. The result is overly generalised, simplistic pablum.

Yes, Virginia, they really do pay journalists in the old media to go through the motions of providing the news. If you ever get tired of being served re-heated, pre-digested newsroom gossip, step on over to the wild side, dear. ;-)

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