Tech Tuesday 10/24/17 – I Actually Like Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli Edition

Back from Disneyland. If you find yourself at California Adventure, the ride ‘Soaring’ is a treat. And ‘California Screaming’ is a respectable roller coaster.

Tech Tuesday 10/24/17 - I Actually Like Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli Edition


AERO1 – So that’s where we put our keys.

AERO2 – Space tourism, next year.  Personally, I’m more interested in the whole point to point travel.  Even a very low orbit can get you on the other side of the world in minutes.

AERO3 – “This is a test.  This is only a test.  Had this been a real asteroid emergency, you would have been instructed to bend over, place your head between your legs, and ki…”

AERO4 – Cassini’s final moments.


BIO1 – The object of healing is not to kill the cancer cells but to make the cancer cells kill themselves.

BIO2 – Quantum dots kill superbugs.

BIO3 – Imagine if your next cavity was filled with tooth enamel instead of metal or resin?

BIO4 – You don’t have to like it, but it really is good for you.  I like all the cruciferous veggies.


ENR1 – When I think about SeaSteads, this is one potential economy I envision to support them.

ENR2 – Next stop, Origami Capacitors.

ENR3 – One thing I notice is that they aren’t talking much about size.  I mean, if sodium is so good, why are we just now looking at it?

ENR4 – The North Atlantic is just full of energy we are leaving on the table.  As an aside, that Roman Marine concrete we figured out how to make?  Here is a good application for it (tower bases).  Just do the initial casting on land, then when it’s cured enough to move, ship it to the installation site, and let it cure some more in the sea water.  By the time you get the towers raised, It’ll be ready.

ENR5 – MIT has a new, breathing flow battery for grid storage.  If we are serious about renewable energy, grid storage is a must.  Although I wonder what kind of impacts grid storage will have on the energy markets and dispatching rules?

ENR6 – Speaking of North Atlantic Wind Power, the first floating wind farm is up and running.  I will be very curious to see how much it produces compared to it’s rated generating capacity.


ENV1 – Turning atmospheric CO2 into minerals.  Interesting chemistry, but how much energy does it take to do this?


MAT1 – A spray on coating for concrete walls that makes the wall earthquake resistant.  Note this can be used to retrofit existing structures.

MAT2 – Bite me, brutalism.


MIL1 – The question is, will this be like the prequels, or will it actually work this time?


PHYS1 – It’s not turtles, it’s knots, knots all the way down.  This also seems to add some support for String Theory.  I think.


TECH1 – Cameras that can see around corners.

TECH2 – Three words to find home

TECH3 – Robotic fingers with a sense of touch.


TRANS1 – GM has been working on a generic, modifiable fuel cell platform for a while.  This seems to be the latest iteration.

TRANS2 – GM isn’t the only one working on that idea.

Wacky, Weird, and Wonderful

WWW1 – Dubai police are either very brave, or very stupid (not the flying part, it’s the unshrouded blades).

WWW2 – I bring you the blow by blow of all the best mecha battles.  You’re welcome, you thankless ingrates…

WWW3 – On the plus side, there will be no hills to ride up.

WWW4 – Google Maps for all your exo-planetary navigation needs.




A Navy Turbine Tech who learned to spin wrenches on old cars, Oscar has since been trained as an Engineer & Software Developer & now writes tools for other engineers. When not in his shop or at work, he can be found spending time with his family, gardening, hiking, kayaking, gaming, or whatever strikes his fancy & fits in the budget. ...more →

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23 thoughts on “Tech Tuesday 10/24/17 – I Actually Like Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli Edition

  1. BIO3: I have terrible teeth and I keep hoping something like this is developed to the point where (a) it actually works safely and (b) is inexpensive enough that a mere mortal can afford to have it done (or better: my dental insurance would cover it).

    Next up is needed a way to regrow whole teeth for when people crack them.

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  2. ENR3: On scale, Xcel ran a trial using sodium-sulfur batteries in the MWh range. The problem with prior sodium-based chemistries is that the electrolyte was molten sodium — nasty stuff, corrosive, burns on contact with water, and has to operate at temperatures around 300 °C. Other folks have developed sodium-ion batteries with safer electrolytes, but have had problems with dendrite formation over the long haul. Stanford’s electrolyte appears to be part of the “special sauce” in this battery, and is described in the article as “a propylene carbonate (PC) electrolyte”.

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    • I figured the application would be grid storage, but the article seemed to imply it would be competitive with much smaller scale applications, like residential rooftop solar. If the batteries are big, I don’t know how well it would work for residential solar, since most people are not keen to give up square footage for battery packs.

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      • There’s grid storage, and then there’s grid storage. The energy density is cited as around 0.4 kWh per kg. I would cheerfully give up a few square feet of garage and/or unfinished basement for a moderate-cost 50 kWh storage unit because it can serve multiple purposes, some in combination with the local utility. 300 pounds spread over a few square feet is easily within the load-bearing capacity of my garage or basement floor.

        1) Private generation buffer. When my local generating output — eg, solar PV panels on the roof — exceeds my demand, dump the excess into batteries instead of the grid.

        2) Grid-based storage. Except that the storage isn’t done by the generators, it’s done by the distribution utility. FERC and the courts opened this up when they agreed to let utilities bid demand reduction as an alternative to expensive peaking power during high-demand periods. The traditional approach to reduction is to take high-load customers offline. As an alternative, draw on a million batteries across a metro area.

        3) Time-of-day load shifting. I can charge my batteries up when power is cheap, discharge when it’s expensive. One of the cool things here is that, if the batteries are “trusted” by the utility, no separate smart meter is needed; the batteries report time of day charging and discharging. In addition to me doing it, given access to my storage, the local utility can do it too.

        4) Emergency power. With minimal sorts of load shedding — ie, don’t run the dryer or conventional oven — 50 kWh should meet the needs of a typical suburban household for a couple of days.

        Utilities have to take on a variety of new responsibilities in such a scenario. But they’re going to take on some of those in a world with high percentages of renewables anyway.

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        • If it was something I could locate outside, like next to my heat pump, then we are in business. But I have no basement and the garage is small, and full of tools, and my wife continues to insist on parking her Highlander in there, despite my objections…

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  3. ENR1 – The Gulf of Mexico has a huge “Dead Zone” of algae growth due to fertilizer runoff from farms. I’ve occasionally speculated about using something like floating farms on the Mississippi River to try and soak up/mitigate this in the past. I wonder if kelp farming in the Gulf of Mexico might be a better solution, though I don’t know if the specific chemical makeup of the runoff would fertilize or kill the kelp.

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    • Fertilizer is fertilizer, the only question is what concentrations are helpful versus harmful. If the runoff flow is well mapped, you could try to site the kelp farms where the concentrations are helpful.

      Of course, then some lawyer will convince a farming co-op to sue the kelp farm for a share of the profits since they are taking advantage of fertilizer that those farmers paid for.

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  4. You were in SoCal and didn’t think to look me up? I’m hurt. Hurt, shocked, put off, insulted, and offended.

    Or, maybe just a touch disappointed but understanding that you no doubt had your hands totally full with the kids. Maybe. But it amuses me to posture thus.

    When I went to California Adventure, the ride was “Soaring Over California” and all of the landscapes were filmed over various astonishingly photogenic California locales: Yosemite, Big Sur, Redwoods National Park, San Francisco, Death Valley, etc. Now, I understand it’s film from around the world. Which is still no doubt very cool but less California.

    The Hollywood Hotel ride is also pretty good. It does require you to really get in to the decorations and setting and have a touch of patience to absorb the atmosphere. But if you can do that, it’s a big ol’ thrill.

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    • We did the whole “sequester at the park” thing. As a retired vet, I get really sweet deals on park tickets and Disney hotel discounts. So we landed at John Wayne, took the shuttle to the Grand Californian, and spent 3 days going on rides, etc. Then took the shuttle back to John Wayne. No rental car, so no going off on side excursions (although there was one night, when Bug was waaaay over-tired, that a side excursion to a bar was probably in order).

      Hollywood Hotel is now a Guardians of The Galaxy ride, but it’s still an elevator drop, and quite enjoyable. And yes, Soaring is now global, but you end at Disneyland. It’s still amazingly good at tricking your brain into thinking you are flying. Bug loved it, rode it twice and probably would have rode it more. He is still a big fan of the monorail, especially when he can ride up front. And I never appreciated what a decent coaster Screaming is, especially with the synced up music.

      And Disney is still aces for service. Everyone was wonderful. Disney guests, on the other hand… I am really learning to hate people who use those mobility scooters.

      Anyway, I am usually in CA a few times a year, there will be other opportunities.

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  5. Hmm so Jeff Flake has flaked. On the one hand one can’t help but applaud a man standing on principle, on the other (cynical) hand the word is he was going to get primaried out in AZ but on the other-other hand he could have chosen to spend his remaining year and change sucking up to Trump and casting his principles to the wind and that plus incumbency could probably have saved him. So, on balance, good on Jeff Flake.

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