Saturday, October 16, 2010

DARPA Awards Pratt & Whitney $33.8 Million Contract to Develop Constant Volume Combustion Engine Technology

DARPA has more hits than the Jacksons, Madonna, Prince & Lady Gaga combined. Whenever I do an Internet search of DARPA (and I do them often), I see pages of new articles about some wild project it has in development or production. Check out the latest hit - the Constant Volume Combustion (CVC) engine technology that is part of the Vulcan advanced propulsion program (press release follows below). DARPA says this about its Vulcan program:

Program Manager: Dr. Arthur Mabbett

The goal of the Vulcan demonstration program is to design, build, and ground test a Constant Volume Combustion (CVC) technology system that demonstrates a 20% fuel burn reduction for a ship based power generation turbine. CVC has been under development for more than a decade. Considerable progress has been made and the technology is believed mature enough to enable a dramatic new system capability. CVC, when combined with turbine engines, offers the ability to design a new class of hybrid turbine power generation engines and Mach 4+ air breathing engines. The Vulcan system will consist of a full scale CVC, a compressor, and a turbine. CVC architectures could include Pulsed Detonation Engines (PDEs), Continuous Detonation Engines (CDEs) or other unsteady CVC architectures. The CVC demonstrated in the Vulcan program would have direct application to aviation turbine engines, ship propulsion turbine engines, high mach air breathing engines, and commercial power turbine engines.


P&W Awarded $33.8 Million DARPA Contract for New Engine Technology Development

Jeff Jurgensmier
Pratt & Whitney

Stephanie Duvall
Pratt & Whitney Military Engines

EAST HARTFORD, Conn., October 12, 2010 – Pratt & Whitney received a $33.8 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop Constant Volume Combustion (CVC) engine technology under Phase II of the Vulcan advanced propulsion program. Pratt & Whitney is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) company.

CVC technology has the potential to significantly decrease the fuel consumption of U.S. Navy surface combatants and increase overall operational capability. A CVC engine’s performance improvements come from a paradigm shift in the way fuel is burned. Conventional engines burn fuel at a constant pressure. CVC engines combust fuel at a constant volume and are significantly more efficient than conventional engines.

The goal of the Vulcan demonstration program is to design, build and ground test a CVC technology system that demonstrates a 20 percent fuel burn reduction for a ship-based power generation turbine. CVC, when combined with jet turbine engines, offers the ability to design a new class of hybrid turbine power generation engines for naval ships and air-breathing aircraft engines.

“This program leverages Pratt & Whitney’s CVC intellectual property and previous test experience as well as the company’s long heritage of gas turbine engine development,” said Bill Gostic, vice president, Advanced Programs & Technology, Pratt & Whitney. “Under Phase II, DARPA is striving to develop engine technologies that will bring new efficiencies to ships.”
During Phase II, the CVC module will be developed, fabricated, tested and fully characterized through analytical models as well as component and subsystem testing prior to the final integration into the turbine engine for U.S. naval surface vessels.

In 2009, Pratt & Whitney received a $3 Million Vulcan Phase I contract. This part of the Vulcan program focused on a combined-cycle propulsion system architecture, with a separate CVC module and turbine engine, intended for high-Mach military aircraft. In late 2009 Pratt & Whitney tested the RASER CVC rig using IR&D funding. This testing demonstrated the ability to operate a CVC engine on both JP-8 jet fuel and conventional diesel fuel.

In parallel with the Phase I effort, DARPA conducted a business case analysis to identify the most productive CVC applications. Results of the analysis showed integrating CVC technology into ship-based power generation turbines using a CVC combustor retrofit results in significant cost savings. Despite their small output and size relative to the propulsion turbine units, the ship’s power generation turbine engine units can consume up to 40% of the total fuel used by naval surface vessels.

Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and commercial building industries.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Pecan Industry in United States Faces Serious Challenge to Satisfy Increasing Export Demands

I may have grown up in the South, but I have never liked pecans. Nevertheless, I do know many people who love them, so any potential lack of supply will make them sad. According to Texas AgriLife Communications, the U.S. pecan industry may be facing tough times as the industry cannot keep up with increased demands from foreign Nation States such as China.


October 11, 2010

AgriLife Extension economist says U.S. pecan industry at crossroads

Expert: Industry must meet challenge of increasing export demand

By: Paul Schattenberg, 210-467-6575
Contact(s): Joe Pena, 830-278-9151,
Dr. Larry Stein, 830-278-9151,
UVALDE – Even with the Texas pecan harvest under way and promises of excellent off-year yields from this state and others in the nation’s pecan belt, the pecan industry is at a crossroads, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service economist.

"The pecan harvest in Texas began recently and continues to gain momentum," said Jose Pena, AgriLife Extenion economist-management at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Uvalde. “But while it’s seeing above-average crop production throughout the pecan belt this year, the U.S. pecan industry has a serious challenge that needs to be addressed. Right now, it is at a crossroads.”

Pena said the industry’s challenge is to be able to meet the increasing demand for pecans, particularly export demand from China, while continuing to provide adequate supplies for domestic consumption.

“The Oct. 8 official U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate of the nation’s pecan crop at 271.3 million pounds is just 20.5 million pounds lower than 292 produced last year,” Pena said. “Together with the estimates of ‘carry-in’ pecan supplies at about 92 million pounds, this would make the estimate of available pecans at about 363.3 million pounds.

"But even though this reflects above-average production, especially for an off year, the overall supply its still down about 26.5 million pounds from last year.”

Pena added that pecan imports from Mexico also will be less than last year since 2010 is similarly an off year for pecan production there, and this will further lower the aggregate supply of pecans available.

“Also, even with good overall growing conditions over most of the pecan belt during the past year, many producers still experienced lower-than-average yields due to crop stress this summer,” he said.

But in spite of some summer stress, pecan production for Texas this season appears to be excellent, said AgriLife Extension horticulturist Dr. Larry Stein.

Stein, who primarily works with pecan producers in South Central Texas, said last fall’s rains, as well as the more recent warm days and cool nights, have spurred production.

"The rains last fall actually had a somewhat negative impact on pecan quality last year, but having that moisture in the soil really helped this year's pecan production, contributing to positive growing conditions this fall," he said.

The Oct. 8 estimate by the USDA for this year’s pecan crop in Texas is 70 million pounds, up 10 million from last year, Pena said.

“We’re expecting to have an above-average yield and very good nut quality this year,” said Tim Montz, owner of Montz Pecan.

Montz plants on about 1,000 acres of irrigated, improved and non-irrigated orchard land in North Central Texas near Wichita Falls. Although one of his orchards was badly damaged by hail, the remainder of his orchards produced well and compensated for the loss. Last year was the first year Montz Pecan conducted business with China.

“(In 2009)Chinese buyers bought about 25 percent of my crop,” Montz said. “And this year, I’ve already gotten lots of calls (from prospective buyers)and am seeing a good amount of interest in this crop. I expect to do as much or more business with China this year as last.”

“In 2009, between 80 million and 100 million pounds of U.S. pecans were shipped to China,” said Cindy Wise, executive vice president of the Texas Pecan Growers Association. That was about 25 percent of the entire pecan production of both the U.S and Mexico, and some of that supply carried over into cold storage.”

Wise said China’s near-term demand would largely depend on what portion of that supply has been used up now and how much will be used during January’s Lunar New Year celebrations.

“China has major celebrations in September and January, during which many pecans are used and consumed,” she said.

Wise explained that a major reason exportation to China has been a boon for pecan growers is Chinese buyers typically purchase the product in-shell.

“The Chinese usually buy directly from the grower and require they provide them with larger in-shell nuts, so the product usually doesn’t go through the shelling process before it’s exported.”

Pena, however, expressed his concern that exportation of premium pecans to other countries makes fewer high-quality pecans available to U.S. consumers and “applies upward pricing pressure” on pecans used for domestic consumption.

“It’s a matter of the industry finding the right balance between domestic and export demand and working to ensure there are adequate supplies of quality pecans to meet both,” he said. Wise noted that while exports to China more directly benefit the larger growers who sell to them, they also provide a benefit to smaller growers.

“The pecan market has been strong for the past several years and producers will continue to receive higher prices for their product,” she said. “It’s also likely that prices paid to growers this year will be the highest they’ve ever been.”

Pena said he hopes the U.S. pecan industry will be able to continue to meet the growing demand for its product and that American consumers will continue to have access to high-quality pecans.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

FLASHBACK: NASA Does Not Have Sufficient Money to Track Near-Earth Asteroids Under 2005 NASA Authorization Act

When the next big asteroid collides unexpectedly with the Earth, please remember that Congress decided to spend taxpayer monies on other more important projects like healthcare reform, climate change and illegal wars despite mandating that NASA discover 90% of all near-Earth objects. The findings from the National Research Council are summarized below.

Finding: Congress has mandated that NASA discover 90 percent of all near-Earth objects 140 meters in diameter or greater by 2020. The administration has not requested and Congress has not appropriated new funds to meet this objective. Only limited facilities are currently involved in this survey/discovery effort, funded by NASA’s existing budget.

Finding: The current near-Earth object surveys cannot meet the goals of the 2005 NASA Authorization Act directing NASA to discover 90 percent of all near-Earth objects 140 meters in diameter or greater by 2020.

Source: The National Academies Press

Emeritus Professor Resigns from American Physical Society Over Global Warming Scam

Add this professor to the growing number of scientists who are coming out against the global warming scam. Check out his resignation letter below. As an alum of UC-Santa Barbara, I give props to this professor.


Hal Lewis: My Resignation From The American Physical Society
Friday, 08 October 2010 17:19 Hal Lewis

From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara

To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society

6 October 2010

Dear Curt:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago). Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence---it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d'ĂȘtre of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford's book organizes the facts very well.) I don't believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:

1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate

2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer "explanatory" screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind---simply to bring the subject into the open.

5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members' interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.

6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.

APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?

I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people's motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don't think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I'm not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.


Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President's Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making)

Monday, October 11, 2010

FLASHBACK: President Obama Authorizes $20.3 Million from U.S. Emergency Refugee & Migration Assistance Fund to Address Palestinian Humanitarian Needs

Per the U.S. State Department (thanks, Hillary), see below.


United States Humanitarian Support to Palestinians

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 30, 2009
January 30, 2009

President Barack Obama has authorized the use of $20.3 million from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) Fund to address critical post-conflict humanitarian needs in Gaza. U.S. Government support for humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees and conflict victims now totals nearly $120 million in FY 2009, including nearly $60 million in Gaza.

Of the $20.3 million in new ERMA funds, $13.5 million will go to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), $6 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and $800,000 to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). These organizations are distributing emergency food assistance, providing medical assistance and temporary shelter, creating temporary employment, and restoring access to electricity and potable water to the people of Gaza.

Today’s contribution to UNRWA augments the $85 million the United States contributed in December 2008 toward UNRWA’s 2009 appeals. Of that amount, $25 million supported UNRWA emergency operations in West Bank and Gaza. The remaining $60 million supported UNRWA’s services for 4.6 million Palestinian refugees in the region, including Gaza. UNRWA is the largest provider of humanitarian aid in Gaza, providing 70 percent of the population with emergency food assistance, essential healthcare, and primary education. We are working to develop a longer-term reconstruction/development effort with international partners.

Furthermore, today’s contribution to ICRC complements the $9.7 million the United States provided earlier this month for ICRC’s activities for victims of conflict in the Middle East, with particular attention to its critical programs in Gaza. U.S. support of the ICRC buttresses the organization’s efforts to supply Gaza’s hospitals and clinics with urgently needed medical equipment, as well as to rehabilitate damaged water pumps and sanitation systems.

Finally, the U.S. contribution to OCHA supports its essential coordination activities for the Humanitarian Country Team, comprised of UN Agencies and non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

In addition to our contributions to UNRWA, ICRC, and OCHO, to date, USAID has provided more than $3.7 million for emergency assistance to Gaza. Food, milk powder, blankets, plastic sheeting, and other nonfood items have been distributed to beneficiaries, and the distributions are continuing. This assistance is distributed to beneficiaries through USAID’s implementing partners under six recently awarded grants ($250,000 each) to Mercy Corps, American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), CHF International, Relief International, Catholic Relief Services, and CARE International. Food distributions are done through USAID’s grant to the World Food Program (WFP).

The U.S. reiterates its support for humanitarian actors responding to emergency needs in Gaza and encourages other states to provide urgently needed funding to UNRWA, ICRC, WFP and other international and non-governmental organizations providing this lifesaving care to civilians in Gaza.