Saturday, 12 February 2011

Weekend Update February 12, 2010

Iceland’s Volcanoes Again!

Baltic Dry Index. 1178

LIR Gold Target by 2019: $30,000. Revised due to QE.

The big story is Egypt, and the fall of another western placeman, one day after the US president was embarrassed, and one day after Mubarak’s endorsement by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. There is now tension between the government of America and the leader of the top remaining western placeman in the Middle East. It is way too early to know how all this ends, but the main oil producing and exporting region of the world, is now a far more edgy region. With events well covered in mainstream media, we will move on to other articles of interest.

Today, a warning from Iceland. After last year’s unpronounceable volcano shut down much of Europe’s airspace, Iceland now thinks an even bigger volcano is about to blow it’s top. What else could possible go wrong in 2011. Well Katla usually explodes some time after Eyjafjallajökull, which exploded last year causing air traffic chaos. Katla by historic standards is now overdue an eruption. Will 2011 turn into another 1783-1784, when Laki exploded, ruining Europe and sending France towards the poverty that helped cause the French revolution? Stay long precious metals.

Icelandic volcano 'set to erupt'

Scientists in Iceland are warning that another volcano looks set to erupt and threatening to spew-out a pall of dust that would dwarf last year's event.

6:38PM GMT 08 Feb 2011

Geologists detected the high risk of a new eruption after evaluating an increased swarm of earthquakes around the island's second largest volcano.

Pall Einarsson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland, says the area around Bárdarbunga is showing signs of increased activity, which provides "good reason to worry".

He told the country's national TV station that a low number of seismometer measuring devices in the area is making it more difficult to determine the scale and likely outcome of the current shifts.

But he said there was "every reason to worry" as the sustained earthquake tremors to the north east of the remote volcano range are the strongest recorded in recent times and there was "no doubt" the lava was rising.

The geologist complained that the lack of coverage from measuring devices means he cannot accurately detect the depth and exact location of the increased number of localised earth movements.

"This is the most active area of the country if we look at the whole country together," he told the Icelandic TV News. "There is no doubt that lava there is slowly growing, and the seismicity of the last few days is a sign of it.

"We need better measurements because it is difficult to determine the depth of earthquakes because it is in the middle of the country and much of the area is covered with glaciers."

Respected volcano watcher Jón Frímann, said on his volcano watch blog: "After the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in the year 2010 it seems that geologists in Iceland take earthquake swarms more seriously then they did before."

He explained the Icelandic Met Office had on Sunday warned of the increased risk of a eruption in north-west side of Vatnajökull glacier due to the high earthquake activity in the area, and added: "It is clear that only time is going to tell us if there is going to be a eruption in this area soon or not."

The last recorded eruption of Bárdarbunga was in 1910, although volcanologists believe its last major eruption occurred in 1477 when it produced a large ash and pumice fallout. It also produced the largest known lava flow during the past 10,000 years on earth.

It is the second largest volcano on Iceland and is directly above the mantle plume of molten rock.

By comparison, Bárdarbunga dwarves the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which shutdown most of Europe's airspace last year after its ash cloud drifted across the continent's skies.


In better news, new developments in nano-materials hold out great promise for making battery electric vehicle travel a reality. Not only will these new batteries hold more charge for longer and recharge faster but they also offer some of the fast discharge properties now associated with super capacitors. The era of electric mobility is almost at hand. Not a day too early to, given rising instability in the world’s main oil exporting region.

'Nanoscoops' could spark new generation of electric automobile batteries

January 4, 2011

An entirely new type of nanomaterial developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute could enable the next generation of high-power rechargeable lithium (Li)-ion batteries for electric automobiles, as well as batteries for laptop computers, mobile phones, and other portable devices.

The new material, dubbed a "nanoscoop" because its shape resembles a cone with a scoop of ice cream on top, can withstand extremely high rates of charge and discharge that would cause conventional electrodes used in today's Li-ion batteries to rapidly deteriorate and fail. The nanoscoop's success lies in its unique material composition, structure, and size.

The Rensselaer research team, led by Professor Nikhil Koratkar, demonstrated how a nanoscoop electrode could be charged and discharged at a rate 40 to 60 times faster than conventional battery anodes, while maintaining a comparable energy density. This stellar performance, which was achieved over 100 continuous charge/discharge cycles, has the team confident that their new technology holds significant potential for the design and realization of high-power, high-capacity Li-ion rechargeable batteries.

"Charging my laptop or cell phone in a few minutes, rather than an hour, sounds pretty good to me," said Koratkar, a professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer. "By using our nanoscoops as the anode architecture for Li-ion rechargeable batteries, this is a very real prospect. Moreover, this technology could potentially be ramped up to suit the demanding needs of batteries for electric automobiles."

Batteries for all-electric vehicles must deliver high power densities in addition to high energy densities, Koatkar said. These vehicles today use supercapacitors to perform power-intensive functions, such as starting the vehicle and rapid acceleration, in conjunction with conventional batteries that deliver high energy density for normal cruise driving and other operations. Koratkar said the invention of nanoscoops may enable these two separate systems to be combined into a single, more efficient battery unit.

Results of the study were detailed in the paper "Functionally Strain-Graded Nanoscoops for High Power Li-Ion Battery Anodes," published Thursday by the journal Nano Letters.

The anode structure of a Li-ion battery physically grows and shrinks as the battery charges or discharges. When charging, the addition of Li ions increases the volume of the anode, while discharging has the opposite effect. These volume changes result in a buildup of stress in the anode. Too great a stress that builds up too quickly, as in the case of a battery charging or discharging at high speeds, can cause the battery to fail prematurely. This is why most batteries in today's portable electronic devices like cell phones and laptops charge very slowly – the slow charge rate is intentional and designed to protect the battery from stress-induced damage.

More on Tuesday.


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