Tuesday, July 20, 2010


On ramjet data postings:

I am working on a back-of-the-envelope set of methods to get "in the ballpark" with rocket and ramjet vehicle designs, including parallel-burn designs where both types of engine burn simultaneously. This would include both fast ascent non-lifting ballistic trajectories, and lifting-vehicle trajectories at far more modest climb angles. These are entirely different analyses from any practical standpoint. This work is still in progress, and is aimed at rough-sizing configurations that could be refined later with a real trajectory computer program model.

On the Gulf oil spill:

I stand by my two earlier posts. Although I see little or no movement toward changing the rules for deep-water drilling, I think my four suggestions, if implemented, would have prevented the current disaster. I see no need to stand down deepwater drilling for 6 months or any other extended period of time. I see a need to change the rules quickly, and that should not take more than a week or two. Don't reinvent the wheel, just use what I posted. They are:

1. eliminate the liability caps and statutes of limitations; faced with true costs, safety and preparedness will receive proper attention
2. use a double blowout preventer for the increase of reliability due to redundancy, like the Europeans do in the North Sea
3. drill the relief wells while drilling the main well, so it could be relieved (if need be) within days not weeks-to-months
4. spend some federal R&D monies on better booms, better skimmers, better absorbents, and even-better bioremediation products.

To that list I would add spend some money on developing the oil-water separation techniques so that fresh oil making a free ascent to the surface could be used.

The second post said use bioremediation in addition to the other remediation methods (booms, skimmers, absorbents). Where dispersants interfere with bioremediation or the other methods, quit using dispersants. Nothing works if you drive the oil down deep in the water as microscopic globules. Hiding the problem instead of addressing it is utterly stupid.

The federal EPA is going to have to take its blinders off regarding bioremediation. They (and many academics) seem to think that bioremediation is a new thing to be studied to death. It is not; it was used successfully in a Galveston Bay spill 20 years ago, including both on-the-water and in-the-marshlands oil. It works, we already know that, here in Texas.

How come no one else seems to be doing it? The bioremediation products are already available commercially. This is not R&D, this stuff is available for sale, now.

On global warming:

Now that El Nino is over, and the heat has returned with a vengeance, I noticed that my global warming-skeptic friends have grown strangely quiet. I don't care whether humans caused the warming or not, the real question is what do we do about it, considering the devastating effects of massive sea level rise, among other consequences.

Latest science journal estimates put the expected sea level rise at 0.3 to 1.8 meters by 2100 AD. (The trend of these estimates over the last few years has been sharply upward, by the way.) Almost a billion people live within a meter or two of current sea level. That's a big, permanent refugee migration across international borders, when this civilization demonstrably cannot handle the temporary evacuation of one city (New Orleans), within one nation's borders.

The prudent thing is to plan how to cope with this disaster, and to try to mitigate the warming somewhat, to buy some extra time for that "coping".

On the North Korean sinking of the South Korean ship:

I see no reason to change my stance, which was to blockade the North Korean navy into its ports. They were a problem on the high seas, well, don't let 'em out there any more. Simple. Direct.

As for how the North Korean government has been behaving, we should use this incident to our advantage. Rub their noses in it, with no wiggle room to save face. If we do not do that, then they will think they "won", and their behavior will never change.

On a recent birthday surprise:

My wife took me to East Texas to ride the steam train (Texas State Railroad, Rusk to Palestine and back). The real surprise was that she bought me the "locomotive cab rider" ticket. I rode in the locomotive with the driver and the fireman, and I learned how to do what they did, by watching what they did, how they did it, what they did it with, and talking with them. The locomotive was a 109-year-old A.L. Cooke 4-6-0 woodburner, that had been long ago converted to fuel oil. Depending on power levels being generated, it was 110 to 140 F in that cab. I now understand why the old time steam crews always hung out the windows: it was to stay cooler in the breeze. I had a blast!!!!!!! Thank you, my dear! Wonderful present.

On a recent trip to California:

I went to Mojave to visit a small private rocket company at the airport. This was the first time in 25 years I had been there. Mojave was about the same as I remembered. "LA sprawl" has spilled through the mountains and engulfed Palmdale and Lancaster, though. There were more buildings and businesses on the airport, and the mix of aircraft in the "boneyard" has changed.

The little rocket company was very impressive, and was interested in someday applying a technology with which I had extensive and direct experience years ago in the defense industry: ramjet propulsion. They had been looking for someone without success, when they ran across me. Apparently, I am one of very few surviving American engineers with that kind of all-around ramjet expertise and experience. It was a bit of a shock to realize that I apparently outlived nearly all of them.

Alternate fuel work:

I recently began some tests in the old ethanol VW before I re-mothball it. I reworked its carburetor with a main jet adjusting needle, and reset everything to run straight gasoline. Then, I started testing stiffer and stiffer ethanol blends in an otherwise-gasoline car. There are some driveability issues in carburetion that don't show up with fuel injection, but I was looking for the reduced intake vacuum that indicates a late timing problem. So far, I have reached an E-50 blend with this vehicle, and I have not yet seen the timing problem.

In the F-150, I saw this late timing effect at an E-47 blend. In the Nissan, I got a little past E-50 by accident, and I believe I saw the problem. (Those two are fuel injected.)

For the next VW test, I plan to evaluate timing at E-53.

All the lawnmowers, the F-150, and the Nissan are working just fine on E-25 to E-40 blends, pretty much year round. All of these are "factory stock". Their engines are cleaner than "normal" inside, and at least the truck's tailpipe is "bare steel" clean.

To have the EPA balk on raising the gasohol cap from E-10 to E-15 is utterly ridiculous stupidity on their part, or egregious corruption due to lobby monies, or both. (Probably both, in my opinion.) Brazil has used E-20 to E-25 gasohols for decades, and I am not the only investigator to suggest that E-30 to E-35 will be "just fine".

1 comment:

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