Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nanotech: The Key to Storing Carbon? And: Getting a handle on Expected Returns

A good catch by earth2tech. First some self-referencing. [reverencing? -ed]
In an April 15 post "Best strategy for long bear market 2010-2020" we said:
Mr. Farrell may be more bearish than necessary. We date the beginning of the secular bear* market to the first quarter of 2000 and use the DJIA's 11,722 close on Jan. 14 of that year. The Nasdaq hit it's all-time high on March 10.

We consider all of the time the market spent above that figure, starting with the Oct. 30, 2006 close at 11,727 through the all-time closing high 14,164.53 on Oct. 9, 2007 (coincidentally, five years to the day* from the low of the bust) and back down, to be an anomaly caused by Greenspan's loose-as-a-goose Fed policy. You could probably make the same argument for a portion of the 2004-2006 gains. One more factoid, the 2007 high did not exceed the 2000 high, on an inflation adjusted basis.

The last secular bear is dated 1966 to 1982, eighteen years, roughly equal in length to the 1902-1921 secular bear. For reasons I'll get into in a few months, we believe this cycle will be a bit shorter, call it approximately 15 years, which gets us to 2015 or so....
We re-referenced in a May Day post "Gail Dudack on What's Ahead for the Stock Market" with the last line highlighted. One of the reasons to expect a shorter secular bear is the growth that will come from nano-tech. The possibilities are mind boggling. That's also the reason to pay attention to Feynman, he coined the word "nanotechnology".
Here's earth2tech:

A recent breakthrough at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is bringing together two sectors that people love to fixate on: nanotechnology and carbon sequestration. Although the combo may sound unusual, nanotechnology could actually be the only way we’ll figure out if geologic carbon sequestration — stuffing CO2 underground — actually works.

Here’s the deal: The most reliable way to store and secure CO2 is to get it to attach to a solid and form a carbonate. (Think coral covering rocks in the ocean.) That process is thermodynamically stable and also provides a long-term solution to holding onto CO2. The problem is that it takes a very long time for that to happen using current methods — as in, thousands of years.

But Lawrence Berkeley recently managed to produce nanoscale magnesium oxide crystals, which staff scientist Jeff Urban says could help speed up that CO2-solid bonding process. “Magnesium oxide crystals are known to influence processes and rates of reaction,” he said. “And if we can control the size and surface chemistry of the crystals, we may be able to dramatically increase the rate of CO2 being stuck to the surface.” >>>MORE