Wednesday, September 18, 2019

INL engineer to talk about NASA missions at chamber CEO Series program

Kelly Lively, manager of INL's Radioisotope Power Systems department
The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce will host Kelly Lively of Idaho National Laboratory as its featured speaker Sept. 26, part of its monthly CEO Series programs.

Lively is the manager of INL's Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) department and also a project manager for NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission. She manages a team of engineers and technicians that manufactures, fuels, tests and delivers radioisotope thermo-electric generator (RTG) systems for NASA's deep space exploration missions. RTG systems convert the heat generated by the decay of plutonium oxide fuel into electrical energy.

Lively will share information on the technology and the INL processes that enable these scientific missions. She will also provide the latest information on three space missions in which INL has had hand: New Horizons (which passed Pluto in 2015 and is now exploring the Kuiper Belt at the edge of the Solar System), the Mars Science Laboratory (which includes the Curiosity Rover), and the Mars 2020 Rover (yet to be named).

Lively started working at Naval Reactors Facility 1985 as a human resources administrative assistant. She bounced around the lab, working in word processing and security, and eventually decided to pursue an engineering degree. "As I typed procedures for the engineering staff, I thought, 'If they can do this, I can do this,'" she told The Oklahoman in 2013. She graduated with a bachelor's in engineering from Idaho State University in 1998.

The event is open to the community and will be begin at 3 p.m. at the Waterfront at Snake River Landing, 1220 Event Center Drive. Questions from audience members will be taken. There is no charge for the event, but space is limited. Please RSVP to programs@idahofallschamber.com to reserve a spot.

Snake River Landing to break ground on new office building

The site for a new 60,000-square-foot office building at Snake River Landing, at the corner of Snake River Parkway and Event Center Drive
Snake River Landing is holding a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 25 at 11 a.m. for a new three-story office building planned for Snake River Parkway and Event Center Drive. The 60,000-square-foot office building, located at the heart of the 450-acre Snake River Landing multi-use development, is scheduled to be finished in late summer of 2020.

The new office building is owned by an affiliate of Snake River Landing. The following businesses are involved in the design and construction: Dixon and Associates, Horrocks Engineers, HK Contractors, Okland Construction.

The new office building is the latest growth development for Snake River Landing, which in July announced the expansion of Love at First Bite and is also seeing a new addition to The Falls Apartments, with developer Kartchner Inc. adding 96 units addition to the original 228-unit apartment complex that opened in 2017. Idahoan Foods is in the process of remodeling 900 Pier View Drive in Snake River Landing for its new corporate headquarters. Construction on the new Event Center Drive roadway is wrapping up this fall, and construction on the new Heritage Park continues with the city of Idaho Falls.

“Many companies are expanding or seeking to locate in Idaho Falls, and we are ready to help them find the kind of space and experience they seek,” said Eric Isom, Snake River Landing’s chief development officer. “There are new residential options here, commercial space under construction and available for pre-lease, and a growing number of people who are choosing to live and work within this community. It’s a pleasure to see companies expand and grow here.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

INL to collaborate with 3 commercial utilities on hydrogen production from nuclear plants

The Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station near Toledo, Ohio, will be the first site to produce commercial quantities of hydrogen using nuclear energy. (Photo by Bill Rayburn, Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station)
Three commercial electric utilities and Idaho National Laboratory have been chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy for projects intended to improve the long-term economic competitiveness of the nuclear power industry.

The utility participants are FirstEnergy Solutions of Akron, Ohio; Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis-based energy company that owns and operates two nuclear plants in Minnesota; and Arizona Public Service (APS), a Phoenix-based utility that operates Palo Verde Generating Station.

The three projects are involved in DOE’s effort to support development and demonstration of commercial applications that pair nuclear energy with a hybrid, non-electric application to produce hydrogen. DOE announcement for these projects and others can be found on this link: https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/us-department-energy-awards-152-million-advanced-nuclear-technology-0.

“These first-of-a-kind projects represent significant advances for improving the long-term economic competitiveness of the light water reactor industry,” said Bruce Hallbert, director of DOE’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program, based at INL. “They will enable the production of commodities such as hydrogen in addition to electricity from commercial nuclear power plants. These projects also accelerate the transition to a national hydrogen economy by contributing to the use of hydrogen as a storage medium for production of electricity, as a zero-emitting transportation fuel, or as a replacement for industrial processes that currently use carbon-emitting sources in hydrogen production.”

The two-year project led by FirstEnergy Solutions will initially demonstrate and deploy a 1- to 3-MWe low-temperature electrolysis unit to produce commercial quantities of hydrogen. The first site, planned for 2020, is FirstEnergy Solution’s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station near Toledo, Ohio. The project will demonstrate how hydrogen from commercial nuclear operations can be used to produce “green” products and commodities in significant quantities for domestic use and for export to international markets where green and low-carbon attributes are incentivized. Hydrogen from Davis-Besse may initially be used to supply public transportation fleets in Ohio, in new direct iron reduction plants being constructed to produce steel products, or for other commercial products now under investigation.

“Thanks to the support provided to our Ohio nuclear plants by the state of Ohio, we are able to work with DOE to explore new methods of keeping nuclear power plants competitive in any economic environment," said Raymond Lieb, senior vice president of Fleet Engineering for FirstEnergy Solutions. "This is a great opportunity to show that hydrogen can be effectively generated in a carbon-free and safe manner.”

The second project, planned for 2021, will occur at an Xcel Energy nuclear site and employ hydrogen production technologies that might be used to reduce the environmental impact of industrial processes or in the transportation sector. Redirecting nuclear energy from electricity to hydrogen production could help balance the electrical grid with the increasing amount of wind and solar energy on the system. The company has also been testing flexible operations at its nuclear plants, but hydrogen could create an entirely new value stream. Xcel Energy plans to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent in the Upper Midwest by 2030 (from 2005 levels) and is pursuing a vision to provide electricity from 100 percent carbon-free sources by 2050.

”We’ve challenged our nuclear employees to find innovative ways to operate more efficiently, use technology, pursue new ideas and reduce costs to make our plants more valuable for our customers,” said Tim O’Connor, chief nuclear officer, Xcel Energy. “Projects like this hydrogen demonstration will ensure our nuclear plants continue to help Xcel Energy provide reliable, affordable carbon-free electricity for the Upper Midwest.”

The third project, planned for 2020-2022, will occur at APS’ Palo Verde Generating Station near Phoenix, Arizona. Hydrogen from the plant may be used as energy storage for use in reverse-operable electrolysis or peaking gas turbines during times of the day when photovoltaic solar energy sources are unavailable and energy reserves in the Southwest are low -- also to support a growing hydrogen transportation fuel market. Experience from this pilot project will offer valuable insights into methods for flexible transitions between electricity and hydrogen generation missions in solar-dominated electricity markets and demonstrate how hydrogen may be used as energy storage to provide electricity during operating periods when solar is not available.

“This project allows us to explore a new form of energy storage while continuing to provide customers what they want – clean, affordable and reliable electricity,” said Bob Bement, APS's executive vice president and chief nuclear officer.

Hallbert said, “These demonstration projects will confirm how commercial nuclear utilities can produce — without carbon emissions — essential products, like hydrogen, at a scale needed by industry. Nuclear energy can help meet the significant demand for hydrogen and other synthesized products while helping industrial users reduce their own carbon footprints.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Staybridge Suites hotel planned for Idaho Falls

A typical Staybridge Suites layout
It looks like Idaho Falls will be getting another hotel, as an erosion control permit has been filed for a Staybridge Suites hotel on Pioneer Road near Deseret Book.

The city of Idaho Falls Building Department approved the permit on Aug. 21. The applicant is The Koehler Organization of Aberdeen, S.D., and the owner is listed as JPK TR Idaho Falls, LLC, also out of Aberdeen.

Staybridge Suites is an all-suite, residential-style brand of hotels within the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the company that also owns Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Candlewood Suites. The brand targets extended-stay and corporate travelers.

The chain was founded in 1997, and the first hotel opened the following year in Alpharetta, Ga. According to the company's website, it has more than 220 hotels in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Chamber announces Distinguished Under 40 honorees

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce (GIFCC) has announced its 2019 Distinguished Under 40 honorees. The annual awards program honors 10 eastern Idaho young professionals who have excelled in their careers, community, and education. Co-workers, managers, and business associates nominate the young professionals.

A panel of GIFCC board members selected the honorees from 40 nominations received this year. The 2019 honorees are:
  • Clint Reading, College of Eastern Idaho
  • Jacob Workman, Idaho Falls Office of Idaho Legal Aid Services
  • Leela Abrahamson, Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel
  • Lezhai Gulbransen, Bonneville Youth Development Council
  • Lupita Fuentes, Northwest Cosmetic Labs
  • Matt Larsen, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center
  • Micah Austin, City of Ammon
  • Miranda Marquit, Miranda Marquit Freelancing
  • Stuart Draper, Stukent
  • Tim Sopalski, Bank of Commerce
The recipients will be honored at a luncheon held at the Downtown Event Center on Sept. 24 at noon. To attend the luncheon, please reserve your spot at https://idahofallschamber.com/event/distinguished-under-40/. Tickets are $20 for Chamber members and $25 for non-Chamber members.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

First Street reopens, new and improved; North Boulevard work starts Monday

Good news, eastsiders, the city of Idaho Falls has reopened First Street between Fanning Avenue and St. Clair Road.

The newly paved stretch reopened Wednesday at 5 p.m., in time for the evening commute. The summer project, which started July 8, involved replacing the water line from Lomax Street to the Idaho Canal, also storm drain improvements and road reconstruction. Idaho Falls Power replaced aging street lights and Davey Tree Service trimmed trees away from power lines.

The roadway was completely closed to provide a safe work environment for construction crews and to expedite the project. It was completed on schedule, according a press release from the city.

Beginning Monday, Union Pacific Railroad crews will be reconstructing two railroad crossings on North Boulevard, just north of Science Center Drive. Motorists should plan alternate routes.

This is likely to affect people who work in the INL Research Center and employees of Northwest Cosmetics Laboratory. But the tie-rod ends and shocks in their cars and trucks will be a lot better off.

The anticipated completion time is one week, barring unforeseen conditions. Motorists should avoid the area and plan alternate routes. Traffic will be detoured to 29th North (Stanley Street). The Idaho Falls Street Division will be providing traffic control.

Additional information on City of Idaho Falls construction projects can be found on the homepage of the city’s website or by clicking HERE

Monday, September 2, 2019

Ronald McDonald Family Room at EIRMC slated to open Friday

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho will be holding a ribbon-cutting at noon Thursday for the brand new Ronald McDonald Family Room at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. The remodeling of what was office space has been going on since April. When it officially opens on Friday, it will provide a “home away from home” for families with ill or injured children.

Following the Ribbon Cutting, RMHC of Idaho will be hosting a Community Open House from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Community members are invited to come tour the space, enjoy some refreshments, and learn how about how the Family Room will bring comfort to families.

In preparation for the program’s first day, RMHC of Idaho is also asking the community to help “stock the Family Room.” To ensure the space has everything needed to support families, they’ve put together an online wish list. The community can help by purchasing items off this wish list and either having them shipped straight to the Family Room or dropping them off during the open house.

When children are sick, the thing they need most is family. The Ronald McDonald Family Room will provide a home-like environment for parents and families of children receiving treatment at EIRMC. It will allow families a quiet place to get something to eat, take a shower, do laundry, watch tv, take a nap, or even stay the night, steps away from their hospitalized child. The Family Room will be staffed by RMHC of Idaho employees and through the generous efforts of community volunteers.

For more information about the Family Room visit rmhcidaho.org/familyroom.