Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Oklo Inc. receives DOE Site Use Permit to build at Idaho National Laboratory

A sketch of what Oklo's 1.5 megawatt Aurora plant might one day look like
Oklo Inc., a company based in Sunnyvale, Calif., announced Monday it has received a Site Use Permit from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to build its Aurora plant at Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

According to a press release on, the site use permit is an important step toward commercializing advanced fission technologies, and this the first issued for a non-light water nuclear power reactor. The permit outlines the responsibilities for each party regarding use of the site. The site use permit is in effect for the lifetime of the plant, and puts a requirement on a maximum licensing timeline for Oklo with the regulator before the start of operation.

The site use permit makes a site available to Oklo to build its Aurora plant, which utilizes a compact fast reactor to generate about 1.5 MW of electric power. This site is anticipated to be the location of the first-of-a-kind deployment of the Aurora plant.

Oklo co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Caroline Cochran said receiving the site use permit is an exciting step on the path to deploying advanced fission technology. “Oklo entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with DOE in 2017, and the site use permit is an important resultant milestone,” Cochran said. “DOE is clearly demonstrating its commitment to enabling commercial deployment of novel clean energy technologies, and advanced fission in particular. We are excited to be among the first to exercise this new process.”

Two years ago, the DOE Idaho Operations Office developed a new INL site permit application process, and Oklo was the first to complete the new process. Completion of the site permit process exemplifies the ability of DOE to support advanced reactor development and deployment. This also supports objectives laid out by Congress in legislation passed in 2018, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), as well as language in proposed legislation.

INL plays a key role in the development of advanced fission technologies. As the nation’s lead nuclear energy laboratory, INL will be a key collaborator with Oklo as Oklo licenses, constructs and operates the new plant. INL is also laying the groundwork for working with additional advanced reactor technologies to come. DOE recently established the legislatively authorized National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) led by INL, which provides resources for testing, demonstration and performance assessment to accelerate deployment of new advanced nuclear technology concepts.

Oklo has been engaged in pre-application activities with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) since 2016 for the Aurora design, and is preparing to submit its first license application to NRC. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), an upcoming step before the Aurora plant is built will include preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.

For-profit nursing, medical assisting school planned for 17th Street

Unitek Learning of Newport Beach, Calif., announced Monday it is opening a location for Eagle Gate College in Idaho Falls. The for-profit company plans to offer medical assisting and nursing programs at 1592 E. 17th Street, in the Hall Park Shopping Center, where Sports Authority used to be. A permit application was submitted Friday to the Idaho Falls Building Department for a 19,933-square-foot remodeling job.

The Idaho Board of Nursing gave Unitek initial approval in October to create nursing education programs for campuses in Idaho Falls and Boise. The two campuses will open in 2020, offering a range of programs in the nursing field. In a press release, the company said it plans to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, a Master's Entry Program in Nursing, and a Practical Nursing program.

While the Idaho Board of Nursing has approved the development of these programs, they have not yet been approved by the school's accrediting agency or the Idaho State Board of Education.

"It has been another year of growth and opportunity for Unitek Learning, and we look forward to extending our reach in Idaho," said David Higley, Unitek's chief marketing officer.

Unitek Learning is the parent company of several institutions: Unitek College, Unitek EMT, Eagle Gate College, and Provo College. The company is also expanding into Reno, Nevada.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Auditorium district applies for building permit for Event Center

The cover page of the site plan for the Event Center. A building permit has been applied for. After more than eight years, this project looks like it is going forward.
It looks like all systems are go for the Idaho Falls Events Center. On behalf of the owner, Pioneer Front Properties LLC, CRSA of Salt Lake City applied for a building permit on Nov. 13 with the city of Idaho Falls.

The site plan itself was approved in late October, with the following caveat: Improvements on Pioneer need to be completed/accepted or a subdivision guarantee needs to be provided for prior to issuance of a Permit.

Here are a few numbers that might be of interest. The 123,697-square-foot project has been assigned a value of $51 million. For the inspections alone, the owner is on the hook for $383,854.63 in fees. This includes the commercial permit itself ($138,472.73), fire review ($22,225.63), plan check ($90,007.27), erosion control ($100), water services ($111,132) and sewer connection ($21,917).

There may be additional fees, e.g. electric line extension, street light, temporary power, “but these are what we presently have,” city permit technician Ken Hartog wrote to Idaho Falls Auditorium District Executive Director Rob Spear in a Nov. 25 letter. “Please pay only the Plan Check fee and the Fire Review Fee to get those processes started.”

The total cost of the project is $62 million, much more than the $35 million projected back in 2015. It got a major boost in July with a $4.5 million donation from Mountain America Credit Union, which bought the naming rights. The district has laid out a long-term debt financing plan, utilizing resources that will come from the transient revenue tax of the future, Spear told East Idaho News earlier this year.

Voters approved the formation of the auditorium district in 2011. Since then, the district has been raising money from donations and a bed tax at local hotel

For a look at all the documents, follow this link:

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

INL inventors win four R&D 100 Awards

A team of researchers including Josh Daw (pictured here), Richard Skifton, Kurt Davis and Pattrick Calderoni received an R&D 100 Award for their work on High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouples.
Four Idaho National Laboratory technologies have been named winners of the 2019 R&D 100 Awards. Widely known as the “Oscars of Innovation,” the awards bestowed by R&D World recognize the winners as being among the top 100 revolutionary technologies of 2019.

Since their inception in 1963, the awards have celebrated research and development technologies from across the public and private sectors. Laboratories and companies from throughout the nation submitted nominations for judging. A panel comprised of more than 40 industry-leading experts then ranked the nominees based on their technical significance, uniqueness, and applicability across industry, government and academia.

Typically, the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories have dozens of finalists every year. Of 2019’s 162 finalists, 54 included the involvement of DOE national labs, with six technologies listing INL as the lead inventor and two labeling the lab as a supporting organization. With the inclusion of this year’s winners, INL has now won 22 R&D 100 Awards since 2005.

Winning technologies led by INL:

Electronic Neutron Generator Calibration System (N-meter)
David Chichester, Scott Thompson, James Johnson, Scott Watson, Robert Schley, Jay Hix

The N-meter is a portable, reusable, and adaptable device that has the capability to calibrate any electronic neutron generator (ENG), regardless of manufacturer. ENGs provide law enforcement officers and military personnel with the ability to detect the presence of harmful materials used in chemical, radiological and explosive attacks. The N-meter actively ensures that the devices are accurate and properly calibrated to perform any mission. By enabling this vital step for ENGs, the device can help protect Americans from nuclear threats, improve natural resource exploration, create biomedical advances and much more.

High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouples (HTIR-TC)
Richard Skifton, Josh Daw, Kurt Davis, Pattrick Calderoni

Until now, nuclear instruments have had difficulty obtaining precise reactor temperature measurements, forcing scientists to rely on estimates. Now, the High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouples (HTIR-TC) can be inserted directly into the fuel centerline to precisely read fuel temperatures at the reactor’s core. With more accurate information about core temperatures, engineers can make nuclear reactors safer and more reliable.  

Wireless radio Frequency signal Identification and protocol Reverse Engineering (WiFIRE)
Christopher Becker, Kurt Derr, Samuel Ramirez, Sneha Kasera, Aniqua Baset

WiFIRE helps combat wireless attacks by monitoring wireless networks in real time, giving users the ability to respond to security breaches as they’re occurring. Should it detect rogue devices, WiFIRE provides security measures like alerting law enforcement personnel, blocking unwanted data transmission, starting data and/or video recording for potential legal use, and even locating intruders before damage is done. The technology helps protect the nation’s critical infrastructure, making attacks on the power grid and water supply increasingly difficult.

Consequence-driven Cyber-informed Engineering
Robert Smith, Curtis St. Michel, Amanda Belloff, Andy Bochman, Sarah Freeman, Michael Assante

Consequence-driven Cyber-informed Engineering (CCE) is a methodology that provides users with knowledge and skills to protect against and prepare for serious cyberthreats against the nation’s critical infrastructure systems. CCE identifies processes and functions that must not fail, then outlines steps organizations must take in order for their assets to remain secure. By re-engineering key processes while armed with a full understanding of the attackers’ tactics and options, CCE reduces or eliminates digital pathways used by attackers to reach critical systems, effectively removing the targets with the highest consequences from the table.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Manwaring Cheese opens Idaho Falls location

Justin Manwaring at Manwaring Cheese's new Idaho Falls store, which opened Tuesday.
Sweet dreams are made of cheese.

For those of you who savor the squeak of a white cheese curd -- and you know who you are -- Manwaring Cheese is now open in Idaho Falls, at 310 N. Eastern Avenue, next door to the Museum of Idaho.

The renovation of the building, which was Sizzler long ago and most recently Cherz, started last summer and took longer than expected. Anytime the USDA is involved, there are a lot of boxes to be checked, said Justin Manwaring, the latest cheesemaker in a family whose history goes back to the middle of the last century.

Arthur Manwaring was born in Utah to a family that had emigrated from England in the 1800s. Eventually, he moved to Bingham County and had a dairy business. His children helped deliver milk on a horse-pulled dairy wagon, and his son Basil eventually found his way to a creamery in Blackfoot. While there, he met a butter wrapper named Edna who became his wife. At Utah State University he managed the school dairy, making ice cream, cheese, and butter, and after graduating he took a job with the Nelson-Ricks Creamery in Rexburg. Nelson-Ricks owned many small plants in the eastern Idaho, and when the one in Ashton became available, Basil bought it and started the first incarnation of Manwaring Cheese.

After operating in Ashton for 16 years, Basil Manwaring saw an advantage to building a new plant in Rigby. The Rigby plant produced its first batch of cheese on Feb. 3, 1971. Basil died in November 1972, and his widow and children kept the plant operating until it closed in the late 1980s.

In 2010, seeing a business opportunity for artisanal cheese, Basil Manwaring's son Blake opened a new location in Rigby. The milk came from a herd of Jersey cows owned by Dale and Doris Mortimer, who operate Daloris Dairy east of Rigby (and have an enthusiastic clientele thirsty for raw milk. Story from Progressive Dairyman, December 2016: Foundation of five: Idaho dairy farmer discovers niche market to sell raw milk on-farm to locals.) For the past two years, however, the mild has come from Paradise Grove A2 Dairy out of of Monteview, in West Jefferson County.

Help on the business end came from the Regional Development Alliance and an ISU student-led feasibility study coordinated by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Blake Manwaring described his cheesemaking process to East Idaho News in 2015. Pasteurization kills all the bacteria in the milk by warming it up to 161 degrees and holding it for 20 seconds. A freeze dried culture imported from France is then added back to the Jersey milk, along with a substance that causes the milk to thicken similar to a yogurt texture.

The cheese curds are cut up and processed, then salted and formed into blocks. After the salt has soaked in, the curds are laid into cheese hoops and pressed together. Mild cheddar cheese is aged for at least 6 months. Their signature Stalver Long Horn Cheese is aged for 18.

Hours at the Idaho Falls store are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 208-313-8247 or email

Monday, November 18, 2019

Idaho Falls Downtown Development recognized for spring, summer projects

Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corp. and its executive director, Catherine Smith, received the Leadership Award from the Idaho chapter of the American Planning Association. The award was given in early October at the chapter's annual conference in Twin Falls.

IFDDC and Smith were recognized for the projects completed this summer in downtown Idaho Falls. The work involved replacing old crumbling planters and replacing trees, bringing corners into ADA compliance.

Award-winning projects are highlighted during the annual conference as shining examples of great planning in Idaho. The Awards Program provides an opportunity for Idaho APA to recognize special achievements, with recipients sharing their unique projects and how they have influenced their communities and enhanced planning in Idaho. It is open to Idaho organizations and agencies, professional planners, citizen planners, elected officials, appointed officials (such as planning commissioners), students, and others – depending on the category. In reviewing submissions, the APA Idaho Awards Committee looks for innovation, quality, and the potential for use in other areas.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Rexburg Motorsports hosting annual food drive

Rexburg Motorsports is looking to give back to local families in need with its annual Stuff the Side-by-Side Food Drive. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16 outside Broulim's in Rexburg. To help support the Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership (EICAP) Rexburg Outreach Office, Rexburg Motorsports is looking for donations of new or unopened food and household items to stuff a Honda Pioneer Side-by-Side with a half-ton of food.

The Rexburg Outreach Office is seeking donations for the following unexpired items: canned meats, canned tomatoes, cereals, dry goods, laundry and dishwasher detergent, cleaning supplies, and various hygiene items.

The Honda Pioneer is equipped to hold up to 1,000 pounds of donations in the seats, bed, and storage compartments. Rexburg Motorsports is hoping the vehicle's capacity will be exceeded before the event concludes.

To donate, simply stop by the Broulim’s in Rexburg and place your donations in the side-by-side parked outside the store. All items received will be housed in the food bank in Rexburg and be distributed to families in need in the Madison County area.

“We're always looking for ways to help out the community,” said Mike Vickers, owner of Rexburg Motorsports. "The food drive is a fun way for us to accomplish that and to encourage others to get involved."

For further information regarding the food drive or Rexburg Motorsports in general, contact Matt Dyer at 208-356-4000 or via email at