Friday, September 22, 2017

INL plans to host power grid integration demo next week

Researchers in INL's Real Time Power & Energy Systems Innovation Laboratory in Idaho Falls 
A team of researchers in the U.S. and Europe is poised to globally integrate electrical grids in a way that resonates with the creation of the internet more than 50 years ago.

The group convenes at Idaho National Laboratory Tuesday, Sept. 26, for a live demonstration of the Real-Time Super Lab (RT Super Lab) concept, which will study how electricity can be rerouted across vast distances to address disruptions. The team envisions that large-scale blackouts can be prevented by moving electricity intercontinentally, the same way utilities currently do regionally but at a much larger scale. Such global interaction can prepare America for next-generation power system challenges, reduce the cost of outages and make electrical power grids of the future more resilient.

The effort builds on work done between the U.S. Department of Energy’s INL and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and five universities, two of them in Europe, have joined INL to explore the idea that electrons can be sent around the world the same way as digital packets of zeros and ones over the internet.

“This is more than computers talking to each other,” said Rob Hovsapian, INL’s Power and Energy Systems department manager. “We are developing capabilities for geographically distributed real-time grid simulation with shared assets at INL, other national labs, universities and utilities.”

In 2015, INL and NREL successfully demonstrated the capability to connect grid simulations at their two labs for real-time interaction over the internet. Both INL’s Power and Energy Real-Time Laboratory and NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility have the capability to merge computer-based simulations of the power grid with actual hardware such as wind turbines, solar inverters, batteries and electric vehicles — a capability called "power hardware in the loop."


The two national laboratories were able to connect their Digital Real-Time Simulators and achieve grid simulation such that the hardware or software at one lab could directly interact with hardware or software at the other lab.

Leveraging assets and expertise at other national labs and academic institutions, the RT Super Lab concept brings more assets into the mix, with the following participants contributing specific capabilities:

  • Sandia National Laboratories’ Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory
  • Colorado State University’s high-performance computer-based energy management system
  • Washington State University’s Smart Grid and Microgrid Laboratory
  • University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing’s Integrated Grids Laboratory
  • RWTH Aachen University’s co-simulation framework
  • Polytechnic University of Turin’s high-performance computer-based Energy Management System
  • 
NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility
  • 
INL’s Power and Energy Real-Time Laboratory


"Joint collaboration via a Ph.D. researcher exchange between RWTH and INL was a key factor in creating scientific tools and techniques featured in this demonstration," said Manish Mohanpurkar, INL’s Power and Energy Systems group lead. “INL and NREL research also made the project possible by addressing data latency issues and improving available bandwidth.”

The Wide Area Network demonstrations that took place between INL and NREL showed that most data packets took less than 17 milliseconds to travel from point to point. To mitigate data latency issues (like those that create cellphone echoes and delays), researchers used advanced methods from the fields of signal processing, filtering theory and data compression.

Along with rapid strides in interconnecting grid laboratories globally, another active research approach will enable additional significant measurements to be exchanged between two connected real-time simulators. The preliminary results are promising and the method will be utilized for geographically distributed real-time simulations connecting laboratories all across the world.


Power systems around the world are undergoing fundamental transitions to achieve long-term sustainability, reliability and affordability. The RT-Super Lab allows simulation of large-scale systems, simultaneous development across different domains and a flexible collaboration that preserves the confidential details of individual groups.


The ability to move electricity around the globe rather than only within isolated networks holds the possibility of vast savings on infrastructure and energy consumption.


“It’s always easier and cheaper to transfer electrons than fuels,” Hovsapian said.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Apple Athletic owner files for Planet Fitness on Woodruff Avenue

The interior of a Planet Fitness gym somewhere in America. (Photo: Planet Fitness)
It looks like Apple Athletic Club owner Steve Vucovic could be expanding his fitness empire in Idaho Falls this fall. Vucovic and a partner, Keith Larsen, applied Aug. 30 to the city of Idaho Falls Building Department for a building permit for a 240,000-square-foot remodeling job at 200 South Woodruff Avenue, for a Planet Fitness Health Club. Vucovic said last week they were still negotiating a lease, but the building permit was issued Tuesday.

North of Smith’s, the space has been empty since Curtiss-Wright Flow Control Scientech relocated its offices to Snake River Landing in 2014.

With more than 1,400 clubs in the United States, Planet Fitness is one of the largest fitness club franchises. Based in Hampton, N.H., the company dates back to 1992. It opened its first franchised location in Florida in 2013, and in February 2016, the franchise was added to the Franchise Times "Fast and Serious" list of top franchises (No. 1). That same year, Forbes magazine ranked Planet Fitness No. 4, and the company ranked in the top 50 of the Entrepreneur magazine Franchise 500 in 2017.

The club's two membership levels are $10 and $19.99 per month: the $10 per month level includes access to cardio and strength equipment, unlimited group fitness instruction and pizza and bagels once a month; the $19.99 per month (“Black Card”) level allows members to bring one guest per day at no charge, access to all Planet Fitness locations, and access to extra amenities, such as tanning booths and massage chairs.

The company advertises "no judgment,” with "judgment free zone," signs plastered across its gyms and signs on the equipment reminding members that they "belong." Planet Fitness famously serves free pizza on the first Monday of the month and bagels on the second Tuesday of the month.

The target demographic is people who are just getting used to working out or people who really, really hate exercising. There are no classes, just two circuits, a 30-minute full-body circuit and a 12-minute ab circuit.

"We're going after the first-time exercises or casual user," CEO Chris Rondeau told Business Insider in 2015. "Gym intimidation is real."

Friday, September 15, 2017

DOE announce $19.7 million for tech commercialization, including INL work

Source: https://energy.gov/science-innovation/innovation/commercialization
Idaho National Laboratory had seven projects included on a list released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced $19.7 million in Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) projects, aimed at helping businesses move promising energy technologies from DOE’s national laboratories to the marketplace. This second department-wide round of funding through the Office of Technology Transition was in support of 54 projects across 12 national laboratories involving more than 30 private-sector partners.

The TCF works to expand the commercial impact of DOE’s portfolio of research, development,
demonstration, and deployment activities in two topic areas: Projects for which additional technology
maturation is needed to attract a private partner, and cooperative development projects between labs
and industry partners designed to bolster the commercial application of a lab developed technology.

The seven selections that involved Idaho National Laboratory included:

  • Event Model Risk Assessment using Linked Diagrams (EMRALD), $61,906
  • Produced Water Treatment using the Switchable Polarity Solvent Forward Osmosis (SPS FO) Process, $150,000
  • RAVEN Code Commercial Deployment for Industrial Related Applications, $250,000; Private Partner: FPoliSolutions, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Integration of PHISICS into the AREVA reactor design suite for commercial application to High Temperature Reactors, $300,000; Private Partner: AREVA NP Inc., Lynchburg, Va.
  • Pathway to Commercialization of Weather Based Dynamic Line Rating with CFD using INL’s General Line Ampacity State Solver (GLASS) software $300,000; Private Partners: Schneider Electric, Burnsville, Minn.; WindSim Americas Inc., Westlake Village, Calif.
  • Seismic Isolation of Major Advanced Reactor Systems for Economic Improvement and Safety Assurance, $710,000; ; Private Partners: Southern Company Services Inc., Birmingham, Ala.; TerraPower, Bellevue, Wash.; X-energy, Greenbelt, Md.
  • Highly Scalable Computer-Based Procedure System for Field Workers, $750,000; Private Partner: NextAxiom Technology, San Francisco, Calif.

DOE’s national labs have supported critical research and development that has led to many technologies in the marketplace today, including the batteries powering electric vehicles, the foundation of Internet servers, and the optical digital recording technology behind DVDs.

“Accelerating the transition of energy technologies from the laboratory bench to the marketplace is an
important component of increasing America’s economic prosperity and energy security,” Perry said.
“This second round of TCF projects highlight the incredible value of DOE’s National Laboratories and the importance of bringing the Department’s technology transfer mission to the American people.”

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Taste of Downtown set for Friday

Taste of Downtown will be held Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. on the 300 block of Park Avenue, featuring ten local downtown restaurants, bars, and pubs. Arguably, Idaho Falls’ single-best food and beverage event, this is the fourth year for Taste of Downtown.

There will be live music provided by Liar & Dan. Guests can watch how different chefs, employees and owners bring everything together and enjoy food right on the spot, said Catherine Smith, executive director of the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation. “This event isn’t just entertaining and delicious, it also gives everyone a greater appreciation for our local cuisine and entrepreneurship right here in our own downtown,” she said.

Taste of Downtown tickets will be available at the event. Tickets are $1 each. Participating restaurants include: City Bagels & Bakery, BlackRock, A Street Soup Market, Villa Coffeehouse, SnakeBite, Pachangas, The Celt, Persnickety Lemon Deli, Diabala’s Kitchen, and Grandpa’s Southern BBQ. Each restaurant will set their “taste” amount, or ticket amount, for a variety of dishes available at each booth. Proceeds from this event go to the local nonprofit, CASA-Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Taste of Downtown is produced by Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation and Bank of Idaho. For more information, check out their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/IFDDC/, or visit www.downtownidahofalls.com.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Modern Home in Ammon to scheduled to open in November

An aerial view of the Modern Home store in Ammon, taken in late August. 
Here’s a little more information on the Modern Home store being built in Ammon, on Eagle Drive near Kohl’s.

“It’s a pretty new development for us,” said Alan Sparks, the owner. “It started in idea form in the fall of 2016.  My wife and I discovered Idaho Falls after a vacation and dropping our oldest son off at BYU-I. It was funny how fast we fell in love with the area and how we couldn’t get it out of our mind.”

Sparks has run two furniture stores in Arizona: Sparks Homestore in Thatcher Home Furnishings Direct in Cottonwood. “We have a great management team in place that are doing a great job running our Arizona stores,” Sparks said. “Being in the furniture business and still working for a living, we knew the only way to be able to move here was to open a new store in Idaho Falls. In June of this year that dream came true and boy do we love it!”

The name Modern Home represents a commitment they’ve made to keeping their inventory up to date, in style and current, “a place you can go to get inspired and find great deals as well,” he said. The store will open the first part of November, with hiring to begin in the first part of October.

The store is 25,000 square feet. Brands will include Tempurpedic, Sealy, Klaussner, Ashley, Benchcraft, Southern Motion, and more.

“Please wish us Arizona folks luck this winter,” Sparks said. “I am not sure we fully know what it means to go through an Idaho winter!”

Thursday, September 7, 2017

New furniture store being built on Eagle Drive

The artist's rendering on Modern Home's Facebook page.
We’ve had a few readers ask about the building going up in Ammon on Eagle Drive near Hillcrest High School and Kohl’s. While I haven’t had the time to visit the friendly people in the city of Ammon building department to look at the actual plans, I have learned that it will be a new mattress and furniture store called Modern Home.

For a look at the Facebook page, here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/modernhomeidaho/. There are 537 likes as I look at it right now. Let’s see where that number is at the end of the day, once BizMojo has written them up, ha ha!

According to the information there, they will be hiring in October. As soon as I hear back from Alan Sparks, the person on the Facebook page who appears to be answering all the questions, I will have a more detailed report.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

REDI names Dana Kirkham new STAR director

Dana Kirkham
REDI, eastern Idaho’s economic development organization, has named Dana Kirkham to be its Science Technology and Research (STAR) director. Currently serving as Mayor of Ammon, Kirkham will start part-time with REDI on Monday and take on full-time duties when she leaves office at the end of the year.

Jan Rogers, REDI’s CEO, cited Kirkham’s experience in local government, her background with the federal government, CIA and State Department, and her strong legislative experience. “Dana will bring impressive skills to support STAR efforts throughout the region,” she said.

REDI advertised in mid-July that it was creating a position for a person to focus on the region’s science, technology and research sector, on track to reach nearly $4.5 billion in capital investment. Support from Battelle Energy Alliance, the company running Idaho National Laboratory, and Fluor Idaho, the company in charge of cleanup work, and other high-tech industry partners made the position possible.

“Whether it is building our first-of-kind small modular reactor, expanding our work in cyber security, or strengthening our supplier and subcontract environment, the timing is right to find a STAR Director to advocate and champion our region both regionally and nationally,” INL Director Mark Peters said.

Kirkham said she will be focusing specifically on federal programs across the region. “Managing and expanding these key sectors will benefit the whole region by creating more STAR related opportunities,” she said.