Monday, April 30, 2018

NuScale plan for small modular reactor in Idaho clears regulatory hurdle

NuScale began life as a spinoff company based on research conducted by Oregon State University professor Jose Reyes. (NuScale Power photo)
NuScale Power's plans for a small modular reactor west of Idaho Falls has cleared another regulatory hurdle, as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has completed the first and most intensive phase of review for the company’s design certification application.

This is the first and only SMR application to ever undergo NRC review. The NRC is expected to certify NuScale’s design, and the company’s first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems -- of which Idaho Falls Power is a member -- is planning a 12-module SMR plant to be in operation by the mid-2020s.

“We are thankful for the rigorous review of our revolutionary nuclear design and greatly appreciate the government recognizing the importance of furthering NuScale’s advancement,” said the company's power chairman and chief executive officer, John Hopkins. “Our technology means significant economic and job benefits for the country and it’s positioned to revitalize the domestic nuclear industry by virtue of NuScale’s affordable, flexible, and safe solution to providing zero-carbon energy.”

During the 115,000 hours the NRC spent reviewing the application, it issued far fewer requests for additional information compared to other DCAs, validating in NuScale's view the simplicity of the design and quality of the application.

On a separate but related front, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy announced Friday it was awarding NuScale $40 million in cost-sharing financial assistance. The federal award supports early-stage research and development and the industry’s embrace of these technologies, with the stated goal of promoting U.S. energy independence, electricity grid resiliency, national security, and clean baseload power.

Headquartered in Portland, Ore., NuScale, majority-owned by Fluor Corp., has already received more than $200 million in federal support. The $40 million award announced Friday, the lion's share of $60 million doled out under the DOE’s new "U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology" program, comes with an equivalent cost share.

In a Portland Business Journal story, NuScale Director of Communications Mariam Nabizad said the company has "commitments from private investors to cover the NuScale $40 million portion of the DOE award." She added that the company "looks to continue to seek additional investment beyond our DOE cost share award to provide the funding to complete our commercialization program."

In a Bloomberg story earlier this month, "First Small-Scale Nuclear Reactor May Be Just Eight Years Away," CFO Jay Surina said NuScale was looking for "deep-pocketed" individuals who could provide it up to $120 million in equity investment.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Freddy's gets new chief for Idaho restaurants

Eric Stine
Eric Stine of EMS Management will be the new principal in charge of the Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers locations in Idaho. Idaho's first Freddy's opened in 2014 in Meridian, and the chain has since expanded to Nampa, Idaho Falls, Caldwell, Chubbuck and Eagle. Stine is also part of the management team for the restaurant in Rexburg.
“Our focus is on high-quality food, genuine hospitality and maintaining a clean and comfortable atmosphere for guests of all ages,” Stine said.

Stine's was the first general manager at the first Freddy's location in Wichita, Kansas. His management team has more than 25 years of combined experience.

“We strive to provide fast, friendly service and premium quality food,” said Stine. “With the recent closing of our Boise location and Caldwell's restaurant being put up for lease, we are dedicated more than ever to building our Freddy's restaurants to be the place all our guests want to go. We want to be more than just another place to eat in the community by becoming familiar with our guests and their stories.”

Co-founded in 2002 by Scott Redler and Bill, Randy and Freddy Simon, Freddy’s opened its first location in Wichita. Today, 300 Freddy's restaurants serve 31 states across the nation from California to Pennsylvania, Virginia and down the East Coast states to Florida. Freddy’s has been named Franchise Times magazine’s 2018 Fast & Serious top 10, Entrepreneur’s 2018 Franchise 500 top 50, Inc. Magazine’s “Fastest-Growing Private Companies” 2017 list and many other nationwide and local industry awards.

Monday, April 23, 2018

INL honors inventors, achievements in 2017

Idaho National Laboratory held its annual Laboratory Director Awards reception Friday night in Idaho Falls, honoring outstanding research and development accomplishments in support of INL’s mission and highlighting achievements from 2017, including 20 newly issued patents and six copyright assertions.

"2017 was a year of achievement and success at INL, thanks to our dedicated employees," INL Laboratory Director Mark Peters said. "Tonight's ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate those achievements and express our gratitude. Congratulations to this year's winners, and to our entire workforce for what was truly a memorable year. I appreciate everyone's passion and hard work."

Rick Demmer, Harry Rollins and Robert Mariani were inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame at the five-patent level. Douglas Akers and Kevin Gering were inducted at the 10-patent level. 

The 2017 award recipients were:

  • Community Award: Mary Adamic

  • Inclusive Diversity Award: Theron McGriff

  • Leadership Award: Eric Dufek

  • Mission Advancement: Partnership and Collaboration Award: Consequence-driven, Cyber-informed Engineering Team: Curtis St. Michel, Robert Smith, Sarah Freeman, Amanda Belloff, Roya Gordon, Kara Turner, Jeffrey Klingler

  • Mission Enabling Individual Award: Gregory English

  • Mission Enabling Team Award: Advanced Test Reactor Electrical Upgrade Team: Scott Despain, Michael Corbridge, Benjamin England, Russ Howard

  • Laboratory Award for Early Career Exceptional Achievement: Aaron Craft

  • Laboratory Award for Exceptional Engineering Achievement: Craig Rieger

  • Laboratory Award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement: Masashi Shimada

  • Laboratory Award for Individual Lifetime Achievement in Science and Technology: Stephen G. Johnson

  • Inventor of the Year Award: Hussein Moradi

  • Research and Development Technician of the Year Award: James Milloway, Byron White

  • Operations Technician of the Year Award: Jordan Cox, Tiffany Schorzman

  • INL Vision Award: Irradiated Materials Characterization Laboratory Team: Emil Franklin, Aaron Balsmeier, Noel Duckwitz, Jeffery Bailey, Jayson Bush

  • INL Vision Award: No-Idle Motor Coach Team: Ira Pray, Jeffrey Brown, Michael Perez, Bill Ziegler, Colin Letham

Thursday, April 19, 2018

INL named finalist for two IT security awards

Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has been named a 2018 SC Award finalist by SC Media in recognition of exceptional information technology (IT) security. The two categories for which INL received recognition are Best IT Security-related Training Program and Best Security Team.

Selected by an expert panel of judges, the annual SC Awards are seen as the industry gold standard of accomplishment for cybersecurity professionals, products and services.

“INL’s cybersecurity team and training program focuses on people, processes and technology,” said INL Chief Information Officer Robert Hillier. “We differentiate ourselves by effectively utilizing multiple channels and platforms to secure our networks and train our employees on safe cyber practices.”

Team members realize that as threats evolve, they must continue to develop and manage an inclusive approach to protecting the organization’s data. Because the team has actively branded itself through proactive problem-solving, INL employees value them as a trusted resource, rather than an enforcement arm. Key to this success is evolving the team’s ability to be agile as they implement processes and controls, while remaining user friendly and whenever possible, invisible to end users.

Periodic cybersecurity training, disaster recovery planning and incident response exercises are key components to the lab’s success in the awareness and management of security risks. Incident response planning includes INL end users, management and IT professionals, and extends to other national laboratories and the Department of Energy.

"Helping organizations manage risk in ways which are cost-effective, user friendly, and mission enabling takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Ensuring the nation's lead nuclear energy laboratory can continue forward safely is no easy task," said INL Deputy Chief Information Officer Darren Van Booven. “In a field where this hard work is often underappreciated, it is very rewarding to see the team be recognized with such high honors.”

To view the complete list of winners and finalists, click here.

For over 25 years, SC Media has armed information security professionals with in-depth and unbiased information through timely news, comprehensive analysis, cutting-edge features, contributions from thought leaders, and independent product reviews in partnership with and for top-level information security executives and their technical teams.

Bill's Bike & Run plans grand opening Friday for Ammon store

Bill’s Bike & Run has scheduled a grand opening for its new Ammon location Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. It will start with ribbon cutting by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Free grilled food and cold drinks will be served from 4 until 7. A large
bike and gear demo area will be open, and guests are invited to test out the all new Specialized Stumpjumper and Electric bikes. Attendees can enter raffles for free giveaways by participating in activities. Bill’s is also offering $10 additional “Bill’s Bucks” for each purchase of $100 or more.

The 1,200-square-foot store opened last November in the Sandcreek Commons shopping center. It is the second
location for Bill’s Bike & Run, which also has a shop in Snake River Landing in Idaho Falls.

Regular store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Bill’s Bike & Run of Ammon also offers community group runs starting from the shop beginning at 6:15 p.m. every Wednesday.

Bill’s Bike & Run has gained recognition over the decades through its support of community and youth programs, including Shop with a Cop and the Salvation Army, and has given away hundreds of restored bikes to underprivileged youth in the area.

The business dates back to 1947 when it was founded by Bill Murdock as Bill's Bike Shop, selling motorcycles and bicycles. In 2010, Gary Wight purchased the business from the Murdock family, and in 2012 the business moved to Snake River Landing, to a store much larger than its longtime Holmes Avenue location. The name change came in 2013, when products and services for runners were added.

Sandcreek Commons shopping center is a 40-acre joint venture between Ball Ventures, LLC of Idaho Falls and Woodbury Corp. of Salt Lake City, Utah. Located at Hitt Road and Sunnyside Road, it is home to Cabela’s, Hobby Lobby, Broulim’s Fresh Foods, D.L. Evans Bank, Zions Bank, Mountain American Credit Union, Great Clips, Wendy’s, 7 Nail Spa, Kneader’s Bakery & CafĂ©, Ferraro’s Italian Cuisine and others. Additional space is available for lease. For more information, call 208.523.3794 or visit ballventures.com.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

INL, State of Idaho break ground on two new research facilities

From INL Public Affairs

Officials from Idaho National Laboratory and the State of Idaho held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning on two new research facilities: the Cybercore Integration Center and the Collaborative Computing Center (C3).

Both buildings will be located off University Boulevard on Idaho Falls' north side, near the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, INL's Energy Innovation Laboratory, and ISU's Bennion Student Union Building.

The Cybercore Integration Center will host advanced electronics labs for industry, government and academia to work together to systematically engineer cyber and physical security innovations to protect the nation’s most critical infrastructure, for example the power grid.

The Collaborative Computing Center will provide a modern computing environment, hosting research collaborations and opportunities that would otherwise not be possible – a place where INL researchers, Idaho universities, and industry will explore computer modeling and simulation to develop new nuclear materials, advance nuclear energy concepts and conduct a broad span of scientific research.

“Supporting this collaboration is about much more than new facilities; we are investing in Idaho’s future,” Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said. “But in addition to the INL’s continuing economic importance, this partnership provides Idaho universities with an important edge in preparing tomorrow’s world leaders in cyber-security and nuclear energy research.”

The new facilities will help strengthen partnerships with Idaho universities by tailoring internships for students seeking advanced degrees in nuclear engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science, chemical engineering and computer science, INL Director Mark Peters said. “Students are the talent of the future, and we want to invest in their success. By offering these career-enhancing opportunities, everyone wins," Peters said.

Idaho State Board of Education will retain the economic benefit that will be created by the financing, construction, and operation of these facilities. Off-site computer users, such as students and faculty at Idaho’s universities and colleges, will also have remote access to the high-performance computing systems in the Collaborative Computing Center through the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON).

“This is an exceptional example of a public/private partnership working to advance the educational offerings across the entire state,” said Linda Clark, president of the Idaho State Board of Education.

Monday, April 9, 2018

It's unofficial: Idaho Falls Dutch Bros No. 1 to be open by early May

All smiles with the Dutch Bros crew on Woodruff Avenue. Though there is nothing official, word is they will be open by the first week of May.
For those of you who can't get enough news about Dutch Bros Coffee: I noticed people in the new store on Woodruff Avenue while leaving Winco Saturday, so I decided to go over and ask what's up. First things first: It smells really, really good. I poked my head through to chat and did not want to leave. Training is going on, and a crew has been hired, although they are still taking applications. Here's a link to the pdf: https://www.dutchbros.com/public/images/careers/Employment_Application_2018.pdf

The manager was not present, but the word from the crew was that while no official opening date has been set they are shooting for the first week in May. We will be monitoring this news as it develops, because we know how important it is to all of you. Since we posted the news on Nov. 1 it has received 63,772 pageviews, more than anything else we've ever posted, including Hobby Lobby.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

INL develops new petrochemical process involving less energy consumption, lower CO2 emissions

INL researchers Ting He (left) and Dong Ding have developed an electrochemical process for creating synthetic fuels and plastics that uses 65 percent less energy.
A team of Idaho National Laboratory researchers has pioneered a process they say could cut the energy consumption in petrochemical manufacturing by 65 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 98 percent.

Since the early 20th century, everything from gasoline and diesel fuel to plastics has been made by cracking complex hydrocarbon molecules found in oil, coal and natural gas with tremendous amounts of heat and pressure. In an article published last week in the scientific journal Energy and Environmental Science, the INL researchers report they’ve hit upon an electrochemical process for converting ethane in natural gas liquids to ethylene, which is used to make polymers for everything from cellphone cases to disposable diapers.

Ethane offers a simpler hydrocarbon to refine than oil. It can be converted to ethylene thermally, at temperatures of up to 850 Celsius, the same way as with oil. But the new process involves much lower temperatures, hence much less energy consumption, as it feeds ethane to the anode in an electrochemical membrane reactor. Electricity in the reactor separates protons (hydrogen ions) from the molecules, leaving ethylene. The protons themselves migrate through a dense electrolyte to the cathode, where they combine with electrons to form hydrogen gas.

INL's research is being conducted in conjunction with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Wyoming. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced in February that the project would receive funding as part of $35 million being awarded to early-stage innovative technologies for advanced manufacturing.

Several factors are driving the project, said INL researcher Dr. Dong Ding.  First, the shale gas revolution has provided a plentiful supply of natural gas at historically low prices. Second, the declining cost of electricity makes electrochemical refining more economically feasible.

Theoretically, if the process was to be powered by a renewable source and the captured hydrogen was incorporated into fuel cells, there could be a net gain in process energy, he said. From a CO2 standpoint, using a non-carbon source of electricity — nuclear, hydro, wind or solar — could cut the carbon footprint down to 2 percent of traditional production methods.

The INL team will focus next on how to convert methane into ethylene. Methane is also found in natural gas — more plentifully than ethane, in fact — but its carbon-hydrogen bond is harder to break, Ding said.

Peer reviewers for the Energy & Environmental Science article called the work "convincing," "timely," "original" and "highly interesting."

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Battelle, DOE, extend INL operating contract to 2024

In December, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) decided to extend its contract with Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) to manage and operate Idaho National Laboratory (INL). This week, DOE officially approved the contract modification that enables a five-year extension through Sept. 30, 2024. This followed a successful negotiation between DOE and BEA on terms and conditions of the INL contract.

The contract extension complies with an executive order issued in February 2017, directing agencies to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens. “The agreed-upon terms bring clarity to what is expected of BEA and INL in the next several years,” INL Director Mark Peters said. “The ultimate outcome is that INL is even better-positioned to serve the American taxpayer by helping resolve the nation’s big energy and security challenges.”

DOE originally awarded BEA the management contract in November 2004, creating Idaho National Laboratory and separating the cleanup work to form the Idaho Cleanup Project. That contract ran from until Sept. 30, 2014, at which point, DOE exercised a five-year option period that was set to expire Sept. 30, 2019. With the new five-year extension, BEA is contracted to operate and manage INL through 2024.

Key INL initiatives during the term of the contract extension will include:

  • Revitalizing the nuclear energy sector in the United States through research conducted at the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT), and the Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC).
  • Continuing research and development on advanced reactor designs, including partnering with the private sector to develop and demonstrate microreactor technologies for potentially powering remote communities and military bases around the world. This work will also include partnerships with industry and other stakeholders to develop and deploy the next generation of nuclear reactors, including small modular reactors (SMRs).
  • Improving upon INL’s world-leading cyber security capabilities and expertise, including efforts to make the nation’s power grids, transportation and water systems more resilient from cyber, physical and natural threats.
  • Extending the electric vehicle corridor in the west, including longer-lived batteries and improved charging infrastructure.
  • Developing integrated energy systems to stabilize the power grid and increase energy storage capabilities.
  • Continuing support for biofuels research and turning captured carbon into usable products, something that could help the nation’s coal plants reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Promoting STEM education and working with college and university partners to fill the pipeline of potential future employees with talented scientists, engineers, technicians and support personnel.
  • Productive partnerships with academia, industry, and federal, state and local governments that allow us to solve complex problems while driving economic growth and making American industry more competitive on a global scale, now and into the future.