Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Dutch Bros. building second Idaho Falls location

A second Dutch Bros. Coffee is in the works for Idaho Falls, at 830 E. 17th Street, where Wendy’s used to be.

The city of Idaho Falls Building Department approved the permit application on Monday from Adam Garcia of HB Architecture in Nampa. The owner is listed as Kyle Cooper of Needles Eye Holding, a company located in Eagle. The building will be 2,335 square feet, and the permit application gives an estimated value of $550,000.

This is obviously going to be some cause of excitement for you BizMojo Idaho readers. When I posted about the first Dutch Bros., which is going up on Woodruff Avenue where Sarah’s Candy Cottage used to be, the response made me wonder if Russian bots had suddenly taken an interest in my humble, hyperlocal online business updater. As of this morning, the counter on my stats page shows there have been 62,667 page views for that post alone (since its inception in September 2011, BizMojo has logged 1.3 million page views, in case you’re interested.)

Anyway, there you have it: Dutch Bros. No. 2. I've actually been waiting for this, since a tipster told me in November that this would be happening, but corporate types are tight lipped and I don't want to go reporting something before there is official verification.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Tru by Hilton hotel slated for construction in Idaho Falls

The Tru by Hilton hotel that was built last year in Lancaster, Pa. One is slated for construction in Idaho Falls this year.
It looks like another Hilton hotel is going to be built on Lindsay Boulevard, this one a Tru by Hilton just south of the Hilton Garden Inn.

The city of Idaho Falls Building Department approved a permit application Thursday from B&T Hotels IV LLC for a 43,102-square-foot hotel at 680 Lindsay Boulevard. Once the site of the Stardust Motor Lodge, the land is at the northeastern corner of where Lindsay merges with Utah Avenue. The job value on the permit is estimate at $5.55 million. The contractor is Headwaters Construction Co. of Victor.

Hilton announced the Tru brand, its 14th, in January 2016, billing it as its re-entry into the midscale hotel segment. In 2017 Hilton opened its first-ever Tru property, in Oklahoma City followed by eight additional hotel locations, and expanded internationally with signed deals for three locations in Canada. At the latest count, 470 Tru hotels were slated to be built.

”I ultimately think this will be our biggest brand over time," Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said at the time of the brand’s announcement, pointing out that 40 percent of demand for hotel rooms is in the midscale segment, e.g. brands such as Comfort Inn by Choice Hotels and Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott.

Rates at Tru are in the $90 to $100 range. The brand is especially intended appeal to people in their 20s and early 30s who tend to favor modern design, public spaces where they can work and socialize, and advanced technology such as mobile check-in, according to the company’s webpage. Local snacks and drinks, including single-serving beer and wine, are available from a grab-and-go area. A build-your-own breakfast station is complimentary, and coffee and tea are free throughout the day. The play area features a large TV, and activities such as ping pong and foosball tables. Wi-Fi is free. Rooms come with either a king bed or double queen beds, in sizes of 231 or 275 square feet.

Just to keep you on the page longer, here's a video to watch.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Building activity in Idaho Falls holds roughly even in 2017

The city of Idaho Falls Building Department has released figures for 2017, showing levels that held roughly even with 2016.

Total building construction valuation for the year was $96,392,830, representing a .66 percent drop from 2016, which posted valuation of $97,032,026. Revenue for the building division in 2017 was $829,719, which included $37,3446 in contractor licensing fees.

New commercial building projects were up 20 percent in 2017, and new single family housing starts were up 7 percent. The total number of permits issued in 2017 was 2,149, a .326 percent increase over 2016.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

INL researchers publish paper on solid carbon fuel cell technology

Idaho National Laboratory research scientist Dong Ding is developing direct carbon fuel cells.
Advancements in a fuel cell technology powered by solid carbon could make electricity generation from resources such as coal and biomass cleaner and more efficient, according to a new paper published by Idaho National Laboratory researchers.

The fuel cell design incorporates innovations in three components: the anode, the electrolyte and the fuel. Together, these advancements allow the fuel cell to utilize about three times as much carbon as earlier direct carbon fuel cell (DCFC) designs.

The fuel cells also operate at lower temperatures and showed higher maximum power densities than earlier DCFCs, according to INL materials engineer Dong Ding. The results appear in the Jan. 25 edition of the journal Advanced Materials, and are featured on its inside front cover.

Whereas hydrogen fuel cells (e.g., proton exchange membrane (PEM) and other fuel cells) generate electricity from the chemical reaction between pure hydrogen and oxygen, DCFCs can use any number of carbon-based resources for fuel, including coal, coke, tar, biomass and organic waste.

Because DCFCs make use of readily available fuels, they are potentially more efficient than conventional hydrogen fuel cells. “You can skip the energy-intensive step of producing hydrogen,” Ding said.

So far, DCFCs have had several drawbacks. They operate at extremely high temperatures — 700 to 900 degrees Celsius — making them less efficient and less durable. As a consequence of those high temperatures, they’ve required expensive materials that can handle the heat. These limitations have inhibited DCFCs' ability to effectively utilize carbon fuel.

Ding and his colleagues addressed these challenges by designing a true direct carbon fuel cell that’s capable of operating at below 600 degrees Celsius. The fuel cell makes use of solid carbon, which is finely ground and injected via an airstream into the cell. The researchers tackled the need for high temperatures by developing an electrolyte using highly conductive materials: doped cerium oxide and carbonate. These materials maintain their performance under lower temperatures.

Next, they increased carbon utilization by developing a 3-D ceramic textile anode design that interlaces bundles of fibers together like a piece of cloth. The fibers themselves are hollow and porous. All of these features combine to maximize the amount of surface area that’s available for a chemical reaction with the carbon fuel.

Finally, the researchers developed a composite fuel made from solid carbon and carbonate. “At the operating temperature, that composite is fluidlike,” Ding said. “It can easily flow into the interface.” The molten carbonate carries the solid carbon into the hollow fibers and the pinholes of the anode, increasing the power density of the fuel cell. 

The resulting fuel cell looks like a green, ceramic watch battery that’s about as thick as a piece of construction paper. A larger square is 10 centimeters on each side. The fuel cells can be stacked on top of one another depending on the application. The Advanced Materials journal posted a video abstract here:

The technology has the potential for improved utilization of carbon fuels, such as coal and biomass, because direct carbon fuel cells produce carbon dioxide without the mixture of other gases and particulates found in smoke from coal-fired power plants, for example. This makes it easier to implement carbon capture technologies, Ding said.

The advanced DCFC design has already attracted notice from industry. Ding and his colleagues are partnering with Salt Lake City-based Storagenergy, Inc., to apply for a Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)-Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding opportunity. The results will be announced in February. A Canadian energy-related company has also shown interest in these DCFC technologies.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Blacker's opens HGTV Home Design Studio by Bassett in I.F., Blackfoot stores

Connie Wood
Blacker’s Complete Home Furnishings has become Idaho's first and only affiliate of HGTV Home Design Studio by Bassett, in both its Idaho Falls and Blackfoot showrooms.

To commemorate the new galleries housing the design studios, Blacker’s is hosting a ribbon cutting with the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday at 1 p.m., at their 1530 E. Lincoln Road location.

“We are thrilled to add the HGTV Home Design Studio by Basset to our stores,” said Blacker’s upholstery buyer, Connie Wood. “This design studio will allow our customers to be inspired by the freshest home interior looks in the country, and gives them the ability to customize their own comfort and look, in sought-after HGTV color and style.”

HGTV Home Design Studio by Bassett allows customers to create custom furniture or a room makeover plan unique to their own style and preferences.

Collin Cook
“Working with Blacker’s to bring the exclusive HGTV Home Design Studio by Bassett to Idaho was a natural”, said Bassett area representative Greg Johnson. “They have spacious showrooms and a deep customer base that covers from Jackson Hole, and surrounding Wyoming areas, to all the way up and down this valley. Besides having the space, Blacker’s has the vision, and the 40-plus years of experience necessary to showcase such a unique and high-quality line.”

“Adding this new line with the design studio galleries is very exciting for our stores and our communities. We were able to reconfigure our showrooms, making the Design Studio for HGTV by Bassett the centerpiece,” said Collin Cook, Blacker’s General Manager. “And we can’t wait to hear what our customers have to say of the results, and the fact that they no longer have to drive to another state to find it.”