News Article | September 8, 2016
« Volkswagen Group & Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC) jointly to develop EVs in China; new JV focused on NEVs | Main | Solaris Bus to offer BAE Systems hybrid electric drive on its vehicles » The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) announced its first round of funding with the selection of 15 application development proposals for full funding and seven proposals for seed funding, representing teams from 45 research and academic organizations. The awards, totaling $39.8 million, target advanced modeling and simulation solutions to specific challenges supporting key DOE missions in science, clean energy and national security, as well as collaborations such as the Precision Medicine Initiative with the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute. Exascale refers to high-performance computing systems capable of at least a billion billion calculations per second, or a factor of 50 to 100 times faster than the nation’s most powerful supercomputers in use today. The application efforts will help guide DOE’s development of a U.S. exascale ecosystem as part of President Obama’s National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). DOE, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation have been designated as NSCI lead agencies, and ECP is the primary DOE contribution to the initiative. The ECP’s multi-year mission is to maximize the benefits of high performance computing (HPC) for US economic competitiveness, national security and scientific discovery. In addition to applications, the DOE project addresses hardware, software, platforms and workforce development needs critical to the effective development and deployment of future exascale systems. First-round funding (see list below) includes a broad set of modeling and simulation applications with a focus on portability, usability and scalability. A key consideration in the selection process was each team’s emphasis on co-design of the applications with the ECP’s ongoing development of hardware, software and computational capabilities, including physical models, algorithms, scalability and overall performance. Projects will be funded in the following strategic areas: energy security, economic security, scientific discovery, climate and environmental science, and healthcare. Leadership of the Exascale Computing Project comes from six DOE national laboratories: The Office of Science’s Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley, and Oak Ridge national labs, and NNSA’s Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia national labs. The full list of application development awards follows: Full Funding: Computing the Sky at Extreme Scales, Salman Habib (ANL) with LANL, LBNL Exascale Deep Learning and Simulation Enabled Precision Medicine for Cancer, Rick Stevens (ANL) with LANL, LLNL, ORNL, NIH/NCI Exascale Lattice Gauge Theory Opportunities and Requirements for Nuclear and High Energy Physics, Paul Mackenzie (FNAL) with BNL, TJNAF, Boston University, Columbia University, University of Utah, Indiana University, UIUC, Stony Brook, College of William & Mary Molecular Dynamics at the Exascale: Spanning the Accuracy, Length and Time Scales for Critical Problems in Materials Science, Arthur Voter (LANL) with SNL, University of Tennessee An Exascale Subsurface Simulator of Coupled Flow, Transport, Reactions and Mechanics, Carl Steefel (LBNL) with LLNL, NETL QMCPACK: A Framework for Predictive and Systematically Improvable Quantum- Mechanics Based Simulations of Materials, Paul Kent (ORNL) with ANL, LLNL, SNL, Stone Ridge Technology, Intel, Nvidia Coupled Monte Carlo Neutronics and Fluid Flow Simulation of Small Modular Reactors, Thomas Evans (ORNL, PI) with ANL, INL, MIT NWChemEx: Tackling Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular Challenges in the Exascale Era, T. H. Dunning, Jr. (PNNL), with Ames, ANL, BNL, LBNL, ORNL, PNNL, Virginia Tech High-Fidelity Whole Device Modeling of Magnetically Confined Fusion Plasma, Amitava Bhattacharjee (PPPL) with ANL, ORNL, LLNL, Rutgers, UCLA, University of Colorado Data Analytics at the Exascale for Free Electron Lasers, Amedeo Perazzo (SLAC) with LANL, LBNL, Stanford Transforming Combustion Science and Technology with Exascale Simulations, Jackie Chen (SNL) with LBNL, NREL, ORNL, University of Connecticut Cloud-Resolving Climate Modeling of the Earth's Water Cycle, Mark Taylor (SNL) with ANL, LANL, LLNL, ORNL, PNNL, UCI, CSU The ECP is a collaborative effort of two DOE organizations: the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration. As part of President Obama’s National Strategic Computing initiative, ECP was established to develop a capable exascale ecosystem, encompassing applications, system software, hardware technologies and architectures, and workforce development to meet the scientific and national security mission needs of DOE in the mid-2020s timeframe.
News Article | December 16, 2016
« GM to start autonomous vehicle manufacturing and testing in Michigan | Main | Volkswagen Dynamic Road Sign Display delivers current speed limit information in real time » Under an exclusive licensing agreement, Dynexus Technology will commercialize INL’s embedded wideband impedance technology for analyzing and forecasting the health, aging and safety characteristics of advanced energy storage devices. The 2011 R&D 100 Award-winning Impedance Measurement Box (IMB) was invented by INL’s Energy Storage Group in Idaho Falls, Idaho, with support from the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office. Dynexus, headquartered in Colorado, develops products and services that connect advanced sensor-based enterprise data with decision makers to improve access to embedded intelligence. The wideband impedance technique developed at INL delivers in-depth diagnostic insights not previously available outside the battery research lab, providing tremendous value for safer and more cost-effective commercial implementation of advanced energy storage technologies. The dependability of energy storage devices, mainly batteries, is becoming increasingly important to consumers, industry and the military. As battery end-user expectations increase and the consequences of battery failures become more pronounced, there is a pressing need for timely insights about battery health to ensure predictable performance, personal safety and reduction of waste. INL’s broad-spectrum impedance technology enables embedded continuous monitoring of a battery’s health and remaining life throughout the entire course of its life cycle. Conventional embedded monitoring of batteries has relied on passive measurements of voltage, current and temperature, or on impedance methods that can take as long as 10 minutes. INL’s IMB can generate the necessary data in 10 to 15 seconds. Impedance (the effective resistance of a circuit or component to current) is a key performance measurement that correlates with more complex parameters, such as resistance and power capability. The IMB—a combined hardware and software control unit—uses five steps to obtain the impedance spectrum measurement results. An input signal is generated that consists of sinusoids, which are strategically separated by a known frequency spread and summed together. This combined signal is injected into the energy storage device. The response is then captured by a data acquisition system for the final steps: data processing and analysis, and display. The latest development of the IMB is a third-generation device, able to assess a 50-volt system, making it applicable for testing on battery modules (which contain multiple cells). From an environmental standpoint, the INL technology could help find new uses for EV batteries after their capacity fades beyond acceptable power and range performance, usually defined as below 80% of initial capacity. Although embedded wideband impedance evolved from INL’s participation in automotive battery research and development, Dynexus Technology will explore commercial applications across a broad range of markets, from EVs to drones, from utility energy storage to telecommunications, and from medical devices to military systems. In all cases, the wideband impedance technique delivers operational data not previously available outside a laboratory setting.
News Article | August 16, 2016
The first customer for a small modular reactor (SMR) in the U.S. has selected a site located about 50 miles west of Idaho Falls, ID, for construction of a 50 MW unit. Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) announced this week that the firm had chosen a preferred site within the boundaries of the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Doug Hunter, CEO of UAMPS, made the announcement at the Intermountain Energy Summit being held in Idaho Falls. The 35-acre site is located about six miles south of the Lost River Rest Stop west of the intersection of U.S. Highways 20 & 26 and due north of EBR-1 where atomic energy was first used to generate electricity in December 1951. The site is geologically stable and far enough away from other facilities at the INL that it will not impact their operation. The INL encompasses an area of 890 square miles. The entire facility will eventually include up to 12 50 MW SMRs, turbines, storage for spent nuclear fuel, administrative offices, and transportation access. A rail line from Blackfoot, ID, to the INL may be developed further to support delivery of large reactor components. Officials in Idaho Falls said in a press statement the project could create over 1,000 jobs. Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Energy issued a permit to UAMPS as part of the site selection process. The permit opened the door to the utility to evaluate the alternative locations and make a decision to eventually build on one of them. At the same conference, Mike McGough, Chief Commercial Officer for NuScale, said that the firm is “nearly ready” to submit its SMR for design certification by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The company has said previously that it expects the application to be delivered to the agency by late 2016. That process will take three-to-four years after which, if successful, UAMPS will apply to the NRC for a COL to build and operate the reactors. UAMPS sells electricity at the wholesale level to utilities in seven western states. It formed the partnership with NuScale in 2013. A federal judge has ordered the Department of Energy (DOE) to let the court examine documents sought by former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus that describe shipments of spent nuclear fuel to the INL. U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill said the court will review the documents to determine if they can be released for public review. Andrus, a long time arch foe of nuclear spent fuel R&D at the INL, had sought the documents under a Freedom of Information Act request. However, DOE delivered papers with most of the information blacked out. Andrus is seeking information on several proposed small shipments of spent nuclear fuel that DOE wants to send to the INL for R&D evaluation. The shipments would require a waiver of the 1995 Settlement Agreement which sets terms for progress on cleanup of nuclear waste at the INL. Andrus has argued that no waiver can be granted until DOE can make progress with its Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTW) that is supposed to turn about 1 million gallons of liquid nuclear waste into dry powder which can then be shipped to a geologic repository in New Mexico. Work began on the IWTU in 2005 at an estimated cost of about $160M. Since then costs have escalated to almost $600M and the technology is getting a review by a new site contractor, who took over this year, to find a way to make it work. Andrus filed the lawsuit when he got a pile of paper from DOE with black magic marker streaks instead of the information he wanted from the agency. He claims that granting the waiver would allow DOE to use the INL as an interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel from the nation’s commercial reactors which are storing 77,000 tons of spent fuel. In blunt language, Andrus told the Associated Press (AP) this past week that he is suspicious of the DOE’s intentions. “We have to know what’s going on,” Andrus said. “Their stonewalling and reluctance lends credence to my suspicion. That’s all I have right now — a strong suspicion backed up by a history of an agency that has run roughshod over the public for way too many years.” AP reported that the Energy Department argues that the information can’t be made public because it involves internal communications that fall under an exemption to the act. The agency also cited attorney work-product privilege, and attorney-client privilege. Winmill in his 29-page ruling said the Energy Department’s explanation for blacking out pages of documents didn’t say whether the redactions “buried information relating to substantive policy about the transport and storage of large quantities of potentially dangerous nuclear waste, disclosure of which may very well be in the public’s interest.” Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has refused to sign a waiver for shipment of the spent fuel. Earlier this year DOE diverted the first shipment from INL to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and also sent the R&D money to evaluate it to that lab. A second shipment is pending. DOE says it wants an evaluation of “high-burnup” fuel by the INL which is why it scheduled the shipments. The Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week that Rita Baranwal is the new director for the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program. Baranwal was Director of Technology Development at Westinghouse. Baranwal brings deep private sector experience to GAIN’s mission of driving advanced nuclear toward commercialization in domestic and global markets. Baranwal takes over a program that is a bright star in the government’s efforts to promote advanced nuclear technologies. Recent accomplishments include. The GAIN initiative, announced at a White House Summit in November 2015, was created to provide support for the nearly 50 advanced nuclear startups that have been established across the U.S. Joshua Freed, a Vice President of the Third Way, a Washington, DC, think tank, wrote in a blog post that GAIN is also supporting the inaugural Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp at University of California, Berkeley. He wrote that the competitive educational program is aimed at helping young innovators develop nuclear-specific entrepreneurial skills. Additionally, the bootcamp includes opportunities for nontechnical students with backgrounds in the arts, communications, policy, and international affairs to participate as well, opening the doors to groups who traditionally have not been a part of the workforce pipeline, but are now understood as having valuable expertise for the future of nuclear.
News Article | March 1, 2017
If a U.S.-based researcher or reactor designer needs to irradiate fuel or material with fast neutrons for testing, their current options are extremely limited. No domestic test facility can provide enough fast neutrons to do anything more than slowly irradiate a small quantity of tiny samples. Anything more requires the full cooperation of either Russia or China. It doesn’t take too much expertise or imagination to realize both of those options are difficult, expensive and loaded with risk in terms of schedule, intellectual property protection, export control limitations and test conditions. Lack of a facility hasn’t stopped people from recognizing that fast reactors have sufficient attractions to make them worth a considerable effort. Well resourced teams like Bill Gates’s TerraPower that are deeply interested in fast reactors have spent the money and taken the risks associated with performing tests in available facilities. Last summer, John Kotek, in his role as the Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Energy tasked the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee with evaluating the mission and requirements for a facility that could provide a domestic source of enough fast neutrons to support the testing that will be needed to design and license fast reactors here. The committee completed its work in December and produced a draft report. At the recent Advanced Reactor Technical Summit, Dr. Al Sattelberger, the chairman of the NEAC and a participant in the evaluation effort, described the document and its conclusions. The financially unconstrained conclusion of the group of evaluators, most with long experience in the DOE’s National Lab complex, is that the U.S. needs a new test reactor. The report includes a set of capabilities that the new facility should have. There is no design effort in progress, no site identified, and no money in the budget for such a facility. I was in the audience and took the opportunity to ask the obvious question. “The U.S. owns something called the Fast Flux Test Facility. Did your committee consider restoring the FFTF?” Dr. Sattelberger, who had introduced himself as a chemist among mostly nuclear engineers, responded as follows. Granting that Dr. Sattelberger is an advisor and not a representative of the Department of Energy, his response was still troubling. It was roughly equivalent to the response of a privileged teenager who says he wants mobility but then holds out for a dream car with options that haven’t been invented yet as a preferred path over fixing up the classic Cadillac loaded with all of the available options that is gathering dust in Grandma’s garage. His more impatient and practical sister might decide to go kick the tires on the Cadillac, find out what it would take to restore the vehicle to a like-new condition and imagine its nearer term potential and value. Dr. Sattelberger was right to note that there have been numerous studies done evaluating the option of using the FFTF for its designed purpose. One of the most comprehensive studies was completed in April 2007 by the Columbia Basin Consulting Group (CBCG) for the Tri-City Industrial Development Council. That study – Siting Study For Hanford Advanced Fuels Test & Research Center – was funded by DOE as part of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) program. The evaluators were particularly well-suited to the task; several of the consultants were, at the time, relatively recently retired engineers and operators from the Energy Department who had deep experience at the FFTF during its operational lifetime and its subsequent deactivation. Bill Stokes, still with CBCG, led that study effort and shared a copy of the report. He emphasized the talent of the crew who did the evaluation and stated that they were not motivated by self interest; they were beyond the point of needing a job. The 116 page document provides a detailed description of an amazing facility provided with the kinds of capabilities affordable at a time when developing fast reactors was a national priority. Though some dismiss the FFTF as old, it is about 15 to 20 years newer than most of the other test reactors in the U.S. and only has about ten years worth of operational wear. It has largely been protected from any permanent damage. Fortunately, Grandma never got around to investing the money that destruction and cleanup of her “old” Cadillac would have required. Here is the pithy concluding statement from the report: Those numbers included a 20% contingency. Stokes said that very little has changed at the site during the past 10 years, though the numbers will probably need some revision. There are more than enough opportunities for young and midlevel engineers and scientists to get involved in pie-in-the-sky design efforts to develop a new digital reactor. [That is my term for what Rickover would have called a “paper reactor” in his less electronic era.] The FFTF is an existing facility with real materials, real pumps, real valves, real fuel handling devices. Most importantly for the future of U.S. nuclear technical leadership, the FFTF can provide 5 to 10 times the fast neutron flux of any existing facility and it has the testing location capacity to support numerous parallel experiments. Since it already exists, its siting process cannot become a new battleground for the ancient rivalries between the national labs, their local economic boosters and their congressional representatives. The facility has its required state and local permits and is covered by an active environmental impact statement. It might be operational before the first shovel full of dirt could be turned for a new facility whose requirements document isn’t even started. Stuart Maloy is the advanced materials test lead at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Here is how he responded when asked about the urgency of a fast neutron test reactor. That statement is applicable to conventional reactors as well as fast reactors. Much of the neutron flux that affects cladding materials hasn’t been moderated. The FFTF offers an almost immediately available place for a new generation of nuclear professionals to learn that fast neutron fission isn’t something for the distant future or forgotten past. Designing systems and making them work isn’t just a programming exercise. There’s a cadre of willing and available teachers and mentors, some of who still reside in eastern Washington, who would eagerly accept the challenge of engaging in the task of transferring their knowledge to a new generation. It’s time to accept reality, quit holding out for a new facility and begin taking full advantage of our inheritance. While writing the above, I had contacted the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) for their comments. Unfortunately, I sent my the information request to the wrong office. The process of routing the request and obtaining a response thus took longer than usual, so the response missed the deadline for the edition of Fuel Cycle Week in which the article was run. Before simply republishing that article here, I asked INL to provide an updated response and provided a copy of the initial article. Here is the response provided by INL Public Affairs and Strategic Initiatives. Aside: It’s worth noting that the study mentioned in item #3 is the CBCG study conducted for the GNEP program that is mentioned earlier in this article. That study describes FFTF as an incredible asset. Here is another quote from the Executive Summary of the Siting Study for Hanford Advanced Fuels Test & Research Center. That quote introduces an additional facility – the FMEF – that makes the FFTF site even more attractive. This is how the report briefly describes the FMEF. There is one more facility – Maintenance and Storage Facility (MASF) – that is described in the report. It is an integral and important part of the currently idled FFTF complex. Here is the brief summary description of the MASF found on page 16 of the Siting Study. Any open-minded decision maker motivated to support development of advanced reactors with a capable fast neutron test facility would be impressed by the potential of the facility that already exists. Any reasonably experienced and knowledgable nuclear project manager would recognize that the path for building a brand new facility would be far more tortuous and fraught with the potential for serious delays or even cancellation somewhere along the 15-20 years the project would require starting today. INL’s response to my request for information contained an additional quote. DOE has a documented process for capital acquisitions that is as arduous and cumbersome as the major system acquisition process used by the Department of Defense. There are some pretty solid reasons why each milestone step is bureaucratically and politically important. Done correctly, the process can help avoid technical SNAFUs like the A-12 and political quagmires like the MOX facility. However, the process can be accelerated when there is a need and an obvious answer to that need sitting around in the land-based equivalent of a mothball fleet. With libraries worth of QA documents, the physical presence of the facilities and some subtle political pressure, it should be possible for a focused and motivated DOE to power through both CD-0 (Statement of Mission Need) and CD-1 (Analysis of Alternatives) in record time. The post FFTF restoration would provide the fastest, most efficient path to fast spectrum neutron testing appeared first on Atomic Insights.
News Article | December 14, 2016
SAE International is working to ensure that electric vehicle wireless power transfer systems from different manufacturers can interoperate seamlessly with each other to prepare for commercialization in 2020. Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and TDK R&D Corporation along with the US Department of Energy, automotive companies and suppliers have completed bench testing to support the SAE Technical Information Report (TIR) J2954™. SAE TIR J2954™ is a guideline for the wireless charging of plug-in electric vehicles that was published by the SAE International earlier this year. The SAE TIR J2954™ provides guidance to ensure the performance and safety of Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) systems provided from one vendor as well as interoperability when parts of the system are provided from different vendors. For the first time, interoperability between both the Double D (DD) from Qualcomm and Circular Topologies has been demonstrated between 3.7 to 7.7 kW with efficiencies exceeding 85-90% under aligned conditions. INL researchers contributed to the SAE J2954™ validation by testing wireless charging systems from three companies: Toyota, WiTricity, and Qualcomm in the summer and fall of 2016. The WiTricity system which was submitted in cooperation with Nissan, and the Qualcomm system which was submitted in cooperation with Jaguar-Land Rover, both operated at up to 7.7 kW. The results of the INL tests were reported to the SAE J2954™ Technical Committee in December and will be published in 2017. Engineers from Toyota, Nissan, WiTricity, and Qualcomm collaborated with both INL and TDK on site in a series of tests on the interoperability of their respective wireless charging systems. The tests allowed those engineers to adjust their company’s systems in real time to improve interoperability performance. Wireless charging systems work by using electricity from the grid to generate an oscillating magnetic field that reaches upwards from a charging pad on the floor of the garage or parking space, to a power capture pad mounted to the undercarriage of the electric vehicle. This magnetic field transfers the energy from the ground pad to the vehicle, where it is converted to electric energy that charges the vehicle battery. “Idaho National Laboratory has successfully validated SAE TIR J2954™ on the bench for test systems provided by the industry, which is an important milestone. This gives confidence in the interoperability, safety and performance values within this guideline,” said Richard “Barney” Carlson, an INL engineer who coordinated and managed the wireless charging test program. The SAE TIR J2954™ also has a significant part of its content dedicated to Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) and Electromagnetic Field (EMF) validation of WPT systems. The same companies that underwent testing at INL continued their testing at TDK R&D Corporation’s Texas based electromagnetics lab for this aspect of the evaluation. Tests on various configurations were carried out on an OATS (Open Area Test Site with metallic ground plane), on an OFTS (Open Field Test Site with real earth ground plane), and on an EMF planar scan range (for human exposure). “Developing EMC and EMF standards and measurement methodologies is accompanied by the implicit responsibility of protecting incumbent services with the target of establishing sustainable limits that allow coexistence and maintain safe exposure levels for humans and medical devices. Part of this strategy involved establishing a relationship between the SAE J2954™ Taskforce and the American Association of Medical Instrumentation. To aid in this effort, TDK leveraged its broad expertise in high power, low frequency magnetic field EMC/EMF measurement experience along with the proper testing venues to accommodate the efficient collection of data across all of the participants WPT platforms,” remarked Robert Sutton (Senior VP TDK R&D), Co-Chair of the SAE J2954™ EMC/EMF Team. The data will be used to further develop SAE J2954™ guidelines which will ensure that wireless charging systems entering the market meet established requirements for safety, efficiency, performance under real world parking behavior, and interoperability. Interoperability is viewed by the industry to be essential to broad scale adoption of wireless charging, as drivers expect any vehicle to be able to charge at any charging station. The bench testing at INL and TDK will help SAE develop the next phase of standardization. “SAE J2954™ standardization enables any compatible vehicle to pull into a wireless power space have automated charging without doing anything -except parking-. Automated wireless charging can be done in conjunction with autonomous parking (for instance with autonomous vehicles.) Interoperability between wireless power classes (up to 7.7kW) and different topologies (DD and Circular) was tested and proved possible to transfer power with efficiencies within range of SAE J2954™ performance guidelines. This is a real step towards commercialization. Idaho National Laboratory and TDK have provided the most complete test data to date in order to validate SAE J2954™ on the test bench. The next phase, Recommended Practice in 2017 will give guidance for wireless charging with autonomous parking and charging (up to 11kW) for the vehicle testing. Full vehicle test data will be needed before a J2954™ standard can be published in 2018. The national labs from the US DOE offer an ideal location to have this done,” stated Jesse Schneider, chair of the SAE J2954™ task force. SAE International is a global association committed to being the ultimate knowledge source for the engineering profession. By uniting over 127,000 engineers and technical experts, we drive knowledge and expertise across a broad spectrum of industries. We act on two priorities: encouraging a lifetime of learning for mobility engineering professionals and setting the standards for industry engineering. We strive for a better world through the work of our philanthropic SAE Foundation, including programs like A World in Motion® and the Collegiate Design Series™.
News Article | December 14, 2016
« Chevron makes equity investment in Novvi and its high-performance renewable base oil technology | Main | Volkswagen Chattanooga starts series production of the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas » SAE International is working to ensure that electric vehicle wireless power transfer systems from different manufacturers can interoperate seamlessly with each other to prepare for commercialization in 2020. Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and TDK R&D Corporation, along with the US Department of Energy (DOE), automotive companies and suppliers have completed bench testing to support the SAE Technical Information Report (TIR) J2954. (Earlier post.) SAE TIR J2954 is a guideline for the wireless charging of plug-in electric vehicles that was published by the SAE International (formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers) earlier this year. The SAE TIR J2954 provides guidance to ensure performance and safety of Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) Systems provided from one vendor as well as interoperability when parts of the system are provided from different vendors. For the first time, interoperability between the so-called Double D (DD) and Circular Topologies has been demonstrated between 3.7 to 7.7 kW with efficiencies exceeding 85-90% under aligned conditions. SAE J2954 standardization enables any compatible vehicle to pull into a wireless power space and have automated charging without doing anything except parking. Automated wireless charging can also be done in conjunction optionally with autonomous parking. Interoperability between power ratings (up to 7.7kW) and different topologies (DD and Circular) were tested at INL-TDK and proved possible even under extreme offset conditions. Idaho National Lab and TDK has provided invaluable bench data to validate SAE J2954 Wireless Power Transfer. Vehicle data along with autonomous parking and charging (up to 11kW) is needed before a J2954 standard can be published, and the national labs from the US DOE offer an ideal location to have this done. INL researchers contributed to the SAE J2954 validation by testing wireless charging systems from three companies—Toyota, WiTricity, and Qualcomm—in the summer and fall of 2016. The WiTricity system—submitted in cooperation with Nissan—and the Qualcomm system—submitted in cooperation with Jaguar-Land Rover—both operated at up to 7.7 kW. The results of the INL tests will be reported to SAE International in December 2016 and SAE will publish the results with members of the test program in 2017. Engineers from Toyota, Nissan, WiTricity, and Qualcomm collaborated with both INL and TDK on site in a series of tests on the interoperability of their respective wireless charging systems. The tests allowed those engineers to adjust their company’s systems in real time to improve interoperability performance. Wireless charging systems work by using electricity from the grid to generate an oscillating magnetic field that reaches upwards from a charging pad on the floor of the garage or parking space to a power capture pad mounted to the undercarriage of the electric vehicle. This magnetic field transfers the energy from the ground pad to the vehicle, where it is converted to electric energy that charges the vehicle battery. The SAE TIR J2954 also has a significant part of its content dedicated to EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) and EMF (electromagnetic field) validation of WPT systems. The same companies that underwent testing at INL continued their testing at TDK R&D Corporation’s Texas based electromagnetics lab for this aspect of the evaluation. Tests on various configurations were carried out on an OATS (Open Area Test Site with metallic ground plane), on an OFTS (Open Field Test Site with real earth ground plane), and on an EMF planar scan range (for human exposure). Developing EMC and EMF standards and measurement methodologies is accompanied by the implicit responsibility of protecting incumbent services with the target of establishing sustainable limits that allow coexistence and maintain safe exposure levels for humans and medical devices. Part of this strategy involved establishing a relationship between the SAE J2954 Taskforce and the American Association of Medical Instrumentation. To aid in this effort, TDK leveraged its broad expertise in high power, low frequency magnetic field EMC/EMF measurement experience along with the proper testing venues to accommodate the efficient collection of data across all of the participants WPT platforms. The data will be used to further develop SAE J2954 guidelines which will ensure that wireless charging systems entering the market meet established requirements for safety, efficiency, performance under real world parking behavior, and interoperability. Interoperability is viewed by the industry to be essential to broad scale adoption of wireless charging, as drivers expect any vehicle to be able to charge at any charging station. The bench testing at INL and TDK will help SAE develop the next phase of standardization.
News Article | August 22, 2016
The efficiency of today's photovoltaic (PV) solar cells is constrained by a number of energy-loss mechanisms (e.g., limited incoupling of sunlight, weak absorption of long-wavelength photons, and charge-carrier energy losses by thermalization). To enable the development of novel PV devices with record efficiencies, all of these optical processes must be carefully controlled. Several groups have proposed theoretical limits on the absorption efficiency of PV devices. The models upon which these limits—which primarily depend on the thickness of the absorbing layer (e.g., silicon)—are based make predictions regarding the amount by which an efficient light-trapping strategy can increase the mean-free path of sunlight in the absorbing medium of a solar cell, compared to flat (unpatterned) devices. Increasing the mean-free path causes trapped photons to explore the absorbing medium more extensively, thereby increasing overall absorption. Although the limits that are frequently used to make these predictions (i.e., 4n2 and Lambertian limits)1, 2 rely on strong assumptions (e.g., the need to consider thick layers or weakly absorbing media), they nonetheless provide useful references for benchmarking novel absorbers for use in PV devices (e.g., those using nanopatterns). The introduction of micro- and nanopatterns in such devices could, however, mitigate these limits or—in very specific cases, with limited wavelength ranges—overcome them entirely. Last year, a decade after increasingly intense research began in this area, the production of fully functional solar cells integrated with nanophotonic structures showed a net conversion-efficiency increase for the first time.3, 4 A number of key challenges and open questions remain, however. For example, it is not yet clear how appropriate patterns can be integrated in a real solar cell made of standard PV materials, what is the most appropriate active-layer thickness, or what the most appropriate geometry for micro- and nanopatterns might be. In our attempt to provide answers to these questions, we have demonstrated that by integrating a periodic array of nanoholes or nanopyramids (see Figure 1) in a crystalline-silicon-based solar cell, a photocurrent exceeding 23mA/cm2 can be generated with an active layer of only 1μm. This photocurrent, which we predicted using rigorous coupled-wave analysis and a finite-difference time-domain method, is twice the value expected from an unpatterned device of the same thickness. Recent experiments, including those performed in the European PhotoNVoltaics project, have shown that nanopattern-integrated PV devices with efficiently passivated surfaces can increase the conversion efficiency by 20% or more.5 Additionally, the optimization of technological processes and photonic pattern designs is likely to further enhance the conversion efficiency of such PV devices. Indeed, several authors have claimed that the generated photocurrent could be increased by introducing some disorder within a periodic light-trapping structure (such as a photonic crystal).6–8 However, the impact of such a perturbation has rarely been evaluated with respect to a perfectly optimized periodic structure. Additionally, clear design rules that enable selection of the relevant type of disorder for specific applications are still missing. Moreover, the full picture regarding physical mechanisms behind light trapping in such complex structures is not yet clear. To determine the influence of disorder in such devices, we have proposed the implementation of complex patterns based on a periodic square array of air holes. Using this simple array as a base, we define a large supercell in which the position of each nanohole is randomly shifted. The resultant structure is referred to as a pseudo-disordered structure (PDS): see Figure 2(a). We have demonstrated both theoretically and experimentally that the absorption in such a PDS can exceed that of a fully optimized solar-cell stack with a simple periodic nanopattern: see Figure 2(b). In particular, the long-wavelength reflexion peaks are substantially decreased, leading to a predicted photocurrent increase of 2–3%. We have also demonstrated the need for appropriate metrics to determine the type of disorder that can lead to optimized conversion efficiency. Indeed, we have found that different types of PDS may lead to a broad dispersion of absorption efficiencies for the same nanohole mean shift. From such considerations, we have defined more specific parameters, referred to as clustering (relating to the minimal distance between nanoholes) and compactness (which quantifies how many nanoholes are closely packed within a supercell). We used these parameters to sort the randomly obtained PDS and their corresponding expected photocurrent.9 Among our results, the most important show that disorder does lead to a net absorption increase, provided that holes are not clustered together. The pattern should also simultaneously exhibit spatial frequencies with low amplitudes in the short-frequency range (to inhibit the outcoupling of trapped light) and high amplitudes in the long-frequency range (to promote light trapping). Using design rules based on these results, we have developed an optimized PDS pattern with an evenly distributed ensemble of air nanoholes: see Figure 2(c). In summary, we have demonstrated that the introduction of PDS in the active layer of a PV device is likely to increase its absorption and, therefore, the conversion efficiency. Combining relevant designs inspired by photonic crystals with careful perturbation and optimized nanopatterning and passivation processes could enable the high potential of these approaches for next-generation solar cells to be realized. Moreover, manufacturing methods such as these are well suited for the generation of efficient devices using a limited amount of materials. In addition to the introduced sustainability, this novel approach may also enable the fabrication of flexible solar cells. Beyond thin-film solar cells based on silicon, this methodology could be used to optimize hybrid devices (e.g., those combining perovskites and silicon), and to control sunlight absorption in appropriate locations within a device (e.g., the top or bottom of a layer stack or, in the case of a tandem device, between two junctions). In our future work, we plan to fabricate and test fully functional single-junction solar cells that incorporate PDS. We also intend to develop these complex patterns for use in advanced devices, such as tandem solar cells, and to assist in up- or down-conversion processes in PV devices. We acknowledge support from the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme project PhotoNVoltaics (grant agreement 309127) and the French Research Agency (ANR) project NATHISOL (grant agreement ANR-12-PRGE-0004-01). He Ding acknowledges support from the China Scholarship Council (CSC). Results were obtained thanks to close collaboration with Jia Liu, Regis Orobtchouk, Hai Son Nguyen, Alain Fave, Fabien Mandorlo, Céline Chevalier, and Pierre Cremillieu (from the Institut des Nanotechnologies de Lyon, INL), Radoslaw Mazurczyk and Valérie Depauw (from IMEC), Olivier Deparis and Jérôme Muller (from the University of Namur), and Martin Foldyna and Pere Roca i Cabarrocas (from Laboratoire de Physique des Interfaces et des Couches Minces).
News Article | November 14, 2016
ATHLONE, Ireland, Nov. 14, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Innocoll Holdings plc (Nasdaq:INNL), a global, specialty pharmaceutical and medical device company with late stage development programs targeting areas of significant unmet medical need, today announced that Anthony Zook, Chief Executive Officer of Innocoll Holdings plc, will participate in a fireside chat at the Stifel 2016 Healthcare Conference on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, at 8:45 a.m. ET at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel in New York, NY. Innocoll is a global, specialty pharmaceutical company with late stage development programs that is dedicated to engineering better medicines to help patients get better. Our proprietary, biocompatible, and biodegradable collagen products are precision-engineered for targeted use. Applied locally to surgery sites, they are designed to provide a range of benefits. The company's late stage product pipeline is focused on addressing a number of large unmet medical needs, including: XARACOLL for the treatment of postoperative pain and COLLAGUARD (INL-003), a barrier for the prevention of post-surgical adhesions. Our currently approved products include: COLLAGUARD® (ex-US), COLLATAMP® G, SEPTOCOLL® E, REGENEPRO®, COLLACARE®, COLLEXA®, and ZORPREVA®.
News Article | March 1, 2017
In Washington, DC, the Third Way, a think tank, hosted a meeting of some of the country’s best thinkers, leaders, funders, and doers in the field of development advanced reactors. Cheerleading is helpful, but the proof will be in federal funding for reactor R&D and regulatory reform at the NRC. In Cambridge, MA, Transatomic, a startup, is now making a list of lessons learned following publication of a critical review of the firm’s reactor design. One of the lessons is that other start-ups with audacious claims are likely to receive similar levels of scrutiny. Third Way Showcases Year of Progress on Advanced Reactors Every year the Third Way, a multi-faceted think tank in Washington, DC, holds an annual showcase on advanced nuclear reactors. It draws a national who’s who of people working in this area including technology leaders, national lab scientists, elected officials, and investors. The entire event is live streamed end-to-end and the individuals sessions are also archived, along with a complete video of the proceedings, on YouTube. While a lot of cheerleading goes on at the meeting, it is also a serious conference with a lot of different points of view that range from how to innovate to why the nuclear industry is doing it wrong in promoting its value to the American people. One of the best sessions is about what’s next in terms of collaboration between developers, investors, and the government. One session was ominously titled “Innovate or Die.” The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), an inside the beltway trade association for the commercial nuclear industry, is a participant in the meeting and its public affairs team posted some highlights of the discussions on their website. Here are a few of them. >> Third Way board member Rachel Pritzker identified three main strands in favor of moving the nuclear industry into a technological future: global competitiveness and jobs; regaining the United States’ global leadership for security; and the need to meet the planet’s burgeoning future energy demand. >> The U.S. Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative gives private entrepreneurs access to the expertise in DOE’s system of national laboratories. “GAIN’s mission is to make sure innovative nuclear technologies get to market faster,” GAIN Director Rita Baranwal said. “GAIN is already making a difference in bringing the national labs’ capabilities to innovators. We have awarded $2 million in vouchers to small companies, and have just announced the availability of a second round of awards, opening March 13.” >> NuScale Power LLC, the furthest ahead of several companies working in advanced reactor innovation, on Dec. 31 last year submitted its application asking the NRC to certify its small modular reactor (SMR) design. >> Caroline Cochran, founder and chief operating officer of advanced reactor startup Oklo Inc., said her company has had a good experience working with GAIN, having been one of the first recipients of the initiative’s small business vouchers. Oklo is a Silicon Valley-based company that is developing a two-megawatt “micro-reactor” that could bring electricity to remote, rural native communities or military bases. The company is now working with Argonne and Idaho national laboratories on different aspects of their development process. >> Micah Hackett, manager of materials development at TerraPower LLC, noted that even a much larger company like his, with wealthy investors and 150 full-time employees, does not have the full set of skills needed in-house. TerraPower has leveraged the knowledge base of a group of vendors and suppliers with which it has partnered—including the federal government. >> INL Director Mark Peters said that GAIN was established not only for early-stage R&D and as a demonstration platform for first-of-a-kind innovators like NuScale, but also to push for progressive deployment. “Right now we’re at a tipping point. Advanced reactors have an opportunity to leapfrog our overseas competitors, using the advantage of our national labs and universities, which are still the best in the world,” Peters said. What is unclear is whether the new Trump Administration, and the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, will support advanced nuclear energy R&D. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, the nominee to head the Department of Energy, once called for it to be abolished. It also became painfully clear, at least initially, that he had no idea what the agency does. It is going to take more than a few 3-ring binders of briefing books to close that gap. In a riveting and frightening appraisal of his shortcomings for doing the job, a piece by Huffington Post writer Dominique Mosbergen lists eight compelling reasons to worry about his abilities to meet the challenges of the position. Meanwhile, the priorities of the Trump White House appears to be to conduct a running war with the national news media over issues large and small, but which have nothing to do with energy policy and climate change. It is not a hopeful outlook, at least for now. MIT Technology Review has published an article which calls into question the technology claims of Transatomic, an advanced reactor startup based in Cambridge, MA. In a February 24 article by energy editor James Temple, the publication said, “Nuclear energy startup Transatomic Power has backed away from bold claims for its advanced reactor technology after an informal review by MIT professors highlighted serious errors in the company’s calculations” The firm, which has been widely cited as being part of the bow wave of nuclear energy entrepreneurs, got its start in 2011 when two MIT PhDs said they could design a nuclear reactor, based on a molten salt fuel, that could run on spent nuclear fuel from conventional reactors. The firm also said in white papers and other technical publications that its reactor “can generate up to 75 times more electricity per ton of mined uranium than a light-water reactor.” These audacious claims helped the firm raise millions in venture capital and gain top drawer technical advisers as well as glowing media profiles. However, audacious claims require similar levels of proof. In November 2016 the firm posted a new white paper that company downgraded performance levels from “75 times” to “more than twice.” It says that the design “does not reduce existing stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel,” nor use them as its fuel source. MIT Technology Review’s article makes the point that the promise of recycling nuclear waste “was a key initial promise of the company that captured considerable attention.” It is a major retreat from the firm’s initial published findings. The MIT Technology Review article will also have industry-wide impacts. It may have the the effect of putting other nuclear energy entrepreneurs on notice that they too may get the same enhanced levels of analysis of their claims. For its part Transatomic said it realized there was a problem in 2016, which is five years after its work got underway. According to MIT Technology Review, the changes in 2016 by Transatomics to its claims about performance of its reactor design followed an analysis in late 2015 by Kord Smith, a nuclear science and engineering professor at MIT and an expert in the physics of nuclear reactors. His review was prompted by concerns about the validity and credibility of Transatomic’s claims since the firm had an R&D relationship with the university. His starting point uses an analogy which says that promising to increase the reactor’s fuel efficiency by 75 times is the rough equivalent of saying that a firm had developed a car that could get 2,500 miles per gallon. “I said this is obviously incorrect based on basic physics,” Smith told MIT Technology Review. He asked the company to run a test, which ended up confirming that “their claims were completely untrue,” Smith said. One positive note is that the new white paper claims the reactor could reduce waste by 53 percent compared to light-water reactors. The viability of the latter finding was recently verified by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. But the analysis found the reactor couldn’t sustain a fission chain reaction long enough using spent fuel for it to be a feasible option, as previously hoped, Dewan said in a subsequent phone interview with the magazine. This is a very tough experience for Transatomic’s young, idealistic, and ambitious principals. Transatomic has now pushed back its plans to build a prototype reactor by at least a year. “We certainly have a long road ahead of us,” she said, noting technical, engineering, supply chain, and regulatory challenges. “But I think that momentum is on our side.” Transatomic’s mistake is not that it sought to deceive its backers with false claims, but that it got ahead of its own headlights in terms of validating the technical results of its research. With a “rock star” technical advisory committee, as it is described by the magazine, maybe Transatomic’s principals should have gotten them more engaged much earlier in looking at the products of their R&D work. Inexperience and overconfidence are common faults of many startups, and being called out for these missteps is not necessarily fatal to the enterprise. MIT Technology Review points out in its article that the company has raised at least $4.5 million from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Acadia Woods Partners, and Daniel Aegerter of Armada Investment AG. Venture capital veteran Ray Rothrock serves as chairman of the company. For now they are sticking with Transatomic. “We invested in Transatomic because of their reactor’s passively safe design and dramatically reduced costs and waste,” Scott Nolan, partner at Founders Fund, said in a statement. Rothrock said in an e-mail response to the magazine: “I remain committed to Transatomic’s mission and plan. The world needs more nuclear power. And while we are still early days for [Transatomic Power], I’m encouraged [by the] results so far.” Dewan acknowledged in an email to the magazine it should have sought peer review or other forms of hard feedback earlier. “In retrospect, that was a mistake of mine,” she said during the phone interview. “We should have open-published more of our information at a far earlier stage.”
News Article | August 31, 2016
In a report announced August 30, INL’s nuclear experts, in collaboration with their counterparts at Argonne and Oak Ridge National Labs, presented pathways to deployment for advanced test and demonstration reactor concepts to support key national nuclear energy needs. This collective effort reflects the growing sense of urgency and the groundswell of support for developing advanced reactor technologies. “To meet the objectives of the nation’s energy policy – and meet energy demand without emissions – we must realize the promise of innovative nuclear technologies,” said Dr. Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, director of INL’s Nuclear Science & Technology Directorate. “Deployment of an advanced test reactor and demonstration of new nuclear power plant technologies are necessary to achieve these objectives.” The U.S. Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative directs the national laboratories to support industry efforts to deploy innovative nuclear technologies. Recently passed federal legislation that promotes innovation in technology and licensing also reflects broad bipartisan support for nuclear energy and the recognition that the nation’s energy, security and environmental goals cannot be met without it. The study relied on critical input from scientists and nuclear experts from across the DOE complex, academia and industry. This broad-based effort is focused on defining a path forward to providing reliable, efficient and clean nuclear energy using advanced reactor technologies. The current light-water reactor fleet provides nearly two-thirds of the nation’s zero-carbon energy. “The results of this study will help focus lab and industry resources on the most promising technologies and options for both near-term and long-term deployment,” said Dr. Hans Gougar, director of INL’s Advanced Reactor Technologies Division. “The study also illuminates the technical, financial and regulatory backdrop against which realistic development and deployment decisions must be made. I encourage everyone interested in our national energy future to take a look.” Advanced reactors are defined, for purposes of this study, as those which use coolants other than water. The innovative designs evaluated in this study offer key performance features such as: The Advanced Demonstration and Test Reactor Options Study and its appendices are posted on INL’s Advanced Reactor Technologies website. Reflecting the growing sense of urgency and the groundswell of support for developing advanced reactor technologies, INL’s nuclear experts have teamed with their counterparts at Argonne and Oak Ridge National Labs to evaluate technologies and objectives for new test and demonstration reactors that will be critical for developing the replacements for our nation’s aging nuclear fleet. Reactor development and deployment steps based on U.S. and international experience The study was led by Dr. David Petti of INL, Dr. Robert Hill of Argonne, and Dr. Jess Gehin of Oak Ridge and relied on critical input from scientists and nuclear experts from across the Department of Energy complex and industry. It reflects a renewed focus on collaboration between labs and industrial partners as they work to meet the challenges of providing reliable, efficient and clean energy to replace the aging light-water reactors that provide nearly two-thirds of the nation’s zero-carbon energy. The nation already has several highly capable test reactors, such as INL’s Advanced Test Reactor and the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge. But these reactors operate with a thermal or “slow” neutron spectrum not ideal for testing fuels and materials used in many of the advanced reactors that operate with a fast neutron spectrum. The renewed interest in fast reactors is based on the potential of such technologies to extract more energy from uranium, thorium and even spent fuel from existing light-water reactors. In this study, we first identified the objectives for new materials testing and demonstration reactors, then we systematically evaluated the technologies available that will meet them,” said Hans Gougar, director of INL’s Advanced Reactor Technologies Division. Test reactors are complex and expensive national assets that are critical to the long-term development of the fuels and materials upon which future nuclear energy systems will rely. For purposes of the study, advanced reactors were defined as those which use coolants other than water. Water-cooled reactors currently provide the bulk of the nation’s zero-carbon energy and are expected to safely provide electricity for decades. The innovative designs evaluated in this study all rely on different coolant and fuel combinations to achieve notable performance features, such as: “The successful licensing and demonstration of any new nuclear plant concept will show not only that the U.S. still has the expertise but can also deploy an emissions-free, reliable energy source on a scale large enough to meet U.S. energy demands for the foreseeable future. It was therefore very important to take a very transparent and systematic approach to evaluating the available technologies and deployment pathways,” Gougar said. INL is one of the DOE’s national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.