News Article | May 10, 2017
The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has a plan to conduct nuclear energy R&D using NuScale’s light water reactor technology. In doing so it will create a test bed on an international scale for advanced reactor designs. According to a report in the Idaho Falls Post Register for May4, 2017, 18 reactor design groups have expressed interest in using a proposed nuclear reactor test facility at the INL and two of them have indicated they are ready to move their test operations to the site as soon as one of the 12 planned NuScale 50 MW modules is available. A spokesman for NuScale, which plans to build up to 12 50 MW small modular reactor units at the Idaho site, told the newspaper the first unit for its customer UAMPS, is slated to begin operation in 2026. Last December NuScale submitted their SMR design to the NRC for design certification, which is expected to take three-to-four years to complete. The umbrella concept for the test platform is to use one or possibly two of the 12 units as part of the INL’s joint proposal with NuScale and UAMPS for a “Joint Use Modular Plant.” The idea is that one or two of the 50 MW units, built after the first unit is in revenue service, would serve as a platform to test different applications of the SMR’s capabilities. Some of the potential applications that have been discussed being tested including using grids of SMRs to support resilient power for communities so that if one unit is offline, the others keep churning out electricity. With large 1000 MW units, if they go offline, a lot of expensive replacement power has to be obtaining right away. If it isn’t available because of demand, brownouts or blackouts can be the result. Some SMRs might have as their primary purpose providing steam for district heating replacing coal fired units or for desalinization of sea water. The most intriguing idea is to apply the test SMRs to support development of advanced reactor designs. To that end Terrestrial Energy, a Canadian firm, is reported to be in discussions with the INL to do test work there to develop its molten salt reactor design. The firm wants to take advantage of the INL’s site with its infrastructure and the fact that environmental reviews for this kind of project were completed for the NuScale project. Having access to the lab’s scientists and engineers is also a big plus. This kind of work is usually done on a cost-reimbursable basis which means that Terrestrial Energy would have to pay for any costs associated with using the site and having access to a future SMR. To this end Terrestrial Energy has applied for a Department of Energy loan-guarantee. However, to date the company is still working off of Series A financing packages and has yet to book an investor or a consortium in the $100M or greater range which would be needed to proceed with a prototype. Nevertheless, the firm has said its time to market for its novel design would be sometime in the 2020s. It announced ambitious plans last January it plans to submit its design to the NRC by 2019. In July 2016 Transatomic, a developer of an advanced nuclear reactor design, told this blog it also has approached the INL for possible use of test facilities there and to explore the potential to build its first prototype at the site. Transatomic has received a grant from the GAIN program at the INL for work on the specialized fuel that would be needed for its reactor design. The problem facing both Terrestrial Energy and Transatomic is that new reactor technologies much prove to utilities that they can be operated at a profit within the constraints of existing market realities or they will not be adopted. This requires extensive testing of designs and development of cost estimates that will attract equity investors and customers. The Idaho test facility, if built, may be able to speed up the process. It will need help from the Department of Energy as will the developers in public / private partnerships to succeed. A consortium of SMR developers has spelling out the elements of a commercial deployment program needed to stimulate new SMR generation sufficient for self-sustaining deployment. The program should be available through a combination of the following investment mechanisms: (full details here) SMR Trade Group Urges DOE to Use Their Reactors for Grid Stability The indisputable fact is that the nation’s electrical grid cannot run 100% on renewable energy. Both solar and wind are intermittent, and in order to keep the electrical grid stable, there has to be baseload demand. So far this stability has been provided by large 1000 MW nuclear reactors, as well as gas and coal fired conventional power plants. An industry consortium of small modular reactor (SMR) developers and customers has written to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’to support his request for a departmental study on the nation’s energy security and grid reliability. Their main pitch is that if you want grid stabilty, and CO2 emission free baseload power, SMRs are the way to go. Plus they are a lot cheaper than the the full size reactors. For instance, at $4,000/KW, a 50 MW SMR would cost only $200M. In a multi-unit facility, like the one planned by NuScale for its customer UAMPS, the revenue from the first unit pays for the second and so on. This means the customer is not in a “bet the company” profile waiting for a 1000 MW unit costing $4 billion to come online. The challenge for SMR vendors is to get enough orders to shift production from a complex supply chain and one-at-a-time fabrication to a factory production line to achieve economies of scale. These facts are most likely unknown to the new energy secretary who’s background as a career politican hasn’t instilled much confidence in the industry, although it won’t say that in public. So starting with the obvious, the in May 2 letter the SMR Start consortium highlighted the role that nuclear energy plays in securing the nation’s baseload power diversity and grid stability. “Nuclear energy is reliable baseload power that generates nearly 20 percent of U.S. electricity and is a major reason we benefit from affordable electricity prices today,” the letter said. Perry’s memo to his staff expressed concerns about the potential erosion of the diversity of critical baseload resources, and asked for a 60-day study into how federal policy interventions may be distorting wholesale electricity markets. He also asked whether some attributes of baseload power sources that strengthen grid reliability are being adequately valued and compensated in wholesale electricity markets, and the extent to which “market-distorting” federal subsidies may “boost one form of energy at the expense of others.” This last item is clearly aimed at the need to value the zero carbon emissions profile of the nation’s nuclear fleet. A number of otherwise fully operational nucler reactors have closed due to market conditions that undercut their ability to operate at a profit. They include reactors in Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Vermont, among others. SMR Start’s letter points out that with regard to nuclear energy, the markets are not fully valuing its unique combination of benefits, including “grid reliability, on-site fuel supply, technology diversity, carbon-free generation and long-term price stability.” The letter recommends that the U.S. Department of Energy implement policy solutions to “level the playing field” for the deployment of new reactors, as well as to preserve existing nuclear facilities. This means rate structures have to be set up that will provide confidence for investors to put up the money to developa and deploy new SMRs for commercial use. SMRs, which are expected to begin operating in the mid-2020s, will feature “the ability to better match new generation capacity with electric demand growth, enhance grid reliability through load following in areas with high penetration of intermittent renewables, and the ability to be deployed in diverse applications.” “Federal support for SMRs will continue to be needed in 2018 and over the next several years in order to bring this technology to market in time to meet future energy demands.” SMR Start’s policy paper further recommends that DOE and the U.S. Department of Defense establish programs to develop SMR-powered microgrids that can power remote locations independent of the main grid, making them “less vulnerable” to natural phenomena and intentional acts. TVA Not Bullish on SMRs but Keeps Options Open The Knoxville News reports on May 2 that while TVA has filed an application for an Early Site Permit (ESP) for a small modular reactor at its Clinch River site, it does not feel the technology nor the utility are ready to move ahead with one. The quasi-governmental utility also has a problem with debt ceiling that makes it wary of taking on new capital intensive projects with unknown costs. According to the Knoxville News report, a TVA executive told the newspaper the utility is taking a wait-and-see attitude towards SMRs. He said that the utility has no commitment to build an SMR, but will seriously consider its options once it sees that there is a cost effective design available. For that to happen, he said, the industry would have to have shifted from one-at-a-time unit by unit construction to the production of whole reactor systems in factories. The design would have “to be self-contained and not need much of the infrastructure of a site built reactor.” TVA’s doesn’t specify what kind of SMR technology nor a preferred reactor vendor. NRC spokesman Scott Burnell told the newspaper the agency only requires that the application shows that the site is capable of supporting a “generic set of nuclear power plant characteristics.” (China Daily) The first pilot project to use China National Nuclear Corporation’s 125 MWe ACP100 small modular nuclear reactor has completed its preliminary design stage and is qualified for construction in Hainan province. The Linglong One is the first reactor of its kind in the world to have passed the safety review by the IAEA. ( October 2016 IAEA briefing slides PDF file on capabilities and expected uses) The company said that the ACP100, China’s first small modular reactor (SMR) developed by CNNC for practical use is expected to be built at the end of this year in the Changjiang Li autonomous county of Hainan. Qian Tianlin, general manager of China Nuclear New Energy Investment, said that small-scale nuclear reactor technology has reached a stage at which it can be used on a pilot basis. It can be used to generate heat for a residential district replacing coal-fired boilers and for grid stability in a mesh network. Qian said he expects mass production of the small modular reactors after the pilot project in Hainan is up and running, and for the technology to be exported globally.
News Article | May 15, 2017
MCLEAN, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Delta Tucker Holdings, Inc. (“Holdings”), the parent of DynCorp International Inc. (“DI”), and together with Holdings, (the “Company”), a global services provider, today reported first quarter 2017 financial results. First quarter revenue was $459.9 million, compared to $420.0 million in the first quarter 2016, primarily due to increased content on the Afghanistan Life Support Services ("ALiSS"), Theater Aviation Sustainment Manager – OCONUS (“TASM-O”) and LOGCAP IV contracts, and due to five additional days in the quarter compared to the first quarter of 2016. The increase in revenue was partially offset by decreased volume on the INL Air Wing program and the completion of the Sheppard Air Force Base contract. Net loss attributable to Holdings for the first quarter 2017 was $0.487 million, compared to $14.8 million in the first quarter 2016. The Company reported Adjusted EBITDA of $36.5 million for the first quarter of 2017, compared with $20.5 million for the same period in 2016. “Program performance, as measured by our customers through CPARS, is up. Orders, Sales, Earnings and Cash are all up and improving at accelerating rates,” said Lou Von Thaer, Chief Executive Officer. “Our team accomplished these results through consistent, disciplined execution of our contracts to delight our customers and the continuous improvement of our business development capabilities. I expect 2017 to be a very solid year for the company.” First Quarter Highlights and Other Recent Developments Revenue in the first quarter of 2017 was $134.1 million, compared with $136.3 million for the same period in 2016. The decrease was primarily due to the completion of the Sheppard Air Force Base contract. The decrease in revenue was partially offset by increased content from the T-6 COMBS and Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center ("NAWDC") contracts. Adjusted EBITDA was $4.2 million, compared to $2.4 million for the first quarter of 2016. The increase is primarily a result of the completion of the Sheppard Air Force Base contract. Revenue in the first quarter of 2017 was $153.8 million, compared with $152.3 million for the same period in 2016. The increase was primarily a result of increased content on the TASM-O contract, partially offset by decreased volume on the INL Air Wing program. Adjusted EBITDA was $17.2 million, compared to $9.5 million for the first quarter of 2016. The increase is primarily due to the performance of the INL Air Wing, TASM-O and Regional Aviation Sustainment Maintenance ("RASM-W") contracts, as well as the MD530 subcontract. Revenue in the first quarter of 2017 was $172.4 million, compared with $131.2 million for the same period in 2016. The increase was primarily a result of the increased scope on both the LOGCAP IV program and the ALiSS contract. Adjusted EBITDA was $17.5 million, compared to $10.4 million for the first quarter of 2016. The increase is primarily due to strong performance on our LOGCAP IV, ALiSS, Afghanistan Ministry of Defense and Afghanistan Ministry of Interior programs. Cash used in operating activities during the first quarter of 2017 was $15.0 million compared with $30.5 million for the same period in 2016 and was primarily due to a reduction in accrued liabilities related to interest payments. The unrestricted cash balance at quarter-end was $107.2 million with no borrowings outstanding under the Company’s revolving credit facility. DSO at the end of the first quarter of 2017 was 56 days, the same as year-end 2016 as we continued to focus on managing our customer payment cycles. Bill Kansky, Chief Financial Officer, added, “The Company expects full year 2017 revenue to come in between $1.9 billion and $1.95 billion. The increase in top line guidance is based upon recent wins, including, WRM III, Patuxent River, LOGCAP NORTHCOM, a number of ALiSS task orders, as well as our Navy Expeditionary Force Region contract win. We are also raising the full year 2017 Adjusted EBITDA guidance range to $130 million to $134 million. Our updated guidance includes the contribution from our INL program.” The Company will host a conference call at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on May 15, 2017, to discuss results for the first quarter 2017. The call may be accessed by webcast or through a dial-in conference line. To access the webcast and view the accompanying presentation, please go to http://www.dyn-intl.com, click on “Investor Relations” and “Events & Presentations.” Please go to the site approximately fifteen minutes prior to the start of the call to register, download and install any necessary audio software. To participate by phone, dial (866) 871-0758 and enter the conference ID number: 10221104. International callers should dial (706) 634-5249 and enter the same conference ID number above. A telephonic replay will be available from 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on May 15, 2017, through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 15, 2017. To access the replay, please dial (855) 859-2056 or (404) 537-3406 and enter the conference ID number. DynCorp International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Tucker Holdings, Inc., is a leading global services provider offering unique, tailored solutions for an ever-changing world. Built on approximately seven decades of experience as a trusted partner to commercial, government and military customers, DI provides sophisticated aviation, logistics, training, intelligence and operational solutions wherever we are needed. DynCorp International is headquartered in McLean, Va. For more information, visit www.dyn-intl.com. In addition to the Company's financial results reported in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (“GAAP”) included in this press release, the Company has provided certain financial measures that are not calculated according to GAAP, including EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA. We define EBITDA as GAAP net loss attributable to the Company adjusted for interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Adjusted EBITDA is calculated by adjusting EBITDA for certain noncash items from operations and certain other items as defined in our Indenture and New Senior Credit Facility. Management believes these non-GAAP financial measures are useful in evaluating operating performance and are regularly used by security analysts, institutional investors and other interested parties in reviewing the Company. We believe that Adjusted EBITDA is useful in assessing our ability to generate cash to cover our debt obligations including interest and principal payments. Non-GAAP financial measures, such as EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are not intended to be a substitute for any GAAP financial measure and, as calculated, may not be comparable to other similarly titled measures of the performance of other companies. For a reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures to the comparable GAAP financial measures please see the financial schedules accompanying this release. The Company does not provide reconciliations of guidance for Adjusted EBITDA to Operating Income, in reliance on the unreasonable efforts exception provided under Item 10(e)(1)(i)(B) of Regulation S-K. The Company is unable, without unreasonable efforts, to forecast certain items required to develop meaningful comparable GAAP financial measures. These items include other (loss) income and certain income/expense or gain/loss adjustments under the Company’s debt agreements that are difficult to predict in advance in order to include in a GAAP estimate. This announcement may contain forward-looking statements regarding future events and our future results that are subject to the safe harbors created by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Without limiting the foregoing, the words “believes,” “thinks,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “expects” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. Statements regarding the amount of our backlog, estimated total contract values, and 2017 outlook are other examples of forward-looking statements. We caution that these statements are further qualified by important economic, competitive, governmental, international and technological factors that could cause our business, strategy, projections or actual results or events to differ materially, or otherwise, from those in the forward-looking statements. These factors, risks and uncertainties include, among others, the following: our substantial level of indebtedness, our ability to refinance or amend the terms of that indebtedness, and changes in availability of capital and cost of capital; the ability to refinance, amend or generate sufficient cash to repay our indebtedness, including any future indebtedness, which may force us to take other actions to satisfy our obligations under our indebtedness, which may not be successful; the future impact of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures or teaming agreements; the outcome of any material litigation, government investigation, audit or other regulatory matters; restatement of our financial statements causing credit ratings to be downgraded or covenant violations under our debt agreements; policy and/or spending changes implemented by the Trump Administration, any subsequent administration or Congress, including any further changes to the sequestration that the United States (U.S.) Department of Defense (DoD) is currently operating under; termination or modification of key U.S. government or commercial contracts, including subcontracts; changes in the demand for services that we provide or work awarded under our contracts, including without limitation, INL Air Wing program and LOGCAP IV contracts; the outcome of future extensions on awarded contracts, the outcome of recompetes on existing programs, including but not limited to the ultimate outcome of the recompete process on the INL Air Wing program; changes in the demand for services provided by our joint venture partners; changes due to the pursuit of new commercial business in the U.S. and abroad; activities of competitors and the outcome of bid protests; changes in significant operating expenses; impact of lower than expected win rates for new business; general political, economic, regulatory and business conditions in the U.S. or in other countries in which we operate; acts of war or terrorist activities, including cyber security threats; variations in performance of financial markets; the inherent difficulties of estimating future contract revenue and changes in anticipated revenue from indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts and indefinite quantity contracts; the timing or magnitude of any award, performance or incentive fee granted under our government contracts; changes in expected percentages of future revenue represented by fixed-price and time-and-materials contracts, including increased competition with respect to task orders subject to such contracts; decline in the estimated fair value of a reporting unit resulting in a goodwill impairment and a related non-cash impairment charged against earnings; changes in underlying assumptions, circumstances or estimates that may have a material adverse effect upon the profitability of one or more contracts and our performance; changes in our tax provisions or exposure to additional income tax liabilities that could affect our profitability and cash flows; uncertainty created by management turnover; termination or modification of key subcontractor performance or delivery; the ability to receive timely payments from prime contractors where we act as a subcontractor; and statements covering our business strategy, those described in “Risk Factors” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2016, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on March 29, 2017, and other risks detailed from time to time in our reports filed with the SEC and other risks detailed from time to time in our reports posted to our website or made available publicly through other means. Accordingly, such forward-looking statements do not purport to be predictions of future events or circumstances and therefore, there can be no assurance that any forward-looking statements contained herein will prove to be accurate. We assume no obligation to update the forward-looking statements. Given these risk and uncertainties, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. The Company's actual results could differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements.
News Article | April 17, 2017
CleanTech Alliance announced that Dr. Mark Peters, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will keynote the CleanTech Innovation Showcase 2017 on June 26 in Seattle. Dr. Peters is the first of several keynote speakers to be announced for the event, which is sponsored by The Boeing Company and Seattle City Light. Idaho National Laboratory’s mission focuses on nuclear energy, national and homeland security, and energy and environmental science and technology. The lab has an annual budget exceeding $900 million and employs more than 4,000 scientists, engineers and support staff across a number of facilities. In addition to his role as Lab Director, Dr. Peters also serves as President of the Battelle Energy Alliance and is a senior DOE advisor on nuclear energy technology, research and development programs and nuclear waste policy. Prior to joining INL, Dr. Peters served as Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Global Security at Argonne National Laboratory. Held June 26, 2017, at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, the CleanTech Innovation Showcase is the region’s premier one-day conference focused on technology and business innovation. The event convenes 500+ cleantech industry leaders, investors, policymakers and media. More than 75 companies were featured at last year’s event, including 24 presenting companies. “Idaho National Laboratory and its sister labs play a critical role in advancing the technology innovations that keep our global energy supply and environment safe and resilient,” said J. Thomas Ranken, CleanTech Alliance President and CEO. “Dr. Mark Peters is a central figure in both nuclear energy and national security. He frequently advises U.S. and foreign governments and will share that same expertise with CleanTech Innovation Showcase attendees.” The CleanTech Innovation Showcase spotlights industry leaders, emerging companies and research institutions. The Boeing Company and Seattle City Light are principal sponsors of the event. “The CleanTech Innovation Showcase delivers direct access to the region’s top clean energy and sustainability experts alongside the latest technology innovations and demonstrations,” said Bill McSherry, Vice President, Government Operations at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Boeing is proud to be a significant supporter of this event, and is looking forward to seeing what we can leverage from the next generation of clean technology innovations and initiatives.” “Seattle City Light serves an innovative city that aspires to be entirely carbon neutral by 2050, and we look to new solutions to help us meet these challenges,” said Sephir Hamilton, Engineering and Technology Innovation Interim Officer for Seattle City Light. “It’s exciting for Seattle City Light to support the growth of green technology businesses and jobs that provide software, hardware and infrastructure solutions for City Light and our neighboring utilities.” CleanTech Innovation Showcase registration is now open. Additional branding opportunities are available through several customizable sponsorship and exhibit packages. Contact Kate Kavuma at kate(at)cleantechalliance(dot)org or 206-389-7255 to build a package to meet your branding needs. About the CleanTech Alliance CleanTech Alliance represents more than 300 member companies and organizations across the Northwest region. Founded in 2007 by business leaders, the organization facilitates the generation and growth of cleantech companies, jobs, products and services to advance the cleantech economy. CleanTech Alliance offers a range of business services and benefits uniquely designed to help businesses gain visibility, access services at a lower cost and benefit from public policy. Learn more at http://www.CleanTechAlliance.org.
News Article | April 11, 2017
The unit is scheduled to begin operating later this year. The first of the graphite spheres was loaded within the reactor’s core on April 5. Work on two demonstration HTR-PM units at China Huaneng Group’s Shidaowan site near Weihai city in China’s Shandong province, began in December 2012. The plant will initially comprise twin HTR-PM reactor modules driving a single 210 MWe steam turbine. A proposal to construct two 600 MWe HTR plants – each featuring three twin reactor and turbine units – at Ruijin city in China’s Jiangxi province passed a preliminary feasibility review in early 2015. The design of the Ruijin HTRs is based on the smaller Shidaowan demonstration HTR-PM. Construction of the Ruijin reactors is expected to start next year, with grid connection in 2021. China has been actively promoting its HTR technology overseas and has already signed agreements with other countries – including Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the UAE – to consider the construction of HTGR plants. Last August, China Nuclear Energy Engineering Group signed an agreement with Indonesia’s National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan) to jointly develop an HTGR in Indonesia. (WNN) Each of the graphite spheres for the HTR-PM is 60 millimeters in diameter and weighs about 0.192 kilograms. Every fuel element contains 7 grams of heavy metal. The enrichment of U-235 is 8.5%. The uranium kernels – about 0.5mm in diameter – are coated by three layers of pyro-carbon and one layer of silicon carbon. The coated fuel particles are dispersed in matrix graphite of pyrolytic carbon PyC which is 5cm in diameter. Surrounding the fuel-containing graphite matrix is a 5mm thick graphite layer. The reactor cavity will be filled with a total of 245,318 fuel elements, to a depth of over 11 meters. In 2005, a prototyping fuel-production facility was constructed at the Institute for Nuclear and New Energy Technology with an annual capacity of 100,000 fuel elements. In an innovative partnership tiny X-Energy, a start-up, has teamed with one of America’s biggest nuclear utilities, Southern Co., to collaborate on the development and commercialization of the design of a high temperature gas-cooled reactor. X Energy, LLC (X-energy) announced March 16 that it has commenced the conceptual design phase for its Xe-100 high temperature gas-cooled (HTGR) pebble bed modular reactor. The company also welcomes Clint Medlock, a Southern Nuclear employee, as Program Management Consultant. X-energy held a Conceptual Design Readiness Review on March 8 to validate the baseline design parameters, preparatory documentation, analysis tools, scope of the proposed conceptual design phase (including all planned deliverables), management processes and overall team readiness to proceed on to the next phase of Xe-100 reactor development. An external panel comprised of industry experts from Southern Nuclear, Burns & McDonnell, and Technology Insights was engaged to evaluate X-energy’s preparedness to enter the conceptual design phase. As part of the conceptual design, X-energy and Southern Nuclear deepened their relationship by engaging Clint Medlock on X-energy’s Xe-100 development team as Program Management Consultant. Medlock, a 12-year Southern Nuclear veteran, has 27 years’ nuclear industry experience and has managed several large nuclear design and construction projects. “I am excited to have Clint as part of our X-energy leadership team. His nuclear experience, input, and guidance has and will continue to be invaluable,” said Ghaffarian. “We value our partnership with Southern Nuclear as we move through conceptual design and look towards deployment.” In August 2016, Southern Nuclear and X-energy entered into a Memorandum of Understanding as a step toward commercializing and deploying the Xe-100. Triso Fuel Hold the Keys to the X-Energy / Southern Partnership Neither Southern nor X-Energy explained in their press statements in August 2016 where their R&D work intersects. The technological link between the two projects is Triso fuel. Some GEN IV designs of very high temperature molten salt reactors specify the use of it. The pebble bed design depends entirely on Triso fuel. According to a 2013 report by World Nuclear News, research teams at two US national laboratories ORNL, INL) have found that irradiated carbon-coated Triso fuel particles are even more resistant to extreme temperatures than previously thought, offering potential benefits for reactor safety. TRISO fuel developed and tested at the Idaho National Laboratory was enriched to just over 9% U235. The pebble bed and molten salt designs share another characteristic, and that is both have a negative temperature coefficient that automatically shuts down the reactor if temperatures get too high. The Integral Fast Reactor, a sodium cooled design, also has this safety feature. The structure and spherical shape of TRISO fuel means that it maintains its integrity under extreme heat conditions. TRISO fuel was originally developed in the 1980s and is currently being manufactured in the USA. TRISO fuels are fabricated by BWX Technologies Nuclear Operations Group (Lynchburg, Virginia) that can be formed for use in both the prismatic-block version of the HTGR and the pebble-bed HTGR, depending on the selected reactor design. (Bloomberg) Urenco Ltd., the world’s second-biggest maker of atomic fuel, is is developing a radically smaller nuclear reactors in order to boost demand for its services. The company is developing, in conjunction with Amec Foster Wheeler Plc, a generation of small, modular reactors called “U-Batteries,” CEO Thomas Haeberle told the Bloomberg wire service the firm’s design is expected to be able to generate 10MW of electrical power or for use as process heat. The U-Battery is being developed for small towns and industries operating in areas beyond the reach of large nuclear plants. While a typical reactor generating a 1,000 MW of electrical power would need pervasive grid access and dense populations for profitability, a U-Battery could make economic sense even in more remote areas with less concentrated economic activity. Haeberle said. “It will enable nuclear to grow in areas that big nuclear wouldn’t have access to.” Central to the U-Battery design is its so-called TRISO fuel, a three-layered sphere with a uranium kernel that can withstand very high operating temperatures according to the web site prospectus. The reactor uses helium to move heat via a primary loop from the reactor directly to a turbine or to secondary loop in a steam generator. The company is in talks about conducting trials on a prototype in Canada and Poland and is about to start the licensing process, the CEO said. The construction company Laing O’Rourke Plc as well as shipbuilder Cammell Laird Holdings Plc are also part of the group developing U-battery. (Financial Mail) South Africa a new initiative to revive the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor project that was abandoned in 2010 after years of development. The reasons for halting the project were given as cost overruns, missed deadlines and lack of an anchor customer. Problems were also identified with the efficiency of the reactor for baseload electrical power. Applications for process heat were not fully explored by the R&D program. The intellectual property of the PBMR remained with Eskom, which is revisiting it. Brian Molefe, CEO of Eskom, has asked his team to look again at the PBMR and the new plan is to develop a reactor that is simpler and more efficient than the original design. A small-scale nuclear reactor would fit into a grid mix that includes the intermittency of renewable power. He says the funding for this research is limited and the project is not yet at the stage where he can give a cost estimate for design, proof of concept and commercialization. (Deutsche Welle) President Jacob Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle removed key political figures from government who are opposed to proposals to build more nuclear reactors. These are full size reactors based on conventional light water technologies. The political move also set financial markets on edge and put the South African currency into a new tailspin. South Africa is now being gripped by fresh controversy over plans for expanding its nuclear power program. The new finance minister Malusi Gigaba denied that any deal had been inked with Rosatom for 9.6 GW of nuclear power. The Rosatom offer is for eight light water type VVER 1200 MW units. Gigaba’s predecessor as finance minister, Pravin Gordan, who was fired last week, was a strong opponent of the Russian proposal and the development of nuclear energy in general, largely over cost issues. The new nuclear reactors are expected to cost more than (65 billion euros, $73 billion). Gordan repeatedly warned of the high costs of nuclear projects believing they would plunge South Africa deeper into debt. The ministers for energy and for public works in the old cabinet also lost their jobs in the recent purge of political appointees. Hartmut Winkler, professor of Physics at the University of Johannesburg, told DW that the change in finance ministers is politically motivated. “Zuma fired Gordan so that he could replace him with someone who wouldn’t raise any major objections to the planned nuclear deal,” he said. Rosatom announced that it had sealed a “strategic partnership” with South Africa in 2014 when President Jacob Zuma visited his Russian counterpart Vladmir Putin in the Kremlin. The plan was to build eight nuclear reactors in South Africa with a combined output of 9.6 GW by 2030. News media in South Africa have reported connections between President Zuma and family members of his close supporters. Critics of the nuclear deal claim that the huge project will provide Zuma with a nearly bottomless bucket of patronage for his supporters. DW reported that its research indicated that Rosatom is the favorite to secure the deal. However, Nesca, the state-run nuclear energy corporation, has denied this allegation. The newspaper did not reveal its sources nor publish any documents to back up its claim. South Africa was in the process of collecting bids ESKOM, the state owned public utility said in a written statement. Companies could submit bids until April 28. A number of companies have ready promised do this including major suppliers of nuclear technology from China, France, Russia and South Korea. Eskom would send the paperwork to the finance ministry and the cabinet and was hoping approval for the project before the end of the year. ESKOM has released and canceled tenders for nuclear energy in the past with the cancellations attributed to the lack of financing for the project. South Africa’s economy is in trouble and the currency has been devalued. It’s bond rating now has a “junk” rating and some investment analysts say that downward move is long overdue. The ability of the nation to pay for a $73 billion energy program is beyond its reach even with 50% financing from a vendor taking an equity stake in the project. South Africa’s ruling party on April 9 said the government will have to re-think its costly and highly contentious nuclear expansion program following last week’s relegation of the country’s creditworthiness to junk. Within days of each other, two of the world’s major rating agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, downgraded South African sovereign debt to junk status after President Jacob Zuma’s dramatic ministerial shake-up that saw respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan axed. In 2010 South Africa formulated plans to expand its nuclear power capacity, plans estimated to cost around R1-trillion ($73-billion). The politics of the structure of South Africa’s economy is one of the things that keeps the government in a state of near perpetual turmoil. The new finance minister Malusi Gigaba, told CNBC reporters last week, “The issue of radical economic transformation arises from a criticism that for quite a long time the structure of the South African economy has not been changed. We have not paid sufficient attention to the real economy, to industrializing the economy, to ensuring that we create entrepreneurs and industrialists, particularly among black people.” “No-one can properly define this term” Peter Attard-Montalto, emerging markets economist at Nomura, told CNBC. He added that it was likely to imply initiatives such as faster land redistribution, forced share ownership changes and higher wealth taxes. The goal is to address the fact that around 10% of the population – a largely white cohort – still own at least 90 to 95% of all wealth, according to widely cited research from REDI published last June. The report also made allegations of widespread corruption by President Zuma and his supporters. It isn’t clear whether Gigaba plans for the government to seize assets from the wealthy, but even if he does, it may cripple the very industries that would be the customers for the electricity that would come from the planned nuclear reactor program.
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 | 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 | 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.”