Bulletin #15

UFTO Bulletin #15

October 31, 1995
To: UFTO Members:

. . in this issue: . . . . . . . . .

Many many things – please review carefully

1. “Fossil 1.0” — This is a first very rough start at the “sort-by-topic” objective of Year 2 of UFTO. I’m calling it a “Topic Resource File”. It’s a simple cut & paste from all previously released UFTO reports, showing any material that might be interesting to somebody in the fossil generation business. Try it out on your fossil people.
– Is this helpful?
– What more/different should we try next (in terms of format, editting and content)?
– What other “Topics” would you like to see?

We’re also considering various electronic schemes. Please think about how you want to use/file/store/distribute UFTO information, and let me know what you think might work for you, and any suggestions or ideas you have on the subject. (What do your information specialists suggest? Are there any new tools and techniques?)

2. Speaking of Topics — UFTO is co-sponsoring an”Electrotechnologies Conference”, March 27-29, 1996 in Tampa FL, with Electrical World and the ElectroTechnology Marketing Group. I sent you an email about this on October 30, to see if any of you want to be a utility sponsor. The deadline for first ad to appear in the December issue of Electrical World is Nov. 1. If you want more details now, let me know.

This is a great opportunity to learn about electrotechnologies that are out there, and to promote your own. It’s also a great way for us to do one of our UFTO “topical conferences”. We can have our own session the day before or the day after…. thoughts? reactions?

3. “Technology Strategy Benchmarking” — A couple of our member utilities have asked me to do a study of how various utilities are handling new technology, and where it fits in their business strategies. (Note that we did not say “R&D Benchmarking”!) They wondered if any of their fellow UFTO members would like to cofund it.

This would be along similar lines to the project I did for PG&E two years ago (now out-of-date, with so many changes since then) that you’ve all seen. How are efforts funded, organized and measured, and what is their business purpose? The survey will draw from a variety of primary and secondary sources, and will not rely primarily on interviews. Results to be delivered by early December.

This project is separate from UFTO* . If you are interested in cofunding it and sharing in the results, the cost will be $2000, which can be offset by designating some of your utility’s individual UFTO consulting time and/or by contributing “in-kind” information. Please let me know by 11/6 if you want to participate.

*(Unless there’s a unanimous vote to include it in place of other UFTO activities)

4. Technology 2005 — I attended the big NASA sponsored tech transfer conference in Chicago last week, and used the opportunity to begin to figure out how to tackle the Dept of Defense, NASA and the Dept. of Agriculture, and to determine key contacts and information resources for each of them. Manyinteresting technologies were there to be discovered. See the attached sampler.

Other highlights of the show–numerous innovative transportation technologies, such as new engines, injectors and turbine designs from Australia. DOE Ames Lab may turn out to have some things we’ll want, like a way to reduce transformer core losses that’s much easier than amorphous metal, and practical magnetic refrigeration. The Nevada Test Site wants your business with its unique remote indoor and outdoor test facilities and sensor and detector systems. The Kansas City Plant excels at manufacturing, and is starting a new initiative called Factory America–they’re sending more information.

5. Sandia’s Russian-U.S. Fuel cell conference in September was a huge success. The Russians have an operating 100kW PEM powered vehicle. Gazprom is funding development of a small PEM unit to be placed along its gas pipelines for cathodic protection. A U.S. company is quietly negotiating for rights to the PEM technology (and it’s not Ballard or GRI!). Another company is going after some of the Russian Solid Oxide work. Proceedings from the conference should be available in a few weeks.

6. INEL Fuel Cell — INEL has a unique approach to Solid Oxide Fuel Cells…They weren’t quite ready to talk about this item when we released the INEL report…..

INEL Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Several novel innovations have been demonstrated with the goal of making a 20-100 kW solid oxide fuel cell for disbursed power applications such as remote ranches, factories and homes. The innovations are a cell interconnect layer and fuel manifold that is also a catalyst for internal reforming of hydrocarbon fuels, furnace brazing between cells, and layered thin film fabrication via liquid injected plasma. Several patents have been filed, but a fairly low profile has been maintained vis a vis the fuel cell community.

INEL is looking for cooperative research partners who will assist in funding research. INEL has not licensed any intellectual property or distribution rights. These would go to CRADA partners.

Contact Paul Lessing, Principal Investigator 208-526-8776 or Dennis Cheney 208-526-9557.

7. I’ll be going to Brookhaven and Savannah River in the next 4-6 weeks.

Administrative Stuff

a. Lab Contacts: Both of our original contacts at Argonne have left, and our man at Livermore changed jobs. An updated list will go out in the next mailing. Stand by for more changes in the days ahead.
b. Contacts at PNL — Please check your copy of the PNL report to see if there’s a Page 14 “Contacts”. I’ll send you one if it’s missing.



• AMTEC (alkali metal thermal to electric conversion) has been under development by NASA Lewis for a long time. With a sealed unit as small as a D-cell, or much larger, a startup company says it’s ready for bonafide commercial applications, starting with remote power generation (replacing less efficient thermoelectric units). Put them in a gas furnace, and homes could stay warm in spite of blizzard-caused power outages.

• CO to CO2 catalyst operates at room temperature. NASA needed to save the power used to heat catalysts on satellites. It also forms the basis of a very cheap CO sensor. A startup seeking funds has exclusive rights for sensors, firefighter masks and other key applications, and a possible shot at automotive exhaust. Rochester Gas & Electric has the rights for air treatment. (Think about smart buildings applications.)

• Bolt Analyzer — Patented PC notebook based system using commercially available load sensor and torque wrench attachments. . NASA Goddard is looking for a commercializer. Analyzes bolted joint coeff. of friction and stress, does non-destructive testing of threaded fasteners, and can verify lubricants, etc, reducing preload error in bolt tightening.

• Ultrasonic Leak Detector — handheld unit used by NASA during pre launch, distinguishes high frequency acoustic signature of jet-type leaks (non-laminar flow) from noisy background. NASA looking for a commercializer.

• Fiber-Optic radiation dosimeter — Naval Research Lab developed this for naval reactors, and wants to it to the commercial world. Excellent for hot cells, confinement, and storage monitoring.

• Oil Dialysis — electrostatic oil cleaning has applications in lubricating, hydraulic, insulating, and fuel oil. Units are on the market. It gets oil cleaner than new, removing submicron particles. Oil lasts longer, reducing disposal volume. Already tested in tap changers by two utilities. Can decontaminate radioactive oil. Business plan/offer memo available.

• Turbogenerator — a 24 kW unit weighs only 165 lbs. and could be mass produced for $2000. The turbine and the generator are on the same rotor shaft (the only moving part), and it burns diesel, natural gas or gasoline. Low emissions. Orginally designed for a hybrid vehicle application, it may represent a breakthrough for distributed generation. A number of units are in operation. There are a few unanswered questions, e.g. longevity, reliability, and variable duty performance.

(Disclosure: I have or may seek a finders agreement with some of these companies. EB)

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