Technology Transfer Opportunities in the National Laboratories
Idaho National Engineering Laboratory
Idaho Falls, ID
Utility Federal Technology Opportunities (UFTO)
This report is part of a series examining technology opportunities at National Laboratories of possible interest to electric utilities
1 INEL Overview & Organization
3. INEL Technologies & Programs
17. INEL Contacts
This report details findings about technology and technology transfer opportunities at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) that might be of strategic interest to electric utilities. It is based on a visit to INEL in August 1995, as part of the UFTO multiclient project.
Noting the tremendous scope of research underway in the research facilities of the U.S. government, and a very strong impetus on the government’s part to foster commercial partnering with industry and applications of the technology it has developed, the UFTO program has been established as a multi-client study of the opportunities thus afforded electric utilities.
INEL began as the National Reactor Testing Station in 1949, to provide an isolated location where various kinds of nuclear reactors and support facilities could be built and tested. By the early 50’s, they could build a reactor and have it operating in 1 – 2 years. A total of 52 reactors have been built, 3 of which are still in operation. It was renamed as a national laboratory in 1974, to reflect its expanding application of applied science and engineering to non nuclear research. The corporate culture emphasizes practical applied engineering approached with a strong “can-do” attitude.
INEL occupies nearly 900 sq. miles of eastern Idaho. The INEL Research Center is close to downtown Idaho Falls, and the main “Site” some 47 miles to the west. Total staffing is 7,500 people, nearly 3000 of which have engineering or science degrees. INEL has evolved into a multi-purpose laboratory, and no longer is focused exclusively on reactors, spent fuel and waste processing, though these continue to major driving forces.
Until October 1994, INEL was managed under parallel contracts with Westinghouse, EG&G and Babcock & Wilcox. When the contracts came up for renewal, INEL was part of the growing trend to put these contracts out for bid (most notably Sandia, which went from 25 years under AT&T to Martin Marietta the previous year).
Lockheed assembled a team called LITCO (Lockheed Idaho Technology Co.) that included Lockheed, Duke Engineering & Services, Rust International, Parsons Environmental Services, Thermo Electron Corp., Babcock and Wilcox, and Coleman Energy and Environmental Services, each bringing specialized experience to the table. Their winning proposal offered a dramatic shift from the traditional cost+fee structure to an incentive fee based on performance measures. One of these measures creates the strongest financial incentive yet seen in a federal lab for the commercialization and spin-off of technology. A lot of money is at stake — Lockheed will have a profit or loss depending on how well they perform.
In January of 1995, Lockheed’s merger with Martin Marietta created Lockheed Martin, putting the management of Oak Ridge, Sandia, and INEL all in one firm. LITCo became Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies (LMIT — which they do not want pronounced “limit” — I suggested “ell-mitt”).
In mid July, Lockheed Marietta announced the formation of a new “Energy and Environment Sector”, bringing into one group all of its DOE lab and facility management activities. This move is expected to have the three labs working much more closely together.
Technology Transfer at INEL
INEL/LMIT is pioneering some dramatically more aggressive approaches to technology transfer. Thermo Technology Ventures (TTV) is a new independent corporation, formed as part of the Lockheed proposal, by LMIT and Thermo Electron Corp, which is well known for its success in spinning off technology startup companies. (See October 9th issue of Forbes for story on Thermo Electron.)
TTV has two distinct roles: one is as a subcontractor to LMIT to do market assessments, entrepreneurial training, and initial business plans. In their second role, they will invest their own money, licensing INEL technologies, obtaining rights, and causing startups and ventures to happen. In a new twist, DOE has an opportunity for an equity interest in TTV. Also, LMIT can take an equity stake in a spinoff, along with license fees or royalties, some of which go to individual inventors.
Perhaps even more dramatic, INEL now has the Technology Exploitation Pilot Project (TEPP), designed to speed the flow of technology into the marketplace. Lockheed Martin was granted flexibility to operate beyond the constraints of current DOE policy and will seek flexibility to operate beyond the constraints of Federal policy and statutes to address contractor requirements for such things as speed, independence and continuity in partnering with American industry. INEL is the onle DOE laboratory implementing TEPP.
LMIT/INEL’s organizational units include Environmental Operations, Nuclear Operations, Site Services, Business Administration, Human Resources, the President’s Office, and the Applied Engineering Development Laboratory. AEDL, the main focus of this report, has approximately 1400 people most of whom report administratively to the “Chief Engineer”, and are matrixed into “directorates”:
Systems Engineering Alternative Energy & Natural Resource Products
System Analysis & Simulation Products Research Products
End-Use Energy Efficiency Products Sensor Products
Environmental & Life Sciences Products Data Access Products
Advanced Nuclear Energy Products
AEDL also has a chief engineer and a chief scientist. Note the heavy use of the term “Products”. There is a strong emphasis at INEL on knowing who the “customer” is and defining the “product”.
• Alternative Energy & Natural Resource Products
Shirley Sandoz, Director, 208-526-4589
This group’s mission is to initiate and execute product programs in energy generation and distribution and natural resource management. It encompasses many of the items discussed in this report, and covers Sustainable Resources, Renewable Energy, Advanced Fossil Fuel, Power Systems, Agriculture and Food Products, and Mining and Mineral Products.
• Technology Transfer Office
This expanded group is headed by soon-to-be-announced vice president who comes from GM, and has three subunits: Technology Administration (TTV, patents, market research, technology evaluation, etc.); Partnerships (client development, licensing, CRADA negotiations, etc.); and the ORTA ( outreach). Contact: Steven Borror, Account Executive, 208-526-3883
INEL Technologies & Programs
Covered in this report:
• Power System Engineering — Reliable Power Systems, Optical PT 4
• Intelligent Distribution Management System 5
• Advanced Fossil Fuel Products 6
• Industrial Biotechnology 7
• Environmental Assessment Technologies 8
Characterization: Vegetation Mapping (GIS), Assessment Guide
• End-Use Energy Efficiency Products 9
Demand Control Ventilation System — “smart” ventilation
Software Tools for Flywheel Design
• Energy and Resource Recovery 9
Fluidized Bed User Test Facility
Re use of radioactive scrap metal
Supercritical Water Oxidation
CerMet filter catalytic destruction of NOx
• Risk Analysis and Management 10
• Human Factors 11
• Visualization 11
• Systems Engineering 12
• Applied Mechanics: Seismic and Structural Analysis Technology 13
• Materials/NDE 14
• Sensors 15
• Systems Dynamic Modeling 16
General Telephone # is (208) 526-0111
• Power System Engineering
Todd Renak, 208-526-8706
Develop, plan, design, test, etc. of electric power systems and associated control and data acquisition systems, supporting the INEL’s own power needs and those of military installations, together with work for DOE, NRC and private utilities.
Operation of the INEL’s power T&D system involves preventive and predictive maintenance, troubleshooting and repair, and design and implementation of major upgrades.
Reliable Power & Alternate Energy Systems Principally for DOD installations, provide technical support for safety and reliability of critical power supply systems, often in extreme remote locations. Design and specify UPS, control systems, integrated/renewable systems. One-of-a-kind engineering analysis and design. Most notable- for the USAF Space Command’s 50 early warning radar stations, which are responsible for first alert and can’t tolerate even the shortest outage, INEL does infrastructure planning and reliability assessments. Designed standby power system at Cape Canaveral. Did turn-key wind farm upgrade for Ascension Island. Gary Seifert, 208-526-9522
Optical PT — High Voltage meter is past proof of concept, and patent application is being prepared, so details are not available just yet. Works by measuring the electric field. Laser light passes through a length of optical fiber located adjacent to the conductor. The sensor package can be quite distant from the associated electronics, connected only by fiber optic cable. The basic idea is well known, but they’ve overcome major practical obstacles by finding a way to cancel out errors. They are also working on a DC version for use in electric vehicles. Contact Todd Renak, 208-526-8706, or Tom Sauerbrun, 208-526-8151.
Transformer Acoustic Emissions — INEL did experimental research on this for the US Naval Civilian Engineering Lab several years ago, and was able to detect acoustic emission correlated with partial discharge in a cast coil transformer. They are seeking funding internally to continue with this work.
While the original work was done on cast coil units, the sensors that were developed could be used just as well to monitor other systems. They would be cheap to make and could be made part of an integrated comprehensive substation monitoring system (i.e. IDMS).
Contact: Doug Freund, Principal Engineer 208-526-8062
• Intelligent Distribution Management System
The Intelligent Distribution Management System (IDMS) is a graphical control and management system used to automate power delivery at electrical substations, distribution equipment, and distributed generation sources from one or more centralized locations. This is a major advancement in supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), offering many more capabilities and functions than existing systems. The IDMS is designed specifically to provide useful and real time information to dispatch operators, managers, billing department, and any operational support personnel who are responsible for operational improvements.
The IDMS combines essential SCADA features, new information technologies, and intelligent controls and diagnostics to provide these functions:
• Cheap reliable integrated system upgrade for substation monitoring and control, capable of unmanned remote operation, and able to use equipment currently in place,
• Supervisory control of remote distribution and generation equipment,
• Rapid detection, location, and isolation of faulted equipment without field personnel,
• Simplification and prioritization of system alarm data during upset conditions,
• Automated set point change control of protective relays and tap changer where required for diverse load and stability profiles,
• Establish distribution equipment performance signatures and anticipated failure trending,
• Schedule preventative maintenance based upon degraded performance signatures,
• Load trending and forecasting,
• Automated metering and billing,
• Transparent interfaces with existing corporate information systems,
• PC-based system suitable for long term (>10 year) manufacturer/maintenance support,
• Easy interfaces with a wide variety of equipment from different manufacturers .
The IDMS provides all of the functionality associated with conventional SCADA systems plus real time access to maintenance management information. The base IDMS is comprised of:
• Graphical user interface software,
• A suite of embedded control software applications,
• A suite of expert system and neural network diagnostic applications integrated to operate on PC-based operator interface stations, and with commercially available field control equipment (i.e., programmable logic controllers, remote terminal units, or imbedded controllers with attached field equipment).
The Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL), with its own distribution system and SCADA , is very knowledgeable about power control technologies, and has developed new technology for DOE and US Air Force to overcome existing product deficiencies. Hence, the INEL developed the IDMS to replace its own aging SCADA system. The system controls and monitors the 138kV (60 MVA total, 40 MVA peak) transmission and distribution system at the INEL via seven substations, spread over 895 square miles of high desert (4900 ft) and severe and variable weather conditions.
The INEL has targeted the Intelligent Distribution Management System as a candidate for commercialization by industry. The INEL development team is also interested in forming a private spin-off company to provide computer system integration services in support of the IDMS. Discussions are under way with several major electrical equipment suppliers who are interested in this technology as a new product offering for the electrical utility industry.
Doug Freund, Principal Engineer 208-526-8062 fax 208-526-2818 FCD@inel.gov
Todd Renak, Product Manager 208-526-8706 fax 208-526-2818 TWR@inel.gov
Tom Sauerbrun, Program Manager 208-526-8151 fax 208-526-4313 TS6@inel.gov
• Advanced Fossil Fuel Products
Richard Rice, Manager, 208-526-1992 David Weinberg, 208-526-4274
This is a relatively new program at INEL, formed in recent years to pull together a number of related activities across the lab, with increasing connections in the oil & gas industries. Principal areas are:
Oil & Gas Exploration and Production — downhole tools, sensor and measurement systems, strategic studies and enhanced recovery — cross well seismic tomography (increasing the number of receivers to 100 from the currently typical three to five); gas-to-liquids conversion of North Slope production (to dilute heavy crude and keep the pipeline full); microbially enhanced oil recovery.
Refineries — LIFE EXTENSION and operating cost reduction, based on INEL’s long experience in doing this for their own reactors. NOTE: refineries have very similar problems and goals as power plants — extend life, improve efficiency, minimize wastes, increase reliability and reduce operating costs. Oil companies are beginning to embrace these goals more actively. See discussion below on applicability of INEL capabilities to power plants and other complex systems.
Other refinery related work deals with processing, e.g. handling heavier higher sulfur fuels, separations, improved catalysts, process modeling. Also measurements and control, e.g. measurement of feedstock chemical composition in real time (directly relevant to power plants, especially coal), leak detection, multi phase metering, and in-service inspection techniques.
Natural Gas Conversion to liquid — to make gas reserves in remote areas economically transportable. Lab results of unique thermal plasma/rapid quench process demonstrate 90% single-pass conversion of methane to acetylene (2x the next-best technology), which can then be catalytically upgraded to higher fuels. Contact: Dick Rice 208-526-1992
Upgrade Process for Heavy Oil and Residuum — uses novel submerged arc. Lab demo of cracking with H2 and CH4. CRADA with Philips. Studying energy balance and economics.
Natural Gas Vehicles — technology to accelerate deployment of NGVs. Evaluating LNG hardware reliability and utility, developing fleet performance data, identifying R&D needs. Demo fleet of converted INEL vehicles & LNG buses. Testbed for compressors and liquifiers. Starting with CNG portable fleet scale fueling system. Contact: Dick Rice 208-526-1992
Inorganic Membranes — INEL has developed a line of inorganic polymer membranes called polyphosphazenes, based on nitrogen and phosphorus rather than carbon, which have better chemical resistance and can operate at higher temperature than organic polymer membranes. These materials have a very versatile chemistry and can be customized for a wide range of applications, such as dehydrating organic liquids, recovering textile dyes from alcohol solutions, and possibly separating SO2 from N2, CO2 from methane, or H2S from methane.
Contact Mark Stone, 208-526-8664
• Industrial Biotechnology
LaMar Johnson, Manager, Biotechnologies Dept., 208-526-1157
Over 60 scientists and engineers, and extensive laboratory and engineering test facilities. Active with agriculture, chemical manufacture, energy, food processing, forest products, mineral processing, mining and transportation industries.
Bioprocessing of Coal — direct attack on the inorganic pyrite sulfur, applying a commercialized “bug” used for desulfurizing oil and coal. Italy has a pilot scale plant, but US coal companies not interested in doing test scale project. INEL has 100 lb./day test facility, but it’s difficult and expensive to do a bioreactor cheaply enough to be practical ($2-10 per ton). Utility interest might get it going again.
Solubility and Depolymerization of Coal — with biocatalysts to convert it to a more valuable fuel and feedstock. Microbial alkali-mediated solubilization would be particularly applicable to lignites. Microorganisms also can remove metal ions and make the coal more soluble in water. Depolymerization could conceivably turn coal into a feedstock for ethanol production, analogous to the bioprocessing of cellulosic biomass.
Biofiltration of NOx and SOx from combustion gases, passing vapors thru a glorified compost. Temperature is critical. Experimental benchtop stage. NOx effort already in a CRADA with a vendor and a utility. Biocube (tm) is an “R&D 100” winner, commercialized by EG&G ROTRON gas phase bioprocessor converts organic (e.g. gasoline) vapors with microbes to CO2 and H2 up to 50 m3/minute. Contact: Bill Apel, 208-526-1783
Biofuel Feedstocks — INEL is part of a 4 lab consortium with ORNL, NREL and ANL. INEL’s role emphasizes economic projections and genetic engineering of microbes, with emphasis on feedstocks for producing higher value products (i.e. not just ethanol!).
Contact: Bill Apel, 208-526-1783
• Environmental Assessment Technologies
INEL espouses a systems approach to natural resource management, and has developed a concept for partnerships with federal and state agencies to bring consistency and integration to data gathering and analysis that feed into policy development and management programs.
Environmental Remediation — The goal is to develop technology to reduce costs by resolving environmental issues, in bioremediation, biofiltration, water treatment, sensor systems and modeling. Some highlights:
Restore Soils/solids contaminated w/ organic compounds using benign solvents. Separate organics from soils, gravel, sludges. Best for heavy oils and MFG sites. Low cost, efficient, modular, on-site. Commercialization is in process for a truck mounted system.
Contact: Greg Bala 208-526-8178
Passive Soil Vapor Extraction uses a check valve on a well head, and makes use of changes in atmospheric pressure to speed removal. For use at a site after vacuum extraction. Cheap and easy. In one current test, 2,300 cu. ft/day of soil gas containing 300 grams/day of solvent are being vented. The full scale demonstration started in FY96. Currently looking for additional sites. Contact: Wayne Downs 208-526-0754
Phytoremediation uses plants to absorb contaminants (e.g. salts) from the soil.
Contact: Melanda Hamilton, 208-526-0948
Characterization: (Center for Integrated Environmental Technologies)
Contact Bob Breckenridge 208-526-0757
Vegetation Mapping (GIS) — includes principal component analysis of Landsat data and integration with USGS maps, with field verification to do some reclassifications. Useful for long term monitoring and assessment of habitat diversity, extent and condition, and for planning management strategies.
Site Assessment and Restoration — a practical approach has been developed to identify important environmental concerns that need to be addressed during exploration, development and restoration of a site. It also can be applied to previously developed sites, and should improve the relationship between developers and regulators. It incorporates understanding of important ecological and environmental concepts, working to maximize the ecological potential rather than attempt to restore a site that has been denuded of native ecological resources.
In one major application on Air Quality in Class 1 Wilderness Areas in the Northwest (for the “Western Energy Storage and Transmission Consortium” involving which includes several utilities), a Kepner-Tregoe decision technique was used to develop criteria and evaluate indicators to assess potential associations between utility emissions and the air quality and condition of ecological resources in Class I wilderness areas. The significance of this is that by-the-book compliance with all monitoring requirements would be both absurdly expensive and unproductive, and a more pragmatic and scientifically credible program would be far preferable for all concerned.
• End-Use Energy Efficiency Products
Demand Control Ventilation System (DCVS) — “smart” ventilation
Indoor Air Quality is a growing concern to commercial/industrial customers and building owners, and the current ASHRAE standard 62-89 is energy intensive and has high first and operational costs, as the only way currently to meet standards is with high air-change rates.
Using internal R&D funds, INEL has begun an initiative to develop systems of hardware, software, sensors and controls that would monitor actual levels of CO2, NO2, SO2, VOCs, humidity, etc., and thereby set ventilation rates to control actual air quality rather than at arbitrary high rates. Also, other specific countermeasures can be undertaken.
INEL is looking for HVAC and other industrial partners and utility collaborators, to help advance this concept as a new aspect of “smart buildings”.
Contact is: Jane Clemmensen, 208-526-2915
Software Tools for Flywheel Design — INEL is proposing to develop special application of finite element analysis and flywheel design optimization software, to reduce design and prototyping costs. INEL would license the software to flywheel developers and use it in-house, as part of a positioning strategy to become an independent test lab. Jane Clemmensen, 208-526-2915
• Energy and Resource Recovery, John Collins, Manager, 208-526-3372
Fluidized Bed User Test Facility — INEL’s process steam plant (135,000 lb/hr) is the only test facility of its size and type in the DOE system. In partnership with NREL, RW Beck and Solid Waste Integrated Systems, they’ve done test cofiring of pelletized waste paper with coal. Extensive capabilities exist to perform test burns for other alternative fuels. Private users can contract to do burn characterization and emission studies.
Re use of radioactive scrap metal — DOE has over 200,000 tons, and utilities could generate as much as 200,000 tons over the next 20 years. In 8/94, INEL formed the Northwest Consortium with PGE (Trojan) and SMUD (Rancho Seco) to reduce the cost of decommissioning. They have developed a process of melting the material, with most radiative components going into slag. The recovered metal is fabricated into low level waste containers, multi-purpose canisters and other applications where residual radioactivity is not an issue. Overall costs for disposal of irradiated metal should be dramatically lower than other disposal options. In fact, utilities could form a consortium to use INEL’s own scrap metal!
Supercritical Water Oxidation — Water at 3200 psi and 700 F is used to destroy organic materials. INEL has a benchscale unit, and several commercial companies have pilot plants. Some practical problems remain to be solved. INEL has led the DOE effort to develop this technique to treat hazardous mixed waste. With INEL’s unique off gas treatment, the processes boasts near zero discharge (“closed cycle”), and is being actively pursued for application for pulp and paper sludge, halogenated hydrocarbons, and radioactive organic resins. An international symposium sponsored by DOE/EM and organized by INEL was held in Florida in February, and proceedings are available.
CerMet filter catalytic destruction of NOx — at bench-scale research stage, in collaboration with a paper company, to remove corrosive fly ash which fouls black liquor recovery boilers. Being tested to catalytically destroy NOx and SOx generated by these boilers. The filters, made of intermetallics and ceramic oxides, will be cheap to make and have high thermal shock and oxidation resistance.
• Risk Analysis and Management
Tim Leahy, Manager, Nuclear Risk Management Technologies, 208-526-4944
Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) — INEL is internationally known and respected for its work in risk assessment, which applies equally well to non-nuclear facilities as to nuclear ones. INEL does all PRA training for the NRC and DOE. PRA involves the identification of plant vulnerabilities and potential safety enhancements, distinguishing what is important. This helps build risk-basedarguments to work with regulators to, for example, avoid a shutdown on a technicality, and to develop less costly ways to reach a given level of safety.
Reliability, Availability, Maintainability (RAM) Analysis — Reduces the time that critical systems are non-operable. INEL has a package of methods and software tools for RAM Engineering, most of which are not licensed to nuclear utilities (Yet! — ways will be found to handle the potential conflict of interest, as this work is chiefly done for the NRC.) In the meantime, there’s nothing to stop application by utilities to non-nuclear facilities.
RELAP5 is an exception, in that there is widespread use by utilities (the utility user’s group costs $5K/year) as well as by the NRC and groups around the world. Developed at INEL, it predicts thermal hydraulic behavior in power plants (transient multiphase, multi-component flow and energy transfer in complex piping and vessel systems, with additional modules for pumps, turbines, valves, etc.). It has even been used to model blood flow, and is a later version of EPRI’s RETRAN code.
Safety and Hazards Assessment — chemical, physical, machinery — identify accident sequence precursors.
Increased Capacity Factors — is the goal of several ongoing programs. INEL is collaborating with MIT in a Chemistry Consortium, doing research on increasing the time between refueling outages of nuclear plants. There is also work in reactor physics to find ways to modify surveillance intervals and technical specifications, and then to work with regulators to change regulations.
Plant Life Extension — INEL has extensive experience, especially having dealt with its own special purpose reactors. PRAISE is probabilistic fracture mechanics software. LWR aging studies. (see below)
Operator licensing exams – In the past, INEL has always done this for NRC, however the responsibility is now being turned over to licensees. INEL maintains a question bank, specific to each reactor type in the country, and could continue to support this activity directly
RELAP5 Simulator — In current training simulators, the modeling of extreme accidents is not as detailed as it might be, and can lead to unrealistic situations. INEL is forming a CRADA with a vendor to develop a simulator that would use RELAP5, with SCDAP severe accident code taking over the simulation of the plant behavior after a fuel melt. Utilities could get involves early in this program. Contact Jim Bryce, 208-526-8231.
There is a significant trend towards risk-based regulation, and towards a more collaborative and less confrontational relationship between plant operators and regulators. Licensees/ operators who understand this and learn how to make it work for them will save money. INEL is a technical advisor to the NRC, which has done two policy papers outlining this concept. Licensees have an opportunity to maximize the value of this to themselves, and to propose new maintenance plans based on their recent IPEs (individual plan examination)
• Human Factors Contact: Harold Blackman, 208-526-0245
INEL has 15 human factors professionals on staff, who do programs for the NRC, DOE, DOD, Coast Guard, NASA and increasingly for industry, especially oil & gas. The key is to define the human’s role and optimize his performance in “Human-Centered Systems Analysis.” Other tasks include design and evaluation of the human-machine interface, and the development of selection and training criteria for specific jobs. It is very much multi-disciplinary, involving psychology, industrial engineering (ergonomics), organizational development, life sciences, criminology, and nuclear and systems engineering.
Principal research topics at INEL include interface (GUI) design, human reliability/error analysis, incident investigations, and study of the effects of advanced technology on human performance.
NUCLARR (Nuclear Computerized Library for Assessing Reactor Reliability), is a database for probabilistic risk assessment that includes human error probabilities as well as hardware failure data, and allows full treatment of human performance along with hardware performance in PRAs. Originally funded by the NRC, it is now owned by INEL, which maintains it on behalf of a paying user’s group of utilities and engineering firms. Contact is Wendy Reece, 208-526-9933
Also for the NRC, programs include risk impact of new technologies (e.g. are new technologies necessarily better?), modeling and evaluation of human performance in medical applications, and detailed human factors events investigations at commercial nuclear power plants.
For DOE there is work in safety analysis at DOE facilities, display design and development, and human reliability analysis. For the US Coast Guard, INEL developed taxonomies and methods for event investigations, and for the Air Force, they applied verbal protocol analysis in the development of cognitive models for pilot situation awareness.
Human-computer interface design, there is experience and knowledge that can make an important difference towards optimizing performance. For example, dark lettering on a light background is far preferable to the reverse, which nevertheless is too often used. INEL provides guidance in the design of CRT displays and the design of the control room for the advanced test reactor.
• Visualization Eric Greenwade, 208-526-1276
Visual presentation of data is a tool for communication which attempts to take advantage of the very high “bandwidth” of human vision and thereby present information in a meaningful way and permit “data exploration” of large amounts of data. Visualization is thus a data reduction process in itself. INEL has developed an Integrated Visualization Environment (IVE) which allows the rapid building of visual interface applications into systems.
• Systems Engineering Finis Southworth 208-526-8150
Lockheed’s proposal to DOE to manage INEL presented two major themes: one was commercialization, and the other was systems engineering. Systems Engineering is at the heart of Lockheed Martin’s entire approach to management. It has a long history as a codified set of practices, and is common in the aerospace industry. When Lockheed took over at INEL, a Systems Engineering Directorate was set up, drawing together pockets of expertise from around INEL and bringing in some talent from Lockheed itself.
Why do it? In INEL’s own words:
1. So we never do anything without a reason (and have traceability)
2. So we do what we’re required to do, and know what’s in and out of scope (so the customer knows exactly what to expect)
3. So we do a complete system version of the job (dealing with everything that can affect the main focus)
4. So we emphasize only important factors and influences
5. So we “control” all factors which affect success or failure (control all inputs and outputs, and understand all risks to success)
What are the Steps?
1. Define requirements (customer needs)
2. Define Functional system
3. Synthesize/Create Approaches
4. Trade off risks and benefits of different approaches
5. Validate by measuring how well each requirement was met
As practiced by Lockheed and now by INEL, Systems Engineering would appear to be very similar to the standard sorts of project management techniques, but on closer inspection it clearly goes much further.
One major success– In 1988 the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board got the job to oversee DOE’s nuclear facilities. It’s tiger teams made visits and put together the review report “94-1 Stabilizing Nuclear Fuels.” But DOE had no way to respond to the recommendations. At that point, DOE was given the lead responsibility, and INEL was hired to do a systems engineering analysis. Their Technical Requirements Document was issued in mid 1995, and a process is now on track. This performance led to INEL being selected recently to perform a similar function following the issuance of “94-2” on Low Level Nuclear Waste.
INEL has recently been contacted by several major utilities to look into the feasibility of applying systems engineering principles instrategic planning during deregulation.
Activity Based Costing (ABC)
ABC is another basic management tool which enjoys growing popularity among many of the largest corporations. In simplest terms, it identifies core business processes, activities and tasks, and then determines their cost. It then goes on to identify the products and services provided to customers by each process, and then determines the value added content, outputs, and cost drivers for each. Importantly, it cuts across organizational boundaries. One very interesting feature is the careful distinction it provides between mandated, vs. non-mandated, and value-adding vs. non-value-adding activities. Non-mandated non-value-adding activities should be the first candidates for elimination in any cost cutting or re-engineering program.
INEL has a methodology and analysis software to support ABC, and is currently supporting several studies and has responded to requests by utilities who want to reduce non-value added costs.
• Applied Mechanics: Seismic and Structural Analysis Technology
A. G. (Jack) Ware, Principal Engineer 208-526-1267
R. L. Bratton, Staff Engineer, 208-526-1579
Staff of 25 engineers with range of expertise and experience for structural evaluation. All engineering mechanics analysis techniques, both fluid and solid. Structural and stress analyses applicable to concrete, steel, foundations, explosions, earthquake effects, bridges, buildings and components. Frequent participants in national standards committees.
Design and Analysis — capabilities for design and project management. Tools include solids modeling (state of the art finite element models, visualization, interference assessment), thermal and stress modeling (linear and nonlinear, large and small deformation, high temperature, fracture mechanics, finite element models e.g. ABAQUS).
Field portable vibration test equipment used in U.S., Germany and Taiwan. Played a key role in changing pipe damping parameters ins the ASME code, reducing the requirements for piping hardware. Array of experimental mechanics test equipment, such as shaker tables, etc.
Capabilities have been applied to blasts (e.g. armor vs. ordnance) fatigue, seismic, preservice qualification, failure analysis, NDE and other consulting activities.
NRC Fatigue Action Plan — INEL reviewed fatigue analyses of critical components in 7 nuclear power plants, applied newly developed curves accounting of environmental effects, and was able to remove conservatisms in some instances, and evaluate implications for plant life extension.
Seismic — design, analysis and test of fuel storage racks, plant walkdowns around the world, and seismic qualification. Damage assessment and prevention. Regulatory compliance.
Failure Analysis and prevention — root cause analysis for steam explosive pipe rupture, predicting bearing failure through condition monitoring, vibration failures of small pipes.
• Materials/Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE)
James Seydel, Manager, Materials Physics Dept., 208-526-600
NDE at INEL involves the application of a wide variety of techniques (acoustic, optical, vibration, etc.) to systems ranging from buildings to a textile fiber.
Laser Acoustic Sensors — Non-contact ultrasound and vibration sensing via laser can examine hot pipes, tanks, etc. in process. Can measure depth of molten metal pool (patented). Working with oil companies to look at corrosion and fracture phenomena; with EPRI in pipe inspection; and with the steel industry in the intelligent processing of castings, on-line inspection of slabs and coils, measuring temperature continuously in massive steel melts, and detecting slag carryover during basic oxygen furnace tapping.
Lifetime Extension — INEL has extensive experience beginning with the operation of their own reactor facilities under conditions different from design, and extending to the Advanced Test Reactor, commercial plants, and oil refineries. The approach begins with a detailed review of all components and systems, followed by a prioritization based on importance (cost of repair, impact on safety and availability, etc.). The next phase examines all that is known about these components (operating history, records, NDE, etc.) and an analysis of possible failure mechanisms. When specific data is lacking, e.g. for old materials, proxy data are sought. All degradation processes are considered (embrittlement, fatigue, corrosion, erosion, etc.), along with whatever processes were not considered in the original design.
The research approach to plant life extension involves:
– Quantify of fracture toughness as result of time-at-temperature
– Correlate changes in fracture toughness with NDE results or sample measurements
– Develop procedures for predicting end-of-life
– Establish weld repair practices for aged materials
– Develop NDE sensing techniques for use on-line (high temperature) and during scheduled maintenance to monitor aging materials, as noted earlier. They pioneered automated transducer systems in the 1970’s, and commercialized the AMDATA system with EPRI in the 80’s
INEL has long experience with Lifetime Extension Sensors development, e.g. for on-line crack propagation, fracture toughness measurement, and large components and structures
Welding Vision System — novel way to diagnose welding problems. A very short ( 10 microsec.) laser pulse swamps out the welding arc, and a synchronized video camera gets a clear view of the weld spot.
NDE — INEL reviews utilities’ Section 11 plans for the NRC, so they can’t work directly for commercial nuclear power plants, but the expertise is applicable in other areas, such as fossil power. Extensive programs are underway with the oil industry, whose refineries have many of the same issues as power plants — aging equipment and a need to reduce costs, increase reliability and safety, and extend operating life. INEL’s capability may be less well known than they should, as they tend to publish in journals not typically read in the utility industry.
Jack Slater, Department Manager, Optical and Plasma Physics, 208-526-7544
This group works on Optical measurement and sensing, and on plasmas for waste stream processing and corrosion/wear resistant coatings.
Optical sensing uses colormetic coatings for process control when the chemical of interest is known; spectroscopy for general chemical analysis, and interferometry for positional measurements, e.g., for stress field visualization. Optical sensors have some very desirable characteristics: they can be used in-situ and in real time; they can withstand harsh environments, and tend to be self calibrating. The overlap of INEL’s capabilities with the needs of the utility industry include: air emissions monitoring, T&D sensors (see above optical PT), incipient failure sensors, large sensor arrays, and material degradation history.
Oil Leak Detector uses an optical fiber that can be distributed over a large area or distance and detect the presence and location of an oil leak. Initiated for oil pipeline applications, it promises high sensitivity, and should be considered for use with oil-filled cable, transformers and other equipment.
Moiré Interferometry — novel technique can visualize stress field and history of a sample
Particulate Analysis — system identifies chemical composition and size of dust particles — will be demonstrated at a buried waste remediation site to provide immediate indication of the presence of heavy metals.
High Speed Gas Spectrometer — all solid state system developed for DOE’s Energy Management program for use during remediation digs, is being demoed at the Mound Site. There are no commercialization plans as yet for this all solid state portable system.
• Systems Dynamic Modeling
Michael Bray, Manager, Infrastructure Analysis Products 208-526-4714
Donald Sebo, 208-526-4467
Systems Dynamics, first popularized in the 70’s by Forrester at MIT and more recently by Peter Senge in the “Fifth Discipline”, analyzes behavior over time of a system as a whole, rather than as isolated parts.
In complex systems, obvious solutions often fail to produce intended results and may produce unintended side effects; cause and effect may not be closely related in time; the effects of feedback over time are not intuitive, and there is resistance to change often resulting from feedback loops. Policy formation requires an understanding of these dynamics–an archtypical example–building freeways to relieve traffic congestion has the opposite effect.
The system modeling process proceeds from a statement of the problem and definition of its scope, customers and stakeholders and their decision frameworks. A causal loop diagram is developed based on the system and its dynamic drivers — those influences that impact its current and future behavior.
Often, the diagram “model” is sufficient to bring important new insights and identify strategies, however it is also possible to mathematize the model and create a “simulation” to get detailed predictions and scenarios. Of course, “soft” variables can be difficult to quantify. There are a number of generic software packages that INEL uses, depending on the application.
INEL has applied these techniques to revitalization of nuclear power, spent nuclear fuel, and intermodal transportation at the Port of Lewiston, and have done simulations for INEL’s own transportation/fleet systems, waste streams, and EIS alternatives. They’ve also studied the national high level waste issue and alternate fuel vehicles.
Success depends on realizing that simulations are best used for learning rather than precise predictions; that model building is a process and not something to produce “answers”; that the users/customers must be involved in the process; and that everyone must keep biases and assumptions clearly in mind.
Applications in the Utility Industry — there are many areas that could benefits from this kind of analysis, such as customer retention, impact of regulatory changes, vehicles fleet standards, impact of new technologies (fuel cells, alternate fuels, etc.), distributed generation, and corporate re-engineering.
Interestingly, the DOE Idaho Field Office is working with DOE headquarters in an attempt to get a handle on the possible outcomes of utility industry competition and restructuring, but they’re having a hard time getting a clear picture. Different utility companies have dramatically different outlooks and plans for their own strategic directions, and industry observers likewise have widely ranging views of what is and will be happening. The results of the study will be used in part to determine what research projects will be funded by DOE in future years. This effort offers utilities a way to input their ideas about DOE research priorities!
Larry Redd, DOE Idaho Operations Field Office, 208-526-5288.
INEL Contacts (general phone # is 208-526-0111)
The primary contacts for UFTO are:
Tom Sauerbrun, Utility Program Manager,
208-526-8151, fax 208-526-4313, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Borror, Account Executive, Technology Transfer Office
208-526-3883, fax 208-526-0953, email@example.com
Information Source Contacts:
Office of Public Affairs : Greg Ossmann, 208-526-4436
This report is proprietary and confidential. It is for internal use by personnel of companies that are subscribers in the UFTO multi-client program. It is not to be otherwise copied or distributed except as authorized in writing.