Fuel Cells Discussed on Investors Net Radio Show

The information presented in these interviews is pretty basic, starting with a primer on the big changes underway in the utility industry. Hugh Holman (see the UFTO home page for his earlier report) is one of the very few Wall Street analysts concentrating on energy technology. He makes a good case that this area could be the “next big thing,” and we’ve already had a taste of it starting this January.

The programs give a good overview perspective on fuel cells, and it’s interesting to hear spokesmen from Plug and Ballard explain their positioning and strategies, and to hear the financial reporters starting to “get it.” We have to remember that most people know very little about all of this — maybe these shows can help us explain it to friends and family ( “and management?” . . . no . . better not say that).

You can listen to the archived broadcasts over the internet, using RealPlayer, or order transcripts.

(PR Newswire article this morning)

Fuel Cell or ‘Fool Cell?’ Engines Highlight ‘Tech Check’ Radio With CIBC Analyst Hugh Holman and Paul Lancaster Of Ballard Power Systems

Is the venerable but polluting internal combustion engine in autos and buses about to go the way of black and white TV? How long will it be until we’ll be speeding along the roadways emitting nothing more toxic than water vapor?

To hear the latest developments in the race to bring the first commercially produced and priced fuel cell engines to transportation users worldwide, tune in to [Wed Mar 29] today’s “Tech Check” Radio program produced by Informed Investors Radio.

. . . Vancouver, BC-based Ballard Power Systems (Nasdaq: BLDP) has made great strides in developing PEM (proton exchange membrane) technology and is a leader worldwide in developing fuel cell technology for transportation uses. It also has a major commitment in stationary and portable power segments. Paul Lancaster, VP of Corporate Development, will discuss Ballard’s most recent developments and answer questions.

Analyst Hugh Holman of CIBC World Markets is again a guest. In last week’s program, Holman largely focused on fuel cell companies providing stationary power for residential use and other stand-alone markets, with a particular emphasis on developments at Plug Power (Nasdaq: PLUG).

This week, Holman will discuss fuel cells and transportation. Also, listeners of last week’s program sent provocative questions relating to Canadian company Global Thermoelectric (Toronto: GLE) and its solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) program. Holman will discuss pros and cons of the PEM vs. the SOFC.



March 22, 2000 –PART 1
[this link will immediately start downloading the RealPlayer audio file]

Honey, Don’t Forget to Pack the Fuel Cell.
Soaring energy costs have rejuvenated thoughts of alternative energy. Meet some of the players.

Theme: Sector news–especially the tech sector–from the analysts, fund managers, industry pundits and company executives is the focus. Expect timely, in-depth news for improving investment decisions.

Snapshot: With gas prices rising faster than the Fed Funds rate, Wall Street has discovered fuel cell companies. Developments in this nascent, but potentially enormous industry will almost certainly have major effects on both the transportation and power generation industries. To get the inside scoop on what is powering the surge in the fuel cell-related stocks, catch analyst Hugh Holman of CIBC World Markets and Gary Mittleman, CEO of Plug Power (Nasdaq:PLUG).

March 29, 2000 –PART 2

Energy Tech Part 2: Fired Up About Fuel Cells
Another look at this exploding group, which may change the way we fuel our cars and homes. Ballard Power Systems is scheduled, and so is Hugh Holman, an energy technology analyst at CIBC World Markets. He’ll review types of fuel cells, industry drivers and trends, and what to watch the rest of the year.

Snapshot: “Energy Tech Part 2: Fired Up About Fuel Cells” Having set records for traffic last Wednesday, we’ll take another look at this exploding group, which may change the way we fuel our cars and homes. Ballard Power Systems is scheduled, and Hugh Holman, Energy Technology analyst at CIBC World Markets, returns to review types of fuel cells, industry drivers and trends and what to watch the rest of the year.

Sag Line Mitigator Update

Progress is excellent.

1. Utility Lineman Perspective:
2. Revised Test Plan
3. Opportunities

———–background info—————
Previous UFTO Notes:

— Sagging Line Mitigator; Mon, 08 Mar 1999

This unique device would replace or work with standard insulated hangers on power transmission towers, to counteract the effect of temperature on the sagging of overhead transmission lines. This allows increased line ampacity (load current capacity) of existing lines during curtailed summer months, reduced tower heights, and/or increased tower spacing. This device will significantly reduce the risk of forest fires and outages caused by sagging lines, increase the efficiency of energy transfer, delay the need for additional line capacity, and delay the construction of new lines.

— T Line Sag Mitigator Gets Funding; Partner Wanted; Tue, 29 Jun 1999

— US Patent No. 5792983 Aug. 11, 1998
Abstract: The invention used devices that change in length as a function of temperature to mitigate sag in a suspended line. The devices have actuators which change in length as a function of temperature. This change in length is transferred to a linkage mechanism, such as a cog or disc, which amplifies the change in length and changes it to rotational motion that tensions the suspended line. Therefore, the same change in temperature that causes the suspended line to sag will cause the device to actuate a rotary motion that reduces line sag.

Progress is excellent.

1. Utility Lineman Perspective:

Earlier this month, the construction coordinator for T&D reliability at a major utility visited the company to discuss the role of a Lineman in transmission line work and to provide input on the current SLiM design, functionality, and its proposed installation procedure.

The visit began with a review of the SLiM overall concept, the current design status, and current challenges, providing the relevant information he needed to evaluate the device from a Lineman’s perspective. After seeing the 3D computer animation of the SLiM models and the full-size mockup, he was very optimistic about how SLiM would be received by both T&D operators and lineman: “…if this device does what it is designed to do, it should sell like hot cakes!…” His view on the installability of the device was that it would be relatively simple to do using existing installation procedures and equipment.

The second topic of discussion involved a detailed review of installation procedures for SLiM and line attachment hardware. Previously three methods of line contact had been identified for SLiM: compression dead-end, preformed dead-end, and mechanical jaw grip dead-end. Based on this meeting, two methods of attachment were considered as the most common to be used by utilities; compression dead-end and strain clamp dead-end (new, not previously considered). Each attachment method would have its own installation procedure for live line work; “Bare Hand” technique and “Hot Sticking” technique respectively. These procedures will be outlined in detail in a future report once they are completed.

– The SLiM concept was seen as a very attractive method of resolving sag related issues,
– The SLiM device would require nothing more than standard installation procedures and equipment, and
– General guidelines will be developed for SLiM installation techniques using utility experience and knowledge.

2. Revised Test Plan

To demonstrate the functionality and integrity of the device, the company has decided to replace the original plan to test the device in the field with a host utility, with a plan to do controlled tests in a laboratory setting.

Reasons for the change– field testing appears not to be feasible, and won’t get the needed information:
– Field testing at a remote site does not allow sufficiently close testing control to measure all relevant parameters at the right time.
– Field testing on a real line significantly limits our response and our ability to efficiently implement design changes that may be required (and are identified) as a result of testing.
– Field testing, most probably, will not impose the device to the extreme conditions at which it needs to be tested. Furthermore, it only would test for a specific environment that is not applicable to other conditions.
– Convincing a utility to install these devices on heavily transit lines in nearly impossible and installing them on light-duty loads would be almost useless.

The new plan:

— Utility Survey and Testing Site.
The objective of this new task will be to conduct a utility survey, generate awareness and interest amongst utilities about the product, and solicit a host siting for part of testing.

— Conduct lab and field testing, improve/optimize designs, finalize the product design.
The test plan will be implemented by a series of lab and “field” testing. These tests will be conducted “interactively” in environments that are controllable and manageable. Test results will be used to improve designs and retest if necessary. The final outcome of this task will be a device or a family of devices which will have passed all testing requirements such that they will function as intended when installed on actual power lines.

3. Opportunities

1. Suggestions for who might be able to help them with the survey?
2. Active participation in the development– advisory, in-kind, investment, testing.
3. Suitable lab needed- business arrangements to be determined. An RFP will be issued in a few weeks. Let me know if you’re interested.

Contact: Dr. Manuchehr Shirmodhamadi
Material Integrity Solutions, Inc., Berkeley, CA
510-594-0300 x202 mshir@misolution.com

Powercosm: George Gilder Brings a New Paradigm to Power

Here’s some “big picture” stuff. George Gilder, who’s staked himself a huge role as prophet of the internet, is now tackling energy as well, with the help of two longtime energy industry figures. There are some challenging ideas here for all of us.

If you have the patience,
Part 1 of this Note, gives a flavor of how his influence and view of the internet.
Part 2 is the announcement of a new conference “Powercosm”.
Part 3 is a beginning guide to the basic thrust of the argument that “power,” i.e. electrical energy, will be networked much like data is today.

” . . . the single most powerful new technology investment opportunity for the next five years… Electricity in the digital age of silicon powerchips.”


Part 1. Excerpts from an article in the current (March 25) issue of the Economist, page 73:

” . . . Mr Gilder reflects on the revolution in progress today. And while he thinks, America waits with baited breath.

It is known as the “Gilder effect.” Sometime in the first half of each month, an e-mail emerges announcing the imminent arrival of the next utterance. At the appointed hour, tens of thousands mob his website. Those who get through to the server speed-read eight pages of technology, then scan a list of firms. Having noted an addition here, an omission there, it is off to the day-trader races. In the past year, Novell, Qualcomm, JDS Uniphase, Terayon Communication, TeraBeam and others have seen their reputations soar within minutes of publication of the Gilder Technology Report.
. . .
Mr Gilder is America’s foremost technology prophet, a reputation he earned with “Microcosm”, published in 1989, a book on the implications of the semiconductor revolution. Yet it is still odd that his words have such immediate impact.
. . .
The market-moving is relatively recent, dating back only a year or so. His influence on the technology industry goes back much farther. It stems from Mr Gilder’s chief insight about technology, which itself stemmed from his experience as one of the architects of Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economic views. (One of Mr Gilder’s many incarnations: others include political speechwriter and controversial author on such topics as sex and race.)
. . .
It is all, inevitably, about supply and demand. Mr Gilder’s insight was to spot the transition from the age of computing to that of networks. What was scarcest in the computer era (bandwidth, or network capacity) would soon become cheap and abundant. And what was once abundant (big computing’s power, transistors and space) would become relatively scarce, in an increasingly mobile world of small, rather simple devices connected to others using a ubiquitous network.

Moore’s law predicted that, for any given price, computer-processing power would double every 18 months. Its lesson, says Mr Gilder, was “waste transistors”. That meant building software and businesses on the assumption that computing power would be virtually free; the transistors we “waste” to play PC solitaire exceed what NASA could muster when it launched its Apollo missions. Gilder’s law says that communications capacity will triple every 12 months. And his corollary is “waste bandwidth”. As communications become cheap, work will shift from smart devices to a swarm of interconnected, dumber ones that are tiny and cheap.
. . .
What distinguishes him from other wired pundits is his understanding of the technology, from the atomic level of semiconductors to the economics of wire-laying. He does his homework, seeking out engineers sooner than company bosses, and grilling them in excruciating detail.
. . .
He credits his insights to the advice of his academic mentor, the semiconductor pioneer Carver Mead: “listen to the technology”. But with the world’s markets echoing to the sound of his own voice, that gets harder all the time.”


Part 2. Powercosm

The conference was first announced to Gilder’s “Telecosm” 60,000 subscribers, and is modelled after the conference by that name that he’s held annually for 3 years. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Powercosm sold out in the first two days, and wasn’t promoted in other circles.

I’m told the conference operates very differently from most we’ve all been to. It’s limited to 250 registered attendees. The speakers are the CEO’s and movers and shakers in companies that are leading the changes that are the conference theme. There is a lot of discussion, debate and participation.

http://www.powercosm.com/conference.htm ————————————-
From the desk of: George Gilder

Thank you for your interest in my upcoming conference, Powercosm™: Powering the Telecosm, to be held at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort in San Diego, CA, June 14-16.

Just as I did 3 years ago with my Telecosm Paradigm, I have decided to launch and devote an entire conference to a new paradigm, the Powercosm™. It may just be the most important event for technology investors this year. (And that’s saying a lot. It’s going to be a great year!)

The real purpose of this conference is to get my subscribers in EARLY–no Yahooers need apply–on what I consider the single most powerful new technology investment opportunity for the next five years… Electricity in the digital age of silicon powerchips.

The Telecosm and the Internet Economy will make the broad electric technology sector one of the most dynamic investment sectors in the economy (reaching below and beyond the realm of traditional electric utilities). We stand at the threshold of technology-driven changes in power as deep and profound as those that began the telecom revolution two decades ago. And that’s the reason why you have to come to San Diego!

I’m creating the Powercosm™ conference in partnership with my good friend, Peter Huber, and his colleague, another brilliant technologist, Mark Mills. Together, they edit the newly launched Digital Power Report, a monthly investment strategy report published by Gilder Publishing. (If you haven’t already seen the premier issue, download a free copy here.)

Peter and Mark are today’s premier authorities on “powering the information age.” Their prescient and groundbreaking analysis, delivered monthly in the Digital Power Report, will help you uncover emerging investment opportunities in an industry poised for unprecedented growth in the next few years.

And the Powercosm™ conference will be the kick-off event for this new paradigmatic investment opportunity. Limited to only 200 top investors and business leaders, the conference will feature an overview of the paradigm itself, followed by specific presentations on Powerchip Fabricators, Powerchip Integrators, Network Technologies, the “High-Nine” Power Technologies, and Overall Technology Integrators. I have no doubt that in the coming decade of the Powercosm™, there will emerge companies that are the technological analogs of Intel, Oracle, AMD, AOL and Qualcomm.

We will feature Peter Huber and Mark Mills (as well as your humble servant) as speakers and panelists, of course. But equally important for you, we will highlight discussions by and with the leading players within the new, wide open Powercosm™, including top business leaders from the new and emerging market leaders such as American Power Conversion, Silicon Power, Emerson Electric, American Superconductor, Surepower, Capstone, Calpine, CREE, and many others-many of which you may not have heard of before.

George Gilder


Part 3. A Beginning Guide

On the Powercosm homepage ( http://www.powercosm.com/ ) there is also an invitation to subscribe to a new monthly newsletter “The Digital Power Report”, by Peter Huber and Mark Mills. (Mark will be familiar to many of you from his long involvement with electrotechnologies.) The free Inaugural issue, available for download from the website, is titled “The PowerChip Paradigm.” Under “articles” there are also a number of columns the authors did for Forbes Magazine, and other work including Congressional testimony.

Drastically oversimplifying, the ideas are:

1. The devices that make up the internet (the boxes) use a lot of electric power, as much as 8% of the entire US consumption. There are other complicated effects, e.g. economic growth, efficiencies, wealth effects, reduced reliance on oil, etc. Mill’s Congressional testimony in particular presents one side of quite heated (sorry for the pun) arguments. The opposing view would have it that the internet doesn’t result in an increase in energy use at all, and thus is a great friend to the environment.

2. The internet infrastructure requires a far higher quality of power than we’re accustomed to — many 9’s of reliability — and this demand is much better supplied with “short wire” devices, that is, distributed resources providing generation and storage close to the load.

3. This is the big conceptual blockbuster. Most of us think of “bits” as being “virtual.” They do, however, have a physical reality. Electrons (or photons) must move in order for the bits to go from one place to another.

The basic physics of moving small numbers of electrons is not fundamentally different from moving large numbers of electrons. And in fact, the silicon devices to switch, control and move large amounts of power are evolving rapidly.

PowerChips will soon make it possible to handle enable power in much the same way as bits
are today, so power will be managed in packets sent along a switched network “grid”.

The conventional view is that the transmission grid is more like the gas pipeline system — a big, physical structure. This analogy is wrong. Gas pipelines move stuff — molecules. Electrons, in small or large batches, are different.

Biomass Cofiring

A couple of UFTO utilities have expressed an interest in biomass cofiring, so I followed up with Sandia and also found some other resources also which you may find useful.


First, the new National Energy Technology Lab website for global climate change has a lot of information on the subject:



The 1995 UFTO report on Sandia had this brief summary on the Combustion Research Facility (CRF) that Sandia operates at its Livermore CA site…

“Over 1000 Sandia employees are located in facilities in Livermore California, and operate several special facilities, one of which is the Combustion Research Facility, the only one of its kind in DOE. Can handle industrial scale burners to 3 million BTU/hour. It is a “user facility” and outside visitors and users are encouraged. Partnerships with industry include GM, Cummins and Beckman Instruments and many others. Developed a number of specialized flame/combustion observational, measurement and diagnostic techniques. Provided fuel blending strategies to midwest utilities to meet SOx requirements. The Burner Engineering Research Laboratory is a user facility for industrial burner manufacturers.”


The CRF “Multifuel Combustor” website is currently under construction:


The CRF continues to be a significant contributor to combustion science, and in particular has amassed a major database of the combustion characteristics of over 50 different biomass fuels, most recently in the context of cofiring with coal. This work has been funded mostly by DOE, and includes information on emissions, carbon burnout, ash, and corrosion/deposition.

They’re also doing extensive computer modeling of coal, biomass and coal-biomass cofiring combustion. The coal modeling is under EPRI sponsorship, so that work is available to EPRI members. The dedicated biomass boiler modeling (stokers, etc.) is publicly available. The intellectual property issues associated with the coal-biomass cofiring are currently being sorted out, but it will be at least available to EPRI members and possibly to everyone.

For addition information, contact:

Larry Baxter 925-294-2862; baxter@ca.sandia.gov
Sandia National Labs, Livermore, CA


Larry has generously supplied a copy of a brand new overview paper. Here are the first couple of pages. I have the complete 8 page overview as a (100k) Word document, which I can send on request. Larry has a more detailed article that he is willing to send to interested parties. Also, see below for some earlier reports, and a link to an upcoming American Chemical Society meeting session.



Larry Baxter, Allen Robinson, Steve Buckley and Marc Rumminger Sandia National Labs, Livermore CA

March 2000

This document presents guidelines for cofiring biomass with coal in coal-fired boilers. These guidelines are based on the results from pilot- and commercial-scale tests using a variety of biomass fuels and coals. Guidelines are offered in each of six general areas of major concern when cofiring biomass with coal: (1) fuel preparation and handling; (2) pollutant emissions; (3) ash deposition and deposit properties; (4) fuel burnout; (5) corrosion; and (6) fly ash utilization. For each of these areas, a brief statement of the issue and a brief guideline are summarized. More detailed information can be found at the cited website and in the references.

Summary of Cofiring Guidelines

We believe the following guidelines are generally valid, but there are specific instances where each of them is not valid. The discussions in the literature and web site provide the background to determine when such instances arise.

Fuel should generally be prepared and transported using equipment designed specifically for that purpose rather than mixed with coal and simultaneously processed.

Wood-coal blends generally reduce NOx emissions. This reduction is traced to lower fuel nitrogen content and higher volatile yields from biomass. SOx is nearly always reduced proportional to the reduction in total fuel sulfur associated with combining biomass with coal.

Deposition rates from blends of coal and biomass vary strongly with the type of biomass fired. Most wood-coal blends reduce both the rate of deposition and the difficulty managing the deposits. Some biomass-coal blends, in particular high alkali and high chlorine fuels, severely increase deposition problems.

Complete conversion of the carbon in biomass fuels requires that the fuel be processed to small particle sizes and be moderately dry. Particles generally need to be less than 3 mm (1/8 inch) to completely combust. Fuels that pass through a quarter-inch screen are generally dominated by particles less than 1/8 inch. High moisture contents (greater than 40%) and high particle density both significantly increase the time required to completely combust the particles.

Fuel chlorine and alkali concentrations should be limited to less than one fifth of the total fuel sulfur on a molar basis to avoid corrosion problems. This limit should be applied to the fuel composition as fired through any single burner except in the rare case of rapid and complete mixing of in the furnace.

Fly ash from wood-coal cofiring generally does not significantly degrade fly ash performance as a concrete additive. However, strict interpretation of current standards for inclusion of fly ash in concrete preclude mixed ashes, including biomass-coal ashes. Fly ash from many herbaceous fuels may negatively impact concrete properties.


Concerns regarding the potential global environmental impacts of fossil fuels used for power generation and other energy supplies are increasing in the U.S. and abroad. One means of mitigating these environmental impacts is increasing the fraction of renewable and sustainable energy in the national energy supply. Traditionally, renewable energy sources struggle to compete in open markets with fossil energy due to low efficiencies, high cost, and high technical risk.

Cofiring biomass with coal in traditional coal-fired boilers (subsequently referred to as cofiring) represents one combination of renewable and fossil energy utilization that derives the greatest benefit from both fuel types. Cofiring capitalizes on the large investment and infrastructure associated with the existing fossil-fuel-based power systems while requiring only a relatively modest investment to include a fraction of biomass in the fuel. When proper choices of biomass, coal, boiler design, and boiler operation are made, traditional pollutants (SOx, NOx, etc.) and net greenhouse gas (CO2, CH4, etc.) emissions decrease. Ancillary benefits include increased use of local resources for power, decreased demand for disposal of residues, and more effective use of resources. These advantages can be realized in the very near future with very low technical risk. However, improper choices of fuels, boiler design, or operating conditions could minimize or even negate many of the advantages of burning biomass with coal and may, in some cases, lead to significant damage to equipment. This document reviews the primary fireside issues and guidelines for implementing coal-biomass cofiring.

Fuel Characteristics

The biomass fuels considered here range from woody (ligneous) to grassy and straw-derived (herbaceous) materials and include both residues and energy crops. Woody residues are generally the fuels of choice for coal-fired boilers while energy crops and herbaceous residues represent future fuel resources and opportunity fuels, respectively. Biomass fuel properties differ significantly from than those of coal and also show significantly greater variation as a class of fuels than does coal. As examples (see Figure 1 and Figure 2), ash contents vary from less than 1% to over 20% and fuel nitrogen varies from around 0.1% to over 1%. Other notable properties of biomass relative to coal are a generally high moisture content (usually greater than 25% and sometimes greater than 50% as-fired, although there are exceptions), potentially high chlorine content (ranging from near 0 to 2.5 %), relatively low heating value (typically about half that of hv bituminous coal), and low bulk density (as low as one tenth that of coal per unit heating value). These properties each affect design, operation, and performance of cofiring systems.


Published papers available on cofiring:

Robinson, A., Baxter, L. L., Freeman, M., James, R. and Dayton, D. (1998) “Issues Associated with Coal-Biomass Cofiring,” In Bioenergy ’98Madison, Wisconsin.

Robinson, et.al. (1998) “Interactions between Coal and Biomass when Cofiring,” In Twenty-Seventh Symposium (International) on Combustion Combustion Institute, Boulder, CO, pp. 1351-1359.

Baxter and Robinson (1999) In Biomass: A Growth Opportunity for Green Energy and Value-added Products, Vol. 2 (Eds, Overend, R. P. and Chornet, E.) Elsevier Science, Ltd., Oxford, UK, pp. 1277-1284.

Baxter and Robinson (1999) “Key Issues When Cofiring Biomass with Coal in pc Boilers,” In Pittsburgh Coal Conference Pittsburgh, PA.

Baxter, Robinson, and Buckley (2000) “The Potential Role of Biomass in Power Generation,” In Biomass for Energy and Industry: 1st World Conference and Technology Exhibition Seville, Spain, to be presented.

Baxter, et.al. (1997) “Biomass-Coal Cofiring: Imperatives and Experimental Investigations,” In 3rd Biomass Conference of the Americas Montréal, Ontario, Canada.

Baxter, et.al. (2000) “Cofiring Biomass in Coal Boilers: Pilot- and Utility-scale Experiences,” In Biomass for Energy and Industry: 1st World Conference and Technology Exhibition Seville, Spain, to be presented.

Buckley, et.al. (1997) “Feasibility of Energetic Materials Combustion in Utility Boilers: Pilot-scale Study,” In 1997 Spring Meeting of the Western States Section of the Combustion Institute Sandia National Laboratories’ Combustion Research Facility, Livermore, CA.

Junker, et.al. (1997) “Cofiring Biomass and Coal: Plant Comparisons and Experimental Investigation of Deposit Formation,” In Engineering Foundation Conference on the Impact of Mineral Impurities on Solid Fuel Combustion Kona, HI. Robinson, A., Baxter, L. L., Freeman, M., James, R. and Dayton, D. (1998) “Issues Associated with Coal-Biomass Cofiring,” In Bioenergy ’98Madison, Wisconsin.

Robinson, et.al. (1997) “Fireside Considerations when Cofiring Biomass with Coal in PC Boilers,” In Engineering Foundation Conference on the Impact of Mineral Impurities on Solid Fuel Combustion Kona, HI.

Robinson, et.al. (1997) “Ash Deposition and Pollutant Formation when Cofiring Biomass with Coal in PC Boilers,” In EPRI Coal Quality Conference Kansas City, MO.

Robinson, et.al. (1997) “Pollutant Formation, Ash Deposition, and Fly Ash Properties When Cofiring Biomass and Coal,” In Engineering Foundation Conference on the Economic and Environmental Aspects of Coal Utilization Santa Barbara, CA.


1998 Tech Review — Sandia Combustion Research


-Coal and Biomass Combustion
-Cofiring Biomass and Coal to Reduce CO2 Emissions from
Coal-Fired Utility Boilers
-Thermal Conductivity of Ash Deposits Formed in Utility Boilers
-Mineral Matter Evolution during Coal Char Burnout


1997 Tech Review — Sandia Combustion Research


Scroll down to — “Coal and Biomass Combustion”

-Carbon Burnout Kinetic Model Developed for Pulverized Coal Combustion;
-Ash Deposit Property Analysis
-Pollutant Formation and Ash Deposition When Cofiring Biomass and Coal
-Formation of Ash Deposits in Biomass-Fired Boilers
-Combustion Properties of Biomass Pyrolysis Oils


AUGUST 20-24, 2000
Washington DC.


Division of Fuel Chemistry:

· 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments: A 10-Year Assessment
· Inorganics in Fossil Fuels, Waste Materials, and Biomass:
Characterization, Combustion
· Waste Material Recycling for Energy and Other Applications
· Fossil Fuels and Global Climate/CO2 Abatement
· Solid Fuel Chemistry
· Chemistry of Liquid and Gaseous Fuels

DOE Final POST Report on Outages

Report of DOE’s Power Outage Study Team (POST) was released this morning.

“Findings and Recommendations to Enhance Reliability
from the Summer of 1999”

(This morning’s Wall Street Journal also broke the story.)

REF: UFTO Note – DOE Power Outage Study
Date: Thu, 06 Jan 2000

The interim report was released in January, and a series of workshops were held around the country in the last week of January. Perhaps your company was represented.

This final report makes summarizes workshop findings, and makes recommendations.

It is available (pdf acrobat) at: http://www.policy.energy.gov
or the POST webpage at: http://tis.eh.doe.gov/post/

(It should be there by the end of today.)

Printed copies of the can be obtained from the department’s Office of Public Inquiries by calling 202/586-5575.

—- DOE press release —————

March 13, 2000

Energy Department Issues Recommendations to Help Prevent Power Outages

Richardson Receives Power Outage Study Team Final Report

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson today received the department’s Power Outage Study Team final report on electricity outages and system disturbances during the summer of 1999. The report contains the team’s findings and recommendations of appropriate federal actions to help enhance electric reliability, and avoid the types of problems that occurred last summer.

“While demand for electricity is soaring along with the use of computers, fax machines and other appliances in our homes, offices and factories, the reliability of our electric grid is, at times, faltering, mainly because policy makers haven’t kept pace with rapid changes in the electric utility industry,” Secretary Richardson said. “But today’s report can be a blueprint for how we will work to keep the lights on and air conditioners running in America’s cities this summer.”

The report states that competition in the electricity industry can save customers money and help with improved reliability. The institutions and practices that provided reliable electric service in the past will need to change along with ongoing economic reforms.

The report makes the following 12 recommendations, each of which includes specific action items for federal consideration:

– Promoting market-based approaches to ensure reliable electric
– Enabling customer participation in competitive electricity markets;
– Removing barriers to distributed energy resources;
– Supporting mandatory reliability standards for bulk-power systems;
– Supporting reporting and sharing of information on “best practices;”
– Enhancing emergency preparedness activities for low-probability,
high-consequence events on bulk-power systems;
– Demonstrating federal leadership through promotion of best
reliability practices at federal utilities;
– Conducting public-interest reliability-related research and
development consistent with the needs of a restructuring
electric industry;
– Facilitating and empowering regional solutions to the siting of
generation and transmission facilities;
– Promoting public awareness of electric reliability issues;
– Monitoring and assessing vulnerabilities to electric power
system reliability;
– Encouraging energy efficiency as a means for enhancing reliability.

“Federal electricity legislation is an essential component of the effort to help alleviate power outages this summer,” Secretary Richardson said. “Congress must move ahead to make changes in the federal statutory framework to provide the certainty that is needed to achieve reliable electric service in competitive wholesale and retail markets.”

Secretary Richardson formed the team, made up of power system experts from the Energy Department and its national research laboratories, as well as universities, following a series of power outages that crippled parts of New York City, Chicago and other communities across the nation during the past summer.

The final report follows an interim report issued in January that described events and findings on six power outages and two additional power disturbances. The team held three technical workshops across the country to invite comment and input on the appropriate federal role to help avoid future power outages. Over 150 individuals attended one or more of the workshops and over 70 entities submitted written comments.

Startup Company to Develop Wireless Sensors

The June 1998 UFTO Report on Oak Ridge National Lab has this brief entry in the section on Instrumentation & Controls:

… “Wireless Sensors: Spread-spectrum technology is being used in conjunction with sensors-on-a-chip to eliminate instrumentation-related wiring in a plant. Sensors can be added or moved as needed. There is a potential for coupling with global positioning system (GPS) technology, so that the sensor can report its exact location, in addition to other measured data. ” …

I recall being intrigued with the idea that sensors could be deployed inexpensively, almost on the spur of the moment, and in as many inaccessible places as you wanted, throughout a power plant or substation — to monitor temperature, noise, vibration or any other parameter. It makes a lot of sense.

The group at Oak Ridge has continued work on the concept, but hasn’t been able to move forward on building actual devices, for lack of funding and external partners. A nice presentation can be found at http://www.ornl.gov/orcmt/wireless.
An acrobat presentation of theirs can be downloaded at:

Independently, a new company, Sensitron, was formed here in Silicon Valley. The founders had come up with the same concept, and they’re pursuing it vigorously. Oak Ridge has indicated they’re more than willing to work with them to turn this into a reality.

Their schedule is ambitious: 3 months to breadboard demo, 12 months to field testing of prototype, 18 months to production, 24 months to integrated 2nd generation design.

One of the principals approached me (at our daughters’ Y-Basketball game!) to explore whether UFTO utilities might be interested in working with them (a good example of how UFTO is always on the lookout!).

Here is their summary. Please let me know if you’re interested.
Or you can contact: Blake Putney, 650-960-5948, putneyb@hotmail.com


Wireless Monitoring Systems to Reduce Utility Maintenance Costs while Increasing Reliability

Recent developments in semiconductor, spread spectrum communications and micro-sensor standards and technology have made it possible to create complete wireless monitoring systems (WMSs) on a single chip the size of a dime. These sensor systems will be capable being cheaply deployed and connected with computer networks. Users will be able quickly deploy these systems to monitor virtually anything anywhere. Our system uses unlicensed communications bands that can be deployed on a site by site basis, without requiring an investment in a wide area cellular communications network. The potential market for these sensors in enormous, from industry, military, hospitals to home applications. The widespread availability of these systems has the potential to impact society in a similar manner as the Internet.

Although the technical feasibility of these systems has been demonstrated, a number of barriers exist for this technology to become a viable business. Existing markets are fragmented, revenue streams from near term applications are insufficient to attract investments from large organizations, and few sensor-oriented companies have the expertise in the technologies necessary to create an integrated product in silicon.

The initial market chosen for the sensors is to monitor conditions of equipment, and locations within electric utilities’ facilities. Deregulation is forcing electric utilities to get the most out of their equipment and staff. Our system will provide a utility the ability to track the health of all their assets remotely and provide the immediate access to information via their computer network. The sensors needed include temperature, vibration, and stress monitors.

This market was chosen because of the simple design requirements for the sensors, high value of these facilities, and the large expense of installing existing instrumentation solutions (up to $1000 per foot of cable). By reducing the cost of connecting a sensor to less than $150 per point, our wireless system will revolutionize maintenance practices at these facilities. The sales potential for WMSs in this market is over $250M at very high margins.

A key aspect of success is to create a complete system that minimizes the needs for components to be developed by third parties. Our system will involve subsystems for the sensor, field deployment and database configuration, and a receiver that collects data and is connected to an Ethernet. For the sensor subsystem, we are creating a modular CMOS chip design including each of the required elements (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), Controllers, and R-F). The installation of this system will be simple enough to be deployed directly by end-users.

Sensitron is looking to attract utility partners that are interested in deploying wireless sensors to reduce operations and maintenance costs, while enhancing system reliability. Our utility partners will gain early benefits of deploying the system, and have the opportunity for equity participation in our enterprise.