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Top Energy Collective Voice for 2018 – Dan Yurman

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Every week thought leaders, working in the power industry, dedicate their time and resources to contribute their insights with the Energy Central Communities. 

So, who stood out in 2018 and who should you be reading? 

Over the next several weeks we will be introducing you to some of these leaders and their top contributions.   We hope you will take a minute to learn a little about them, read a few of their shared insights and perhaps start a discussion through commenting on their post.  

Please meet Dan Yurman, one of our top voices for The Energy Collective in 2018:

Dan Yurman, Owner, DJYSRV

A little bit about Dan: 

What you like to write about?

I like writing about new technologies in the commercial nuclear power industry. I spent two decades working at the Idaho National Laboratory (1989-2009), with over half of that time involved in technology transfer work done with the lab's scientists and engineers. Commercializing technology innovation is at the heart of it.

Post or posts you are most proud of?

 This one, regardless of date, is at the top of my list.

* The Case for a Nuclear Energy Investment Bank

The nation needs a government backed investment bank to secure capital at reasonable interest rates for development of advanced nuclear reactors.

This blog post describes the kinds of mechanisms that could be developed to provide the capital and financing sources that are the missing links in the chain of events that need to be completed for nuclear start-ups to get the one thing they need most - customers.  

& & &  

For 2018 this post is a good example of technology innovation and matching it with the industrial capacity to make it successful.  

* India Doubles Down on Domestic 700 MW PHWR Design  

India's installed nuclear power capacity is expected to rise with the addition of 12 new nuclear reactors. Nine of the new reactors to be built and completed by 2032 will be the new 700 MW PHWR design developed by India.

The design does not require a reactor pressure vessel (RPV) like a PWR or BWR. This is important because India does not have the manufacturing capability to produce the large forgings needs to make RPVs. However, it does have the heavy industry necessary to produce the all of the components to build PHWRs in volume which are needed to help the nation meet its climate change priorities.  

When do you do your best writing?  

I write on Sundays which is a quiet day for me to think as well as to write.  

How do you measure success?

In the eleven years that I have been blogging about nuclear energy, I have always valued the most comments from readers that say, "you know that piece you wrote about technology 'X,' well we just did something with that technology at our company to take it to the next step." 

It is a source of personal satisfaction to learn that readers are engaged with the content and following developments in the industry I write about and tracking their own progress with them as a result. It means that my voice online is part of their view of the next stage of advanced reactors.

One thing most readers may not know about you?

 I publish annually at Thanksgiving a recipe for "Idaho Nuclear Chili" which has turned out to be very popular over the years.  Readers write in with suggestions for "improvements."  The best one so far is to sweeten the sautés of the peppers and onions with bourbon instead of cooking sherry.

 The reason I publish is that over the holiday weekend by Sunday night you will be stuffed, fed up, literally, and figuratively, with turkey. Instead of food fit for pilgrims, try food invented to be eaten in the wide open west - chili. Cook this dish on Saturday. Eat it on Sunday. Take it to work for lunch on Monday.

Your favorite story of 2018?  

* Argonne's IFR to Live Again at Point Lepreau, New Brunswick  

ARC Nuclear and New Brunswick Power (NB Power)  have agreed to work together to take the necessary steps to develop, license, and build an advanced small modular reactor (SMR) based on ARC Nuclear’ s Gen IV sodium-cooled fast reactor technology.  

The ARC-100 will bring back and commercialize a technically mature, advanced reactor technology that was created and proven by a U.S. prototype reactor that ran successfully in the United States for 30 years which is the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR). ARC has made significant proprietary advances to the original EBR-II design in order to create the ARC-100.

What story fell flat in 2018?

It's hard to answer that question because a flop in one year can sometimes become a hit in the next. I am still seeing readers accessing articles written in 2015! Stories that don't do well initially sometimes take off months or years later. So, I'm reserving judgement on 2018 since some stories, like fine wines, take time to blossom onto their full potential.  

Best book you read in 2018?

I worked for NASA Glenn for a couple of years and acquired from that job a lasting interest in the scientific field of astrobiology. The book that captured my interest is Caleb Scharf's "The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities"

 He writes that "life here is built from the most common chemistry in the universe, and we are a snapshot taken from billions of years of biological evolution."

So the question is, what kind of life developed elsewhere in the universe and how? After 14 billion years, and with the immense size of the universe and all of its physical and chemical diversity, logic says we can't be the only intelligent life form out there.

 Important stories to watch for in 2019?

Despite the passage of two important pieces of legislation that promote new reactor designs, it's not a certainty that Congress will enact or fund nuclear technology and research and development to the extent necessary to get new concepts to market or to more explicitly link investments in nuclear energy to climate change legislation at least in the short-term.

Craig Piercy, the Washington representative for the American Nuclear Society (ANS) said about this, "2019 will be a year of building on our past progress."

In other words, don't expect the new laws to enable nuclear energy developers to be able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound. Incremental progress is a more likely outcome.

Key progress will likely be seen with small modular reactors using well understood light water reactor technologies such as NuScale's design.

Developers of molten salt reactors are still transitioning from the R&D stage to commercial development. So, they are working with a much longer time to market. Gaining investor confidence beyond the "angel" stage will be the biggest challenge for them.

What's great about what is happening is that utilities are looking at time to market for useful innovations. This will produce a demand factor that will drive them to try to get early, hands-on, looks at innovative reactor designs.

DOE's labs are responding to these changes, and with the new partnering arrangements made possible by recent legislation, are already working to be much more involved in joint development efforts with nuclear energy entrepreneurs.

Finally, it is starting to dawn on investors in renewable energy technologies, like solar and wind, that baseload power to keep the grid stable can be had by relying on the 24 x 7 performance of nuclear reactors which also are carbon emission free sources of electricity.

It makes no sense to put fleets of electric cars on the road if they are powered by fossil fuel plants with their CO2 emissions. Decarbonization of the electricity generation sector is a big, big, long term story.


Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 25, 2019 5:26 pm GMT

Audra, Dan is certainly a worthy recipient of your award - I think any of the paragraphs above would make a suitable article for EnergyCentral (if there's one thing I'm good at, it's volunteering someone else's time).

Except the one about chili - possibly, the only subject more controversial than energy.

Dan Yurman's picture
Dan Yurman on Feb 25, 2019 8:18 pm GMT

Thanks for "volunteering" me :-)
Yes, Chilli is a focus of particular preferences.  So is BBQ whether Kansas City or Memphis, best to taste first and enjoy.

Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Feb 26, 2019 1:52 pm GMT

Bob - we were thinking about doing a chili topic or something similar soon :)

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