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Idaho National Laboratory

Feature Story

INL nominates three technologies for 2007 R&D 100 Awards

For the 2007 R&D Magazine award competition, Idaho National Laboratory nominated three breakthrough technologies that offer major advances in critical infrastructure management, high temperature measurement and co-electrolysis to simultaneously convert water and carbon dioxide into synthesis gas. Each technology remarkably surpasses current capabilities in their respective research areas.

The three technologies are:

Photo: CIMSuite package

CIMSuite is currently under license and being actively marketed by Priority 5 Holdings, LLC, (www.priority5.com), a company that specializes in developing Critical Infrastructure Management solutions.

Photo: CIMSuite team

CIMSuite Development Team at INL: (Left to Right) Donald D. Dudenhoeffer, May R. Permann, and Steve R. Woolsey.

Critical Infrastructure Modeling (CIMSuite) software

Summary: Modern life is built upon an array of complex interactions among multiple and diverse physical and social infrastructures. We don't always appreciate interdependencies of seemingly separate systems such as utilities, transportation and health care until one is interrupted, resulting in cascading effects on the others. When a critical system is lost, the inevitable consequences are not always easy to predict.

The interactions of multiple systems and complex, multilevel system failures create significant consequences and frequently disastrous results. CIMS offers a portable, user-friendly software system to promote understanding of these complex interactions and manage events like this on the fly.

Believing that the key to complexity is simple elegance, researchers at INL have developed this powerful but easy-to-use tool to enable decision makers to prepare for, and respond to, events with previously unpredictable results. Unlike any other software available or in development, CIMSuite software is ready for deployment both in the office and in the field.

CIMSuite software delivers an agile (less than 10 megabytes) off-the-shelf modeling solution with advanced simulation capabilities. The user interface is intuitive and visually based. Anyone familiar with tools like GIS or Google Earth can unleash the power of interaction in a familiar virtual 3-D world that becomes a canvas for event simulation.

Based on sophisticated artificial intelligence code using intelligent agents, CIMSuite software offers powerful, easy-to-use tools for both modeling and simulating complex interactions of infrastructure systems and predicting emergent behaviors through time. CIMSuite software gives users the potential to integrate multiple systems and visualize the results of cascading events including factors such as human social dynamics. The software is not only capable of building a scaleable model of these interacting physical and social systems, but the data structure created by CIMSuite software lends itself to both 3-D visualization and further algorithmic treatment, including time-step simulations, real-time data integration and analysis using methods such as genetic algorithms and neural networks.

Fact Sheet: CIMSuite: Critical Infrastructure Modeling — 412KB PDF
Video: C.I.M. Suite: Delivering 3-D modeling and simulation of critical infrastructure systems – [an error occurred while processing this directive]B WMV
Research Team: Don Dudenhoeffer, May Permann and Steve Woolsey
Tech Transfer Contact: Charity Follett, (208) 526-9353,

Photo: HTIR-TC

A finished HTIR-TC ready for installation and use.

Photo: HTIR-TC team

HTIR-TC Development Team in the Laboratory at INL: (Left to Right) Joy L. Rempe, Keith G. Condie, S. Curtis Wilkins, and Darrell L. Knudson.

High-Temperature Irradiation Resistant Thermocouple (HTIR-TC)

Summary: HTIR-TC is a breakthrough in the field of high-temperature measurement. It overcomes the two most critical thermocouple issues plaguing high-temperature operations--signal drift and sensor longevity. It is also the only sensor specifically designed for accurate, reliable measurements in high-temperature radiation environments.

Long duration tests in a high-temperature furnace at INL demonstrate that HTIR-TCs remain stable within less than 2% drift after operating 4,000 hours (4 months) at 1200C. Compare this with the leading commercially available Type N and K thermocouples often used for this temperature range that began to drift beyond 2% after only 200 hours at temperature. HTIR-TCs offer a 20-fold performance improvement in resistance to drift over this current technology.

For temperature ranges from 1100C to 1700 C, HTIR-TCs compete well with more expensive tungsten-rhenium or platinum-rhodium thermocouples that are prone to failure after prolonged temperature exposure and repeated thermal cycling. The enhanced performance of HTIR-TCs is due to the ductility of its component metals and the unique thermoelement-joining method that results in a rugged sensor, offering significantly longer, more stable service. The result is fewer open-circuit failures (from fractures in the thermoelement wires or at the junction) common to high-temperature thermocouples. Finally, because HTIR-TCs were intentionally made from metals with very low thermal neutron cross-sections, they can be used in nuclear reactors without suffering decalibration due to neutron-induced transmutation.

Fact Sheet: HTIR-TC: Measuring High Temperatures — 512KB PDF
Video: HTIR-TC: Providing accurate measurement in high-temperature and neutron radiation environments – [an error occurred while processing this directive]B WMV
Research Team: Joy Rempe, Darrell Knudson, Keith Condie and Curtis Wilkins
Tech Transfer Contact: John Snyder, (208) 526-9812,

Photo: Syntrolysis

Carl M. Stoots demonstrates how the final product of Syntrolysis, synthesis gas (aka syngas), can be burned directly. The gas can also be converted into synthetic hydrocarbon fuels.

Photo: Syntrolysis team

INL Syntrolysis Development Team in the laboratory: (Left to Right) James E. O'Brien, Carl M. Stoots, Grant L. Hawkes, and J. Stephen Herring (INL). Joe J. Hartvigsen (Ceramatec) is not in the photos.

Syngas Generation from Co-Electrolysis (Syntrolysis)

Summary: Two of the top energy priorities in the world today are finding environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels and eliminating or reducing anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Imagine a technology that does both--consuming carbon dioxide while creating synthetic alternative fuels that are carbon-neutral. This breakthrough technology is INL's Syngas Generation from Co-electrolysis (Syntrolysis). The invention consists of a patent pending high-temperature electrolysis process that uses a solid-oxide electrolysis cell designed to take advantage of electricity from nuclear or renewable energy sources and industrial process heat to simultaneously convert water and carbon dioxide into a product known as synthesis gas (aka syngas) consisting of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Syngas is an intermediate feedstock for producing synthetically derived hydrocarbon products and fuels.

Syngas created through Syntrolysis can be processed using a well-understood synthetic fuel production regimen, the Fischer-Tropsch, to create liquid hydrocarbon fuels without fossil energy of any kind. Unlike current carbon management technologies that have thermodynamic and economic costs, Syntrolysis converts carbon pollutants (generating carbon credits) into value-added products with both thermodynamic and economic benefits rather than costs.

In addition to producing syngas, this invention offers the capability of efficiently producing pure hydrogen as well by using steam sans carbon dioxide as the sole input. Hydrogen can be used in the near term to upgrade low quality petroleum resources such as Canadian oil sands, enhance biofuel production and facilitate the long-term transition to a hydrogen economy.

Fact Sheet: Syntrolysis: Synthetic fuels from carbon dioxide, electricity and steam — 740KB PDF
Video: Syntrolysis: Simultaneously electrolyzing water and carbon-dioxide into syngas – [an error occurred while processing this directive]B WMV
Research team: Carl M. Stoots, James O'Brien, Stephen Herring, Paul Lessing, Grant Hawkes, plus Joseph Hartvigsen, a senior engineer at Ceramatec, Inc, in Salt Lake City.
Tech Transfer Contact: David Anderson, (208) 526-0837,

General Contact:
Keith Arterburn, (208) 526-4845, Send E-mail