Friday, June 06, 2014

Witnessing the Future of Energy at NuScale

The following guest post comes from Tracy Mason, senior director of public affairs at NEI, who recently traveled to Oregon to visit NuScale Power and discuss NEI's member benefits and advocacy efforts:

Tracy Mason
When I received an invitation from NuScale Chief Commercial Officer Mike McGough to fly across the country and witness the company's innovative work firsthand, I enthusiastically accepted. It was the perfect opportunity to see what I advocate for on a daily basis—the future of nuclear energy—and the talented folks making it happen. 

My trip began with a ride from Portland to NuScale facilities in Corvallis, Oregon with NuScale’s Marketing Communications Manager, James Mellott. We reviewed their product development and marketing efforts in both domestic and European markets, as well as the opening of an office in Charlotte for business development on the East Coast.

The visit included meet and greets with NuScale leadership including Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Hopkins, Chief Operating Officer Chris Colbert and co-founder, Chief Technology Officer and ‘Chief Researcher’ Dr. Jose Reyes (who incidentally is one of the innovators we feature in NEI's Future of Energy Future’ print advertisement). 

Dr. Jose Reyes and Tracy Mason
Dr. Reyes, aka ‘Jose’ to all at NuScale, discussed the innovation evolution from his days as head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics at OSU, starting NuScale in 2007 and the path forward as DOE funding and product testing are confirmed. He then shared his call to innovators in the nuclear energy industry: “Now is the time to shine. If you have a contribution to make, now is the time to bring it forward.”

I found it especially interesting that NuScale's office facilities are in a building shared with Hewlett Packard, whose signage bears their slogan “Invent.” Because that is definitely what the people I met with do each day. First, Kevin Deyette and John McLerran demonstrated NuScale’s automated passive safety systems and unique technology at the NuScale control room simulator. The simulator replicated the maximum interconnected 12 NuScale Modules. After demonstrating a variety of scenarios, including what happened at TMI and Fukushima and how their technology handles each scenario, I talked with them about how they created and designed the unique safety systems based on more than 30 years of operating experience.
John McLerran

Next, I traveled to the NuScale test facility to speak with Matt Kizerian and Ryan Everett, who are designing and executing the testing scenarios on the actual scaled replica of the technology. The NuScale Integral System Test Facility (NIST) works in concert with a team of OSU students and project managers to test everything from the chemical composition of the coolant to the construction and use of the various valve structures in the one-third scale unit. 

Ryan Everett, Matt Kizerian
and Tracy Mason
Then it was my turn to share what NEI is doing to advocate on their behalf. I presented an overview of NEI’s Future of Energy campaign, the nationwide Nuclear Matters campaign and NEI's advocacy model. I also provided recent public opinion data and other member resources while fielding questions from the audience about the industry at large. During the afternoon, I teamed with their videographer to interview seven of NuScale’s innovators to create content for NEI's Nuclear Energy’s Future: Powered By Our People summer promotion.

After an up-close view of NuScale's impressive small modular reactor technology and the people behind it, I am not at all surprised that DOE recently awarded the company funding for up to $217 million. I was beyond impressed with their operation, and left Oregon with a reinvigorated optimism about the future of our industry.

1 comment:

Mark Toohey said...

Go for it! Best wishes, Mark Toohey