Our blog page is updated on a bi-weekly basis and covers a broad range of industry-related topics such as nuclear energy, application stories, new product highlights, replacement model updates, among many others. Here you can gleam an insight into what we’re thinking, where we’re heading, and how we’re getting there, by checking out our blogs. Want to see a topic of your interest explored? Send us a email in our contact us page!

Lockheed Martin Wins $31.9 Million Weapons Contract

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. has been awarded a $31.9 million contract by the U.S. government to develop a specialized weapon-delivery system capable of striking mobile enemy targets. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) conferred the contract to Lockheed’s Missiles & Fire Control branch in Grand Prairie, Texas, this month where the bulk of the project is expected to take place. Rough estimates put an expected completion time somewhere in early 2021.

Code-named the Operational Fires Integrated Weapon System (OpFires), the project itself revolves around the development of a relocatable hypersonic delivery system, capable of firing a various payload of missiles that can penetrate enemy air defense systems and strike units moving on the ground with precision. In addition to carrying a number of deployable missile payloads, the OpFires project is also expected to be able to consistently and accurately strike targets at a multitude of different depth ranges. Design plans call for the project to be completed in three phases: design, critical design, and flight testing. The propulsion system that will be used in flight testing was developed by Sierra Nevada Corp in 2018, at the request of DARPA.

As Otek has proudly served the U.S. armed services for over forty-five years, as well as performed contractual work for Lockheed Martin, we are well-versed in designs such as the OpFires project for military applications. One of our most visible products used by the U.S. military is our APM model. Chiefly used by the air force and navy, the APM is used to measure power busses in an aircraft or marine vessel, most commonly the circuitry powering the craft. In addition to night vision/NVG3 capabilities, the APM also boasts a standard 1” diameter barrel, 0.25” full LED digits, 4-20mA loop power and can be powered externally by VDC, internal/external intensity control, and requires only two wires to operate. The APM successfully meets Mil-Specs: 461D, 462D, 704F, 130K, 810F, 889B2 & 1742F, among others.

For more information on the APM or Otek’s line of Mil-Spec ready products, please call our office at 520-748-7900 or email our sales office: sales@otekcorp.com

Lessons to be Learned from Germany’s Nuclear Abdication

In this American landscape where the word nuclear has been sandbagged and vilified by progressives, green movements and the like, we would do well to observe the effect Atomausstieg or “nuclear phase-out” has had on Germany’s energy outlook. Reeling from Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel began what has become known as the Energiewende—Germany’s “energy revolution”, a comprehensive plan to remake the country’s energy portfolio (largely by eliminating nuclear and fossil fuels) by the end of 2038. At the plan’s outset, a goal of 40% reduction in carbon emissions was established for the year 2020—while it’s safe to say that particular goal will not bet met, the long-range aspirations of the Energiewende appear doomed to a similar fate.

A simple case and point can be found in empirical fact—despite a governmental push for climate-friendly alternatives such as electric cars and force-fed renewables (where vast and cumbersome wind farms have been met with push back from local residents who claim the multi-acre “wind parks” intrude on neighborhoods and communities) the country’s power consumption has actually risen 10% since 1990. Couple this with the estimated 3,700 miles of electrical power lines needed to move the massive amounts of electricity required to fund the Energiewende (with a mere 93 miles built by 2018) and it’s abundantly clear Germany’s obsessive plans to remove themselves from nuclear energy has been riddled full of holes.

In an article for the New York Times, opinion writer Jochen Bittner equates the country’s impulsive and all-consuming sprint away from nuclear to the prevailing psychology of the German people themselves—namely inherent fear of any action attached to risk. “It is the very German trait of freezing when faced with a dilemma. For a nation that is as keen as ours to do what would undoubtedly be considered good, choosing between two evils — here, nuclear power and climate change — is a nearly insurmountable task”, Mr. Bittner writes, later adding, “The tragedy about Germany’s energy experiment is that the country’s almost religious antinuclear attitude doesn’t leave room for advances in technology.

Certainly the overwhelming plethora of research from scientific communities all around the world has shown that any attempt or plan to combat climate change as it stands now, cannot be successfully achieved without nuclear energy. With Germany steadfastly refusing to engage in nuclear power, not only are they unwittingly going to rely more on fossil fuels in the short term, but they risk losing access to valuable and ever-evolving technology that might prove to be mankind’s best chance at changing the course of our climate future.

As a dedicated and continuous proponent of technology, Otek has long kept an eye on the global nuclear industry and has designed specific products to meet the landscape’s ever-changing shape. Our Solid-State Analog Meter, or SSAM, was created specifically with cyber security in mind. Built without any critical digital components such as microprocessors, the SSAM operates of good old-fashioned CMOS logic that we married with our award-winning technology to create a meter that is both safe and smart for nuclear I&C room applications—in both safety-related and commercial grades.

In addition to being exempt from Cyber Security concerns, the SSAM also features signal and external power options (4-20mA current loops, V/A AC/DC, Watts & Hertz signal options), Otek’s patented signal failure alarm that notifies an operator in the event of a signal or power loss over a minute long, a 4 ½ digit 0.6” LED display at 0.1% accuracy, optional isolated H.V> SPDT alarms for enunciator panel lamps and 4-20mA outputs, and our unique “One Size Fits All” scale plate design which allows for unlimited custom color displays that are as easy to interchange as removing the scale plate and sliding in another. Like all our products, the SSAM is backed by the Otek Lifetime Warranty.

If the global community is indeed serious about reversing the dire effects of climate change, we should heed the lessons from Germany’s abdication of one of our most important tools in the battle for the future health of our planet.

For more information on the SSAM, Otek’s effort to help the nuclear industry, or any of our other award-winning and obsolescence-hardened products, please call 520-748-7900 or contact our sales department: sales@otekcorp.com.

NRC Approves First Small Modular Reactor Permit

In a move that could have ripple effects throughout the industry in the near future, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a permit for the construction of a small modular reactor under the auspices of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The first of its kind in the United States, the permit grants the TVA twenty years to build and install the new age reactor, with consideration for more—all under the stipulation they total no more 800 megawatts. Small modular reactors check in at 300 megawatts—roughly half the output of the more traditional plants.

The decision has created a push back from both environmentalists as well as federal agencies, who claim the NRC is bypassing necessary safety and building measures that could pose a potential disaster for surrounding communities. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, contends that this move opens the door for unregulated and unchecked nuclear technology to enter the industry without proper diligence in emergency planning, nuclear waste disposal, and the inherent risks from cyber security threats and radiation leaks. An expert in the field for the Union for Concerned Scientists, Edwin Lyman, called the permit’s passing “deeply flawed and reckless”, citing the dangers of placing one of these reactors inside a city.

And that’s ultimately the end goal of this action—to bring nuclear energy to bear on cities, communities, building zones, etc. in a mobile and efficient way. For an industry struggling to compete with plentiful natural gas and politically-rosy renewables, the small modular reactor offers a way to even the scales by lowering the enormous up-front cost of building the plant, along with the obvious advantages of new, improved, and innovative technology.

The nuclear industry as a whole has seen a resurgence under the Trump administration, as the President has rolled back several key measures his predecessor enacted to keep nuclear energy in check. If Trump finds himself reelected, the development of small modular reactors could play a crucial role in shaping this country’s energy future moving forward.

As a manufacturer of digital instrumentation, Otek has kept a close eye on the nuclear industry for nearly a decade now, and developed several product models to serve various industry applications over the years. One such model is our NTM-V, from our New Technology Series of DPM’s and Transmitters. Originally developed for a nuclear power plant in the Northeast section of the country, the NTM-V replaces form, fit, and function any Versatile, Sigma, or VMI 9200 series, and is already qualified as a Class 1E instrument.

Designed as a vertical meter, the NTM-V features an automatic tricolor bar display with 4 digits and intensity control, self-diagnostics, isolated serial I/O (USB, RS485, Ethernet), a configurable bar direction (up/down/center zero), math functions, a 4-20mA output, power inputs of 5-32VDC/90-265VAC, and over 30 input signals on externally powered models. The -V carries dimensions of 2.06” W x 4.06”H, and is backed by our lifetime warranty.

With cutting edge technology such as small modular reactors emerging within the industry, Otek continues to improve and innovate our own technology to meet the rising potential of nuclear energy.

For more information on the NTM-V, our efforts to aid the nuclear industry, or any of our other products, please call 520-748-7900 or email our sales office at sales@otekcorp.com



NRC Grants First-Ever 80 Year Extension

In a move that will surely turn environmentalists and climate change activists green with envy, the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) passed a referendum to extend a nuclear power plant’s operating license for 80 years. Last week the NRC approved a second operating license of 20 years for the Turkey Point reactors in southern Florida, which had previously been extended to 60 years.

The move comes at crucial time for the American nuclear fleet, as the past decade saw a marked decline in operational nuclear plants, with half of the U.S. plants projected to shut down by 2040 without federal aid such as license renewals, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). Of the 58 nuclear plants operating around the country today, an overwhelming majority were built in the 1970’s and 80’s—bringing them close to retirement as outlined in their original 40-year life expectancy plan. Even with the advent of 20-year extensions, the current political and environmental climate does not bode well for 60-year-old plants—especially considering the widespread popularity of natural gas and carbon-conscious renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydro power.

The 80-year extension at Turkey Point is in many ways a heart transplant for the nuclear industry. Though the word nuclear has long been synonymous with nefarious associations thanks to disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima, as well as sensational propaganda like the 1979 film The China Syndrome, the indisputable fact is that nuclear is the cleanest, most carbon-free, and most efficient energy source known to man. All renewables combined make up 16% of the U.S. energy generation, compared to nuclear’ s standalone 19%. And given the enormous challenges involved with building new power plants, the most viable option for our leading clean energy source is to keep our existing nuclear plants operational with security updates and improved efficiency.

Otek has long been a dedicated supplier of process control and measurement instrumentation for the nuclear industry, with several of our panel meters installed in the Turkey Point reactors themselves. Our Plug & Play technology, along with highly flexible reverse engineering capabilities, have allowed us to design and produce metering technology specifically to aid applications within nuclear I&C rooms. Our HI-Q119 models populate the Turkey Point reactors, and their Form, Fit, and Function replacement, the NTM-9 was designed to aid the nuclear industry with superior technology.

Part of our award-winning New Technology Series, the NTM-9 can be qualified as a Class 1E safety-related meter for nuclear applications that adheres to the cyber security requirements mandated by NEI 08-09. A programmable, intelligent instrument, the NTM-9 features a 4 digit display, automatic tricolor bar graph with intensity control, an input fail alarm with run-time stamp that alerts the attending operator in the event of a lost or dead signal, self-diagnostics, isolated serial I/O, USB/RS485, a configurable bar direction (up/down/center zero) intensity control, math functions, over 30 isolated input signals, 4 relays or open collector transistors, 4-20mA/30V output, and is backed by our lifetime warranty.

In addition to replacing our HI-Q119 unit, the NTM-9 also replaces popular analogs such as the GE 180, Yokogawa 180, Westinghouse VX251/VX252, Dixon BB101/202PV, Sigma 1151/1251, and the Crompton 128 among others.

While the decision by the NRC to extend Turkey Point to 80 years is a momentous stride in the future of the American nuclear fleet, it remains to be seen how it will play out over the industry as whole. Come what may, Otek stands with nuclear energy as the tip of the sword in the battle to reverse climate change.

For more information on the NTM-9 or any other of our diverse product catalog, please call 520-748-7900 or email our sales department at sales@otekcorp.com

New Orleans Besieged by Cyber Security Attack

In yet another brazen attack on an American city, cyber security criminals besieged New Orleans over the weekend with a flurry of phishing and ransomware attempts. Beginning shortly before dawn Friday, the faceless hackers continued to ratchet up their activity through the morning hours, reaching a peak around 8am. The head of the city’s IT department confirmed that once the city became aware of the attack, vulnerable and critical server systems and their computers were shut down.

Declaring a state of emergency, city officials are still trying to determine the entry point of the attack. Thus far, and somewhat strangely, there have been no monetary demands from the perpetrators—“While ransomware was detected there are no requests made to the city of New Orleans at this time, but that is very much a part of our investigation”, Latoya Cantrell, mayor of New Orleans, commented. Which is atypical, considering similar attacks this year in Baltimore, Jackson County, Georgia, and just last week, Pensacola, Florida, where file-encrypting malware blocks access to certain city functions (emergency services, city emails, coordination systems) and demands a monetary payment in order to release the sequestered systems.

With our world increasingly becoming digitized, cyber security is expected to become one of the largest threats to global industry—just this year alone ransomware attacks reached $11.5 billion—this figure is expected to leap toward over $6 trillion annually by the year 2021.

As a longtime supplier to a host of industries, not only in the United States, but globally as well, Otek has continually innovated its product lines to meet rising challenges and cyber security is no different. And perhaps there is no industry where cyber security is more important than nuclear. It’s not too difficult to envision the potential damage that would occur if a cyber security breach ever yielded total access of a power plant to these shadow criminals.

When the Nuclear Regulation Commission (NRC) mandated NEI 08-09 to cover cyber security procedures and standards within the industry, Otek stepped up to the plate with new technology designed specifically to combat cyber security intrusions—our New Technology Meters (NTM) and the Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM). Both were designed with NEI 08-09 in mind—the NTM series adheres to the precautions established by the NRC so that it may be considered cyber security safe, while the SSAM is exempt from cyber security standards by way of containing no hackable components.

The NTM series carries over 22 models and adheres to 10CFR50, 10CFR21, and NEI 08-09. Common features of the series includes: current loop powered options, AC and DC signal power, external power as well as bar-meter displays, a signal input fail alarm that notifies the operator of a dead or lost signal, isolated serial I/O and flash memory, 1-4 channel models available, over 30 input signals, and all models can be produced to military and nuclear grades as well.

Our SSAM series is unique in the industry, as it was designed without a microprocessor and other critical digital assets that could be targeted by hackers. Powered by CMOS logic, the SSAM features a 4 ½ digit LED display at 0.1% accuracy, 4-20mA and 10-50mA current loops, V/A AC/DC, Watts, Hertz, or an external power option, a signal failure alarm, optional isolated H.V. SPDT dual alarms for enunciator panel lamps and 4-20mA outputs, and our signature scale plate design that allows for unlimited color customizations without having to change the panel or wiring—just remove the scale plate and install the new colored plate over our pure white LEDs.

With our world increasingly becoming interconnected and shrunken by way of digital technology such as the internet, it is of the upmost importance to stay vigilant in protecting our systems and data. Otek stands at the ready to meet these cyber security threats and all others as well, with technology that measures up.

For more information on the NTM, the SSAM, or any of our other products, please call 520-748-7900 or email our sales team at sales@otekcorp.com

Cyber Security Threat Strikes Pensacola, Florida

Still reeling from the wake of last week’s shooting incident at a nearby naval base, the city of Pensacola, Florida now appears to be the victim of a coordinated cyber security attack. Speaking for the first time since the attack began over the weekend, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said Monday that hackers successfully breached city hall’s defenses, thus allowing them to cripple the city’s communication systems, phone lines and email.

“The city of Pensacola is experiencing a cyberattack that began this weekend that is impacting our city network, including phones and email at City Hall and some of our other buildings,” Robinson said during a televised press conference Monday afternoon. Robinson went on to say that the attack began around 1:45am Saturday and has continued in the days since. The FBI’s Jacksonville office has opened an investigation—part of which is seeking to determine whether or not the cyber attack is in any way connected to the shooting at the airbase Friday Morning.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the perpetrators have shutdown Pensacola’s online payment systems and city sanitation services in addition to nearly all official communication channels.

This is not the first time an American city has been the target of a cyber security attack. Earlier this year, Baltimore and Atlanta were also attacked—and Albany, New York lost power for several days after being held for ransom. With the prevalence of such attacks obviously tied to global technological progression, it has become increasingly obvious that we need to be mindful of the digital technology we use every day.

That’s exactly why Otek invested nearly three years in designing an developing our Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM). An industry first, the SSAM operates without the use of any critical digital assets (components hackable by outside parties), by way of being built without a microprocessor. The ingenuity of the SSAM lies in the marrying of old analog hardware (CMOS Logic) with our award-winning and patented technology. The same intelligent instrumentation/programming that powers our highly-successful New Technology Meters (NTM) and our Universal Panel Meter Series (UPM), also inhabits the SSAM—providing users with an ultra-bright pure white LED display that can be easily customized to virtually any color using our One Size Fits All scale plate design. No need to remove the existing panel cut-out, wiring etc.

Additional highlight features of the SSAM include 4-20mA and 10-50mA current loops, V/A AC/DC, Watts, and Hertz or external power options, Otek’s patented signal failure alarm that warns the operator of a signal or power loss for 1 minute after failure, 4 ½ digit display with 0.1% accuracy, dual alarms for enunciator panel lamps, and of course, our lifetime warranty.

With the digital age showing no signs of slowing down, we would all be wise to invest in secure, innovative, and safe instrumentation.

Blue Energy for the Nuclear Idea

Blue may very well be the new green in energy. A team of Ph.D. students working in the lab of mechanical engineer Jerry Wei-Jen Shan at Rutgers University have unlocked a startling new potential for the energy sector, and nuclear power plants in particular. Colloquially known as “Blue Energy”, this idea focuses on the energy potential available within the chemical interplay of fresh and saltwater—where the ions inherent in salt compounds, either positive or negative, break apart and move of their own volition in water. Within that body of water, if positively charged ions are funneled to one side of a membrane, they will drag the already present negatively charge ions to one side, thus creating two separate pools of water with opposite charges. Electricity, researchers have long theorized, could be generated by placing electrodes into both pools and encouraging the electrons to flow from the negative pool to the positive one. Well, their theory was finally proven correct—only they severely underestimated the titanic amount of energy that would be produced.

When the Rutgers team streamlined an already existing technique of using boron nitride nanotubes (BNNT’s) to stimulate the electrons within the water, they were shocked to discover a potential energy output of nearly 2.6 terawatts—or what would approximately equate to the generation of 2000 nuclear power plants combined! The real-world applications are even more interesting considering these interchanges between salt and freshwater occur naturally all over the planet where river estuaries dump some 37,000 kilometers of freshwater per year into the oceans. And as we know, nuclear plants require a nearby body of water to operate.

While blue energy at this stage is obviously just crawling out of its eureka phase, its potential to significantly alter our global energy landscape is certainly something to watch with interest in the coming years.

At Otek we pride ourselves on keeping an eye toward the future with innovation for the now. That’s why we’ve been committed to helping the industrial, military, and nuclear industries modernize with digital instrumentation in the face of growing analog obsolescence. In all three of those industries, the Yokogawa/General Electric 180 analog meter has been a mainstay for decades along innumerable applications. Nothing however, lasts forever—that’s how our NTM-9 model was born from our flagship product line, the New Technology Series.

Using the same vertical design, NTM-9 functions as a 100% Form, Fit, and Function replacement for the Yokogawa 180/GE180 for Class1E safety related and nuclear-qualified applications, as well as Mil-specs 461, 167-1, 810, 901, and IE EE344 respectively. The -9 features an automatic tricolor bar with intensity control, 4 digits at 0.3”, input fail alarm with runtime stamp, self-diagnostics, isolated serial I/O (USB, RS485), a configurable bar direction, math functions, 4-20mA/30V output, 4 relay options, and Otek’s lifetime warranty.

While we’re all waiting on the potential of blue energy to be truly unlocked, you don’t have to wait on new and innovative digital technology with Otek. For more information on the NTM-9 or any of our cutting-edge technology visit our website at www.otekcorp.com or email our sales team, sales@otekcorp.com

Cyber Security Attacks on the U.S. Electrical Grid

            Everything has a price. The digital age has brought all corners of the Earth within the human grasp of connection—our price, the one that we seem to be paying with increasing frequency, may well be our security: our information, intellectual property, data, etc. And this is strictly from an individual level. On an industrial and corporate level, the price may very well be dangerous. We are talking here about cyber security concerns. Technology has indeed opened the corners of the Earth to us—but in every corner there lurks the malicious impulses of humanity.

            A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted several cyber security attacks on utilities in prominent locations around the U.S. Included among those targeted by a hacking campaign based out of Hong Kong, was the Cloverland Electric Cooperative (Michigan), the Wisconsin Rapids Water Works and Lighting, ALP Utilities (Minnesota), Cowlitz County Public Utility District (Washington), Flathead Electric Cooperative (Montana), Basin Electric Power (North Dakota), Klickitat Public Utility District (Washington), Brownsville Public Utilities Board (Texas), Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach (Florida), Rochester Public Utilities (Minnesota), Tucson Electric Power (Arizona), Emera (Maine), and Tri-County Electric Cooperative (South Carolina). Seven out of the thirteen afflicted utilities were also contacted by the FBI who has been investigating cyber attacks coming out of the East Asian market throughout the year.

            As you can observe from the list above, the overwhelming majority of these targets are connected to the U.S. electrical grid in some form or fashion, and even more threatening, most are in close proximity to critical infrastructures such as dams and transportation centers. For example, the Klickitat electric utility company monitors an array of federal dams near White Salmon, Washington, that provides hydroelectricity to large swaths of California—likewise the Cloverland plant operates beside the transportation lock channels in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, which is a major shipping lane for vessels carrying iron ore to steel mills all across the U.S. The implications of these coordinated attacks are not hard to discern—when fully carried out by a much more aggressive campaign, these cyber security breaches could wreck unprecedented havoc across the country’s industries and daily life in general.

            As part of Otek’s long-standing commitment to the nuclear industry, we invested our time and technology in creating instrumentation that meets the cyber security concerns of nuclear power plants under the NRC and NEI-08-09, while still carrying the trusted firmware technology that has made us a leading name in the instrumentation industry for decades. The result was our Solid State Analog Meter, or SSAM. A true industry first, the SSAM’s uniqueness rests in its hybrid makeup—built without any critical digital assets such as microprocessors, the SSAM is naturally immune to the reach of cyber security hackers. There’s simply no component that can be reached by an outside source, i.e. the internet. The gate, so to speak, remains closed. The SSAM runs on pure CMOS logic and features pure white LED technology that can be customized to virtually any color using Otek’s unique “One Size Fits All” scale plate design—meaning you don’t need to purchase a new unit or make any prodigious changes to your panel-cutout or wiring. All you have to do is change the scale plate!

            In addition to the cyber security applications, the SSAM series also features 4-20 and 10-50mA inputs, 100% signal powered, AC/DC Watts and Hertz or external power, 4 ½ digits at 0.1% accuracy, optional isolated H.V. SPDT dual alarms, a loop burden of less than 5V or 100mW power, and our patented signal failure alarm that warns the user of a signal or power loss for nearly an hour after the initial dead signal. The SSAM replaces the popular DB40 analog meter still prevalent in nuclear I & C rooms across the U.S.

            In this is digital age of rampant technological progression, we cannot slow the train, but we can be mindful of the tracks. Cyber security is bound to play an increasing role in our global infrastructure and Otek intends to be ready with innovative and efficient solutions such as the SSAM for years to come.

Technical Innovations to the Rescue of Aging I&C Rooms

Technical Innovations to the Rescue of Aging I&C Rooms

Dr. Otto P. Fest

Digitization of main control rooms is no longer an option for the rich and affluent nuclear power plants. The world NPP fleet consists of about 350 NPP’s 35 years or older, with about 93 of them in the USA. The problems are not only their aging, but also the continuous political anti-nuclear movement, the unfair governmental favoritism toward other sources of electrical energy and over-regulation of the nuclear industry, as well as alternate sources of energy that the nuclear industry has been able to overcome in some regulated markets, and it makes you wonder how much longer will the industry last. All of the aforementioned is nothing compared to the latest discovery that “nothing is forever”. That all has a beginning and has an end! Analog metering is obsolete as a result of simply not being good enough. Because the small replacement market doesn’t justify their expensive manufacture by the big guys, and because other technologies have flourished that are far superior in reliability, accuracy, life expectancy, maintenance, operating cost, and most importantly, greater safety and efficiency.

Safety & Efficiency: If digitization was to increase the safety & efficiency of your NPP by 1% and your daily output is $1 million, the $10,000.00 additional profit would be enough to pay for the upgrade within months if you select the right replacements.

What to do?

In my humble opinion, and being an avid admirer of Sir Charles Darwin and his closing statement: “Evolve or Perish” and being a scientist by profession and thanks to many experts in the field that mentored me and contributed greatly to my following statements, I would: Switch to the most modern & proven Automatic Process Control with Triple Redundancy Control (as we did during my years at the NASA-Apollo Lunar adventure just 50 years old last July 20th). But, is it wise to do a heart transplant to an old man like me?

What other options do our aging NPPs have?

What would I do if I was the owner, COO, CEO, CFO, (Bean Counter), I&C Manager or stockholder at a NPP?_____

I was asked once, “How Do You Invent Anything Anyway?”

My reply (without hesitation) was: Observe Analyze and Document. The inventor’s credo!

Observe:  a) What are the results of the Oconee NPP experiment in digitalization of their NPP? Will they ever get ROI? ____

  1. b) Who else has digitized a 30+ year old NPP at such a great expense and has derived any ROI? Or what are the probabilities one ever will? ____
  2. c) Talk to Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and their editorial on digitization in Nuclear News (NN June 2017) and seek advice. There are plenty of eager Systems Integrators ready to help you.
  3. d) Research other alternative technologies that would get you to the final destination with comparable results. i.e. Pace Maker instead of transplant? ___

Analyze:  a) Are there any other technologies that would get you to your destination (survival) without so great a risk of death (bankruptcy)? Such as new proven Class 1E technologies that would assure the survival and profitability of your NPP until the inevitable end? __

  1. b) Is Do Nothing (vegetate) an option? Will your NPP survive until final decommissioning? ___

Document: Do the research and implement your first prototype to prove your theorem and get to work. Remember: “Inventing is an instant of inspiration and an entire life of perspiration”

Regulatory Policies Hampering Valuable Climate Change Technology

In the ever-escalating fight for climate change policy in the United States, it may be the policies themselves that are preventing valuable technology from being sewn into progress. Racked with climate lawsuits, protests, and befuddling bills languishing in bureaucratic red tape, the clean energy debate in this country consistently overlooks a major asset in lowering the dreaded CO2 emissions: that of nuclear energy, and in particular, small module reactors.

The emerging technology of small module reactors (SMRs) has enormous potential for both the nuclear industry itself, as well as for the overall climate change initiative spreading around the world. Here in the U.S., our vastly undermined electrical grid would reap immediate benefits from polices geared toward promoting research, development, and implementation of small module nuclear reactors. These reactors are cheaper (in terms of lower initial capital investment), safer (by way of utilizing non-light water coolants to minimize waste threats to the surrounding environment), and obviously more versatile due the compact and highly mobile nature of their design. SMRs can also pair with the more popular renewables, such as wind and solar power, to generate higher energy efficiency and electrical grid stability.

So what are these policies preventing what appears to be a very useful tool in the climate battle? Topically, there are two main hurdles to address: the standardized use of the “Liner No-Threshold” model, and the NRC-governed insurance pools that affect SMR’s ability to economically price themselves into the market.

Addressing the first, the Linear No-Threshold model stipulates that any level of radiation greater than zero is a danger to public health. Without needing to elaborate too far, this delineation obviously places an enormous financial burden and procedural planning costs across the nuclear industry—and the science behind it simply isn’t justifiable. Research in the field of radiation shows that humans are exposed to various levels of radiation in medical procedures, airplane travel, and a host of other routine activities with no discernible health effects noticeable—which calls into question the need for resource allocation to a standard that isn’t accurate, and is a rather large detriment to nuclear power’s image in the public eye.

Second, the inclusion of SMRs in an insurance pool with larger, traditional reactors casts an unfavorable shadow on the new technology in the eyes of potential investors. The gripe here is that because SMRs can’t be used in the existing American nuclear fleet of 30 year or older reactors, they should be afforded their own insurance pool at much lower premium levels which would in turn attract investors, thus promoting development of the technology. By lumping them in with the older, expensive reactor fleet, makers of the SMRs argue they are losing out on potential resources to advance their much needed technology.

Ultimately, this boils down to a legislative lagoon where progress seems to get mucked down in the bog of bureaucracy.

While Otek cannot affect that fight, we can keep engineering our digital panel meter technology help nuclear power plants make progress on the ground level. During our half-decade campaign to help the nuclear industry digitize, we’ve designed two of our flagship models to aid aging (30+ years) power plants as they seek to modernize and combat analog obsolescence.

Our New Technology Meter line (NTM) boasts 22 different models offering an array of features, including but not limited to: automatic tricolor bar display, loop, signal or external power, plastic or metal housings, our patented signal failure alarm, isolated serial I/O, 4 alarms output/channel, 4-20mA retransmission (see also our NTT transmitter series), math functions, and are applicable for Mil-Spec and Class 1E grades as well as being cyber security safe by design.

Our second prominent addition to Otek’s nuclear strategy is our Solid State Analog Meter, the SSAM. Built with the cyber security ramifications of NEI 08-09 in mind, the SSAM was explicitly designed without any critical digital assets such as microprocessors and runs off CMOS logic—essentially rendering the SSAM invulnerable to the type of cyber security attack that just struck one of India’s leading nuclear power plants. Highlight features of the SSAM include: 100% signal powered for 4-20 and 10-50mA current loops, as well as V/A AC/DC Watts and Hertz for external power, 4 ½ digit ultra white LED display that can be easily changed out to an unlimited range of custom colors with our One Size Fits All scale plate design, Otek’s signal failure alarm that alerts the operator in the event of a lost or dead signal, and less than a 5V loop burden.

Otek’s long standing tradition of bending our technology to consumer applications extends indefinitely to the nuclear industry. We recognize the dire planetary need for combative action against climate change and wholly believe nuclear energy must be a player in any successful effort. We’ll continue to supply our technology towards that end while the legalities sort themselves out.