The Nuclear Question in June: ANS 2019

As the dry heat sinks into the sand this June here in Arizona, Otek president and owner, Dr. Otto P. Fest, will be traveling to the more humid saturation of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he has been invited to present his scholarly paper “Nuclear Main Control Room Obsolescence & Cyber Security Regulations Are New Challenges to Overcome”. In the bowels of the Hyatt Regency hotel, delegates, keen-eyed CEO’s, suave executives, technicians, engineers, and the familiar faceless mainstays will gather under the nuclear umbrella to ruminate on the future of the industry—a future that currently sways in a murky and aimless wind.

With the nuclear industry being battered and besieged from a new political front seeking to submit its head to the guillotine, to say times are perilous would be a bit of a chaff understatement. With the New Green Deal and its foot soldiers rattling the death saber at nuclear energy with one hand and lifting flimsy renewables toward heaven with the other, perhaps more so than in recent years past, the 2019 annual ANS meeting rides into existence atop a fresh wave of urgency. Look no further than its ominously ambivalent title “The Value of Nuclear”—the powder keg awaits but a spark. The resolutions forged from June 9th to the 13th in Minneapolis will largely shape the directional battle that Washington will be entrenched with as the 2020 election rolls into play.

But there is more at stake than simply the justification for nuclear energy. In the midst of all this ideological warring lies the deeper issue of how to improve the U.S. nuclear fleet—specifically how to make plants more efficient, more reliable, and more hardened against inevitable technology obsolescence. The analog age has long been returned to dust, but its obsolete vestiges still linger on in I&C rooms across the country, reeking of potential disasters and free-flowing improvement expenses. Into this cauldron steps Dr. Fest armed with a solution that doesn’t require time-diminishing return on investments and cost-prohibitive flat-panel technology upgrades—a solution that has a future.

Sometimes, in order to find the future, one must peruse the footsteps of the past. Returning to an abandoned project from 2004, Dr. Fest unearthed an old prototype he had been molding into a control instrument with no programmable processors that could be powered by the highly-popular 4-20mA current loop signal. Infusing the old design with the latest in high efficiency pure white LED’s and a 4½ digit display with Accuracy and Resolution of ± 0.05%, a specialized Color-EX technique that uses custom color printed scale plates with color zones over the white LEDs, and several late-night sweat upon the brow sessions, the Solid State Analog meter sprang to neon life in a bright display powered by nothing more than CMOS logic. The resulting SSAM can be inserted into nuclear I&C rooms as a cyber security exempt asset using the same wiring, panels, and level of operator training that the old analogs grinded their years into. Dr. Fest champions this streamlined digitization as “Plug n’ Play”.

If you have any interest in America’s nuclear future, and what can be done to ensure there is a future, or simply wish to stave off useless ideologies devoid of feasible logic, we encourage you to join Dr. Fest in Minneapolis for the presentation of “Nuclear Main Control Room Obsolescence & Cyber Security Regulations Are New Challenges to Overcome”.

For more information on Otek’s presence at the ANS 2019 Conference, or product details of the SSAM, please call our office at (520) 748-7900 or email our sales office at