Monday, March 10, 2014

Bionic µfuel modular design proves advantageous

mf480 reactor details

Bionic µfuel reactor and plant designs have come a long way over the recent 10 years of intense R&D work in the development labs. Starting from the drawing board and moving on to CAD workstations, performing endless process simulations in the technology lab and later on the first continuous pilot, all the way to the current mf60 prototype plants many details where refined and fine tuned literally thousands of times. During all that time, however, one fundamental cornerstone of Bionic's design principles was never questioned: the extremely modular design utilizing only the most tested, most proven assembly parts and modules available preferably off the shelf. This principle effectively differentiates Bionic's µfuel technology from practically all comparable technology designs out there.

For many years the huge advantages of such a design approach for on time project delivery, operational stability, easy scaling of plant size and ultimately capital and operational expenditure could only be explained theoretically.

This has changed with the recent mf60 commercial demonstrator now in prototype testing for something over 7 months, preparing for a first continuous 250 hour run coming up around the corner. We finally have plenty of hard evidence supporting the mantra of stubbornly insisting on uncompromising modularity. During the prototype testing period dozens of small changes and adjustments have been incorporated, often completed in a few hours. And even the major mf60 redesign described in this article required a suspension of test operations for barely 3 weeks.

Following the Bionic scaling philosophy the mf60 is nothing else than a down-scaled mf480, the latter being the bionicfuel reference reactor type for standard commercial plants. However large an individual plant might get, it will be built around clustered sets of always the same mf480 reactor units and the mf480 unit can even be temporarily reduced to around half its specified capacity with a corresponding reduction in microwave units. The consequences of this concept for the early commercial roll out are enormous.

Instead of monolithic, untested conversion plants budgeted at several hundred million USD, Bionic can offer clients a project approach incorporating risk management via a well controlled scale up process. Each reactor can be factory assembled, tested and certified against specifications even before leaving the manufacturer site. After shipping the installation process on site is a matter of weeks before final client acceptance can begin.

A factory and on-site certified single reactor system can then be rapidly upgraded by simply bringing in more of the identical reactor units combining them with standard feedstock preparation and product upgrading equipment.