BMI Microsoft Dynamics NAV / Navision Blog

BMI Client, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Makes News

Posted by Craig Greitzer on Aug 30, 2016 3:43:16 PM

Spherical tokamaks could provide path to limitless fusion energy

PPPL_1.jpg

Credit: Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications

Creating "a star in a jar" – replicating on Earth the way the sun and stars create energy through fusion – requires a "jar" that can contain superhot plasma and is low-cost enough to be built around the world. Such a device would provide humankind with near limitless energy, ending dependence on fossil fuels for generating electricity.

Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) say that a model for such a "jar," or fusion device, already exists in experimental form – the compact spherical tokamaks at PPPL and Culham, England. These tokamaks, or fusion reactors, could provide the design for possible next steps in fusion energy – a Fusion Nuclear Science Facility (FNSF) that would develop reactor components and also produce electricity as a pilot plant for a commercial fusion power station. 

New options for future plants

The detailed proposal for such a "jar" is described in a paper published in August 2016 in the journal Nuclear Fusion. "We are opening up new options for future plants," said lead author Jonathan Menard, program director for the recently completed National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) at PPPL. The $94-million upgrade of the NSTX, financed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, began operating last year.

Spherical tokamaks are compact devices that are shaped like cored apples, compared with the bulkier doughnut-like shape of conventional tokamaks. The increased power of the upgraded PPPL machine and the soon-to-be completed MAST Upgrade device moves them closer to commercial fusion plants that will create safe, clean and virtually limitless energy without contributing greenhouse gases that warm the Earth and with no long-term radioactive waste.

The NSTX-U and MAST facilities "will push the physics frontier, expand our knowledge of high temperature plasmas, and, if successful, lay the scientific foundation for fusion development paths based on more compact designs," said PPPL Director Stewart Prager.

The devices face a number of physics challenges. For example, they must control the turbulence that arises when superhot plasma particles are subjected to powerful electromagnetic fields. They must also carefully control how the plasma particles interact with the surrounding walls to avoid possible disruptions that can halt fusion reactions if the plasma becomes too dense or impure. Researchers at PPPL, Culham, and elsewhere are looking at ways of solving these challenges for the next generation of fusion devices.

The fourth state of matter

The spherical design produces high-pressure plasmas – the superhot charged gas also known as the fourth state of matter that fuels fusion reactions – with relatively low and inexpensive magnetic fields. This unique capability points the way to a possible next generation of fusion experiments to complement ITER, the international tokamak that 35 nations including the United States are building in France to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power. ITER is a doughnut-shaped tokamak that will be largest in the world when completed within the next decade.

"The main reason we research spherical tokamaks is to find a way to produce fusion at much less cost than conventional tokamaks require," said Ian Chapman, the newly appointed chief executive of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and leader of the UK's magnetic confinement fusion research programme at the Culham Science Centre.

The 43-page Nuclear Fusion paper describes how the spherical design can provide the next steps in fusion energy. A key issue is the size of the hole in the center of the tokamak that holds and shapes the plasma. In spherical tokamaks, this hole can be half the size of the hole in conventional tokamaks, enabling control of the plasma with relatively low magnetic fields.

The smaller hole could be compatible with a blanket system for the FNSF that would breed tritium, a rare isotope or form of hydrogen. Tritium will fuse with deuterium, another isotope of hydrogen, to produce fusion reactions in next-step tokamaks.

Superconducting magnets for pilot plants

For pilot plants, the authors call for superconducting magnets to replace the primary copper magnets in the FNSF. Superconducting magnets can be operated far more efficiently than copper magnets but require thicker shielding. However, recent advances in high-temperature superconductors could lead to much thinner superconducting magnets that would require less space and reduce considerably the size and cost of the machine.

Included in the paper is a description of a device called a "neutral beam injector" that will start and sustain plasma current without relying on a heating coil in the center of the tokamak. Such a coil is not suitable for continuous long-term operation. The neutral beam injector will pump fast-moving neutral atoms into the plasma and will help optimize the magnetic field that confines and controls the superhot gas.

Taken together, the paper describes concepts that strongly support a spherical facility to develop fusion components and create on Earth "a star in a jar"; the upgraded NSTX and MAST facilities will provide crucial data for determining the best path for ultimately generating electricity from fusion.

 ###

PPPL, on Princeton University's Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. Results of PPPL research have ranged from a portable nuclear materials detector for anti-terrorist use to universally employed computer codes for analyzing and predicting the outcome of fusion experiments. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

PPPL uses a Microsoft Dynamics based ERP software system designed by BMI for their project, accounting and reporting requirements.

For more information, please visit science.energy.gov. 

Topics: BMI, microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Software, BMI Software

Source Office & Technology Goes Live With BMI Software

Posted by Craig Greitzer on Jul 12, 2016 12:53:09 PM

We are pleased to announce another successful go-live of BMI Software at Source Office & Technology located in Golden, Colorado. 

Source had 4 different systems, some of which were home grown, to handle their various lines of business along with a full IT department to support it all. Their primary goal with the BMI system was to integrate all of these divisions into a single system which will allow them to better focus on the growth of their company. 

Compared to other BMI Office Product dealer projects, there were relatively few modifications required.  This is a true testament to how much functionality has been added to our solution over the years. 

Our deepest thanks to the Source team for their efforts during this time and, as always, to the BMI implementation team for their tireless efforts over the July 4th holiday.

 

BMI_Logo_New.png

 

Topics: BMI, BMI Software, BMI OP Revelation, Office Products

Understanding The Importance Of E-Commerce And Digital Capabilities In Your Business

Posted by Craig Greitzer on Sep 16, 2015 1:21:47 PM

Essendant’s Girisha Chandraraj explains why the OP industry must update and evolve e-commerce and digital capabilities.

The shift to the digital marketplace is a key factor driving workplace purchases as almost 70% of transactions with independent dealers are made online, a number that will likely continue to grow.

To compete and succeed in the online marketplace, independent dealers, resellers and distributors must focus on updating their digital capabilities and evolving their e-commerce solutions to drive growth and new opportunity. 

Trends guiding the user experience

According to an Essendant survey of end users, 89% of customers have purchased products online for personal use in the past 12 months. Although individuals are increasingly comfortable shopping online for their personal lives, the B2C arena currently has an impressive array of digital capabilities that the B2B world has yet to effectively utilize.

It may be another decade until B2B catches up to the current state of B2C, but there are several areas dealers and distributors can and should focus on now. First, the customer does not clearly distinguish between a B2B and B2C user experience – he or she will expect B2B sites to provide a similarly gratifying, convenient online shopping experience as the B2C sites they use for personal purchases.

Next, there are three primary digital capabilities, or key pillars, that are necessary for success in the B2B online marketplace: search, merchandising and marketing. While not particularly complicated from an e-commerce standpoint, a number of resellers are lagging in these areas and quickly losing ground to competitors.

Looking ahead, resellers should also recognize the role that mobile devices play in digital purchasing as 71% of Americans currently own a smartphone and the influence of mobile purchases continues to grow. Resellers that are not prepared to adapt in three to five years may miss out on significant revenue opportunities.

Steps to optimize the user experience

In order to optimize the user experience, resellers should address the following topics:

  • Determine your capabilities and resources. Are you able to rely on internal resources or will you need to utilize the capabilities and skills of your partners?
  • Evaluate the platform you’re on. Are you using independent or third-party vendors, such as ECi or BMI? This will determine the tools and capabilities that are available to you and what you may need to add or enhance to evolve your digital offering.
  • Ensure you have the necessary tools to help you compete. At Essendant, we have a series of tools that can aid across all of the key pillars (search, merchandising and marketing) and capture a wide variety of metrics to enable an optimal digital presence. These metrics allow dealers to better understand areas of weakness or potential opportunities to drive additional growth.
  • Engage partners in optimizing tools for your categories and customer base. Partners can aid in maintaining content, testing your site, making sure marketing triggers are launching and making sure emails that go out are triggered against the right events (first purchase, sign up, etc).

The expansion of digital technologies and e-commerce capabilities presents dealers and distributors with an important opportunity that will likely have a significant impact on business in years to come.

By choosing to embrace these technologies, specifically focusing on the key pillars of search, merchandising and marketing, resellers will be able to adapt to the demands of the modern customer and ensure success in the digital marketplace. 

Girisha Chandraraj is the Chief Digital Officer at Essendant.

fb-logo

 

Topics: OP Revelation, mobile e-commerce, E-Commerce, BMI

Subscribe to Email Updates

Follow Me