2012 Tulane Engineering Forum School of Science and Engineering
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Dan Curtis

Dan Curtis

PhD Candidate in the MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering

Daniel studies electricity markets, electric grid operation, and nuclear plant design as a PhD candidate in the MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. He seeks to improve the economic competitiveness of current and near future nuclear power plants, and to improve our strategies for nuclear energy research and development, through better understanding of federal and state energy policies, the electric grid, the deployment of intermittent renewable generators (IRG), and deregulated markets for electricity. Daniel has contributed to the development and economic analysis of the Fluoride-Salt-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor (FHR), Nuclear-Renewable Oil Shale System (NROSS), and Firebrick Resistance-Heated Energy Storage System (FIRES). Daniel holds bachelors degrees with honors in physics and mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Masters of Science degree in Nuclear Science and Engineering from MIT.

Daniel's current work focuses on assessing technology options and determining the economic value of improving the flexibility of electricity output from nuclear power plants.

Presentation Description

Hybrid Energy Systems (HES) is a broad category that includes all systems in which multiple primary energy sources and multiple energy service outputs are combined and controlled in a single facility. HES generally require greater capital investment than traditional power plants of similar technology but offer substantial opportunities to improve the utilization of primary energy and optimize the economics of the system. Combined heat and power (CHP) systems represent one of the simplest possible HES and have been deployed in cities and campuses around the world, substantially improving their energy efficiency and reducing emissions.

The goal to decarbonize our electric power sector will require a transition from low-captial-cost, high-operating-cost generators (fossil-fueled power plants) to high-capital-cost, low-operating-cost generators (nuclear and renewables). There will be strong economic incentives to maximize utilization of the most capital-intensive generators. The potential to deploy nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems (NHES) represents an important opportunity to optimize our economic utilization of capital-intensive primary energy sources. Many technical options for NHES are under investigation, including integrated thermal energy storage systems (TESS) and a wide range of process heat applications. Some of these options, including integrated TESS in water-cooled reactors and firebrick-based TESS, may mature and become ready for deployment in the near term. In the long term, the full specturm of NHES technology options must be thoroughly understood to provide developers and investors the most complete set of tools possible to efficiently decarbonize our economy.

Daniel will discuss recent work on NHES technology and economic assessment at MIT, ongoing investigations of NHES technology options, and prospects for nuclear energy in the low-carbon future. 

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