Lonesome Mine, IMC/Agrico, Florida, site of the Ore Transport Development
System, a joint project of Florida Institute for Phosphate Research,
IMC/Agrico, Magplane Technology, Inc. and
(MTech) has been applying
the science of Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) to the problem of
high-availability electric power suitable for computers, Internet
industries, and other mission-critical facilities since 1996. MTech was
founded by Dr. Bruce Montgomery, a member of the National Academy of
Engineering and designer of world-record holding electromagnets, upon his
retirement from MIT.
Steve Fairfax joined the firm in 1997 after several years work with
Failure Analysis Associates, the nation's largest consulting firm
specializing in the analysis of technical failures. Steve and Bruce had
previously worked together for over 20 years in nuclear fusion energy
research at MIT. Steve was chief engineer for the Alcator
C-MOD fusion reactor, and Bruce the primary magnet designer for all three
generations of Alcator high magnetic field
tokamaks built at MIT.
Both men were drawn to the study of failure and reliability by
the challenges of building and reliably operating complex fusion reactor
systems. Steve left MIT in 1994 to pursue this study full-time at Failure
Analysis Associates. He worked there under Dr. Alexander Kusko, a nationally recognized authority on standby and
emergency power systems, and author of numerous books and papers on that
subject. Steve observed that while 7x24 facilities understood their needs
for high-availability power, few if any were aware of the scientific and
engineering tools available. MTechnology has been working since its
foundation to extend and adapt PRA techniques from military and civilian
nuclear applications into the commercial marketplace.
MTechnology led the
availability study of the world's first purely commercial high-availability
fuel cell array, installed at the First National Bank of Omaha in early
1999. MTechnology applied probabilistic risk assessment techniques to
estimate the unavailability of the custom power system designed for the
bank by Sure Power Corporation. The studies conducted by MTech were the
basis for a unique performance guarantee of the system unavailability. The
contract between Sure Power Corporation and the First National Bank of
Omaha required that the system design be certified capable of achieving
availability of at least 99.999%, with 99.9999% the contractual target. (See
Availability of the Sure Power System Installation at the First National
MTech's clients include data
center operators, manufacturers of UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supplies)
equipment, high-availability system designers and integrators, and other
consultants working the 7x24 industries. Steve has published numerous
papers on fusion engineering, practical man-machine interface techniques,
and a paper on UPS technology with Dr. Kusko.
Steve co-authored and presented a 2-day short course entitled Real Availability with Dr.
Michael Golay of the MIT Nuclear Engineering Department, and has made numerous presentations to
industry organizations such as the 7x24 Exchange and the Digital Power
Report Powercosm conferences.