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Program Overview - Definitions

Bench-Scale
Bench-scale technology is defined as technology which has previously demonstrated success at the basic research level; is ready or near-ready for design at bench-scale; and should be ready at the completion of a project for scale-up to pilot-scale.  The capacity of a bench-scale system is not definitive but could be up to 5% of the capacity of a commercial system.

Pilot-Scale
Pilot-scale technology is defined as technology which has previously demonstrated success at bench-scale; is ready or near-ready for design at pilot-scale; and should be ready at the completion of a project for scale-up to commercial-scale.  The capacity of a pilot-scale system is not definitive but could be between 5% and 25% of the capacity of a commercial system

DOE Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs)
The following is a description of DOE Technology Readiness Levels:

Relative Level of Technology Development

Technology Readiness Level

TRL
Definition

Description

System Operations

TRL 9

Actual system operated over the full range of expected mission conditions

The technology is in its final form and operated under the full range of operating mission conditions. Examples include using the actual system with the full range of wastes in hot operations.

System Commissioning

 

TRL 8

Actual system completed and qualified through test and demonstration

The technology has been proven to work in its final form and under expected conditions. In almost all cases, this TRL represents the end of true system development. Examples include developmental testing and evaluation of the system with actual waste in hot commissioning. Supporting information includes operational procedures that are virtually complete. An Operational Readiness Review (ORR) has been successfully completed prior to the start of hot testing.

TRL 7

Full-scale, similar (prototypical) system demonstrated in relevant environment

This represents a major step up from TRL 6, requiring demonstration of an actual system prototype in a relevant environment.  Examples include testing full-scale prototype in the field with a range of simulants in cold commissioning (1). Supporting information includes results from the full-scale testing and analysis of the differences between the test environment, and analysis of what the experimental results mean for the eventual operating system/environment. Final design is virtually complete.

Technology Demonstration

TRL 6

Engineering/pilot-scale, similar (prototypical) system validation in relevant environment

Engineering-scale models or prototypes are tested in a relevant environment.  This represents a major step up in a technology’s demonstrated readiness.  Examples include testing an engineering scale prototypical system with a range of simulants.  (1) Supporting information includes results from the engineering scale testing and analysis of the differences between the engineering scale, prototypical system/environment, and analysis of what the experimental results mean for the eventual operating system/environment. TRL 6 begins true engineering development of the technology as an operational system.  The major difference between TRL 5 and 6 is the step up from laboratory scale to engineering scale and the determination of scaling factors that will enable design of the operating system.  The prototype should be capable of performing all the functions that will be required of the operational system.  The operating environment for the testing should closely represent the actual operating environment.

Technology Development

TRL 5

Laboratory scale, similar system validation in relevant environment

The basic technological components are integrated so that the system configuration is similar to (matches) the final application in almost all respects.  Examples include testing a high-fidelity, laboratory scale system in a simulated environment with a range of simulants (1) and actual waste (2).  Supporting information includes results from the laboratory scale testing, analysis of the differences between the laboratory and eventual operating system/environment, and analysis of what the experimental results mean for the eventual operating system/environment.  The major difference between TRL 4 and 5 is the increase in the fidelity of the system and environment to the actual application.  The system tested is almost prototypical.

TRL 4

Component and/or system validation in laboratory environment

The basic technological components are integrated to establish that the pieces will work together.  This is relatively "low fidelity" compared with the eventual system.  Examples include integration of ad hoc hardware in a laboratory and testing with a range of simulants and small-scale tests on actual waste (2).  Supporting information includes the results of the integrated experiments and estimates of how the experimental components and experimental test results differ from the expected system performance goals.  TRL 4-6 represent the bridge from scientific research to engineering. TRL 4 is the first step in determining whether the individual components will work together as a system.  The laboratory system will probably be a mix of on hand equipment and a few special purpose components that may require special handling, calibration, or alignment to get them to function.

Research to Prove Feasibility

TRL 3

Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof of concept

Active research and development (R&D) is initiated.  This includes analytical studies and laboratory-scale studies to physically validate the analytical predictions of separate elements of the technology.  Examples include components that are not yet integrated or representative tested with simulants. (1) Supporting information includes results of laboratory tests performed to measure parameters of interest and comparison to analytical predictions for critical subsystems.  At TRL 3 the work has moved beyond the paper phase to experimental work that verifies that the concept works as expected on simulants.
Components of the technology are validated, but there is no attempt to integrate the components into a complete system. Modeling and simulation may be used to complement physical experiments.