In this week’s episode, host Daniel Raimi talks about the latest developments in nuclear energy innovation, policy, and deployment with Alex Gilbert, a PhD student and fellow at the Payne Institute for Public Policy at Colorado School of Mines and the Director of Space and Planetary Regulation at Zeno Power. Gilbert discusses the types of nuclear technologies in the development pipeline, how they differ from older technologies, which technologies are being piloted, and how recent policies—especially the Inflation Reduction Act—are incentivizing the deployment of these technologies.
Listen to the Podcast
- Getting over the initial spending hump for nuclear reactors: “Once large light-water reactors are built, they’re very cheap to operate, and you can operate them for decades. The problem is building them in the first place. They are megaprojects. They cost billions of dollars. They can take a decade or more to build. That is a challenge to finance, especially with what we’re seeing with electricity markets: increased competition and moving away from rate-basing.” (10:14)
- Why nuclear energy projects cost so much: “In the United States, we’ve never had ‘nth-of-a-kind’ of reactor built. Everything that we’ve done is essentially a first-of-a-kind, bespoke reactor. That leads to significant increases in costs, as well as construction complexity and issues that arise.” (11:16)
- Recent legislation on nuclear energy has broad political support: “Most of these [recent major energy] bills have been bipartisan. Both parties are supporting nuclear right now. They see it as an area that both of them can work on together because of clean energy and the carbon potential.” (21:30)
Top of the Stack
- “Global Energy Outlook 2022: Turning Points and Tension in the Energy Transition” by Daniel Raimi, Erin Campbell, Richard G. Newell, Brian C. Prest, Seth Villanueva, and Jordan Wingenroth
- Our Great National Parks television series
The Full Transcript
Daniel Raimi: Hello, and welcome to Resources Radio, a weekly podcast from Resources for the Future. I’m your host, Daniel Raimi.
Today, we welcome back Alex Gilbert, who leads space and nuclear regulatory work at Zeno Power. He’s a fellow at the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines and a PhD student in space resources at the Payne Institute. In today’s episode, Alex will catch us up on the latest developments in nuclear energy innovation, policy, and deployment. We’ll talk about what types of technologies are in the development pipeline, how they differ from older technologies, which ones are actually being piloted, and how recent policies—especially the Inflation Reduction Act—are incentivizing their deployment. Stay with us.
All right. Alex Gilbert, from Zeno Power and the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines, welcome to Resources Radio—or, I should say, welcome back to Resources Radio.
Alex Gilbert: Thanks so much for having me. Excited to be back.
Daniel Raimi: We’re going to talk today about nuclear energy and recent advances in nuclear technologies and policies that have been changing in recent years. I’m looking forward to that conversation. You’ve been on the show before, but it’s been a while, so I’m hoping you can remind our listeners how you got into the field of energy and environmental topics in the first place.
Alex Gilbert: I originally grew up in Colorado. I was always focused on the outdoors: backpacking, exploring, enjoying the mountains. When I started in college, I started focusing on development issues and was looking at international development as a potential career field. As I was taking several courses, I started to realize more and more how closely environmental issues are tied to development and human welfare overall; I started to see things through an environmental lens and how it’s tied to economics and society.
I started specializing in environmental issues. I ended up going to grad school, and I had a professor there who defined it well: If you care about environmental issues and climate change, then you really care about energy. It’s your top concern, because energy has the biggest impact on the environment of anything that humans do. Conversely, if you care about energy systems, you care about the environment, because the environment is the largest constraint on energy systems.
I started focusing more and more on energy systems because of that environmental aspect. Increasingly—I never planned on this, but over time I started getting drawn into nuclear policy. That’s because, if you look at nuclear energy in the United States and globally, it’s a very large energy source. In the United States, it’s the single largest clean power source. Even today, hydro, wind, and solar combined produce about as much energy as just nuclear. If you look globally, about 10 percent of global power is from nuclear energy. Next to hydropower, it’s the second-largest clean energy source globally.
It has this important role in our clean energy system, but we looked at it from a policy and workforce perspective, and there was not a lot going on. I kept getting pulled into it because there was a need for more people to be working on the clean energy policy side, especially in the mid-2010s. After that, I started specializing in nuclear energy and dealing with all the issues that are associated with bringing it to market and getting it to reduce emissions.
Daniel Raimi: That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today. In particular, we’re going to focus on this bucket of technologies that we’ll refer to as “advanced nuclear technologies.” We’re going to talk about what the private sector and what the public sector has been doing to push those technologies forward in recent years.
But first, I think it would be helpful if you could define for us “advanced nuclear technologies.” What are we talking about?
Alex Gilbert: It’s a very squishy term. If you talk to different nuclear energy professionals, you’ll hear different definitions. There are also different definitions in the legislation around this issue that’s been passed. The best way to think about advanced nuclear technology is that it’s everything that is not a large light-water reactor, which is what currently exists right now. The United States is building two AP1000 nuclear plants in the South. Those are the last of the non-advanced reactors. Everything else that we’ll build moving forward is considered, more or less, an advanced reactor.
What does that mean from a technology perspective? To start with basics, nuclear fission is based on the fission of atoms to create energy. You take a fissile isotope (an atom), usually uranium-235, and you hit it with a neutron. That neutron causes the atom to split. That split creates what we call “fission products,” which are one of the main things in nuclear waste that we’re concerned about, but it also creates energy, which we can use and harness; and it creates more neutrons, usually two or three, that you can then use to create more fissions.
You get a fission chain reaction to allow you to sustainably produce energy. And because we’re dealing with atomic bonds here and not chemical bonds, there’s a lot more energy released than, say, burning natural gas or burning coal. It’s a lot of energy.
Historically, the way that we’ve harnessed that is a large light-water reactor. What does that mean? Generally, these are reactors that are a gigawatt or more in capacity. They have the uranium produced in fuel rods. They use the isotope uranium-235. That is how it actually produces the fission, but it’s only enriched about 5 percent. About 95 percent of the uranium in the fuel rods is uranium-238, and it doesn’t fission a lot. The enrichment is a key part of how you run these reactors.
The design philosophy here is about efficiencies of scale. The larger the reactor is, the more that you can get the costs down with engineering, regulatory costs, and equipment materials.
When you run the reactor, you’re using water for several things. You’re using water to transfer heat. These are either pressurized or boiling water reactors. It’s like a coal or natural gas plant—you’re using steam to turn a turbine. But you’re also using the water to cool the fuel itself. The fuel heats up over time; if you don’t cool it, it will cause issues like meltdowns and other sorts of accident scenarios.
The other thing that’s important, which we don’t think about outside the nuclear industry because we haven’t used it, is that water is a moderator. It slows down the neutron speed. Neutrons have different speeds. If they hit an atom at a certain speed, they’ll cause it to fission. If they’re going too fast or too slow, they might not. The water slows that down, so they’re able to fission atoms appropriately.
What does that mean in terms of advanced reactors? Advanced reactors are essentially everything that’s not that. We first have a class called “small modular reactors.” They’re very similar in that they use fuel rods. They have those same enrichment levels. They use water as the coolant, heat-transfer mechanism, and moderator, but they’re smaller. Instead of one gigawatt for a reactor, you’re talking anywhere from 50 megawatts to a couple hundred megawatts. The idea there that we’ll get into is that you are going through a different economic approach. Instead of trying to get efficiencies of scale, you’re trying to get efficiencies of serial production.
Otherwise, we have other types of advanced reactors that change the base elements of those characteristics entirely. They use different fuel forms. They use different chemical setups for the fuel. They don’t use fuel rods. Some of them have different enrichment levels. Instead of 5 percent uranium-235, they go up to 20 percent uranium-235. Some reactors have different coolants. They don’t necessarily use water. They might not need moderators because instead of needing to slow down the neutron speed, they use what’s called the “fast spectrum.” They use quicker neutrons that enable them to fission more efficiently with their design.
Those are all different factors. There are a bunch of different ways you can categorize the reactors. The way I think about it is that we’ve got molten salt reactors. We’ve got high-temperature gas reactors. Those are often known as using TRISO fuel, which is essentially little billiard balls of uranium instead of the fuel rods. We also have liquid metal cooled reactors. There’s a bunch of different categorizations that you could look at there, but it’s just changing the major elements of a reactor to fission in a different way that might be more efficient or more economic.
The final thing that I want to flag from the technology perspective is that we also have a new category of reactors that, again, are not very well-defined. We call them “microreactors.” These are not so much defined by how they’re fissioning the atom in terms of the fuel forms or enrichment levels, but rather their size. When we look at traditional large light-water reactors, those are one gigawatt. Small modular reactors are maybe 50–200 megawatts or more per reactor. You put them into a series of units at a single plant. You might actually have a 1-gigawatt small modular reactor facility. The other advanced reactors are somewhere in the scale of hundreds of megawatts.
Microreactors are much smaller. The smallest ones that we’re looking at commercially right now are as small as 1 megawatt. There are many in the 5–10 megawatt range. Depending on how you look at the definitions, you can get up to 20 or 30 megawatts. That is completely different for the nuclear industry. The way to think about it is that it’s distributed nuclear energy; it’s distributed scale. You could use this for small towns. You could use this on the grid’s edge. You could use this for remote operations. It’s opening up the areas that we can actually use nuclear energy.
Daniel Raimi: That’s a helpful starting point for us to understand the different technologies at play. Can you help us understand some of the differences? I know we’re going to have to speed through this, but what are some of the differences with regard to economics, safety of operations, and waste when we think about the light-water reactors of today versus these next-generation technologies that are being discussed and developed?
Alex Gilbert: Economics is probably the most important difference. That’s because, once large light-water reactors are built, they’re very cheap to operate, and you can operate them for decades. The problem is building them in the first place. They are megaprojects. They cost billions of dollars. They can take a decade or more to build. That is a challenge to finance, especially with what we’re seeing with electricity markets: increased competition and moving away from rate-basing.
On the economic side, the advanced-reactor companies are trying a number of different methods. First of all, there are many advanced-reactor companies. That’s very different; we have a lot of competition emerging among developers. Hopefully, that provides some competitive energy that we’ve never seen in the nuclear industry before. Instead of trying to get efficiencies of scale by making these things big, they’re trying to go for the economics of series production—essentially, looking at how wind and solar were able to iterate rapidly over multiple generations to drive costs down.
In the United States, we’ve never had 'nth-of-a-kind' of reactor built. Everything that we’ve done is essentially a first-of-a-kind, bespoke reactor. That leads to significant increases in costs, as well as construction complexity and issues that arise.
These new reactor companies are trying to build many reactors. They’re hoping that they can get to economies of scale and are going to be able to reduce non-recurring engineering costs with other innovations like factory production, so that it’s much cheaper to build these reactors and much more affordable than it has been before. That is probably the biggest motivator for the innovation here.
On the safety side, we’re also seeing major advancements. Generally speaking, all of the reactors that we’re looking at for this next generation used different principles to get to what’s called “inherent safety.” The idea there is that you don’t need active systems to function to keep the reactors safe. Those active systems are things that we’ve seen to be problematic in all the major accidents. At Fukushima, in particular, they lost off-site power supply. They had their generators flooded in the basement. That prevented them from running water over the reactors to cool them, which eventually led to the accident.
Advanced reactors completely changed all elements of the risk equation. For industrial risk, it’s the consequence of an accident times the probability. The consequences are going to be a lot smaller for advanced reactors because of their design. One, they’re smaller; there’s less nuclear material at risk. Two, they also don’t necessarily run at higher pressures and need to have consistent cooling. They don’t need as many operator interventions. Three, they reduce the likelihood of any accidents happening in the first place by being simpler systems and by requiring less intervention.
When it comes to safety, there will not be an advanced reactor built in the United States that is less safe than the existing fleet because of regulation. Safety regulation has that as the base benchmark. But we do expect, if you run the numbers, that next-generation reactors will be one to two or more orders of magnitude safer.
Finally, waste. Waste is more of an uncertainty. It’s not an area that’s driving this innovation here as much as economics. If you look at how we’re scaling down the reactors, we’re losing some of the efficiencies of scale when it comes to waste production. We expect we’ll see more low-level or intermediate waste in terms of requiring more reactors, concrete, and things that we can handle with the existing waste system, but there’s going to be more of it.
The big concern is high-level waste—spent nuclear fuel, and what happens there. It’s possible that we could see some increases in the volume. It’s possible that it’ll be about the same as existing large light-water reactors. That’s uncertain. It also depends on how the fuel cycle works and seeing if there are any innovations there. Ultimately, though, we do manage nuclear waste responsibly in the commercial sector. These are things that we do have short-term solutions for, but we are going to need a geological repository for any type of nuclear energy. That includes advanced reactors. That is still a major policy challenge.
Daniel Raimi: This might be a worthwhile moment to point out that your role at Zeno Power does involve nuclear energy and regulatory work. I just want to make sure listeners understand that you are participating in the nuclear economy. Is there anything you want to say about that just in terms of disclosure or whatever?
Alex Gilbert: We are developing radioisotope power sources. We essentially take some part of the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, of the waste portion, and then we use that to create small power sources for outer space and other remote locations on the earth. It’s something that we have used historically to power things like the Mars rovers and deep-space probes.
We at Zeno see ourselves as part of this waste innovation group that is emerging right now. There’s a number of companies that are starting to say, "We’ve seen all this reactor innovation happening that is important for carbon reductions and for the success of the nuclear industry, but we still are going to have this waste challenge. What can we do with that waste? What are ways to recycle it or to otherwise address it—to potentially store it, from a commercial perspective, that’s longer term?"
In terms of the success of the nuclear industry, we definitely are rooting for it, but our company is separate from the reactor and the large-scale advanced reactor innovations that are happening right now.
Daniel Raimi: Let’s move from descriptions of the technologies and their principles and components to what’s happening in the real world. There are a number of demonstration projects for some of these technologies that are being developed. Can you give us a few examples of what they look like and where there might be steel in the ground or even plants that are operational?
Alex Gilbert: Just over a year ago, when I was at the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, I worked with a number of the other advanced nuclear nongovernmental organizations—Third Way, Clean Air Task Force, and ClearPath—to ask, "Beyond just ideas, are these projects the real thing? Are they moving forward?" We found that there are just over 30 reactors around the world that are in what we would consider advanced stages of demonstration, several of which are operating.
To start off, the United States built and operated a very small advanced reactor in 2018 that was called Kilopower. It was a kilowatt-scale reactor to demonstrate the capability for NASA and for space applications. That was important because it was the first novel reactor designed, built, and operated in the United States in decades. So that really kind of kicked off things here. That design philosophy has moved forward to a lot of the companies that are developing reactors in the United States.
Abroad, we’re seeing projects that are operating. Russia has a small modular reactor, a light-water reactor, called the Akademik Lomonosov, which is derived from some of their nuclear technologies. It’s essentially a floating nuclear power plant. It’s a barge currently powering a small town in the Russian Arctic. It’s not just providing power; it’s also providing heat. That’s really important if you’re trying to look at the decarbonization potential. Earlier this year, China officially opened their high-temperature gas reactor that they’ve been working on for several decades. They’ve got that demonstration project running, as well as other projects that are in advanced licensing and construction phases.
In the United States, we’re right at the point where we’re starting licensing for a lot of reactor projects on the commercial side. We have three major demonstration projects; TerraPower and X-energy have funding from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. They’re going to be submitting their first license applications within a year or so—one, to build a reactor in Wyoming at a retiring coal plant; two, to build a reactor in Washington at an existing nuclear power plant. NuScale Power, which recently went public, is working to build a reactor to power Utah utilities, as well. All of those projects are set to be operating by 2030.
We also have a number of small-scale projects—Kairos Power, Oklo, and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation—that are moving toward developing different types of projects. Some of them are going to be focusing on more research-scale stuff. The Kairos Power project that is undergoing licensing right now is to provide information for a larger version that they’re doing down the line, whereas the Ultra Safe project is a research reactor to support research activities of the University of Illinois.
One other big one that I do want to flag though is Holtec, a longtime nuclear company. They’ve just announced applications for over $7 billion in loan guarantees to build a factory to produce reactors and for the first four of its reactors. We’re seeing a lot of momentum here to get to the first major stage, which is licensing. We would expect that a lot of these initial small reactors will be online by the middle of the decade, with the larger reactors online by the end of the decade.
Daniel Raimi: Thank you for giving us such a whirlwind in a short amount of time. We’re really just scratching the surface, as we often do on the podcast.
Let’s scratch a different surface now, which is policy here in the United States. This was actually the original motivator for this conversation, because there’s been a lot of legislation passed in the last five years or so that has advanced nuclear energy in different ways. Of course, we don’t have time to go into all of the details, but can you highlight a few ways in which these new pieces of legislation seek to accelerate the deployment of different kinds of advanced nuclear technologies?
Alex Gilbert: It really started off in 2017 or 2018 with work on two precursor bills: NEIMA and NEICA are their acronyms. Those kick-started innovation at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) respectively, with the idea on the NRC side being that we’re going to need to reform how we do nuclear regulation. The way that our entire regulatory system is set up is around those large light-water reactors. To be able to handle the whole variety of advanced reactors, we need to reform how we do regulation and make it smart regulation—make it effective so that we can reassure the public that we are doing these reactors safely and to make sure that that process is working well.
NEICA is the beginning of a lot of stuff on the DOE side; it ensures that DOE has the capability to support innovation. But since then, almost every major energy bill that we’ve seen in the last several years has had some nuclear component: the Energy Act of 2020, the infrastructure bill last year, the CHIPS Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA has been the keystone that capped off this whole area of very active legislation. Most of these bills have been bipartisan. Both parties are supporting nuclear right now. They see it as an area that both of them can work on together because of clean energy and the carbon potential.
The big thing is that these programs have established the basis for demonstration projects, either through direct funding or most recently with the Inflation Reduction Act, which sets up the tax credit basis so that you can build many of these reactors in the future. It levels the playing field for advanced reactors with other clean energy sources.
Daniel Raimi: Could you define a couple of acronyms you use? NEIMA and NEICA—what do those stand for?
Alex Gilbert: NEIMA is the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, which was focused on making NRC into a modern regulator. And NEICA, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, focused on bringing DOE up to speed for advanced reactors.
Daniel Raimi: Thank you. Let’s dig more into the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, which you seem to highlight as a particularly important source here. Can you talk a little bit about the ways in which the IRA is likely to benefit not just next-generation reactors, but also the fleet of existing reactors? Many of them have retired in recent years or have been in other types of economic straits.
Alex Gilbert: The primary way that the Inflation Reduction Act benefits nuclear is in tax credits. We see that for advanced nuclear specifically: it establishes tax credits that are essentially equal to other clean energy sources out there. We’ve had some stuff previously, but it has not been as optimized as the current system is.
It’s going to be valuable because, when we look at where advanced nuclear projects are right now, they’re still in the first-of-a-kind development stage. They are going to need some of that support from the tax credit side to be able to get to market and to start competing and start scaling up until they can become more self-sufficient. There are a number of other small tax credits throughout the Inflation Reduction Act that could help out: the Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit, some of the support for hydrogen tax credits, things that are more demand focused or focused on other opportunities. That could also include nuclear.
One of the big ways, though, was what you hinted at. The Inflation Reduction Act provides support for the existing nuclear fleet. We’ve seen, over the last 10 years, a large number of retirements of the existing nuclear fleet. Again, the nuclear fleet is the largest single source of carbon-free power in the United States. That’s been the big state and federal policy concern for years. We’ve seen a lot of work to try and reverse those retirements. We’ve had over 10 gigawatts retire. There were, at one point, as many as 20 gigawatts at risk. The Inflation Reduction Act, in working in conjunction with some provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, had some funding that would enable you to target the most at-risk reactors of retirement.
In the last several weeks since the Inflation Reduction Act was passed, Diablo Canyon in California, which was set to close down, has completely flipped from having political opposition to any sort of long-term operations, to having significant political support, including from the governor, for long-term operations. The infrastructure funding and the Inflation Reduction Act funding seemed to change the direction of that facility and can help ensure that California has reliability to support its overall energy transition.
We’ve also seen that Palisades, in Michigan, which just closed down earlier this year, is looking at restarting and coming back online. Many people, even the nuclear industry, did not expect that to happen. The funding and the Inflation Reduction Act are already having impacts on markets.
Daniel Raimi: Palisades is not too far from where I live here in Michigan. It’ll be interesting to see whether that does come back online and begin operating again.
Alex, one more question before we go to our Top of the Stack segment, which is about your expectations for the future. We talk about projections a lot here at Resources for the Future, and we publish a report every year that looks at projections for different organizations. There’s enormous uncertainty across all sorts of dimensions. But I’m wondering, if you had to speculate about what you think about the future of nuclear in the United States, where do you think it’s going to be in five or 10 years? Do you think we’re likely to see a flatlining of electricity generation from nuclear? Do you think we’re going to see moderate growth, or are we going to see rapid growth? Where would you put your chips if you had to put them down?
Alex Gilbert: From the policy side, there was a large concern for a long time that nuclear production in the United States was going to start steadily declining through the middle of the century as reactors continue to retire. It seems right now with the recent policy developments that nuclear power from the existing power plants is probably going to largely remain flat. We don’t expect there to be a lot more retirements driven by markets in the next 10 years or so.
The big question is, What happens on the advanced nuclear side? One of the issues with nuclear is it’s a longer-timeframe asset. It takes a while to build these projects and to get them established. They’ll operate for a very long time once they’re built, but it takes a while. Over the next 10 years, there are a couple things I think will happen.
First, we’ll see microreactors, those 1- to 20- or 30-megawatt reactors, grow and start accelerating quickly. The project life cycles on those are really short. In theory, right now, the primary determining factor for the timeline there is licensing. Once you have production capabilities, you can probably get one of those up and going within 12 months on the construction side. We could see a large number of microreactors being built in locations throughout the United States, particularly in Alaska.
In terms of the broader energy markets, the big thing we’re likely to see is a large amount of orders for advanced reactors. Especially as these demonstration projects move closer and closer to operation by the end of the decade, I expect that we’ll start seeing advanced nuclear considered a lot more in integrated resource plans and utility-level analysis. We’ll start seeing more orders for them.
When you’re looking at the decarbonization potential here—how much this generation can grow—we’re not going to see a lot in the 2020s. What we’re going to see is in the 2030s, where a lot of this is going to start happening, with rapid acceleration in the 2040s if the industry takes off—if the industry can solve its economic challenges.
That’s one of my big takeaways from the Inflation Reduction Act. The policy environment is now largely complete. The federal government, working with state governments and its different regulatory and other entities, is largely setting up the state for industry to deliver. It’s now going to be on industry to deliver and show that they can build these projects largely on time and on budget in a way that is economic.
If the industry can do that, there are a number of studies coming out in the last several months showing that the potential is literally hundreds of gigawatts. We could really see, by the middle of the century, that advanced reactors could dwarf the scale of the existing nuclear fleet. We could see 100 gigawatts. We could see up to 300 or 400 gigawatts. That could not just be decarbonizing power; it can also help decarbonize industrial heat or process heat.
That’s the potential. We’re not going to know whether industry has cracked that nut, though, for quite a while. It’s going to be a really big challenge for them to get to that scale, especially in those timeframes.
Daniel Raimi: That’s helpful to give us some of the most important elements of uncertainty and where the growth could come from, or where it could stall out. We’ll be watching closely, and I’m sure our listeners will, too, in the years ahead.
Alex, let’s close it out now with the same question that we ask all of our guests, which is asking you to recommend something that you’ve read or watched or heard that you think is great and that you think our listeners might enjoy. What’s at the top of your literal or your metaphorical reading stack?
Alex Gilbert: Former President Obama has been narrating a new series called Our Great National Parks. It was just released earlier this year. Especially as someone that has been focused on outdoors, wildernesses, national parks, and all of that, it’s been great to watch that series. It was probably released about three or four months ago. I’m most of the way through the series now. I’m hoping that they do additional seasons because, if you know anything about our national parks, they’re huge. There’s things that you learn all the time about them. That’s something I’ve been really enjoying.
Daniel Raimi: That’s a great recommendation. I haven’t been able to watch that yet, but I’ve been meaning to get my four-year-old to sit down with me and watch it together. We’ll see if we can coax him into it.
This has been great. Alex Gilbert from Zeno Power and the Colorado School of Mines, thank you again for coming onto the show today and helping us learn about these advanced nuclear technologies and where they might be taking us in the future. We really appreciate your voice.
Alex Gilbert: Thanks so much for having me.
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