Fusion News - September & October 2018

Below are a smattering of events that you may have missed. The reality is, if fusion power became a reality today everyone reading this article will be able to participate. There is plenty of work out there. This includes all you investors, engineers and entrepreneurs out there - you know who you are.

1. On October 30th 2018, Phoenix (Phoenix Neutron Generators) broke ground on their neutron imaging facility in Fitchburg, Wisconsin. This was an exciting day for the company that started in 2005, as an offshoot of fusor research at University of Wisconsin. I have been watching this company for more than 8 years now - and this latest milestone shows how nuclear fusion has firmly moved into the everyday world. The company has made a very nice video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCUowOZHBj0) of the groundbreaking. The president openly describes how fusion is a key component of their neutron imaging technology. In the past, the company did not openly emphasize its' connection to fusion.

2. On October 26th 2018, General Fusion announced that Canada’s Strategic innovation Fund had invested 49.3 million into the company. This is the scale-up funding that founder Michel Laberge, Michael Delage and CEO Christofer Mowry have been seeking for their next large machine. The company plans to add 400 new positions and build a larger, more power CT compression device. The company emphasized that this was not a grant; the Canadian government is expecting some return on this investment.

3. The last week of October 2018, the Fusion Industry Association opened a new website. This group grew from the American Fusion Project, a lobbying group for fusion startups in Washington DC. The group is advocating to key decision-makers at the Department of Energy and ARPA-E, with the hopes of getting changes made in the FY 2020 budget. They are also planning to participate in Fusion Day, an annual congressional lobbying effort in March.

4. Dr. Kirk Flippo has SEVEN openings in the High Energy Density physics department at Los Alamos National Labs. That an usually number of openings. The jobs range from post-docs, to scientists, to engineering talent. Check out the Los Alamos job page and search for the P-24 group. I got an email from Dr. Ned Saleh, who used to work there, asking around if anyone was. If you think you are up to it, you should reach out, especially at the DPP APS conference this week in Portland.

5. Three items came out the from The Fusion Podcast. On September 19th 2018, I put out a summary article on my interview with Dr. Sam Cohen from Princeton. The week of October 7th 2018, I published a video about Tanner Hornes' effort and the history and development of cusp confinement. Lastly, on October 28th, I premiered a new interview with Dr. Joe Khachan at the University of Sydney for The Fusion Podcast.

An Interview With Dr. Sam Cohen

An Interview With Dr. Sam Cohen

Guest Bio - Dr. Sam Cohen

For 44 years, Dr. Sam Cohen has worked as a physicist at Princeton University. He currently serves as director of the Plasma Science and Technology program at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Since 1998, Sam has been performing research on plasma devices known as Field-Reversed Configurations (FRCs), studying their potential as power plants and rocket engines. In November of 2013, his small group announced that they had held an FRC stable for 300 milliseconds - a world record, by a large margin. Our interview covers a transition period in his career, from his time spent as a manager on the US ITER effort to his personal experiences rubbing shoulders with physics luminaries to the beautiful physics and practical aspects of field-reversed configurations. Dr. Cohen offers advice on how the US government could accelerate progress in fusion by re-invigorating research into small, clean fusion reactors, an activity now proceeding almost exclusively with venture capital support.

Seven Ways To Model Plasma

Seven Ways To Model Plasma

This post covers seven ways to model plasma: charged ideal gases, charged single fluid, two charged fluids, gyrokinetic, kinetic, everything and quantum.  The post was inspired by a recent paper trying to model plasma using Quantum Field Theory.  It opens with short histories of the charged ideal gas model and magnetohydrodynamics.  An example from magnetic mirrors is used to show flaws in the MHD model.  Next, the two-fluid model is explained based on differences between the ion and the electron.  After this, particle-in-cell is covered and how it fits with gyrokinetics and kinetics.  Gyrokinetics is shown to simplify ions’ corkscrewing motion.  Kinetics is shown as (BIC) blob-in-cell modeling.  Quantum and klimontovich (everything) models are covered at the end.

The VLAB Fusion Panel (11–7–2017)

The VLAB Fusion Panel (11–7–2017)

On Tuesday November 7th 2017 a fusion panel discussion was held on Stanford’s campus. The panel was organized by Virtual Labs, a non-for-profit organization in Silicon Valley. The goal of VLAB is connect entrepreneurs to technologists. Former members of the VLAB group have included managers at some of the valleys’ premier technology companies. The event was organized by Michelle Tsing, a lawyer and an entrepreneur. The panel was moderated by Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh a member of nuclear engineering department at Berkeley. The panel also included Dr. Michele Lebarge from General Fusion, Dr. Thomas McGuire from Lockheed Martin and Ray Rothrock, a former member of Venrock capital. It also included Dr. Matt Thompson from TA Technologies (Tri alpha rebranded, more on this later). I reached out to Michelle and she was gracious enough to share a 90 minute recording of the panel. You can watch the event through facebook - here. After watching this talk, I wrote this quick summary of the event. Enjoy.