Dr. Jaeyoung Park serves as the head of Energy Matter Conversion Corporation (EMC2) in San Diego California. Dr. Park received a doctorate in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University in 1997 and is the author of over 50 peer-reviewed publications. He worked as research scientist and project leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 10 year before joining EMC2. Our interview lays out the company’s recent efforts to numerically simulate the Polywell fusion concept using a high performance computing code. The EMC2 team has partnered with KU Leuven in Belgium to utilize ECsim code. The ECsim, developed by KU Leuven, is a well-optimized plasma code that can handle up to a billion or more particles. The code can run over thousands of CPUs and has the unique capability of preserving the total energy of the system. The collaboration helped EMC2 to improve their understanding of Polywell system and to develop approaches and designs for the next generation Polywell devices. This experience showcases a potential transformation in fusion research: where HPC plasma codes offer physicists the ability to conduct extensive tests before building a machine
Dr. Michl Binderbauer is the architect of research and development of TAE Technologies and is a co-inventor of many of the company’s technological advancements. Dr. Binderbauer has dedicated the past two decades to evolving the knowledge and technology of TAE. He is an expert in reactor kinetics, equilibrium, and stability of advanced beam-driven field-reversed configurations and aneutronic fusion systems. Recently, he has focused on reactor physics, engineering and enabling technologies, and a wide array of applications of the core TAE technologies — from medicine to isotope production and chemical processing. He holds more than 40 issued and pending U.S. patents and numerous international technology patents, and he has authored or co-authored many peer-reviewed publications in the areas of plasma physics and fusion. Dr. Binderbauer holds a PhD in physics from the University of California, Irvine.
Dane Andrews and Jeremy Adams are two high school students in the Chicago area who built a Farnsworth-Hirsch fusor in their garage. They were able to raise $2,016 dollars on Kickstarter and used 3-D printing to partially construct their device. In our interview, we walk amateurs through the nuts and bolts of building a fusor.
In 2017, Mila Aung-Thwin co-directed the film “Let There Be Light,” a documentary about fusion research. The film followed work done at ITER, General Fusion and Focus Fusion. In our interview, we focused on his impressions of fusion research as an outsider, the scope of the film and communicating fusion to the public. Mila points out that most people have never heard of the research behind fusion, nor the people involved in the effort. Mr. Aung-Thwin co-founded EyeSteelFilm, a Montreal-based film studio, in 2000. He has produced more than 25 feature documentaries, including “Up the Yangtze.”
Mrs. Stephanie Thomas serves as vice president of Princeton Satellite Systems. In June 2017, the company was awarded a small National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant to develop a fusion-driven rocket engine. At the heart of this approach is a field reversed configuration. This is a loop of plasma, which is self-contained by its own magnetic properties. The company is building off the progress made by Dr. Sam Cohen's lab at Princeton. In our interview, we go through the specifications of this machine, its size, its performance and its implication for space flight. Mrs. Thomas holds master's degrees in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 2010, Carl Greninger founded the Northwest Nuclear Consortium, which is a high school club that allows teens to work directly with a nuclear fusor. Since its founding, the group has educated roughly 36 students who collectively have won $600,000 in college scholarships. In 2013, the teens took second place at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, in the physics category. In our interview we discuss the fusor and its power to excite young people in the pursuit of fusion. We also discuss plans to expand the program to U.S. high schools.
Dr. George Miley is a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois. He has devoted his career to finding breakthroughs in fusion research. Over the past five decades, he has worked on a wide variety of approaches. Dr. Miley is most proud of his support for more than fifty doctoral candidates while at the University of Illinois. Our interview touches on a diverse set of topics, including: fission pumped lasers, Russian espionage, inertial confinement fusion, field reversed configurations, basic plasma theory and direct conversion. Dr. Miley also was nice enough to share personal stories about other famous fusion researchers. His current research is focused on an inertial electrostatic-based space engine. Dr. Miley got his bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie Institute of Technology and received his master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Michigan in 1959. He met his wife, Liz, at Michigan and they now live in Illinois.
Mr. Sutherland is current CEO and co-founder of the startup CTFusion in Seattle, Washington. He is also a PhD student at the University of Washington, in Dr. Tom Jarboe's lab. The pair are spearheading the development of the dynomak fusion reactor concept. The dynomak evolved from a spheromak but it uses a brand-new method of plasma heating. Our interview walks you through the dynomak approach.