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.
In 2008, Robert Steinhaus retired after 34 years working in nuclear research at the Lawrence Livermore National Labs. During his career, he worked on the U.S. nuclear weapons program and on magnetic mirrors. Mr. Steinhaus has been advocating for fusion and fission concepts for several years, as part of the Thorium Energy Alliance and The Fusion Energy League. In our interview we talk about his LLNL career and the links between fusion research and its connections to U.S. leadership in nuclear research.
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.
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.