Earlier this year we at General Fusion ran our first crowdsourced challenge. The hope was to find a clever new way to seal components of our fusion system in a manner that better survives extreme impacts, pressure and heat. Kirby Meacham, an MIT-trained mechanical engineer with his name on 35 US patents and about as many years of experience, claimed the $20,000 prize for his “Metallic Pressure-Balanced Anvil Seal” design.
Fusion is hot: tens of millions of degrees hot. Maybe it’s a bit ironic that fusion technology is also pretty "cool". The challenge of creating the extreme conditions for fusion – the fundamental science, the power and energy required, the sophisticated controls, the advanced diagnostic systems – all push the boundaries of human capability. That’s inspiring, and it inspires people to come up with some wonderfully cool and creative names for their fusion machines.
We have a winner!
In April, General Fusion launched our first crowdsourced engineering challenge in hopes of finding a clever new way to seal components of our fusion system in a manner that will better survive extreme impacts, pressure and heat.
We’re pleased to announce that Kirby Meacham of Cleveland, OH has claimed the $20,000 prize for his “Metallic Pressure-Balanced Anvil Seal” design. Kirby is an MIT-trained mechanical engineer with over 30 years of design experience and quite a reputation as an inventor: he has his name on 35 US patents.
On May 13th, 2015, General Fusion CEO Nathan Gilliland testified at a hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology's Subcommittee on Energy. This hearing, entitled "Nuclear Energy Innovation and the National Labs", discussed research activities and infrastructure within the Department of Energy’s national laboratories and how the private sector can leverage those capabilities for investments with near-term payoff. The hearing also focused on research to advance nuclear energy technology. Below is an excerpt from Nathan Gilliland's written testimony:
Earlier this week General Fusion secured a $27 million (CAD) investment with the closing of our biggest round of financing to date. This funding puts us in a very strong financial position and will allow us to continue the development of our Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) technology: the fastest and most practical approach to commercial fusion energy production. Since Dr. Michel Laberge founded General Fusion in 2002, we’ve become the global leader in MTF and have made tremendous technical progress. We’ve also raised $100 million in order to make this happen.
General Fusion is a small company trying to solve a big problem. Our team of 65 (physicists, engineers and technologists) is working on proving that our approach to fusion is the quickest and most practical. We’ve got quite a few talented, smart people here, but we know that there are many talented, smart people elsewhere.
Right now you can’t go two days without reading about the low price of oil, oversupply, the economic implications, and forecasts for the future. With our large oil and gas sector, this is particularly true in Canada, and there have been plenty of “what does it mean for fusion?” questions coming our way.
The answer becomes obvious if you think broadly about our current energy system. Let’s look at a few factors:
It’s been interesting to observe and, to some degree, be involved in the media coverage that accompanied Lockheed Martin’s announcement revealing their Skunk Works Compact Fusion Reactor program.
What a way to close out 2014!
In the wake of the Lockheed announcement, fusion has been featured in Aviation Week, New Scientist, The Guardian, Wired, Popular Mechanics, Physics Today, Forbes, Science, the Washington Post, NBCNews, The Economist, Foreign Policy, etc. The intensity of the Lockheed coverage – and to a smaller extent the announcement by Prof. Tom Jarboe and his team at the University of Washington the week before – has probably surprised everyone in the field. The fusion community is used to toiling earnestly in the lab without much in the way of public profile.