This time, General Fusion asks the crowd to think outside the box on “Fast Current Switch in Plasma Device”
VANCOUVER — (March 15, 2016) — Innovative clean tech company General Fusion has again turned to the wisdom of the crowd – this time in a search for ideas to alter the path of a substantial electrical current in its plasma experiments. Understanding the complex behaviour of plasma is a key to achieving fusion, a potential source of abundant, clean, safe and affordable energy.
The idea of crowdsourcing innovation has become a regular tool for General Fusion, a leader in developing commercial fusion energy. This is the third time the company has looked to the crowd for a solution to a thorny high-tech problem, teaming up with InnoCentive of Waltham, MA, and its roster of 355,000 registered “solvers” from nearly 200 countries.
Last December, General Fusion asked solvers to to identify new patterns in hundreds of gigabytes of data from plasma experiments, using statistical techniques and computational tools. The 120-day challenge, titled “Data-Driven Prediction of Plasma Performance”, is still going, with 650 active participants. Before that, General Fusion asked solvers to design a seal for its fusion system that will withstand withering impacts, pressure, heat and rapid repetition. An MIT-trained mechanical engineer with over 30 years of experience claimed that $20,000 prize with his clever design, beating out over 60 submissions from 17 different countries.
In this latest challenge, titled “Fast Current Switch in Plasma Device “, General Fusion is asking solvers to think outside the box for ideas on how to quickly and reliably induce a substantial current to jump a 5-10 cm gap within a few hundred microseconds. A solution to this problem could simplify General Fusion’s plasma experiments (plasma is the super-heated hydrogen gas that fuels General Fusion’s Magnetic Target Fusion process). The company is eager to see if the solvers can come up with an approach which is easier or cheaper to implement than the ideas that are already on the table.
In this 30-day “Ideation Challenge”, General Fusion is putting up a guaranteed $10,000 in prize money to be paid to the best idea, or shared between multiple unique ideas. Rather than detailed designs, participants submit their undeveloped ideas.
“We have been excited to run an Ideation Challenge since we started crowdsourcing,” says Brendan Cassidy, the company’s crowdsourcing project leader. “We will tap into a global wealth of creativity and ingenuity in this world-wide brainstorming session.”
This challenge will again be hosted by InnoCentive, which has conducted similar successful challenges with NASA and Procter & Gamble, among others. All details of this challenge and eligibility requirements can be found on InnoCentive’s website. The challenge opens today and runs until April 14, 2016.