How do we harness the power of the stars to deliver clean energy on Earth?
It has been a collective goal – and, perhaps, an impending imperative – for human civilization to secure renewable energy sources for its present and future needs. The team at Proxima Fusion, led by co-founder and CEO Francesco Sciortino, is focused on one approach to build a fusion power plant. Their use of a “stellarator”, a wildly complex machine that until recently has been literally impossible to build, could prove the economic viability of the design and its underlying physics.
Headquartered in the booming ‘tough tech’ center of Munich, Germany, and drawing in expertise globally, Francesco shares with us how his team of scientist-engineers are leveraging prior learnings from tokamak systems as well as integrating institutional knowledge from their stellarator’s predecessor, the famed Wendelstein 7-X reactor built by the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics.
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- Episode homepage: www.toughtechtoday.com/harnessing-the-power-of-a-star/
- Francesco Sciortino on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/francesco-sciortino-aa340180/
- Proxima Fusion homepage: http://proximafusion.com/
- MIT PSFC article about Proxima Fusion: https://www.psfc.mit.edu/news/2023/from-mit-bonds-to-stellarator-breakthroughs-proxima-fusion
- Producers: Jonathan 'JMill' Miller and Forrest Meyen
- Guest: Francesco Sciortino
- Hosts: JMill and Forrest Meyen
- Editing: JMill
- Transcript: Alan Yan and JMill
- Blog Author: JMill
- Art Design: JMill (stellarator icon credit Olena Panasovska)
- [1:25] What is fusion energy?
- [2:44] Different ways forward in harnessing fusion energy
- [4:45] Competition vs collaboration in fusion
- [8:32] Tokamaks vs. stellarators
- [12:01] Why the W7-X looks the way it does
- [16:43] Francesco’s background and Proxima Fusion beginnings
- [24:55] Investment case for long time horizon projects in fusion
- [30:05] How to set meaningful milestones for tough tech projects
- [35:54] Mechanics of building a stellarator power plant
- [42:43] Do you need control mechanisms for fusion?
- [45:27] Seeking stability in fusion systems
- [47:06] Usefulness of Helium-3 in fusion systems
- [50:19] Where Francesco is now
- [52:10] What’s ahead for Proxima
Transcript is viewable here: https://otter.ai/u/cEyXpgYNFKgTPRZWbR78cvc-88A