Tri Alpha Energy, the fusion power company that dare not speak its name, may finally showcase, or at least describe, its technology next year, according to sources.
That's all we know now.
But that's not bad. Tri Alpha is one of the most secretive greentech companies out there. Back in 2007, I wrote about how the University of California Irvine spin-off raised $40 million from Venrock and others and Venrock still doesn't list it as a portfolio company. The company is based in Foothill Ranch, Calif., but it doesn't answer the phone.
But here are some things I've picked up:
• The basic technology comes from Hendrik Monkhorst of the University of Florida (see CV on link) and Norman Rostoker, the 84-year old professor that oversees fusion research at UCI. Other technical employees include Eusebio Garate and Artan Qerushi from UCI. Some of Qerushi's patents can be seen here. Sean Dettrick and Vitaly Bystritskii have been associated with the company.
• George Sealy is the CEO.
• The technology sounds similar to some degree to the fusion and hybrid fusion research taking place at Lawrence Livermore National Labs. Tri Alpha wants to mix hydrogen and boron in a high temperature plasma to make helium. That reaction will release energy. Additionally, the fusion reaction can be wrapped in blankets of uranium, thorium, plutonium and your garden variety nuclear waste. Neutrons from the fusion process can create fission reactions within the nuclear blankets and generate even more power. The fusion-fission nature of the proces is what makes it a hybrid.
Lawrence Livermore, however, has 192 high-powered lasers to drive its fusion reaction. We're not completely sure what Tri Alpha has. Lawrence hopes to demonstrate its lasers in 2010 or 2011.