General Fusion collaboration fuses big data, machine learning to accelerate nuclear fusion research

Image: General Fusion

Vancouver-based nuclear fusion energy developer General Fusion is partnering with Microsoft’s Developer Experience Team in an attempt to gain new insights into its experimental results using cloud-based big data techniques.

The insights will help forge the company’s solution to the challenge of developing a practical commercial fusion energy technology.

This collaboration will join General Fusion’s plasma scientists together with Microsoft’s specialized software development team to build a new, cutting-edge computational platform—a platform that will enable General Fusion to mine over 100 terabytes of data from the records of its 150,000 experiments for new knowledge about how fusion energy is created and controlled, the company said.

“Our work with Microsoft brings together cutting edge fusion research with modern data science tools and cloud computing techniques, demonstrating how new enabling technologies can accelerate progress in the development of fusion as a clean energy source,” said Christofer Mowry, General Fusion chief executive officer.

“Advances in these enabling technologies, such as data processing and machine learning, are setting the stage for General Fusion to successfully complete our development program and make practical fusion energy a near-term reality.”

Working with Microsoft’s big data experts will enable General Fusion to look more deeply into its terabytes of experimental plasma data than ever before, the company said in a statement.

The Microsoft Developer Experience Team, which works with visionary enterprises adopting new technologies to drive rapid innovation, is providing cloud computing resources and expertise in machine learning, cloud computing and data management using a variety of open source technologies in conjunction with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

“General Fusion can produce as much as 100 gigabytes of experimental data per day,” said project manager Brendan Cassidy. “This project will give us the ability to examine this information in ways that were not previously possible.”

The project team is now preparing General Fusion’s experimental data for machine learning analysis, a process which is anticipated to result in new scientific discoveries from previously unexplored areas of plasma physics.

General Fusion is funded by a global syndicate of energy companies, venture capital firms and technology pioneers, including: Cenovus Energy, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, Bezos Expeditions, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Growthworks, Braemar Energy Ventures, BDC, Entrepreneurs Fund, SET Ventures and Sustainable Development Technology Canada.