Microsoft to help General Fusion accelerate clean energy development

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 15 May 2017
Microsoft to help General Fusion accelerate clean energy development

General Fusion, the Canadian company that is developing the world’s first commercially-viable fusion power plant, has announced that it is partnering with Microsoft to unlock critical insights into its experimental results using cloud-based big data techniques.

This collaboration was announced at the Microsoft Build 2017 developer conference in Seattle on May 12, and will see General Fusion’s plasma scientists join with Microsoft’s specialised 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.

“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 General Fusion CEO Christofer Mowry. “Advances in these enabling technologies, such as data processing and machine learning, are setting the stage for General Fusion to successfully complete our development programme 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 data than ever before. 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.”

Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and chief evangelist, said: “The opportunities opened up by these technologies are transforming the way General Fusion looks at its experimental data. We’re excited to be working side-by-side to help them fully explore its potential.”

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.

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