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Insights from TechConnect

    In June, we were delighted to be represented at the 2024 TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo. A fantastic event to be a part of, for the past 20 years, the conference has been a vital place for connecting top applied research and early-stage innovations from universities, labs, and startups with industry end-users and prospectors. 

    In attendance at the event was Mike Langone, presenting on behalf of the New Mexico Energy Technology Incubator (NMETI). As long time members of NMETI, we were very proud that Woodruff Engineering was included as a key player in their presentation within the Supply Chain session of the event.

    This session, which aligns strongly with the aims of Woodruff Engineering, was to confront the fusion supply chain challenges the industry is facing and together try to create a path forward. 

    The event highlighted both the appetite for fusion energy as well as the challenges faced by the sector. Ultimately, the grand challenge of developing a new energy source based on fusion power has spurred the creation of a private fusion industry, in the hopes to accelerate and expand the offering within the sector. 

    With the apparent support of the White House and its “bold decadal vision,” many private fusion companies anticipate making fusion power a reality by the 2030s. A bold vision indeed, however actually achieving this requires growth in various industries, including emerging high-tech sectors like superconducting wire, radiation-tolerant materials, and lasers, as well as more conventional industries such as steel, concrete, and software.

    On the other hand, large public-sector fusion facilities have identified industrial capabilities specific to their needs, providing valuable lessons. However, this is only a preliminary step toward the scale-up needed for an expanding fusion power industry. 

    It is exciting to be part of the solution, working within a network of leading organizations aiming to understand not only the current state of the fusion supply chain, but to also share lessons learned from existing facilities, and discuss future needs and strategies to bridge the gap between supply chain capabilities and the opportunity for growth.