Neutron Radiography

PNIC Grand Opening Event Recap

By November 20, 2019 No Comments

This past October marked one year since we broke ground on the site of our future neutron imaging facility, and while the cold, wet Wisconsin winter we had afterward had stymied construction efforts for a few months, once the weather had cleared up, PNIC sprouted like a weed, and in what felt like no time at all, the building was complete. To mark the progress we’ve made over the past year and officially welcome Phoenix to its future home of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony with representatives from the local Fitchburg and Madison governments and state government officials, as well as local business associations and some of our closest partners and clients in attendance.

PNIC exterior

We kicked off the ribbon-cutting ceremony with a speech from Phoenix CEO Ross Radel before moving on to hear speakers from Pratt & Whitney, the US Army, the University of Wisconsin, and the City of Fitchburg.

Ross Radel delivers opening remarks at the PNIC grand opening event

“It’s been a long journey to get to this place. It’s great to have these celebrations, but there’s a lot of foundation underneath this fun little event. This all started ten years ago when Phoenix recognized the potential for this core fusion-based technology to move into this space and potentially become a source of neutron radiography that does not require a nuclear reactor.”

Ross RadelPhoenix CEO

“I’m happy to be here today to offer Phoenix a huge congratulation for their accomplishments. They’re providing a huge service for the aerospace industry. As aerospace technology evolves toward more thermal efficiency, reduced fuel burn by means of operating at higher gas temperatures, these passages in turbine airfoils are only going to get finer and more constricted, which means we will be even more reliant on N-ray.”

Lea CastlePrincipal Engineer, Pratt & Whitney
Lea Castle delivers a speech on neutron imaging's utility to turbine blade manufacturers
Aaron Richardson shows off a spirited license plate during his speech

“The imaging center and future headquarters will strengthen Fitchburg’s technology neighborhood brand, which focuses on high-tech industry clusters including science and advanced manufacturing, so it’s really a great fit for us… It’s really great to see what a great business partner they are, and what a great civic partner they are as well… We’re extremely fortunate to have Phoenix here with us.”

Aaron RichardsonMayor of Fitchburg

“The US Army and Phoenix have had a long and successful partnership for an unusually long period of time for a small business and the US government. This is almost entirely based upon innovation, long hours of hard work, and on the professionalism, dedication, dedication to the mission and country and ultimately to the warfighter, that Phoenix has demonstrated now for all these years. Congratulations to Phoenix and all its dedicated employees for a job truly well done.”

Larry D’airiesPhysicist and Subject Matter Expert, US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command
Speakers at the PNIC grand opening event
Paul Wilson speaks about the partnership UW-Madison's nuclear physics program has had with Phoenix

“The near-term revenue from fusion neutrons is going to be a way to bootstrap our work towards fusion energy. What we’ve ended up with here is one of the premier neutron economies. We’ve created this neutron economy in southeastern Wisconsin, a place that is maybe closest rivaled in the United States by Oak Ridge National Lab, which is a multi-billion-dollar federal facility, and even then, not a commercial facility. So there’s a really unique opportunity here to build on that.”

Paul WilsonUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison Chair of the Department of Engineering and Physics

After posing for a few photos and cutting a few ribbons, we led tours of the facility for our guests, showing off the bunker which will soon contain our neutron imaging setup.

Evan Sengbusch takes VIPs on a tour of the bunker which will house our neutron imaging system

You can watch a highlight reel of the grand opening event here:

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was the biggest event of the past month by far, but it wasn’t our only big event for the month. On top of that, we also hosted our first-ever live question-and-answer event on Reddit! For two hours on Wednesday, October 23, our executive team put their heads together to answer questions from dozens of curious Reddit users on the r/AskScience subreddit. Questions we received broached topics such as fusion energy, Madison life, our relationship with UW-Madison’s nuclear program, career advice, ethics, and much more.