TAE Technologies Inc., one of Orange County’s most funded and promising technology companies, has launched its first commercial application through a newly formed subsidiary.
TAE Life Sciences, which emerged last week backed with a $40 million Series A venture round, is developing a ground-breaking oncology treatment system using energy beams.
The investment round, led by San Francisco-based ARTIS Ventures, included a board seat for its president, Stuart Peterson.
The Boron Neutron Capture Therapy treatment targets specific cancer cells and often inoperable tumors, such as glioblastomas, and head and neck cancers, while leaving healthy surrounding cells uncompromised.
TAE Life Sciences’ initial customer, Neuboron Medtech Ltd., plans to install the multimillion-dollar machine at a cancer treatment center in China that’s scheduled to open late next year. TAE Life Sciences is working with the Nanjing, China-based company and other clinical researchers on regulatory clearances and bringing the therapy to market.
“We finished the design and are in fabrication,” President and Chief Technology Officer Michl Binderbauer told the Business Journal last week. “Almost two decades of research and development repurposed for the medical space.”
The proprietary energy beams, or particle accelerators, and some related patents were developed by a growing team of engineers and Ph.D.s at TAE Technologies’ nondescript headquarters in Lake Forest, where the company has crossed several milestones in its quest to topple nature’s immense roadblocks in nuclear fusion.
Fusion combines two or more lighter atoms into a larger one, long considered the fantasy hope in clean nuclear energy production. By contrast, fission is the splitting of a large atom into two or more smaller ones, a process that ultimately led to the creation of the atom bomb in World War II, and that’s used to produce electricity in today’s commercial reactors.
TAE’s fifth-generation prototype “plasma fusion” machine, C-2W, runs on 750 megawatts of energy—nearly enough to power all of OC.
The previous version, C-2U, used about 25 megawatts of power, roughly the same pull as 25,000 homes.
The company has spent more than $100 million to build the latest system from the ground up, a yearlong undertaking that included massive electrical upgrades.
When the 100-foot machine fires—spurts are measured in thousands of a second—the system disconnects from the grid. The power is passed through locomotive cables thicker than an adult arm, with 30 to 40 tons of copper, cabling and switch gear.
Four giant cylindrical systems, or diverters, each siphon out unwanted materials at 2 million liters per second.