Kiwi in leading development role
W hen Matthew Simmons stood up on stage at TEDx Auckland in October this year the title of his talk
was ‘Saving lives with the world’s largest subwoofer – a breakthrough discovery of potential warning systems for volcanoes and atmospheric disturbances’.
In 1983, then a 12-year-old boy, Simmons started his first business venture repairing loudspeakers in his father’s workshop. Forward to 2012 and that young entrepreneur’s business is a New Zealand-based technology trailblazer with almost 30 years of continuous innovation, research and product development. His company, Arvus Group, covers an unusually wide range of industries which include electronics, acoustics, geothermal power generation, atmospheric and geology monitoring, nuclear and chemical sciences.
Simmons flew from the TEDx stage to the airport to catch his sixth flight to China where he presented at an International Thorium Energy Conference in Shanghai.
Says Simmons: “Nuclear, in the form of Thorium is now back on the table. These small reactors were developed over 40 years ago, but were forgotten, and now China, India, South Africa, Japan and the US are developing them. It represents a significant shift in what is considered good nuclear.”
Simmons claims that thorium is ten times more abundant than uranium and thorium based reactors are safe, cheap and have almost no waste or weapons-grade by-products. Arvus is now partnering with companies in China, South Africa, UK and the US to develop unique materials and thermoelectric solutions for these new reactors.
Arvus is developing a solution called Thermagenz™. This is a solid-state power generator that can convert heat directly to electricity. There are no moving parts and no need for water. The 2KW prototype is almost complete with strong interest from geothermal and nuclear industries.
Says Simmons, “Even now the solution is viable, with plans for large geothermal installations in the works. However to get Thermagenz™ working in other power systems we are developing a unique semiconductor that has the potential to be over 50% efficient. At these levels Thermagenz™ has the potential to be a game changer for cheap, reliable carbon free electricity.”