Neutron generator manufacturer Phoenix gains investor funds
Phoenix, a Monona advanced physics company, is boosting its bank account with $4.5 million from investors — part of what the company hopes will be a $10 million investment round.
Phoenix makes neutron generators whose high-speed particle beams pass through an object and create a highly detailed image. Beams from the company’s proton generators can thinly slice silicon for use in solar panels or electronic equipment.
Purchasers of Phoenix’s multimillion-dollar machines include the U.S. Army, which can use the neutron generator to check for cracks in missiles and other weapons, and nuclear fuel manufacturers, for quality control of reactor fuel rods.
A portion of the latest investment money will be used to equip a pair of buildings under construction for Phoenix at Highway 14 and Lacy Road in Fitchburg — a neutron imaging center and new headquarters — at a projected cost of $12 million to $15 million.
The rest of the money will help finance a new way the company plans to market its generators, said president Evan Sengbusch.
In addition to selling the machines outright and offering their services at the neutron imaging center, Phoenix plans to provide on-site services that will let customers lease machines and station Phoenix employees with them to conduct the imaging.
Sengbusch said he expects interest from the aerospace industry — manufacturers of aircraft turbine blades or satellite components. “A lot of these customers have been using nuclear reactors (to perform the imaging) for the last 40 years or so,” he said.
Three investors have participated in the funding round so far, led by Outlook Investment Group in suburban Milwaukee.
Founded in 2005, Phoenix has raised a total of $25 million. The company has about 90 employees, about 70 of them full time.