Greg Fridman of AA Plasma answers our questions about plasma and real world applications. He also chats with us on our podcast this week.

What do you make?

I’m a research and development engineer focused on atmospheric pressure non-equilibrium plasmas for the catalysis of various chemical processes. In other words, our team works on controlling chemical processes for energy, environmental remediation, agriculture, and medical industries. For example, we use non-equilibrium (“cold”) plasma to disinfect fresh produce before packaging it to provide you with pathogen-free lettuce.

A photo of Greg Fridman of AA Plasma giving a thumb's up from the seat of a large, green tractor.

Who do you make it for?

We work with our industrial partners who have a poorly or partially solved problem. For example, a large-scale bread bakery produces excessive alcohols and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Today they burn this polluted air with natural gas, producing CO2. We can do this with plasma at comparable CAPEX (capital expenditure), slightly higher OPEX (operating expense), but without the excessive CO2 emission.

Where are you located?

Our main lab is just outside the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, near 38th and Grays Ferry Avenue in Philadelphia. We partner with local universities to perform some of the more challenging plasma and materials diagnostics. We also partner with regional manufacturing partners to work on some of our more significant projects.

Photo by Greg Fridman of AA Plasma of a large, green tractor treating a crop field with plasma.

When did you start making?

Me? Well, I was born into it. With both mom and dad in academia, I had Ph.D. students as my babysitters for as long as I can remember. But I really started making cool stuff at the Moscow Chemical Lyceum when I was around 14. At that age, oh, but of course, my primary interest was in making lacrimators and explosives.

How long have you been making?

I’m 43, so 30+ years, give or take. My interests evolve, though. I’ve worked on commercializing cold plasmas for about a decade.

Photo by Greg Fridman of a plasma discharge. The photo has a center tube that has a small plasma discharge going down that looks like a thick lightning bolt

What inspired you to make this?

After a decade of studying plasmas and publishing 50+ papers (with about 10,000 references), I wanted to make something useful for humanity. I think some call it “commercialization.” Here’s my Google Scholar link, by the way: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=fNk59nMAAAAJ&hl=en

What makers inspire you?

All of you! Especially those of you who publish YouTube video explainers. I am forever grateful to the YouTubers who taught me how to pour epoxy tables, MIG and TIG weld, etc. When working on a new problem, I usually watch a dozen hours of videos on how others have attempted this.

What’s next?

We are building something we call “Cold Plasma Studio” (in a few months, we should have our website up: https://coldplasmastudio.com/). The Studio will be a maker collective with a focus on the applications of cold plasmas. I’ve been dreaming of a solid, white-walled warehouse with epoxy floors, and we are now working on this 22,000 square foot beast, just 4 miles from the University City. Stay tuned!

What would you like to ask the maker community?

Stay awesome! Don’t give up and keep making incredible stuff!

What was your favorite exhibit at the Faire?

Oh, a trick question?! You mean beside our own? I met NextFab at the Maker Faire, so I’m going to go with that one. But the robot dogs and the drones were pretty awesome. I think the Cocoa Press 3D chocolate maker exhibit, next table to ours, is fantastic: https://www.cocoapress.com/. Finally, I thought the handwashing game for kids is the way of the future: https://www.higenemonkey.com/!

What connections did you make?

Too many to list. I’m a talkative type, and I did lose my voice by the end of the Maker Faire.

What is the best moment for you as a maker?

When I see it break BUT I know why it failed and have a great idea how to fix it! It’s incredible when there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Anything else you want to add?

This was a fun interview, thank you. I am happy to do this again. Those of you who have questions, please feel free to reach out to me at greg@aaplasma.com or @gregfridman on the socials. Please note that I mostly use LinkedIn. Also, check out my YouTube channel where I try to give back to the Maker community by reading scientific papers together: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqIv5f7G9pbfwsDVaLyoP5g

Greg Fridman on the podcast

The podcast is on your favorite streaming services by searching for Philly Maker Faire: https://anchor.fm/phillymakerfaire/episodes/Greg-Fridman-from-AA-Plasma-e19juvm

Find Greg Fridman and AA Plasma

Website: https://www.aaplasma.com/

Email: greg@aaplasma.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gregfridman/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gregfridman/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gregfridman/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqIv5f7G9pbfwsDVaLyoP5

At the Philly Maker Faire: https://philly.makerfaire.com/maker/entry/535/