Slashdot reader tedlistens writes that “Nuclear is booming again. And with a sizable stack of private and public funding behind them – and physics (see the recent breakthrough at Livermore National Lab) – these companies say that ‘they’re getting closer to merging.”
The companies were presented in a fast business article titled “Favorites in the Trillion-Dollar Race for Unlimited Fusion Power.”
Last year, investors like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos pumped a record $3.4 billion into tech companies, according to Pitchbook. Seattle-based merger company Helion raised a record $500 million from Sam Altman and Peter Thiel. … The Fusion Industry Association says that at least 33 different companies are currently pursuing nuclear fusion and predicts that fusion will be connected to the electric grid in the 2030s … And you’d be forgiven for missing another milestone in July, when the Department of Energy announced awards of between $50,000 and $500,000 to ten fusion companies working on projects with universities and national laboratories.
Here are just a few of the winners, who include some of the industry’s leading companies, and whose projects offer a sampling of the opportunities – and tough problems – of mergers….
Commonwealth fusion systems builds its first machine, SPARC, with the goal of producing electricity by 2025. producing more energy than from a fusion plasma. It’s about 200 million degrees – you know, cooling towers will have a lot of steam coming out of it – and you release your finger from the button and it’ll stop, and you press the button again and it’ll be fine.” With an explosion of funding from investors such as Khosla, Bill Gates, George Soros, Emerson Collective and Google to name a few – they raised $1.8 billion last year alone – CFS hopes to start to operate a prototype in 2025….
One morning last December, the company turned on its brand new supermagnet – a 10-tonne, 8-foot-tall device made up of hundreds of tightly twisted coils – and quietly pushed its magnetic field beyond 20 Tesla, a record for a magnet. of its size. (Most MRIs operate at a force of about 1 tesla.) Eventually, 18 of these magnets will surround the SPARC tokamak, which CFS says could produce up to 11 times more energy than it does. consumes it, and at cheaper prices than fossil fuels.
Other fusion power companies featured in the article:
- Based in Southern California TAE Technologies, which uses a unique non-radioactive reaction between hydrogen and boron. (Since its inception in 1998, TAE has raised $1.2 billion, including $250 million in its most recent round led by Google and the venture capital arm of Chevron). TAE “plans to begin supplying electricity to grids by 2030, followed by “wider commercialization” over the next decade.”
- General Atomics, of San Diego, California, which built eight of the magnetic modules for the groundbreaking IITER facility, “including its savage central solenoid – the world’s strongest magnet.”
- Canadian company General Fusion (backed by Jeff Bezos and based on technology originally developed by the US Navy), which hopes to generate the data needed to build a commercial pilot plant.
- Princeton Fusion Systems of Plainsboro, New Jersey, uses radio frequency electromagnetic fields to generate a plasma formation in a magnetic bottle – holding the record for the longest such reaction has been stably held.
- UK-based Tokamak Energy has reached the 100 million degree Celsius threshold for commercially viable nuclear fusion, the first to do so with a privately funded spherical device.
- Pasadena, Calif.-based Helicity Space has 10 employees and more than $4 million in funding to pursue its goal of “bringing humanity into the solar system, with a Helicity Drive-powered flight to Mars that will should take two months, with no planetary alignment.”
- Magneto-Intertial Fusion Technologies, from Tustin, CA.