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General Fusion reactor will be built in Richmond
The company has raised $33.5 million to fund the machine, which it hopes will reach the coveted scientific breakeven — producing more energy than is consumed for the reaction — within three years.
General Fusion has announced the close of a CAD $33.5 million series F raise to fund the building of brand new hardware. The company hopes the new construction — a Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) machine named Lawson Machine 26 (LM26) — will help it provide fusion energy to the grid by the early- to mid-2030s.
Fusion is the holy grail of clean energy. The tech generates a massive amount of heat from nuclear fusion reactions, which then drives a turbine to create electricity. In the fusion process, two light atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier nucleus while releasing energy. The reaction is the same as that which powers our sun and stars, and is theoretically much safer than the nuclear fission that occurs in nuclear power plants.
Research into fusion techniques and reactors began in the 1940s, but so far, no device has reached economic breakeven: a state where the energy sold from the reaction can cover its operating costs. Many companies around the world are still exploring the tech, but General Fusion believes that its MTF machines offer the shortest path to generating zero-carbon electricity for the grid, as they were designed from the start to scale for cost-efficient power plants. Unique to the fusion market, General Fusion’s tech does not require expensive superconducting magnets or high-powered lasers. Instead, the compression of a proprietary liner in the machine creates fusion conditions in short pulses, rather than a sustained reaction.
“Over 20 years, General Fusion has achieved significant technical milestones, and validated all key elements of the MTF approach including plasma stability, temperature, and compression,” said Zoltan Tompa, senior partner of BDC Capital’s Climate Tech Fund II, and an investor in General Fusion’s latest funding round.
The machine will be built at the company’s new 60,000 square foot Richmond headquarters near YVR airport. Its makers hope that the technology will achieve fusion conditions of over 100 million degrees Celcius by 2025, and will progress towards scientific breakeven the following year.
The company already manufactures one of the world’s largest and most powerful operational plasma injectors — the component required to place the raw materials into the reactor — and has demonstrated plasma temperatures of five million degrees Celsius, along with 10 millisecond self-sustaining energy confinement time. The company says that both are critical in order to achieve the target of creating fusion conditions within the next two years.
“I founded General Fusion driven by a commitment to fundamentally transform the world’s energy grid with zero-carbon energy,” said Dr. Michel Laberge, the outfit’s founder and chief science officer. “The only way to do this, and fight climate change, is with a practical and affordable approach to fusion energy — Magnetized Target Fusion. Every decision we make at General Fusion comes back to this commitment.”
The goal of building the new fusion reactor in Greater Vancouver is to confirm that the technology works the way the company hopes, before it is incorporated into the design of a commercial-scale LM26 demonstration machine to be created at its $400 million facility in the U.K. Over the next two-to-three years, General Fusion will work closely with the U.K.’s Atomic Energy Authority to validate the data.
“The new LM26 machine represents a capital efficient steppingstone to de-risk [the company’s] Fusion Demonstration Program, while accelerating the delivery of critical milestones such as fusion conditions and energy breakeven,” said Tompa.
The round was anchored by existing investors, BDC Capital, and GIC. It also included new grant funding from the Government of British Columbia, which builds upon the Canadian government’s ongoing support through the Strategic Innovation Fund.
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