Commonwealth Fusion Systems completed its last $ 84 million in new funds two weeks ago. The US was still in the lockdown phase, and it was "an interesting thing" to conclude a deal, especially an investment of several million dollars in new technology aimed at reducing commercial nuclear fusion after decades of, according to "an interesting thing" Making hype a reality, Commonwealth chief Bob Mumgaard.
It was actually a time when the technical complexity of what Commonwealth Fusion was trying to achieve and the long-term horizon for the company's first test technology were more of an advantage than an obstacle, Mumgaard said.
"We are in a unique position where it will continue to be so far that none of the recovery models will affect the underlying needs, that the world still has a huge climate problem, ”he said.
Commonwealth Fusion Systems claims to be a solution to this problem. The company uses technologies developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to skip the current generation of nuclear fusion reactors that are currently under development (several nuclear fusion reactors are currently under development) and to provide industrial customers with a waste-free energy source places within the next ten years.
The core innovation of Commonwealth Fusion Systems was the development of a high-performance superconducting magnet that could theoretically create the conditions for a sustained fusion reaction. The reactor uses hydrogen isotopes that are maintained under extreme pressure conditions using these superconducting magnets to maintain the reaction and contain the energy generated from the reaction. Reactor designs require that their hydrogen fuel source be heated to tens of millions of degrees.
The design that Commonwealth is pursuing is similar to the massive, multi-year ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project that is currently being completed in France. Started under the Reagan administration in the 1980s as a collaboration between the United States, the Soviet Union, various European nations and Japan. Over the years, project membership has expanded to India, South Korea, and China.
While the ITER project also expects the reactor to switch in 2025, the cost has been dramatically higher – well over $ 14 billion in total. The project, which started construction in 2013, will also be a much longer time to complete compared to the Commonwealth schedule.
"We set out to build what was our main goal, to build the full-size demonstration magnet. We're about to build it," said Mumgaard. "We'll tune in next year."
Upon completion, Commonwealth Fusion Systems will build a ten-ton magnet with a magnetic force equivalent to twenty MRI Machines, said Mumgaard. “After we get the magnet up and running, we will build a machine that generates more electricity than is required for operation. We see that as Kitty Hawk Wait, ”he said about the merger.
Other startups are also trying to bring technologies to market and meet the 2025 schedule. These include the Canadian company General Fusion and the British company Tokamak Energy.
Commonwealth Energy hopes to be able to select a location for its first demonstration reactor within the next six to eight months.
The company's recent developments are funded by a number of new and old investors who have provided over $ 200 million to the company, which was officially founded in 2018.
The round was led by Temasek with the participation of new investors Equinor, a multinational energy company, and Devonshire Investors, the private equity group associated with FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments.
Current investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures supported by Bill Gates; The Engine associated with the MIT; the Italian energy company ENI Next LLC; and risk investors such as Future Ventures, Khosla Ventures; Moore Strategic Ventures, Safar Partners LLC, Schooner Capital and Starlight Ventures also participated.
"We invest in Fusion and CFS because we believe in the technology and the company, and we continue to work to power the world now and in a low-carbon future," said Sophie Hildebrand, chief technology officer and senior vice president of research and technology at Equinor, in a statement.
The company said it will use the new funding to further develop its technology offer customers fusion power plants, services in the field of fusion technology and HTS magnets. The funds will also be used to support business development initiatives for other applications of the company's proprietary HTS magnets, the key component of the SPARC reactor, which also has various other commercial uses.
A new federal government initiative that could result in government funds being used to support the construction of new facilities will help and may help cut the deadlines for many fusion players. The Department of Energy recently released a request for information (RFI) on potential cost-sharing programs for the development of nuclear fusion reactors in the United States.
Modeled after the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program that brought the world to SpaceX, Blue Origin and other private space companies in the United States could use a fusion development cost-sharing program to accelerate the development of low-cost, environmentally friendly fusion reactors in the United States.
"The COTS program has moved the space industry from" Here a government-dictated space sector "to a dynamic commercial startup industry," said Mumgaard.
An investor who has recognized the value of public-private partnerships to drive commercial innovation is Steve Jurvetson, the founder of Future Ventures, and a supporter of Commonwealth Fusion Systems. Jurvetson recognized the need for fusion investments for the future of the energy industry.
“Fusion energy is an investment in our future, which is an important way to combat climate change. Our continued investment in CFS fits in well with our mission as we seek long-term solutions to address global energy problems, ”said Steve Jurvetson, managing director and founder of Future Ventures.