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article imageCanadian startup gets a $65 million boost for fusion power plant

By Karen Graham     Dec 19, 2019 in Technology
Burnaby - Burnaby, B.C.-based General Fusion says it has closed on a $65 million equity financing round that will spark the launch of a program to design, construct and operate a demonstration nuclear fusion power plant.
Nuclear fusion has long been considered the holy grail of limitless energy production and since the 1940s, scientists have been looking for ways to initiate and control fusion reactions to produce useful energy.
Nuclear fusion is basically the same reaction that takes place in our sun in a process that merges atomic nuclei to form heavier nuclei. Energy is released as the result of the difference in mass between the products and the reactant.
Nuclear fission, on the other hand, involves the splitting of atoms and is the process used in nuclear power plants today. It is expensive and produces large quantities of radioactive waste. And of course, there are the occasional safety concerns.
General Fusion
General Fusion, a startup founded 17 years ago, is developing a fusion power device based on magnetized target fusion (MTF). Their device uses a large number of steam-driven pistons to mechanically compress a vortex of liquid metal, as opposed to most MTF systems, which use magnets to compress the plasma.
In 2018, the company published several papers on a new design using a spherical tokamak as the plasma source, as opposed to the compact toroid, suggesting a system can be designed to produce significant useful output by directly recovering a large fraction of the compression energy.
To date, General fusion has received over $200 million in funding, according to GeekWire, and with the close of this latest Series E round of funding - led by Temasek, a global investment company headquartered in Singapore, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the company will draw upon C$50 million in investment that’s been released by Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund.
Diagram of the General Fusion power plant
Diagram of the General Fusion power plant
Evan Mason
"This represents the first effort to build a power-plant scale, power-plant relevant prototype fusion machine," General Fusion's CEO Christofer Mowry told Business Insider. "This is really the springboard for General Fusion and, frankly, for a community of private fusion companies around the world. This is what I call the SpaceX moment for fusion."
General Fusion intends to get its demonstration plant up and running at a site yet to be selected in the 2025 time frame. The "prototype facility is intended to confirm the performance of General Fusion’s magnetized target fusion technology in a power plant relevant environment," according to a press release.
More about General Fusion, burnaby bc, Fusion energy, demonstration power plant, magnetized target fusion
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