B.C. fusion energy developer of no-carbon emission, no-meltdown reactors raises US$130-million to build pivotal test plant

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Courtesy of General Fusion

One of Canada’s most promising clean technology startups, General Fusion Inc., has raised US$130 million as it prepares to build a prototype nuclear fusion power plant to advance its quest to bring a carbon-free source of electricity to the world. Is.

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Burnaby, BC-based General Fusion said in December 2019, it had raised US$65 million led by Singapore-based sovereign wealth fund Temasek and led by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Business Development Bank of Canada, Hatch, DLF Group . other.

General Fusion said Tuesday that now, it has raised the other half of the funding. Investors added over the past two years include another Singapore sovereign wealth fund – GIC – technology investment firm IBX, Saudi Arabia’s Jameel Investment Management Company, nuclear power-focused hedge fund Segra Capital, Fiona McCain’s private charity and husband Toby Lutke, CEO Huh. Shopify Inc., and an undisclosed US State Pension Fund.

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Including support from the governments of Canada, the US and the UK, CEO Christopher Mowry said, this brings the total raised by General Fusion to more than US$300 million so far.

The 19-year-old company will need to raise a lot before it can prove that its technology works at scale or that it can operate in a commercially viable way – but if it does, it could have profound implications. Is. “Fusion should be the vaccine for climate change,” said Mr. Mowry.

General Fusion has developed a process in which ultraheated hydrogen atoms are combined into helium, as in the sun. It injects hydrogen fuel into a molten lead-lithium sphere; The pressure on the sphere forces fusion reactions within the fuel, releasing heat in the liquid metal that can be converted into electricity. The process is carbon free. Its main input is water, and its reactor will not be prone to meltdown.

Overcoming long-standing doubts about fusion energy, General Fusion has shown its technical work, Mr. Mowry said; It is now in the midst of a project to develop and build a demonstration plant to prove that it can do what it promises on a large scale. General Fusion is set to launch next summer at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Culham Center for Fusion Energy northwest of London. The process is expected to take another three to four years.

General Fusion will need to raise additional funds to complete the work and put the plant into operation, which now costs about US$400 million, and begin working with utilities to cultivate early adopters.

Mr Mowry said that “initial money is the most expensive” to raise. “What I need to do is keep the process going, and as we move forward and achieve milestones, the value of the business increases and the incremental funding is then cheaper”. He said the next phase of fundraising would start next year.

General Fusion is Competing with Other Heavily-Funded Fusion Startups These include Commonwealth Fusion Systems, TAE Technologies, Helion Energy and Tocomac Energy.

“If everything goes according to plan you will have a proof of concept on fusion over the next three to eight years, depending on the project – a real working test reactor,” said Arthur Hyde, portfolio manager at Dallas-based investor Segra. “We weren’t looking for the ability to just prove that fusion technology is possible, but to find a commercial-scale power plant that utilities and world governments can buy exactly what they need to solve their energy transition.” Huh.” In that regard, “we think General Fusion is way ahead of its rivals.”

Asked why the test plant would be in the UK, Mr Mowry said his company was “eliminating” its chances of success by conducting an on-site discovery of one of the world’s leading operational fusion research centres. “They have 1,000 of the world’s leading fusion engineers and scientists and a large supply chain in fusion technology”, he said. “You can’t find that type of street running talent in BC”

If the plant is successful in producing carbon-free fusion energy on a large scale, Mr. Mowry said the company expects the technology to be commercialized by the end of the decade, starting with the construction of pilot plants that will be the first will supply electricity. power grids. General Fusion will not build those plants, but will license its technology and provide the original, proprietary components to constructors such as Strategic Partners, an engineering firm based in Mississauga. Mr. Mowry said the plant, which will cost around US$800 million to US$1 billion at current prices, will be operated by power generation companies, Mr. Mowry said.

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