General Fusion of Canada is developing magnetized target fusion and is one of the top five fusion energy startups in terms of overall funding. They have raised about $322 million from Jeff Bezos, the Canadian and Malaysian governments. I track over 30 nuclear fusion projects and think this one, Helion Energy and HB11 Energy are the most promising. HB11 Energy needs more funding. General Fusion are Helion Energy have no funding issues and are doing variations of pulsed approaches to fusion. I think the Tokomak and other approaches involving holding the plasma for months and years are not good approaches conceptually or practically.
“Commercializing fusion energy is within reach, and General Fusion is ready to deliver it to the grid by the 2030s,” said Greg Twinney, CEO, General Fusion. “We have the right team, the right technology, and the right strategy to get us there.”
General Fusion’s MTF machine, tritium is produced with a breeding ratio high enough to sustain the operation of the plant over its lifetime. The liquid metal wall that surrounds and compresses our plasma to produce a fusion reaction contains lithium, which is converted into tritium by fusion neutrons. This reduces fuel costs to almost zero.
Neutron Bytes interviewed General Fusion.
They avoid the “first wall” neutron degradation challenge and ensure the durability of the machine with our proprietary liquid metal wall. The collapsing liquid metal wall, used to compress and heat magnetized plasma, uniquely shields the fusion machine from damage caused by high-energy neutrons released by the fusion reaction. With a machine that lasts longer, the economics improve.
The planned commercial plant is reported to be composed of two fusion machines to produce 230 MWe. That’s the approximate electrical generation capacity of a medium size PWR type small modular reactor (SMR). At 4,500/Kw such an SMR would cost $1.035 billion. Can GF produce two machines (in volume) combined to be competitive with that cost figure?
General Fusion’s liquid metal wall which provides a simple way to extract heat from the fusion reaction. In a commercial fusion power plant, the hot (500 degrees Celsius) liquid metal, which has absorbed heat from the fusion reaction, will be circulated from the fusion machine through a heat exchanger to produce steam that will drive a turbine and generate electricity. This is a fully industrialized process used in most modern power plants today that can be readily applied to our MTF approach to fusion.
General Fusion’s primary compression prototype has completed over 1,000 shots, consistently achieving its compression performance targets. In addition, researchers and engineers have used test results across a range of compression parameters to validate and refine their fluid dynamic models to a high degree of fidelity. These models show that the fusion demonstration can achieve a shaped collapse in a liquid metal cavity within approximately five milliseconds. This is sufficient for the thermal confinement times already achieved within General Fusion’s existing plasma prototypes.
2005: Fusion reaction in the company’s first MTF prototype
2010: First at-scale plasma injector with magnetically confined plasma
2011: First demonstration of compressive heating of magnetized plasma
2012: Liquid metal compression tests validate engineering of liquid metal approach and synchronization of at-scale pistons
2013: Plasma achieves performance to enable compression heating
2017: Stable compression of plasma
2018: Heating and increased neutron yield during plasma compression
2019: Plasma lifetime maintained within a liquid metal cavity
2019-2021: Plasma performance sufficient to achieve fusion conditions at scale
2021: Compressed liquid cavity into a controlled, symmetrical shape sufficient to achieve fusion conditions when scaled in the company’s fusion demonstration
2022: Plasma energy confinement time of 10 milliseconds and validated compression time of 5 milliseconds support achieving 10 keV at power plant scale
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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