Washington-based clean energy firm Helion raised $500 million in a Series E funding round, a press statement reveals. According to the company, the money will go towards developing a "new era of plentiful, zero-carbon electricity from fusion."
Helion says its seventh-gen fusion reactor prototype, called Polaris, will be the world's first fusion generator to demonstrate net electricity production, and that it will do so as soon as 2024.
Helion claims the world will soon 'count on fusion'
The funding round also brings an "opportunity for an additional $1.7 billion dollars tied to Helion reaching key performance milestones," the firm explained in its statement. Helion is developing an approach to fusion that it says is much more efficient than the majority of other methods that use steam to drive turbines. The company uses an electromagnetic approach that induces an electrical current via the expansion of plasma.
"This funding ensures that Helion will be the first organization to generate electricity from fusion," Dr. David Kirtley, founder and CEO of Helion Energy, explained in the company's statement. "Our 6th prototype demonstrated that we can reach this pivotal milestone. In just a few years we will show that the world can count on fusion to be the zero-carbon energy source that we desperately need."
The race to achieve net fusion energy
With its sixth-gen "Trenta" prototype, Helion demonstrated a temperature of over 100 million degrees last year, a significant milestone on the road to net fusion energy as it is the point at which there is enough thermal energy to produce large amounts of fusion. The company also managed to achieve magnetic fields larger than 10 Tesla, which will be used to manipulate and control plasma during the fusion process.
Other firms, including the Bill Gates and MIT-backed Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) are also working hard to provide practically limitless energy via nuclear fusion. CFS recently announced the successful test of its own magnet, which was measured at 20 Tesla strength while only consuming about 30 watts of energy. That means that Helion is essentially in a race against CFS, which aims to have its fusion Tokamak reactor experiment, called SPARC, running by 2025, only a year after Helion estimates it will first produce electricity from fusion. If these very ambitious promises come true, we may be closer than many think to the unlimited energy of nuclear fusion, which has the potential to replace untenable energy sources that are currently leading us down a dangerous road.