Bill Gates and other investors pump $29 million into a 'twisty' nuclear reactor

Investors have just put a huge £29 million into Type One Energy's gambit at building a futuristic, twisted nuclear fusion reactor.
Christopher McFadden
Artist's impression of the reactor.
Artist's impression of the reactor.

Type One Energy  

In an oversubscribed financing round, Type One Energy secured $29 million to help bring its Stellarator fusion technology to market. The funding round was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), TDK Ventures, and Doral Energy Tech Ventures. Other cleantech firms, such as Darco, the Grantham Foundation, MILFAM, Orbia Ventures, Shorewind Capital, TRIREC, VAHOCA, and others, also put money in.

The money will be used to support the development of the company's FusionDirect program. This program uses recent improvements in Stellarator fusion performance, plasma science, and high-temperature superconducting magnet technology to create a low-risk, short-term path to fusion energy.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US, the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for their work on advanced magnet technology are all part of Type One Energy's technical team. The company's unique FusionDirect program will be run with the help of global partnerships with top research institutions, universities, and industrial companies in fusion science and technology.

Christofer Mowry, the former CEO of General Fusion and senior adviser on fusion at BEV, will join Type One Energy as CEO. “Type One Energy represents a special opportunity. This team’s knowledge and credibility give Type One the unique ability to integrate recent global advances in stellarator-relevant technology and to deliver a fusion power plant without another costly, large-scale science validation machine.”

Stellarator fusion devices are stable and work steadily, making it easier to use them in a real-world fusion power plant. The billion-dollar Wendelstein 7-X reactor, which began operation in Germany in 2015, is currently the world’s largest experimental fusion device of the stellarator type.

Carmichael Roberts, who co-leads BEV’s investment committee, said that Type One’s Advances in stellarator science, including Type One Energy’s ability to execute a stellarator development project, provide the basis for a very exciting and promising path to practical fusion on the grid in the coming decades.”

The money will be used to build a "Risk Reduction Platform" for the stellarator over the next few years. This platform will be low-cost but have a high level of performance. It will be used to test several engineering design choices made by FFP and confirm the accuracy of its stellarator plasma physics models and simulations. The company has not specified a target date for commercialization other than to say that its FusionDirect timeline for developing a viable Fusion Power Plant, or FPP, will unfold over the coming decade.

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