Oxford start-up 10 years ahead of government targets in race to build fusion plant.
An Oxford start-up developing nuclear fusion technology has raised $25m (£19m) in fresh cash as it plots a 'first-of-its-kind' plant to be ready well ahead of government targets.
First Light Fusion, which was spun out of Oxford University, said the latest funds would allow it to almost double its team of scientists and engineers to more than 60 staff, and upgrade its equipment to speed up development of the fusion plant, where energy is produced by fusing together atoms in a safe, non-polluting process.
It believes its technology, which uses a "projectile" process to spark the reaction, "accelerates the pathway to a commercial grid-ready reactor", potentially bringing forward government targets which currently aim for a plant to be operating as soon as 2040.
First Light Fusion is planning to have developed its power plant in the 2030s, meaning commercial fusion could be possible as much as ten years earlier than the Government has been anticipating.
Nuclear fusion produces virtually no waste, making it a climate friendly, safe, and reliable source of near unlimited power - if we can get it to work. And there's no shortage of effort trying to achieve it. Indeed, ITER - the world’s largest nuclear fusion project - reached a construction milestone in August (OGN - The Dream of Nuclear Fusion) as the final components of the reactor arrived on the build site in southeastern France. The $25 billion endeavor, which aims to produce sustainable fusion energy on a commercial scale, is financed by seven of the world’s largest energy powerhouses: the European Union, United Kingdom China, India, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States.
Despite numerous delays over the years, ITER is aiming to achieve full plasma generation by 2030. While this may be consistent with a common adage in the power industry: “Fusion power is always just 10 years away,” progress in harnessing fusion is unquestionable, and, if commercial fusion is achieved, the current generation is likely to see a total revolution in energy in their lifetimes.