TAE Technologies secures funds to build the next fusion machine: New Nuclear
July 20, 2022
Fusion energy company TAE Technologies has received investment to fund the construction of its sixth-generation research reactor which it says will demonstrate the net-energy viability of TAE’s approach. The announcement came as TAE’s fifth-generation Norman reactor maintained stable plasma at over 75 million degrees Celsius, 250% higher than its original target.
A rendering of the Copernicus fusion reactor (Image: TAE Technologies)
TAE’s approach to fusion combines advanced accelerators and plasma physics, and uses abundant, non-radioactive hydrogen boron (p-B11) as a fuel source. Patented Magnetic Beam Driven Field Inverted Configuration (FRC) technology injects high energy hydrogen atoms into the plasma to make the system more stable and better contained. This solution is compact and energy efficient, according to TAE, based in California, USA.
Norman – TAE’s $150 million national lab-scale device named after the company’s founder, the late Norman Rostoker – was unveiled in May 2017 and reached first plasma in June of the same year. It was designed to keep the plasma stable at 30 million degrees Celsius. In April 2021, TAE announced that Norman had produced stable plasma at over 50 million degrees Celsius. The machine has now proven capable of maintaining stable plasma at over 75 million degrees Celsius, 250% higher than its original target.
TAE said the step builds confidence in its path to commercialization and helped the company raise $250 million in additional funding from investors in the energy, technology and engineering sectors. . Combined with previous rounds, TAE has now raised over $1.2 billion from investors.
Strategic and institutional investments, he said, will finance the construction of its sixth-generation research reactor. TAE’s Copernicus reactor, to be built in Irvine, California, will operate well above 100 million degrees Celsius to simulate the net energy production from the conventional Deuterium-Tritium (DT) fuel cycle. Copernicus will provide TAE with licensing opportunities for its DT fusion technology, while moving towards its ultimate goal using p-B11.
TAE said Chevron, Google, Reimagined Ventures, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas (SCOA) and TIFF Investment Management are among the company’s newest investors, along with “a large West Coast-based mutual fund manager.” United States and a large American pension fund”.
“The caliber and interest of our investors validates our significant technical progress and supports our goal to begin fusion commercialization by the end of this decade,” said Michl Binderbauer, CEO of TAE Technologies. “Global demand for electricity is growing exponentially and we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to develop a safe, carbon-free and economically viable baseload power solution.”
SCOA, the largest subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sumitomo Corporation, becomes TAE’s first Japanese investor and will become a partner in deploying commercial energy and other fusion-derived technologies in the Asia-Pacific market. SCOA has signed a business collaboration agreement to pursue TAE-based technologies in Japan and Asia.
“Through this investment in TAE, Sumitomo Corporation will deepen its understanding of fusion power generation technology with the goal of leveraging its experience and business network to apply this resource across multiple markets and industries, helping to the decarbonization of society,” the SCOA said.
“Through successful training of Norman’s state-of-the-art control system, combined with proprietary power management technology and extensive optimization of our machine learning algorithms, we have achieved control scale at a level of unprecedented built-in complexity,” Binderbauer said. “Our long-standing expertise in fusion, along with major advances in design and operational proficiency, are paying off as we move towards delivering an inexhaustible source of clean energy that has the capacity to transform the human experience and support future generations.”
Research and writing by World Nuclear News