Commonwealth Fusion Systems

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Commonwealth Fusion Systems
Founded2018; 5 years ago (2018)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Key people
Bob Mumgaard (CEO)[1]
Number of employees
350 (2022)

Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) is an American company founded in 2018 aiming to build a compact fusion power plant based on the ARC tokamak power plant concept.[2] The company is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is a spin-off of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). CFS has participated in the United States Department of Energy’s INFUSE public-private knowledge innovation scheme, with several national labs and universities.[3]


CFS was founded in 2018 as a spin-off from the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center.[4] After initial funding of $50 million in 2018 from the Italian multinational Eni,[2] CFS closed its series A round of venture capital funding in 2019 with a total of US$ 115 million in funding from Eni,[5] Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Vinod Khosla's Khosla Ventures, and others.[6][7] CFS raised an additional US$ 84 million in series A2 funding from Singapore's Temasek, Norway's Equinor, and Devonshire Investors, as well as from previous investors.[8] As of October 2020, CFS had approximately 100 employees.[9]

In September 2020, the company reported significant progress in the physics and engineering design of the SPARC tokamak,[1][10] and in October 2020, the development of a new high temperature superconducting cable, called VIPER.[11][12] Over the 9-month period from 2019 to 2020, the company purchased over 186 miles of the wire in 400-600 meter lengths from vendors, more than was produced by some vendors over the preceding 6 years.[13]

In March 2021, CFS announced plans to build a headquarters, manufacturing, and research campus (including the SPARC tokamak), in Devens, Massachusetts.[14][15] Also in 2021, CEO Bob Mumgaard was appointed to the board of directors of the Fusion Industry Association, which was incorporated as a non profit association with a focus on combating climate change.[16]

In September 2021, the company announced the demonstration of a high temperature superconducting magnet, able to generate magnetic fields of 20 Tesla.[17][18] According to the New York Times, this was a successful test of "...the world's most powerful version of the type of magnet crucial to many fusion efforts..."[19]

In November 2021, the company raised an additional $1.8 billion in Series B funding to construct and operate the SPARC tokamak,[20] funded by Temasek, Google, Bill Gates and Eni.[21]

In December the company began construction on SPARC in Devens, Massachusetts.[22]

In March 2022, Axios reported that as a result of sanctions against Russia, CFS faced significant supply chain problems.[23]

By late 2022, CFS had grown to approximately 350 employees and was preparing to move into its Devens campus.[24]

A ceremonial opening for the Devens campus was held in February 2023.[25]

In March 2023, Eni and Cfs signed a multi-year agreement to collaborate in obtaining the components and authorizations necessary for the construction of the first SPARC experimental plant, as well as the construction of the first Arc power plant and the identification of countries that may be interested in hosting it.[21]


CFS intends to demonstrate net-positive energy in a tokamak via the SPARC tokamak, which will pave the way for a multi-hundred MW electric ARC plant.[26][27][28] They plan to achieve this by incorporating a large-bore, high field (20 Tesla) superconducting magnet made of VIPER, a yttrium barium copper oxide superconducting tape.[29][8] As a high-temperature superconductor, VIPER can sustain higher electric currents and magnetic fields than were previously possible. Previous tokamaks used copper or low-temperature superconducting magnets that need to be large in size to create the magnetic field that is necessary to achieve net energy. The CFS high-temperature superconductor magnet is intended to create much stronger magnetic fields, allowing the tokamaks to be much smaller.[30]

The first magnet of this type was built and tested in 2021. The D-shaped magnet consisted of 16 layers, each containing HTS tape. It weighed 10 tons and stood 8 feet tall, including 165 miles of tape. SPARC will include 18 similar magnets.[22] The magnet technology used in SPARC is intended to give "the world a clear path to fusion power,"[30] according to the CFS CEO Bob Mumgaard.

As of September 2021, SPARC was targeted for completion by 2025.[29] CFS also plans to build a power plant based on the ARC design[2] at the beginning of the 2030s.[31] Both SPARC and ARC plan to use deuterium-tritium fuel.

SPARC is predicted to have a burning plasma. That means that the fusion process would be predominantly self-heating.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Fountain, Henry (September 29, 2020). "Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor Is 'Very Likely to Work,' Studies Suggest". New York Times. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Chandler, David (March 9, 2018). "MIT and newly formed company launch novel approach to fusion power". MIT News. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  3. ^ Laboratory, Princeton Plasma Physics (January 2, 2021). "Future Zero-Emissions Power Plants: Scientists Collaborate on Development of Commercial Fusion Energy". SciTechDaily. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  4. ^ Tollefson, Jeff (March 9, 2018). "MIT launches multimillion-dollar collaboration to develop fusion energy". Nature. 555 (7696): 294–295. doi:10.1038/d41586-018-02966-3.
  5. ^ Devlin, Hannah (March 9, 2018). "Nuclear fusion on brink of being realised, say MIT scientists". The Guardian. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  6. ^ Rathi, Akshat (September 26, 2018). "In search of clean energy, investments in nuclear-fusion startups are heating up". Quartz. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  7. ^ "Commonwealth Fusion Systems Raises $115 Million and Closes Series A Round to Commercialize Fusion Energy". PR Newswire (Press release). June 27, 2019. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Commonwealth Fusion Systems Raises $ 84 Million in A2 Round". (Press release). May 26, 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  9. ^ Aut, Kramer David (October 13, 2020). "Investments in privately funded fusion ventures grow". Physics Today. 2020 (2): 1013a. Bibcode:2020PhT..2020b1013.. doi:10.1063/PT.6.2.20201013a. S2CID 243181080.
  10. ^ "New Scientific Papers Predict Historic Results for Commonwealth Fusion Systems' Approach to Commercial Fusion Energy". Commonwealth Fusion Systems. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  11. ^ "New High-Temperature Superconductor (HTS) Cable Demonstrates High Performance". Commonwealth Fusion Systems. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  12. ^ "Superconductor technology for smaller, sooner fusion". MIT PSFC. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  13. ^ Molodyk, A., et al. "Development and large volume production of extremely high current density YBa2Cu3O7 superconducting wires for fusion." Scientific reports 11.1 (2021): 1-11.
  14. ^ Chesto, Jon (March 3, 2021). "MIT energy startup homes in on fusion, with plans for 47-acre site in Devens". Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  15. ^ "Commonwealth Fusion Systems Selects 47-Acre Site in Devens, Mass., for Historic Commercial Fusion Energy Campus". Commonwealth Fusion Systems. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  16. ^ "Fusion Industry Association Announces Independent Incorporation and Expansion". Yahoo! Finance. May 5, 2021. Archived from the original on September 16, 2021.
  17. ^ "MIT-designed project achieves major advance toward fusion energy". MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  18. ^ "Commonwealth Fusion Systems creates viable path to commercial fusion power with world's strongest magnet". Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  19. ^ Reed, Stanley (October 18, 2021). "Nuclear Fusion Edges Toward the Mainstream". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  20. ^ "Nuclear-Fusion Startup Lands $1.8 Billion as Investors Chase Star Power". Wall Street Journal. December 1, 2021. Archived from the original on December 1, 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Eni joins forces with the American CFS for nuclear fusion: the first prototype in 2025" (in Italian). La Stampa. March 9, 2023. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  22. ^ a b Temple, James. "A hole in the ground could be the future of fusion power". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  23. ^ "Scoop: Russia sanctions threaten Commonwealth's supply chain". March 21, 2022.
  24. ^ "Birthplace of a fusion industry? Commonwealth Fusion Systems prepares to open Devens campus". The Harvard Press. Harvard, Massachusetts. October 21, 2022.
  25. ^ Shane Rhodes (February 16, 2023). "Commonwealth Fusion Systems celebrates newest campus at Devens". Sentinel & Enterprise. Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
  26. ^ "A New Approach to Fusion Energy Starts Today | MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences". Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  27. ^ Greenwald, Martin (2019). "Fusion Energy: Research at the Crossroads". Joule. 3 (5): 1175–1179. doi:10.1016/j.joule.2019.03.013.
  28. ^ Creely, A. J.; Greenwald, M. J.; Ballinger, S. B.; Brunner, D.; Canik, J.; Doody, J.; Fülöp, T.; Garnier, D. T.; Granetz, R.; Gray, T. K.; Holland, C. (2020). "Overview of the SPARC tokamak". Journal of Plasma Physics. 86 (5). Bibcode:2020JPlPh..86e8602C. doi:10.1017/S0022377820001257. ISSN 0022-3778.
  29. ^ a b Chandler, David (September 8, 2021). "MIT-designed project achieves major advance toward fusion energy". MIT. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  30. ^ a b "PR Newswire", Encyclopedia of Public Relations, Thousand Oaks, CA United States: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2005, doi:10.4135/9781412952545.n322, ISBN 9780761927334, retrieved April 28, 2022
  31. ^ "Eni and Commonwealth Fusion Systems, together for fusion energy". ENI.
  32. ^ "Nuclear Fusion Articles Based on Papers Presented at the 27th Fusion Energy Conference". Nuclear Fusion. 60 (7): 079801. June 12, 2020. Bibcode:2020NucFu..60g9801.. doi:10.1088/1741-4326/ab8cb6. ISSN 0029-5515. S2CID 241625548.

External links[edit]