General Fusion

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General Fusion
Founded 2002
Headquarters Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Key people
Bruce Colwill, CEO; Michel Laberge PhD (physics), Founder, CSO
Products Nuclear fusion development
Website www.generalfusion.com

General Fusion is a Canadian company based in Burnaby, British Columbia, which was created for the development of fusion power based on magnetized target fusion (MTF).[1][2][3] As of 2015 they were developing subsystems for use in a prototype to be built later.[4] The company is funded by a variety of investors, including Chrysalix venture capital, the Business Development Bank of Canada—a Canadian Crown corporation, Bezos Expeditions, Cenovus Energy, GrowthWorks Capital, Khazanah Nasional—a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, and Sustainable Development Technology Canada.[5]

Funding[edit]

As of late 2016, General Fusion had received over $100 million in funding from a global syndicate of investors and the Canadian Government’s Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) fund.[6]

Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, a Vancouver-based venture capital firm, led a C$1.2 million seed round of financing for General Fusion in 2007.[2][7][8] As of 2011 General Fusion remained in Chrysalix' portfolio.[9] Other Canadian venture capital firms that participated in the seed round were GrowthWorks Capital and BDC Venture Capital.

In 2009 a consortium led by General Fusion was awarded C$13.9 million by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to conduct a four-year research project on "Acoustically Driven Magnetized Target Fusion";[10] SDTC is a foundation established by the Canadian government.[11] The other member of the consortium is Los Alamos National Laboratory.[10]

A 2011 Series B round raised $19.5 million from a syndicate including Bezos Expeditions, Braemar Energy Ventures, Business Development Bank of Canada, Cenovus Energy, Chrysalix Venture Capital, Entrepreneurs Fund, and GrowthWorks Capital.[12][13]

In May 2015 the government of Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, led a $27 million funding round.[14]

SDTC awarded General Fusion a further C$12.75 in March 2016 to for the project “Demonstration of fusion energy technology” in a consortium with McGill University (Shock Wave Physics Group) and Hatch Ltd.[15]

Design[edit]

Diagram of the General Fusion Reactor

General Fusion uses a ~3-metre diameter spherical tank filled with liquid metal (lead-lithium mixture). The liquid is spun to open up a vertical cylindrical cavity in the centre of the sphere (vortex). This vortex flow is established and maintained by an external pumping system; the liquid flows into the sphere through tangentially directed ports at the equator and is pumped out radially through ports near the poles of the sphere.

The two five-metre-long conical injectors are attached to opposite ends of the tank. They use nearly 200 capacitors that were “recycled” from an old laser fusion experiment in Los Alamos. They are used to inject a few milligrams of hydrogen gas at a time.[16] The gas forms spheromaks (self confined magnetized plasma rings) composed of the deuterium-tritium fuel.[17] They have reached 200 eV, and expect ultimately to exceed 600 eV.[16] The spheromaks merge in the centre of the sphere to form a single magnetized plasma target.[17]

The outside of the sphere is covered with 300 pneumatic rams.[16] The rams use compressed gas to accelerate their associated pistons to ~50 m/s. These pistons simultaneously impact a set of stationary anvil pistons at the surface of the sphere, which collectively launch a high pressure spherical compression wave into the liquid metal. As the wave travels and focuses towards the centre, it becomes stronger and evolves into a strong shock wave. When the shock arrives in the centre, it rapidly collapses the cavity with the plasma in it.[18]

At maximum compression the conditions for fusion are briefly met and a fusion burst occurs releasing its energy in fast neutrons. The neutrons are slowed down by the liquid metal causing it to heat up. A heat exchanger transfers that heat to a standard steam cycle turbo-alternator to produce electricity.[18]

Some of the steam is used to run the rams. The lithium in the liquid metal finally absorbs the neutrons and produces tritium that is extracted and used as fuel for subsequent shots. This cycle is repeated about one time per second.[18]

In 2015, the company paid a $20,000 prize for a crowdsourced “robust seal technology” capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and repetitive hammering, so as to isolate the rams from the liquid metal that fills the fusion reactor.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "This machine might* save the world", Josh Dean, Popular Science, 23 December 2008
  2. ^ a b "Looking for a net gain in the energy sector", Tyler Hamilton, Toronto Star, 20 April 2009
  3. ^ "Garage scientist aims to thwart OPEC", Nathan VanderKlippe, Financial Post, 16 November 2007
  4. ^ "General Fusion | Rethink Fusion". www.generalfusion.com. Retrieved 2015-08-22. 
  5. ^ "Company/Investors". GeneralFusion.com. Retrieved Sep 18, 2015. 
  6. ^ "General Fusion to outline clean energy future for Ottawa natural resource committee - Cantech Letter". Cantech Letter. 2016-11-28. Retrieved 2017-01-17. 
  7. ^ "More money for fusion energy", Michael Kanellos, CNet news.com, 5 September 2007
  8. ^ Chrysalix is funded by a number of investors including several energy firms; its investors are listed on Chrysalix' website"
  9. ^ "General Fusion". chrysalix.com. Retrieved Nov 9, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b [1]Sustainable Development Technology Canada (2008). "Acoustically Driven Magnetized Fusion". SDTC. Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  11. ^ "Media Backgrounder: Sustainable Development Technology Canada". SDTC website. Retrieved 9 Nov 2011. 
  12. ^ "Fusion lightweight gets a boost from heavyweight investors". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2017-01-17. 
  13. ^ O'Connor, Clare. "Amazon Billionaire Bezos Backs Nuclear Fusion In $19.5 Million Round". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-01-17. 
  14. ^ "General Fusion raises another $27 million to advance its reactor". Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News. 2015-05-20. Retrieved 2017-01-17. 
  15. ^ "Demonstration of fusion energy technology - clean energy". Sustainable Development Technology Canada. 2016-09-19. Retrieved 2017-01-17. 
  16. ^ a b c d "Next Big Future: General Fusion successfully crowdsourced an engineering solution to a problem on their nuclear fusion project". nextbigfuture.com. Retrieved 2015-08-22. 
  17. ^ a b Brown, Mark (30 November 2011). "Canadian firm General Fusion plans prototype nuclear fusion test for 2014". 'Wired'. 'Wired'. Archived from the original on 6 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-02. 
  18. ^ a b c "General Fusion's Approach". Archived from the original on 8 March 2010. Retrieved Dec 9, 2009. 

External links[edit]