|Headquarters||Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada|
|Nathan Gilliland, CEO; Michel Laberge Ph.D. (physics), Founder, CSO|
|Products||Nuclear fusion development|
|Website||General Fusion home page|
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). As of 2015[update] they were developing subsystems for use in a prototype to be built later. 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.
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. As of 2011[update] General Fusion remained in Chrysalix' portfolio. 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"; SDTC is a foundation established by the Canadian government. The other members of the consortium are Los Alamos National Laboratory and Powertech Labs Inc.
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. The gas forms spheromaks (self confined magnetized plasma rings) composed of the deuterium-tritium fuel. They have reached 200 eV, and expect ultimately to exceed 600 eV. The spheromaks merge in the centre of the sphere to form a single magnetized plasma target.
The outside of the sphere is covered with 300 pneumatic rams. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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- "Next Big Future: Malaysia invests $27-million in Canada's General Fusion startup who will begin building full scale prototype in 2017". nextbigfuture.com. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
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