Power

Fusion Energy startup raises $500M to advance tech development

Fusion energy Helion

Fusion Energy startup Helion announced this Friday it raised $500 million during a funding round. The capital will serve the company to build a net positive electrical generator. A device that would create more energy than it uses.

Firstly, Helion is building the world’s first fusion power plant. Fusion produces clean, reliable, and abundant energy from deuterium, a compound found in water, and helium-3, a product of fusing deuterium atoms. Fusion is in fact the same process that fires the sun, as two atoms’ nuclei fuse into one under extreme heat, creating enormous quantities of energy.

Moreover, the earth’s oceans contain enough deuterium to generate billions of years’ worth of zero-carbon fusion energy. Also, fusion has an advantage over fission (nuclear). Fusion uses water as fuel instead of radioactive uranium or plutonium, therefore creating zero long-term radioactive waste.

In addition, this latest round valued the company at $3 billion, according to Reuters. Also secured the company $1,7 billion in follow on investments to prove its technology works. Which would be a major step in the US’s energy transition.

The company’s newest model is called Polaris, and it will add regenerative energy to its fusion technology already developed to generate electricity, said Helion founder and CEO David Kirtley. The target date for the demonstration is 2024.

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Fusion energy could create electricity at one cent per kilowatt-hour

Furthermore, the company achieves this by deploying a plasma accelerator that raises fusion fuel to 100 million degrees Celsius and directly extracts electricity by accelerating the particles from the opposite end of the device. As deuterium and helium-3 are moving so fast, they collide and fuse into one another, creating electricity.

Helion broke ground in Everett, Washington, back in July to build the generator; it will be the size of two shipping containers and will create enough electricity to power 40,000 homes, said Kirtley. Consequently, if it works, the $1,7 billion follow-on investments will be used to develop a commercial system, he said.

The executive also remarked. “There’s a real future for fusion to be part of this climate change and clean energy discussion.” He also added that other fusion energy companies were also pushing the timeline forward. He said there were over 40 private fusion companies today.

Finally, Sam Altman, a well-known investor and artificial intelligence researcher in Silicon Valley who led the round, said the long-term goal of Helion is not just to create clean energy but electricity that costs just one cent a kilowatt hour.

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