TAE Technologies secures investments to fund fusion research reactor

July 21, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Copernicus, TAE’s sixth-generation fusion reactor. (Image: TAE)

California-based TAE Technologies has announced that its accomplishments with its fifth-generation fusion research reactor, Norman, have allowed it to secure sufficient strategic and institutional investments to fund the construction of its sixth-generation research reactor, Copernicus.

The investments have come from TAE’s long-term (since 2014) partner Google, as well as other technology, engineering, and energy companies. Among those are Chevron, Reimagined Ventures, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, TIFF Investment Management, and “a large U.S. West coast–based mutual fund manager and a big U.S. pension fund,” according to the news release. Investments totaled $250 million in TAE’s recently closed Series G-2 financing round, bringing the company’s to-date grand total of private capital raised for its commercial fusion development to $1.2 billion.

Norman: TAE’s achievements with Norman, which began operation in 2017, have included real-time control of the plasma and stable plasma temperatures greater than 75 million degrees Celsius. This temperature exceeded the company’s goal of 30 million degrees by 250 percent.

Copernicus: The new reactor, Copernicus, is to be built in a 100,000-square-foot facility in Irvine, Calif. The company plans to use the new reactor to “demonstrate the viability of achieving net energy generation with TAE’s advanced beam-driven field-reversed configuration (FRC)—the penultimate step on TAE’s path to commercialize clean fusion power.”

Hydrogen-boron fusion: The proprietary FRC system, developed from a combination of plasma physics and accelerator physics, is designed to integrate into the grid using hydrogen-boron (also known as proton-boron, or p-B11) as the fuel source. TAE touts this nonradioactive fuel source as providing “the cleanest, safest, most economical terrestrial fuel cycle for fusion, with no geopolitical concerns or proliferation risks.”

TAE has been focused on its objective of developing hydrogen-boron fusion since 1998. The company believes that its “proven money-by-milestone success and steady scientific progress” have now placed it close to achieving this goal.

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