Oxford startup promises fusion gain by 2024

June 05, 2019 // By Julien Happich
Fusion has long been viewed as the ultimate goal for energy generation. Smashing together deuterium and tritium atoms releases energy as they combine and is the reaction at the heart of the sun. With no dangerous waste products and a virtually limitless supply of these atoms from seawater, billions have been spent on fusion research.

However, recreating the extreme conditions of temperature and pressure on earth are not easy and confining the fusion in a reactor is key if this holy grail of energy generation is ever to be reached. British startup First Light Fusion (FLF) has developed an approach to fusion that is different from today’s academic alternatives. The startup claims it is on target to achieve fusion gain (more energy out than goes in) by 2024.

“We have a different approach to the other organizations trying to achieve fusion gain. We are not using lasers or intense magnetic fields which themselves can prove to be very complicated and costly to build. By choosing pulsed power as our driver technology, we have reduced the cost and complexity in this area and, in practice, the challenge is perfecting the design and shape of the target; that is where we are establishing unique IP and developing our simulation and modeling capability. This is the new science stage. Beyond that, we can clearly see a path to achieving clean energy that is simple and inexpensive within a realistic timeframe. We are driven by wanting to power a world worth inheriting by our children”, explains Paul Holligan, Head of Pulsed Power at FLF.

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