General Fusion will Leverage Computer Technology

Cleantech Groups provides some info on General Fusion. Advances in computing technology could be the key to magnetized target fusion being a cheaper energy source than coal, according to Canadian startup General Fusion.

General Fusion is developing nuclear fusion technology that could one day provide power more cheaply than coal and more safely than nuclear fission plants. The company is using 30-year old magnetized target fusion (MTF) technology but applying modern computer processing capabilities to control and speed compressions.

General Fusion is seeking to raise an additional $4.75 million before the end of the year to close its Series A round at $13.75 million. The company secured $9 million from GrowthWorks Capital, Braemar Energy Ventures, Chrysalix Energy Ventures and the Entrepreneurs Funds in August, in addition to about $2 million in seed and friends-and-family funding.

General Fusion also secured C$13.9 million (US$12.9 million) from Sustainable Technology Development Canada in August, but that money requires matching funds and is to be dispersed as the company meets technological milestones.

The capital is expected to finance the first, two-year phase of General Fusion’s project, which is now underway. Richardson estimated a cost of $47 million to $50 million for the entire four-year project.

In the first phase, General Fusion plans to build full-scale prototypes to demonstrate that all the elements work to the specifications required. That includes the magnetized ball of plasma, and demonstrating the compression screen. However, the company doesn’t plan to build the reactor until the second phase, which is expected to start in July 2011.

General Fusion plans to return to private financiers before beginning the final phase.

“By then we will be backed by a whole lot of technological demonstrations that what we do is feasible,” Richardson said. “It will be a lot easier to raise funds.”

After the second phase is completed, it could take five years or more until the technology could be incorporated in a grid-connected power plant. But General Fusion will likely seek licensing agreements or strategic partners for that step in the technology deployment, Richardson said.

Popular Science has step by step diagrams of how the sonic waves driven by pistons hitting a metal sphere would drive fusion.

Shockwave already on the way in

As I noted before: M Simon over at IECfusion Tech has come around to thinking it could work, although it will be very tough.

Later version will have 200 big pistons.

General Fusion has $7 million of a $10 million second round raised.

Previous update: General fusion had completed proof of concept experiments and performed full scale computer simulations.

First article by this site on General Fusion’s and magnetized target approach