Commonwealth Fusion stronger magnet tokomak gets billionaire funding

Commonwealth Fusion Systems a spinout from MIT has received additional funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures (which investment from billionaires Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, Mukesh Ambani, and Richard Branson).

Commonwealth Fusion Systems will use new superconducting materials to make far stronger magnets for a smaller Tokamak fusion system. The planned fusion experiment, called Sparc, is set to be far smaller – about 1/65th of the volume – than that of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project, an international collaboration.

They want to build a significant prototype system in a few years and build a full-scale commercial system by about 2033.

Improved magnets would improve any nuclear fusion design that involves confinement of plasma. There is less science risk to this MIT approach but more technological risk. They are trying to accelerate the commercial use of high-temperature superconducting magnets and trying to contain their costs. Cost for superconducting magnets for past fusion projects have been $20 per watt but other applications have seen costs of $1.4 to $1.8 per watt.

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