CEO of TAE Technologies Says They Will Begin Commercialization of Fusion by 2023

TAE Technologies will bring a fusion-reactor technology to commercialization in the next five years, its CEO Michl Binderbauer announced recently at the University of California, Irvine.

UPDATE- I was emailed by TAE Technologies and they say they will begin commercialization in 2023.

TAE Technologies next fusion device will be called Copernicus and it is designed to demonstrate an energy gain. It will involve deuterium-tritium fusion. Binderbauer expects to pass the D-T fusion milestone over the next two years.

“What we’re really going to see in the next couple years is actually the ability to actually make net energy, and that’s going to happen in the machine we call Copernicus,” he said in a “fireside chat” at UC Irvine.

TAE plans to go to higher temperatures for safer hydrogen-boron reactions.

Notes From the Video and Binderbauer

TAE technology has raised $700 million and have a $3 billion valuation. They are fully privately funded.
They have the largest most modern fusion machine in the U.S.

Making money from spinoffs
Life sciences
Mobility (“revolutionary” electric vehicle drivetrain)
smarter control system 30% better range
Particle accelerators

They will also destroy nuclear waste. They can provide materials testing and cargo security.
They will license confinement technology for D-T and D-He3.

There is a staged return on investment

TAE forecasts the first boron fusion reactor in 2023 or so. Boron Fusion requires 3 billion degrees.
They are at 50 million degrees in early 2019.

They will not build power plants, which is low margin. They will license the technology.

They will keep the company small with a few hundred people.

They are performing 60 shots per day and get 10 gigabytes of data per shot.
Can process the data in 3-4 seconds.
Machine learning computers decide on next experiments and drive the science and development.
Humans like to stay near the center of parameter ranges.
The computer will experiment at the edges

President Obama is on their board and TAE Technologies told me via email that Obama is not on the board. Ernie Moniz who was Energy Secretary is on the board.

2015 achieved containing plasma at will in any configuration they wanted.
They have over 800 patents and the patents have worldwide coverage.

They are focused on end goal of competitive energy.
Academia goes low-hanging fruit without thinking about cost.
They want utility-scale electricity that is cost-competitive.
Proton-B11 fusion is the only answer.

The cost of the first plant will be 8 cents kWh.
They have carefully studied costs.
They have a lot of access to companies who build things this scale

The capital cost for energy is:
* Natural gas plant cost $2000 per kW
* Current nuclear in the USA costs $9000 per kW
* TAE Technologies will be at $4300/kW
U.S. has uniquely cheap gas but TAE will be competitive globally from the start of commercialization. They will have 350 MWe to 400 MWe plant size.

Over the last 20 years, TAE Technologies has been evolving an advanced beam-driven field-reversed configuration (FRC) approach. The underlying science is being validated every day, and they are now rapidly approaching the reality of a commercially competitive fusion solution. This has resulted in an ever-increasing portfolio of over 800 patents, either granted or applied for globally.

TAE Technologies $700 million of investment has investors including New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Venrock, and Wellcome Trust. Their shareholders include Google, as well as global technology firms and universities – all of whom believe that the private sector is best equipped to create this public good.

Competitor General Fusion Is Shooting for Power Generating 70% Scale Prototype by 2023

Nextbigfuture had reported on General Fusion in Canada. General Fusion does not need to demonstrate fusion containment because they are pulsed power systems like a diesel engine or steampunk fusion.

The pilot system will prove three things:
1. Fusion conditions will be repeatably produced
2. There will be a kill chain from neutrons to electrons
3. Economics will be validated.

Simulations will be used to validate the economics and design specifics to move to a 100% system.

The next system after the 70% scale system will be a full commercial system.

The Demo system will cost several hundred million dollars. General fusion is fundraising now.

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