5 May (NucNet): Amazon.com founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos has joined a group investing 19.5 million US dollars (13.3 million euro) in a Canadian start-up company working on nuclear fusion.
General Fusion of Canada said in a statement today that it had secured enough initial funding to finance the first phase of its development and demonstration programme.
The British Columbia-based company is developing utility-scale fusion power using a new concept based on recent developments in magnetised target fusion (MTF).
This approach is a hybrid of traditional “magnetic fusion” and “inertial confinement fusion” methods, and involves first confining plasma in a magnetic field, and then compressing the confined plasma to thermonuclear conditions.
General Fusion’s patent-pending fusion technology involves the equipment needed to contain and compress the plasma, and the systems needed to manage the process.
The company said it believes that a power plant based on its technology could be built at a much lower cost than using conventional magnetic and laser fusion approaches, the company said.
The company said MTF has been “relatively unexplored” by the fusion community since it was first worked on in the 1970s, but if proven would provide a practical near-term path to fusion energy.
Other investors in the project include Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, GrowthWorks, Braemar Energy Ventures, Entrepreneurs Fund, Business Development Bank of Canada, and SET Venture Partners.
Mr Bezos joins Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in investing in nuclear energy start-ups. Mr Gates has invested in US-based TerraPower, which is developing a class of nuclear fast reactor called the travelling wave reactor (TWR).
>>Related reports in the NucNet database (available to subscribers)
Bill Gates’ TerraPower Continues Talks About ‘Travelling Wave Reactor’ (News in Brief No. 65, 7 April 2010)
Venture Capital Firms Boost Support For ‘Travelling Wave Reactor’ (News in Brief No.109, 17 June 2010)