A company Jeff Bezos backs has raised $65 million to build a fusion power plant.
General Fusion has raised $65 million in Series-E funding from private investors, Business Insider reports. General Fusion will use the money to build its piston-driven nuclear fusion reactor.
“This represents the first effort to build a power-plant scale, power-plant relevant prototype fusion machine,” General Fusion’s CEO Christofer Mowry claims. Unlike most fusion experiments general fusion’s reactor uses giant pistons and super-hot plasma they contain in a magnetic field.
A 100 megawatt plant could generate enough electricity to power a city of 100,000 people. Hence, General Fusion’s demonstration plant could theoretically power Boulder, Colorado. Boulder had a population of 107,125 people in 2017.
Why Can’t Bezos Pay for the Fusion Reactor?
Mowry claims the plant could be complete in as little as five years. However, General Fusion will need $300 million to build the plant.
I have to wonder why they just cannot ask Bezos. Forbes estimates that the Amazon CEO was worth $111 billion on 18 December 2019. So Jeff could just write a check for the money and still have over $110 billion left over. If Jeff does not want to invest the whole $300 million, he could ask his friends Warren Buffett and Bill Gates for additional funds.
To explain, Forbes ranks Bezos the world’s richest man, Gates the world’s second richest man, and Buffett, the world’s third richest man. Forbes estimates Gates was worth $107.7 billion on 18 December 2019.
Since fusion could theoretically produce vast amounts of electricity without creating greenhouse gases, it could be a smart investment. In addition, to helping the world, Bezos could make money selling fusion reactors.
Fusion Company could get $115 million
Instead, General Fusion is getting the $65 million from a syndicate of investors led by Temasek, a press release indicates. Temasek is a large investment firm, headquartered in Singapore. General Fusion is a Canadian company backed by a syndicate of investors and venture capital firms. Business Insider claims Bezos is one of those investors.
Besides the $65 million in Series E Funds, General Fusion will receive $50 million from Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund, a press release indicates. Neither the press release nor Business Insider said where they will locate the Fusion Demonstration Plant.
General Fusion claims to have received over $200 million from various resources to finance its’ research. General Fusion’s management hopes its reactor will not degrade fast because of the pistons. One of the big problems with fusion is that reactors are so hot they melt down quickly.
Pistons could be simpler; and easier to maintain, than other methods such as magnetic containment fields. General Fusion’s reactor also uses a magnetic field to contain the plasma. Fusion reactors need to use magnetic fields because no materials have enough heat resistance to contain the super-hot plasma they generate.
Most fusion experiments heat hydrogen to temperatures as high as 150 million degrees Celsius to replicate the process that powers the sun. However, nobody has built a working fusion reactor.
Fusion could Disrupt Everything
General Fusion’s competitors include Commonwealth Energy Systems. Gates, Bezos, and Alibaba founder Jack Ma are investing in Commonwealth through Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) hedge fund. Commonwealth is trying to commercialize the tokamak fusion technology created at MIT.
If General Fusion’s claims are true, we could be one step closer to fusion. Fusion could be the ultimate disruptive energy technology because it could theoretically generate unlimited amounts of electricity while burning no fuel. That could help prevent global warming and put the fossil fuel industry out of business.
All speculators and investors need to companies such as General Fusion carefully because they could disrupt everything.