Nuclear-Fusion Firm Hits Funding Record With Plasma Breakthrough


TAE Technologies Inc., a developer of nuclear fusion technology, raised $280 million to build a demonstration system after the company was able to produce superheated plasma at 50 million degrees Celsius (90 million degrees Fahrenheit), a key milestone in the effort to reproduce the power of stars to generate electricity on Earth.

The company has now raised more than $880 million from backers including Google, Venrock Associates and Kuwait Investment Authority, TAE said in a statement Thursday. That’s more than any other company pursuing fusion, according to Chris Gadomski, nuclear analyst for BloombergNEF.

TAE is one of a handful of companies seeking to commercialize fusion. The technology offers the potential to provide cheap, carbon-free electricity but developers face significant challenges creating and sustaining extremely high temperatures.

Nuclear-Fusion Firm Hits Funding Record With Plasma Breakthrough

TAE expects to begin construction this year on its Copernicus demonstration system that will be able to exceed 100 million degrees and will generate more power than it takes to sustain, a critical hurdle that has eluded rivals. The sun’s core, by contrast, is 15 million degrees.

“Our unique approach brings fusion within grasp technologically and, more important, economically,” TAE Chief Executive Officer Michl Binderbauer, said in the statement.

Conventional nuclear power plants are based on fission, which releases energy when atoms break apart. Fusion, the same process seen in stars, unleashes energy when atoms are merged together, but developers have struggled to create a reactor that can actually sustain such a reaction for extended periods of time. TAE expects to complete its demonstration system by 2025.

“None of these fusion approaches are guaranteed,” Gadomski said in an interview. “There are a couple of really strong contenders.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.