Tokamak Energy, one of the world’s leading private fusion energy ventures, has received a major investment boost totalling £10M from Legal & General Capital and British billionaire David Harding.
The company, based in Oxfordshire, is working on the world’s most promising approach to fusion, with the aim of realising a future of abundant, clean energy within the next decade. Current estimates suggest the fusion energy market could be worth $2.2 trillion per year by 2045.
The investment boost will help Tokamak Energy to accelerate its technology development, which combines spherical tokamaks and high-temperature superconductors to create similar conditions to those in the Sun where nuclear fusion occurs naturally. This huge engineering challenge has occupied some of the world’s brightest minds for over half a century.
Tokamak Energy is now building a compact, high magnetic field, spherical tokamak to overcome the engineering challenges inherent in controlling fusion reactions. This device will be assembled by March 2017 and is aiming for plasma temperatures hotter than the centre of the sun well before the end of 2017.
The investment comes from Legal & General Capital, as part of a wider aim to invest £15bn in UK infrastructure that will be key to future success of the UK in an uncertain future, as well as from the British billionaire and CEO of Winton Capital, David Harding and from other private investors.
Tokamak Energy is collaborating with some of the UK’s leading universities and businesses to overcome the fusion challenge. It has published two papers that challenge the assumption that ‘bigger is better’ in fusion, showing for the first time that size is a much less important factor than expected in determining fusion reactor output and proving that small, modular reactors no more than a few metres across can produce an energy gain.
Having already successfully demonstrated the – world-first – use of high temperature superconducting magnets in a tokamaks by sustaining a plasma for 29 hours in its second prototype reactor the company is now building what will be the world’s highest field spherical tokamak, and Tokamak Energy’s third reactor. Once this is complete, the next major milestone for the company will be demonstrating that fusion temperatures of 100 million degrees can be achieved in a small tokamak.