Helical Fusion selected for Japanese grant

20 October 2023

Helical Fusion Co Ltd has been selected by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology (MEXT) for its total JPY 6.5bn ($43m) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme to develop cutting-edge fusion technologies. The SBIR programmr was established to promote research and development for startups engaged in advancing innovative technologies, and to facilitate the smooth implementation of results through government support.

Helical Fusion is one of four companies to be selected and will receive JPY 2bn. Helical Fusion is developing High-Temperature Superconducting (HTS) cable technology, which is expected support the development of commercially viable high-performance magnets. The grant is part of the Japanese government’s commitment and recognition of innovative fusion technology led by the private sector.

Helical Fusion, together with Japan’s National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS), has developed a new HTS conductor, Wind & Impregnated Stacked Elastic (WISE) tapes that can be scaled and engineered into high-performance magnets. The funding will accelerate commercialisation of the WISE conductor by increasing its Technology Readiness Level from Level 5 to Level 7 (an index created by NASA used to evaluate the proficiency level of a particular technology and determine its maturity level).

The WISE conductor is a breakthrough in the area of cable architecture with the advantage of flexibility enabling it to be wound to fabricate HTS coils with complicated shapes, while maintaining the needed tolerances and superconducting-current properties. In addition, the built-in cooling pipe provides enhanced cooling performance. The WISE conductor is expected to contribute to the development of small-scale and low-cost fusion reactors.

Takaya Taguchi, Helical Fusion’s co-CEO, commented: “We are delighted to be selected by the Japanese SBIR programme. Helical Fusion will, together with industrial partners and technology, accelerate development of the HTS cable which can contribute to the early realisation of fusion reactors in Japan and overseas.”

Helical Fusion is a private fusion technology company spun out of the National Institute for Fusion Science. The company’s goal is to develop the world’s first steady-state fusion reactor that incorporates unique cutting-edge technology such as the WISE conductor.

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