Canada-based General Fusion on 14 January announced the close of financing from new investor, Thistledown Capital, a firm established by Shopify founder Tobias Lütke and his wife, Fiona McKean.
The investment will support the development of the company’s Fusion Demonstration Plant, which will showcase Magnetised Target Fusion (MTF) technology at power-plant relevant scale.
MTF was first proposed by the US Naval Research Lab and was developed in the 1970s. It involves creating a magnetically confined moderately warm plasma of around 100eV in a flux conserver, which is a shell that preserves the magnetic field. According to a 2017 description of the technology from General Fusion’s chief science officer and founder, Michel Laberge, the plasma is superheated to a temperature that can create a fusion reaction by rapidly compressing the flux conserver and the magnetic field inside it surrounding the plasma.
A roughly three-metre sphere filled with molten lead-lithium is pumped to form a cavity. A pulse of magnetically confined plasma fuel is then injected into the cavity. Pistons around the sphere then create a pressure wave into the middle of the sphere, compressing the plasma to create fusion conditions. Any neutrons escaping from the fusion reaction are captured in the liquid metal, and the heat from that metal generates electricity via a steam turbine. A heat exchanger steam turbine produces the power and the steam is then recycled to run the pistons.
Canada-based Thistledown Capital was founded in 2019 to advance technological solutions for decarbonisation, aiming to make the biggest impact for future generations by fighting climate change. The firm funds technology breakthroughs that support decarbonisation, such as fusion energy.
This is the second time the founder of an e-commerce giant has supported General Fusion. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos previously invested in the company through his venture capital fund, Bezos Expeditions. In 2019, General Fusion also attracted $100 million, which is part of a total capital commitment of at least, $192 million, according to Crunchbase.
“General Fusion has a strong record of attracting funding support from some of the world’s most influential technology leaders,” said Greg Twinney, CFO, General Fusion. “Fusion is planet-saving technology, and we are proud to support the mission of Thistledown Capital in its pursuit for a greener tomorrow.”
Photo: Exterior rendering of the Fusion Demonstration Plant facility at night