While it has not been considered among the transformational technologies crucial for producing clean and sustainable energy, nuclear fusion has fired up the interest of potential investors from both the public and private sectors.
Just last month, California-based nuclear fusion company TAE Technologies raised around $250 million for developmental initiatives. According to several industry watchers, TAE’s approach to fusion may just be the riskiest scientific gamble in the nuclear sector as it entails creating fusion reactions in extremely high-temperature scenarios.
But much of the financing for TAE’s initiatives wasn’t from the usual run of venture capitalists and tech moguls. Instead, big-name corporations like Chevron, Google, and even Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation are helping the company bring its systems to Asia.
TAE chief executive officer Michl Binderbauer stated that more partnerships – both financial and technological – are in the offing thanks to a recent breakthrough concerning building more viable reactors.
TAE’s process relies on an unusual approach to kickstarting the fusion process: hydrogen is melded with boron, one of the key components of rocket fuel, within a contained magnetic field under extreme heat.
During its funding rounds, company executives stated that its test reactor could actually keep plasma stable at 75 million degrees Celsius, twice as much heat as it originally planned to use. Binderbauer added that this was made possible not with more elaborate equipment but with better-performing software.
In any case, Binderbauer explained that his company aims to broaden the commercialization of nuclear-generated electricity by delivering substantial and sustainable power to energy grids in various locations by 2030.
Substantial Investments for Sustainable Technologies
In the past year, nuclear fusion initiatives have caught the attention of some of the world’s leading captains of industry, leading them to invest a total of $3.4 billion into relevant technologies in development.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos are just two of the moguls who have backed numerous nuclear fusion startups, funding different approaches toward the development of safe and reliable fusion processes for power generation.
But experts believe that this is but the tip of the iceberg. BloombergNEF energy analyst Chris Gadomski predicts that investments in the nuclear fusion sector will buck the current trend of investment pullbacks to exceed $1 billion by the end of this year. In his opinion, investing in the nuclear section has become a race of sorts among powerful individual investors.