Vancouver’s got the power.
General Fusion has announced that its plasma injector has begun operations at the company’s facilities in Vancouver. The injector is ten times more powerful than its predecessor and it recently generated its first plasma, marking an important step towards commercializing the technology.
General Fusion’s plan to bring the tech into the market is moving forward quickly based on milestones the company passed with its smaller injectors. So far the company has tested 18 different injectors, and the current one that just switched on, dubbed PI3, is the biggest and most powerful machine yet.
“Our PI3 test program takes the record-breaking performance achieved on our smaller plasma injectors and scales it up to a size and power similar to that which we’ll be deploying as part of our fusion demonstration plant,” said General Fusion’s CTO Michael Delage.
General Fusion has been on a mission to develop the only end-to-end solution that will produce fusion energy. Fusion energy involves fusing two lighter atomic nuclei together to form a heavier centre, releasing energy in the process. The process has theoretical advantages over typical fission energy, including less radioactivity and waste and increased safety.
“This is an important milestone for the company, successfully translating the knowledge gained and technology developed from over 150,000 plasma experiments into a machine that is of comparable scale to what is needed for a commercial fusion power plant,” said General Fusion CEO Chris Mowry.
A machine built by the company would eventually have to be the size of a power plant in order to actually perform at commercial production scales, but it would not have the same complexity as a typical nuclear power plant.
A facility would have to demonstrate fusion energy conditions and refine the economics of overall power production in order to really take off as a potential replacement for fission power. Plasma is an ideal choice for fusion reactions due to its ability to be heated to extreme temperatures.
If fusion energy could be commercialized quickly, it will meet a critical and incoming goal for energy generation over the next decades.
General Fusion is a Vancouver-based power generation company that also has an office in Washington D.C. The company has received funding from Amazon founder and richest person in the world: Jeff Bezos. If General Fusion is successful in their goal of harnessing the energy process that occurs in the centre of stars, it could lead to the end of fossil fuel dependence forever—a lofty goal, but a necessary one in the age of energy conservation.