California-based nuclear fusion startup, TAE Technologies, has secured the strategic and institutional investments to fund the construction of its next research reactor, Copernicus. TAE managed to secure this funding after achieving temperatures greater than 75 million degrees Celsius and demonstrating unmatched real-time control of plasma with its state-of-the-art fusion research reactor, Norman.
The company says its non-radioactive approach represents the fastest, most practical, and economically competitive solution to bring abundant carbon-free energy to the grid. TAE’s Copernicus reactor will be built in a 100,000-square-foot facility in Irvine, California. It is designed to demonstrate the viability of achieving net energy generation with TAE’s advanced beam-driven field-reversed configuration (FRC) – the penultimate step on TAE’s path to commercializing clean fusion power.
Unveiled in 2017, TAE’s fifth-generation nuclear fusion reactor, Norman, was designed to keep plasma stable at 30 million degrees Celsius. After five years of experiments to optimize Norman’s capabilities, the machine has proven capable of sustaining stable plasma at more than 75 million degrees Celsius, 250% higher than its original goal.
Thanks to a track record of over-delivering on milestones and performance capacity, TAE has earned the backing of forward-thinking investors and, so far, has raised a total of $1.2 billion for its commercial fusion development. In its recent closed Series G-2 financing round, TAE secured $250 million from investors in the energy, technology, and engineering sectors to support the company’s mission to deliver a long-term solution to rapidly growing electricity demand while providing global energy independence and security. TAE’s safe, non-radioactive approach avoids carbon and particulate emissions, mitigating any impact on the environment or climate change.
“The caliber and interest of our investors validate our significant technical progress and support our goal to begin commercialization of fusion by the end of this decade,” said Michl Binderbauer, CEO of TAE Technologies. “Global electricity demand is growing exponentially, and we have a moral obligation to do our utmost to develop a baseload power solution that is safe, carbon-free, and economically viable.”
As TAE’s first Japanese investor, Sumitomo Corporation of America (SCOA) will become a partner in deploying commercial power and other fusion-derived technologies to the Asia-Pacific market. SCOA, the main subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation, a Fortune 500 global trade and business investment organization with its headquarters in Tokyo, develops TAE-based technologies in Japan and Asia.
Chevron invested in TAE through its Technology Ventures unit, dedicated to energy innovation. “TAE – and fusion technology as a whole – has the potential to be a scalable source of no-carbon energy generation and a key enabler of grid stability as renewables become a greater portion of the energy mix,” said Jim Gable, Vice President, Innovation and President of Chevron Technology Ventures.
Google has partnered with TAE since 2014, providing the fusion startup with artificial intelligence and computational power. Google’s investment follows the success of the jointly developed Optometrist Algorithm, which deploys Google’s machine learning to optimize the operation of TAE’s research reactors, substantially advancing the rate of progress and ultimate performance achieved.
TAE aims to have a commercial-scale fusion reactor delivering energy to the grid in the early 2030s.