Helion Energy Raises $1.5 Million for Fusion Reactor

There has been some comment here and other sites about Helion Energy, a Redmond, Washington-based company which is seeking to develop an new type of nuclear fusion reactor that will be able to produce twice as much energy as is input into it.

The Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch has published an article reporting that Helion energy has recently raised $1.5 million in Series A funding from Mithril Capital Management, a venture capital firm that invests in technology companies it considers to be innovative and that stand a chance of succeeding in industries where change is long overdue.

Regarding Helion’s path to viability, the WSJ article states:

Helion estimates that it would require between $30 million and $50 million and three to five years to create a prototype that would produce more than twice the energy it consumes, according to [Ajay Royan, confounder of Mithril with Peter Theil]. After that there would be many more problems for the business to solve, related to how it would build up manufacturing and pay for it, as well as deal with any regulation, since this energy technology has never been used before.

In contrast to the massive government and inter-governmental fusion projects, this is a small-scale approach to nuclear fusion which is relying on private funding — at a much lower price tag.

I have to say, however, that with the E-Cat looming on the horizon, I find it difficult to feel especially enthusiastic about this kind of fusion technology. Unless there is a significant technological breakthrough, it is going to be difficult for a fusion reactor as expensive as this with a COP of 2 to compete with the E-Cat — especially if we are looking at a time frame of more than five years to market.

Nevertheless, it’s possible that useful scientific and technical innovations could come from this project that could add to our understanding of the operations the atom and better ways to achieve safe fusion, and so I wish them the best in their efforts.

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  • Fortyniner

    A good backround article here: http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2013/04/30/the-nearness-of-fusion-the-materials-and-coolant-challenges-facing-one-fusion-company-mirror-fission/

    A COP of 8 for thermal/neutronic output is claimed on the Helios website (www.helionenergy.com/). I assume they are looking at 25% conversion efficiency for the COP=2 figure. Not too many details are given as to how a magnetically confined hot plasma and neutron flux gets to electricity, except that heat and neutrons will be absorbed by a blanket of some undecided material. Presumably the rest of the story is steam-turbine-alternator as usual, meaning that 25% overall is probably hopelessly optimistic. I suspect that the timescale is, too. There seem to be many other problems to overcome, especially in the materials area. Good luck to them anyway – in mercatu veritas.

    A similar competing concept: http://www.crossfirefusion.com/nuclear-fusion-reactor/crossfire-fusion-reactor.html

  • Christopher Calder

    For those who have not seen it, here is a link to Lockheed Martin’s YouTube video about their low cost microwave hot fusion reactor design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAsRFVbcyUY

    • Broncobet

      I’ve seen it before and just watched it again,time has gone by so we can expect to see a prototype in three years. Chase is so credible when he talks.