Running Fusion Zap Energy has reached two milestones that could push it forward in the race for low-cost, carbon-free energy — a $160 million Series C round and a successful test of a fusion reactor prototype that could pave the way for a commercial version.
The power of synthesis has become an unlikely favorite of investors as carbon emissions continue to rise and the effects of climate change become more apparent. We have been trying to use the sun’s energy to produce energy for years, but after tens of billions of dollars and decades of research, fusion remains elusive.
However, smart new approaches to containing hot plasma that burns at over 100 million degrees Celsius have brought fusion power closer to reality. Investors are flocking to the field, hoping that advances made through continuous research and increasingly sophisticated computer simulations will finally help fusion break out of its long string of failures.
Zap Energy’s Series C oversubscribed led by Lowercarbon Capital. New investors include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Shell Ventures, DCVC and Valor Equity Partners. Existing investors Addition, Energy Impact Partners and Chevron Technology Ventures also contributed to the round. The startup’s core technology was created from research conducted at the University of Washington and Livermore National Laboratory.
Generally speaking, fusion power generates electricity by fusing isotopes of hydrogen (deuterium or tritium) into helium. The process releases neutrons, which are then captured to generate heat and spin a turbine. Atomic nuclei don’t like to fuse, so to coax them close enough for fusion to occur, nuclear scientists use extreme pressure and heat to create a fourth state of matter known as plasma.
Credit: techcrunch.com /