Sweden's Novatron Fusion Group aims to deliver a design for commercial fusion reactors by 2040, attempting a feat sought by scientists the world over to bring radioactivity-free nuclear to energy grids.
With final confirmation of its €3 million seed round — from EU-backed investor EIT InnoEnergy and Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology — Novatron's efforts have received an early boost.
Scientists hope fusion reactors could one day provide zero-emissions nuclear energy without the dangers of storing radioactive plutonium, which carries small risks but potentially severe consequences, namely catastrophic meltdowns and nuclear waste falling into the wrong hands.
While nuclear fusion would produce an inert burst of helium as waste that could easily be discarded, so far academics have struggled to solidify the conditions to keep plasma inside the reactor long enough to spark its most vital reaction: a melding of two hydrogen nuclei to form helium isotopes.
It is thought fusion plasma must be stabilised at temperatures in excess of 100 million degrees.
To contain plasma inside the fusion reactor, Novatron's fusion research programme will try out a "unique approach." Plasma storage has been blamed previously for damage to the walls of early fusion reactor devices, rendering the process unusable.
First, Novatron's team must demonstrate that stable plasma storage can be achieved through the use of its reactor concept. It aims to do that within the coming year and plans to deliver a test facility to do so. Then comes the grand objective of getting commercial fusion designs to the regulators, in just under two decades time.
Peter Roos, Novatron's chief executive, said: "Fusion power has long been suggested as the technology breakthrough needed to support reaching with the global shift to net zero goals.
"However, it has also struggled to be proven technically and commercially viable. We believe our innovation is the key to unlocking the large-scale production of energy through fusion.”
As well as the plasma storage, Novatron claims its fusion design would be "economically viable" and more cost-effective than its contenders.
EIT InnoEnergy's CEO, Diego Pavia, said the investment was one of "many" launched by the investor into net zero-related concepts.
"Beating climate change demands big-impact innovations, and these innovations require resources and investment to scale them.
"Fusion power is a crucial base-load solution in our zero-carbon journey. It is for that reason, I am greatly excited about the impact Novatron Fusion Group’s unique solution could have on industry by making fusion a reality.”