General Fusion closes US$65m funding round, sets sights on prototype construction

General Fusion plasma injector | submitted

What happened: General Fusion raises another US$65m from investors

Why it matters: The clean energy company says investment allows it to officially launch plans for new prototype

A B.C. company specializing in harnessing fusion power has its grasp on even more investment dollars.

Burnaby’s General Fusion Inc. announced Monday (December 16) the close of US$65 million ($85 million) Series E funding round led by Singapore-based investment firm Temasek Holdings Private Limited.

Coupled with the release of a $50 million investment  secured last year from Ottawa’s Strategic Innovation Fund — the clean energy company said it’s now formally launching plans to design, construct and operate its Fusion Demonstration Plant.

General Fusion wants the prototype plant to confirm that its technology can work in a power plant environment as it ramps up efforts to commercialize.

A location for the demonstration plant has not yet been determined, according to a company spokesman.

Fusion energy is produced when atoms are fused, kicking out neutrons, which then power a reaction that can generate heat.

Fusion is most often associated as a process that occurs in the sun.

Producing a fusion reaction on Earth first requires turning two elements — deuterium and tritium, which are both heavy hydrogen isotopes — into a plasma.

In 2017 General Fusion unveiled what it described as the world’s largest plasma injector.

The P13, as it’s called, is ten times more powerful than all the other iterations the company has experimented with in the past.

Unlike fission power, which uses highly radioactive uranium and produces long-lived radioactive waste, the radioactive residuals of fusion power would be short-lived, and there is no risk of runaway meltdowns.

To date, General Fusion has raised more than $260 million in funding from investors.

CEO Christofer Mowry told Business in Vancouver in October 2018 details from the Strategic Innovation Fund are confidential but that the federal government expects to see a return on its investment.

“This is not a grant,” he said.

Ottawa estimated its investment would create 400 new jobs.

New investors in the latest funding round include the Cleantech Practice of Business Development Bank of Canada, the DLF Group, Gimv, I2BF Global Ventures, Disruptive Technology Advisers and Hatch.

They were joined by existing investors Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, Bezos Expeditions, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Braemar Energy Ventures, Entrepreneurs Fund and SET Ventures.

torton@biv.com

@reporton

—With files from Nelson Bennett