General Fusion, construction firm partner up for prototype power plant

General Fusion plasma injector | submitted

What happened: General Fusion announces partnership with Hatch Ltd.

Why it matters: The firms will be working together to develop a prototype plant to demonstrate the viability of fusion power technology

General Fusion Inc. has some extra juice flowing through it as it pushes forward with plans to build a demonstration plant to showcase efforts to harness fusion power.

The Burnaby-based company revealed Thursday (January 9) it’s partnering with engineering and construction firm Hatch Ltd. to help with the “development and deployment” of a planned prototype plant.

Hatch was among the investors in a $65-million financing round announced last month and specializes in power plant design, siting and licensing.

The location of the Fusion Demonstration Plant is not yet known, but the company plans to complete and test out this prototype over the next five years.

“They [Hatch] understand the realities of power plant engineering and will help ensure we develop a practical and on-demand cleantech that finally enables the energy transition we are all talking about,” General Fusion CEO Christofer Mowry said in a statement.

The prototype plant is meant to confirm that General Fusion’s technology can work in a power plant environment as it ramps up efforts to commercialize.

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.

—With files from Nelson Bennett