Helion Energy, which recently received $500 million funding, is planning to boost its clean energy production dreams as it aims to produce net electricity using its prototype reactors.
The company founded by Chris Pihl and David Kirtley aims to use the power of nuclear fusion to generate electricity. Physicists over the past decades have aspired to build nuclear fusion reactors which would power entire cities with zero-carbon emission.
Fusion is the process where hydrogen atoms are smashed together to fuse to helium to generate energy. It is the same process which powers the sun and the stars. Helion says that this method of generating electricity could give endless energy with zero-waste.
Helion’s technology is different from how traditional nuclear power plants produce electricity. The company describes its technology to that of a ‘regenerative braking in an electric car’. “Our system is built to directly recover electricity. Just like regenerative braking in an electric car, our system is built to recover all unused and new electromagnetic energy efficiently. Other fusion systems heat water to create steam to turn a turbine which loses a lot of energy in the process,” the company explained in its webpage.
Ajay Royan, one of the major investors in Helion and co-founder of Mithril Capital along with billionaire Peter Thiel, summed up Helion’s approach in the simplest manner possible while speaking to news agency Forbes. “We get rid of the power plant,” Royan, the India-born Canadian said.
Royan also expressed hope that skepticism around fusion power would decrease.
Meanwhile, Helion continues to develop its prototype reactors. It recently is building a prototype reactor dubbed Trenta. It already has built six such reactors. The company aims to use its seventh reactor Polaris for generating net electricity soon. “In 10 years we will have commercial electricity for sale, for sure,” founder David Kirtley was quoted as saying by Forbes. Kirtley also worked at NASA and the US air force research laboratory in the past and hopes that despite the scepticism fusion reactors will provide clean energy to power homes in the coming decade.