What is Nuclear Fusion?

Written by Jennifer Clark
Posted December 15, 2021

Nuclear fusion is shaping itself to become one of the “hottest” new renewables on the market. 

Put in the simplest terms, nuclear fusion is created when two atoms are merged. Then that merging causes a release of energy, which in theory will be harnessed and have zero carbon emissions. 

Before you jump to conclusions because you see the word “nuclear,” you need to understand that nuclear fusion is very different from nuclear fission and its associated disasters. If anything were to go wrong inside a fusion reactor, the device would stop and there would be no risk of astronomical heat being released.

Nuclear Fusion

On the other hand, nuclear fission is the one that you’re probably more familiar with and recognize as being extremely dangerous. Nuclear fission creates energy by splitting one "heavy" atom (often uranium) into two. This breakdown can generate a large amount of radioactive waste in the process that can remain hazardous for years.

Influential Investors Are Betting Big on Nuclear Fusion

A Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, just completed a massive Series B funding round of more than $1.8 billion. The round was led by Tiger Global and included investments from big names like Bill Gates, Marc Benioff’s Time Ventures, and about two dozen others. It appears that the commercialization of fusion energy has fired up some venture and investment companies, and they are now betting big on this renewable energy source.

Commonwealth Fusion Systems’ latest rounding has become one of the largest for any nuclear fusion startup. Commonwealth has been one of a few companies that have been promising to create carbon-free energy at a time when the U.S. and the rest of the world are striving to become innovative when it comes to renewable energy choices. 

Most governments throughout the world are focused on finding ways to incorporate new renewable energy sources to take action against climate change since most of those governments are under pressure from scientists and younger generations to act quickly and decisively when it comes to battling climate change.

In early November, Washington-based company Helion Energy closed its Series E funding round, which raised $500 million. Then there was British Columbia-based General Fusion, which closed out its Series E funding round with $130 million raised, which included investments from Jeff Bezos.

When some of the top investors in the world are investing in something, it’s time that you pay close attention to what that something is. And in this case, it’s nuclear fusion. In the next decade or two, there is going to be a strong push for renewable energy sources, as the mindset of the public and government will need to shift to become more eco-conscious for the well-being of Earth. 

The Commercialization of Carbon-Free Energy

The commercialization of carbon-free energy might be a reality very soon. I’m talking years, not decades, which is good news for governments and companies. The decisions and actions that these governments and companies across the world make in these next few years will be telling of what the future holds, so having carbon-free energy available to these entities would greatly benefit them and the push toward a better future for the environment and for society. 

Helion Energy’s chief business officer, Scott Krisiloff, said this about nuclear fusion:

You are talking about the holy grail of energy. 

Helion plans to use its recent funds to complete its construction of Polaris. Polaris is the company’s seventh-generation fusion generator that broke ground back in July and is on track to demonstrate net electricity production in 2024. This could be an attainable goal for the company as other technological advancements in the last decade have made commercializing fusion energy more realistic. Krisiloff said:

There is a lot of enabling tech that has more recently been developed that has made our approach possible. 

This could be nuclear fusion's time to shine. Adam Rodman, founder and chief investment officer at Segra Capital, had this to say:

Investors are realizing the limitations of renewables. Fusion will be unrivaled in terms of clean, zero-waste energy. It has been overlooked for 10 years as people have focused on other things.

Rodman added:

It is important to enter these investments with a realistic timeline. 

While it may be a few years before these companies can earn revenue, that shouldn’t be a reason to disregard the technology and the future of clean zero-waste energy. 

The time to focus on nuclear fusion has come, which could explain why investors like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates have begun investing in firms like Helion Energy, General Fusion, and Commonwealth Fusion Systems.

Until next time, 

Jennifer Clark
Pro Trader Today
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