Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Fusion Systems’ new campus is expected to accelerate its path to commercial operations.
The 20ha campus at the company’s corporate headquarters includes an advanced manufacturing facility as well as its SPARC fusion energy demonstration currently under construction – dubbed “the world’s first commercially viable net energy fusion machine”.
The campus also is planned to enable the ongoing scaling of fusion power and expansion of the company, a start-up spun out from MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center to combine the decades of fusion research with the innovation and speed of the private sector.
“The opening of this campus marks an important moment as we continue to accelerate towards commercially, globally deployable fusion energy,” says CEO Bob Mumgaard.
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“This site brings together our team, the proven and next stage technologies, the advanced manufacturing capabilities and the demonstration of actual fusion performance at the scale required to bring fusion energy off the lab bench and to the market.”
Commonwealth Fusion Systems’ approach to fusion is magnetic confinement, with the SPARC facility a compact tokamak device.
This is similar to that of for example UK-based Tokamak Energy, with the ‘race’ on to see which team and/or country will be the first to deliver.
Its ‘secret sauce’ is the use of high temperature superconducting magnets, which the company previously has demonstrated up to 20T and should enable the delivery of similar performance to for example ITER but in a more compact system.
Predictions are that SPARC, due to become operational in 2025, could produce over 100MW of fusion power at gains of Q>10, with Q>1, i.e. an energy production greater than the input, breached soon after its start.
SPARC in turn should pave the way for a commercial fusion plant ARC, which is expected to start feeding energy into the grid as soon as the early 2030s.
Since its launch in 2018 Commonwealth Fusion Systems has raised over $2 billion in funding and received 18 INFUSE nuclear fusion development awards from the US Department of Energy.
The latest of these in January were for production methods for steel materials for fusion and for a methodology for neutronics modelling and systems design.