Venture Capital: Nuclear Fusion Startup Zap Energy Achieves First Plasmas; Nabs $160M

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Zap Energy ultimately seeks to make garage-sized reactors that will create energy through nuclear fusion.

Zap Energy , a Seattle-based startup aiming to achieve commercially viable nuclear fusion and fusion generated energy through a quicker and dramatically lower capital intensive approach, has raised a $160 million Series C round led by Lowercarbon Capital. New investors coming aboard included Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Shell Ventures, DCVC and Valor Equity Partners. Existing investors Addition, Energy Impact Partners and Chevron Technology Ventures also participated. (BusinessWire)

The funding followed a major milestone achieved by Zap. Using its Z-pinch fusion technology, the company created its first plasmas inside FuZE-Q, a prototype reactor. Plasma is a medium in which atomic nuclei fuse together to release energy, and it is typically created, as on the Sun, through a combination of intense heat and pressure. Zap’s process does not rely on massive reactors relying on hugely powerful magnetic fields – as in other approaches to achieving nuclear fusion.

This achievement marks a step forward towards the Holy Grail of energy: The long-sought target of Q=1, where the process of nuclear fusion inside a plasma yields more energy than was consumed to create it.

“Compared to prevailing approaches to fusion, Zap Energy’s technology is incredibly elegant and does not require any superconducting magnets or high-powered lasers. A simpler method of producing fusion means an opportunity to build smaller, less complex, more scalable systems that will more quickly bring fusion energy to the grid,” the company said.

“The team at Zap are getting closer to mass-manufacturable fusion reactors small enough to fit inside a garage,” stated Clay Dumas, a founding partner at Lowercarbon. “From powering heavy industry to remote communities, this tech could go a long way toward de-fossilizing our economy with energy that’s straight up cheaper, cleaner and more abundant.”

Related Story: Commonwealth Fusion Systems Raises $1.8B To Build The SPARC Net Energy Fusion Machine

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