Canadian nuclear fusion technology developer General Fusion has welcomed a new investor: Tobias Lütke, founder of multinational e-commerce company Shopify, which is the second global e-commerce company to invest in the company after Amazon.
The prospective technology of nuclear fusion often appears in sci-fi animations and movies, and generates exorbitant R&D costs, though it has resulted in numerous establishment of nuclear fusion startups, where the potential has also attracted the investment of many major tech companies.
Investment company Thistledown Capital founded by Tobias Lütke, the man behind Canadian e-commerce company Shopify, has also started to invest in nuclear fusion companies. Although the company did not announce the capital investment, it will be supporting General Fusion in the future in the R&D of relevant technology, establishment of demonstration factories, and the realization of magnetized targeted fusion (MTF).
The MTF technology was invented in 1970s from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and aims to achieve small nuclear fusions with stronger energy. General Fusion forms a vertical cavity inside a sphere measured at 3m in diameter, which is filled with liquid molten lithium-lead, and each pulse infuses the magnetically-confined plasma into the cavity, where the impact of the pistons surrounding the sphere would generate pressure waves to the center of the sphere, before compressing and heating the plasma, until the nuclear fusion reaction is occurred, whereas the heat energy produced from the process would actuate power generation from the steam generator, which circulates and maintains the operation of the pistons after steam recycling.
Shopify is the second e-commerce company to be investing in nuclear fusion after Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, had invested in General Fusion through his personal venture capital company Bezos Expeditions 10 years ago. Is this a profitable business? General Fusion received an investment of US$100 million back in 2019, which is part of the capital commitment above US$190 million, according to the data of database startup Crunchbase.
Numerous major tech companies have also invested in nuclear fusion startups, including Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, who invested in Tri Alpha Energy at Foothill Ranch through his affiliated venture capital institute Vulcan Capital, as well as Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, who invested in another nuclear fusion startup Helion Energy, through Mithril Capital Management.
(Cover photo source: General Fusion)