Nuclear fusion promises to be one of the most efficient and paradigm-shifting energy sources in the world—and dozens of billionaires are investing in it.
- Nuclear-fusion funding has grown tremendously in the past two years. Seven major firms have raised more than $200 million from a research market that has tracked at least $5 billion in investment.
- 75% of the interest appeared in the past two years, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- Helion Energy Inc. is a startup based in Everett, Washington, that is aiming to prove its magneto-inertial fusion technology will be producing net gain energy within the next year.
- Notable billionaires—including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Salesforce head Marc Benioff, ChatGPT’s Sam Altman, and hedge-fund chief Peter Thiel—have collectively invested $375 billion into this one company, seeing it as a potential “holy grail” of clean-energy innovation, according to Benioff.
Why It’s News
As we previously reported, December 2022 saw a world-shaking announcement in the science of nuclear fusion technology when the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced it had successfully attained net gain from a nuclear fusion reaction—fusing two molecules together in a process that usually consumes energy without releasing it.
The race is now on to see which company can be the first to develop nuclear fusion technology that can be first to market—creating a limitless, clean, and safe energy source amidst the ongoing global attempt to meet net-zero climate emissions targets by 2050.
Backing Up A Bit
Research into the subject picked up momentum in August 2021 when Lawrence Livermore scientists came close to achieving the goal they would officially accomplish just a year later. Dozens of companies are now experimenting with multiple different methods of fusion to find a workable means of similarly achieving a net gain.
It only takes one successful net gain test to prove that the technology is possible and scalable and that discovery may emerge within the next one to 10 years.
“There’s a reasonable probability at least one, maybe two companies will demonstrate fusion conditions in this decade,” former U.S. energy secretary Ernest Moniz tells The Wall Street Journal.