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Chevron invests in nuclear fusion startup that's raised $1.2B

Jul. 19, 2022 6:26 PM ETChevron Corporation (CVX)SSUMY, SSUMFBy: Carl Surran, SA News Editor53 Comments

Atom nucleus with electrons

peterschreiber.media/iStock via Getty Images

Chevron (NYSE:CVX) is part of a $250M funding round announced Tuesday for Google-backed TAE Technologies, a nuclear fusion startup with a "non-radioactive approach" that has raised $1.2B in total.

Japan's Sumitomo (OTCPK:SSUMY) also participated

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Comments (53)

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petecarter profile picture
TAE stands for tri-alpha energy, and it's non-radioactive because no neutrons are produced as reaction products, only alphas, or helium nuclei (reaction: B11 + H1 ---> 3He4). That's the good part, the bad part is that, for the reaction to run at a commercially usable rate, the plasma must be maintained at a temperature of well over 1 billion degrees. They claim to have gotten to 75 million, a good start but that's all it is. Getting to and holding sufficiently high temps has always been the biggest obstacle to a practical fusion reactor.
@petecarter If I am not mistaken, alpha particles are radiation as well. It is a misnomer. All fusion reaction is not entirely pure or controllable in the particles it generates. Fusion's biggest problem is not starting the fusion but to get the energy out in a sustainable and economical way. What this company does is not any superior than the main stream approach. It is a billion dollar down the drain for some science experiments and perhaps some talking points for oil executives.
petecarter profile picture
@typecheck Alphas are not radioactive because they're not absorbed in the walls of the containment vessel but are magnetically deflected and can be channeled into a power extraction component. This is called MHD (magnetohydrodynamic) energy conversion, and it bypasses the need for extraction using water or liquid metal (NaK) circulation systems, then to a heat exchanger, then to steam turbines. Being much more direct it's also much more efficient, with zero radioactivity (the alphas can be released and converted into helium gas).
@petecarter expanding a bit on what you say, yes but, if you heat it to a billion degrees to get it started, and then a bunch of boron fuses and gets even hotter, and you're left holding a two billion degree bag, then, um, uh, y'know, don't drop it, LOL.

And surely no reaction is 100% pure and you start losing energy all over the place, there is typically lots of x-ray and gamma-ray emission on nuclear reactions that also must be shielded, perhaps it can heat some water or something. Just saying that even if the fusion part were easy, the engineering part is a significant challenge, and by the time you have useful power to distribute you may have lost a *lot* of the theoretical efficiency.

also it looks like you need more like six billion degrees to go:
Proton–boron fusion requires ion energies, and thus plasma temperatures, some nine times higher than those for D-T fusion. For any given density of the reacting nuclei, the reaction rate for proton-boron achieves its peak rate at around 600 keV (6.6 billion degrees Celsius or 6.6 gigakelvins)[41] while D-T has a peak at around 66 keV (765 million degrees Celsius, or 0.765 gigakelvin). For pressure-limited confinement concepts, optimum operating temperatures are about 5 times lower, but the ratio is still roughly ten-to-one.

(pretty good write-ups Wikipedia, thanks!)
I own oil and gas stocks but I wish them the best. Carbon based energy society is not sustainable and I am all for some game changing alternatives.
Yeah in some oil depleted country in the middle of nowhere that gets little sunlight.
Fusion is still a long term prospect - but I do hope it becomes a reality. The only other non-carbon/renewable energy that I think has a chance to change the world is deep geothermal - check out a company called Quaise and what they are doing.
Jeff Pokorny profile picture
Nuclear is the only way out.
Doctor_ECE_Prof profile picture
Fusion has been 30 years away for the last 100 years. The recent article I read indicated they moved from 6 microseconds of sustained fusion to some 6 milli seconds. I wonder what this Investment, new building means.
Pinguino Investments profile picture
@ECE_Prof A hundred years ago, no one had much of an inkling of fusion. Quantum physics was still in its infancy. It wasn't until 1926 that Arthur Eddington proposed that stars get their energy from nuclear fusion. At that point no one was even dreaming of reproducing that as an energy source on Earth.

So although I get the point you're trying to make, your timeline is off.
sittingbear profile picture
In 1969 I worked as a cement finisher at Peachbottom reactor 2 and 3 earning my way though college as a result of my father being General Foreman of Pipefitters and Configuration. All of the General foremans sons going to college were on the same detail. We patched holes in the forms of walls where rebar attached and held the forms then broke down, 24 to each section in the blowout tunnels below the reactors. We were out of sight except for lunch. We paid $2 a day to the Steward for our brass that earned us $7.60/hr all summer long. $7k. I am 71 now. Good things take time. Copernicus will take half as much time. Change takes generations to apply. To the witless few that have no direction, keep investing in fossil fuels till you choke off your grandchildren. PP&L is still making power. They light up the East Coast.
Ta0 profile picture
All these years, hanging onto CVX (and even buying more) even when it was down in the dumps…patience is paying off.
@Ta0 No joke.

Fission in modular nuclear as GE and Hitachi have developed a great platform as well.

Why waste all the real estate with solar and wind for such small scale output
Ta0 profile picture
@San Marzano Why, you ask? Here's the answer.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou.

I believe there are better methods of energy production available in the future, and fission is only the next step we take to harness it. After all, Zero-point energy is the greatest gift the quantum world can ever give us, but until we can figure out how to tap into that kind of boundless energy, we're stuck with what we are able to handle at this moment in our collective lives.
sparkl profile picture
Not fission, fusion. Totally different thing.
Take all the money wasted on renewables and put it into things like this.
soral a raison profile picture
@Titiss Good point. This says the project is 1,2B only. Compare that with the 200B Germany alone has spent on "renewable energy", with nothing to show for it other than a looming energy crisis of historical proportion. Clown world.
gnwilliams profile picture
@soral a raison Really? Renewables provided 41.1 percent of 2021 German electricity consumption.

Pinguino Investments profile picture
@gnwilliams Soral a tort?
Pepsiguy5 profile picture
Thats the holy grail imho. You harness that......
It’ll happen one of these days. Google has a great bench of scientists.
And the gov't tries to take down these great companies, as if the gov't could ever come up with this.
autofocus111 profile picture
@jimoc Come up with what? Countries around the world including USA have been funding ITER for years to the tune of billions of dollars. Is it worth it? I'd say yes. I'd rather see them spend it on projects like this than on war machines any day.

@autofocus111 I said gov’t.
edaskew profile picture
@autofocus111 They aren’t even scheduled to test it until 2035. Governments can’t do anything right, especially a consortium of governments.
autofocus111 profile picture
Sure. Why not? CVE made a small early round investment in a fusion play a decade ago. That company, General Fusion, is still kicking, and completed their latest round of funding late last year.

>>>FUSION LIGHTWEIGHT GETS A BOOST FROM HEAVYWEIGHT INVESTORS 05 Thu, 2011 One of Canada’s leading purveyors of fossil fuels, oil sands company Cenovus Energy Inc. , is placing a bet on a sci-fi energy source in hopes that nuclear fusion can one day help squeeze bitumen out of Fort McMurray. The company is making a $4-million investment in General Fusion, a Burnaby, B.C.-based startup that on Thursday announced $19.5-million in new development capital, including some from Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment company of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. General Fusion ranks among Canada’s most ambitious small companies, with a goal to create a new energy source that could have global application. “This is the holy grail of energy,” said founder Michel Laberge. “In 100 years, the whole planet will run on fusion.”


>>>VANCOUVER, Canada (30 November 2021): General Fusion announced today it is closing an oversubscribed $130 million (USD) Series E funding round filled by a new syndicate of global investors. This financing, led by Temasek, significantly expands the company’s portfolio of institutional, sovereign, family office, and high net worth investors, providing the prelude to a large financing round being prepared for 2022. Combined with broad financial support from the Canadian, U.K., and U.S. governments, the General Fusion Series E round supports aggressive pursuit of several near-term initiatives and milestones in its program to commercialize Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF).

Longshot but why not?
Another Mountain's Rock Investing profile picture
Shout out Irvine-based innovation!
@another Mountain's Rock Investing , yes, OTOH I'd appreciate a little more distance, just in case, LOL.
TraderJoeZ profile picture
Their second such nuclear investment of late.
@TraderJoeZ Nuclear is the way to go imo.
Billion dollars is a drop in a bucket for fusion research.
It's basically buying a lotto ticket and some good PR.
Good gig if you can get it, running a blue sky research lab with OPM.
Con Story….
SenBiden profile picture
@apineda7000 Indeed, we've been TALKING about fusion for about 25 years and monopoly utilities have wasted billions of captive ratepayer money on it - one of the reasons many jurisdictions restructured the industry and made the generation industry competitive. I hope CVX isn't wasting its investors' money here. This administration will never get behind fusion, especially if it looks like it might produce inexpensive energy which is anathema to the woke children in charge of our energy policy.
Another Mountain's Rock Investing profile picture
@SenBiden Researching nuclear tech now vs when spurned on in the face of Nazis is probably a reason why it is taking longer. Just a hunch. Not to mention nuclear energy use took another decade or more after the war. 20 years vs 25 is not a huge difference.
gnwilliams profile picture
@SenBiden Why would any administration oppose inexpensive energy if it emitted less CO2 and pollutants than existing alternatives?
SaaS Sniper profile picture
Very intriguing move $CVX.

Will be keeping an eye on this development.
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