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New Scientific Papers Predict Historic Results for Commonwealth Fusion Systems’ Approach to Commercial Fusion Energy

Cambridge, MA – September 29, 2020 – Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), a company commercializing fusion energy, today announced a groundbreaking series of seven papers published and peer reviewed in a special edition of the Journal of Plasma Physics validating CFS’ approach to commercial fusion energy. The papers, written in collaboration with MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and available to public at no cost, are the first peer reviewed publications from any private commercial fusion company that verifies a compact fusion device will achieve net energy where the plasma generates more fusion power than used to start and sustain the process, the requirement for a fusion power plant.

CFS is collaborating with MIT’s PSFC to design and build SPARC, the world’s first net energy (Q>1) fusion system. SPARC is being designed with the collective and proven knowledge of the world’s fusion programs, using well established plasma physics as well as cutting-edge tools that include advanced simulations, data analysis, and science from existing machines. These papers are the result of more than two years of work by the team to refine the SPARC design, which is now entering its final stages.

The papers apply the same physics rules and simulations used to design ITER and interpret results from existing experiments to predict SPARC’s performance based on the anticipated engineering design. The results show that SPARC will achieve its goal (Q>2) with considerable margin. The joint team of world-leading experts include those who worked on the design for ITER, as well as groups from national labs, centers, and universities around the world. Both ITER and SPARC are tokamaks, a device that uses a magnetic field to confine the fusion process. However, SPARC will use new high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets to enable a similar performance as ITER but built more than 10 times smaller and on a significantly faster timeline.  

The papers also predict that SPARC will very likely achieve a burning plasma for the first time on earth, meaning the fusion process will be dominantly self-heating. This is a major multi-decade goal of the world’s scientific community.

“These are concrete public predictions that when we build SPARC, the machine will produce net energy and even high gain fusion from the plasma. That is a necessary condition to build a fusion power plant for which the world has been waiting decades,” said CFS CEO Bob Mumgaard, PhD. “The combination of established plasma physics, new innovative magnets, and reduced scale opens new possibilities for commercial fusion energy in time to make a difference for climate change. This is a major milestone for the company and for the global clean tech effort as we work to get commercial fusion energy on the grid as fast as possible”

CFS and MIT’s PSFC are also now constructing the advanced magnets that will allow CFS to build significantly smaller and lower-cost fusion power plants. This collaboration is on track to demonstrate a successful 20 Tesla, large-bore magnet in 2021. This magnet test, the first of its kind in the world, opens a widely identified transformational opportunity for commercial fusion energy. These magnets will then be used in SPARC, which is on track to begin construction in 2021 and demonstrate net energy gain from fusion for the first time in history by 2025. SPARC will pave the way for the first commercially viable fusion power plant called ARC.

About CFS

Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) is on track to bring fusion energy technology to market. CFS was spun out of MIT and is collaborating with MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center to leverage decades of research combined with the innovation and speed of the private sector. CFS has assembled a world-class team working to design and build fusion machines that will provide limitless, clean, fusion energy to combat climate change. Supported by the world’s leading investors in breakthrough energy technologies, this CFS team is uniquely positioned to deliver the fastest path to commercial fusion energy.