Jul. 20, 2022
Investment in TAE Technologies, a Fusion Power Company in the United States~Implementing "fusion energy," key to realizing a decarbonized society~
On June 30, 2022, Sumitomo Corporation made an investment in TAE Technologies ("TAE"), a fusion power company in the United States. By collaborating with TAE, Sumitomo Corporation will deepen its knowledge and accelerate its actions to implement fusion power, a resource that will be key to realizing a carbon-neutral society.
Fusion reactions are the same source of energy found on the sun. When small-mass atoms such as hydrogen fuse with each other to form another slightly larger nucleus such as helium, the binding energy between the protons and neutrons in the nucleus change before and after the reaction. This results in a slight loss of mass and at the same time, produce a huge amount of energy. The goal of fusion energy technology is to artificially create a fusion reaction to continuously extract this large amount of energy in the form of electricity and heat. Sometimes nuclear fusion is said to be "a technology to create a sun on earth" as it is trying to utilize phenomenon in the sun.
Fusion power generation is expected to be a next-generation base-load power source as it is safe and does not emit CO2. There are also some advantages from a safety perspective. Fusion reactions will stop if fuel injection or the power supply stops, so in principle, the fusion power generation cannot cause a meltdown or major accident. On the other hand, there are still issues to be solved, such as achieving temperatures that can sustain the fusion reaction for a long period of time. In recent years, the development of nuclear fusion has rapidly accelerated on a global scale as a means to reduce carbon emissions. In fact, the Japanese government is promoting research and development of fusion technology as a non-carbon power source and moving toward formulating a nuclear fusion strategy. Private investment is also becoming more active, and significant progress is being made in technological development. Recently, Commonwealth Fusion Systems of the United States and General Fusion of Canada have received significant funding from Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, respectively.
Established in California, U.S.A., in 1998, TAE aims to develop and operate a safer fusion reactor that uses advanced fuel p-B11 (hydrogen-boron) that does not have environmental impact, particulate emissions, radioactivity or fuel scarcity. In 2014, TAE partnered with Google, Inc. to utilize Google's machine learning technology for fusion reactor development along with financial support. TAE aims to commercialize fusion reactors in the late 2020s.
Sumitomo Corporation's investment in TAE is part of a broader strategy to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the entire Sumitomo Corporation Group. In April 2021, Sumitomo Corporation established the Energy Innovation Initiative ("EII") and it has set "development and deployment of carbon-free energy" as one of the strategies.
Working alongside TAE, Sumitomo Corporation will deepen its understanding of the technology and industry trends in fusion power generation. Sumitomo Corporation will utilize its knowledge and experience to implement fusion power generation and contribute to the realization of a carbon-neutral society by working on a wide range of development opportunities and applications in addition to power generation.
Overview of TAE Technologies
|Foothill Ranch, California, United States
|Design, development and operation of commercial nuclear fusion reactors