MIT Graduates Launch Private Sector Fusion Venture

March 9, 2018

Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), an MIT spinoff founded by a group of graduates from the MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering Department, announced it has launched an aggressive effort to develop fusion energy, backed by an initial investment of $50 million from Italian Energy company, ENI. The venture will be part of a new university-industry partnership with the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI). MITEI Director Robert Armstrong said, "MITEI has created a new membership category specifically for energy startups, and CFS is the first company to become a member through this new program." ENI is one of MITEI's founding members. Robert Mumgaard, who received his Ph.D. from MIT, is CEO of the new company, which also includes a number of other recent MIT graduates.

The effort is enabled by the relatively recent emergence of a new type of superconducting material, yttrium-barium-copper oxide (YBCO), which holds the promise that fusion's superconducting magnets can operate at higher temperature and higher magnetic field than today"s niobium-tin material. These properties lead to the possibility of smaller, lower cost fusion facilities and hence to the possibility of faster development and commercial deployment of fusion power plants.

The first phase (lasting about 3 years) of the company's effort, in partnership with the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), will be to build and test a YBCO-based magnet of the size and field needed for construction of a tokamak-based, medium-sized fusion experiment called SPARC. SPARC would be designed to produce 10-second pulses of fusion energy with peak power of about 100 MWth. The SPARC concept was developed at the PSFC, headed by Dennis Whyte. After successful operation of SPARC, the company would plan to proceed with a fusion pilot plant, producing electricity from fusion for the first time, at about a 200 MWe.

For more further information visit the web sites:

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or contact:
Kimberly Allen, MIT News Office: allenkc@mit.edu
Dennis Whyte, Director MIT PSFC: whyte@psfc.mit.edu
Martin Greenwald, Deputy Director MIT PSFC: g@psfc.mit.edu
Bob Mumgaard, CEO CFS: bob@cfs.energy