German startup Focused Energy raises $15m seed round to pursue commercial fusion energy production
Focused Energy, a laser fusion startup dedicated to developing fusion as a means of generating clean alternative energy, announced the successful completion of $15 million in seed funding. The funding was led by Prime Movers Lab with additional investment from Major League Baseball legend and entrepreneur Alex Rodriguez, serial entrepreneur Marc Lore, and investor Tony Florence.
Thomas Forner, CEO, Focused Energy: "We are delighted to announce the seed fund with the backing of such great investors. We are now able to take a major step forward in our mission to develop laser driven fusion energy and commission the first experimental facility to test our integrated fusion concept, which we hope to build in the next four years."
Focused Energy is dedicated to developing a method to enable efficient, controlled fusion energy by utilizing high-power laser beams to drive a fusion reaction, a technique known as inertial fusion energy ("IFE"). By combining high energy pulsed lasers and ultrafast petawatt lasers, Focused Energy advances a novel method in which some lasers compress the fusion fuel and then the short pulse, intense petawatt lasers spark the compressed fusion to ignite it. When successfully implemented, this process will yield a burst of energy that is around one hundred times greater than the energy put in by the lasers, creating a large surplus of clean, climate-friendly energy for commercial use.
Dakin Sloss, Founder and General Partner, Prime Movers Lab: "There is an unprecedented opportunity in the market to transition to more affordable and efficient energy sources. The Focused Energy team is trailblazing the way to make IFE a safe and scalable technology that could ensure a significant green energy supply with resources that are globally available for millennia to come."
Clean energy production, including IFE, has taken off in recent years, with the development of alternative, carbon-free approaches to conventional energy production shifting into public focus. The increasing number of investments in this sector point to steady growth of the industry and Focused Energy is committed to developing an inertial fusion approach that is commercially viable.
"The urgent need to slow down the progression of global warming calls for new technologies in clean energy production as the global demand for energy increases," said Marc Lore. "Focused Energy has developed a unique approach to safe energy generation that will significantly contribute to the sustainability of cities in the future."
The Focused Energy approach builds on recent breakthrough results in inertial fusion at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Northern California, in which a record fusion energy yield of 1.3 megajoules was observed with the National Ignition Facility laser. This energy produced was about 70% of the laser energy injected to ignite the fusion fuel, indicating that full fusion ignition and net energy gain in IFE is within reach. Such promising scientific results, combined with recent advancements in laser technology, are now making it possible to realize a viable inertial fusion reactor and global clean energy production within the next decade.
"Part of what I look for in an investment is a company that has the ability to solve big challenges and demonstrate long-term growth potential," added Alex Rodriguez. "The Focused Energy team has these two characteristics and the ability to push relentlessly on technological developments that will save our planet."
The advanced ignition approach of Focused Energy will now build on NIF's recent significant progress to take the next step towards the vision of commercialization of clean energy. As a next step, the company will build a high repetition-rate laser test facility within the next 4 years to define the layout for the construction of the future ignition facility and ultimately for a prototype power plant that would be built at the beginning of the next decade.