Burnaby’s General Fusion lands $49m investment from feds

BIV By Tyler Orton | October 26, 2018

Plasma injector heats matter to 5 million degrees Celsius. | General Fusion

A Burnaby-based clean-energy pioneer is banking on a sizeable government investment to create hundreds of new jobs.

The federal government announced October 26 it’s investing $49.3 million in General Fusion.

Dollars from the Strategic Innovation Fund will create 400 new jobs, according to Ottawa.

General Fusion was established in 2002 with the mandate of harnessing fusion power — a process by which atoms release energy when merged together and lose mass.

CEO Christofer Mowry told Business in Vancouver details from the Strategic Innovation Fund are confidential.

“However, in general this is not a grant,” he said in an email.

“Canada is expecting to receive a return on its investment as General Fusion finishes its development program and begins commercial operations. The potential returns for Canada are not only financial, but are also the development of intellectual property which differentiates technology ventures across British Columbia and drives strong long-term growth of the cleantech sector.”

Fusion energy is produced when atoms are fused, kicking out neutrons, which then power a reaction that can generate heat.

Fusion is most often associated as a process that occurs in the sun.

Producing a fusion reaction on Earth first requires turning two elements — deuterium and tritium, which are both heavy hydrogen isotopes — into a plasma.

Last December, General Fusion unveiled what it described as the world’s largest plasma injector.

The P13, as it’s called, is ten times more powerful than all the other iterations the company has experimented with in the past.

Unlike fission power, which uses highly radioactive uranium and produces long-lived radioactive waste, the radioactive residuals of fusion power would be short-lived, and there is no risk of runaway meltdowns.