Helion Energy Raises $1.5 Million for Fusion Reactor

There has been some comment here and other sites about Helion Energy, a Redmond, Washington-based company which is seeking to develop an new type of nuclear fusion reactor that will be able to produce twice as much energy as is input into it.

The Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch has published an article reporting that Helion energy has recently raised $1.5 million in Series A funding from Mithril Capital Management, a venture capital firm that invests in technology companies it considers to be innovative and that stand a chance of succeeding in industries where change is long overdue.

Regarding Helion’s path to viability, the WSJ article states:

Helion estimates that it would require between $30 million and $50 million and three to five years to create a prototype that would produce more than twice the energy it consumes, according to [Ajay Royan, confounder of Mithril with Peter Theil]. After that there would be many more problems for the business to solve, related to how it would build up manufacturing and pay for it, as well as deal with any regulation, since this energy technology has never been used before.

In contrast to the massive government and inter-governmental fusion projects, this is a small-scale approach to nuclear fusion which is relying on private funding — at a much lower price tag.

I have to say, however, that with the E-Cat looming on the horizon, I find it difficult to feel especially enthusiastic about this kind of fusion technology. Unless there is a significant technological breakthrough, it is going to be difficult for a fusion reactor as expensive as this with a COP of 2 to compete with the E-Cat — especially if we are looking at a time frame of more than five years to market.

Nevertheless, it’s possible that useful scientific and technical innovations could come from this project that could add to our understanding of the operations the atom and better ways to achieve safe fusion, and so I wish them the best in their efforts.

  • Christopher Calder

    For those who have not seen it, here is a link to Lockheed Martin’s YouTube video about their low cost microwave hot fusion reactor design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAsRFVbcyUY

    • Broncobet

      I’ve seen it before and just watched it again,time has gone by so we can expect to see a prototype in three years. Chase is so credible when he talks.

  • For those who have not seen it, here is a link to Lockheed Martin’s YouTube video about their low cost microwave hot fusion reactor design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAsRFVbcyUY

    • Broncobet

      I’ve seen it before and just watched it again,time has gone by so we can expect to see a prototype in three years. Chase is so credible when he talks.

  • otto1923

    At first glance this looks a lot like bogden maglichs migma machine which went nowhere in the 80s.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migma
    -Another example of pons/fleischman suppression?

    • BarleySinger

      I’ve often wondered what happened with that reactor. He had very good outcomes on every phase of his work, until the point where he need a LOT of money for his next phase, and went to the US defence department (United States Air Force) for funding, and then the entire line of research from that direction of his work sort of – evaporated. He went off into research with the USAF funding and then ‘nothing’.

      After that he went on the “Advanced Physics Corporation”. They were supposed to build small-scale nuclear power reactors for emerging countries, but I can’t find anything out about what they did (which is very odd considering his previous work).

      After that (1995) he created “HiEnergy Microdevices” and made bomb detection equipment using Atometery Particle Physics. That company went bankrupt after they fired him. Odd, how the management fires the smartest person in the building and suddenly they find they are now insolvent.

      I just find it odd that there is no information at all about WHY his work with the air force came to an end, about what might have not worked right. Normally a DARPA grant doesn’t put everything under a cloud of secrecy (especially if it DOESN’T work).

      From what I recall, Bogdan Maglich got the idea for the Migma reactor from looking at reactions that had been abandoned during weapons research (once again, from DARPA funded research) becasue all they made were alpha particles, a tiny bit if beta, and a large quantity of pesky free electrons (and who wants those… stupid electrons … you can’t blow people up with them).

    • BarleySinger

      Yes it does look very familiar. MIGMA.

      I do suspect that Maglich got intentional interference from the high energy psychics funding wars (which let people secure the funding to look for particles by promising endless energy). It really doesn’t help that Bogdan Maglich was working in an atmosphere were “playing nice” can get you some funding for things, but not if it means that the funding gets taken away from a big project (or threatens to make people NEVER fun a thing like high energy physics becasue if the thing WORKED it would make hot fusion unnecessary & hot fusion research was funding particle physics).

      On the other hand being stubborn and playing “hard ball” (which he did) alienated a lot of people in physics (and the related funding bureaucracy at DOE) which cost him access to money – money and support he needed; money which came people who are MORE than a bit naive about the lies scientists are willing weave to secure funding.

  • A good backround article here: http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2013/04/30/the-nearness-of-fusion-the-materials-and-coolant-challenges-facing-one-fusion-company-mirror-fission/

    A COP of 8 for thermal/neutronic output is claimed on the Helios website (www.helionenergy.com/). I assume they are looking at 25% conversion efficiency for the COP=2 figure. Not too many details are given as to how a hot plasma and neutron flux gets to electricity, except that heat and neutrons will be absorbed by a ‘blanket’ of some undecided material. Presumably the rest of the story is steam->turbine->alternator as usual, meaning that 25% overall is probably hopelessly optimistic. I suspect that the timescale is, too. There appear to be many other problems to overcome, especially in the materials area, so they seem to have a lot in common with BLP in many respects.

    Good luck to them anyway – in mercatu veritas.

    A similar competing concept that claims to be aneutronic, which would solve many of the potential materials problems with the Helios design: http://www.crossfirefusion.com/nuclear-fusion-reactor/crossfire-fusion-reactor.html. Like the Helios project, this one also features a plasma reaction engine concept.

    • bachcole

      By 2019, LENR+ will be raising such a ruckus that NO ONE will care about any of these hot fusion projects.

      • Ivy Matt

        That’s a pretty tall order there. I’ll have to drop by in 2019, assuming ECW and both of us are still around, to let you know if I or anyone I know still cares about any of these hot fusion projects. And maybe you can fill me in on the latest E-Cat customer testimonials, assuming I’m not already up-to-date on them. 😉

    • David Taylor-Fuller

      The weinberg article is relatively old. What Helion is talking about is using what is effectively plasma guns to generate plasmas at both ends of the chamber. Then accelerating the plasma towards the center where the burn chamber is. At this point the kinetic energy from the magnetic acceleration plus the high magnetic field in the center that is confining the merged plasmas. Force the atoms in the plasma to fuse. The energy released in the reaction is then directly converted to electricity as the fusion fragments are pushed outward back towards the ends of the reactor chamber. This is accomplished because the fusion fragments are charged and the kinetic energy released by the fusion pushes them against the magnetic field that accelerated them towards the center in the first place.

      The only thing that is not completely known about helion is how they intend to source their He3. It looks like they plan to do D+D fusion then collect the Tritium and let it half life to He3. Which is possible since the energy level needed to fuse D+D is much lower than D+He3. Which means they would need a version of their reactor that functions as an He3 breeder.

      Long story short, it looks like the next 5-10 years will be a very interesting time for humanity between the E-Cat, Helion, General Atomic, Tri Alpha energy, and BlackLight. We should pretty much on the road to a carbon free reality.

      • David,
        You left out Solar Hydrogen Trends with their Symphony type hydrogen producing reactors with over 1,300 times more energy output than input.

        I think they will be the biggest contributor to carbon free future of energy generation.

        Visit http://kochari.info/ and http://www.solarhydrogentrends.com/ to find out why .

        • David Taylor-Fuller

          Sorry, Solar Hydrogen Trends has a long way to go before I ad them to my list of interesting companies.

          Not saying they are a Fraud or Scam. But they would need to put out a lot more information about what they are doing and how they are accomplishing it before I buy in to the hype their PR department has done an excellent job of creating.

          • Truth and facts are the best PR !

            SolarHy has always presented the facts as they are and has dealt truthfully with the community.

            If you’re going to hold their desire to protect their IP against them then your motives to question their integrity and call their achievement a “hype” are suspect.

            Perhaps your attitude comes from lack of information. I am compiling all info relating to Solar Hydrogen Trends at this site:

            http://kochari.info/
            Good luck with your flawed list !

          • David Taylor-Fuller

            Dude, this is not a zero sum game. And you should stop treating it like one. I personally have no dogs in this race. That said I do have a limited amount of focus to follow the things I am interested in. What I know of SolarHy is from what has been posted here and on NBF. Maybe there is more information out there, and I am sure I will get to it eventually. That said, my opinion on my perspective still stands, the companies I listed above are the ones I expect to deliver something in the timeline I set forth.

            Anything else would be a welcomed bonus.