Climate change is rapidly becoming a tangible and substantial threat to the health and well-being of humanity across our entire planet. However, progress in providing civilization-scale clean energy in a sustainable way is too slow and linear to prevent the situation from worsening even further. A non-linear breakthrough will be required in how we produce the energy humanity runs on.
Fusion energy, the power of the stars, is the holy grail of clean energy: limitless, greenhouse gas emissions-free, dispatchable, concentrated, with no meltdown risk or catastrophic failure, and with the proper fuel choice, free from proliferation concerns. Today there are thousands of accomplished scientists working on fusion projects around the world, at the very edge of what humans are technically capable of. The vast majority of effort and funding over the past 60 years has gone into steadily improving magnetic and laser facilities that confine plasmas in an attempt to reach fusion conditions. So far neither has succeeded and both of these approaches use radioactive isotopes of hydrogen and release high energy neutrons. These neutrons make materials radioactive and have other safety and regulatory issues.
Alternative fusion technologies can increase the probability of achieving a scalable fusion model in our lifetimes while being neutron free and safer. By taking advantage of maturing technologies, Marvel Fusion intends to provide a new approach that is “lean” neutronic, and suited for commercializing baseload fusion electrical power. The Marvel Fusion path to commercial fusion energy is based on short pulse and high energy and electrically efficient lasers. Since the invention of Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA) in the 1980’s, recently recognized by the 2018 Nobel Prize in physics, the power of these lasers has increased rapidly and is set to continue on a Moore’s-Law path. Equally impressive are recent developments in high efficiency and high energy laser technology. Together, for the first time, a sufficiently energetic petawatt laser coupled with a high energy compression laser could ignite fusion in a neutron-free fusion reaction. This would clear the way for a safe fusion with the required energy gain for commercial power.
These developments, based on R&D at large public laser fusion programs in the US, Europe and Asia, have now advanced the state-of-the-art to the point where a startup enterprise with the right team, funding, focus, speed and agility could offer a real opportunity that laser-based fusion could be developed quickly enough to help make a difference for climate breakdown.
Marvel Fusion is the world’s first private sector laser fusion company to take advantage of these recent breakthroughs in laser-based fusion technology. Marvel Fusion intends to build and operate its own peta-watt class and high energy laser system coupled with a sophisticated target physics infrastructure that is exclusively dedicated to commercial fusion energy. Marvel Fusion’s only goal is to build a reliable, commercially attractive base load energy plant that will produce fusion power on the grid and will strictly avoid any “dual-use” activity for defense or weapons research.
Building Marvel Fusion will be a team sport and require collaboration and the harnessing of knowledge across many fields. The company is assembling a world class cadre of pioneering physicists, engineers and computer scientists with many years of experience from laser fusion programs across the globe. This includes computational expertise, decades of Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) experience, a wealth of knowledge, data, and models that have been developed in support of laser fusion, and long-term industrial supply partnerships. Together, Marvel Fusion will have the ability to design, construct and operate the first prototype fusion power plant, and validate its technical approach to reducing the size and cost of a fusion facility.
Marvel Fusion, based in Munich, is also establishing first-of-a-kind alignments with German public institutions to work together with the fusion industry and other stakeholders to elevate and accelerate public demand for fusion power, and ensure it becomes an essential part of the broader political dialogue on energy.
We believe that Marvel Fusion is assembling unique assets and capabilities that give it the opportunity to move rapidly in the quest for commercializing fusion-enabled baseload electrical energy to power the world’s clean energy future. By operating as a technology owner it will benefit from permanent and continuous access to laser and target physics experiments. This focus is more likely to lead to rapid improvements in overall system performance, while also providing the opportunity to develop new technologies and systems applicable to the entire fusion energy and other important commercial markets.
Marvel Fusion’s power plant concept, underpinned by its two-step laser ignition scheme, has great advantages in schedule, budget, and risk mitigation compared to other fusion energy approaches. Replicating a micro-version of the Sun on Earth and driving to commercial-scale fusion energy will require a series of physics discoveries and necessitate overcoming difficult technical and systems engineering challenges. Marvel will be focused on overcoming these challenges on the path to demonstrating that recent advances in laser-fusion technologies can produce the extreme conditions required to harness “lean” neutronic fusion. We believe that when successful, this approach could provide rapid entry into the energy marketplace.
We are excited to be backing Moritz von der Linden and the entire Marvel Fusion team on their mission to reinvent the world-wide, trillion dollar energy industry and collaborate with the global fusion community towards the ultimate goal of displacing fossil fuel production of CO2 in our lifetimes.