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First Light aims to demonstrate fusion energy in 2019

By Oliver Haill

Date: Tuesday 12 Feb 2019

First Light aims to demonstrate fusion energy in 2019

(Sharecast News) - First Light Fusion aims to demonstrate the creation of fusion energy by the middle of this year, after the Oxford-based company completed the building and initial testing of its unique pulsed power device.
First Light, which was spun out of Oxford University and is 35.9% owned by FTSE 250-listed IP Group, said Machine 3, its pulsed power device is capable of discharging up to 200,000 volts and in excess of 14 million ampere - the equivalent of nearly 500 simultaneous lightning strikes - within two microseconds.

The world's biggest pulsed power machine dedicated to researching fusion energy, Machine 3 will, similar to a railgun, use electromagnetism to fire projectiles at 20 kilometres per second, the same speed as travelling from London to New York in around four minutes.

Nicholas Hawker, founder and chief executive of First Light Fusion, said commissioning of the machine 3 has been completed and performance has been confirmed to meet the design specification.

"We have now started our experimental campaigns. These will culminate in the first demonstration of fusion from one of our target designs.

"These targets have many elements and we are holding ourselves to a very high scientific standard, verifying operation of each element in isolation and cross-comparing with simulation predictions at all stages.

"We are confident we will show fusion this year. After fusion, the next phase is to show energy gain, which we aim to complete by 2024."

Costing £3.6m, Machine 3 uses some 3km of high voltage cables and another 10km of diagnostic cables.

First Light was founded by Professor Yiannis Ventikoson and Hawker on the basis of research at Oxford into cavity collapse. Follow-up research showed that the collapse of gas-filled cavities leads to inertial confinement of the cavity contents and revealed that extreme and unique states of matter could be reached, possibly entering the regime for fusion.

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