£3.6 million investment lights the way for clean energy

Machine 3

Machine 3 - Credit: Archant

An Oxford-based company is investing £3.6 million building a pulsed power machine to advance the company’s work exploring the ultimate source of energy

The device, labelled Machine 3, is under construction and on track to be commissioned by the end of 2018. It will be the only pulsed power machine of its scale in the world dedicated to researching fusion energy.

Fusion is the ultimate source of the Universe’s energy and is the same process that powers stars, including the Sun.

Once complete, Machine 3 will be 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 Machine will use some 3km of high voltage cables and another 10km of diagnostic cables.

First Light Fusion’s approach was inspired by the only example of inertial confinement found on Earth – the pistol shrimp, which clicks its claw to produce a shockwave that stuns its prey.

First Light’s approach to fusion, which is safe, clean and virtually limitless - with the source of energy drawn from the deuterium contained in sea water - has the potential to transform the world’s energy supply if it can be applied successfully to power generation.

Unlike existing nuclear power, there is no long-lived waste and raw materials can be found in abundance. As demand for alternatives to carbon-based energy grows, mainstream scientists and research institutions are looking to fusion power to answer the world’s energy requirements.

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Nicholas Hawker, Founder and CEO of FLF, said: “Machine 3 will be a unique facility.

“There is nothing else like it in the world. The pressures and velocities that we will be able to access with this machine will massively extend the development of our fusion target designs.

“We are confident that we will reach our present goal of demonstrating fusion. Beyond that, the experimental platform that we can build with this machine will give us critical insights into the next step, which is to demonstrate gain.”

Visit the First Light Fusion website here.

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