Avalanche Energy, a fusion energy startup developing modular fusion micro-reactors, today announced that it achieved a record of 200 kilovolts in its micro-fusion reactor and closed a $40M Series A round led by Lowercarbon Capital, with major participation from Founders Fund and Toyota Ventures. Also following on their Seed round investment are Congruent Ventures, Grantham Foundation and Clear Path. New participants also included Autodesk, MCJ Collective and the Climate Capital Syndicate. Avalanche recently operated their second prototype reactor at 200 kilovolts making it the highest known operating voltage of any fusion device since the University of Wisconsin at Madison produced 190 kilovolts in a 2006 experiment. The funding, which follows the company’s 2021 $5 million seed round led by Prime Impact Fund, will be used to continue the company’s accelerated work to test, develop and optimize its high-voltage orbitron prototypes, in addition to miniaturizing components critical to delivering a stand-alone, micro fusion reactor.
Avalanche Energy has been designing, building and testing micro-fusion reactors that are small enough to fit on a desk since 2021. The reactor’s small form factor enables rapid development cycles at relatively low cost – a revolution in the burgeoning nuclear fusion industry that has primarily pursued large fusion reactors that cost millions to billions of dollars and take many years to build and test. Since the company’s work began in June 2021, it has developed and operated two high-voltage reactor prototypes, achieving significant performance steps over the last 18 months. Avalanche’s technology has broad implications for energy independence and national security, opening the door to a wide range of applications, including carbon-free energy generation, advanced space propulsion, microgrids and transportation.
“This is a huge step that validates the rapid technical progress this team has made in just a year and half,” said Robin Langtry, CEO and co-founder of Avalanche Energy. “We are applying a test-fail-fix approach, akin to rocket engine development, to small scale fusion and it’s incredibly exciting to see our hardware ideas go from design to test in a matter of days. This new round of funding will allow us to scale up to run more tests at a faster pace that will ultimately enable us to deliver energy producing micro-fusion reactors.”
The company’s orbitron design is based on specialized electrostatic ion traps operated at hundreds of kilovolts to confine fusion fuel ions in precessing elliptical orbits at extremely high velocities. Each ion has tens of millions of chances at fusing as it crosses the path of another ion’s orbit within the orbitron device. The density of ions is increased by co-confining high-energy electrons orbiting in the same direction. Ions that don’t fuse will eventually deorbit and be removed from the device.
“Fusion has the potential to provide an enormous supply of power to electrify the Earth with no CO2 or other harmful emissions and it has been an elusive goal in the quest for clean power,” said Lisa Coca, Climate Fund partner at Toyota Ventures. “Avalanche’s innovative micro-fusion reactor has the potential to be stacked for endless power applications, and what excites us most is the fact that the form factor enables an agile approach with rapid design turns. We are proud to support Avalanche’s very capable team on their mission to tap the full potential of nuclear fusion to help decarbonize the planet.”
Avalanche launched out of stealth a year ago in January 2022 and has advanced quickly over the past year, growing to a team of 25 scientists and engineers and doubling the size of its testing facility in Seattle, WA. In May 2022, the Defense Innovation Unit awarded a prototype contract to Avalanche Energy to demonstrate the next generation of nuclear propulsion and power generation for spacecraft.
About Avalanche Energy
Avalanche Energy is a venture-backed, fusion energy start-up based in Seattle, WA. The company designs, tests and builds micro-fusion reactors barely larger than a football. Avalanche’s modular reactor design can be stacked for near-endless power applications and unprecedented energy density to provide clean energy and decarbonize the planet. This unique approach enables rapid iterations of design, build, test, fix cycles for faster development and the rapid scalability that the planet needs. For more information, please visit avalanche.energy.