Alliance grant for McGill Professor and Canadian fusion energy company

Three-year project funded in part by Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) will help Canadian company demonstrate fusion energy in a commercially relevant environment, paving the way to a limitless source of clean energy

McGill University and General Fusion announced today that they have received a NSERC Alliance Grant for the study and mitigation of hydrodynamic instabilities in magnetized target fusion. The grant is worth $240,000 with General Fusion contributing an additional $120,000 over three years. The partnership builds off 10 years of collaboration between the organizations in the quest to advance fusion energy.

Fusion energy has long been the focus of intense research for its potential to provide clean energy with no harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, using fuel derived in part from sea water. Because the production and consumption of energy is responsible for 78 per cent of GHG emissions worldwide (according to Natural Resources Canada), finding non GHG-producing energy sources is a major global challenge. Essentially operating like the sun, fusion energy combines lighter atoms together to form heavier atoms – a process that releases vast amounts of energy.

“This grant demonstrates the importance of our researchers to industry who can turn to us to find solutions to complex problems,” said Professor Sylvain Coulombe, Associate Vice Principal, Innovation and Partnerships, McGill University. “It also enables us to participate in the search for sustainable energy, which is a critical mission not just for McGill, but the entire planet.”

To achieve fusion energy, General Fusion is pursuing Magnetized Target Fusion technology. This method is designed to be a practical path to commercializing fusion energy, without the giant magnets or lasers that other fusion approaches require. General Fusion uses pistons to compress plasma within a liquid metal cavity, allowing the plasma temperature and density to reach a point where atoms can fuse.

“Generating fusion energy will change the global energy mix as we know it and play a significant role in reducing global GHG emissions,” said CEO, General Fusion, Christofer Mowry. “General Fusion has a strong history of partnering with academia to advance fusion research. This partnership with McGill University demonstrates our aligned values and commitment to a clean-energy tomorrow.”

The company has partnered with McGill University Professor Jovan Nedić for his expertise in hydrodynamics and the flow of liquids under extreme pressure. Professor Nedić’s study will examine the appearance of fluid instabilities, such as jets or droplets, that could enter the plasma at various stages of compression. Using laboratory experiments and mathematical models that derive from the equations of fluid dynamics, the motion of the liquid surface will be investigated and approaches to prevent jets from forming or growing will be explored.

“The promise of fusion energy has been a tantalizing dream for decades,” said Professor Jovan Nedić, Faculty of Engineering, McGill University. “I am confident we can bring this one step closer to reality through this partnership.”

“The expertise of Professor Nedić and his team will support the integration of the compression and plasma systems in our planned Fusion Demonstration Plant,” said Michael Delage, Chief Technology Officer, General Fusion. “This prototype facility is our next major step in bringing fusion energy to the world.”

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