Zap Energy raises $160 million Series C to advance its lightning-in-a-bottle fusion technology –


Start Fusion zap Energy has reached two milestones that could move it forward in the race to offer low-cost, zero-carbon energy: a $160 million Series C round and a successful test of a prototype fusion reactor that could pave the way for a commercial version.

Fusion energy has become an unlikely investor favorite as carbon emissions continue to rise and the effects of climate change become more apparent. We’ve been trying to harness the power of the sun to produce energy for years, but after tens of billions of dollars and decades of research, fusion is just out of reach.

Yet clever new approaches to contain scorching hot plasma — which burns at more than 100 million degrees Celsius — have brought fusion power tantalizingly close to reality. Investors flock to the field, hoping that the advances made through ongoing research and increasingly sophisticated computer simulations will finally help fusion overcome its long string of failures.

Zap Energy’s oversubscribed Series C was led by Lowercarbon Capital. New investors include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Shell Ventures, DCVC and Valor Equity Partners. Existing investors Addition, Energy Impact Partners and Chevron Technology Ventures also contributed to the round. The startup’s core technology grew out of research conducted at the University of Washington and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

In general, fusion energy generates electricity by fusing hydrogen isotopes (deuterium or tritium) into helium. The process releases neutrons, which are then captured to generate heat and spin a turbine. Atomic nuclei don’t like to fuse together, so to get them close enough for fusion to take place, nuclear scientists use extreme pressure and heat, creating a fourth state of matter known as plasma.


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