- aser-induced inertial fusion enables the production of large amounts of safe, CO2-free energy
- Goal: Development of a high-performance fusion power plant in the coming years
- Fusion energy as a secure and scalable energy supply of the future with resources available worldwide
The necessary move away from fossil fuels requires new, clean and reliable energy sources in order to guarantee security of supply. In the shadow of the discussion about the expansion of renewable energy sources, such as B. Wind and water power, a promising alternative approach has developed in recent years: laser-induced inertial fusion. With the recent establishment of the CleanTech start-up Focused Energy, the use and commercialization of this innovative and highly efficient energy generation technology is within reach. And what’s more: on the way there, the highly potent lasers will revolutionize the way material analyzes are carried out, for example carrying out bridge inspections, and significantly reduce the logistical and time-consuming requirements that are currently high.
The CleanTech startup, based in Darmstadt and with research branches in the USA, was founded with the two renowned scientists Prof. Dr. Markus Roth, TU Darmstadt, and Prof. Dr. Todd Ditmire, University of Texas, Austin. The founding team also includes Dr. Anika Stein, who, as an engineer, has already managed the most complex topics, among others at ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, and Thomas Forner, who, as a long-time entrepreneur and multiple founder, brings considerable expertise in corporate financing and development. Professors Roth and Ditmire share a long history of research: they met 25 years ago at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where they worked together on high-power lasers. After a quarter of a century of intensive research and testing in the fields of laser technology and plasma physics, Prof. Dr. Markus Roth and Prof. Dr. Todd Ditmire has now set the course to create the prerequisites with a top-class team of leading experts for fusion energy at Focused Energy to make the new technology profitable for the energy transition. The structures and partnerships necessary for commercialization are provided by Thomas Forner and Dr. Anika Stein built and implemented. to make the new technology profitable for the energy transition. The structures and partnerships necessary for commercialization are provided by Thomas Forner and Dr. Anika Stein built and implemented. to make the new technology profitable for the energy transition. The structures and partnerships necessary for commercialization are provided by Thomas Forner and Dr. Anika Stein built and implemented.
The combination of high-performance laser and a new type of target makes fusion and thus energy release possible in the first place
The use of new high-power laser technology makes it easier to control the laser-induced inertial fusion, as the processes of compression and heating can be safely separated from one another. When bombarded with laser beams, the surface of a fusion target a few millimeters in size and filled with hydrogen isotopes is vaporized very quickly. This causes the outer shell to expand while the hydrogen fuel in the capsule is compressed thousands of times. An ultra-intensive short-pulse laser is now used to set an ignition spark in the compressed gas, which triggers a fusion reaction with temperatures of over 100 million degrees Celsius and releases a multiple of the energy used.
“The controlled generation of fusion energy is a breakthrough in science that can hardly be overestimated. Against the background of climate change and increasing global energy demand, we have an instrument at hand to generate almost unlimited, safe and clean energy, ”explains Prof. Dr. Markus Roth. These advances make it possible for the startup supported by TU Darmstadt to develop commercial fusion power plants for energy production in the GW area in the coming years. As a first step, a test facility is to be set up in Hesse in the middle of this decade.
Focused Energy is a young company dedicated to fusion energy as a means of generating clean electrical energy for increasing societal needs. The university-related company based in Darmstadt and the USA was founded in July 2021 after years of intensive research. The founding and management team includes entrepreneur Thomas Forner (CEO Focused Energy), engineer Dr. Anika Stein (COO Focused Energy) and the two laser and fusion experts Prof. Dr. Markus Roth (TU Darmstadt, CSO Focused Energy) and Prof. Dr. Todd Ditmire (UT Austin / Texas, CTO Focused Energy).