Canadian Manufacturing

General Fusion and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories partner to accelerate cleantech in Canada

General Fusion and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories will develop tritium extraction techniques for use in commercial fusion power plants.

July 27, 2021  by CM Staff

VANCOUVER and CHALK RIVER — General Fusion is working with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories on a project to advance fusion energy technology. Through this collaboration, General Fusion and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories will develop tritium extraction techniques for use in commercial fusion power plants.

To produce fusion energy, General Fusion is developing a practical and economical approach to Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) – putting the company on a faster path to commercialization. MTF is fueled by hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium. Deuterium is derived from water, whereas tritium can be bred from the fusion reaction. In fusion, these isotopes heat to more than 100 million degrees Celsius, fuse, and create neutrons. The neutrons interact with the liquid metal liner of the fusion vessel. This reaction generates more tritium.

Together, the organizations will identify the most promising approaches for managing tritium in fusion energy systems – specifically, the process of extracting tritium from liquid metal to provide a limitless supply of tritium fuel.

The work is being done through the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative – a program that facilitates access to Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ facilities for industrial partners in Canada and around the world.

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Canadian Nuclear Laboratories will collaborate with General Fusion to develop various technologies to extract tritium for use in fusion power plants. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has a $40 million tritium facility capable of handling the materials required to conduct full-scale tests of tritium extraction technology.

“We are taking our decades of expertise in tritium handling, separation and storage and applying it to resolve technical problems in this area in fusion,” said Dr. Ian Castillo, Head of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ Hydrogen and Tritium Technology directorate. “This is an exciting project, and we are pleased to make a contribution to the advancement of Canadian fusion technology.”

To confirm the performance and economics of its MTF technology at a power plant-relevant scale, General Fusion is preparing to build a Fusion Demonstration Plant, which is scheduled to be operational in 2025. The company targets the early 2030s to bring clean fusion energy onto the world’s energy systems.


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