In a world seeking renewable sources of energy, the announcement of a potential breakthrough in nuclear fusion from researchers at the US National Ignition Facility in California in late 2022 sparked much excitement.
The tech is still far from ready to turn into viable power plants, but after a century of mostly futile scientific exploration, the California experiments released more energy than was pumped in and paved the way to the current nuclear fusion goldrush.
To wit: The Israel Energy Ministry has pledged $11.5 million to establish a national nuclear fusion institute. The initiative includes major Israeli universities – the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Technion and Tel Aviv University – as well as NT-Tao, a local startup developing a compact system for nuclear fusion.
NT-Tao, the first nuclear fusion energy company in the Startup Nation, recently raised $22 million in a Series A round led by Delek US, Next Gear Ventures, Honda, OurCrowd and the Grantham Foundation, which led the company’s $6 million seed round.
“NT-Tao is rapidly headed towards developing a high-density, compact fusion reactor to provide the cleanest form of sustainable energy to mitigate the pending climate crisis,” said Oded Gour-Lavie, CEO of NT-Tao.
NT-Tao was founded by Gour-Lavie, Doron Weinfeld and Boaz Weinfeld with a mission to transition the world away from oil, natural gas and coal. The company emerged from stealth only last year.
Fusion essentially replicates the reactions on the sun but back home on Earth. It does not pollute or lead to climate change the way fossil fuels do. In that respect, it’s similar to fission – the main form of nuclear energy used today – but without the long-term radioactive waste problem.
NT-Tao’s tech is said to work at a density that is 1,000 times higher than other leading solutions and yields a fusion reaction that is a million times stronger, resulting in significantly more efficient energy production.
Fusion is coming of age at a time when geopolitical turbulence (fueled, as it were, by the war between Russia and Ukraine) has ignited a global urgency to mitigate energy insecurity, control rising temperatures, and create a sustainable energy future.
The fusion energy sector is estimated to be worth an estimated $40 trillion.
NT-Tao will partner with other companies developing their own breakthrough fusion technologies in order “to make a significant impact on the world,” said Tal Cohen, managing director at Next Gear Ventures.
“The compact, modular approach pioneered by NT-Tao stands out in a competitive marketplace and represents a gamechanger not only for the mobility sector but in how humanity will harness and democratize energy and revolutionize the world for generations to come.”
Will we see nuclear fusion power packs in future passenger cars? No, says Shinji Aoyama, director and senior managing executive officer of Honda, one of the new round’s investors. Rather, it’s all about electricity generation.
“We envision this technology will become increasingly important as electrified vehicles become more popular.”