Xcimer Energy Announces $9 Million US Department of Energy Award to Develop Laser-Driven Inertial Fusion Energy

May 31, 2023

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today that Xcimer Energy was selected for a $9 million award from the Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program, a groundbreaking and innovative public-private partnership initiative. The Milestone Program was highly competitive, with proposals evaluated by the DOE and its blue-ribbon panel of scientific evaluators. Xcimer’s award further establishes Xcimer as a leading company in the race to achieve the first commercial fusion power plant in the United States.

Laser inertial confinement fusion is the only fusion approach that has reached scientific breakeven, achieved in December 2022 at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The Xcimer team will leverage this accomplishment and the significant progress made by the laser fusion community to advance IFE.

Xcimer’s mission is to create a better and more equitable world through economically attractive, abundant, and carbon-free fusion energy – enabled by a dramatic reduction in laser cost that drives game-changing simplifications to the design of a laser fusion power plant. Xcimer has assembled a team of experts from U.S. national laboratories, academic institutions, and private industry to work together toward this mission, and proposed to DOE a development plan aimed at resolving the major engineering challenges needed to construct a Fusion Pilot Plant (FPP) by the 2030s.

“Fusion energy has the potential to provide abundant, carbon-free baseload power at low cost, and will be a cornerstone technology of the global fight against climate change and for energy justice. Xcimer’s innovations directly address the remaining challenges in deploying laser-driven inertial fusion energy and enable the fastest and lowest-risk path to put fusion power on the grid.” stated Conner Galloway, CEO and co-founder of Xcimer.

Xcimer’s application team includes many of the brightest minds and leading institutions in the field, drawn by Xcimer’s promising vision for fusion energy. The team includes partners and collaborators at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics, the Naval Research Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, General Atomics, Westinghouse Electric Company, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Savannah River National Laboratory.

Two independent economic models of Xcimer’s power plant concept project highly attractive financial metrics at the plant level, directly competitive with fossil fuel sources and renewables. With investments from Lowercarbon Capital, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Starlight Ventures, and Wireframe Ventures, Xcimer has begun to build an investor base from the most forward-thinking and committed institutions focused on making a profound difference on the climate crisis for future generations.

“Prelude decided to make our first fusion investment in Xcimer because we believe Xcimer has the technology, team and plan to make inertial fusion energy a commercial reality on a relevant timescale. We’re glad the Department of Energy reached the same conclusion,” stated Mark Cupta, Managing Director of Prelude Ventures.

Xcimer’s technology is enabled by innovations originally pioneered for national security applications, which dramatically reduce the cost of the laser system conventionally considered the most expensive component of an IFE power plant. A low-cost laser enables economical production of laser energies of tens of megajoules, which allows direct scaling of the hotspot ignition mechanism proven at the NIF to larger, more reliable, higher-yield fuel capsules. The higher energy output from larger capsules permits operation of a power plant at a repetition rate of under one shot per second, significantly reducing engineering risk relative to other IFE concepts. Together, these innovations allow the adoption of the well-studied HYLIFE chamber concept developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which allows a 30-year facility lifetime without first-wall replacement and the accompanying waste generation and material science R&D challenges.

The DOE award to Xcimer is part of a $50 million program announced last September for a Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program authorized in the Energy Act of 2020. The program is designed for private companies working with national laboratories, universities and other entities to expedite the technical and commercial milestones to design of a fusion pilot plant (FPP), and supports the White House Bold Decadal Vision for commercial fusion energy in the United States.

Xcimer’s development plan in the federal milestone program is aimed at key milestones of demonstration of high fusion gain, and commercial energy breakeven. In parallel, the company will demonstrate the innovative laser approach and develop low-cost target fabrication, chamber and plant systems to enable FPP final design and construction in the early 2030s. The FPP will demonstrate extended operation of all integrated plant systems and deliver electricity to the grid, enabling construction of a series of full-scale commercial plants to follow.

Abundant and inexpensive fusion power will transform how the world thinks about energy. The scientific, engineering, and manufacturing needs of Xcimer’s technology will spark a broad expansion of the U.S. industrial and workforce base, especially in high-value technologies like electrical power, optics, and precision manufacturing. Successful deployment of Xcimer IFE will present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure the benefits of this expansion flow equitably and inclusively to the entire nation.

About Xcimer – Xcimer Energy believes that abundant energy creates a world where anything is possible. From climate change, to national security, to energy justice, fusion will give us the tools we need to address global challenges and lead to a cleaner, safer, more prosperous world for all humanity. Xcimer was founded in 2021 to pursue this goal and is located in Redwood City, CA.

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