Mechanical Engineering


Ventikos spin-out announces world first fusion result

6 April 2022

First Light Fusion, a spin-out company co-founded by Professor Yiannis Ventikos, Head of Department at UCL Mechanical Engineering (pictured), has announced a world first in fusion.

Professor Yiannis Ventikos

A world first in fusion has been announced by spin-out firm First Light Fusion, which was co-founded by UCL Mechanical Engineering's Head of Department Professor Yiannis Ventikos.

Verified by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the firm achieved fusion using a projectile approach, faster and cheaper than traditional fusion approaches, and offering a simpler pathway to producing fusion energy using existing plant technology.

Welcoming the announcement, Professor Ventikos said:

“While achieving fusion in the lab is a tremendous success in its own right, the context is equally important. True to First Light’s rigorous scientific approach, this result is supported by strong and continuously evolving computer modelling. This capability sheds light, in exquisite detail, into the processes that generate these neutrons.

“Such tools are in daily use by First Light’s scientists, helping design unique targets, launchers and amplifiers, navigating the challenging path towards gain and a first-of-a-kind reactor. This pursuit of a practical and affordable fusion will give us the clean and abundant baseload power that we so desperately need in our effort to address – and hopefully reverse – global warming.”

CEO and co-founder of the Oxford-based spin-out company (from the University of Oxford) Dr Nick Hawker said:

“Our approach to fusion is all about simplicity. Being simple, we believe projectile fusion is the fastest path to commercially viable power generation from fusion. We aim for simplicity in the power plant engineering, but we also want to make the fusion process itself as simple as possible.

“The key technology is our target designs. As objects, these are very complex, but the physics is simpler than other fusion approaches; it can be understood and simulated accurately. With this result we have proven our new method for inertial fusion works and, more importantly, we have proven our design process. The design used to achieve this result is already months out of date. As soon as we reach the maximum with one idea, we invent the next, and that incredible journey of discovery is what is so exciting.”

See First Light's reactor concept animated on YouTube

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW4eufacf-8