China helps Oxford’s First Light Fusion close $45 million fund raise

First Light Fusion’s Big Gun to be launched by UK Science minister Amanda Solloway today[2]

First Light Fusion, the Oxford company researching energy generation via inertial fusion, has closed its Series C fund raise, raising $45 million from both existing and new investors.

Existing investors who have backed the fund raise include Oxford Science Enterprises (formerly OSI), Hostplus and IP Group plc. New investors include Braavos Capital and the Chinese multinational company Tencent.

2021 has been another year of significant development for First Light Fusion. The Company procured, installed and commissioned its latest piece of equipment, a two-stage hyper-velocity gas gun nicknamed the “Big Friendly Gun” or BFG, which at 22 metres long and weighing 25,000 kg, is the largest of its kind in the UK. The BFG fires a 100 g projectile at a velocity of 6.5 km/s or 14,500 mph (about 20 times the speed of sound) into the “target”, the centre piece of First Light’s unique technology. The BFG complements First Light’s electromagnetic launch device “Machine 3” enabling the team to explore a different parameter space by launching larger but “slower” projectiles.

In the past twelve months the Company has grown to 67 people and has expanded into larger premises to accommodate the staff and the new equipment.

More recently, First Light was selected to appear as one of the twelve showcase companies at the UK Department for International Trade’s Global Investment Summit (“GIS”).

First Light’s approach to fusion, which is safe, clean, and a virtually limitless source of energy, has the potential to transform the world’s energy system. Unlike existing nuclear, there is no long-lived waste, no meltdown risk, and raw materials can be found in abundance. Unlike many other fusion approaches, First Light’s power plant will largely leverage existing technology and materials.

2022 looks set to be another significant year for First Light. The new funding will be used to accelerate the development of First Light’s “gain” experiment, whereby the amount of energy generated outstrips that used to spark the reaction, and to perform further design and engineering work on a First Of A Kind commercial fusion energy power plant based on their technology.

Dr Nick Hawker, CEO of First Light Fusion, said: “I would like to thank our existing investors for their continued support and welcome our new investors to First Light. With their backing we are excited about the outlook for this year and have a series of ambitious targets. These include delivering a maiden fusion result, accelerating towards our next ‘gain’ experiment, while also increasing our work on the development of a full scale fusion power plant, with more detailed design and engineering work planned. We remain very confident in our technology, our people and the potential of our unique approach. We continue to believe our inertial confinement approach offers the fastest and above all, most cost competitive route to grid ready fusion energy.”