Commonwealth Fusion Systems hopes to be the first company to take nuclear fusion from the lab to the market.
A spin-out from MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, Commonwealth is following a well-trodden design path by using a tokamak—a doughnut-shaped device in which radio waves heat isotopes of hydrogen to above 100 million °C (180 million °F). The resulting plasma is squeezed by a powerful magnetic field until the atoms fuse, releasing a burst of energetic electrons and neutrons.
What sets Commonwealth apart is the compact size of its tokamak. Its prototype SPARC reactor will be 40 times smaller than the international ITER fusion reactor currently being built in France and could come online five years earlier.