Proxima Fusion looks to take stellarators commercial

Munich-based Proxima Fusion has secured €7m in pre-seed funding make stellarator fusion power plants a commercial reality.

W7-X design
W7-X design - IPP

The first ever company to be spun out of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), Proxima was founded by former scientists and engineers from MIT, Google-X and the IPP. Several of these researchers have been involved with the development of the IPP’s Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), the world’s most advanced stellarator.

Using a complex set of electromagnets to confine super-hot plasma, stellarators are more technically challenging in some regards to the more widely used tokamak approach to fusion. However, if these challenges can be overcome, stellarators also offer advantages, operating in a steady state and managing excessive heat well. According to Proxima Fusion, the work carried out by the IPP since W7-X came online in 2015 has closed the gap between tokamaks and stellarators, with the latter now on a pathway to commercialisation.   

"Experimental progress from W7-X and recent advances in stellarator modelling have radically changed the picture,” said Francesco Sciortino, co-founder and CEO of Proxima Fusion.

“Stellarators can now remedy the key problems of tokamaks and truly scale up, radically improving the stability of the plasma and reaching high performance in steady state.”

Proxima’s fundraising was co-led by London-based Plural Platform and Munich-based UVC Partners, alongside Germany’s High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and the Wilbe Group. The Munich startup says it aims to deploy a new high-performance stellarator in the coming years and its first fusion power plant within the 2030s.

“Stellarators offer the most robust and clearest path to fusion energy,” said Plural’s co-founder Ian Hogarth.

“The Proxima team has the energy and the speed that we need. They are ecosystem players, with a thrilling sense of ambition building on top of the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator - a masterpiece of German leadership. Europe needs the audacity of this team and their willpower to take on the fusion challenge.”