Slashing new CO2

Founded: 2018

HQ: Seattle, WA

Plasma confinement through sheared-flow-stabilized Z-pinch.

Big Picture

The promise of fusion power, virtually unlimited renewable electricity, has eluded scientists for decades because of the immense challenges of sustaining and confining plasma. There are a handful of approaches to this problem, from tokamaks to stellarators, that rely on large magnets to control the flow of plasma. Others use lasers. Yet, these all drive up the cost, size, and complexity of a reactor. 

How it Works

Zap is developing a sheared flow Z-Pinch technology that uses high electrical currents to generate a magnetic field around plasma to compress it. “Sheared flow” refers to plasma flowing at different velocities and radii. As current increases, so does pressure and density in the plasma. This results in a dense, high-temperature reactive medium that can be confined long enough for fusion reactions to occur.

Unfair Advantage

Eliminating the need for magnets would enable reactors that are drastically smaller, simpler, and cheaper than any other approaches contemplate. In principle, this unlocks a quicker path to net energy and drastically reduced capital costs down the line. The smaller reactor size is expected to produce 200 MW of thermal energy and work as a pulsed system, well-suited to serve utility-scale grids.

10

Gigatons of CO2e

potentially avoided by 2050

BRIAN NELSON CTO & CO-FOUNDER

Brian is a research professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Washington. He has researched plasma physics for over 35 years.

URI SHUMLAK CSO & CO-FOUNDER

Uri is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the University of Washington. His research focuses on plasma physics and innovative magnetic plasma confinement for fusion energy. He holds a PhD in nuclear engineering from UC Berkeley.

BENJ CONWAY PRESIDENT & CO-FOUNDER

Benj spent his early career at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office working across Asia and the Middle East as a diplomat. He studied medicine at Cambridge and Oxford.


Fusion reactors go small for trip to market

E&E News

Oil major Chevron invests in nuclear fusion startup Zap Energy

Reuters

Chevron’s venture capital arm buys stake in nuclear fusion startup Zap Energy

Axios