Chevron invests in Seattle start-up Zap Energy, for development of new nuclear fusion reactors

Published on August 14, 2020 by Chris Galford

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Chevron Corporation has made a Series A investment in Seattle-based start-up Zap Energy Inc., to unlock new, modular nuclear reactors that will provide low-carbon, low-cost and more flexible sources of power through fusion.

Fusion reactors are a long-sought goal of the nuclear industry, which currently relies on nuclear fission. Fission is based on the splitting of a large unstable nucleus into smaller elements. The downside of this is that it creates long-living radioactive waste as a byproduct. Nuclear fusion takes nuclei of lightweight elements and collides them forcefully enough to fuse and form heavier elements, creating lots of energy with no emissions and little waste.

“We see fusion technology as a promising low-carbon future energy source,” Barbara Burger, president of Chevron Technology Ventures, said. “Our Future Energy Fund investment in Zap Energy adds to Chevron’s portfolio of companies we believe are likely to have a role in the energy transition.”

Zap’s technology uses sheared flows to confine and compress plasma, stabilizing it. The injection of funds from Chevron will allow it to continue the development of the technology and to grow its development team.