Welcome to a very special episode of Hardware to Save a Planet. It’s the first time we will be talking about fusion technology as a solution to the sustainability crisis. Joining Dylan today is Robin Langtry, Co-founder and CEO of Avalanche Energy, a company producing the world’s first fusion microreactor.

Join the discussion as they delve into the world of fusion energy. Robin shares insights on the potential of fusion technology, the challenges it faces, and the significance of fusion in decarbonizing industries. Discover how fusion could revolutionize the world and pave the way for a carbon-free future. Don’t miss out on this optimistic and informative conversation!

About Robin

Robin has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering with 15+ years of experience in executing complex research and design projects at Boeing and Blue Origin. Avalanche is a VC-backed fusion energy start-up based in Seattle, WA. Robin is designing, testing, and building fusion batteries small enough to hold in your hand with power output from Kw to Mw. Carbon-free microgrids, long-haul trucking, maritime shipping, and aviation are just some of the applications of micro-reactors.

Key highlights

  • 12:56 – 14:51 – A closer look at fusion: Nuclear energy, as we know it, is based on a fission reaction where heavy elements like uranium and plutonium are bombarded with a stream of neutrons to split the heavy elements and set up a chain reaction that releases energy. There is a two-fold problem with fission; first, the reaction is difficult to control, and second, disposing of the waste safely is a challenge because it remains radioactive for tens of thousands of years. Fusion is the exact opposite of fusion, and here, you bombard light particles like isotopes of hydrogen and helium with a stream of neutrons, and then the particles fuse together to form larger molecules. This releases heat energy that can then be used to produce electricity.
  • 19:39 – 20:55 – Using fusion to decarbonize hard-to-abate industries: Currently, most sustainability efforts are addressing the low-hanging fruit of clean energy. From solar to wind and electric cars, we’re doing the easy stuff. Sooner rather than later, we are going to get to the point where there are no more low-hanging fruits, and we’re going to have to decarbonize hard industries that require a lot of energy. Industries like maritime shipping, long-haul trucking, and aviation will need to be decarbonized. Currently, we don’t have any scalable solutions to decarbonize the energy they use. This is where fusion comes in.
  • 33:08 – 34:56 –  Scaling fusion reactors to grid scale: Robin mentions that currently, the area they are focusing on is in the kilowatts to a few 100-kilowatt ranges per fusion cell. These cells will be produced at scale and then, like Tesla batteries, these cells can be combined at scale to produce a battery that can deliver power in tens of Megawatts. The other advantage is that the power supply can then be globally distributed. If a region requires a power supply of one megawatt, you can make a battery with 10,000 cells and make that region autonomous when it comes to power. Over time, the concept of grids and wires will become obsolete.