Pulsar Fusion: Plasma thruster works on argon gas
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Pulsar Fusion, a UK nuclear fusion company based in Bletchley, just developed and tested the first capable, high-power chemical rocket engine in the UK. The company plan to one day use these rockets to launch people and satellites into space – and even hope to commercialise space travel. But CEO Richard Dinan, who called the move “immensely significant”, said he was able to pull it off without the need for an international pool of funding like Horizon Europe.
Horizon is the EU’s £80 billion research and innovation project which excluded the UK.
Mr Dinan told Express.co.uk: “For us, as a private company, we have to self-finance even though we get some support from the Government in the forms of grants.
“In terms of Government and national efforts, you’ve just got the bureaucracy which strangles at innovation.
“Look at how long these Government projects take.”
But Mr Dinan told Express.co.uk his company drew from years and years of research to construct their own groundbreaking British rocket.
Mr Dinan said: “The only reason we can do the science is because we are standing on the shoulders of scientists that have spent the best part of a century on it.
“There’s no reason NASA couldn’t have done what SpaceX did, it’s just that SpaceX did it before them, hiring largely NASA scientists they did it much quicker.
“Governments are always going to be slower, and people are getting used to the trend that private companies can do this if they get the funding.
“Horizon Europe is very important for innovation, but it won’t be the be-all and end-all for Pulsar.”
The UK was banned from Horizon Europe following a build-up of tension between Britain and the EU over Brexit negotiations.
Britain was told it could only re-join the project once it had resolved the fishing licenses dispute and the Northern Ireland protocol issue.
And now, there are fears that if Article 16 is triggered by Brexit Minister Lord Frost as negotiations continue, Britain could be permanently excluded.
James Wilsdon, from the University of Sheffield, told Express.co.uk: “If Article 16 is invoked, I would think that it would take our association with the project off the table entirely.”
But Pulsar Fusion has shown that having the UK blacklisted from the project may not be so bad for British innovation after all.
Mr Dinan told Express.co.uk: “What we have done is created an awful lot of value on a small amount of investment.
“We have shown that this technology can be built anywhere and we have an ambition to be raising the best part of £200million in the next few years to build very significant tests.”
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Fusion, which aims to harness the power of the Sun here on Earth, has long been tipped as the Holy Grail of renewable energy sources as well.
It promises a near-limitless low carbon energy source for the long term.
Scientists say it has the capability of meeting the global surge in electricity demand expected in the coming decades.
Professor Ian Chapman, UK Atomic Energy Authority CEO, said: “Fusion energy is low carbon, safe, efficient, and the fuels exist in abundance. It’s a gamechanger for our global energy future.
“I’m in no doubt that fusion will be a complementary part of the energy mix for generations to come.
“It’s one of the biggest scientific and engineering quests in history, up there with the Apollo programme, and the rewards for success will be huge for our planet.”
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