Customer Connection: CFS

November 30th 2023

Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) is an American fusion power company founded in 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts after a spin-out from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). We got the opportunity to speak with Anthony Hollingsworth, Principal Tritium Scientist at CFS, to find out more about their company and its ambitions for the future.

What is your name and the name of your business?

Anthony Hollingsworth, Principal Tritium Scientist at Commonwealth Fusion Systems, or CFS.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I moved down here from Edinburgh. For my Ph.D. I studied experimental astro-particle physics, but I spent most of my time down on mine, which isn’t exactly what I had in mind for astrophysics. So I decided I wanted to do something a bit more useful.

I then came to work at JET, the Fusion program where I joined AGHS, the Active Gas Handling System, which supports JET with the tritium fuel. I worked there for over ten years, and then started working on the next big thing using tritium fuel, SPARC, which is currently being built near Boston by CFS.

What does your business do?

Fusion. We are a fusion energy company. Currently we’re building our first test tokamak device to be followed by power plants.

Do you like working for your business?

Yeah CFS is great. Definitely. The reason I joined is because it’s a very exciting place to work.

What is your history at Culham Innovation centre?

We moved here in January 2023, so quite recently in the grand scheme of things.

What aspect of the centre do you enjoy the most?

The location of the centre is definitely our favourite aspect. It’s very useful to me that the CFS has an office at Culham Innovation Centre, being located on the same site as the UKAEA, them being one of our main collaborators. We collaborate with a lot of other fusion organisations, but the UKAEA in particular has got a lot of tritium experience, which is quite rare. And since SPARC is going to be a tritium machine, that’s the kind of rare expertise that CFS needs to enable the success of SPARC, and being located here near so much tritium expertise has been quite useful not just for me but CFS in general.

Unlike some of the other customers, we use our position at the centre as a satellite office for our company, collaborators, and larger fusion cluster, so we don’t use all of the benefits that come with the centre. However, we do still enjoy being in a community of like-minded people, and the networking events are a great opportunity for us to meet some of the other companies. There’s a very strong US-UK fusion development relationship, so it’s great to help CFS develop those beneficial UK links. By being at the centre, we can strengthen our presence and relationships with the UK fusion network, and actively participate in the growing ecosystem of talent and capabilities.

What are the next steps for your business? Do you have a 5 year plan?

Our main goal is to run SPARC, and to successfully breaking a string of big fusion world records and demonstrating net power gain. In parallel, we aim to have full-scale ARC power plants on the grid in the early 2030s.

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