20 October 2023, Oxford, UK: First Light Fusion (“First Light”), the world’s leading inertial fusion start-up, has today appointed its first Head of Power Plant as it accelerates plans for the development of a pilot power plant in the next decade.

Jorge Fradera joined First Light in October after spending the last 10 years at IDOM, the global engineering consultancy based in Spain, as Technical Lead. Jorge brings a strong track record of leading major infrastructure development projects around the world, specialising in the nuclear fusion and fission sector.

While at IDOM, Jorge headed up large, global technical teams managing all aspects of the design and development of critical nuclear engineering projects. Among these, he has lead projects for several conventional nuclear power plants, the ITER experimental reactor, F4E, SCK CEN MYRRHA and UKAEA STEP. IDOM is a multi-national engineering giant with over 5,000 employees across the world, known for tackling complex, large-scale projects.

As Head of Power Plant, Jorge will lead all aspects of the company’s plans to develop its first commercial power plant based on its unique amplifier technology and corresponding projectile approach. First Light is pursuing parallel plans for both its Gain demonstrator – Machine 4 – and a pilot power plant, as it seeks to deliver commercial fusion at speed. Machine 4, which will be the world’s largest pulsed power facility, is due for completion this decade, while the pilot plant will be delivered in the 2030s.

With the National Ignition Facility demonstrating Gain using an inertial approach for the first time last year, the physics behind inertial fusion is proven and significantly de-risked. The main barriers to commercial fusion powering homes and businesses are engineering-related, including how to produce power at scale and at a low enough cost to decarbonise our whole energy system.

First Light’s power plant concept sidesteps many of the engineering challenges in other fusion concepts, as it leverages a much simpler, flexible design. It avoids three primary challenges: preventing neutron damage, producing tritium, and managing extreme heat flux. Lithium is used to produce tritium, of which there is no established supply chain big enough to meet the demand for fusion. There is a large amount of existing engineering that can be reused to realise this plant design.

Jorge’s appointment comes shortly after the appointment of First Light’s Chief Technology Officer, Christophe Junillon, who has joined from global engineering firm Atkins.

Jorge Fradera, First Light’s Head of Pilot Power Plant, commented:

“I have worked with the fantastic team at First Light for some time and seen first-hand their disruptive, innovate and fleet-of-foot approach. They are at the cutting edge of the private, inertial fusion space as the only company with simulation and target-design capability.

“First Light’s proven approach offers the simplest and fastest approach to commercial fusion energy. Its amplifier technology has opened a new opportunity in fusion that is desperately needed. It has a clear route to the development of a power plant and solutions to overcome the big engineering challenges that are holding many other fusion approaches back. I am extremely excited to get started.”

Dr Nicholas Hawker, First Light’s Founder & CEO, commented:

“The ability to attract someone of Jorge’s talent and capability is a testament to our talented team, capability to deliver a game-changing power plant, and ability to operate in a fast-paced, innovative environment as a privately owned company.

“One of the unique characteristics of First Light is that we have been providing solutions to big engineering challenges from day one. As we move into the next chapter of fusion, scalability and overcoming those challenges to deliver commercial energy will be key. Our approach offers a truly exciting opportunity and a clear pathway as it leverages a large amount of existing engineering. We are actively developing plans for our Gain demonstrator and power plant simultaneously.”