Publishing little and with no website, but apparently sitting on a cash pile in the hundreds of millions, the Foothill Ranch, California–based company has been the subject of intense curiosity and speculation.
Last month Tri Alpha lifted the veil slightly with two papers revealing that its device, dubbed the colliding beam fusion reactor, has shown a 10-fold improvement in its ability to contain the hot particles needed for fusion over earlier devices at U.S. universities and national labs.
To achieve fusion gain—more energy out than heating pumped in—researchers will have to make FRCs last for at least a second. Although that feat seems a long way off, Santarius says Tri Alpha has shown a way forward. “If they scale up size, energy confinement should go up,” he says. Tri Alpha researchers are already working with an upgraded device, which has differently oriented ion beams and more beam power.