Transmutex SA, a nuclear engineering company based in Geneva, Switzerland, announces a new round of financing to further develop its pivotal solution to a safer, lower-cost, proliferation-resistant nuclear energy technology. The Series A2 round is co-led by Union Square Ventures and Steel Atlas.
Founded on 29 July 2019, Transmutex is reinventing nuclear energy with the design of a safer, non-self-sustaining reaction technology which will open a new era of lower cost and proliferation-resistant carbon-free baseload energy. Coupling a particle accelerator to a non-self-sustaining (subcritical) fuel assembly has several key benefits over self-sustaining nuclear energy solutions:
- The reaction can be stopped in 2 milliseconds for safer operation
- The system can use different fuel material and enrichment levels, including thorium, which is a common metal long overlooked for nuclear energy, unlocking vast resources
- Subcriticality offers a much wider safety margin, allowing the system to burn the existing stockpile of long-lived nuclear waste more efficiently
- When using thorium as fuel it will not produce plutonium and other long-lived waste
- Combined with innovative spent-fuel recycling technology, the system can be made sustainable for energy production over centuries
The technology’s key promises are inherent safety, resistance to proliferation, and the transmutation of long-lived nuclear waste produced by uranium-based nuclear. Moreover, Transmutex is collaborating with top tier governmental institutions worldwide to explore the formation of an international coalition to accelerate the development and the construction of a First of a Kind facility.
“What if it turns out that there is an approach that addresses the fundamental problems of safety cost and long-lived waste that have hindered the traditional nuclear industry? A reactor design that is guaranteed to be safe and that can reduce the radiotoxicity of long-lived waste from 300,000 years down to 300 years. This is exactly what the team at Transmutex has developed. We are excited to be backing Franklin Servan-Schreiber and the Transmutex team to help fulfill the promise of nuclear energy,” notes Albert Wenger, a Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures.
The United Nations recognizes that up to five times more nuclear power will be needed by 2050 to meet clean energy demand (IPCC 2018 – link) which will not be sustainable using the current uranium-based nuclear which will soon face resource shortage and produces difficult to manage long-lived waste. This was further emphasized during COP28 where 22 countries vowed to triple their production of nuclear power (link). New solutions, like Transmutex’s subcritical nuclear energy technology, combined with the highly innovative recycling method of pyroprocessing elaborated and tested at Argonne National Laboratory in the United States, can make available vast new energy resources required for humanity’s abundant energy needs.
New Funding From Top Global Venture Funds Toward Commercialization
Transmutex’s quick progress towards designing and delivering a First-of-a-Kind facility generated significant interest from investors around the world. Ultimately, the team at Transmutex selected Union Square Ventures and Steel Atlas, based in New York, to co-lead their Series A2 financing due to their exceptional track-record and demonstrated commitment to investing in impactful deep technology solutions.
Cameron Porter, Transmutex’s lead investor and Partner at Steel Atlas, commented: “Nuclear is a necessary part of the solution to our world’s clean energy needs and Transmutex’s technology is a necessary component of making that global deployment a reality. It is rare to find a company that is developing a novel, world-changing technology that after only a few years is already preparing to deliver on commercial interest. We are thrilled to support Transmutex in achieving their mission.”
Union Square Ventures and Steel Atlas are joined by a syndicate of both new and existing investors including At One Ventures (USA), HCVC (France/USA), AlleyCorp (USA), together with the participation of House Of Ventures (USA), Presight Capital (USA), Verve Ventures (Switzerland), FONGIT (Switzerland), Tiny Supercomputer Investment Co. (UK), as well as private investors.
“Transmutex provides the most viable “third pathway” to sustainable nuclear energy,” noted Helen Lin, Partner at At One Ventures. “Conventional uranium-fueled fission faces a number of blockages to mass adoption and scale, and the dream of fusion remains distant and fraught with technical challenges,” she said. “The Transmutex system has the potential to overcome the blockages in conventional fission while being technically viable in more realistic timelines than fusion, and therefore may credibly provide clean baseload energy to significant parts of the world that have limited options to diversify away from fossil fuels. We are excited to work with Transmutex’s exceptional team to improve humanity’s access to carbon-free energy.”
Hiring for More Technical Roles in Geneva and a New Research Facility
With this new funding, Transmutex will continue to expand its team of technical experts and supporting staff at its Geneva headquarters. The team is composed of 12 different nationalities and one-quarter of its employees are women.
“We believe that Transmutex has the potential to make the Canton of Geneva a global leader in the carbon-free energy future by eliminating long-lived radioactive waste, limiting weapon proliferation, and enhancing nuclear safety. The very high-end team comprising world-leading experts is a strong addition to the employment landscape of the Canton,” declares Antonio Gambardella, Director at FONGIT.
However, Transmutex is also in the process of extending its footprint beyond Switzerland with a new research facility. This facility will further establish Transmutex as the world leader in subcritical nuclear energy technology.
Talal Attieh, Partner at Steel Atlas, stated: “With our investment, we are working directly with Transmutex to identify and select the right partner country for their new international research and development facility. This facility will serve as the center for a global engineering platform whose purpose will be to accelerate the deployment of this new technology globally.”
Deepening International Collaborations With Leaders in Nuclear Energy
Transmutex’s accelerated development timeline is a direct result of its ability to nurture partnerships with leading institutions for core components their system including the Paul Scherrer Institute and Polytechnic Institute of Lausanne in Switzerland, CERN in Geneva, ENEA and Ansaldo Nucleare in Italy, the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, together with a number of private industrial enterprises.
"Our collaboration with Transmutex is a testament to the far-reaching impact of fundamental research and CERN's commitment to fostering innovation and supporting startups. The original investigations in the accelerator-driven research conducted at CERN and PSI in the late 1990s and early 2000s laid the groundwork for important technologies like those developed by Transmutex. This partnership underscores the essential role of scientific exploration in driving real-world applications and advancements. It's a powerful example of how fundamental research can also bring practical solutions addressing global challenges” Giovanni Anelli, CERN Knowledge Transfer group leader
Software-First Approach for Lower Cost Engineering Design
Transmutex has taken a software-first approach to designing its technology solution. Not only has this increased the capital efficiency, but this approach has resulted in the development of a best-in-class, high-energy physics Monte Carlo software as well an industrial process digital twin solution based on validated software from Polytechnic Institute of Lausanne. The Transmutex software team has improved speed as well as ease of use of the software over the last few years, enabling fast iterative evolution of its system design.
“At HCVC, we look to invest in companies tackling hard problems with new technology. When you tackle hard problems, you often develop technologies with multiple adjacent applications. Transmutex is a clear example of this. Beyond simulating nuclear processes, their software can be used for any high-energy physics application from radio protection to satellite-shielding design,” declared Alexis Houssou, Managing Partner at HCVC, France.