MON AM News: Fusion startup aims to help offset greenhouse gas emissions; Feds approve state’s electric vehicle charging plan

— A Madison-based startup called Realta Fusion aims to develop commercially viable fusion technology that could help offset global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Kieran Furlong, the company’s CEO, said the UW-Madison spinoff company is working to create the “lowest capital, least complex path” to fusion energy production. He discussed its plans for commercialization during a presentation held earlier this summer by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. 

While its long-term goal is “grid-scale” electrical power generation, Furlong explained the company is first targeting the industrial process heat market with a small-scale fusion power plant. 

“If we can come up with an alternative source of heat that works for industry, we can decarbonize for example the chemical industry and have a material impact on global greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. 

He noted over 80 percent of the global energy supply currently comes from fossil fuels, and even under the most optimistic projections, that number will remain above 70 percent through the 2030s. 

“While transportation tends to get the most visibility, if we want to arrest climate change we really need to focus in on industrial energy use,” he said. “Industry consumes almost half of our global energy, and two-thirds of that are actually used to generate process heat. So the world absolutely needs an alternative source of high-quality heat to tackle climate change.” 

Furlong sees nuclear fusion as the answer to that problem. He said Realta Fusion is developing a reactor “that will be a much better fit in terms of time, capital and risk” to drive the early adoption of fusion energy in private industry. It’s eyeing the refining and petrochemicals market as a starting point. 

Despite the technical challenges of such an endeavor, he says the cost of energy production with Realta Fusion’s technology would be competitive with current energy prices. 

The company is currently in the first part of a three-phase plan for developing a commercial reactor, and aims to raise between $80 million and $100 million in funding over the next three years. An initial seed funding round is planned for this year, he said. 

Watch a video of the presentation: 

— Wisconsin’s plan for expanding electric vehicle charging has been approved by federal officials, the state Department of Transportation announced. 

The agency says the state will get about $79 million in funding over the next five years through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure initiative. The funds will be used to place about 60 charging stations within 50 miles of one another along interstates and U.S. highways in the state, according to a DOT release. 

DOT Secretary Craig Thompson points to increasing demand for electric vehicles in Wisconsin, noting manufacturers are “ramping up production” of EVs. 

“Some manufacturers have goals of producing 100% electric vehicles in the future,” he said in the release. “To accommodate this growth, Wisconsin is stepping up its efforts to provide the electric vehicle infrastructure the state will need.” 

See the Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan here: 

See the release: 

— WEDC will be providing up to $675,000 state income tax credits to 3D printing company Formlabs if the company meets certain job creation targets over a three-year period. 

State officials and company leaders recently held a grand opening ceremony for the company’s new regional headquarters in Milwaukee, where the Boston-based business says it will create more than 100 jobs over the next three years. 

Luke Winston, chief business officer at Formlabs, says the city “has a deep talent pool of sales and service experts, engineers and other professionals we want on our team, and the region is home to many of our current and future customers.” Formlabs currently employs more than 800 people globally. 

According to a Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. release, the 20,000-square-foot facility will include two showrooms, printing and display areas. 

See the release, including photos of the new facility: 

— One of the state’s leading COVID-19 experts says Wisconsin is “better off now than we have been through most of the pandemic,” with robust immunity levels from vaccination and previous infections. 

Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, gave an overview of the current pandemic outlook during a recent Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce webinar. He said the use of oral medications to treat coronavirus infections has been “a game changer” for medical professionals. 

“The vaccines have given us a durable community immunity that’s been very helpful,” he said. “Some minor reduction in transmissions, but major, major impacts on severe disease … We’re also showing the accumulation of previous infections provides some immunity as well; that has put us in a much better place.” 

The Department of Health Services site shows 64.7 percent of state residents have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 61.6 percent have completed the vaccine series and 35.4 percent have received an additional or booster dose. 

Meanwhile, the latest seven-day average for COVID-19 cases in the state was 1,064 cases per day, the DHS site shows. 

Raymond noted hospitalizations in the state remain “fairly stable” at less than 20 percent of the levels seen during previous peaks in virus activity. And he explained many of those cases are people being hospitalized “with COVID and not because of COVID,” with the virus acting as a complicating factor but not the primary cause for hospitalization. 

The Wisconsin Hospital Association site shows 408 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in the state, including 65 intensive care unit patients. Both of those numbers have been declining for the past week. 

Raymond noted COVID-19 deaths have also declined, but remain about five times as high as the death rate expected from a “bad flu pandemic.” The latest seven-day average for COVID-19 deaths was 5 deaths per day, according to the DHS site. 

He also explained annual updated boosters against COVID-19 will likely be recommended in the coming years. 

“Like influenza, they will be tailored to the strains of COVID-19 that are most likely to be circulating at the time,” he said. “This isn’t new, this isn’t a transformational concept. We do this every single year with influenza, we can do the same thing for COVID.” 

See the WHA dashboard: 

See more figures from DHS: 

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— The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and BioForward will introduce the Illumina Accelerator in October at an event in Madison. 

The event will be held Oct. 17 at UW-Madison’s Union South, the organizations announced. It will feature an interactive, in-person venture capital and startup panel and networking reception to learn more about the Illumina Accelerator and trends in venture capital investing.

The accelerator program invests in genomics startups from across the globe. Applications for its next global funding cycle are due by Oct. 1.

Register for the event here: 

See more at Madison Startups: 


# Federal investment in climate-smart agriculture is coming to Wisconsin farms

# Wisconsin EV charging plan approval clears way for $78M in federal funds

# Equity League’s impact: Packers, Bucks, Brewers fund diverse startups



– DATCP releases 2023-25 state budget requests


– Federal project labor agreement proposal fuels debate across local industry

– Couture construction reaches above-ground phase


– Wisconsin lost 2,800 private sector jobs in August as state’s recovery lags 


– Jenkins recommends $5/hour increase for most MMSD hourly staff

– Madison schools quietly roll out policy preventing parents from emailing students, then reverse course


– Finalists named for Leopold Conservation Award program

– Nonprofit purchases property to extend Ice Age National Scenic Trail


– As public school staff return, Wisconsin adds 5,500 new jobs


– Ron Johnson pitches unlikely ‘direct referendum’ to add rape, incest exceptions to 1849 abortion ban


– Wildeck negotiating for TIF help to move headquarters in Waukesha


– The Buzz: A beloved Fox Cities book store is on the move


– X-Golf celebrates grand opening at American Family Field


– Kenosha Kingfish hosting Oktoberfest on Sept. 24

– Nuk’s Thai restaurant owners buy De Pere’s Ennis Inn and plan remodel. Here’s what we know.


– Milwaukee County, partners show recommended route for north-south bus rapid transit plans

– Proposed rapid bus line on 27th Street would increase ridership by half, link to 51,000 jobs

– Route unveiled for $148 million north-south Bus Rapid Transit service in Milwaukee County


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

WisDOT: Wisconsin receives federal approval for state’s Electric Vehicle Plan

Security Health Plan: Rated among top plans in Wisconsin by NCQA