1990s to 2010s

In 1993-2001 an Australian engineer working for a large German aerospace company (DASA, later DaimerChrysler-Aerospace, a forerunner of AIRBUS) recognized the enormous potential of Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) technology. He convinced his upper management to fund a development programme to build a small IEC fusion reactor as a source for neutrons; the project was called FusionStar. Despite achieving technical and commercial success the project was cancelled due to corporate restructuring. 

Further background on the FusionStar system:
"The first IEC fusion industrial neutron generator and developments", Sved, John, United States: N. p., 1999.
Web. doi:10.1063/1.59215.

Convinced of the potential of the IEC neutron generator technology, John Sved took his technological know-how to the UK. Neutrons Systems Development Ltd. was established in 2001 and with the aid of some small EU funding built a much-improved IEC neutron generator device of linear design. This venture was short lived and the technological know-how ultimately returned to Germany. 

An article about NSD-Fusion GmbH in the local paper of Delmenhorst, Delme Report, 02 April 2006 

NSD-Fusion GmbH was established in 2005 by John Sved, his wife Pam, and Talmon Firestone to manufacture and commercialize the newly designed line-source technology. The unique feature of the NSD-Fusion design was its robustness, longevity, and ease of servicing.

The company produced and sold a variety of different neutron generator models based on both DD and DT fusion reactions including continuous and pulsed operations.  The operational chamber lifetime was rated to be at least 25,000 hours! NSD-Fusion GmbH earned the distinction of being the first company to successfully commercialize a fusion reactor technology.

Customer applications included PGNAA for online-mineral analysis, instrumental calibration for Dark Matter research, University research laboratories, neutron radiography inspection system for control rods in a nuclear reactor, fission fuel rods quality control, elemental analysis of scrap metal bundles, explosives detection and much more.   

NSD Fusion GmbH was acquired in 2013 by a project partner based in Luxembourg and continued to manufacture the various NSD IEC product lines. John Sved, the stalwart engineer and developer of the linear NG technology who never gave up, left the company in 2016 and died in 2018.

John Sved 1953 - 2018

Founder of NSD-Fusion GmbH, B. Eng. (Mech), MSc (Astronomy & Astronautics)


Via an unrelated collaboration between Talmon Firestone, Tom Wallace-Smith, and Prof. Tom Scott at the University of Bristol, an opportunity was recognized to combine and upgrade the commercially proven IEC design with fusion-enhanced internal components that exploit the phenomenon of Lattice-Confinement discovered and published by NASA in 2020.


Astral was formed in May 2021 and filed its first patent application the following month.


The first Multi-State Fusion (MSF) experiments were conducted by the Astral team in the summer of 2021 and validated a fusion rate increase of 36%. Before the end of the year, together with the University of Bristol, the team won an STFC-CLASP funded project named "MicroNova", focusing on optimization of device fusion rates for the purposes of demonstrating a substantially enhanced particle output, sufficient for medical isotope production. Later in 2022, a second round of MSF experiments were conducted that demonstrated over an order of magnitude improvement in the fusion rate of these devices. Analysis of the experimental data indicates that yet another order of magnitude or two of improvement is still possible through further optimization. Once this is achieved, Astral's MSF systems will be able to demonstrate a higher continuous fusion rate than any comparable device ever produced.

In late 2022, Astral was awarded an STFC-UKAEA Fusion Industry Programme (FIP) project named Damara which resulted in the establishment of Astral's DD Fusion neutron irradiation facility at the Dorset Innovation Park at Winfrith in March 2023. The project concluded with basic experiments supporting research in Tritium breeder materials testing. A second facility built around a DT MSF reactor is planned for development starting in late Q3, 2023. First demonstrations of medical isotope production are planned for late 2023 or early 2024.