UK pushes ahead with fusion

24 April 2017

The Mage Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) facility at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in the UK is to receive GBP21m ($27m) in funding to upgrade its plasma exhaust systems. The upgrades will allow fusion researchers to improve their understanding of plasma exhaust physics and is expected to begin operating later this year.

European fusion research consortium EUROfusion has now approved the first phase of its contribution to a GBP21 million programme of enhancements to MAST Upgrade. The funding, which will be phased from now to 2022, will come jointly from EUROfusion and the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It will give MAST Upgrade an "unrivalled capability" over the coming years, according to CCFE. It will be used to increase the tokamak's plasma heating power from 5MWt to 10MWt. It will also be used to install a cryoplant for the divertor, as well as improving the plasma fuelling systems. The funding will also be used for upgrading plasma control hardware and software, and for adding extra equipment for measuring plasma exhaust data.

Meanwhile, Tokamak Energy has highlighted the contribution fusion energy can make to the UK's new industrial strategy and how government policy can support its rapid development and large-scale commercial deployment. In an 'open letter' sent to World Nuclear News, Tokamak Energy CEO  David Kingham, outlined his response to the government's Building our Industrial Strategy: Green Paper that sets out how it proposes to build a modern, research and development-led economy for a 'global Britain'. Tokamak Energy is an Oxfordshire, England-based private company accelerating the development of fusion energy by combining two emerging technologies - spherical tokamaks and high-temperature superconductors.

"At Tokamak Energy, we treat this pursuit of fusion energy as an engineering challenge and a business opportunity. Our business model is based on agility and 'open innovation' - working collaboratively with universities, research laboratories and other businesses whilst ensuring that we retain the ownership of crucial intellectual property," Kingham said. "This is made possible by our place within a cluster of fusion expertise based around the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. We have learnt from pioneering research at Culham, using compact spherical tokamaks and have now progressed our research to the stage where we are aiming to generate sustainable fusion energy for commercial deployment by 2030. We are now working closely with colleagues at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, despite government policy not yet fully recognising the contribution that fusion energy research in the private sector can make in developing a commercially viable source of abundant clean energy."

 



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