Cerberus and Assystem to deliver reactor in-board shield design for STEP

15 April 2022

Cerberus Nuclear and Assystem have been selected to deliver the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) reactor in-board shield design as part of the STEP Engineering Framework. STEP will be the UK Atomic Energy Authority's (UKAEA’s) prototype fusion energy power plant.

Cerberus’s neutronics and radiation transport expertise will support Assystem’s fusion experience in thermal and mechanical analysis.

The project concerns the extreme environment within the central column of the STEP fusion reactor where temperatures can range from over 100 million of degrees Celsius within the plasma to less than -200 degrees within just a few metres.

Cerberus Nuclear and Assystem are working closely with the STEP research team at UKAEA to develop radiation shielding and cooling strategies within the in-board shield section of the central column. The overall aim is to protect the sensitive toroidal magnets within the central column that work to contain the high temperature plasma. Cerberus role involves optimisation of the shielding to maximise the operational lifetime of these crucial reactor components. Using our knowledge and expertise in neutronics transport as well as interaction cross sections will be simulating a wide variety of arrangements to support continued development.

The delivery of this project is key in advancing the STEP fusion reactor design to the next phase, moving closer to achieving a commercially viable fusion power plant. “We are pleased to be working alongside Cerberus Nuclear on this key aspect of STEP. Collectively we will pool the engineering and design expertise, and specialist knowledge needed to ensure success in this project,” said Gary Reed, Assystem’s Transitional Energy Business Manager. “Assystem is a well-established fusion engineering company working on multiple international projects, and we are invested in the UK’s ambition to accelerate progress in the development of this game-changing technology.”

“Cerberus is very proud to be contributing to such a noteworthy project with worldwide importance,” said Daniel Cork, Director, Cerberus Nuclear. “The skills and experience we have in-house regarding radiation shielding is uniquely suited to support the project. Working closely with our colleagues at Assystem we look forward to the challenge of what will be a highly significant and exciting project.”

Cerberus Nuclear, founded in 2016, is an SME dedicated to radiation shielding, criticality safety and nuclear characterisation. Founded in 2016 we have grown rapidly to establish ourselves as an industry leader with a reputation for innovation and promoting good practice.

Assystem announced in March that it has secured a place on three UKAEA frameworks that will facilitate the development of STEP.

UKAEA is aiming to produce a concept design by 2024 and targeting first operations in the early 2040s. A site for the project is due to be selected this year. In October last year, UKAEA announced that five sites - one in Scotland and four in England - had been shortlisted to host STEP.

Assystem said it is supporting the UKAEA with "a broad range of engineering services via multiple contracts won on the £4 million Engineering Embedded Resource Framework". Assystem will also be supporting the concept design of STEP via the STEP Fuel Cycle – Tritium Engineering Framework, established to allow the UKAEA to access the UK industry’s knowledge of tritium and tritium engineering. Assystem also secured a place on the STEP Manufacture Support Services Framework, which will enable the UKAEA to access a range of design for manufacturing and advanced engineering skills.

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