Oxford-based Tokamak Energy has announced the breakthrough design of cryogenic, or very low temperature, power electronics technology for the high-efficiency operation of its superconducting magnets. This will result in reduced costs of future fusion power plants – which is key to commercialising and scaling the technology.
The power electronics team at Tokamak Energy has developed a novel power converter inside a vacuum cryostat. Successful tests completed last month have demonstrated a 50% reduction in the power required for cooling HTS magnets.
The superconducting magnets are used in tokamak fusion reactors to contain and isolate plasma, so that it can reach the high temperatures at which fusion occurs. One of the main challenges for the magnets is the cryogenic cooling system, which is one of the biggest power consumption loads on a tokamak. Improving cooling efficiency will reduce costs for future fusion power plants.
This programme has been funded through the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Feasibility and Development Phase 2 programme.
Tokamak Energy CEO Chris Kelsall said: “We have now invented a new type of cryogenic power supply, based on the latest power electronics devices, that is highly efficient at low temperatures. This means we have the potential to reduce cryogenic capital and running costs for HTS magnets, by 50%, or more. This novel approach will provide significant cost savings, contributing to the achievement of commercial fusion energy.”
Further developmental work will be undertaken to demonstrate this highly efficient form of power supply under 1000A continuous operation and 2000A pulsed operations.
Photo: Engineer working on the HTS magnets (Credit: Tokamak Energy)