The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has awarded six organisations contracts worth £9.6m ($12m) to advance their concepts to support fusion energy development. The contracts range between £460,000 and £1.9m, and are funded by UKAEA’s Fusion Industry Programme, an initiative launched in 2021 to develop the necessary technology and skills for the future global fusion powerplant market.

The contracts will develop next-generation digital tools for future fusion powerplant designs, and advanced production and handling of hydrogen isotopes. Tim Bestwick, UKAEA’s Chief Development Officer, said: “There has been significant progress in the development of fusion science, engineering and technology, both in the UK and globally.

The contracts were awarded to three universities and three companies focusing on digital engineering and fusion fuel cycle developments dedicated to addressing fusion energy challenges.

“These organisations have been awarded contracts to scale up their projects after successfully developing their technologies to the ‘proof of concept’ stage. The continued support from the Fusion Industry Programme will enable these fusion projects to be scaled up and contribute further to the growth of the global fusion powerplant market,” Bestwick noted.

These latest contracts build upon the Fusion Industry Programme contracts awarded in December 2023. The Fusion Industry Programme represents a crucial component of UKAEA’s pioneering efforts alongside academia, other research organisations, and the industrial supply chain to commercialise fusion energy technology.

The organisations awarded contracts include:

  • Full Matrix – Development of Digital Tools to Enable Remote Ultrasonic Inspection of Fusion Reactor In- Vessel Components.
  • University of Manchester – Design, Build and Operation of Fusion Power Plants in the Industrial Metaverse.
  • AqSorption Ltd – A project to efficiently separate hydrogen isotopes via graphene molecular sieves for use cases with the fusion sector.  
  • IS-Instruments Ltd – Gas Raman Detection of Tritium (GRADE).
  • University of Bristol – Studying Tritium in Diamond Energy Structures (STRIDES).       
  • University of Liverpool – Molecular Cage Materials for Hydrogen Isotope Separation.