JET interior (Credit: UKAEA)UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has signed a multimillion-pound framework agreement to aid development of fusion energy.

UKAEA said it will be able to call on the expertise of world-leading engineering firms after signing a four-year-long Engineering Design Services Framework with nine companies. The framework will  be vital in the mission to develop commercial fusion power, while also helping to grow the UK economy by ensuring industry are fully involved, UKAEA said.

The arrangement means UKAEA can call upon experts as and when needed to undertake a range of projects. There is also the opportunity for providers to work together on initiatives costing more than £100,000 ($125,748).

Paula Barham head of procurement at UKAEA said: “This framework brings exciting opportunities for UKAEA; to work collaboratively with the Supply Chain and maximise the potential value within those relationships.”

The collaboration features companies with a background in some, or all of, the following: mechanical engineering, process engineering, computer-based modelling and simulations, minor structural engineering for design, specialist nuclear services, and electrical, control and instrumentation (EC&I).

One example of how the arrangement could work is the delivery of a feasibility study – or concept design – for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), a UKAEA programme to design and build the world’s first compact fusion reactor by 2040. The companies which are part of the framework are: Assystem, DBD, Rolls-Royce, Jacobs, Frazer Nash, Atkins, IDOM, Mott MacDonald, and M5tec.

Company reaction

Christian Jeanneau, senior vice president of Nuclear at Assystem said: “Assystem remains committed to the global progress and development of nuclear fusion and we are delighted to be collaborating with leading research centres of China and the UK on their experiments, where we aim to add value by combining nuclear expertise with digital and data tools to provide enhanced engineering services.”

Frazer-Nash’s said it will be delivering expertise in four technical areas: process engineering; computer-based modelling and simulation; EC&I; and specialist nuclear services.

The company's fusion business manager, Steven Lawler, said:

“This framework gives us the opportunity to provide not only our expertise and capabilities, but also our renowned cross-sector agility, to help UKAEA deliver on its nationally strategic programme.

“As a part of our approach, we developed a collaborative model that draws upon a broad spectrum of organisations across the supply chain. We are looking forward to working with ABS Consulting, Clarkebond UK Limited, Framatome, Galson Scientific, James Fisher Nuclear Limited, NIS Limited, NW Total Limited, PDL Group Limited, SDS and TUV NORD – as a collaborative group, we’re providing a robust and compelling solution that will help the UKAEA with its engineering design challenges."

In a statement Chris Tierney, executive vice president, Rolls-Royce described the award as an exciting opportunity to help deliver a key part of the planet’s long-term low carbon power supply.

“We have 60 years of experience pioneering fission-based power, including small modular reactors, as well as systems and components for the nuclear industry.  We feel a very strong connection to UKAEA’s purpose and mission and will be bringing Rolls-Royce’s combined experience in innovation and product development, as well as nuclear know-how, to help deliver UKAEA’s programme goals,” Tierney said.