Tokamak Energy and UKAEA to collaborate on fusion development

Tokamak Energy and UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) are to collaborate more closely on developing spherical tokamaks as a route to commercial fusion energy.

L-R: Chris Kelsall, Valerie Jamieson, Ian Chapman and Ross Morgan, stood by MAST-U at UKAEA's Culham campus
L-R: Chris Kelsall, Valerie Jamieson, Ian Chapman and Ross Morgan, stood by MAST-U at UKAEA's Culham campus - UKAEA

The five-year framework agreement involves joint technology development, shared use of equipment and facilities and associated secondment of staff between the two organisations. The collaboration will focus on areas including materials development and testing, power generation, fuel cycle, diagnostics and remote handling.

In a statement, Chris Kelsall, CEO Tokamak Energy, said: “We are in a race against time to phase out the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and aim to deliver fusion as a clean, sustainable, low cost and globally available energy source. Tokamak Energy and UKAEA jointly recognise the importance of collaboration to accelerate the delivery of commercial fusion. We welcome the opportunity to progress knowledge, skill sharing and joint development opportunities with UKAEA, further boosting the UK’s world leading fusion cluster.”

Both organisations have operational spherical tokamak devices, with Tokamak Energy’s ST40 recently achieving a plasma temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius, which is the threshold required for commercial fusion energy.

Tokamak Energy said it will soon unveil its next device, which is the world’s first high field spherical tokamak to demonstrate the full potential of high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets. The device, due to be commissioned in the mid-2020s, will demonstrate multiple advanced technologies required for fusion energy and inform the design of the company’s first commercial fusion power pilot plant.

UKAEA’s MAST Upgrade experiment facilitated the development of its STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) programme, which aims to design and build a prototype fusion powerplant capable of producing net electricity.

“This new agreement with Tokamak Energy will benefit both organisations and help advance our collective ambitions, because together we are stronger,” said Professor Ian Chapman, UKAEA CEO. “Fusion presents an exciting opportunity for the UK and we’re proud our ground-breaking work here continues to drive innovation and progress as part of a thriving cluster.”