Atkins and Tokamak Energy join forces to plan for next fusion reactor

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Sep 28, 2017
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 Atkins and Tokamak Energy join forces to plan for next fusion reactor

Tokamak Energy today announces that it has engaged Atkins, member of the SNC-Lavalin group, to help establish the costs, concept design and timeline for the first ever fusion facility to generate more energy than it consumes. This is the first stage of a partnership that should evolve to deliver a fusion device to put energy into the grid.

The project will:

• Develop a timeline and strategy to secure the required authorisations and approvals for the facility. These include (where necessary) Development Consent Orders and Environmental Permits

• Develop a scheme design for the entire development, including designs for the reactor and all relevant infrastructure required to run it

• Develop a credible cost estimate, schedule and risk evaluation for the project, including design and construction of the facility as well as operations and decommissioning

The tokamak at the centre of this installation is expected to be about 3-4 times larger than Tokamak Energy’s current prototype device, the ST40, which is 4m tall and 2.5m in diameter.

If this project is successful, there will be scope to develop Tokamak Energy’s plans further with Atkins looking at how it can help support and enable the design of a fusion power plant ready for use in the energy network.

Tokamak Energy has established itself as the world’s leading private fusion energy venture, having already designed and built three experimental tokamak devices to prove the potential of its spherical compact design. With the science behind the spherical compact design well-established, Atkins will use its considerable expertise to help tackle the regulatory and engineering challenges in bringing the technology to market in the future.

Tokamak Energy, through scientific research and engineering developments, makes use of novel superconducting materials to reduce the scale of a fusion reactor whilst still maintaining the power necessary for fusion. It is aiming to produce temperatures of 100 million degrees Celsius in its current prototype – the ST40 – in 2018. This is in the temperature range required to sustain a fusion reaction. To this Atkins brings more than 50 years of experience across the nuclear sector, including a multidisciplinary role on EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C, as a founder of the Nuclear Safety Baseline and Design Authority and, since 2010, as Architect Engineer as part of the Engage consortium at the ITER fusion project in France.

This brings together an unparalleled collection of scientific and engineering capabilities that ultimately aims to overcome the challenges of developing a commercial fusion power plant.

By tackling these engineering challenges, fusion energy can finally move from an industry viewed with scepticism to one with the potential to deliver our future energy needs, says Dr David Kingham, CEO of Tokamak Energy:

“By working with one of the world’s most reputable engineering organisations, and one with an extensive history in nuclear development, we will turn the question over fusion energy from ‘if’ to ‘when’. The success of our compact spherical tokamaks and our theoretical work has established a clear route to fusion power, with an aim to get energy into the grid by 2030. With Atkins on board, we can now outline in detail how we will do this. Such speed and pace has been achieved before in UK engineering - Rolls Royce began development of a commercial jet engine in the 40s, with it gaining universal market acceptance in the 50s. Atkins allows us to match this vision and speed for fusion energy.”

Martin Grant, CEO of Atkins’ Energy business, said: “We are excited to be working with Tokamak Energy and we fully support their novel approach that seeks to make fusion power a cost effective and affordable reality.”   

Go to the profile of David Kingham

David Kingham

Co-founder , Tokamak Energy

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