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article imageTokamak Energy joins with Atkins to get fusion energy on the grid

By Karen Graham     Sep 29, 2017 in Technology
London - Tokamak Energy announced on Thursday it has engaged Atkins, a 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 in the United Kingdom.
The project is just the first stage of a partnership formed with one of the world's most reputable engineering firms. Atkins is a well-respected design, engineering and project management consultancy with offices in the U.K. and Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa and North America.
Atkins has a large presence in the energy field.
Atkins has a large presence in the energy field.
Atkins
The project will begin with the development of a timeline and strategy to secure the required authorizations and approvals for the facility. These include (where necessary) Development Consent Orders and Environmental Permits. A strategy for the facility will be mapped out, including designs for the reactor and all the necessary infrastructure required to run it.
A credible cost estimate, timeline, and risk assessment for the project, including design, construction, operations and decommissioning will also need to be developed.
Project centers around a new Tokamak
The new Tokamak fusion reactor is expected to be about three to four times larger than Tokamak Energy’s current prototype, the ST40, which is 4.0 meters (13 feet) tall and 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) in diameter. The spherical ST40 uses high-temperature superconductors (HTC) made from rare earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) to create strong magnetic fields to contain the hot plasma.
An early model of one of the first Tokamaks.
An early model of one of the first Tokamaks.
Sergey Rodovnichenko from Moscow, Russia
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, a big step up from the original Russian tokamak T3 built in the 1960s. The T3 was a wide, ring-doughnut shape, and was later proved to be far from the ideal design.
Challenges to face
Tokamak Energy says by moving from a doughnut-shaped plasma ring to an apple-shaped plasma ring, the plasma is contained more efficiently. But even redesigning the Tokamak fusion chamber led to problems. The more compact spherical design led to a lack of space in the center of the machine for magnets and their protective shielding.
A typical plasma in the MAST spherical tokamak machine at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in the...
A typical plasma in the MAST spherical tokamak machine at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in the UK. The image shows the main plasma as the sphere in the center of the image. The elongations at the top and bottom are extensions to the plasma where it flows to ring-shaped "diverters" at the top and bottom of the reactor. Diverters help shape the plasma, as well as clear it of heavier impurities and fusion ash.
Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.
This meant that achieving high enough magnetic fields for fusion power production would be tricky until new superconductor technology came along. And that technology has been realized in the development of the high-temperature superconductors being manufactured today. The HTC's are manufactured in narrow tapes that are less than 0.1mm thick. When wound into coils, they can create much higher magnetic fields while taking up less space than conventional superconductor magnets.
Tokamak Energy is shooting for producing 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, following by further development in 2019 to produce high-density plasmas.
“By working with one of the world’s most reputable engineering organisations we will turn the qu...
“By working with one of the world’s most reputable engineering organisations we will turn the question over fusion energy from if to when.”
Tokamak Energy
A dream partnership in the making
Atkins brings more than 50 years of experience in 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 with the Engage consortium at the ITER fusion project in France.
"With a combination of scientific and engineering capabilities, fusion energy can finally move from an industry viewed with skepticism 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 organizations, 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 have 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.”
More about tokamak Energy, Atkins, ST40, Nuclear fusion, magnetic fusion energy
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