UKAEA Issues Two Contracts Worth £7.5M for Fusion Energy

  • UKAEA Issues Two Contracts Worth £7.5 for Fusion Energy
  • US DOE Announces 2nd Round of Fusion Energy Public / Private Projects
  • New Website for Public Outreach on Fusion Energy

UKAEA Issues Two Contracts Worth £7.5 for Fusion Energy

  • World-leading experts join UKAEA fusion energy mission

types of fusion tech

Illustration by Ana Kova for U.S. Fusion Outreach

According to a press statement issued by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), world-class engineering and science experts have joined the agency to lead the delivery of sustainable fusion energy. The frameworks will allow companies to embed their own specialists in project roles or add experience and expertise to UKAEA research into the development of fusion energy.

UKAEA has signed two multimillion-pound framework agreements to aid the development of safe, efficient, and low-carbon fusion energy. According to the UKAEA fusion has the potential to be a critical component in the global effort to tackle climate change.

Paula Barham, UKAEA Head of Procurement, said: “Signing these two major framework agreements in the run up to Christmas is a big boost for UKAEA and our partners. Joining forces with such world-class organizations brings exciting opportunities for us to team-up with a wide range of experts, with this type of collaboration vital to UKAEA succeeding and positioning the UK as a leader in sustainable fusion energy.”

Gary Stables, Engineering Contract Project Manager at UKAEA, added: “This is another example of how UKAEA works closely with its industrial partners to access resources as well as help develop the UK manufacturing supply chain in the push towards our goal of delivering fusion energy, which has huge potential as a low carbon energy source.”

STEP Program

The framework, a £3.5 million  ‘Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) Manufacturing Support Services’ agreement, will push forward UKAEA’s plans to deliver the first prototype fusion energy plant in the UK by 2040.

STEP will also determine how the plant will be maintained through its operational life, and demonstrate its potential to recycle its fuel. Five sites have been shortlisted across the UK, with a decision on the final location to be made by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) around the end of 2022.

There are three phases to the STEP Program

  • The goal for the first phase of work is to produce a ‘concept design’ by 2024. This means development of an outline of the power plant, with a clear view on how we will design each of the major systems.
  • Through phase 2 the design will be developed through detailed engineering design, while all regulatory permissions to build the plant will be sought.
  • Construction of the prototype power plant will begin in phase 3, targeting completion around 2040.

Engineering Resource Framework

A £4 million, four-year ‘Engineering Embedded Resource Framework’ agreement with seven companies, Assystem, Atkins, IDOM, Morsons, NUVIA, EASL and Norton Straw Consultants, will cover fusion research, powerplant design, robotics, modelling, materials, and other specialist technology areas.

Interview with Tim Bestwick, Chief Technology Officer, UKAEA

In an interview with Power Engineering International, reporter Pamela Largue spoke to Tim Bestwick, Chief Technology Officer at UK Atomic Energy Authority. Here is a brief summary of two key points from the entire interview.

  • What is the status of fusion in the UK?

At the Culham Science Centre, which is the main center near Oxford, there are two major fusion experiments. One is called MAST, which stands for Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak. The other is JET, the Joint European Torus and currently the world’s largest operating fusion experiment.

A number of dynamic private sector fusion companies are developing, with two of them based near UKAEA. Tokamak Energy is a tokamak-based fusion company, and First Light Fusion is an inertial confinement fusion company.

Recently, there was an announcement that General Fusion, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada was going to build its next fusion demonstration plant at Culham, joining these other two businesses at Oxford..

  • How does fusion get to become commercially viable?

This is a big question. Fusion is very technically demanding. It’s a set of big challenges that have not all been fully solved.

Deploying fusion in a practical sense requires both developing fusion systems that function as long-term power production facilities – not just experimental systems – and secondly scaling up and rolling out on a large scale.

& & &

U.S. Department of Energy Announces Second Round of FY 2021 Public-Private Partnership Awards to Advance Fusion Energy

infuseThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced awards for eight projects with private industry that will allow for collaboration with DOE national laboratories on overcoming challenges in fusion energy development.

The awards are provided through the Innovation Network for Fusion Energy, or INFUSE, program, which was established in 2019. The program is sponsored by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences within DOE’s Office of Science and is focused on accelerating fusion energy development through public-private research partnerships.

“This series of selections marks the conclusion of the third year of the INFUSE program, which continues to draw in new applicants every call,” said James Van Dam, DOE Associate Director for Fusion Energy Sciences. “Support for INFUSE remains strong in the private fusion sector and we anticipate growing interest as the program continues to evolve moving forward.”

The funded projects will provide companies with access to the leading expertise and facilities of DOE’s national laboratories to assist in addressing critical scientific and technological challenges in pursuing fusion energy systems.

The program solicited proposals from the fusion industry and selected projects for one- or two-year awards of between $50,000 and $500,000 each, with a 20% cost share for industry partners. The awards are subject to a successful negotiation of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the companies and the partnering laboratories.

“Some of these recent awards are focused on technology development, material testing, and machine learning,” said Ahmed Diallo, deputy director of INFUSE and a fusion scientist at DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

The eight selected projects include representation from six private companies. The projects will take advantage of INFUSE’s areas of focus: enabling fusion technologies; materials; diagnostics; modeling and simulation; and experimental capabilities.

For lists of all projects and full abstracts for each project are available on the INFUSE website.  The projects awarded last July in the first round are also listed at this site.

& & &

New Website for Public Outreach on Fusion Energy

US_Fusion_Energy_Outreach_What_is_FusionThe U.S. Fusion Energy website is your view into the world of fusion energy. Read the latest news, find upcoming events, search for opportunities and jobs, meet the people behind the science, and get the background information you need to understand the language of fusion energy. Illustration by Ana Kova for U.S. Fusion Outreach

Key topics covered by the website are:

  • Fundamentals: Briefings about the world of fusion energy.
  • News: Curated stories featuring fusion energy.

  • Events:
    Learn more about fusion energy at public and technical events.

  • Resources & Jobs
    : Organizations and job listings

The website’s content is guided by a technical committee of subject matter experts.

The website includes  the ability to sign up for updates or follow the site on Twitter

Fusion, the process that powers the sun and stars, promises a near-limitless clean electricity source for the long term. Fusion power creates nearly four million times more energy for every kilogram of fuel than burning coal, oil or gas.

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