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18 innovative projects get funding to make fusion energy a reality in the UK

Professional Engineering

Mast-U, a fusion energy device at UKAEA's Culham Campus (Credit: SMD Photography)
Mast-U, a fusion energy device at UKAEA's Culham Campus (Credit: SMD Photography)

Fusion energy could come closer to commercial reality thanks to 18 projects awarded funding by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA).

The projects aim to tackle specific challenges linked to the commercialisation of fusion energy, from novel fusion materials and manufacturing techniques to innovative heating and cooling systems, all needed for future fusion power plants.

The £3.1m Fusion Industry Programme funding covers contracts for feasibility studies costing £50,000 to £200,000.

Projects include the development of tungsten diamond composites at the University of Manchester, the simplification of fusion reactor thermal management at TWI Ltd, and the use of additive manufacturing for high-performance cooling devices at QDot Technology Ltd.

Engineering multinational Jacobs will use funding to develop a liquid lithium testing facility at its Technology & Innovation Centre in Warrington, Cheshire.

Lithium is critical for ‘breeding’ the hydrogen isotope tritium, an essential fuel for fusion. The new facility will examine the metal’s interaction with materials inside the fusion machine and any corrosive effects, the effect of impurities, the properties of lithium under fusion conditions, and other aspects related to its use.

“In the past 12 months we have seen significant advances both in the UK and globally that demonstrate the potential for fusion energy to be a safe, low-carbon and sustainable part of the world’s future energy supply,” said Tim Bestwick, UKAEA chief technology officer.

“However, there are a number of significant technical challenges to address for fusion energy to realise its potential. The Fusion Industry Programme is helping engage organisations and industrial partners to stimulate innovation and address these important challenges.”

The programme was launched in 2021 to drive long-term economic growth by developing technology and skills that can support domestic programmes and be exported globally.

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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