The goal of commercial nuclear fusion energy in the UK came a step closer today with the signing of a new collaboration between government and nine leading engineering firms.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) signed the four-year ‘framework’ with companies including Assystem and Rolls-Royce, enabling the government body to call on their engineering expertise as it researches the development of nuclear fusion and related technologies. Engineering and technical skills will also aid activities including power station design, robotics, materials and other technology.
One example of how the arrangement could work is the delivery of a feasibility study or concept design for Step, the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production. The UKAEA programme hopes to design and build the world’s first compact fusion reactor by 2040.
The multi-million pound framework “will be vital in the mission to develop commercial fusion power, while also helping to grow the UK economy by ensuring industry are fully involved,” a UKAEA announcement said.
The arrangement means the body can call upon experts ‘as and when needed’ to undertake a range of projects, and companies will work together on initiatives costing more than £100,000.
The collaboration includes firms with backgrounds in mechanical and process engineering, computer-based modelling and simulations, minor structural engineering for design, specialist nuclear services, and electrical, control and instrumentation. The other companies involved are DBD, Jacobs, Frazer Nash, Atkins, IDOM, Mott MacDonald and M5tec.
“This is vital to UKAEA succeeding and positioning the UK as a leader in sustainable nuclear energy,” said Paula Barham, UKAEA head of procurement.
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