An agreement has been reached to build a prototype tokamak fusion reactor in the UK
Spotted: Nuclear fusion power has been something of a holy grail for decades, as it promises almost limitless energy with no CO2 emissions or long-lived radioactive waste. Yet, there are technical challenges to developing fusion reactors, such as tritium being too scarce a resource and the difficulty of controlling the reaction. However, that has not stopped the development of a number of high-profile prototypes called tokamak reactors.
It has recently been announced that one of these, a fusion energy advanced prototype, will be built by Tokamak Energy at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) campus. The reactor will be a compact spherical tokamak, a type of fusion reactor that generates plasma – a hot, electrically-charged gas, similar to the material found in stars.
In a tokamak, the charged particles of the plasma are shaped and controlled by massive magnetic coils placed around the vessel. As the plasma particles become energised, they heat up, reaching temperatures hot enough to sustain a fusion reaction, releasing huge amounts of energy. The magnets that will be used in the new prototype are wound from high-temperature superconducting (HTS) tapes developed and produced by Tokamak Energy. These take up less space and require less cooling power than conventional superconducting magnets.
Chris Kelsall, Tokamak Energy CEO, described the agreement to build the reactor as, “a major step forward on our mission to demonstrate grid-ready fusion energy by the early 2030s.”
Increasingly, people are convinced that the most viable solution to the climate crisis is nuclear power, bolstered by developments in nuclear fusion. Springwise has spotted advances in fusion generation and a way to recycle nuclear waste into useful, and safe, materials.
Written By: Lisa Magloff