UK company is pioneer of HTS system for reactors
UK-based Tokamak Energy’s “breakthrough” magnet technology is being sent for testing at a US national laboratory where it will be exposed to extreme conditions to test lifetime nuclear fusion power plant performance.
Creating clean, sustainable fusion energy requires strong magnetic fields to confine and control hydrogen fuel, which becomes a plasma several times hotter than the Sun inside a tokamak.
Although most radiation from high-energy plasma neutrons will be absorbed by the tokamak’s shielding, the magnets must be able to withstand secondary gamma rays to maintain efficient power plant operations.
Gamma rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, similar to X-rays. Tokamak Energy built and commissioned its specialist gamma radiation cryostat system – a vacuum device to provide thermal insulation for the magnets – at its Oxfordshire headquarters as part of its mission to deliver fusion power in the 2030s.
The bespoke test system will now be disassembled, shipped, and rebuilt at the Gamma Irradiation Facility (GIF) based at the Department of Energy’s Sandia Laboratories in Albuquerque.
Tokamak Energy said GIF is one of the few places capable of housing the system while exposing the company’s high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets to a power plant representative dose rates – sufficient in intensity and energy – of gamma radiation.
Tokamak Energy has been a pioneer in recognising the opportunity to apply and develop HTS technology for fusion energy.
In February, the company completed building a world-first set of magnet coils using 38 km of HTS tape, which carries currents with zero electrical resistance and requires five times less cooling power than traditional materials.
Last month Tokamak Energy released the first images of its commercial fusion power plant, which it says will generate enough electricity to power 50,000 homes in the 2030s.