The new facility will be at STFC’s Hartree Centre in the northwest of England, which is home to some of the most advanced computing, data and AI technologies in the UK.
The collaboration will allow UKAEA to place staff at the Hartree Centre and to develop sophisticated computing capabilities for the delivery of commercial fusion.
Fusion energy, which seeks to replicate the energy processes in the Sun, is highly attractive as part of future low-carbon energy supply, but there remain technical challenges to be overcome. These include producing and managing the plasma – the ultra-hot gas where the fusion process happens – as well as challenges in materials and engineering design.
The collaboration will apply the latest computing systems and world-leading supercomputing and data science expertise at STFC to address some of these challenges, including understanding and modelling plasma, and producing the innovation required to develop so called “digital twins” of future fusion power plants.
These sophisticated models, running on supercomputers, are a key element for helping scientists and engineers to develop viable reactor technologies “in-silico” (in the virtual world) rather than via expensive, real-world prototyping.