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Oxfordshire-based Tokamak Energy awarded DOE grant to test fusion power plant

15:36 23 January in Advanced Engineering & Manufacturing

Tokamak Energy Inc has been awarded funding by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to test speciality steel materials in extreme fusion conditions at the leading Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

The award through the Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE) programme will help inform the design of future power plants, including Tokamak Energy’s pilot plant ST-E1.

One of the most technically challenging components in a commercial tokamak, which utilises the hydrogen fuel combination, deuterium-tritium, is the ‘breeder blanket’.

Deuterium is abundant in sea water, but tritium is not available naturally. Fusion energy power plants will therefore be designed to produce tritium using a breeder blanket to be self-sufficient when operating.

A breeder blanket will be a complex assembly. Identifying the optimal structural material is a major challenge since it must be resilient to high temperatures, while remaining robust when exposed to high-energy neutrons and chemical coolants.

Paul Britton, CEO of Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, commented: “The funding awarded by the US Department of Energy to Tokamak Energy puts the Oxfordshire region at the forefront of the Energy sector. It is also recognition of the capability and potential of the companies within it, their ability to innovate and utilise the funding as a way to facilitate further growth and innovation.”

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