Pulsar Fusion founder discusses nuclear power
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UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) have announced a new trans-Atlantic agreement to advance commercial nuclear fusion energy. The UK has signed a five-year deal to collaborate on a series of projects with CFS, a US-based firm, in which the UKAEA will support the development of fusion energy and related technologies.
Nuclear fusion is the energy that powers the sun and other stars, combining light elements in the form of hot, charged particles known as plasma to generate near endless amounts of energy.
According to a statement released by the UKAEA, this Collaboration Framework Agreement highlights the efforts of both parties to use the innovative research being done on nuclear fusion right now, and boost it with private sector support to harness low carbon commercial fusion energy.
Professor Ian Chapman, the UKAEA CEO, said: “Achieving our shared missions to deliver low carbon and sustainable fusion energy involves working at the forefront of science, engineering, and technology.
“This new collaboration agreement with CFS will help push these developments and capabilities, drive innovation and accelerate progress.
“Fusion presents an exciting opportunity for the UK and we’re proud our ground-breaking work here continues to support economic growth and attracts such leading international partners.”
Bob Mumgaard, the CFS CEO, added: “CFS and UKAEA have a mutual interest and strong belief that public-private collaborations such as this represent a way to accelerate advances in commercial fusion energy technology and support CFS’ plans to deliver commercial fusion as quickly as possible.
“UKAEA is a leader in fusion energy research and CFS plans to establish a UK presence as we leverage the combined skills and talents of both organisations to develop the fastest path to commercial fusion power on the grid.”
Brexit Britain is at the forefront of developing nuclear fusion technology, with former Science Minister George Freeman noting that the UKAEA “will see commercial fusion energy deployable by 2040”.
Funded by the UK Government, Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) project is present in its initial, “concept design” phase, which will be completed by 2024.
As part of this latest deal, operations teams in both the UKAEA and CFS would be able to access each others’ technological facilities like robotics, while also sharing and learning best practices from fusion experiments.
The two would also collaborate on “fuel cycle technologies, neutronics modelling, systems integration models, advanced manufacturing, diagnostics, remote handling and remote maintenance.”
They would also work together to identify and answer emerging plasma physics questions, and help develop new breakthroughs to help the world harness limitless energy.
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Between 2025–2032, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) will develop the engineering design, with the reactor itself to then be constructed and commissioned by 2040.
According to the UKAEA, “fusion has the potential to provide a near-limitless source of low carbon energy by copying the processes that power the sun and stars, where atoms are fused to release energy.
“Fusion power creates nearly four million times more energy for every kilogram of fuel than burning coal, oil or gas.”
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