Eighteen organisations have secured contracts with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to demonstrate how their innovative technologies and proposed solutions can help make fusion energy a commercial reality. The organisations will focus on overcoming specific technical and physical challenges.
The contracts – feasibility studies from £50 000 to £200 000 – are funded by the UKAEA’s ‘Fusion Industry Programme’ and awarded through the UK government platform ‘Small Business Research Initiative’. The latest contracts are the second part of the Fusion Industry Programme, following the first cycle of the Fusion Industry Programme in 2021.
The projects aim to tackle specific challenges, from novel fusion materials and manufacturing techniques through to innovative heating and cooling systems.
Tim Bestwick, UKAEA’s chief technology officer, commented: “In the past 12 months we have seen significant advances both in the UK and globally that demonstrate the potential for fusion energy to be a safe, low-carbon and sustainable part of the world’s future energy supply. However, there are a number of significant technical challenges to address for fusion energy to realise its potential. The Fusion Industry Programme is helping engage organisations and industrial partners to stimulate innovation and address these important challenges.”
The Programme is part of the government’s £484 m support package for UK research, announced last year. £42.1 m was allocated to help stimulate innovation and to accelerate the development of the fusion industry.
Contracts have been awarded to start-ups, small-medium enterprises, established companies, and academia, with six of the eighteen organisations receiving funding through the Fusion Industry Programme for the first time.
Knowledge transfer from other technical and engineering sectors is vitally important to the fusion industry. Collaborating with wider industry allows a collective approach to tackling climate change issues and faster access to energy security.
Image: A fusion energy machine at UKAEA's Culham campus (Credit – SMD Photography)