UK fusion reactor achieves first plasma: predicts power plants on grid by 2030.

May 2, 2017 | By | Reply More

The UK’s newest fusion reactor has been turned on for the first time and has achieved first plasma. The reactor aims to produce a record-breaking plasma temperature of 100 million degrees. This is seven times hotter than the centre of the Sun and the temperature necessary for controlled fusion.

The tokamak reactor, entitled the ‘ST40’, was built by Tokamak Energy.

With the ST40 up and running, the next steps are to complete the commissioning and installation of the full set of magnetic coils which are crucial to reaching the temperatures required for fusion. This will allow the ST40 to a produce plasma temperature of 15 million degrees – as hot as the centre of the Sun – in Autumn 2017.

clean fusion

Following the 15 million degree milestone, the next goal is for the ST40 to produce plasma temperatures of 100 million degrees in 2018. 100 million degrees is an important threshold, as it is only at or above this temperature that charged particles which naturally repel can be forced together to induce the controlled fusion reaction.

It will also prove the vital point that commercially viable fusion power can be produced in compact spherical tokamaks.

Tokamak Energy has now reached the half-way point of its plan to deliver fusion power. It is focused on working with a smaller reactor design – called a compact, spherical tokamak – that enables quicker development of devices, therefore speeding up the process towards achieving their ultimate targets: producing first electricity by 2025 and commercially viable fusion power by 2030.

Dr David Kingham, CEO of Tokamak Energy, said, “Today is an important day for fusion energy development in the UK, and the world. We are unveiling the first world-class controlled fusion device to have been designed, built and operated by a private venture.  The ST40 is a machine that will show fusion temperatures – 100 million degrees – are possible in compact, cost-effective reactors. This will allow fusion power to be achieved in years, not decades.”

“We will still need significant investment, many academic and industrial collaborations, dedicated and creative engineers and scientists, and an excellent supply chain. Our approach continues to be to break the journey down into a series of engineering challenges, raising additional investment on reaching each new milestone. We are already half-way to the goal of fusion energy; with hard work we will deliver fusion power at commercial scale by 2030.”

The Oxfordshire-based company grew out of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and was established in 2009 to design and develop small fusion reactors.

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Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

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