First Plasma in New Reactor Brings the UK a Big Step Closer to Fusion Energy (Tokamak Energy Press Release)

The following press release was published by Tokamak Energy here:

First plasma in new reactor brings the UK a big step closer to fusion energy

+ Tokamak Energy turns on the ST40, it’s third reactor in five years +

+ The reactor will reach 100m degrees in 2018, the temperature required for fusion +

+ ST40 is the third stage of a five stage plan that will deliver fusion energy into the grid by 2030 +

The UK’s newest fusion reactor has been turned on for the first time and has officially achieved first plasma. The reactor aims to produce a record-breaking plasma temperature of 100 million degrees for a privately-funded venture. 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, one of the world’s leading private fusion energy ventures. 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. Tokamak Energy’s aim is to put fusion power into the grid by 2030.

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.

Following the 15 million degree milestone, the next goal is for the ST40 to produce plasma temperatures of 100 million degrees in 2018. This will be a record-breaking milestone, as the plasma will reach a temperature never before achieved in a privately owned and funded fusion reactor. 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’s journey to generating fusion energy is moving at a rapid pace; the company has already 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. Tokamak Energy’s research has also proven that this route to fusion power can be much faster than the development of conventional large-scale tokamak devices.

Dr David Kingham, CEO of Tokamak Energy, commented: “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.”

– Ends –

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  • Gerard McEk

    What makes this Tokamak special in comparison to ITER (which as a long way to go)?

    • Vinney

      It’s smaller, alterable in configuration with replaceable and different parts.
      Means they can try more reactor configurations (and theories) quicker.
      Their now taking cues from Rossi, “Smaller devices (experiments) are better”.
      Had they done this 50 years ago, they could have saved the taxpayer billions.
      The governments must have been a ‘soft touch’ for these experiments.

      • interstellar hobo

        They’re not the only ones, either. LPP has been getting closer and closer to the temperatures needed, and they have an extremely small design. This is an amazing period for fusion. With LPP, Tokamak Energy, Tri Alpha, General Fusion, Lockheed Martin, Helion, and no doubt others getting closer to the finish line.

  • Pekka Janhunen

    Didn’t find investor info on their website.

  • roseland67

    A step closer sure, but still miles and many many millions to go before they sleep

  • Alan DeAngelis

    Good for them. They can use a F&P cell to make the tritium needed to run this reactor.

    • Alan DeAngelis

      From page 49 of Frank Close’s 1991 book Too Hot to Handle.
      “…Tritium is an essential fuel in thermonuclear weapons; it is also a product of dd fusion – the very process that the Utah chemists claimed to be able to make happen inexpensively in a test tube. The US military were already spending vast sums on making tritium for warheads and the reactors that were used for this process had been closed, pending repairs, in 1988 as a result of nervousness about reactor safety following the Chernobyl accident. The repair and building new reactors would cost billions of dollars, so when test-tube fusion entered the scene the military took note at once, recognizing
      the potential of test-tube fusion as a source of much-needed tritium. This sort of application of test-tube fusion also impressed Indian Government scientists who decided that western nations would soon classify test-tube fusion as a secret; thus India mounted an immediate test-tube fusion research effort so as to ‘get in on the ground floor’….”

  • Curbina

    Plasma is a wild beast To tame. It does not remain contained in the toroidal magnetic Field easily, and when it touches the internal lining of the reactor causes great damages. This has been the pesky problem of tokamaks that remains unsolved up to date.

  • Curbina

    Plasma is a wild beast To tame. It does not remain contained in the toroidal magnetic Field easily, and when it touches the internal lining of the reactor causes great damages. This has been the pesky problem of tokamaks that remains unsolved up to date.

  • Arthur Robey

    “We need significant investment”
    Nanors cost a dollar and have a COP of 15.

    • interstellar hobo

      how many people have demonstrated that?

      • cashmemorz

        Professors Hagelstein and Swartz at MIT give out Nanor reactors to their students every year for 3 years or more so it must be in the hundreds who should be able to show you this claim. If you want it done under fool proof lab conditions go to MIT and inquire.

        • interstellar hobo

          apparently then it has not been demonstrated. if hundreds of MIT students had a cold fusion device with a COP of 15.. I think we’d be talking about that and not the playing Kremlinology with the latest Rossi trial news or discussing Rossisays.

  • Guest

    “To put fusion energy into the grid”? If you cant get off the grid fusion is marginally interesting and certainly not disruptive

  • Eric Lerner

    We’ve put together the first comparison of actual results of fusion efforts around the world in a video series, “The New Fusion Race” . I think people will find some surprises there.

  • LB

    As I have understood it, The Tokamak has a fundamental desig flaw that makes it impossible to contain the plasma for more than a very short time. The Stellerator Wendelstain 7x is said to have fixed this problem. And they have already had some success “The Wendelstein 7-X stellarator has successfully completed its
    first stages of research, heating plasmas to temperatures of 100 million
    degrees Celsius and achieving pulse lengths of six seconds.”
    see the following comparison between Tokamak and Stellerator