The following press release was published by Tokamak Energy here: http://www.tokamakenergy.co.uk/first-plasma-in-new-reactor-brings-the-uk-a-big-step-closer-to-fusion-energy/
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.”
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