Tokamak Energy has demonstrated a world-first with its privately-funded ST40 spherical tokamak, achieving a plasma temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius, the threshold required for commercial fusion energy.
This is by far the highest temperature ever achieved in a spherical tokamak and by any privately funded tokamak. While several government laboratories have reported plasma temperatures above 100M degrees in conventional tokamaks, this milestone has been achieved in just five years, for a cost of less than £50m ($70m), in a much more compact fusion device. This achievement further substantiates spherical tokamaks as the optimal route to the delivery of clean, secure, low cost, scalable and globally deployable commercial fusion energy.
With over 25 diagnostic tools in the ST40 and utilising the latest advanced measurement technologies, the 100M temperature result has been verified by an independent advisory board consisting of international experts. Tokamak Energy plans to share these significant results with the scientific community.
Chris Kelsall, CEO of Tokamak Energy, which is based at Milton Park scientific hub in Oxfordshire, said: “We are proud to have achieved this breakthrough which puts us one step closer to providing the world with a new, secure and carbon-free energy source. When combined with HTS magnets, spherical tokamaks represent the optimal route to achieving clean and low-cost commercial fusion energy. Our next device will combine these two world leading technologies for the first time and is central to our mission to deliver low-cost energy with compact fusion modules.”
The ST40 device will now undergo an upgrade and be used to develop technologies for future devices. The ST-HTS, which will be the world’s first spherical tokamak to demonstrate the full potential of high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets, is due to be commissioned in the mid-2020s. This device will demonstrate multiple advanced technologies required for fusion energy and inform the design of a world first fusion pilot plant, to be commissioned in the early 2030s.
The company is also manufacturing a complete HTS magnet system, which will be the first validation of strong magnetic fields with HTS coils in a spherical tokamak.
Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Fusion energy could be the ultimate power of the future – low carbon, safe and sustainable – and this is another crucial step towards it. I congratulate all of those who contributed to this important milestone.”
“The Government’s fusion strategy, published last year, is designed to support companies like Tokamak Energy to make fusion energy a reality. I look forward to further milestones in the months and years ahead.”