Tokamak Energy, the Milton Park, Oxfordshire-based fusion company, has unveiled pictures of the plasma in its newly-upgraded spherical tokamak – the ST40. Tokamak Energy’s fusion energy device achieved temperatures hotter than the centre of the sun in 2018 and is now on track to achieve fusion temperatures of 100 million degrees in the coming months. This will be the first time a privately-owned company has delivered this milestone.
Fusion is the way the sun and the stars make energy. Fusion offers the prospect of dispatchable, carbon-free energy by harvesting the energy of “miniature stars” on Earth. Fusion energy can play a key role in global decarbonisation and is part of the UK government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
Tokamak Energy is a spin-out from the world-leading fusion research centre at Culham Laboratory near Oxford. Building on more than 40 years of world-leading fusion research in the UK, Tokamak Energy is focussed on delivering compact, high-performance fusion devices.
Tokamak Energy CEO Jonathan Carling said, “First plasma is a major milestone on our path to commercial fusion energy. Our ST40 device has been equipped with upgraded power supplies and plasma heating systems over the last year. In the next few months, this device will achieve 100-million-degree plasma temperature, far beyond anything achieved by other private fusion ventures, and the temperature required for commercial fusion energy.”
“We are a privately funded business, but we have certainly benefitted from government grants, including £10m from the Advanced Modular Reactor competition last year.”
“To make an analogy with my time in the jet engine business, first plasma is like a first flight for a new design. We will confirm all our systems work as expected, before we ‘turn on the afterburners’ to reach 100-million-degree plasma temperature.”
Minister for Investment Gerry Grimstone said: “Tokamak Energy’s venture is testament to the UK’s world leading fusion energy research, and takes us a step closer to turning the UK into a global hub for fusion innovation, as recognised in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution announced last year.
“I look forward to seeing this technology fully developed and commercialised, adding another string to our bow of greener energy solutions that are clean, safe and carbon free.”