Cutting-edge magnet technology for fusion power to be tested in the US

The company behind the breakthrough plans to deliver fusion power in the 2030s.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Tokamak Energy's HTS magnet.jpg
Tokamak Energy's HTS magnet.

Tokamak Energy 

Tokamak Energy announced through a press release on Thursday that its magnet technology will be exposed to extreme conditions to test lifetime fusion power plant performance in a United States national laboratory.

The process of generating clean, sustainable fusion energy requires strong magnetic fields to confine and control hydrogen fuel, which becomes a plasma several times hotter than the Sun inside a tokamak.

The magnets must be able to withstand secondary gamma rays, a form of electromagnetic radiation similar to X-rays, in order to maintain efficient power plant operations. 

To this end, Tokamak Energy built and commissioned its specialist gamma radiation cryostat system – a vacuum device to provide thermal insulation for the magnets – at its Oxfordshire headquarters.

Strong magnetic fields are generated in the system by passing large electrical currents through arrays of electromagnet coils that will surround the plasma in future power plants.

A system rebuilt in a new location

Now, the system will be sent to the Gamma Irradiation Facility (GIF) based at the Department of Energy’s Sandia Laboratories, Albuquerque, where it will be reassembled in its final form. 

GIF is one of the few places in the world capable of housing the system while exposing the company’s breakthrough high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets to a power plant representative dose rates – sufficient in intensity and energy – of gamma radiation.

“Our pioneering magnet technology must withstand extreme conditions to keep fusion power plants running in the future. The specialist Sandia Laboratory is ideally configured to test magnet durability and performance when exposed to gamma radiation. It is essential to push the boundaries now as we scale up our operations towards commercial fusion,’ said Dr Rod Bateman, HTS Magnet Development Manager at Tokamak Energy.

Individual magnets will now be analyzed in tests that will run for six months at the New Mexico facility.

“The GIF is a unique facility that can provide high doses of gamma radiation to large test objects. We look forward to working with Tokamak Energy to advance fusion technologies,” said in the statement Don Hanson, GIF Facility Supervisor at Sandia National Laboratory.

Tokamak Energy has led the way in recognising the opportunity to apply and develop HTS technology for fusion energy and has an ambitious mission to deliver fusion power in the 2030s.

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