UK fusion energy company reveals what its power plant will look like

The plant could be up and running within the next ten years.
Ameya Paleja
Design of a futuristic nuclear power plant
Design of a futuristic nuclear power plant

Tokamak Energy/ Twitter 

Tokamak Energy, a U.K.-based energy company that is working to make fusion reactors into a reality, has unveiled the first look of its nuclear power plant to be built in the early 2030s. When ready the power plant is designed to generate enough electricity to power 50,000 homes.

As countries look to reduce their carbon emissions, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar have hogged the limelight. While these sources are vital in our transition to cleaner energy, they also need large energy storage systems to tide over the problems of intermittency, as reported by New Atlas.

Nuclear fusion power provides a round-the-clock solution that can be switched on to meet the energy demand. The technology, though, still needs to be perfected.

How do Tokamak's fusion reactors work?

Fusion nuclear energy is the exact opposite of fission energy in quite some ways. Not only does it involve the fusion of two atoms of low atomic weights, but the fused product, helium, is also naturally inert and does not create problems with nuclear waste.

UK fusion energy company reveals what its power plant will look like
Day time view of the fusion nuclear power plant

It is also an extremely efficient power generation technology with one kilogram of fuel generating the same amount of energy that would be released after burning 10,000 tonnes of coal. Since energy can be generated without the release of any carbon dioxide, the technology presents a highly reliable and safe way to generate power on demand.

The problem, however, is containing the plasma that is generated to facilitate the fusion of atoms. With temperatures higher than that of the core of the Sun, the plasma cannot come in contact with the reactor walls, a feat achieved by strong magnets arranged in a ring-shaped device called a tokamak.

The U.K.-based company derives its name from the device and has been working over the years to deliver improvements to the plasma holding container. In 2021, the company achieved a major milestone after demonstrating a fusion threshold plasma temperature of 180 million degrees Fahrenheit (100 million degrees Celsius).

Now it is working to build a successor to this device in collaboration with the UK Atomic Energy Authority, which is expected to be tested in the year 2026. Once successfully tested, Tokamak Energy will focus on the completion of the ST-E1, which is expected to be ready to supply power to the grid.

Based on the success of the ST-E1, Tokamak Energy intends to roll out 500 Megawatt (MW) plants at various locations across the globe. The company is confident that its designs can be deployed at lower investment and operating costs and are much safer than its fission counterparts.

From the designs, it is abundantly clear that a fusion power plant won't look anything like the power plants of today.

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