UKAEA signs framework agreement to develop fusion energy

Article by Amanda Jasi

UKAEA / EUROfusion

THE UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has signed a four-year, multimillion-pound framework agreement with nine companies to support the development of fusion energy.

Fusion power is a potential source of clean energy that would generate electricity using heat produced by nuclear reactions. In contrast to nuclear fission, which generates heat by splitting atoms, fusion releases energy when atoms are merged. Fusion is cleaner and has a nearly unlimited fuel supply. Once commercially realised it could transform global power generation and help to achieve a lower carbon economy.

UKAEA researches fusion and related technologies with the goal of making the UK a leader in sustainable nuclear energy.

The recently-signed Engineering Design Services Framework will enable companies to work closely with UKAEA and allow the authority to call upon signatory companies to provide expertise in a broad range of engineering, technical skills, and fields of study. This is as UKAEA’s range of activities in fusion research, powerplant design, robotics, materials, and other technology areas continue to develop.

The areas of expertise of collaborators include mechanical engineering; process engineering; computer-based modelling and simulations; minor structural engineering for design; specialist nuclear services; and electrical, control, and instrumentation (EC&I).

The agreement will see UKAEA collaborate with experts on a range of projects. Additionally, providers will have the opportunity to work together on initiatives costing more than £100,000 (US$124,074).

The arrangement could, for example, see the delivery of a feasibility study – or concept design – for Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), a UKAEA programme which aims to design and build the world’s first compact fusion reactor by 2040.

UKAEA says the framework is vital in the mission to develop commercial fusion power and will help to grow the UK economy by ensuring industry is fully involved.

Paula Barham, Head of Procurement at UKAEA, said: “This framework brings exciting opportunities for UKAEA; to work collaboratively with the supply chain and maximise the potential value within those relationships. This is vital to UKAEA succeeding and positioning the UK as a leader in sustainable nuclear energy.”

Companies involved in the framework are: Assystem, DBD (Different by Design), Rolls-Royce, Jacobs, Frazer Nash, Atkins, IDOM, Mott MacDonald, and M5tec.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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