Frazer-Nash is delighted to announce it has been awarded a contract by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) as part of Cycle Two of the ‘Fusion Industry Programme’ to investigate the feasibility of a novel technology for the production of lithium-6 – a critical fuel for the future global fusion sector.
The Fusion Industry Programme aims to tackle specific challenges linked to the commercialisation of fusion energy, from novel fusion materials and manufacturing techniques through to innovative heating and cooling systems, all needed for future fusion powerplants. The Frazer-Nash project focusses on a critical challenge facing the fusion industry – establishing a supply chain for fusion-grade lithium. It will deliver a detailed feasibility assessment of plasma drift-orbit separation as a method to produce lithium-6, including physics, technology, and commercial elements.
Dr Nick Walkden, Senior Consultant and Project Leader said:
“Global deployment of fusion energy is unlikely to be successful without a readily available supply of fusion-grade lithium – lithium that has an increased abundance of the lithium-6 isotope compared to natural lithium. Today, there is no supply chain for fusion-grade lithium outside of Russia or China. The only proven methodologies for its production require vast quantities of Mercury with huge environmental, ecological, and safety concerns. Clearly there is a gap in supply that must be filled before the first fusion pilot-plants can put electricity onto the grid. Our project is seeking to answer this challenge by investigating a novel, plasma-based technology that we believe has the potential to be the backbone of a safe and scalable supply of fusion-grade lithium. To do this our skilled team will undertake a wide-ranging feasibility assessment, including several distinct technologies and detailed non-linear modelling of the underlying plasma behaviour.”
Steve Lawler, Business Manager for Fusion & Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing, Frazer-Nash, comments:
“The fusion sector continues to evolve and mature at pace, and Frazer-Nash is proud to be playing its part in the realisation of fusion energy which promises to be a safe, low carbon and sustainable part of the world’s future energy supply. In the past 12 months there have been significant advances both in the UK and globally that demonstrate the potential for fusion as a viable energy source. We are delighted to be part of the Fusion Industry Programme (FIP) and help to address some of the technical challenges on the path to realising fusion energy. Our demonstrable fusion sector pedigree delivered through the expertise of our engineers at Frazer-Nash continues to play a key part in the development of fusion energy.”
Tim Bestwick, UKAEA’s Chief Technology Officer, said:
“In the past 12 months we have seen significant advances both in the UK and globally that demonstrate the potential for fusion energy to be a safe, low-carbon and sustainable part of the world’s future energy supply. However, there are a number of significant technical challenges to address for fusion energy to realise its potential. The Fusion Industry Programme is helping engage organisations and industrial partners to stimulate innovation and address these important challenges.”
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About the Fusion Industry Programme
The Fusion Industry Programme was launched in 2021 to drive long-term economic growth by developing technology and skills that can both support domestic programmes and be exported globally. Eighteen organisations successfully secured contracts as part of UKEA’s latest £3.1m programme, to demonstrate how their innovative technologies and proposed solutions can help make fusion energy a commercial reality.
The contracts – feasibility studies from £50,000 up to £200,000 – are funded by the ‘Fusion Industry Programme’ and awarded through the UK Government platform ‘Small Business Research Initiative’ (SBRI). The latest contracts are the second part of the Programme, following the first cycle in 2021.
Fusion energy is sometimes described as the ultimate energy source, based on the same processes that power the sun and stars. It has the potential to provide ‘baseload’ power, complementing renewable and other low carbon energy sources.
About United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) is the national research organisation responsible for the development of fusion energy.
Fusion energy has great potential to deliver safe, sustainable, low carbon energy for generations to come. It is based on the same processes that power the sun and stars, and would form part of the world’s future energy mix. Achieving this is a major technical challenge that involves working at the forefront of science, engineering, and technology.
UKAEA’s programmes include the MAST-Upgrade (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak) fusion experiment and the JET (Joint European Torus) fusion research facility, operated for scientists from around Europe in Culham, Oxford. STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) is UKAEA’s ambitious programme to accelerate the delivery of fusion energy, with plans to deliver a prototype powerplant producing net electricity in the 2040s in Nottinghamshire.
UKAEA also undertakes cutting edge work with academia, other research organisations and the industrial supply chain in a wide spectrum of areas, including robotics and materials.
More information: https://www.gov.uk/ukaea
About Frazer-Nash Consultancy “Frazer-Nash”
Frazer-Nash is a leading systems, engineering and technology company. A KBR Company, we help organisations deliver innovative engineering and technology solutions to make lives safe, secure, sustainable, and affordable.
With over 1000 employees, we work from a network of ten UK and four Australian locations. Our people apply their expertise to develop, enhance and protect our clients' critical assets, systems and processes.
We use our skills and talents to ensure a sustainable future for society. Our work helps deliver a safe and secure world, where natural resources are conserved, and clean energy is available to all. And we focus on actions to reduce climate change; supporting rapid and far-reaching transformations in the delivery of energy, security, industry, and transport.