Case study

Tritium integrated control systems assessment

A feasibility assessment to encompass tritium handling, recovery and waste; addressing efficiency and management challenges.


This case study presents an investigation of the tritium integrated control systems associated with UKAEA’s STEP programme. The functional requirements of tritium handling, waste, recovery and management were identified, and an assessment on the technology feasibility of potential solutions was carried out. A concept design for the tritium fuel route was developed.

The challenge

A key challenge in commercialisation of nuclear fusion for net energy gain is the development of tritium systems with low losses.

Instrumentation and control for tritium in extended operation is not well understood. There are several challenges relating to efficient management of the limited tritium inventory that must be overcome for successful delivery of the STEP programme.


Our approach

We employed a systems engineering approach to assess the technology feasibility of tritium waste, handling, recovery, and management systems. A discussion of potential technologies that could be employed to achieve the system requirements was presented, with consideration of emergent or novel technologies.

During the study, flow diagrams were produced to increase the understanding of interfaces between the tritium systems. The assessment resulted in the production of an architectural control system concept design for the tritium fuel route.

Due to the sensitivity of the whole STEP plant, several recommendations were made to increase the capacitance in each system, to decouple control of different subsystems.


The outcome

This work has increased the general understanding of control of tritium in tokamak subsystems. We delivered an architectural design for the tritium handling, recovery and waste route that can be built upon in the future and can be used to inform and support the formal design lifecycle for the STEP programme. Moreover, the design provides UKAEA with a baseline to help overcome the tritium efficiency and management challenges associated with the commercialisation of the STEP reactor.

Work with Frazer-Nash

Get in touch and let us help with your next project