IMechE - Energy from Nuclear Fusion: A Novel Faster Approach

21st September 2022 9:00 pm

Fusion is described as the ideal energy source because it is safe, the fuels inexhaustible, and the reaction not producing any carbon dioxide or long-lived radioactive waste. Additionally, because the energy density is very high, a fusion plant wouldn’t take up much space compared to renewables, which require a large surface area.

The fusion process involves forcing together positively-charged ions that ordinarily repel each other. It can happen only at very high temperatures - more than 100 million degrees C. At these high temperatures, the electrons of atoms break away from their nuclei to create a soup of very fast moving charged electrons and ions - known as plasma. Typically, the fuels of the fusion reaction will be two isotopes of hydrogen - deuterium and tritium – but fusion with other elements is, in principle, also possible.

Tokamak Energy is pioneering a novel approach that they hope will lead to commercial fusion energy earlier than conventional approaches. They are developing the basis of the fusion power plant of tomorrow, while commercialising the tech applications today.

There is some way to go with this technology before it becomes part of the world’s energy generation mix. However, Tokamak Energy combines world leading scientific, engineering, industrial and commercial capabilities to take things forward. They also drive progress through partnerships and collaborations, including with the US Department of Energy, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and the Culham Laboratory here in the UK.

As the world tries to attain international climate policy goals and NetZero, the hope of commercial fusion energy that is clean, economic and globally deployable, becomes ever more exciting

Our speaker from Tokamak Energy, an expert in the field, will address the physics behind fusion, how the energy potentially could be generated without the down side associated with fission, outline the novel Tokamak Energy approach, and give an indication of what we might expect in the future.

Our speaker, Dr Alan Costley gained a first degree in physics at Brunel

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