A peer-reviewed scientific paper on Tokamak Energy’s 100 million degrees Celsius fusion plasma has been published by the Institute of Physics (IOP) on the anniversary of the company’s record achievement.
The breakthrough was the highest plasma temperature ever achieved in a compact spherical tokamak, which is shaped like a cored apple rather than the traditional ring doughnut style design.
Peer-reviewed results published today by IOPscience, which provides researchers access to scientific and technical information, also support Tokamak Energy’s approach as the optimal route to clean, low-cost fusion power capable of addressing energy security and climate change.
Reaching plasma temperatures more than six times hotter than the centre of the Sun is the threshold required for commercial fusion energy and was a significant step forward on the company’s mission to demonstrating grid-ready power by the early 2030s.
Dr Steven McNamara, Tokamak Science Director at Tokamak Energy, said: “This important peer-reviewed result demonstrates for the first time that plasma temperatures relevant for commercial fusion energy can be obtained in a compact, high-field spherical tokamak. When combined with our world-leading magnet technology and as we scale up operations, it gives us great confidence that the more efficient and cost-effective spherical tokamak design represents the best route to achieving clean and globally deployable commercial fusion energy.”
In October, Tokamak Energy and UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) signed a framework agreement to enable closer collaboration to develop spherical tokamaks as a route to commercial fusion energy.
Dr Fulvio Militello, Director of Tokamak Science and MAST-U (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak – Upgrade) at UKAEA, said: “Fusion energy could be transformative for energy security and is important in the long-term fight against climate change. The ground-breaking research being done in the UK and with our partners across the globe, aims to make fusion energy a reality. We congratulate Tokamak Energy on reaching this significant milestone.”
Stanley Kaye, Director of Research at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, said: “Fusion energy research has had several breakthroughs in the last few years; ignition in inertial confinement and sustained fusion energy production in magnetic confinement devices, indicating the scientific viability of fusion as an energy source. The attainment of fusion relevant temperatures in the ST40 spherical tokamak is yet another important step in the development of fusion energy, and especially so for compact tokamak reactor designs. Tokamak Energy and their international collaborators are to be congratulated for this achievement.”
While national laboratories have reported plasma temperatures above 100M degrees in conventional tokamaks, Tokamak Energy’s milestone was achieved in five years in a compact fusion device, ST40.
The paper is now available to read in full at IOPscience, an online service for IOP Publishing which distributes leading-edge scientific research worldwide. It includes contributions from collaborators at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, both supported by the US Department of Energy.
ST40 has since been upgraded to enable experiments relating to future features that will be incorporated in Tokamak Energy’s ST80-HTS advanced prototype fusion device and its fusion pilot plant, ST-E1, which aims to demonstrate up to 200MW of net electrical power.