Tokamak Energy and Oxford Sigma collaborate on the first American Society of Mechanical Engineers fusion power plant construction code and standards

Tokamak Energy and Oxford Sigma joined forces to make key contributions to the first American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC) for fusion energy power plant construction standards.

This first publication of the ASME BPVC Section III (Rules for Construction of Nuclear Facility Components) Division 4 (Fusion Energy Devices) sets the framework and path to delivering commercial fusion energy.

Tokamak Energy Inc, the West Virginia-based U.S. subsidiary of British company Tokamak Energy Ltd, was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for an award as part of its bold decadal vision for delivering commercial fusion.

The DOE’s multimillion-dollar Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program was established to support private companies in bringing fusion energy toward technical and commercial viability. The new Division 4 within the Section III code published this summer is an important resource for fusion companies to design and construct future power plants.

Tokamak Energy and Oxford Sigma, a fusion technology company, have contributed on the draft of the first volume of Division 4 since 2021. The collaboration supported Dr Thomas Davis, Oxford Sigma’s co-founder and CTO, to form and chair the Division 4 subcommittee titled ‘Special Working Group for Fusion Stakeholders’. The Group provides a platform to present the needs of the fusion stakeholder community in order to guide the development of the code.

Jack Astbury, Tokamak Energy Fusion Technology Manager, said: “This big step forward will help future fusion energy power plants meet consistent industry standards. Importantly, it will reduce design risk and boost the supply chain on our mission towards delivering clean, secure and affordable fusion power in the 2030s. We are delighted to have contributed to this effort by working alongside Oxford Sigma to bring together key stakeholders across the U.S. fusion industrial community, and to kickstart the conversation about good practice in fusion power plant engineering, design and construction.”

Dr Davis, Oxford Sigma, said: “It is great to see the publication of the first volume of Fusion Energy Devices construction code and standard after collaborating with Tokamak Energy for the past two years on defining the foundations for materials qualification routes and best practices in engineering design. This type of development in standards within fusion is the bedrock of enabling commercialisation of the ultimate energy source.”

The ASME BPVC provides the design and construction rules of boilers and pressure vessels worldwide, covering both nuclear and non-nuclear devices. The documents are written and maintained by chosen volunteers based on their technical expertise. Section III Division 4 is new to 2023, providing requirements for the construction of fusion energy devices.

These requirements cover fusion energy-related components such as vacuum vessels, cryostats, superconducting magnet structures, and the interactions of these components. Related support structures, including metallic and non-metallic materials, containment or confinement structures, and in-vessel components, such as fusion-system piping, vessels, valves, pumps, and supports, are also covered. Additionally, the rules contain requirements for materials, design, fabrication, testing, examination, inspection, certification, and stamping.

In connection to the newly published volume, Dr Davis presented its implications at the 23rd Symposium on Fusion Energy Conference on “Fusion Codes & Standards ASME BPVC Section III Division 4” in Oxford in July. Dr Davis also authored a peer-reviewed paper titled “The need for codes and standards in nuclear fusion energy” in the special collection, “The emergence of Private Fusion Enterprises” in the Journal of Fusion Energy in May 2023. The article is available open access here.

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