UKAEA outlines roadmap to accelerate development of fusion power plants

The UK Atomic Energy Authority has identified five priorities on work for necessary component materials

The Big Zero report

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials have published a roadmap to support research in materials used in the development of fusion power plants.

Experts believe that fusion has the potential to offer an abundant source of low carbon energy by copying the processes that power the sun and stars.

The study identifies five areas of research needed to enable the materials for future fusion power plants.

These include magnets and insulators that are resistant to irradiation from fusion reactions, especially under cryogenic conditions.

Component materials able to retain their strength under neutron bombardment at temperatures more than 550°C should also be prioritised, the UKAEA suggests.

Dr Amanda Quadling, Director of Materials at UKAEA, said: “This roadmap is a national tool that aims to give UK materials researchers common themes to collaborate around.

“We home to generate momentum in the testing, mechanistic understanding and surmounting of irradiation damage from fusion.”

The UK’s prototype fusion plant, Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production, is expected to go online in the early 2040s.

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