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UK fusion firm Tokamak signs superconducting tape agreement with Furukawa

(WNN) | Updated: 2023-01-12
2023-01-12 (WNN)

Tokamak Energy has signed an agreement with Japan's Furukawa Electric to supply "several hundred kilometres" of specialist high temperature superconducting (HTS) tape for its ST80-HTS prototype fusion device.


Delivery of the HTS tape has begun (Image: Tokamak Energy)

Oxfordshire-based Tokamak is working on the world's "first high field spherical tokamak using HTS magnets at scale" with plans for a fusion pilot plant demonstrating the ability to deliver electricity - producing up to 200 MW of net electrical power - in the early 2030s.

The HTS tape has been developed and is being supplied by Furukawa Electric Group, with the production of the tape under way at the group's SuperPower Inc's site in New York in the USA. With the first batches delivered "the parties are now evaluating scale-up plans to meet the requirements for Tokamak Energy's ST-E1 pilot plant and future commercial fusion power plants".

Tokamak Energy CEO Chris Kelsall said: "Building our next advanced prototype, ST80-HTS, is a key milestone ... securing partnerships with leading global suppliers such as Furukawa Electric Group strengthens our capability to address the twin challenges of climate change and energy security."

Keiichi Kobayashi, President and CEO of Furukawa Electric, said: “Furukawa Electric Group has set out the vision toward 2030 as pursuing business to solve social agendas and to contribute to the development of sustainable energy-solutions ... fusion energy is core to such goals, and we expect that our superconductors will play key roles in our collaboration between Tokamak Energy and Furukawa Electric.”

HTS magnets are an essential part of spherical tokamak devices, confining the fuel which reaches temperatures above 100 million degrees Celsius. Tokamak Energy explains that the superconductivity of the tape refers to the ability to carry "electrical currents with zero electrical resistance, these make for ideal electro-magnet conductors, since they can carry the magnet current without overheating".

It says they can carry thousands of amperes of electrical current under fusion operational conditions and "when wound into coils, HTS tapes can generate higher magnetic fields than conventional superconducting magnets, while taking up far less space and requiring far less cooling power".

Tokamak Energy's roadmap is for commercial fusion power plants deployed in the mid-2030s. To get there the plan is for completion of ST80-HTS in 2026 "to demonstrate the full potential of high temperature superconducting magnets" and to inform the design of its fusion pilot plant, ST-E1, which is slated to demonstrate the capability to deliver electricity into the grid in the early 2030s.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News