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UK Signs Deal With The US To Develop Nuclear Fusion Technology

The transatlantic partnership aims to further cooperation on fusion technology by sharing resources and facilities.

The UK has signed a deal with the US to further research into advanced fusion energy as part of efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

In a joint statement, the UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and the US Department of Energy said that fusion could provide “a low-carbon, safe, sustainable and reliable energy supply” with the potential to bolster global efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions.

The technology has been in development for decades but has yet to be commercialised. However, in December last year, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory were finally able to produce more energy than was consumed during a fusion energy reaction in a major breakthrough.

This new partnership between the two countries aims to further cooperation on fusion technology between US and UK scientists by sharing resources and facilities. It also wants to support “the international harmonisation” of regulatory frameworks and codes and standards.

The bodies said they wanted to support the development of resilient supply chains that will be necessary for commercial fusion deployment.

Much of the supply chain expense is expected to go to high-grade steel and concrete and superconducting wire to build plants where fuels will be heated to more than 100 million degrees Celsius in special chambers. Further funds will also need to be allocated to super-magnets, lasers and power supplies.

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The partnership hopes to promote skills development to ensure that there are enough people with the right skills to allow the sector to expand once it is commercialised.

It is anticipated that major plant design projects such as the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) in the UK or those part of the US Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program would not be covered by this partnership, though those projects may inform priority research areas.

Last year, business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said that STEP – which will be the UK’s first prototype nuclear fusion power plant – will be built by 2040.

A joint committee to drive the work of the new partnership is to be announced soon and will meet for the first time early next year.

Source: E&T


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