Assystem has been awarded two contracts to support the development of a prototype power plant aimed at demonstrating commercial viability of fusion energy.
The Paris-headquartered firm, which recently commissioned an IMechE report that highlighted the UK’s strong position to lead on commercial fusion technology, was awarded the contracts by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to support the development of Step (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production).
In the first contract, Assystem – which also has a Lancashire base – was selected as a key partner on the Step ‘fuel cycle tritium engineering framework’. The company said its expertise in thermal energy management, electricity conversion and safety in high-hazard environments will be ‘instrumental’ to the work that will concern the inside of the plant, which is expected to hit temperatures of about 150mºC.
The second contract involves the assessment of different designs for Step’s ‘breeder blanket’, a first-of-a-kind component responsible for creating the tritium fuel required for successful fusion.
Assystem and partners Thornton Tomasetti will work with Step’s research team to develop simulation software that will help define breeder blanket designs capable of producing enough tritium to advance the project to the next phase of simulation and testing, moving the programme closer to commercially viable fusion energy.
“Step is a globally significant project in the development of fusion energy, as it takes us a step closer to the commercial phase of this new technology,” said chief sales officer Matthew Gallimore. “The teams at Assystem bring strong experience in fusion gained on Jet (Joint European Torus) and Iter, and we are excited to be creating more jobs in fusion development through these latest contract wins.”
The company has been architect engineer at Iter in France since 2005, and it is actively involved in the EU Demo and Jet projects. It also has a partnership with the Institute of Plasma Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences to provide support on the development of the China Fusion Energy Test Reactor (CFETR).
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