VTT and UKAEA (United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority) established a collaboration for reactor wall heat load analysis of a fusion reactor


Fusion holds a potential for a virtually limitless, greenhouse gas free energy source. VTT and the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) have signed a collaboration agreement in Autumn 2022 for analysis of reactor wall heat loads for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) project of UKAEA. The agreement offers VTT an excellent opportunity to contribute to one of the leading-edge fusion reactor projects in the World.

Generation of net electricity from fusion reactions requires fuel temperatures of the order of 100 million degrees. Protection of the reactor vessel wall from overheating while producing net electricity is one of the primary challenges faced by reactor-scale fusion devices. The Fusion Energy and Decommissioning team of VTT has several years of experience on this topic, both based on analysis of presently operating experimental devices as well as based on participation in design activities of reactor-scale fusion facilities, including the European Demonstration Power Plant (EU-DEMO). The computational fluid dynamics tools that are traditionally used for this type of analysis become very challenging to apply when certain high fidelity physics terms are included in the simulations.  

Through this collaboration agreement, VTT provides expertise in applying these challenging to compute, but important, physics terms to analysis of some of the key elements for vessel wall heat load predictions in STEP to support the completion of a concept design by 2024. This project is foreseen to position VTT as one of the key contributors for the STEP project and pave the way towards several years of fruitful collaboration with UKAEA.  

STEP is a UKAEA programme that aims to demonstrate the ability to generate net electricity from fusion. The first phase of the programme is to produce a concept design by 2024, followed by detailed engineering design in second phase, and construction of the prototype power plant in third phase. The aim is to complete the construction of the prototype plant around 2040.

More information about the STEP project can be found at https://step.ukaea.uk/.

Aaro Järvinen
Aaro Järvinen
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