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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W006839/1
Title: UKAEA / EPSRC Fusion Grant 2022/27
Principal Investigator: Chapman, Professor I
Other Investigators:
Walkden, Dr N Manhood, Ms S Quadling, Dr A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
EUROfusion Fusion For Energy Henry Royce Institute
ITER Organization Lancaster University Princeton University
Science & Technology Facilities Council Swansea University University of Cambridge
University of Manchester, The University of Oxford University of York
Department: Culham Centre for Fusion Energy
Organisation: Culham Centre for Fusion Energy
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2022 Ends: 31 March 2027 Value (£): 77,400,000
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Jul 2021 UKAEA Fusion renewal for 2022 to 2027 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
As energy demand increases and the impacts of climate change worsen, fusion offers the prospect of abundant, agile, low-carbon, baseload supply. During the next five years, fusion reaches a defining period. ITER - a ~20BnEuro megaproject that will demonstrate fusion is possible on a commercial scale - begins operation, whilst JET - for forty years the world's premier fusion facility - ceases operation. In parallel, governments and private investors are funding fusion powerplant design driven by the imperative to address climate change. The UK government stated that the UK has a 'moral responsibility to lead on climate change', having legislated to deliver 'net-zero' greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, committing to "doubling down on our ambition to be the first country to commercialise fusion energy technology" by establishing the STEP programme to build a prototype compact powerplant by 2040. The UK has also associated to the Euratom Research programme, remaining a full participant in ITER and the EUROfusion DEMO programme, the world's largest powerplant design effort, targeting fusion electricity 20 years after ITER begins high power operations. Whilst STEP and DEMO are comprehensive powerplant design programmes, there are considerable technical uncertainties without known solutions that must be overcome in parallel. This proposal will address these science and technology challenges, innovating to make designs easier and cheaper, reducing uncertainties in design, working with world-leaders from other sectors to exploit digital design methods that accommodate inherent uncertainty, and developing powerful new models based on fundamental theoretical developments. This differs from normal development paths - where the underlying science is resolved before the design proceeds or where small-scale demonstrators are possible - and thus presents very deep challenges: How can robust choices be made in the face of considerable uncertainty? How do we bridge the gaps between feasible experiments and the environment inside a powerplant, when empirical demonstrations are too slow and costly? How do we proceed without experimentally substantiated solutions in each discipline of an integrated design? This programme will confront these questions with multi-disciplinary research and innovation that builds on the UK's unique breadth of capability in fusion, targeting fundamental advances in the most demanding technical challenges:

a) The confinement of a fuel at 150 million degrees over long timescales - we will lead the final high-power experiments in JET for ITER;

b) The exhaust of excess heat at levels well above those experienced by a re-entrant spacecraft - we will test a novel exhaust solution on MAST Upgrade and develop new high-performance models to bridge the gap from MAST-U to a powerplant;

c) The resilience of materials which will surround the most intense neutron source on Earth - our Materials Research Facility will enable examination of irradiated materials properties to test and develop world-leading models of materials behaviour;

d) The ability to design, manufacture and qualify fusion components without a full demonstrator plant - with industry, this programme will target new advanced manufacturing techniques and testing capabilities in our new Fusion Technology Facilities;

e) A solution to breed, extract, use and recycle the necessary inventory of tritium with minimal loss and accurate accounting - the new H3AT facility will enable development and demonstration of tritium systems at a representative scale;

f) The requisite availability to produce a viable cost of electricity - we will develop novel maintenance solutions for powerplants in our RACE facility; and,

g) The ability to design a power plant fully 'in silico' in lieu of empirical demonstration - a growing advanced computing programme will allow us to exploit the benefits of exascale computing to bridge the gap from today's physics to tomorrows powerplants
Key Findings
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