Thu. May 30th, 2024

The University of Manchester has received £1.3m from the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to develop lithium technologies for fusion energy. The research aims to produce enough lithium for breeder blankets for deuterium-tritium fusion reactors. The breeder blankets allow the creation of tritium within the reactor, assisting in overcoming the challenge of fuelling fusion reactors due to tritium scarcity.

  • The funding forms part of UKAEA’s Fusion Industry Programme challenge named ‘Realising the potential of lithium in an economic, sustainable and scalable fusion energy fuel-cycle’, launched in early 2023.
  • Five organisations have secured six contracts worth £7.4m in total from UKAEA to develop lithium technology for fusion energy. The awarded contracts range between £700,000 and £1.5m.

Dr Kathryn George, project lead from The University of Manchester, expressed enthusiasm for the collaborative project aimed at producing the necessary fuel to actualise fusion power. The project seeks to bring together various skills in chemical engineering and regulation to solve the technical problem of fuelling fusion power plants while ensuring minimal environmental impact and adherence to regulatory requirements.

Tim Bestwick, UKAEA’s Chief Development Officer, clarified that the organisations awarded contracts successfully showed their lithium technology concepts, and they will now develop them to the ‘proof of concept’ stage.

These contracts follow on the heels of the Fusion Industry Programme contracts awarded earlier in the year, focusing on digital engineering, fusion fuel requirements, materials and manufacturing, as well as heating and cooling technologies.

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