Nuclear EnergyResearch & EducationSustainability

FATHOM2 project receives £1.5 million for fusion energy research using AM

The funding was awarded to the University of Birmingham by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)

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According to The University of Birmingham, the institution has been awarded nearly £1.5 million by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to research and develop technology for fusion energy. The funding will go to the FATHOM2 project (FAbrication of Tungsten using HOt isostatic pressing and Additive Manufacturing), which focuses on scaling up additive manufacturing and powder hot isostatic pressing (HIPping) technologies to produce complex, cooled tungsten components for plasma-facing components in nuclear fusion reactors, utilizing computational design and material assessment.

The University of Birmingham has teamed up with Metamorphic Additive Manufacturing Ltd. and Tokamak Energy Ltd. to help accelerate the development. It is one of nine institutions that have secured a share of the £11.6 million funding pot from the UKAEA’s Fusion Industry Programme.

“The main barrier towards the application of nuclear fusion has been the selection of the materials for the extreme conditions in fusion, and their manufacturing. Powder HIPping and additive manufacturing are two resource-efficient manufacturing technologies that will enable the fabrication of complex cooling solutions, which are essential for the successful deployment of nuclear fusion,” said Professor Moataz Attallah, Director of the Advanced Materials Processing Lab at the University of Birmingham, and principal investigator on the FATHOM2 project.

Fusion energy is created when a mix of two forms of hydrogen (deuterium and tritium) is heated to form a controlled plasma at extreme temperatures – approximately 10 times hotter than the core of the Sun – they fuse to create helium and release energy which can be harnessed to produce electricity. The energy created from fusion can be used to generate electricity in the same way as existing power stations.

Fusion energy is an area that governments are keen to explore to decarbonize energy and reach emission targets, as it promises to be a safe, low-carbon, and sustainable part of the world’s future energy supply.

“Delivering fusion energy is one of the great scientific and engineering challenges of our time. The Fusion Industry Programme is supporting businesses to overcome these challenges and help make fusion a commercial reality,” said Tim Bestwick, Chief Development Officer at UKAEA. “These organizations have been awarded contracts after successfully demonstrating the feasibility of their concepts through earlier stages of the Fusion Industry Programme and will now develop their technologies to the ‘proof of concept’ stage.”

The UKAEA is the UK’s national organization responsible for the research and delivery of sustainable fusion energy. It is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. More information about the Fusion Industry Programme can be found here.

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