The Road to Fusion Power

With global electricity consumption expected to grow steadily over the next 50 years, fusion has the potential to play a pivotal role in the energy mix during the latter half of the century. One of the outstanding issues to achieving net power from fusion is a robust means of handling the heat exhaust from the device.

In a fusion tokamak, nowhere is this problem more challenging than the divertor: analogous to an exhaust system for the machine. Typical heat fluxes in this region are of the order of 10 MW/m2, with transient events often more than doubling this value. Similar heat loads are only found in rocket nozzles, where component lifetimes are generally measured in hours rather than years.

Basic components and geometry of a fusion tokamak

Research at the OAPI has applied cooling techniques from the aerospace industry to the development of heat sink modules capable of withstanding such heat loads.

The approach has incorporated both numerical and experimental methods to validate and optimise the designs. The group also collaborates closely with colleagues at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, and the European fusion body, EUROfusion.