UKAEA awards contract to Kyoto Fusioneering Advancing Initiatives with Fujikura Ltd. on High-Temperature Superconducting Magnets

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In August 2023, Kyoto Fusioneering (hereafter, KF) was formally awarded a contract from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to advance private sector research in the High-Temperature Superconducting Magnets (hereafter, HTS Magnets) for development of the UK’s prototype fusion energy plant, STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production).  

Today, KF has embarked on full-scale efforts in collaboration with Fujikura Ltd. The goal of this research initiative is to test and implement evaluation methods for HTS magnet design, manufacturing, and performance to establish the HTS magnet technology. This research is expected to contribute to the establishment of the design and operation of HTS magnets under the actual conditions of fusion plants. 

The STEP programme aims to pave the way for the commercialisation of fusion and the potential development of a fleet of future plants around the world. 

Value of Combining Fujikura’s Technology and KF’s Know-How 

In this research program for UKAEA, KF will support the application of Fujikura’s world-leading vital material technology in the HTS wiring. Specifically, Fujikura will lead the development and manufacturing of HTS, while KF will advise Fujikura on engineering aspects considering the specificity of the fusion application. This research initiative will combine Fujikura’s established superconducting coil technology with KF’s extensive fusion plant engineering know-how. In addition, the two companies will jointly study and propose a new performance evaluation method unique to HTS magnets by combining KF’s know-how on performance evaluation under the specific conditions of a fusion plant and Fujikura’s proprietary performance evaluation. The outcome is anticipated to become a pioneering HTS technology product, responding to the accelerating transition to HTS technology in the fusion industry. 

Growing Importance of HTS Magnet in Fusion Energy 

In the fusion energy sector, superconducting technology has seen advancement over the years. This includes the groundbreaking advancements of ITER and the R&D conducted by various research institutes and the private sector. Japan, in particular, has made significant contributions. This is underpinned by the presence of research institutes like QST, and Japanese manufacturers who possess some of the world’s leading technical capabilities in materials, manufacturing, and support structures of superconducting magnets. 

In recent years, there has been a growing momentum, particularly among private fusion startups, towards the early practical application and commercialization of fusion. In this context, under the premise that ” using HTS Magnets with a higher critical magnetic field, based on the design research at ITER, could achieve comparable plasma performance in a more compact form and in a shorter timeframe,” high-level development of HTS Magnets is being pursued as one of the innovative technological domains by numerous nuclear fusion-related companies. Within this context, KF will harness the technology and expertise from Japan and the world. By supporting the design and R&D efforts for specific HTS Magnet requirements sought by various institutions and companies, we aim to contribute to the early realization of fusion energy. 

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