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Atomic Energy Authority awards £3.1 million of contracts to accelerate the growth of UK’s fusion industry

The Business Magazine article image for: Atomic Energy Authority awards £3.1 million of contracts to accelerate the growth of UK’s fusion industry
2 March 2023

Eighteen organisations have secured contracts with the Oxfordshire-based United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to demonstrate how their innovative technologies and proposed solutions can help make fusion energy a commercial reality. The organisations will focus on overcoming specific technical and physical challenges.

The contracts – feasibility studies from £50,000 up to £200,000 – are funded by the UKAEA’s Fusion Industry Programme and awarded through the UK Government platform ‘Small Business Research Initiative’. The latest contracts are the second part of the Fusion Industry Programme, following the first cycle of the Fusion Industry Programme in 2021.

The projects aim to tackle specific challenges linked to the commercialisation of fusion energy, from novel fusion materials and manufacturing techniques through to innovative heating and cooling systems, all needed for future fusion powerplants.

Tim Bestwick, UKAEA’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “In the past 12 months we have seen significant advances both in the UK and globally that demonstrate the potential for fusion energy to be a safe, low-carbon and sustainable part of the world’s future energy supply. However, there are a number of significant technical challenges to address for fusion energy to realise its potential. The Fusion Industry Programme is helping engage organisations and industrial partners to stimulate innovation and address these important challenges.”

The Fusion Industry Programme is part of the Government’s £484 million support package for UK research, announced last year. The Programme was allocated £42.1 million as part of this package to stimulate innovation and to accelerate the development of the fusion industry.

Contracts have been awarded to start-ups, small-medium enterprises, established companies, and academia, with six of the eighteen organisations receiving funding through the Fusion Industry Programme for the first time (see below for the full list).

As a growing industry, knowledge transfer from other technical and engineering sectors is vitally important to the fusion industry. Collaborating with wider industry allows a collective approach to tackling climate change issues and faster access to energy security.

The Fusion Industry Programme was launched in 2021 to drive long-term economic growth by developing technology and skills that can both support domestic programmes and be exported globally.

Fusion energy is sometimes described as the ultimate energy source, based on the same processes that power the sun and stars. It has the potential to provide ‘baseload’ power, complementing renewable and other low carbon energy sources.

Organisations awarded contracts include:

Driving up fusion power plant performance with innovative heating and cooling systems

Cal Gavin, Warwickshire – Critical Heat Flux shifter device (CHF-shifter insert)

Improving fusion power plant availability with novel fusion materials, technology, and manufacture

Alloyed Limited, Oxfordshire – AMRSAF (Additively Manufactured RAFM Steels for Applications in Fusion)

QDOT Technology Limited, Oxfordshire - AM+ COOL (Indirect additive manufacture for complex, high-performance, cooling devices)

Archer Technicoat Limited, High Wycombe - BROCCOLi (Barrier-layers of Rare-earth Oxide Coatings to Corrosion in Liquid-lithium)

Oxford Sigma, Oxfordshire - Liquid Lithium Corrosion Resistant Materials For Breeder Blankets

Fraser-Nash Consultancy Limited, Gloucestershire - Plasma drift-orbit separation for Li enrichment

Duality Quantum Photonics Limited, Bristol - TRONN: Tokamak-robust optical neural networks


Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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