Advanced simulation software is helping Tokamak Energy to develop a pioneering clean energy power plant based on nuclear fusion. Using the electromagnetic design and analysis facilities provided by the Cobham Technical Services Opera software, critical design issues are being resolved at an early stage to help prototype an ultra-compact spherical tokamak in a tiny footprint that is about the size of a house room.
Tokamak Energy grew out of the Culham Laboratory, home of JET, the world’s most powerful operating tokamak. With the advent of high temperature superconductors (HTS), the company’s founders realised that it is theoretically possible to produce a tokamak that performs similarly to existing research machines – but with a much smaller spherically-shaped reaction chamber.
The controlled fusion process inside a tokamak takes place in a plasma that is held in place by a very powerful electromagnetic field. The Cobham Technical Services Opera simulation software is helping Tokamak Energy to design this magnetic confinement system.
A key step on the path to the commercial spherical tokamak is the current construction of a working prototype – the ST40 – that will be used to prove that the extreme high temperature required for fusion reactions can be achieved inside a compact tokamak.
This prototype will help Tokamak Energy to investigate a self-supporting structure that is able to cope with the large internal mechanical forces generated but which minimises thermally conductive connections to the room-temperature world. A consequence of the massive copper conductors is that current density and the resulting Lorentz force density is non-uniform – necessitating a high precision simulation.