HiETA and Norton Straw Win STEP Fusion Reactor Project

The UK Government has given UKAEA the goal to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in fusion research and development. In the November 2018 budget (and reiterated in the Science Minister’s speech at Culham in January 2019) an initial £20m was provided for UKAEA to start investigating the viability of a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP). It is hoped this will lead to substantial funding for future years, which in turn will benefit UK supply chains and provide long-term jobs, growth and UK economic benefit.

Spherical Tokamak

UKAEA have announced that a team of Norton Straw Consultants and HiETA Technologies have won a key concept design contract on the new STEP fusion reactor project. STEP, or Spherical Tokamak Energy to Power, is the UK’s own fusion programme, occurring in parallel with the international ITER project and intended to deliver power to the grid by 2040.

The diverter is a crucial component for fusion reactors that extracts the heat and ash reduced by the fusion reaction, minimises plasma contamination and protects the surrounding walls from thermal and neutronic loads.

complex high density additively manufactured manifolds

Managing the loads on the diverter, which is required to transfer in excess of 10MW/m2 of heat, is a significant engineering challenge. This is due to the diverter being subject to the most hostile part of the reactor environment.

HiETA are partnering with Norton Straw to combine their knowledge in world-leading structural and thermal simulation with HiETA’s proprietary heat transfer geometry enabled by additive manufacturing.

This project is a showcase of Additive Manufacturing’s capability to produce extremely dense heat transfer systems with highly intricate manifolds within a single manufacturing process. Achieving designs previously outside the scope of practical manufacture.

The requirements of this project have parallels to the electronics cooling market. The next generation technology developed as part of this project will also be applied to our additively manufactured electronics cooling products.