Nuclear Fusion Reactor Design
The project was required to progress the concept design of the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) nuclear fusion reactor in terms of analysing the balance of plant, investigating different approaches that could be utilised in the design, development and operation of the reactor, including modular design and construction. Additionally, the designs of connection and sealing technologies in liquid metal coolants were investigated to determine concept solutions for STEP.
The balance of plant studies looked at different reactor configurations to extract the thermal power, with numerous cycles and working fluids. The studies were undertaken using EGB’s in-house tool HYPER-ION® to determine optimum designs. In addition, a state-of-the-art review looked at numerous Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANTs) to understand modular design approaches, lessons learnt and advanced construction techniques. The project also investigated lead lithium and molten-salt coolants for connector and pipework designs to establish Technological Readiness Levels (TRLs) for STEP.
The results included comparisons of the cycles based on critical parameters such as temperatures and pressures for the various configurations investigated. For utilisation of ANTs in modularisation and construction, the gaps in knowledge and development have been identified and where possible, strategies for resolution have been determined. In addition, suitable materials were identified for liquid metal coolants, with a design study completed using the selected materials in order to determine the mechanical integrity of the applicable connectors and pipework.