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The STAR of the show

Tokamak design from Applied Fusion Systems

Grand designs. (courtesy: Applied Fusion Systems)

By Michael Banks

You may remember in 2014 when we reported that entrepreneur Richard Dinan – a former star of the UK reality-TV programme Made in Chelsea – was venturing into fusion energy.

He founded the firm Applied Fusion Systems with the aim of building a prototype fusion reactor. The 30 year old, who doesn’t have a university degree, claims to have taught himself tokamak design and employs a small team of scientists who are working on a design.

Well, the firm has now released its first blueprint for a spherical fusion tokamak and is seeking £200m in investment to build not one, but two of the machines.

Dubbed the Small Toroidal Atomic Reactor, each device is intended to generate 100 MW and will be “slightly larger” than the 0.9 m-radius Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak that is located at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire in the UK.

Although details about the tokamak are scant, it will apparently feature “symmetrical diverter systems” to aid heat extraction from the plasma and will be more robust against instabilities in the plasma itself.

“To me, it is clear that fusion is not a matter of if, but when,” says Dinan, who adds that government projects “lack the essential tenacity and agility of private firms”.

According to a press release we received today, the magnets in the tokamak will contain “REBCO (Russian Export Blend Crude Oil) superconductors”.

Unless the company has discovered a previously unknown conducting state for oil, in which case Dinan could be in line for a Nobel prize, I presume the REBCOs they’re referring to are actually rare-earth barium copper oxide superconductors. Maybe Dinan’s press officers need to brush up on their science.

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