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Innovation Funding to address technical challenges of fusion energy

cutaway graphic of the STEP fusion power plant design

A concept nuclear fusion plant design UKAEA

11 October 2021

The University of Bristol is among fifteen organisations who have secured UKAEA contracts to demonstrate how their innovative solutions and technologies can contribute to the development of commercial fusion energy.

 The University of Bristol project is entitled STRIDES- Studying Tritium in Diamond Energy Structures. It will be led by Professor Neil Fox, with Professor Tom Scott as Co-Investigator. 

The contracts, worth between £50,000 and £250,000, were funded by UKAEA’s new ‘Fusion Industry Programme’ and awarded through the UK Government ‘Small Business Research Initiative’. They focus on challenges in digital engineering and hydrogen technology and are relevant across the range of approaches to developing commercial fusion energy.

STRIDES - Studying Tritium in Diamond Energy Structures

The STRIDES project will help reduce fusion power plant fuel requirements by researching advanced production and handling technologies for hydrogen isotopes. It will use the expertise of researchers who have been developing diamond gammavoltaics and beta battery technologies. These aim to recycle materials such as Tritium and Carbon-14 from nuclear power production and safely convert them into useful outputs.

Funding for these projects derive from a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the UK Atomic Energy Authority to develop solutions to fusion energy challenges. This announcement follows recent news of STFC funding awarded to the University of Bristol to research tritium monitoring and tracking through the fuel cycle.

Tim Bestwick, UKAEA’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “Fusion energy holds enormous promise as a low-carbon energy source for the world, but it is technically very challenging. This scheme is helping engage a range of organisations and industrial partners to address these important challenges. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work alongside these organisations, and hope to include many others as the scheme develops”.

Further information


The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) carries out fusion energy research on behalf of the UK Government. UKAEA oversees Britain’s fusion programme, headed by the MAST Upgrade (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak) experiment. It also hosts the world’s largest fusion research facility, JET (Joint European Torus), which it operates for European scientists under a contract with the European Commission.

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