Fusion, the process that powers the stars, has the potential to meet energy demands and change the way the world generates power. For decades, research has sought to produce fusion energy on Earth by heating hydrogen fuel to temperatures well over 100 million degrees Celsius, where it becomes a plasma. One of the most developed ways of controlling the plasma is the tokamak, which creates a magnetic bottle to confine the hot fuel.
Tokamak Energy Ltd is a UK business aiming to accelerate the development of commercial fusion power by combining two emerging technologies: spherical tokamaks and magnets made from high temperature superconductors. The company has created a compact spherical tokamak called the ST40, which has already achieved plasma temperatures of over 15 million° C – hotter than the core of the Sun. The company is also developing powerful magnets made from high-temperature superconductors.
Steven McNamara is the Physics Programme Manager at Tokamak Energy and is responsible for the company’s scientific development initiatives. He became an SME Leader in 2019 and credits the programme “with improving my strategic business management and leadership skills. The training, mentoring and networking has enabled me to grow my team, build up the technical development programme and establish new collaborations and partnerships.”
In the last couple of years, Tokamak Energy has significantly increased its staff numbers to 150 and raised over £110 million in additional funding. The company is now designing a demonstration plant that will prove the viability of its approach and show the feasibility of fusion power as a plentiful, safe and cost effective energy source.