The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has granted six contracts worth a combined £7.4m ($9.38m) to help develop lithium-based technologies for nuclear fusion energy.  

Four universities and the company Frazer-Nash have been given funding injections of between £700,000 and £1.5m from the UKAEA’s Fusion Industry Programme, launched earlier this year, to tackle the challenge of ‘Realising the potential of lithium in an economic, sustainable and scalable fusion energy fuel-cycle’. Bangor University, University of Manchester, University of Edinburgh and University of Bristol are each receiving funding for research projects, with the latter receiving funding for two separate projects. 

Tim Bestwick, UKAEA’s chief development officer, said: “Fusion energy continues to feature on the world stage, with recent commitments being made at COP28 to develop fusion as a sustainable, low-carbon source of energy for future generations. 

“The Fusion Industry Programme is encouraging the development of UK industrial fusion capacity and preparing the UK fusion industry for the future global fusion power plant market. 

“The organisations that have been awarded these contracts have successfully demonstrated their lithium technology concepts and will now develop them to the ‘proof of concept’ stage.” 

This is one of several rounds of Fusion Industry Programme contracts to be awarded this year. In March, 18 organisations were awarded contracts to support feasibility studies for the future of commercial fusion energy, while in June, £6.8m of funding was given to organisations testing solutions to reduce the fuel requirements of fusion plants. The most recent round of financing was an £11.6m funding boost given to nine organisations developing “prototypes for novel fusion materials, manufacturing and technologies, and developing heating and cooling systems for fusion machines”. 

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