The company was originally established to design and develop small Spherical Tokamaks and compact fusion reactors for a range of applications. Since then, the strategy has evolved to prioritise building a pilot plant to exceed fusion energy breakeven.
Tokamak Energy grew out from Culham Laboratory, which is the world’s leading centre for magnetic fusion energy research and home to the world’s most powerful tokamak, JET, which produced 16MW of fusion power in 1997. Tokamak Energy is particularly focused on Spherical Tokamaks, pioneered at Culham, because these compact devices can achieve a much higher plasma pressure for a given magnetic field than conventional tokamaks, i.e. they are more efficient.
Theoretical calculations show that a Spherical Tokamak using high fields produced by HTS magnets could be significantly smaller than other fusion machines currently proposed. For example, a compact ST power plant would have a volume up to 100 times smaller than ITER – the successor to JET currently being built in France at a cost of €15bn – so would be approximately room-sized rather than aircraft-hangar-sized. This development creates such a substantial commercial opportunity that the company intends to focus its efforts and resources on developing a compact Spherical Tokamak fusion energy source to demonstrate net energy gain.
Tokamak Energy has offices at Culham Innovation Centre and a tokamak engineering facility at Milton Park, both in Oxfordshire.