This year’s Made for Space conference may have been centered on materials for use in Solar System exploration, but the topic of nuclear fusion wasn’t a million miles away.
Heather Lewtas, CCFE’s Joining and Advanced Manufacturing (JAM) Programme Manager, had the chance to foster connections between the two areas of research after delivering a key talk focusing on component performance in both industries.
The talk, ‘Pushing the limits of component performance in nuclear fusion and space’, was delivered at the two-day event at the Manufacturing Technology Centre near Coventry.
The conference was geared towards focusing on opportunities and challenges for manufacturing within the space sector and featured a range of presentations, workshops and networking sessions.
The remit of the JAM group is to focus on material joining and manufacturing technologies required to deliver fusion. It helps industry win contracts for the international fusion project ITER, and focuses specifically on technology transfer between fusion and other sectors. And that’s where Made for Space came in.
Heather Lewtas said: “There’s quite a significant crossover in the technologies between fusion and space. Both sectors have the need for components to be able to withstand high temperature, corrosion and be radiation-resistant. Equally, there is the requirement to use remote handling and advanced robotics in hazardous environments.”
Heather added: “I wanted to focus on the technology people working in fusion have really mastered, and how this can be transported to the space industry. Equally, what are the problems we have that the space industry could help us solve?”
Other crossover areas mentioned in Heather’s talk included refractory metals (refractory metals are those that are extraordinarily resistant to heat and wear) and additive manufacturing (additive manufacturing is an industrial name for 3D printing).
“Overall it was a really positive experience, we have identified all sorts of other opportunities and made lots of contacts with other industry figures,” Heather said. “We even had the opportunity to talk about mutual technology interests with NASA – which seems quite topical with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing!”
Images courtesy of MTC and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory