Heather Lewtas

Heather Lewtas

Exchanging ideas with industries such as aerospace, automotive and oil & gas could help advance the development of fusion power. That’s the message being given by Culham technology expert Heather Lewtas at an international conference this week.

Heather – head of Joining & Advanced Manufacturing (JAM) in UKAEA’s Fusion Technology department – will give a plenary talk at the Technology of Fusion Energy (TOFE) conference. It will focus on the transfer of technology into and out of the fusion community.

Some of the challenges for fusion research include building components out of materials which can endure in an extreme environment, in addition to the scaling up of materials testing to cater for large complex engineering projects. Problems that fusion engineers need to solve have crossover with other industries: for example, with the oil & gas and paint industries in the area of nanofluids, as well as with fission, space and aerospace in joining dissimilar materials.

UKAEA’s JAM programme seeks to develop the critical material joining, manufacturing technologies, and non-destructive testing required to deliver fusion on a commercial scale. Working with collaborators on shared technological challenges also represents an economic benefit for wider industry, Heather said:

“While some challenges are unique to fusion, there are others which present commonalities with wider industry. Capitalising on this could accelerate developments in fusion. Equally, we benefit from a greater diversity of ideas, and other companies can draw benefits from existing fusion research.

“One of the biggest challenges is establishing what effect a long-term fusion environment will have on the materials and components. For example, how do we research and innovate technology for a fusion reactor when we cannot always test for the conditions?”

Heather added: “I feel privileged to address TOFE and look forward to building further partnerships as we share common technological goals.”

The TOFE event is organised by the American Nuclear Society and will feature a range of abstracts and papers detailing research in the field of fusion science and technology. Other UKAEA staff will give talks at the meeting on topics including the new CHIMERA technology facility, neutronics and nuclear data, particle transport modelling, superconducting magnets and tungsten manufacturing and testing.

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