The H3AT facility will provide academic and industrial users with comprehensive tritium test systems and training facilities, with technical support provided by UKAEA experts.
It will draw on UKAEA’s expertise from operating JET – the only fusion experiment currently equipped to use tritium fuel.
Interim H3AT test rigs are already set up at Culham Science Centre, with the full H3AT complex expected to open in 2020/1.
The tritium challenge
In a fusion reactor, tritium and deuterium – two isotopes of hydrogen – will be combined in a hot plasma to produce energetic neutrons which can be turned into electricity.
Because tritium is a radioactive isotope with a half-life (time for half of it to decay) of around 12 years, natural reserves are scarce. However, it can be bred from lithium within a fusion reactor. Fusion power plants will need to have tritium breeding facilities built into their design, to ensure a surplus of the fuel is maintained at all times.
Developing techniques for safely managing and producing tritium is an essential step in the path to making fusion a commercial energy source.
- Advanced tritium infrastructure to feed, recover, store and recycle tritium
- Flexible suite of enclosures enabling a wide variety of experimental work:
- pure tritium science
- process development
- component testing
- waste detritiation
- Computational simulations and model validation
- Training facilities
- Materials detritiation processes and facilities