Japanese-Canadian JV for fusion technology development

23 May 2024

Private Japanese fusion technology company Kyoto Fusioneering and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) have formed a joint venture - named Fusion Fuel Cycles Inc - aimed at developing and deploying deuterium-tritium (D-T) fusion fuel cycle technologies.

(Image: Kyoto Fusioneering)

Fusion Fuel Cycles (FFC) - based in Chalk River, Ontario - will engineer and deliver large-scale fuel cycle systems for global fusion development programmes. The partners said: "By marrying the advanced technological and operational capabilities of its parent organisations, FFC is uniquely positioned to offer comprehensive solutions that surpass those previously achievable by either entity alone."

FFC's mission is to accelerate the deployment of fully integrated D-T fuel cycle systems that meet the highest safety and performance standards. The first project under this initiative is UNITY-2, a groundbreaking integrated and flexible fuel cycle test facility located at the Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario. This facility will pioneer the full D-T fuel cycle from fuel discharge to purification and supply, demonstrating efficient tritium processing technology in relevant conditions and at relevant rates to enable a risk-reduced path to a fusion powerplant on a decadal timeframe.

"As the first of several planned projects, UNITY-2 represents a significant step forward, setting the stage for subsequent facilities that will support experimental and power plant-scale fusion machines worldwide," Kyoto Fusioneering said.

UNITY-2, slated for commissioning by late-2025 and full operations by mid-2026, will serve as a versatile and open platform for fusion innovators worldwide to advance science and close technology gaps related to tritium-processing systems. Specifically, it will support the study and demonstration of tritium inventory minimisation and processing efficiency; tritium emission minimisation and material compatibility; process modeling, controls, and simulation; fuel supply; tritium accountancy and diagnostics; safe tritium operations; and waste minimisation.

The data and insights garnered from UNITY-2 operations will be invaluable for regulatory bodies to licensing D-T fusion devices.

"Establishing Fusion Fuel Cycles marks a significant milestone in fusion energy development, combining Kyoto Fusioneering's technological prowess and CNL's extensive experience with tritium handling to revolutionise the fusion industry," said CNL CEO Jack Craig.

Kyoto Fusioneering CEO Satoshi Konishi added: "Through FFC, we are not just accelerating the development of crucial fuel cycle technologies but also providing comprehensive solutions that will shape the future of fusion energy. This facility - UNITY-2 - is just the beginning, as we aim to design and implement similar systems globally."

"This new venture is an anchor point for Canada in the growing global fusion industry," said Atomic Energy of Canada Limited CEO Fred Dermarkar. "Canada boasts world-renowned capability in tritium and tritium-handling, as a result of our strong CANDU reactor ecosystem. At AECL, we are pleased to be able to leverage this capability to address a critical operation that will be needed for demonstration and deployment of fusion for commercial applications."

Kyoto Fusioneering was spun out of Kyoto University in 2019 as Japan's first fusion start-up, to develop advanced technologies for commercial fusion reactors building on decades of university research. One of the advanced technologies the company is developing for commercial fusion reactors is tritium fuel cycle technologies and breeding blankets for tritium production and power generation.

In March 2023, CNL signed a memorandum of understanding with Kyoto Fusioneering to partner on the delivery of technical services to support the growing international fusion reactor market, with a key focus on testing related to tritium. This was followed by a strategic alliance agreement between the partners in September last year, outlining how they would work together to jointly explore opportunities to accelerate the development and commercialisation of fusion fuel cycle technology.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News