Tokamak Energy to use digital twin with ST40 fusion machine

13 June 2024

UK-based Tokamak Energy says that the digital twin computer software means it will be able to maximise the impact of each experiment without needing to test multiple scenarios in the physical machine.

(Image: Tokamak Energy/Linkedin)

Last year the ST40 fusion device achieved a 100 million degrees Celsius fusion plasma - the highest temperature recorded in a privately-owned spherical tokamak.

The digital twin computer software programme, named SOPHIA, was developed in-house and trialled last year to help with the development of "high-performance diverted plasma scenarios in its high field spherical tokamak". The plan is to fully integrate it into ST40 plasma operations for 2024. The company says it can run multiple simulations at once and "predicted results have been proven to mirror actual experiments, ensuring ST40 tests do not breach machine limits and cause plasma disruptions".

Tokamak Energy’s Chief Engineer, Mike Porton, said: "Successful experiments tested virtually by SOPHIA will go forward to ST40 for real, producing measurable, publishable, verifiable, physical results to accelerate our research and development productivity. It is a huge breakthrough in cutting timelines on Tokamak Energy’s mission to validate power plant designs and deliver commercial fusion in the 2030s."


Tokamak Energy was spun out of the UK's Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in 2009. It announced in February last year it is to build a prototype spherical tokamak, the ST80-HTS, at the UKAEA's Culham Campus, near Oxford, England, by 2026 "to demonstrate the full potential of high temperature superconducting magnets" and to inform the design of its fusion pilot plant, ST-E1, which is slated to demonstrate the capability to deliver electricity - producing up to 200 MW of net electrical power - in the early 2030s. That would then be followed by the roll-out of 500 MW commercial fusion plants "in the mid-2030s".

Last week, Tokamak Energy signed an agreement with the US Department of Energy as part of its USD46 million "bold decadal vision for delivering commercial fusion". It joins other companies who will team up with national laboratories and universities to address technical and commercialisation milestones for the design of a fusion pilot plant.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News