Supporting Tokamak Energy to scale up its novel fusion energy technology through embedding foundational quality systems during production.
WHO WAS THE CUSTOMER?
Tokamak Energy is a fusion power company based near Oxford in the United Kingdom. The company employs over 250 people and holds 75 families of patent applications. They are committed to developing a commercial fusion demonstration reactor through the development of spherical tokamaks with high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets. In March 2022 Tokamak achieved a landmark plasma ion temperature in excess of 100 million degrees Celsius, considered to be the threshold for commercial fusion.
WHAT WAS THE BRIEF?
Fusion is one of the most promising options for generating the cleaner energy the world badly needs. Tokamak Energy, amongst others, are investing heavily in the development of the technology to unlock breakthroughs in our ability to produce this type of energy reliably. Once they manage this, the technology will need to be scaled up from a robust foundation. As technology developers and not manufacturers, Tokamak Energy sought support to help them establish a manufacturing concept with a focus on defining production processes, potential failure modes and control plans, and the formalization and modelling of the manufacturing process to ensure it is repeatable and stable.
WHY WERE HSSMI BROUGHT IN?
HSSMI are experienced in defining manufacturing processes for new technologies and where significant uncertainty exists. We have proven this capability in working across Hydrogen fuel cell, electrolyser, and battery cell manufacturing projects. Tokamak Energy were looking for a partner with experience in the definition of manufacturing processes to automotive standards and the rigours to which it works to. Much of HSSMI’s team has extensive experience working at global automotive OEMs on the compliance of standards such as ISO/TS 16949 and ISO 9001, and the use of methodologies such as AQPQ. It was because of this experience that HSSMI was chosen to support the Tokamak Energy team.
WHAT DID HSSMI DO TO DELIVER THE RESULTS?
During the first phase of the project, several manufacturing and coil design concepts were analysed. Through a structured process, two options were down selected for further detailing and formalisation.
A detailed Bill of Processes (BoP) of the manufacturing process was created and the team undertook a Process Failure Mode and Effect Analysis of the process using our in house PFMEA tool. To minimize or eliminate some of the risks, critical process care points were identified and a control plan developed.
From the conceptual mechanical model, a virtual simulation model was developed to show the inner workings of the system. The simulation process enabled the team to understand the complexity of the coil manufacturing process in depth and develop the tooling requirements.
WHAT WERE THE OUTPUTS?
- As part of our delivery, the following support was provided:
- Multiple process alternatives down selection process, using draft PFMEAs and Pugh matrix to drive decision making.
- Winding system definition and detailed level description.
- Complete Bill of Process.
- Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis.
- Critical Quality Control Plan.
- High Level 3D CAD Model of the system and basic design of some components.
- Dynamic modeling of the system inoperation.
- VR Model for size and physical evaluations.
WHAT IMPACT DID THIS MAKE?
Based on our approach a specific winding process was selected. It was designed and updated with several iterations to suit Tokamak Energy’s needs.
The virtual model that was created provides the baseline to develop the detailed design of the system for manufacturing and assembly of the winding system. This will be evaluated by Tokamak Energy during the next phase of the project.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FUSION?
- Fuel abundance: the fuels used in fusion reactions are effectively inexhaustible.
- Baseload power: fusion energy does not rely on external factors such as wind or sun, which makes it available whenever needed.
- High fuel efficiency: fusion produces more energy per gram of fuel than any other process that could be achieved on Earth.
- Carbon-free: helium is the only by-product of fusion and so greenhouse gases are not produced in the reaction.
- No chain reaction: fusion is not based on a chain reaction so a fusion facility can be switched off and the process would stop within seconds.
- Shorter lived waste: fusion facilities do not produce the long lived, high level radioactive waste resulted from the fission process.
(Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (2021) Towards fusion energy: The UK fusion strategy, GOV.UK.)
Contact us today for a short initial conversation on how HSSMI can help your organisation achieve its strategic goals.