Stainless steel is finding itself at the forefront of cutting edge energy generation technology thanks to new developments in fusion energy, led by ITER – a collaboration between 35 different countries. The device will be the first of its kind to generate ‘net energy’ (the heat output will be greater than the energy input).
The ‘tokamak’ as it is known is a device that utilises strong magnetic fields to control the collision of particles at the atomic level, forcing them to fuse and generate a huge amount of heat. This heat is then applied in a similar way to traditional power stations to turn water to high pressurised steam and drive electricity-generating turbines.
Fusion energy offers the possibility of long term renewable energy without the ongoing reliance on fossil fuels, problematic nuclear fission, or expensive low yield sources like hydro energy or wind farms.
Inside the tokamak fusion reactor, the huge amount of heat produced is transmitted from the inside to the outside, through the stainless steel walls of the vessel. The stainless steel is the ideal choice for the vacuum vessel which is hermetically sealed and acts as the first safety containment barrier, due to its inherent strength to contain the violent fusion reactions, and also its ability to avoid any issues with corrosion.
Whilst we don’t produce anything as complex as Fusion Reactors, many of our stainless steel laboratory solutions, such as our laboratory sinks and fume cupboard liners are cutting edge and used by leading labs throughout the UK, including the likes of Imperial College London, Salford University and Procter & Gamble.