The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and digiLab today announced a five-year strategic collaboration that will develop unique “uncertainty quantification” capability, specifically targeting fusion powerplant design.
Fusion – described as the ultimate energy source and based on the same process that powers the sun and stars - promises to be an environmentally responsible part of the world’s future energy supply.
UKAEA’s Advanced Computing team will work with digiLab, an innovation company delivering next-generation data science, to develop skills and tools that will enrich the engineering digital thread, which is the trail of calculations, decisions and information that underpins engineering design.
Developing trust in simulation capability is key to being able to design fusion technologies “in-silico” without the need for expensive and time-consuming test-based design. The ultimate aim is to endow the design process with data and information quantifying uncertainty, so that risk can be intelligently managed with a more probabilistic approach taken to fusion powerplant design.
Dr. Anhad Sandhu, CEO of digiLab, said: "This is a major step for two reasons; 1) It shows a shift in commercial thinking around the need for UQ and data-driven design and, 2) It is a milestone achievement and an opportunity for us to redefine the way decision-makers look at uncertainty and use it to make smarter decisions.”
UKAEA is responsible for STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) the UK’s first prototype fusion powerplant that will pave the way for commercial development and showcase how a future fusion power station could be operated and maintained.
Dr Robert Akers, Head of Advanced Computing at UKAEA, summarised the importance of this collaboration. He said: “Accurately quantifying uncertainty in our simulations so that we have the confidence to make well-reasoned decisions at the early stages of fusion design is an important step in making fusion energy a safe, sustainable, and low carbon component of the world’s future energy supply. I am incredibly excited about working with digiLab as a new, pioneering SME on this strategically important part of our mission.”
UKAEA carries out fusion energy research on behalf of the UK Government and hosts the world’s largest fusion research facility, JET (Joint European Torus), which announced record-breaking sustainable fusion energy results earlier this year.