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Jacobs extends engagement with UK, French-based nuclear fusion research projects

Photo ITER.

Energy consulting, engineering and construction services firm Jacobs has won more than $25 million in contracts focused on research into nuclear fusion in Europe.

Fusion for Energy (F4E), ITER Organization and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) have hired Dallas-based Jacobs to support the fusion research. Fusion could offer a carbon-free, high-capacity power generation resource if developed and controlled, according to reports.

Among the projects, Jacobs will expand its efforts with ITER in the world’s largest fusion energy project in Saint-Paul- lès-Durance, France as part of a consortium with Orano Projects and the Madrid-based Universidad Nacional de Educatión a Distancia. The focus is on minimizing operator exposure to radiation during planned maintenance activities.

“These new contracts add to our considerable, long-term contribution to the ITER project and keep us at the forefront of nuclear fusion, which could provide future generations with a clean, safe and virtually unlimited source of energy,” said Jacobs Critical Mission Solutions International Senior Vice President Clive White. “As innovators with a combination of fusion-specific and cross-sector engineering experience, we are focused on delivering long-term efficiency and schedule certainty for this important project.”

As part of an existing contract with ITER Organization, Jacobs is developing and supplying technology to monitor for corrosion in the hermetically sealed vacuum vessel that houses the fusion reactions. This contract also includes the production of safety documentation for submission to French regulators.

In addition, Jacobs has been awarded a framework contract to provide ITER Organization with engineering support in relation to the Tokamak Complex Detritiation System, which is key to decontamination and fuel recycling.

Fusion for Energy is working on The European Union contribution to ITER’s effort. Jacobs’ support is in demonstrating safe operating and maintenance methods for helium-cooled pebble bed test blanker technology and construction design of the hydrogen monitoring system in the Tokamak and Tritium buildings of the ITER machine.

ITER has called the Tokamak the most complex  and powerful fusion machine in the world, with more than one million components and 10 million parts. The goal is to produce 500 MW of fusion power (the same reaction which powers the sun) from 50 MW of input heating power.

Illustration courtesy Duke Energy

Jacobs has been involved in the ITER project for more than 20 years. Among its contributions including plasma-facing first wall panels, test blanket modules, remote handling systems and decontamination, among others.

In the United Kingdom, Jacobs is expanding its support for the UKAEA’s research into design, engineering and manufacturing of components for fusion power stations. The $18.4 million contract tasks Jacobs with designing and building a test facility to replicate typical fusion conditions of extreme heat flux, high-pressure cooling and strong electromagnetic fields.