SBRI: UKAEA Fusion industry challenges prototype development

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £5.6m to develop solutions for fusion fuel cycle services which use Lithium.

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Projects can range in size up to total costs of £1.5m inc VAT. SBRI competitions involve procurement of R&D services at a fair market value, so up to 100% of costs can be covered.



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This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA).

This funding programme will support the UK’s leadership in economic, sustainable, and scalable fusion energy.

The aim of this competition is to encourage innovation in the development of Lithium in an economic, sustainable, and scalable fusion energy fuel cycle.

  • To lead a project, you can:

    • be an organisation of any size
    • work alone or with others from business, research organisations, research and technology organisations or the third sector as subcontractors

    Contracts will be awarded to a single legal entity only.

    Your project must:

    • start by 1 October 2023
    • end by 31 March 2025
    • last between 6 to 18 months
    • have total costs of up to £1.5 million, inclusive of VAT

    This competition will award up to 4 contracts to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for up to 18 months. Up to £1.5 million, inclusive of VAT, will be allocated for each contract.

  • The aim of this competition is to encourage innovation in the development of Lithium in an economic, sustainable, and scalable fusion energy fuel cycle.

    Your project must evidence that initial feasibility work has been undertaken in line with the theme of this competition.

    Your proposal must:

    • reduce the risk involved in the take up of new technologies
    • outline plans to accelerate time to market
    • be pre-commercial
    • explain the rationale for the solution and describe the expected impact
    • define how the proposed solution would enable and support the delivery of sustainable fusion power plants
    • demonstrate a clear plan for commercialisation with a route to market for affordable, developed solutions
    • describe how solutions can be tested in a representative or real world
    • explain how any potentially negative outcomes would be managed, such as on the environment or society
    • demonstrate how you will work with at least one potential future customer throughout your project
    • how export control and regulation will be addressed

    Your solution must:

    • be based on sound fundamental technical principles
    • be innovative
    • be practical and deliverable
    • take affordability into consideration
    • demonstrate the potential for cost-effectiveness
    • integrate with existing systems where necessary
    • consider user experience throughout the design and development process

    Preference will be given to applications which:

    • help the innovation be formally accepted for future use in a fusion plant environment, for example by obtaining relevant regulatory certificates
    • offer innovations which consider existing infrastructure and potential interfaces

    Contracts will be given to successful applicants.

    You must demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results.

  • Your project can focus on one or more of the following:

    Isotopic Enrichment

    Technologies that can enrich the proportion of the minor isotope Lithium-6.

    Examples of performance measures that would constitute an improvement over existing Lithium enrichment technologies include:

    • product quality
    • economics, such as production rate, capital cost, energy and resource consumption or value of co-products
    • environmental and worker protection

    Tritium Extraction

    Technologies that can extract Tritium from a Lithium breeding material and make it available, fast and efficient enough to fuel the ongoing Deuterium-Tritium (DT) reaction.

    Performance parameters relevant to a fusion energy plant’s fuel cycle system include:

    • rate of extraction
    • continuous operation
    • availability of recovered Tritium
    • energy cost

    Conversion and Manufacturing

    Technologies or techniques that can convert Lithium from the form available in existing supply chains into either:

    • a form suitable for an isotopic enrichment process
    • a form required by the Tritium breeding system of a fusion energy plant

    Aspects relevant to a sustainable and competitive supply chain include:

    • raw material input forms
    • product output forms
    • potential to recycle Lithium, both from other sectors in fusion, and after its use in a fusion energy plant
  • An online briefing event was held at 10am on Monday 5th June: click here to watch the recording.

    If you want help to find an organisation to work with, contact Ray Chegwin, KTM Nuclear, at Innovate UK KTN.


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