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‘Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production’ (STEP) aims to deliver a prototype fusion reactor with the potential to provide unlimited clean energy.

Professor Edmund Tarleton

Professor Tarleton (Department of Materials/Department of Engineering Science) is one of three new Royal Academy of Engineering Senior Research Fellows announced today. He will be working on STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production), which is part of a wider project ('Design by Fundamentals') addressing the significant lack of relevant data on the materials response to yet unchartered, extreme, fusion environments. Once the first generation of fusion reactors is operational, it will be possible to gather this data. STEP is an ambitious programme designed to accelerate progress on a prototype fusion reactor, with the aim of making fusion energy a reality. Working with the UK Atomic Energy Agency UKAEA), it will apply the latest breakthroughs in materials modelling to stimulate the behaviour of irradiated engineering alloys, in order to inform reactor design.

Specifically, STEP will look at how metals form and break, which will require writing computer code to solve equations, running computer simulations and comparing predictions with experiments to validate the model.  

Professor Tarleton has been working on fusion materials since he joined the University of Oxford as a graduate student, and this five-year Senior Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering will give him the opportunity to enhance the impact of his work. 

As Professor Tarleton says: "Fusion is a really exciting technology; it's the natural power source for the universe as it powers the stars. If we can harness it on Earth, it will have a huge positive impact on the world." 

Altogether the Royal Academy of Engineering is supporting eight new joint industry-academia research partnerships that will address some of the most complex challenges facing modern engineers.

Commenting on the latest announcement of five new Research Chairs and three Senior Research Fellows, Professor Karen Holford CBE FREng FLSW, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor, Cranfield University and Chair of the Academy’s Research Committee, says: “It is very encouraging that one of the Academy’s longest established funding programmes - now in its 35th year - received among its strongest set of applications to date and the number of awards we have made this time reflects this. I remain endlessly impressed at just how creative engineers are at investigating solutions to real-world problems and these projects will deliver societal benefit not only in the UK but also globally. The partnerships that support innovative engineering like this are vital to our future health and prosperity and the Academy values them very highly.”

See the full list of new Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellowships

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