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Of Interest

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Fusion codes and standards

"Consistency will accelerate global innovation"

The development of commonly agreed codes and standards for fusion goes right to the heart of ITER's vision of collaboration, recognizing the exceptional dynamism of the new fusion ecosystem and emphasizing the vital importance of public/private cooperation in the important years ahead.

Panelists are introduced by ITER Chief Strategist Takayoshi Omae. From left to right: Sayed Ashraf, Special Assistant to the Director General at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Sehila M. Gonzalez de Vicente, Clean Air Task Force, global director for fusion energy; and Jonathan Musgrove, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Oxford Sigma. (Photo Christian Lünig) (Click to view larger version...)
Panelists are introduced by ITER Chief Strategist Takayoshi Omae. From left to right: Sayed Ashraf, Special Assistant to the Director General at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Sehila M. Gonzalez de Vicente, Clean Air Task Force, global director for fusion energy; and Jonathan Musgrove, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Oxford Sigma. (Photo Christian Lünig)
Fusion codes are sets of rules that will serve as generally accepted guidelines for the evolving fusion industry to follow. They will cover critical areas such as the safety and security characteristics of fusion plants, and deliver clarity on the respective roles of governments, research institutions, the private sector, regulators and other stakeholders. They will ensure that systems are reliable and secure. On their own, codes are not laws that must be followed, but they can be adopted into formal legislation.

Fusion standards for their part are sets of technical guidelines and definitions which will help instruct designers, manufacturers or operators of fusion research facilities or power plants.

In essence, fusion codes will show what needs to be done, and fusion standards will demonstrate how it should be done. In an area as complex, wide-ranging and consequential as fusion energy, the codes and standards need to be developed by a diverse international group of experts and institutions, including regulators, policy makers, public and private organizations, scientific establishments, and engineers from laboratories and experimental centres.

The importance of cooperation in codes and standards was highlighted significantly at last week's Private Sector Fusion Workshop during presentations delivered by the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) and Oxford Sigma.

Developing standards for fusion is part of Clean Air Task Force's global fusion program, established early last year. "Fusion is now becoming an industrial sector, and we need to ensure standardization across the industry," said Sehila M. Gonzalez de Vicente, global director for fusion energy. "This is crucial, because it will help us reduce risks, reduce costs, and improve quality. Standardization will also lead to better communication between all the different players during the preparation and execution of highly complex fusion programs."

The CATF fusion standardization project seeks to enhance cost-effectiveness and overall competitiveness of the sector; improve quality and safety; apply proven and recognized requirements and methods to reduce risk and guarantee interoperability; facilitate communication; and reflect user needs and feedback in the development of fusion standards.

Transversal developments, like cooperation on codes and standards, can support the fusion ecosystem as a whole. Organizations like the Clean Air Task Force and Oxford Sigma were present at the Private Sector Fusion Workshop to relay to participants some of the efforts being made in this direction. (Photo Christian Lünig) (Click to view larger version...)
Transversal developments, like cooperation on codes and standards, can support the fusion ecosystem as a whole. Organizations like the Clean Air Task Force and Oxford Sigma were present at the Private Sector Fusion Workshop to relay to participants some of the efforts being made in this direction. (Photo Christian Lünig)
Gonzalez places particular emphasis on the critical importance of international collaboration. "When we're developing a common set of consistent standards, global collaboration is absolutely key," she said. "This is what we're aiming to achieve at the Clean Air Task Force, and ITER should play a central role here, as it has the most complete knowledge and experience in building a fusion machine. ITER's experience is unique in ensuring quality and dealing with all the different industries providing the high-tech components."

"We also need to get out of the comfort zone of the fusion community, and reach out beyond it to new stakeholders, including people working to combat climate change," she added.

Jonathan Musgrove, Co-Founder and COO of Oxford Sigma, introduced the audience to the latest developments of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler & Pressure Vessel (BPV) Code, Section III, Division 4.

ASME's BPV Code Section III, in use since 1956, is designed for nuclear pressure retaining components. Division 4 of the code will focus on fusion energy devices, as existing nuclear codes and standards for construction do not adequately cover the design, manufacturing or construction of fusion energy devices currently being considered as future pilot plants.

These new rules for fusion energy devices apply to pressure-retaining structures such as: vacuum vessels; cryostats; resistive/superconductor magnet structures, and in-vessel components (divertors, breeders, first-wall tiles); as well as to their interactions with each other. The new framework also covers elements at the component level: support structures, including metallic and non-metallic materials; containment or confinement structures; piping; vessels; valves; pumps; and supports.

The first edition of the code was published in July 2023, with the second edition due in 2027. It will provide a balanced and representative view, Musgrove says, from private fusion companies/vendors, operators, supply chain providers, national regulators, national laboratories, governments and universities. Oxford Sigma is actively involved in helping develop the code to make it an international standard for fusion pressure systems.

"The code will be applicable to all types of fusion technologies, not just tokamaks," said Musgrove. "It's all about pressure-retaining components, and not technology choices such as fuel or confinement type."

ITER Director-General Pietro Barabaschi recognizes the importance of these "transversal" developments that can support the ecosystem as a whole. "It is my firm belief that ITER should not only focus on building a research infrastructure, but it should also be a leader in consolidating the acquired 'know-how' relevant to building a fusion device. Having a consistent set of fusion codes and standards will help to accelerate global innovation, and we at ITER are ready to contribute our decades of experience to this goal by supporting all those undertaking this work, in any way we can."

Interested parties are invited to contact the Clean Air Task Force at info@catf.us or Oxford Sigma at thomas.davis@oxfordsigma.com.



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