Canadian and Japanese firms join forces for nuclear fusion

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Japanese company Kyoto Fusioneering Ltd (KF) for the delivery of technical services to support the growing international fusion reactor market.

Under the MoU, the Canadian nuclear science and technology organisation will work with the Japanese fusion technologies start-up to identify and co-develop fusion products and services, helping to accelerate the progression of fusion as a source of clean energy. 

It covers cooperation in areas including the exchange of scientific information; the shared use of technical equipment and facilities; the delivery of joint research projects; and the exchange of technical personnel, and aims to provide fusion developers with better access to testing and demonstration equipment, making the most of CNL and KF’s complementary capabilities.

KF was created out of Kyoto University in 2019 as Japan’s first fusion start-up, to develop advanced technologies for commercial fusion reactors building on decades of university research. 

One of the advanced technologies the company is developing for commercial fusion reactors is tritium fuel cycle technologies and breeding blankets for tritium production and power generation.

Tritium is an isotope of hydrogen that will provide the fuel for many fusion reactor designs. 

“CNL is currently exploring plans to establish an internationally unique fusion fuel cycle and demonstration loop at the Chalk River Laboratories campus,” CNL Vice-President of Science and Technology Jeff Griffin said. 

“This partnership with Kyoto Fusioneering could build on this work and contribute to the setup of a demonstration-scale test loop, which would combine elements of Kyoto Fusioneering’s Unique Integrated Testing Facility (UNITY) concept with CNL’s expertise in the fusion fuel cycle.”

“Kyoto Fusioneering is providing solutions for fusion energy based on innovative and unique research from Kyoto University and high quality Japanese industrial technology,” KF CEO Taka Nagao added, noting that the cooperation with CNL “will provide a very strong and important contribution to the international development of fusion energy, which has the potential to solve key energy and environmental problems on this planet”.

Earlier this month, KF signed an agreement with the UK Atomic Energy Authority to develop fusion-related technologies, with plans to develop a fusion-grade silicon carbide composite system.

The agreement is the latest in a recent series of fusion-related projects announced by CNL, including working with private fusion developer General Fusion on joint projects to accelerate the deployment of commercial fusion power in Canada and an agreement with UK-based First Light Fusion to design a system for extracting tritium from a planned 60 MW pilot power plant reactor.

“Our best approach to confront climate change here in Canada and around the world is by working together, and sharing our technical knowledge and resources in the pursuit of next-generation clean energy solutions,” said CNL President and CEO Joe McBrearty. “That is at the heart of this agreement with Kyoto Fusioneering, an incredibly talented and ambitious company which shares our optimism in fusion power. Working together, we hope to accelerate this promising new technology, by providing fusion vendors with access to the products and services they need to develop, qualify and deploy their technologies.”