UKAEA Fusion - STEP Reactor Shielding Design

Cerberus Nuclear and Assystem have been selected to deliver the STEP Reactor In-board Shield Design as part of the STEP Engineering Framework.

Cerberus’s neutronics and radiation transport expertise will play a key role working alongside Assystem’s well-established fusion experience in thermal and mechanical analysis.

The project concerns the extreme environment within the central column of the STEP fusion reactor where temperatures can range from over 100 million of degrees Celsius within the plasma to less than -200 degrees within just a few metres.

Tokamak Reactor MCNP® Geometry, produced using Cyclone™ Viewer by Orthrus Software.
Example Plasma Source & Neutron Interaction Cross Section used in Neutronics Calculations.

Cerberus Nuclear and Assystem are working closely with the STEP research team at UKAEA to develop radiation shielding and cooling strategies within the in-board shield section of the central column. The overall aim is to protect the sensitive toroidal magnets within the central column that work to contain the high temperature plasma. Cerberus role involves optimisation of the shielding to maximise the operational lifetime of these crucial reactor components. Using our knowledge and expertise in neutronics transport as well as interaction cross sections will be simulating a wide variety of arrangements to support continued development.

The delivery of this project is key in advancing the STEP fusion reactor design to the next phase, moving us closer to achieving a commercially viable fusion power plant.

“We are pleased to be working alongside Cerberus Nuclear on this key aspect of STEP. Collectively we will pool the engineering and design expertise, and specialist knowledge needed to ensure success in this project.

“Assystem is a well-established fusion engineering company working on multiple international projects, and we are invested in the UK’s ambition to accelerate progress in the development of this game-changing technology.”

Gary Reed, Transitional Energy Business Manager, Assystem

In its 13 countries of operation, Assystem’s 6,000+ experts are supporting energy transition. To achieve an affordable low-carbon energy supply, Assystem is committed to the development of decarbonised electricity (nuclear, renewables and electricity grids) and clean hydrogen. The Group is also helping drive the use of decarbonised electricity in industrial sectors such as transportation. Assystem is currently ranked as the second nuclear engineering group in the world.

"Cerberus is very proud to be contributing to such a noteworthy project with worldwide importance.

The skills and experience we have in-house regarding radiation shielding is uniquely suited to support the project. Working closely with our colleagues at Assystem we look forward to the challenge of what will be a highly significant and exciting project.”

Daniel Cork, Director, Cerberus Nuclear

Cerberus Nuclear is an SME dedicated to radiation shielding, criticality safety and nuclear characterisation. Founded in 2016 we have grown rapidly to establish ourselves as an industry leader with a reputation for innovation and promoting good practice.

Our team has supported a wide range of projects within the civil nuclear, fusion, medical, research and defence sectors. Our mission is to “to provide high quality technical solutions with an emphasis on creativity and innovation. We achieve this by being an exemplary employer of talented individuals”

Featured image of STEP courtesy of UKAEA. Example tokamak reactor was based upon ITER Project Paper (2020) and Paramak ITER 2020 reactor model.

OpenMC Fusion Technology Course

Cerberus Nuclear recently provided OpenMC support to the Fusion CDT course at the University of York. As part of the course the students attend a week-long fusion technology module to learn about all aspects fusion including reactor technology, plasma physics and neutronics modelling. The week concluded with a workshop on the open-source neutronics transport code OpenMC

The OpenMC workshop was run by John Billingsley (Cerberus Nuclear) and Jon Shimwell (Firstlight Fusion). Together they presented a course on OpenMC teaching fusion neutronic transport analysis as well as providing the students with valuable insights from their industry experience. 

The students covered the use of Paramak for fusion reactor parametric geometry creation.

The workshop was aimed at beginners covering a wide range of topics including transport theory, running neutronic simulations, understanding material cross-sections, creating simulation geometries, scoring tallies, source definitions plus many more. 

The course was very well attended with students from master's to PhD level looking to gain industry experience and knowledge related to the exciting and rapidly developing field of nuclear fusion.

"After delivering the workshop remotely in 2021, it was great to be back at University of York. The workshop was a great success, with students developing from having little or no neutronics knowledge at all, to having a fundamental understanding of neutronics and its application, and being able to perform a variety of studies using OpenMC.

Many thanks to Prof. Bruce Lipschultz for inviting us back."

John Billingsley, Cerberus Nuclear

To find out more check out the links to OpenMC and University of York Fusion CDT.

Images: docs.openmc.org & paramak.readthedocs.io