Former Rolls Royce Senior Executive takes up CEO position
Former Rolls Royce Senior Executive takes up CEO position at fusion energy innovator Tokamak Energy.
Jonathan Carling appointed as CEO to UK firm accelerating fusion energy development
Tokamak Energy, the Company developing the world’s first compact high field spherical Tokamak, has today announced the appointment of Jonathan Carling, former COO, Civil Large Engines at Rolls Royce, as CEO.
Carling, who has previously held the roles of Executive Vice President at Rolls Royce, COO at Aston Martin and Chief Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover, brings extensive engineering and business experience to Tokamak Energy which aims to achieve commercial scale fusion power within eight years. Jonathan takes over from current CEO and co-founder Dr. David Kingham, who moves to the role of Executive Vice Chairman at the Oxford based engineering firm.
Tokamak Energy has a five-stage plan to produce fusion power. The next step is to reach plasma temperatures of 100 million degrees in 2018. The plan is then to demonstrate fusion conditions within three years and demonstrate the commercial viability of fusion power by 2025. The company will raise additional capital in 2018 to deliver exceptionally high temperature plasmas and fusion conditions.
“Jonathan’s experience as a COO in world leading engineering businesses will be immensely valuable as we aim to demonstrate the commercial potential of fusion power in a spherical tokamak with high temperature superconducting magnets” said Dr. David Kingham, Executive Vice Chairman of Tokamak Energy.
Jonathan Carling, CEO of Tokamak Energy, commented, “Thanks to the commitment and expertise of its world-class team of scientists and engineers, the company’s approach of combining spherical tokamaks with high temperature superconductors has already been shown to be a viable route to commercial fusion.
The way the leadership team have gone about developing the science and technology foundations of the company is very impressive and I am excited to be joining the company, to help make fusion energy a commercial reality.”
Dr. Chris Martin, Chairman of Tokamak Energy, added, “I am delighted that Jonathan has joined Tokamak Energy as the company transitions from physics proof of concept to delivering a complex commercial power source. Tokamak Energy stands on the shoulders of giants with a plan that integrates physics and engineering from fusion, magnet design, advanced control and AI into a compact commercial fusion reactor.”
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- About Tokamak Energy
Tokamak Energy is a private company working to develop compact fusion power. The firm has established a world class team of magnet engineers and fusion experts from globally renowned public and private institutions, and is led by an experienced management team with extensive high-tech business and engineering experience.
Tokamak Energy grew out from Culham Laboratory, which is the world’s leading centre for magnetic fusion energy research and home to the world’s most powerful tokamak, JET, which produced 16MW of fusion power in 1997. Tokamak Energy is particularly focused on spherical tokamaks, pioneered at Culham, because these compact devices can achieve a much higher plasma pressure for a given magnetic field than conventional tokamaks, i.e. they are more efficient.
Adding to this design, Tokamak Energy is deploying high temperature superconductors as magnets to control the plasma within its devices. These allow high magnetic fields to be created in compact tokamaks, further improving the efficiency of the device. Tokamak Energy has proven the ‘compact, spherical tokamak’ is a viable route to fusion through two of the most widely-read papers in the Nuclear Fusion Journal:
Tokamak Energy is following a five-stage plan towards producing fusion power:
- Stage 1: Build a small prototype tokamak to demonstrate the concept (the ST25) – achieved 2013.
- Stage 2: Build a tokamak with exclusively high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets (the ST25 HTS) – achieved 2015.
- Stage 3: Reach fusion temperatures of 100 million degrees in a compact tokamak (the ST40), in 2018, followed by further development of the ST40 in 2019 to produce high density plasmas approaching close to fusion energy gain conditions.
- Stage 4: Achieve first electricity with a ‘Fusion Power Demonstrator’ by 2025.
- Stage 5: Produce commercially viable fusion power with the first ‘Fusion Power Module’ by 2030.
In 2017, Tokamak Energy was selected by the International Energy Agency (IEA) as one of three leading innovative ideas in fusion. It was the only UK representative invited to speak at the IEA’s meeting on developing fusion power, and Tokamak Energy’s CEO at the time, Dr David Kingham, presented the company’s vision and why it is the most realistic route to fusion power.
Tokamak Energy has raised private investment of £22 million to date, with investors including, Legal & General Capital, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and David Harding, the billionaire founder of Winton, the science-based global investment manager.
Tokamak Energy has an eminent Scientific Advisory Board chaired by Lord Julian Hunt FRS. Members include Professor Jack Connor FRS (one of the most influential theoretical plasma physicists in fusion), Professor George Smith FRS (emeritus professor of materials at the University of Oxford), Professor Bill Lee FREng (Director of the Centre for Nuclear Engineering at Imperial College London) and Professor Colin Windsor FRS (a neutronics and neural networks specialist).
Tokamak Energy has science and engineering offices at Culham and Milton Park, Oxfordshire and a tokamak engineering facility and superconducting magnet development laboratory at Milton Park.
- About fusion
Fusion is the reaction that powers the stars. Energy is released when two small particles come together and fuse into one larger particle. In experiments on Earth, these small particles are the nuclei of deuterium and tritium – types of heavy hydrogen – and they fuse together to make a helium nucleus. The waste product of fusion is helium, which is perfectly safe. Fusion produces no greenhouse gases and no long-lived radioactive waste yet it produces vast amounts of energy from very little fuel. The lithium from a laptop battery combined with the deuterium in half a bath of water could supply as much energy at 70 tonnes of coal. As such it offers a clean, green and plentiful energy solution if it can be harnessed on Earth.
For fusion reactions to happen the deuterium and tritium must be very hot, so that the particles are moving so fast that if they collide they will overcome the mutual repulsion they feel for each other and get close enough to fuse. At JET, the world’s largest operating tokamak, which once produced 16MW of fusion power, the fuel is heated to more than 100 million degrees – 7 times hotter than the centre of the Sun! Tokamak Energy, based just 5 miles away from JET, is now aiming to achieve this temperature in much smaller, cheaper tokamaks.
Magnetic fields are used to keep the superheated fuel (now an electrically charged gas called plasma) from touching the walls of its container and so keep it hot enough for fusion to occur. If the plasma does hit the wall it is not dangerous, it just cools down and everything stops. The specialised machines used for fusion are called ‘tokamaks’.
- About tokamaks
‘Tokamak’ is a Russian acronym that stands for toroidal chamber magnetic coils, which concisely describes the machine – a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) vessel with magnetic coils to trap and control the plasma. When they were introduced in the 1960s, tokamaks showed dramatically improved performance over the other methods being investigated. They heated and trapped the fuel much better than other approaches such as pinches. Tokamaks were rapidly adopted by many international research teams and have remained the front runners in fusion research ever since