Getting to grips with using tritium

Nine kilometers south of Oxford, England, near the small town of Culham, a facility is currently under construction that could make a significant contribution to tomorrow’s energy supply – the world’s first tritium research center.

Tritium – also known as hydrogen-3 – holds great promise. It could be one of the fuels used in the next generation of fusion power plants. This is why the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has commissioned the construction of a tritium research facility at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. Dubbed H3AT (Hydrogen-3 Advanced Technology), the facility will be dedicated to researching tritium processing, storage and recycling as well as developing technologies for its use. 

H3AT will be the first facility to offer a closedloop research system. All the technology needed for studying tritium will be located at a single site. As a result, for instance, a wide range of experimental work, component testing, waste management, computer-aided simulations and model validation will be possible. This makes H3AT a precursor to the multinational ITER fusion project, which is currently being built in southern France.

This is a prestigious contract for Bilfinger UK Ltd and a high point in the close, nearly one-year long collaboration with UKAEA/DBD. It’s a testimony to our automation expertise and the role that Bilfinger is playing in the future of clean energy.

Steve Lang, Director for Automation & Digital Solutions at Bilfinger UK

DBD Ltd. and Bilfinger UK with developing, supplying and installing the mechanical and electrical components for the new research center. Bilfinger UK is in charge of developing and supplying a standardized control system for H3AT, including third-party systems for concept planning, manufacturing, factory testing, installation and commissioning the integrated control systems. The technology provided by Bilfinger UK is based on a distributed control system developed by experts at Bilfinger UK’s Chesterfield office.

Once completed, H3AT will not only provide academic and industry representatives with extensive tritium testing systems and training facilities but will also help grow the UK industry by advancing technology, expertise and skills.

Hydrogen-3 Advanced Technology

Further articles from issue 04.2020