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First Light Fusion, Oxford


Non-Conductive and Non-Corrosive GRP Composite Fabrication | Case Study

Project: Bespoke GRP Access Structure, Oxfordshire, UK

Client: First Light Fusion

First Light Fusion is an Oxford-based research company which believes that its unique projectile fusion approach offers the fastest, simplest and cheapest route to commercial fusion power.

The company’s goal has been to achieve fusion by using shockwaves, inspired by the pistol shrimp, which clicks its claw to produce a shockwave known as inertial confinement. In May 2022, the company successfully achieved fusion, with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) independently validating the achievement.

Central to the company’s operations is Machine 3, an electromagnetic launch device that allows projectiles to be launched at different velocities. Machine 3 has a structure which was fabricated from non-conductive and non-corrosive Glass Reinforced Polymer (GRP) by composite fabrication experts Dura Composites, and is capable of discharging 200,000 volts and in excess of 14 million amperes within two microseconds. This ‘shot’, which is equivalent to around 500 simultaneous lightning strikes, fires a projectile at a small target containing a tiny amount of fuel, collapsing a cavity and superheating the plasma to achieve fusion.

The structure was fabricated from Dura Composites’ GRP Dura Profile range, which includes Angle, Channel, Beam, Box and Tube sections. Weighing significantly less than steel, Dura Profile offers equivalent performance for considerably less weight. This results in major cost savings due to more economical transportation, handling and on-site fitting.

It is fast becoming the material of choice for work platforms, ladders, handrailing, cable trays, flow sub-structures and more, thanks to its corrosion-resistant, high strength, low weight, non-conductive and UV resistant characteristics.

Commenting on the successful project, Paul Holligan at Head of Pulsed Power at First Light Fusion said:

 

By incorporating a non-conducting material in the structural elements of M3 we greatly reduced the design risk and allowed enhanced performance when dealing with extremely high voltages and an architecture of this type. Dura Composites offered an excellent product and exceptional support through all stages from design to installation. We were looking for suppliers who shared our vision and dedication, and Dura Composites delivered and contributed to the success of this high profile project.

Speaking about Dura Composites’ role in fabricating the structure which houses the M3 Machine, Chris Tate, Commercial Fabrication Manager at Dura Composites said:

This was an amazing project to be part of. First Light Fusion’s vital work is bringing the goal of delivering energy which is safe, clean and virtually limitless ever-closer.

 

We are delighted that our CAD and Fabrication experts were able to produce and bring to life a design that met the demands of such a complex project.

Unlocking the Power of Composites™ for Power and Energy Projects

UK Business & Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said:

First Light Fusion’s British-born technology could potentially revolutionise power production in the coming decades. That is why the government is investing in UK science and innovation, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of the global scientific endeavour to make safe, clean, limitless fusion energy a reality.

As projects like this demonstrate, adopting new technologies, processes and solutions within the transmission network is crucial to enabling an energy system that’s fit for anticipated demand and for ensuring continuity of power. GRP composites can provide major design flexibility, time saving benefits and significant lifecycle advantages over traditional materials such as plywood, hardwood and concrete, and recent clarification of key standards areas such as fire performance have made them more accessible than ever. Applications for GRP within the Energy and Utilities Sector include GRP flooring, handrails, trench and duct covers, up and over staircases, utility screening and roof walkways.

Discover the benefits of d2 Dura Grating

Designed, developed and manufactured by Dura Composites, d2 Dura Grating offers outstanding safety, performance and durability and is more cost-effective than traditional GRP grating in almost every scenario.

It can be applied in all industries where GRP mesh grating is used today and has an industry-leading Class Bfl-s1 fire rating as standard (in accordance with BS EN 13501). As with all our grating, it can be supplied with a range of stainless steel clips, clamps and hold down fixings to suit all install scenarios.

A comprehensive range of load testing data is also available within our searchable Online Product Selector database to help you make decisions based on real data to ensure maximum safety for your project.

  • Micro Mesh: 23mm
  • Mini Mesh: 23mm, 35mm, 45mm & 55mm
  • Standard Mesh: 26mm, 38mm & 50mm
  • Solid Top (Covered): 29mm, 41mm & 53mm

Contact Chris Tate our Fabrications Commercial Manager for GRP Access Solutions and Fabrication Services

Dura Composites’ highly experienced team offer a tried and tested Fabrication Service  – including build, supply & installation.

Call us on 01255 446824