Sucess Story

Empowering the Grid: MARTe’s Journey from Fusion to Smart Energy

Fusion control software MARTe has emerged as a transformative solution for addressing the challenges of dynamic supply and demand scenarios in the energy sector. Developed as the Multi-threaded Application Real-Time executor, MARTe originally found its roots in the demanding environment of fusion tokamaks, specifically designed for the Joint European Torus (JET) project by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in 1995.

Interior of the vacuum vessel of JET (Joint European Torus)

Fusion tokamaks, with their extreme conditions and sensitive plasma, require constant monitoring and control of parameters such as plasma heating, fueling, and magnet management. MARTe was initially created to meet these demanding requirements, offering a modular and multi-platform framework for real-time control systems software. In 2010, recognizing its potential, UKAEA released MARTe as open source, leading to its adoption by various fusion research programs, including the ambitious International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).

Recognizing the potential applications beyond fusion, Sygensys, a forward-thinking start-up from Oxfordshire focusing on effective renewable energy utilization, became the recipient of MARTe. Sygensys specializes in developing energy storage systems and demand management solutions, anticipating the increased demand in the electric power sector due to the electrification of transport.

In a collaborative effort with UKAEA, Sygensys conducted a six-month study exploring how MARTe could be harnessed to help grid operators manage the challenges associated with a more dynamic supply and demand scenario. The fusion control software MARTe was adapted to meet the specific needs of smart grid operators, enabling effective communication between multiple devices and stakeholders.

” To speed the transition to decarbonisation, systems must be easily maintainable, secure, and interoperable. MARTe certainly shows potential in all of these areas and could prove to be a real asset as it is further developed for commercial use.”

Andrew Larkins, CEO of Sygensys

Evolution of the power grid in Sygensys’s vision.

This collaboration not only allowed UKAEA to evaluate the commercial potential of MARTe but also presented a new technical challenge in adapting the solution to meet the evolving requirements of a different industry. Nizar Ben Ayed, Fusion Innovation Technologist at UKAEA, highlighted the emerging need for improved control systems providing system-level control and grid-level harmonization. The study with Sygensys demonstrated the tech transfer potential of fusion control software to enhance grid stability and prevent blackouts.

For UKAEA, this collaboration showcased the commercial viability of MARTe and expanded its application framework for the fusion industry. Simultaneously, Sygensys gained valuable insights and capabilities to create value in their development of smart grid concepts, taking a significant step forward in their research endeavors.

As MARTe continues its journey from the fusion realm to smart energy applications, this success story exemplifies the potential for cross-industry collaboration and the adaptation of cutting-edge technologies to meet the evolving needs of our dynamic world.

L-R: Adam Stephen of UKAEA and Andrew Larkins of Sygensys at UKAEA’s Culham Campus