The UK’s Harworth Group plc, a land and property developer, said on 5 October that it had completed the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA’s) GBP22 million ($28m) new nuclear fusion technology research facility at its Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) development in Rotherham two weeks ahead of schedule.

The 2,500 m2, built by Sheffield based contractor JF Finnegan, comprises office accommodation split over two floors and a research laboratory at ground floor level. Its completion triggers UKAEA taking a 20-year lease with Harworth at a rent in line with other manufacturers at the AMP. UKAEA will now fit out the unit ready for formal occupation later this year.

The new facility is being funded as part of the Government’s Nuclear Sector Deal delivered through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. An additional GBP2 million of investment came from Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund.

UKAEA will use the facility to develop and test joining technologies for fusion materials and components – for example novel metals and ceramics. These will be tested and evaluated under conditions simulating the inside of a fusion reactor (including high heat flux, in-vacuum, and strong magnetic fields).

The new facility will foster increased collaboration with other research organisations based at AMP such as the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, as well as with The Welding Institute.

It is also expected to help UK companies win contracts as part of ITER – the key international nuclear fusion reactor under construction in the France – and will also enable technology development for other fusion power plants, which are already being designed.