A new high-temperature research facility has been opened in the UK, to be managed by Amec Foster Wheeler (AFW) on behalf of the High Temperature Facility (HTF) Alliance. It will provide "open access for research organisations to test materials for applications such as Generation IV nuclear fission, nuclear fusion and advanced gas turbines".

The facility was built at AFW's Technology and Innovation Centre in Warrington with a GBP2m ($2.6m) grant from the UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It was officially opened on 20 September by Professor Andrew Sherry, chief scientist at the National Nuclear Laboratory and Greg Willetts, vice-president for consultancy in AFW's clean energy business.

The HTF is equipped to test materials at up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, "or in novel and demanding conditions such as pressurised gas and liquid metal", AFW said. It "will enable researchers to pioneer new understandings, produce data and develop new predictive models that will underpin the selection, manufacture and performance of advanced materials for current and future nuclear reactors and other energy generation technology".

Earlier in September, a new nuclear hub was opened at the University of Bristol that will become a leading centre in the South West for academic research, education and innovation. Building on the success of the Bristol-Oxford Nuclear Research Centre (NRC), the South West Nuclear Hub will be open to both the UK and international nuclear energy community. Professor Tom Scott, co-director of the South West Nuclear Hub said: “Through a Masters teaching programme, the Hub will deliver the skills required by the next generation of the UK’s nuclear plant operators, regulators and supply chain.”

Strong support has been received from leading industrial stakeholders including: EDF Energy, the EDF Group, Areva, Sellafield Ltd and Horizon Nuclear Power. Governmental organisations and agencies such as the National Nuclear Laboratory, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and the Local Enterprise Partnerships and Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) have also provided support.