UKAEA to open new fusion test facility

24 September 2019

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) announced last week that is will open a £22 million ($27.3m) fusion energy research facility in Rotherham in 2020 to engage industry in commercial fusion energy development.

The facility will see the UKAEA working with industrial partners to "put the UK in a strong position to commercialise nuclear fusion" in the years ahead.

The new facility is expected to bring 40 highly-skilled jobs to the South Yorkshire area, and foster increased collaboration with research organisations including the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

The new fusion research facility will be sited at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, alongside Rolls-Royce, McLaren Automotive and the NAMRC. It will be funded as part of the Government’s Nuclear Sector Deal delivered through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). An additional £2 million of investment will come from Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund.

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

UKAEA said the new facility would help UK companies win contracts for ITER, international fusion project being built in southern France. Looking further ahead, it will facilitate technology development for the first fusion power plants, which are already being designed.

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