UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced on 29 March that a contract extension for the Joint European Torus fusion research facility had been signed by the UK and the European Commission (EC).

The contract extension will secure at least €100m ($112m) in additional inward investment from the EU over the next two years guaranteeing its operations until the end of 2020 regardless of Brexit.  

JET is operated by the UKAEA at Culham Science Centre, near Oxford and employs 500 staff from 28 European countries. The fusion research is coordinated by the EUROfusion consortium which manages and funds European fusion research activities on behalf of Euratom.

Research at JET supports the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter), currently being built in southern France. JET acts as a testbed for Iter technologies and plasma operating scenarios. "The contract leaves open the option of a further extension to JET’s operations until 2024, which would enable it to support Iter in the run-up to its launch in 2025," BEIS said.

Currently, JET is the largest and most powerful fusion experiment in the world and is collectively used under EUROfusion management by more than 40 European laboratories.    

Photo: The JET vacuum vessel pictured in 2011 (Credit: EUROfusion)