UK completes fusion research facility

05 October 2020

Harworth Group plc has announced the completion of the UK Atomic Energy Authority's (UKAEA's) new nuclear fusion technology research facility at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. When it opens later this year, the 2500-square-metre facility will develop and test joining technologies for fusion materials and components, including novel metals and ceramics.

The UKAEA's new Fusion Technology facility (Image: Harworth)

Property developer Harworth said completion of the GBP22 million (USD28 million) Fusion Technology facility triggers UKAEA's 20-year lease with Harworth at a rent in line with other manufacturers at the Advanced Manufacturing Park. UKAEA will now prepare the building prior to taking formal occupation of it 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. These will then be tested and evaluated under the conditions experienced inside a fusion reactor including high heat flux, vacuum and strong magnetic fields.

The new facility will foster increased collaboration with research organisations including the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre - both of which are also based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park - and The Welding Institute.

UKAEA said the site will help UK companies win contracts as part of ITER - the key international fusion project being built in the south of France. Looking further ahead, it will enable technology development for the first fusion power plants, which are already being designed.

Speaking in late-July, when external construction of the new Fusion Technology facility was completed, Damon Johnstone, head of UKAEA Yorkshire, said: "There are exciting times ahead; the Fusion Technology facility in Rotherham will be unique in the world and as well as delivering cutting-edge R&D it will help to seed the development of a UK supply chain for fusion."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News