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UK’s first fusion technology facility opens in Rotherham
A new fusion technology facility, which has the capability to test components in the simulated conditions of a fusion power plant, is now open and operating in South Yorkshire.
The Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham was chosen by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) as the location for the new 25,000 sq. ft. fusion energy research facility, which will create 60 highly skilled jobs in the South Yorkshire area. The facility received £2.2m investment from the Local Growth Fund (LGF) towards equipment purchase and set-up costs.
The pioneering facility will be involved with the development of technologies for fusion materials and components and includes the CHIMERA (Combined Heating and Magnetic Research Apparatus) test rig – the only device in the world that has the ability to test prototype components in an environment that simulates the conditions inside a fusion power plant. Within the UKAEA facility, component prototypes will be subjected to a combination of high heat and magnetic field within a vacuum environment, as well as thermal cycling.
Located alongside companies including Rolls-Royce and McLaren Automotive, the new facility will see UKAEA working with industrial partners as well as the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC). UKAEA’s aim is to put the UK in a strong position to commercialise nuclear fusion as a major source of low-carbon electricity in the years ahead.
Damon Johnstone, UKAEA’s head of operations, fusion technology business unit and head of the fusion technology facility, said: “CHIMERA is a unique world-first facility in which we will be able to simulate the extreme conditions found within a fusion power plant, but without any nuclear reactions taking place.
“This will enable a step change in our ability to test components for all UK and international fusion research programmes. It therefore represents a hugely important national capability, enabling industry in the UK and internationally to design, and eventually qualify, components for future commercial fusion power plants.”
The facility has been funded as part of the UK government’s Nuclear Sector Deal delivered through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), with an additional £2m of investment coming from the Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund.