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New centre simulates intense heat and magnetic fields of future fusion power plants

Professional Engineering

The new UKAEA Fusion Technology Facility in South Yorkshire (Credit: UKAEA)
The new UKAEA Fusion Technology Facility in South Yorkshire (Credit: UKAEA)

A new multi-million pound facility will simulate the intense heat and magnetic fields of future nuclear fusion power stations.

Designed to enable testing of power plant components in the extreme conditions that they will face during operation, the Fusion Technology Facility is now open and operating in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.  

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) facility will be used in the development of materials and components, and includes the Chimera test rig (Combined Heating and Magnetic Research Apparatus), which will subject prototype components to high heat and magnetic fields within a vacuum environment, as well as thermal cycling. 

UKAEA head of operations Damon Johnstone 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 centre will create 60 highly skilled jobs in the South Yorkshire area. UKAEA will work with industrial partners as well as the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. The energy authority aims to put the UK in a strong position to commercialise nuclear fusion as a major source of low-carbon electricity.  

The facility was funded as part of the government’s Nuclear Sector Deal, delivered through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with an additional £2m of investment from the Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund. 

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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