Next step to fusion energy

1 min read

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has opened a new fusion energy research facility in Rotherham where a machine that will test prototype components for future fusion power plants will be built. Justin Burns went along to the launch to find out more

Fusion energy has taken another step forward with the opening of a new 25,000 square foot Fusion Technology Facility (FTF) on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham that will house a world-first machine in the shape of CHIMERA – to be used to test prototype components and materials that can cope with the conditions found inside a fusion power plant.

This machine will develop components and manufacturing techniques for future fusion devices, including prototype power plants. It will be the only place that industry and the research community can test components in fusion conditions.

The UKAEA ( ) believes nuclear fusion has the potential to “change our world” – as fusion – the process that powers the sun – offers low-carbon energy with virtually limitless fuels. However, bringing it to the electricity grid is one of the most seismic challenges in technology, but it is potentially one of the most rewarding and game-changing.

As the world grapples with the effect of climate change, development of Fusion energy is seen as alongside renewable energy supplies, the pathway to building a sustainable low carbon energy supply for the future on a global scale in the second half of the century.

Fusion energy is being targeted for use from 2040, at the earliest, but a number of hurdles remain before the building of power plants that produce energy to the National Grid becomes a reality.

Damon Johnstone, UKAEA’s head of operations, fusion technology business unit and head of the FTF, says: “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 verify and 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.”


At the heart of the FTF will be CHIMERA (Combined Heating and Magnetic Research Apparatus), a machine designed to test metre scale prototype components in an environment representative of a fusion power plant, including those that will be exposed to the harshest conditions, such as the first wall, blanket, divertor and diagnostic systems.

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