Fusion power plant test facility opens in South Yorkshire

Components for fusion power plants can be tested in simulated conditions at a new facility now open and operating in South Yorkshire.

Fusion power plants
New UKAEA facility will aid development of fusion plants (Image: UKAEA)

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 skilled jobs in the South Yorkshire area.

In a statement, Dan Jarvis MBE MP, mayor of South Yorkshire, said: “We’re delighted to welcome UKAEA to the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

“This is a hugely significant development, which further enhances South Yorkshire’s expertise on a world scale for the development of innovative technologies for the advancement of materials.

“This facility has the potential to create many high value jobs in the local supply chain as fusion technology matures, as well as a number of high value jobs in the region in the coming months.”

Magnet protection spurs tokamak fusion development

Roadmap highlights materials route to fusion

US team claims viable path to commercial fusion power

The facility will support the development of technologies for fusion materials and components and includes the CHIMERA (Combined Heating and Magnetic Research Apparatus) test rig, which is the only device in the world that can 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.

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 new facility will see UKAEA working with industrial partners plus the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC).

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.