Wednesday, September 18, 2019

News: £22m Rotherham test facility will engage UK industry in the drive for fusion energy


The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has confirmed that it will open a £22m fusion energy research facility in Rotherham next year.

Rothbiz reported first that the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham was being scouted by the UK government research organisation.

The facility will see UKAEA working with industrial partners to put the UK in a strong position to commercialise nuclear fusion as a major source of low-carbon electricity in the years ahead.

Located at the heart of the UK's advanced manufacturing region, the UKAEA base will bring 40 highly-skilled jobs and foster increased collaboration with research organisations including the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC).

Plans have already been submitted for the new research facility up to 22,300 sq ft of floorspace with first floor office floorspace (2,100 sq ft). It will be funded as part of the Government's Nuclear Sector Deal delivered through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. An additional £2m of investment is coming from Sheffield City Region's (SCR's) Local Growth Fund.

The key role of the facility will be to develop and test joining technologies for fusion materials and components – for example novel metals and ceramics. These will then be tested and evaluated under conditions simulating the inside of a fusion reactor (including high heat flux, in-vacuum, and strong magnetic fields).

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 nuclear fusion power plants, which are already being designed.

The facility will require regular supplies of specialist metals and materials – providing further opportunities for regional companies in the UK.


Colin Walters, director of the National Fusion Technology Platform at UKAEA, said: "Momentum is growing in fusion research and we believe the opening of this facility in South Yorkshire represents a practical step towards developing power plants.

"This facility will provide fantastic opportunities for UK businesses to win contracts and put UKAEA in a great position to help deliver the necessary expertise for the first nuclear fusion power stations."

Dan Jarvis MBE MP, Sheffield City Region Mayor, added: "The Sheffield City Region is a growing hub of innovation, expertise, and knowledge.

"These qualities are among the reasons why the UKAEA have chosen to open a new facility in Rotherham, supported by Local Growth funding from the Sheffield City Region.

"As well as creating new skilled jobs and opportunities for collaboration with the nearby research centres, this facility will create opportunities for other businesses as specialist suppliers, boosting the region's economy and highlighting our world-leading specialisms in advanced manufacturing."

Andrew Storer, CEO of the Nuclear AMRC, added: "We're delighted to welcome UKAEA to the Advanced Manufacturing Park, and to the Sheffield region's world-leading cluster of applied innovation. We look forward to working with UKAEA at their new facility to develop manufacturing techniques for fusion power plants and help UK manufacturers win work in this growing global market.

"This development has the potential to create many jobs in the local supply chain as fusion technology matures. This is a huge deal for Sheffield and the North, and we are really pleased to have played a part in this and to be working with UKAEA."

Sarah Champion MP, added: "This is the latest in a string of major developments at the Park, confirming the site’s reputation as the leading venue for research, development and manufacturing.

"Rotherham, and the skills, creativity and expertise we can provide, are now firmly established on the international stage. With McLaren, Rolls Royce, Boeing and many others already based at the AMP, the future is bright for both the AMP and our local economy. I look forward to welcoming many more organisations to Rotherham in forthcoming years."

UKAEA website

Images: UKAEA / Harris Partnership


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