Nuclear fusion site reaches new milestone in Rotherham

UKAEA 310320
UKAEA 310320

The steel superstructure for the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) new nuclear fusion technology research facility has been completed at its flagship Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) development in Rotherham.

The 22,300ft2 unit, which is due to be complete in September, is being built by Sheffield-based contractor JF Vinnegan on behalf of Harworth Group, a regenerator of land and property.

The site will comprise office accommodation split over two floors and a research laboratory at ground floor level.

The UKAEA will be taking a 20-year lease with Harworth on its completion in September and will employ 40 highly skilled people – continuing the authority’s close working relationship with the University of Sheffield’s AMRC and Nuclear AMRC.

The new facility is being funded as part of the Government’s Nuclear Sector Deal delivered through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. An additional £2 million of investment is coming from Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund, thereby helping the UKAEA join other leading occupiers at the AMP including Rolls-Royce, Boeing and McLaren Automotive, and strengthening the park’s standing as a centre of high-value employment in the UK.

The UKAEA will use the facility 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).

This facility will help UK companies win contracts as part of ITER – the key international nuclear fusion research and engineering project being built in the south of France. Looking further ahead, it will also enable technology development for the first fusion power plants, which are already being designed.

The facility will also require regular supplies of specialist metals and materials, providing further opportunities for the North’s supply chain.

Colin Walters, director of the National Fusion Technology Platform, UKAEA, said: “We are delighted that the construction of the unit is on-track and the completion of its superstructure helps to bring the project alive. Momentum is growing in fusion research and we believe the opening of this facility in South Yorkshire represents a practical step towards developing fusion 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 fusion power stations.”




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