Skip to main content
Home / Research / Research challenges

Tackling the big challenges on the path to commercial fusion power.

Fusion is moving from the research phase to the delivery phase. ITER, the first industrial-scale fusion device, is under construction, and prototype power stations are already being designed around the world.

Realising fusion’s potential as an energy source will involve solving a series of science and engineering problems to build reliable, efficient and economical reactors. To do this, CCFE and its operator the UK Atomic Energy Authority have identified six major fusion challenges.

Diagram of fusion challenges

Our research programme is focused on addressing these challenges and bringing the solutions together in integrated designs for commercially viable fusion power plants.

CCFE is undertaking fundamental plasma physics research; practical experiments on its MAST Upgrade tokamak and other EUROfusion devices; and a range of fusion technology, materials and fuel research programmes.

These are closely linked to UKAEA’s other fusion research facilities:

  • The Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) centre is developing robotic and remote handling technology. The remote handling system on the European JET tokamak at Culham has undertaken over 30,000 hours of complex maintenance and upgrade tasks. This has enabled RACE to work with industry on robotics and autonomous maintenance systems for future fusion devices.
  • The Materials Research Facility (MRF) is a new lab at Culham for UK nuclear researchers – both in fusion and fission – to study the materials needed for the reactors of the future. MRF is part of the UK Government’s National Nuclear User Facility and the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials.

Watch our Challenges of Fusion video to find out more:

Share this page: