The facility will provide the UK with unique capabilities for developing fusion as a sustainable source of energy. In addition to being used by UKAEA, it will also promote opportunities for industry collaboration.
The H3AT facility will be a world-first tritium research centre. Developing techniques for managing the complete tritium fuel cycle is an essential step in the path to making fusion a commercial energy source. Research will help inform projects including the ITER international fusion experiment and the prototype power plants DEMO and STEP.
The building will also accommodate the UKAEA Fusion Technology team, in addition to the Applied Materials Technology laboratory, the Adriana laboratory (for radiometric instrumentation) and the HIVE (Heating by Induction to Verify Extremes) testing facility. These facilities will assist UK engineering companies’ contribution to the STEP power plant design project, winning contracts on ITER, and trialling technologies for the wider nuclear industry.
In addition to the Fusion Technology laboratories at Culham, a complementary UKAEA site in South Yorkshire will house test rigs in order to validate fusion components under combined thermal, machine, and magnetic loads.
The new building at Culham is expected to open in June 2022 and construction is well advanced. The traditional topping-out ceremony marked the placing of the last beam on the structure, with a tree planted to mark this milestone in the construction project.
Steve Wheeler, Director of UKAEA’s Fusion Technology Business Unit, said: “It’s fantastic to see the completion of the main structure of the new home for our H3AT and Fusion Technology facilities. The equipment we are going to install here will provide the UK with unique capabilities for developing fusion as a sustainable source of energy. This centre will play a key role in both national and international fusion programmes, in addition to supporting ground-breaking UK science.”