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Landscapes for Energy Category: Nuclear Fusion
Nuclear Fusion Landscape
 Author  Chris Warrick
Martin O’Brien & David Ward of CCFE
and Chris Nelson & Chris Edwards of STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
 Last Updated  18 November 2013
 Status  Peer reviewed document
 Download Landscape  PDF 441 KB

 Section 1  Overview  Section 6  Research Facilities and Other Assets
 Section 2  Capabilities Assessment  Section 7  Networks
 Section 3  Basic and applied strategic research  Section 8  UK Participation in EU Activities
 Section 4  Applied Research and Development  Section 9  International Initiatives
 Section 5  Demonstration Funding    
Section :
Fusion is the power source of the Sun and the goal of fusion research is to establish it as a viable option for providing for our future world energy needs. The particular strengths of fusion are 1) the enormous fuel resources, and hence its capability to provide many thousands of years of energy supply, 2) its intrinsic safety - due to very low amounts of fuel inside the power plant at any time, and that little or no long-lived radioactive waste is produced, 3) the extremely low levels of atmospheric emissions, with Zero carbon dioxide and a small amount of the inert gas helium produced. Although the plant components do become radioactive, they will be safe to conventionally recycle within 100 years.

Fusion is researched in many countries around the world and is a highly co-ordinated research area. The UK work is an integrated part of the EU effort, which in turn is increasingly co-ordinated with work worldwide. It should be noted that fusion research divides into two main areas Magnetic Confinement Fusion (MCF) and Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF). These techniques are fundamentally different, although there are many areas of research e.g. Better reactor materials, that apply to both. MCF employs magnetic fields to contain the very hot fusion gas or plasma. There is also significant research into ICF a newer field using laser pressure to implode solid pellets of fuel to initiate fusion.

The international nature of fusion research makes the UK landscape difficult to report clearly. Much of what is reported here is an international research programme of which the UK is part, with a role that varies in magnitude from large (for JET, the main EU experiment) to relatively small (for ITER, the new global experiment under construction).

CCFE (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy) is the UK’s Centre for fusion research. CCFE (formerly known as UKAEA Culham) is based at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, and is owned and operated by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). It is internationally important as the location of JET, the main EU experiment and presently the world’s largest MCF device.
CCFE contributes to the key areas of study in MCF research, and to Materials and reactor research. Thework is part of a co-ordinated European programme led by the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA). This is focused on providing Europe’s input to the next-step international fusion experiment, ITER (see below), and the demonstration power station that is envisaged to follow it, known as DEMO.

Research at CCFE includes:

  • Experiments on the MAST spherical tokamak;
  • Running JET as a facility for EU collaborators and participation in the JET research programme;
  • A theory and modelling programme into key areas of plasma physics and predicting performance of future tokamaks such as ITER (see below);
  • Materials and technology studies for ITER and other fusion power stations.
Fusion research at CCFE is funded jointly by EURATOM and by the EPSRC.

ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is a global collaborative venture involving the EU, Japan, China, Russia, India, US and South Korea. It will be the world’s largest Tokamak, twice the size of JET and approximately eight times the plasma volume. The concept was initiated in 1985, and the ITER agreement was signed in 2006. The project is funded and run by seven member entities the European Union (EU), India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States. The EU, as host party for ITER, is contributing 45 of the cost, with the other six parties contributing 9 each. The project has a 10 year construction phase until 2019 and a 20 year operational phase. The construction is estimated to cost 13 billion Euros.

In the ICF field, the NIF (National Ignition Facility) in the United States is primarily dedicated to achieving nuclear fusion by this method. Ignition has not yet been achieved there (Oct 2013), although impressive developments continue in technology and in science : in a recent breakthrough the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel - the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world. HIPER (the HIgh Power laser Energy Research facility) is planned to drive the transition from scientific proof of principle to a demonstration power plant, capable of delivering electricity to the grid. This project has progressed through Concept and into the Preparatory Phase, (which ran until April 2013). This latter Phase defined the future phasing strategy and addressed financial, legal and governance issues, in parallel with technical risk reduction, all of which would be needed to progress the Project. Prior to a decision to proceed further with HiPER construction, the ignition scheme must be experimentally validated1 at full scale on an existing facility such as NIF or its French equivalent Laser Mégajoule (LMJ).

Both MCF and ICF are equally important as part of the “High level Pathway for UK Fusion for Energy” (see 20 Year vision for UK Fusion) and are addressed in this Landscape.

The RCUK has a Fusion Advisory Board (FAB) to advise EPSRC and STFC on UK fusion for energy research, training and participation in International Projects. This covers MCF and ICF.

Fusion made enormous progress following the oil crises in the 1970’s. This led to the production of 16 MW of fusion power in JET, thousands of times higher than before. The decline of energy R&D budgets following the reduction of oil prices in the 1980’s and 1990’s prevented fusion from taking the next step up to the scale needed for a power plant. The new emphasis placed on clean energy has resulted in a renewed impetus and the collaborative international effort to move to a power station scale device ITER which is designed for 500MW of fusion power.

There have been many reviews of the Fusion field over the last 10 years. See page 12 of the 20 year vision linked above for a comprehensive list of reviews to 2010, and further references on page 5-7 of the recent EFDA Roadmap. Significant reviews are detailed below in rough chronological order to guide the researcher in the field.

The European Commission’s 2008 review of Facilities2 recommended concentrating on ITER construction and all the associated R & D and in parallel developing the concept for DEMO (Demonstration fusion reactor). In the decade following ITER completion, an Engineering design for DEMO should be finalised. It noted the underlying importance of HPC (High Performance Computing) facilities, and also of IFMIF (a materials test facility) and the CTF (a component testing facility). It also highlighted the continuing importance of JET, the Japanese facility JT60SA and the Czech based facility COMPASS (see Section 6 for explanation of each of these five facilities).

In July 2009, as part of the RCUK Energy Programme, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences research Council (EPSRC) set up an influential project to address a series of interrelated fusion issues that affected both councils. In MCF the issues included funding levels for JET and the MAST upgrade. In ICF the focus was on the HIPER project and its role in the international pathway to inertial fusion as an energy source. Underpinning all of this was the need for a long term UK vision for fusion in the international context. To help with the development of this vision, an Expert Group, chaired by Professor Keith Burnett, was convened. The key points of the resulting new strategy, which has been approved by EPSRC and STFC Councils, are available along with the Expert Group’s 20 Year vision for UK Fusion summary published in 2010.

The 2009 “Burnett” review is currently (November 2013) beingcarried out again by the RCUK Fusion Advisory Board as planned at the mid programme point (2013) under the chairmanship of Phil Sharman.

The conclusions from EFDA’s Nov 2012 Roadmap were
  1. The biggest problem for Fusion is the heat exhaust, and a dedicated Divertor Tokamak Test (DTT) facility is needed.
  2. Acceleration of materials testing is required, and the possibility of starting an IFMIF facility should be assessed, even if with a reduced specification.
  3. Europe must involve Industry early in DEMO, so that they have the capability to build Fusion power stations afterwards.
There is a network activity (see Section 7 ) funded by EPSRC to develop a more programmatic approach to IFE research and development (similar to that in MCF), and highlight where the UK is best placed to have major international impact.

The early work in Fusion led to the EU collaborative venture JET, still the world’s largest fusion device located at Culham in the UK. JET is now operated by the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) carrying out an experimental programme co-ordinated through the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) to maintain Fusion research while ITER is developed. Most experiments on JET are therefore now designed to improve the knowledge base in terms of science and engineering for ITER, the new larger, international fusion device being built in France.

The UK also operates its own smaller fusion device, MAST, at Culham which investigates the science and engineering viability of more compact fusion devices and other research. Small aspect ratio (“Spherical”) tokamakslike the original START, and now MAST, have not had as much development but potentially offer a more compact, efficient and cost effective design than conventional tokamaks. The £30M stage 1 MAST upgrade, approved as part of the 2009 EPSRC review, is planned for completion in 2015. It will increase the pulse length, and trial a new divertor concept. Importantly, its success will build the case for the Component Test Facility as a spherical tokamak is seen as an ideal design for the facility.

1Physics scheme validation
2R&D Needs and Required Facilities for the Development of Fusion as an Energy Source: European Commission 2008

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Section :

Table 2.1: UK Capabilities

The UK is traditionally strong in fusion research due to the experience gained hosting and operating JET, the EU collaborative project which is still the world’s largest fusion device until ITER is completed.

The domestic UK magnetic fusion research programme at Culham is integrated into the wider EU programme, as well as having a strong UK university component. It is strong in the following areas:
  1. Experimental MCF research notably on MAST. MAST is one of the foremost fusion research devices in Europe and one of only a handful supported by some level of funding from EURATOM. Its upgrade will give a more powerful device that can answer key questions for ITER and a fusion components testing programme.
  2. Theoretical fusion plasma physics.
  3. Modelling (at Culham) and experiments in materials science (primarily in collaboration with University groups), an important part of the strategy to commercial fusion power.
The UK is expanding its capabilities in fusion technology, partly through designing specialist equipment for ITER. This is providing a basis for an expansion into the technology needed for a demonstration power station.

UK MCF capability
In recent years there has been significant strengthening of the relationship between CCFE/Culham and the UK university base which is training the next generation of fusion scientists and engineers. In order to provide the skills required to achieve the fusion Fast Track (see 20 Year vision for UK Fusion), this investment needs to be sustained. In 2010, Culham had a PhD student cohort of 42 students (for which they provided some funding) spread roughly between three areas: plasma and related physics (28); materials science (4); and engineering and technology (10). These students came from 16 different universities with half being based at Culham and the rest visiting for prolonged periods. There were also students within the broader EPSRC physical sciences portfolio working in areas related to fusion but not receiving funds from Culham.

As JET operator, Culham also has unrivalled hands-on experience of fusion technology which is an asset for the world fusion programme and will be important for the exploitation of ITER. Through the development of the spherical tokamak concept, Culham also has expertise in designing and building fusion facilities that is being used for the MAST upgrade.

UK ICF capability
The UK has long experience of building and operating high powered lasers: VULCAN and HELEN lasers at RAL3 and AWE4 respectively, and more recently has completed the construction of the 100M ORION laser at The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). The ORION system will be one of the premier high-power, high-energy lasers in the world and can be used by the UK academic research community for multi high power laser research such as ICF studies.

Also, world class expertise has been built up at RAL in recent years in the key ICF areas of target fabrication and high efficiency/high rep rate lasers. In addition, the research programmes at RAL and UK universities have produced numerous high quality PhD graduates who have gone on to assume leadership roles in inertial fusion efforts around the world.

It is believed that the UK’s experience as detailed above provides a sound basis for UK leadership and involvement in collaborative inertial fusion projects.

There has historically been a lack of sufficiently trained personnel for the UK to solely develop the materials, engineering andtechnology required for a major fusion project. However, in recent years there has been significant teaching funding by Government to address this and provide trained personnel in Fusion areas. The HIPER Project is designed to pool European resources, and since the next phase of HIPER is technology development and risk reduction, Europe is well placed to make significant progress.

There is a network (see Section 7) assessing UK capability, including science, technology and technology, both in academe and in industry. It has carried out a preliminary survey but has not publicised its findings yet.

3Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), STFC
4Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)

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Table 2.1: UK Capabilities

 UK Capability  Area  Market potential
High MCF
  • Fusion Experiments JET, MAST
  • Basic Plasma Theory
  • Materials Modelling plus some experimental aspects
  • Reactor Studies
  • Heating & Instrumentation systems
Large influence over the design of prototype power plant. Large potential market for power plants.
High ICF
  • High Efficiency/Hi Rep rate Lasers
  • Target fabrication at RAL & AWE
  • MEMS/Nanotechnology, associated metrology & design capability
Enormous (Many £B)
Medium MCF
  • Computational Plasma Physics
  • Fusion Technology (area rapidly increasing in size)
  • High
  • Very high for power stations

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Section :

Table 3.1: Research Funding | Table 3.2: Key Research Providers

Nuclear fusion has the potential to offer an almost limitless source of energy with minimal environmental impact. While the timeline for delivery is beyond the 2050 emission target, fusion is an attractive technology that needs to be developed as one of the possible methods of supplying huge projected growth in energy demand as emerging economies develop.

There are still great challenges to overcome before fusion becomes a viable source of energy for the future but continuedfunding must not only provide the facilities and research base necessary for progression but also the skilled scientists and engineers needed to continue to work in this area.

The RCUK Energy Programme supports a full range of energy research including Fusion to help the UK meet it s energy objectives and targets.

The UK Fusion Programme is largely centred around magnetic confinement fusion at CCFE, one of the world s centres for fusion research. They are receiving a six-year EPSRC grant (2010 -2016) of total £163.4M for the continuation of the UK Magnetic Fusion Programme.

The Joint European Torus (JET), is still the largest and most powerful magnetic fusion device in the world, and is based at Culham. JET is a precursor to the next generation fusion facility “ITER”, which is now being built in Cadarache, France.

There is an Msc in Fusion energy at The York Plasma Institute (University of York). Also, CCFE aim every year to have new PhD and MSc projects with several UK universities addressing plasma physics, materials science and fusion engineering associated with tokamaks.

There is an EPSRC CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training) called “The Fusion Doctoral Training Network” (FDTN) which is led by York University (Plasma Institute) in collaboration with Durham, Liverpool, Manchester and Oxford universities together with CCFE and STFC. It integrates postgraduate training in fusion science and technology with related disciplines such as technological plasmas, and also gives access to MAST, JET, Central Laser Facility at RAL, High Performance Computing facilities and International fusion devices. The York Plasma Institute is also part of the Network of Energy Doctoral Training Centres, which connects all the Energy related Centres for Doctoral Training across the country.

EPSRC previously awarded “Science & Innovation Awards” of £3 5Mover 5 years to universities involved in strategically important areas that were at risk. They funded staff in research groups, with a particular focus on producing new research leaders, and required continuing commitment from the host organisation afterwards. These grants were received in 2006 by Warwick (£5M) and Queens University, Belfast (£3.2M); and in 2008 by Edinburgh, Heriot watt and Strathclyde. See individual entries in Table 3.2 for details.

Note that there is a lot of research connected with materials for Nuclear applications e.g. radiation damage etc. within the nuclear fission area, which also has application to fusion. Readers interested in this area are advised to also consult UKERC’s Nuclear Fission Landscape.

Research in the following tables has been designated as primarily “MCF” or “ICF” or applicable to both “MCF/ICF”. Each organisation/row has been given an overall label for guidance.

In Table 3.1, The fusion programme at Culham is funded on the basis of full economic costs, which includes all staff, equipment, overheads and accommodation costs. The annual funding includes UK host payments for JET. Excluded from these figures are projects in universities funded by separate EPSRC grants.

Table 3.2 below shows the universities involved in relevant research. There are also Industrial collaborators including Dunlop Aerospace, Industrial Tomography Systems plc, Morgan Advanced Materials and Technology, Rolls Royce, Schlumberger Cambridge Research Ltd.

The Research Council funding just covers the UK universities, but there are also Overseas Collaborators including; Arhus University, Denmark; Tokyo University; University of Michigan; General Atomics; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.).

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Table 3.1: Research Funding

 Programme  Funding Agency  Description  Committed Funds  Period  Representative Annual Spend
To research new options for future energy supply including Fusion Research, Materials Engineering and Plasmas and Lasers
£460m on all energy related areas As at April 2011 N/A
EPSRC: UK Magnetic Fusion EPSRC MCF
Relates to 6-year programme at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), to continue UK Magnetic Fusion Programme. Funds:
  1. JET
  2. Mast Upgrade
  3. MAST experiments
  4. Improving materials
  5. Input to ITER
£163.4m 2010-2016 £27.3m
EPSRC: Plasmas and Lasers EPSRC MCF/ICF
This research area covers work into high temperature and high density plasmas either magnetically confined or produced by high power lasers. It covers the development of novel laser systems, laser physics and the understanding of lasing mechanisms
Plasma and Laser grants totalling £44.5M as of April 11, of which relevant energy grants are 24.2 On-going N/A
EPSRC: Materials Engineering EPSRC MCF/ICF
Major Research Investments include; Materials for Fusion and Fission Power
Materials and Engineering grants totalling £48.7M as of April 11, of which energy related grants are 19.2 On-going N/A
EU Framework Programme EU MCF/ICF
EU Research in Fusion
€900M For FP7 (2007 11) €225M for the whole EU programme of which about €55M is spent in the UK

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Table 3.2: Key Research Providers

 Name  Description  Sub-topics covered  No of staff  Field
University of Bristol School of Physics MCF/ICF
  • Boron Arsenide
    • Huge thermal neutron capture cross-section
    • Tremendous rad hardness
Metallurgy and Materials
University of Bristol
School of Physics
Astrophysics group
Astrophysics group MCF/ICF
  • Collaborations with the research group at CCFE on fusion plasma physics
1 academic Physics
Metallurgy and Materials
University of Cambridge
Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy
Phase transformations group MCF/ICF
  • Understanding microstructure and behaviour of materials proposed for structural components in fusion power plants; vanadium and tungsten, iron and iron chrome binaries, also after irradiation
1 academic Metallurgy and Materials
Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering
University of Cambridge
Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre
Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre MCF/ICF
  • Radiation Damage and new materials
1 academic Metallurgy and Materials
Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering
University of Cambridge
Department of Engineering
Department of Engineering MCF/ICF
  • Modelling of materials for nuclear plant
Metallurgy and Materials
Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering
Cardiff University Department of Social Science MCF/ICF
  • Making Sense of Fusion: Learning and Reasoning About an Energy Technology
1 academic Sociology
CCFE (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy) UK’s centre for fusion research MCF
  • See description of research in Section 1, and research facilities in Section 6
180 scientists and engineers working on the EPSRC programme Physics
Cranfield University
School of Engineering
School of Engineering MCF/ICF
  • Investigation of Richtmyer-Meshkov instability (RMI). Applicable to a broad range of applications in science and engineering, including inertial confinement fusion (ICF)
Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering
Cranfield University
School of Applied Sciences

Manufacturing and Materials Department MCF/ICF
  • Joining of dissimilar metallic materials (iron-aluminium, titanium-stainless steel and nitinol-stainless steel) for advanced structural applications.
1 academic Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering
Durham University Centre for Advanced Instrumentation MCF
  • Fusion Diagnostics for MCF
  • Hardware-accelerated computer simulation
  • interpretation of fast ion diagnostics.
  • Member of FDTN (see introductory text of section 3)
1+ academic Physics
University of Edinburgh Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, and School of Physics MCF
  • Providing computational resources in support of ITER, and turbulence research. Note Nu-FuSE consortium involving six countries (France, Germany, Japan,Russia, UK and USA).
  • Novel Asynchronous Algorithms and Software for Large Sparse Systems (linked with Hull, Leeds, Manchester and Strathclyde universities)
  • Modelling plasmas, the plasma edge and reactor materials. Also training of young experienced fusion scientists.
  • Numerical Algorithms and software for HPC (EPSRC Science and Innovation award 2008 2013) with Heriot-Watt and Strathclyde universities.
1 academic Computer science and Informatics
Heriot-Watt University School of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences
  • Large scale Coating carbon tiles with diamond to produce superior plasma-facing wall materials.
  • Numerical Algorithms and software for HPC (EPSRC Science and Innovation award 2008 2013) with Edinburgh and Strathclyde universities.
2 academics Physics
University of Huddersfield School of Computing and Engineering MCF/ICF
  • In-Situ TEM Studies of Ion-Irradiated Materials
  • Visualisation & Metering Technology for Multi-phase Flows
2 academics Metallurgy and materials
University of Hull School of Engineering MCF/ICF
  • Novel Asynchronous Algorithms and Software, for Large Sparse Systems, applies to Nuclear Fusion Systems (linked with Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester and Strathclyde universities)
1 academic Computer Science and Informatics
Imperial College London Department of Physics
(the Blackett Laboratory), Plasma Physics Group MCF/ICF
The group continues to engage in both ICF and MCF research .
  • Experimental investigations, and modelling on electron transport and shock propagation key to the development of laser driven particle and radiation sources in general and ICF in particular.
  • study of transient, high energy density plasmas
  • HIPER & Fast Ignition research
  • Tokamak Research
9 academic staff
20 Researchers
3 Centre Directors
Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering
Imperial College London
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering MCF/ICF 1 academic Metallurgy and Materials
Imperial College London
Department of Materials
Department of Materials MCF/ICF
  • Predictive Modelling of Mechanical Properties of Materials for Fusion Power Plants
Imperial College London
Department of Chemical Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering MCF/ICF
  • Sonoluminescence
1 academic Chemical Engineering
Lancaster University School of Physics
Accelerator physics group
  • WORKSHOP: Plasmas, Computation and Mathematics 2009
1 academic Physics
University of Leeds School of Computing MCF/ICF
  • Novel Asynchronous Algorithms and Software for Large Sparse Systems Systems (linked with Edinburgh, Hull, Manchester and Strathclyde universities)
1 academic Computer Science
University of Liverpool
Engineering MCF/ICF
  • Supporting Materials research for Fusion & Fission power (co-investigators)
Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering
Electrical Engineering and Electronics
Electrical Engineering and Electronics MCF/ICF
  • Member of FDTN (see introduction to section 3)
Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Loughborough University Department of Materials
(Previously Institute of Polymer Technology and Materials Engineering)
  • NETWORK: Grain Boundary Engineering
  • Material Systems for Extreme Environments
  • Development of Reduced Activation Ferritic Steels for Fusion Applications
2 academics Metallurgy and Materials
University of Manchester Department of Computer Science

Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering
  • Novel Asynchronous Algorithms and Software for Large Sparse Systems (linked with Edinburgh, Hull, Leeds and Strathclyde universities)
  • Member of FDTN (see section 3 introduction)
2 academics Mechanical Engineering
Computing science
University of Oxford
Materials MCF/ICF
  • Materials for Fusion & Fission Power Group
  • Oxide Dispersion Strengthened alloys are a relatively new class of steels that are expected to play an important role as structural materials in future nuclear reactors
  • Study of radiation damage by heavy ions
  • Study of dense plasmas: important in laser-fusion pellets and solids heated to plasma temperatures during laser ablation
12 academics
4 researchers plus students
Metallurgy and Materials
University of Oxford
Engineering Science
Engineering Science MCF/ICF
  • material systems will need to be developed that can deliver the required performance at much higher temperatures than at present
3 academic
2 researchers
Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering
University of Oxford
Physics MCF/ICF
  • Computer Simulation of laser plasmas
  • Physics of ICF/Ignition
  • Pedestal/Plasma edge effects
  • Novel Sensors for fusion research
Queen Mary, University of London Department of Physics and Astronomy MCF/ICF
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation code influence materials for future fusion reactors
1 academic Physics
Queen’s University of Belfast Centre for Plasma Physics (CPP) MCF/ICF
  • Funded 2006 -2012 to form a coherent, critical-mass research group of nine academics with strength in experimental, theoretical and computational plasma
9 academics Physics
University of Sheffield
Department of Applied Mathematics
Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre MCF/ICF
  • Statistical Formulation of Intermittency in Magnetized Plasmas
1 academic Applied Mathematics
STFC (Science & Technology Facilities Council)
Government Civil Science Research Laboratory
Government Civil Science Research Laboratory MCF/ICF
  • Investigation of tungsten and its alloys under high radiation fluxes and thermal shock for novel nuclear applications.
  • The CCPP Network in Computational Plasma Physics
  • Supporting partner in Plasma Physics HEC Consortia carrying out Software development and simulations
  • Supporting partner for SUSSP68 International Summer School in Laser-Plasma Interactions and Applications
  • Research involving a comprehensive programme of experimental investigations, , designed to address questions on electron transport and shock propagation of fundamental importance to the development of laser driven particle and radiation sources in general and ICF in particular.
4 academics (plus recent significant work on the HiPER preparatory phase)
Computer Science and Informatics
STFC (Science & Technology Facilities Council) Centre for Advanced Lasers and Technology Applications (CALTA) Centre for Advanced Lasers and Technology Applications (CALTA) ICF
  • Established to develop the applications of High Power Lasers, e.g. High Efficiency / Hi rep rate lasers. Has won competitive bids for supplying 13M total of laser systems
STFC (Science & Technology Facilities Council)
SciTech Precision
Uses the services of Spin-out company SciTech Precision
  • Production of micro Laser targets
University of Strathclyde
School of Physics
School of Physics, Plasmas Division MCF/ICF
  • Beam driven instabilities in magnetized plasmas
  • Multi-Petawatt Laser Plasma Interactions
  • Novel Asynchronous Algorithms and Software for Large Sparse Systems (linked with Edinburgh, Hull, Leeds, Manchester and Strathclyde universities)
  • High End Computing HEC Consortia
  • SUSSP68 2011 International Summer School in Laser-Plasma Interactions and Applications
  • Numerical Algorithms and software for HPC (EPSRC Science and Innovation award 2008 2013) with Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt universities.
4 academics Physics
Electrical and Electronic Engineering
University of Strathclyde
Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Electronic and Electrical Engineering MCF/ICF
  • novel sensors to monitor and control experimental fusion reactor operation
  • Integrated Energy Initiative: Includes Nuclear Engineering. Also involves universities St Andrews, Manchester, Edinburgh
University of Strathclyde
Scottish Centre for the Application of Plasma-based Accelerators (SCAPA) MCF/ICF
  • Research incl. materials under extreme conditions as encountered in fission and fusion reactors (ITER, HiPER)
University College London Physics and Astronomy

Materials modelling group


London Centre for Nanotechnology
  • Material selection for Nuclear Plants
    The common technique of Molecular Dynamics will help us to estimate the conditions under which we can expect surface melting at the first walls of fusion power plants and to suggest methods that will prevent surface melting occurring
  • Putting next generation fusion materials on the fast track
  • One proposal intends to coat carbon tiles with diamond on a large scale, in order to lower the erosion rates, dust formation, and tritium absorption, by using the unique properties of diamond.
  • Simulation Radiation Damage, and He Diffusion in apatite materials
  • Defect dynamics of materials, H2 Fusion power plants
2+ academics Physics
Metallurgy and Materials
Swansea University Physics MCF/ICF
  • Theory Ionization of Atomic Hydrogen by Low Energy Antiprotons
1 academic Physics
University of Warwick:
Department of Physics
CFSA: Centre for Fusion Space and Astrophysics.
Focused on plasma physics applied to the magnetic and inertial fusion power, etc
The Centre has a strong record of joint work with the UK fusion research programmes, and has a longstanding collaboration with the fusion plasma theory group at CCFE
  • Fusion Plasma Physics
  • inertial fusion energy
  • Multiscale Modelling of Magnetised Plasma Turbulence
  • Quantifying, modelling and interpreting edge plasma turbulence in tokamak and stellarator fusion experiments
  • the physics of a burning plasma
  • The CCPP Network in Computational Plasma Physics
  • Plasma Physics HEC Consortia
6 academics Physics
Computing and Informatics
York Plasma Institute University of York, Department of Physics / EPSRC collaboration MCF/ICF
  • Many general areas of ICF and MCF Research
  • Theory of Explosive Plasma Instabilities
  • Member of FDTN (see section 3 Introduction)
12 academics
8 researchers

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Section :
All of the basic UK fusion research is outlined in section 3 - it is a mix of basic and applied research. The new machine, ITER, will move increasingly towards demonstration at the industrial scale.

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Section :
All of fusion R&D is described in section 3; however, almost all of it is devoted to developing and demonstrating the feasibility of fusion power. As yet there are no demonstration plants, although there is increasing activity in the Conceptual Design of a Demonstration Power Plant in both MCF and ICF, partly to guide the near term research agenda.

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Section :

Table 6.1: Research Facilities and Assets

The main research facilities in the UK are the European JET experiment, and the MAST facility, which are both located at CCFE.

In the future, UK researchers will make use of the international facilities currently (November 2013) being constructed or planned:
  • ITER will become the dominant international fusion research facility, and JET will be wound down. ITER is being constructed in Cadarache in the South of France with CCFEdesigning some key systems for the new machine and encouraging UK industry to bid for contracts.
  • An International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility, IFMIF (see table below), is being planned.
  • Many Researchers also think there is a need for a Component Testing Facility (CTF) but there is not international agreement on this.
  • HIPER (the HIgh Power laser Energy Research facility) is planned to drive the transition from scientific proof of principle to a demonstration power plant, capable of delivering electricity to the grid. This project has progressed through Concept and into the Preparatory Phase, (which ran until April 2013).
See Section 1 for further information about international activities.

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Table 6.1: Research Facilities and Assets

 Name  Description  Type of asset  Number of Supporting Staff  Annual Operating Budget
CCFE (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy) UK’s national laboratory for magnetic fusion research.
CCFE contributes to the key areas of study in MCF research.
Activities at CCFE include:
  • Experiments on the MAST spherical tokamak;
  • Participation in the JET research programme;
  • A theory and modelling programme which studies key areas of plasma physics and predicts performance of future tokamaks such as ITER;
  • Studies of the materials and technology needed in ITER and fusion power stations.
  • COMPASS - Small Tokamak previously run at CCFE was transferred to Prague’s Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) in 2007
Research Lab Approx. 950 staff and agency workers  
(Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak)
UK research machine located at the CCFE MAST is currently (November 2013) undergoing a £30M upgrade 4m diameter 1.3MA Spherical Tokamak See above  
(Joint European Torus)
JET is the main EU fusion experiment. It is located at the CCFE and primarily funded through the EU Framework Programme. It is operated by CCFE on behalf of its EURATOM partners. Major Research Facility
6m diameter, 5MA
See above, plus 350 European scientist visitors per annum  
ORION Laser system at Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Aldermaston. Commissioned 2013
Used for high energy density physics. Also Suitable for ICF studies
Academic access form
Target chamber with 12 short pulse neodymium glass lasers 500J each Six weeks per year beam time available to community  

(International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor)
Global collaborative venture based in Cadarache in Southern France. Expected to be completed in 2019 International Research facility
19m Diameter Tokamak with Plasma volume of 840 cubic metres
42 hectare site. Estimated construction Cost €13 Billion  
JT-60SA Joint Euro/Japan Fusion experiment being built in Nsaka. First plasma expected 2019. “Satellite tokamak” as part of Broader Approach International Research facility
Superconducting Tokamak. Major radius half that of ITER
Upgrade of previous JT60 Tokamak at Japan’s Naka Fusion Institute  
(International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility)
To test materials for a fusion reactor. The IFMIF, is planned by Japan, the European Union, the United States, and Russia, and managed by the International Energy Agency International Research facility
which would use particle accelerator -based neutron source to produce a large neutron flux from a liquid lithium loop, in a suitable quantity and time period to test the long-term behaviour of materials under conditions similar to those expected at the inner wall of a fusion reactor.
Part of the Broader Approach that Japan and the European Union formally launched in 2007. IFMIF is coordinated from Rokkasho, in northern Japan.  

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Section :

Table 7.1: Networks

Fusion is pursued as an international research venture with fusion laboratories in many countries worldwide.

The EU programme is co-ordinated under EFDA exploiting JET but also co-ordinating other areas of European fusion research. Europe also has an agency (Fusion for Energy or F4E ) to procure equipment for ITER and fund R&D needed for specialist components before these can be procured.

Wider networks exist through formal agreements on ITER, the Broader Approach (an EU-Japan international agreement designed to further the goals of fusion power) and agreements through the IEA and IAEA.

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Table 7.1: Networks

 Network  Date Established  Description  Membership Profile  Activities
FUSENET 2010 European Fusion Education Network
The Fusenet Association is an independent legal entity that provides a platform for the coordination of European fusion education activities, the initiation, development and implementation of new EU-wide actions, and for the exchange and dissemination of fusion education information. The association is open to all European organizations that are active in the field of fusion education and research.
Universities, Research institutes and Industrial companies Activities of FUSENET, in which industry can participate, collaborate, sponsor, advise or take interest in include;
  • Internships for students in industry
  • Research collaboration with industry for PhD students
  • Fusenet supports joint educational activities, such as summer schools and workshops
  • Fusenet partners share joint materials and set up hands-on experiments for students
  • Outreach and posting news on its activities and collaborations on the FUSENET website.
  • FUSENET has established EU-wide ambitious criteria for the award of Fusion Science and Technology Master & PhD certificates.
CCPP 2007 Collaborative Computational Plasma Physics
Aims to pool the collective expertise across all plasma physics areas including fusion power
Also to develop core plasma physics simulation codes, and training packages, for UK science. The CCP includes staff from UK universities, UKAEA, Culham, RAL and AWE.
The exchange of ideas, algorithms and codes between the laboratory plasma community and space and astrophysics community is planned to lead to a suite of core plasma simulation codes, documented and maintained within the UK which will benefit both research and PhD/PDRA training programmes.
30 UK academics from a range of Universities and institutes
Conference and workshops
Energy CDT Network Active 2013 Network representing 13 EPSRC funded CDTs specialising in research/training in Energy the Fusion CDT is a member of this network. EPSRC CDTs Provides an environment for UK Energy researchers to share expertise, network and access training opportunities.
The UK Inertial Fusion Energy Network Funded from 1/11/2013 A network to develop proposals for a more programmatic approach to IFE research and development, involving academe and industry , and also identifying where the UK is best placed to have major international impact and roles.
  • Also develop strategies for IFE based on future funding scenarios and scientific drivers
  • Also highlight benefits to industry e.g. by partnering with national laboratories to access and commercialise cutting edge technologies.
Open to all members of the UK s scientific and industrial communities with an interest in inertial fusion and supporting technologies
  • technical and scientific workshops
  • large scale community meetings
  • community building and outreach activities that identify opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration (for example with MCF, Generation IV fission and materials research
  • discussion of the short, intermediate and long term goals and potential leadership of IFE activities in the UK

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Section :

Table 8.1: EU Framework Programmes

Much fusion research is co-ordinated at the EU level and is supported financially through the EU EURATOM Framework Programme. This supports JET and also provides additional funding of the domestic UK programme.

EU Framework funding in the area of nuclear research is covered separately as the EURATOM programme to the rest of EU funded activities. It was originally ring-fenced given the need to take forward essential nuclear research for safety etc but recognised that the topic was one that consensus amongst the EU nations was difficult to achieve. For FP6 the total funding was 1.3 Billion Euro with 824mEuro for the fusion programme. The fusion funding supports domestic research programmes in member countries, plus the JET facility in Oxfordshire which is the EU s leading facility and also preparation for ITER. At present the majority of MCF work carried out in the UK is funded from Europe as the UK hosts JET.

The FP7 budget for nuclear was €2.75 billion to be spent between 2007 and 20115. In FP7 Euratom there were two associated specific programmes, one of which indirect actions included fusion energy as opposed to the “direct actions” which are concerned with non fusion nuclear matters and are carried out at the Commission s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

Euratom indirect actions are managed by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Research (DG RTD). The specific programmes allocate €1947M to fusion energy research, of which €900M is allocated to FP7 grants in MCF/ICF as opposed to institute funding (see Table 3.2).

5FP7 Nuclear Funding

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Table 8.1: EU Framework Programmes

 Project  Objectives  Action Line  Type of Action  UK Participants  Co-ordinator and Partners  Total Funding  EU Funding  Duration  Annual Spend
ADAS-EU Extension of the ADAS (Atomic Data and Analysis Structure) Project
  • Provision of derived atomic/molecular data for plasma models.
  • Supports using atomic data in plasma diagnostics and modelling at fusion laboratories
  • Management of databases of relevant fundamental data
  • Unified system with common code and data assembled, organised, verified and archived centrally.
  • Will improve analysis of existing fusion experiments and prepare for ITER.
FP7-EURATOM-FUSION Supporting Actions University of Strathclyde University of Strathclyde
€1.0 M €900K 2009-01-01 to
57 months
HIPER Preparatory study of HPER, a multi-national European Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) laser facility FP7-INFRA
Integrating activities/
preparatory phase

19 Partners
€12M (including €5M from STFC and €2.4M from Czech plus in-kind contributions €3M 2008-04-28 to
2013-04-27 60 months
The Physics and Applications of Magnetic Guiding of Fast Electrons through Structured Targets
Development of a numerical tool to study physics of the multi-ps regime, and apply to Fast Ignition inertial fusion and other high energy density physics applications. FP7-IDEAS-ERC ERC Starting Grant STFC STFC €576K €576K 2012-10-01 to
48 months
Fusion energy materials science coordination action
To create a European research environment in which fusion materials science for the realization of fusion power can be carried out with optimum effect. FP7-EURATOM-FUSION Coordination action Loughborough University Max Planck Gesellschaft zür Förderung der Wissenschaften E.V. €3.2M €2.1M 2008-10-01 to
36 months
The European fusion education network
To establish a European Fusion Education Network for education in fusion science and technology.
From secondary school level through to PhD.
Leading to strong links between fusion institutes and higher education institutes.
FP7-EURATOM-FUSION Coordination actions The University of Warwick
Queen s University Belfast UKAEA
Cranfield University
Technische Universiteit Eindhoven €2.5M €1.8M 2008-10-01 to 2013-09-30  
Fusion Technology Transfer Action
EFDA drives the development of technology that will be central to fusion power, namely plasma physics, materials and diagnostics.
  • To capture, record and publicise the successes from Technology Transfer by EFDA.
  • To increase the amount of Technology Transfer from EFDA Associates to industry and society in general.
    -To create a Technology Transfer capability dedicated to EFDA activities.
FP7-EURATOM-FUSION Supporting Actions ESA (of which the UK is a member) ESA €306K €250K 2013-07-01 to 2015-06-30  

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Section :

Table 9.1: International Activities

As already mentioned, fusion research is strongly co-ordinated at the EU level by EFDA with additional direct collaborations between national laboratories. The clearest example of the collaboration is the JET facility (see Section 6).

Worldwide collaboration on the ITER Project (see section 6) sanctioned by the ITER agreement is very strong and is also supported by the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) and the EU Joint Undertaking.

The Joint Undertaking (between EU member states plus Switzerland) for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy was created in 2007 for a period of 35 years. The objectives of the Joint Undertaking are to provide Euratom’s contribution to the ITER International Fusion Energy Organization and to “Broader Approach” activities with Japan for the rapid realisation of fusion energy, and to prepare and co-ordinate a programme of activities in preparation for the construction of a demonstration fusion reactor (DEMO) and related facilities including the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF).

Further international collaboration is carried out under IEA Multilateral Technology Initiatives (formerly known as Implementing Agreements). There are 8 such initiatives that the UK is involved in (through CCFE, as detailed below).

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Table 9.1: International Activities

 Name  Type  Description  UK Contact Point
EFDA European Fusion Development Agreement EU wide co-ordination agreement Part of Euratom Programme of the European Commission.
Co-ordinates fusion research in the EU, including the running of JET. UK participants are CCFE plus Universities.
JOINT UNDERTAKING for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy International Collaborative Agreement The Joint Undertaking provides Euratom s contribution to the ITER International Fusion Energy Organization and to “Broader Approach” activities with Japan to realise fusion energy. Also to prepare for a demonstration fusion reactor (DEMO) and related facilities including the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF).  
ITPA International Tokamak Physics Activity Collaborative research Programme Originally under IAEA (Inception 2001), now under auspices of ITER (from 2008).
Provides a framework for internationally coordinated fusion research activities. feeding into ITER Programme. Achieved a broad physics basis essential for ITER design and fusion research generally.
Participants are the Members of ITER.
IEA Fusion Power Co-ordinating Committee (FPCC) International Co-ordinating Committee Co-ordinates the IEA activities on fusion. Promotes international co-operation to realise Fusion power. Provides a platform for stakeholders to share results of fusion activities worldwide  

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