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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S022430/1
Title: EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fusion Energy Science and Technology
Principal Investigator: Vann, Professor RG
Other Investigators:
Haigh, Professor SJ Lancaster, Dr K L Sharples, Professor RM
McKay, Dr K Dickinson, Dr D Khan, Dr A
Ridgers, Professor CP Armstrong, Dr D Bowden, Dr MD
Pickering, Dr E
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Arup Group Ltd AWE Chinese Academy of Science
D-TACQ Solutions Ltd Dept for Bus, Energy & Ind Strat (BEIS) EUROfusion UK
European XFEL Fusion For Energy Henry Royce Institute
ITER - International Fusion Energy Org KBR Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
National Fusion Research Institute National Nuclear Laboratory Rolls-Royce Plc (UK)
Stanford University STFC Laboratories (Grouped) Tokamak Energy Ltd
UK Atomic Energy Authority University of Bordeaux University of Rochester
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of York
Scheme: Centre for Doctoral Training
Starts: 01 October 2020 Ends: 31 March 2028 Value (£): 4,581,213
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Fusion Plasmas - Laser & Fusion
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Nov 2018 EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training Interview Panel R – November 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Fusion is the process that powers the Sun, and if it can be reproduced here on Earth it would solve one of the biggest challenges facing humanity - plentiful, safe, sustainable power to the grid. For fusion to occur requires the deuterium and tritium (DT) mix of fuels to be heated to ten times the temperature at the centre of the Sun, and confined for sufficient time at sufficient density. The fuel is then in the plasma state - a form of ionised gas. Our CDT explores two approaches to creating the fusion conditions in the plasma: (1) magnetic confinement fusion which holds the fuel by magnetic fields at relatively low density for relatively long times in a chamber called a tokamak, and (2) inertial confinement fusion which holds the fuel for a very short time related to the plasma inertia but at huge densities which are achieved by powerful lasers focused onto a solid DT pellet. A main driver for our CDT is the people that are required as we approach the final stages towards the commercialisation of fusion energy. This requires high calibre researchers to be internationally competitive and win time on the new generation of fusion facilities such as the 15Bn Euro ITER international tokamak under construction in the South of France, and the range of new high power laser facilities across Europe and beyond (e.g. NIF in the US). ITER, for example, will produce ten times more fusion power than that used to heat the plasma to fusion conditions, to answer the final physics questions and most technology questions to enable the design of the first demonstration reactors.

Fusion integrates many research areas. Our CDT trains across plasma physics and materials strands, giving students depth of knowledge in their chosen strand, but also breadth across both to instil an understanding of how the two are closely coupled in a fusion device. Training in advanced instrumentation and microscopy is required to understand how materials and plasmas behave (and interact) in the extreme fusion conditions. Advanced computing cuts across materials science and plasma physics, so high performance computing is embedded in our taught programme and several PhD research projects. Fusion requires advances in technology as well as scientific research. We focus on areas that link to our core interests of materials and plasmas, such as the negative ion sources required for the large neutral beam heating systems or the design of the divertor components to handle high heat loads.

Our students have access to world-class facilities that enhance the local infrastructure of the partner universities. The Central Laser Facility and Orion laser at AWE, for example, provide an important UK capability, while LMJ, XFEL and the ELI suite of laser facilities offer opportunities for high impact research to establish track records. In materials, we have access to the National Ion Beam Centre, including Dalton Cumbria Facility; the Materials Research Facility at Culham for studying radioactive samples; the emerging capability of the Royce institute, and the Jules Horowitz reactor for neutron irradiation experiments in the near future. The JET and MAST-U tokamaks at Culham are key for plasma physics and materials science. MAST-U is returning to experiments following a £55M upgrade, while JET is preparing for record- breaking fusion experiments with DT. Overseas, we have an MoU with the Korean national fusion institute (NFRI) to collaborate on materials research and on their superconducting tokamak, KSTAR. The latter provides important experience for our students as both the JT-60SA tokamak (under construction in Japan as an EU-Japan collaboration) and ITER will have superconducting magnets, and plays to the strengths of our superconducting materials capability at Durham and Oxford. These opportunities together provide an excellent training environment and create a high impact arena with strong international visibility for our students.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.york.ac.uk