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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T012250/1
Title: Magnetic Research Fusion Programme 2019-2022
Principal Investigator: Chapman, Professor I
Other Investigators:
Manhood, Ms S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Culham Centre for Fusion Energy
Organisation: Culham Centre for Fusion Energy
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2019 Ends: 31 March 2022 Value (£): 43,231,603
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
14 Oct 2016 UK Fusion 2016 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
CCFE's mission is to harness the fusion process that powers the sun by using magnetic fields in order to develop a large-scale carbon-free energy source and position the UK to be a leading provider in the international fusion energy economy. Fusion has the potential to be an important component of the portfolio of measures needed to ensure a secure, environmentally responsible, supply of energy. CCFE is a major player in a global collaboration aimed at producing a commercial-scale fusion demonstration reactor (DEMO), which will be preceded by the demonstration of the first self-sustaining plasmas in ITER, the next-step international fusion experiment under construction in France. CCFE operates the world's largest tokamak, JET, under contract to EURATOM, as well as being pioneers of the spherical tokamak, with an exciting upgrade to the UK facility MAST becoming operational in 2017. JET is unarguably the best facility for preparation for ITER, whilst MAST Upgrade is a uniquely capable machine for understanding and developing ways to exhaust the heat in DEMO. This strength in tokamak physics is complemented by growing, internationally-leading programmes in materials science, fusion technology and remote maintenance.

The CCFE strategy is aligned with the EU fusion programme, with all the science and technology benefits that brings, as well as access to facilities and substantial EU funding leveraged by our UK funding. The JET contribution supported by this grant (~£9M pa) leverages the JET Operating Contract worth ~£45M pa. Furthermore, we expect the remainder of the programme to leverage nearly 40% extra funding from the EU.

Whilst the successful operation of ITER remains the first major goal of the fusion community, there are big issues for realising fusion electricity in materials and technology. These are also the areas with greater synergies with other fields. Reflecting this, the UK has invested ~£10M via NNUF (National Nuclear User Facility) in a nuclear Materials Research Facility (MRF), opened at CCFE in 2016. The MRF is aligned with, and will receive funding from, the Sir Henry Royce Institute materials initiative. Fusion and fission materials science and technology capabilities have grown in both theory & modelling, experiments and manufacturing. We are growing a programme in materials technology (including advanced manufacturing and component prototyping) with several universities and industrial partners. The Oxford City Deal has provided ~£10M for a new building for the centre for Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE), opened in 2016, building on expertise from maintenance of JET for spin-out to other industries as well as keeping the UK at the forefront of fusion remote maintenance. Further opportunities arising from collaborations with non-fusion fields such as fission, aerospace and data-intensive computing through H2020 projects are being exploited, to mutual benefit.

The four main drivers of our programme are (i) to ensure a leading position for the UK in the first burning plasmas in ITER; (ii) to develop integrated nuclear fusion power plant designs; (iii) to innovate in order to drive down the capital and operational cost of fusion reactors; and (iv) to exploit synergies to further UK interests and develop UK skills and growth. Finally, we will maintain our excellent apprentice training (the Oxford Advanced Skills centre is due to open in 2017) and PhD supervision, whilst increasing our post-doc intake to provide a career path for development of the ITER generation, benefitting from the top students trained in the UK.

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