News / Slider / July 18, 2014

Bringing Fusion Down to Earth!

Climate change and diminishing supplies of fossil fuels make finding clean sources of energy to meet increasing world demand more urgent than ever before.

With the MAST and JET experiments, as well as materials and technology studies for ITER, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy is leading the UK research programme into nuclear fusion as a power source that promises:

  • No carbon emissions. The only by-products of fusion reactions are small amounts of helium, which is an inert gas that will not add to atmospheric pollution.
  • Abundant fuels. Deuterium can be extracted from water and tritium is produced from lithium, which is found in the earth’s crust. Fuel supplies will therefore last for millions of years.
  • Energy efficiency. One kilogram of fusion fuel can provide the same amount of energy as 10 million kilograms of fossil fuel.
  • No long-lived radioactive waste. Only plant components become radioactive and these will be safe to recycle or dispose of conventionally within 100 years.
  • Safety. The small amounts of fuel used in fusion devices (about the weight of a postage stamp at any one time) means that a large-scale nuclear accident is not possible.
  • Reliable power. Fusion power plants should provide a baseload supply of large amounts of electricity, at costs that are estimated to be broadly similar to other energy sources.

Not only that but the 80-hectare site is also home to a whole range of related high tech companies, including an Innovation Incubator for start ups and spin offs.

Nicola says: ‘Oxfordshire is the epicentre of so much research that is vital to tackling the biggest social challenges we face today. As I heard from Prof Steve Cowley, CEO of CCFE, they are not only running a leading edge research programme on site but also an award winning Apprenticeship Scheme and I was delighted to meet some of their brilliant young apprentices, including Institute of Engineering and Technology Apprentice of the Year, Lydia Feasey. The standard of training these apprentices are receiving both theoretical and practical, in maths and engineering is inspiring and vital if we are to close our current skills gap in technical and engineering fields.’

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