The Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), commissioned an independent review of nuclear fission and fusion research in the UK, to guide its future strategy.
The review panel consisted of nine UK and international nuclear experts and interviewed a range of representatives from the research community, industry and Government in the course of its assessment.
The review findings were taken at the EPSRC Council meeting in March 2016 and the report has recently been published. The review found the magnetic confinement fusion programme in the UK, based at Culham, to be of “world-class quality, in facilities, people and impact.” The JET facility, which UKAEA hosts on behalf of the European Commission was found to be “of the highest level of international importance”.
UKAEA is current undertaking a major upgrade to its MAST fusion experimental reactor, which includes a new cutting-edge fusion exhaust system. The panel said that the upgrade “will result in a facility that is world-leading in its particular design space.” And it praised the well integrated links with fusion research at British universities.
New activities in materials research, remote handling and fusion system design are described as “wisely chosen with a view to the long term leadership of the UK fusion programme.” The key role that the new Materials Research Facility and Remote Applications in Challenging Environments centre will play in fusion and wider areas – including fission – is also strongly supported.