UK fusion research centre granted contract extension

Article by Amanda Doyle

JOINT European Torus (JET), a fusion energy research centre in the UK, has had its contract extended until 2020, and an additional €100m (US$113m) of funding guaranteed from the EU.

The contract was signed by the UK and the European Commission. It guarantees operations until the end of 2020 regardless of the situation with Brexit, and secures an additional €100m from the EU over the next two years. The future of the facility has been under discussion since 2017 because the work falls under the Euratom Treaty which the UK intends to leave, under Brexit. The new contract also leaves open the possibility of a further extension up until 2024.

The JET facility is located at Culham Science Centre, near Oxford, UK. The site is the central research facility for the European fusion programme. It is operated by the UK Atomic Energy Authority and used by scientists from across Europe to conduct research into the potential of using fusion energy in the future.

Its primary aim is to prepare for the operation of the international tokamak experimental reactor (ITER), which will be the next phase of fusion research and is being built at a site in southern France. ITER aims to demonstrate that fusion can work on a power plant scale, and is due to begin operations in 2025. A set of tests at JET are planned for 2020 which will serve as a testbed for ITER.

Ian Chapman, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, said: “The extension to the contract is excellent news for both EU and UK science. JET has been a shining example of scientific co-operation between EU members, and this news means that these mutually beneficial collaborations will continue, allowing us to do essential experiments on the path to delivering fusion power.”

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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