Prime Minister visits UK nuclear fusion site

Jack Unwin 9 August 2019 (Last Updated August 9th, 2019 14:06)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire on 8 August, the home of the UK’s research into nuclear fusion.

Prime Minister visits UK nuclear fusion site
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the UK’s nuclear fusion centre in Oxfordshire. Credit: UK Atomic Energy Agency

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire on 8 August, the home of the UK’s research into nuclear fusion.

While at the facility, the PM praised the site and the UK Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA) for its ‘world-leading’ research into nuclear fusion, including the MAST Upgrade fusion experiment that is being used to research compact designs for future fusion power reactors. He also spoke to UKAEA apprentices ahead of the opening of a £12m apprentice training centre that will open at the site in September.

Johnson said: “It was fantastic to visit Culham Science Centre today and meet the men and women who are helping to invent a sustainable fusion reactor.

“The UK is leading the world in this sector, thanks in significant part to the work of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. I’m confident that with the help of the immigration reforms I have announced today, we will continue to do so for many years to come.”

In an announcement made on Facebook, Johnson said that the UK would be changing its rules to allow for fast-track visas to bring in elite scientists and make the UK “even more welcoming” for the profession.

UKAEA CEO Ian Chapman added: “We were delighted that the Prime Minister chose Culham as the place to make his first science announcement.

“Fusion energy’s huge potential is well known and the PM reiterated the Government’s support for UKAEA’s research. We also showed him how the Materials Research Facility and RACE are providing spill over benefits and supporting UK industry in adjacent fields, at the same time as working towards delivering sustainable fusion energy.

UKAEA also tweeted: “Today we were visited at Culham by new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who chose UKAEA as the location for his first science policy announcement since taking office.”

What is Culham Science Centre?

The Culham Science Centre is currently developing a type of fusion reactor called a tokamak, which uses a magnetic chamber where plasma is controlled and heated. This reactor, being developed as part of the MAST experiment, is one part of a collaboration of 35 countries that are working with the ITER International Fusion Energy Organisation in Southern France to demonstrate the viability of nuclear fusion.

The research at Culham is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the European Union (EU) under EURATOM.