Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Summary of Supporting Information

  In order to provide further information, a summary of the main facts underlying the note on timescale to fusion are given here.


  In the last 10 years there has been substantial progress in a wide range of fusion physics, technology and materials. Three selected highlights are:

    —  JET, Europe's flagship experiment based in the UK, has demonstrated fusion powers first in the range of 1 Megawatt and then approaching 20 Megawatts, a very large improvement over earlier power levels, demonstrating the advances in fusion science.

    —  In designing the next international experiment, ITER, it has been necessary to develop and successfully test prototype components of a fusion plant on a scale not previously attempted, designed for use in a device producing hundreds of Megawatts of fusion power. The development of new superconducting coils, blanket modules, maintenance and other systems has moved fusion technology forwards substantially.

    —  New low activation materials, with the capability to operate in a fusion environment without producing long-lived radioactive waste have been developed in tonne quantities, and it has been shown that even modified steels will perform well in this respect. It is no longer the case that new, advanced materials must be developed before fusion can be a viable technology. It now remains to demonstrate these materials in a dedicated test facility and optimise for lifetime and mechanical properties.


  The UK funding for fusion has declined substantially over the last 20 years. The figure shows the level of funding, in 1990, over that period.

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