Grounds work on a new Materials Research Facility (MRF) at Culham has started, which will equip the UK with an important new nuclear materials capability. The MRF is part of the National Nuclear User Facility – a £15 million Government-funded partnership to improve Britain’s experimental equipment for nuclear research.
Scientists from universities and industry will use state of the art equipment to examine tiny fragments of material (less than the thickness of a hair) used in fusion and fission machines. The data could be used to make nuclear power stations safer and help extend their operational life, as well as informing the design of the future generations of UK fission reactors. Materials analysis will also be a key activity for the design of prototype fusion power plants.
UKAEA has already established a Material Research laboratory at Culham, where researchers from Bristol, Manchester and Oxford universities as well as local hi-tech companies have been among the early users.
The UKAEA’s Executive team visited the site to meet members of the project team. 25 meter piling work is underway to provide the foundations for the facility’s shielded hot cells. Construction will start in 2015, with the new facility due to open in Autumn 2015.
Professor Steve Cowley, CEO, said:
This is an exciting project for Culham and for the whole UK nuclear research community. With nuclear new build on the horizon, and the prospect of Generation IV and fusion entering the market later this century, it is vital for Britain to develop a first-class range of research facilities to meet the challenge. The Materials Research Facility will be a big part of that and I can’t wait to see it up and running in 2015.