Nuclear tech research facility on track for completion

Property development business Harworth Group has completed the steel superstructure for a new nuclear fusion technology research facility.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) facility at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) development in Rotherham is expected to practically complete in September.

The 22,300 sq ft unit, which is being built by Sheffield-based contractor, JF Finnegan, on Harworth’s behalf, will comprise office accommodation split over two floors and a research laboratory at ground floor level.

UKAEA will take a 20-year lease with Harworth on completion in September.

It will employ 40 highly skilled people – continuing the authority’s close working relationship with the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC).

The facility is being funded as part of the Government’s Nuclear Sector Deal delivered through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

An additional £2m of investment is coming from Sheffield City Region’s Local Growth Fund, helping the UKAEA join other occupiers at the AMP including Rolls-Royce, Boeing and McLaren Automotive.

The UKAEA will use the facility to develop and test joining technologies for fusion materials and components – for example novel metals and ceramics.

These will then be tested and evaluated under conditions simulating the inside of a fusion reactor (including high heat flux, in-vacuum, and strong magnetic fields).

Research such as this will help UK companies win contracts as part of ITER – the key international nuclear fusion research and engineering project being built in the south of France.

And it will enable technology development for the first fusion power plants, which are already being designed.

The facility will require regular supplies of specialist metals and materials, providing further opportunities for the North’s supply chain.

Colin Walters, director of the National Fusion Technology Platform at UKAEA, said: “We are delighted that the construction of the unit is on-track and the completion of its superstructure helps to bring the project alive.

“Momentum is growing in fusion research and we believe the opening of this facility in South Yorkshire represents a practical step towards developing fusion power plants.

“This facility will provide fantastic opportunities for UK businesses to win contracts and put UKAEA in a great position to help deliver the necessary expertise for the first fusion power stations.”

MP Dan Jarvis, Mayor of Sheffield City Region, said: “The Sheffield City Region is a growing hub of innovation, expertise, and knowledge.

“These qualities are among the reasons why the UKAEA chose to open a new facility in Rotherham, supported by Local Growth funding from the Sheffield City Region.

“Seeing the superstructure take shape truly brings the project to life and I look forward to seeing it progress.

“As well as creating new skilled jobs and opportunities for collaboration with the nearby research centres, this facility will create opportunities for other businesses as specialist suppliers, boosting the region’s economy and highlighting our world-leading specialisms in advanced manufacturing.”

Duncan Armstrong-Payne, associate director of Major Projects (Yorkshire & Central) at Harworth, added: “We and our contractors have battled the elements to get to this point and I am delighted to announce that we have reached this milestone in the project and are on track to complete this game-changing facility.

“We look forward to the UKAEA’s staff joining the 2,000 people already employed at the AMP, continuing the site’s ongoing success as one of the North’s key developments offering exciting employment opportunities.”