Shields up for world’s first fusion machine

A 100-tonne shield wall has been installed around a world-first machine to test components under “fusion-like” conditions.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) – which researches fusion energy, the process that powers the sun and stars – is in the installation phase of the CHIMERA project at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, in Rotherham.

The new structure – seven inches think – will surround the Tesla Magnet of the machine, which is planned to open next year.

CHIMERA (or Combined Heating and Magnetic Research Apparatus) will be the only machine in the world capable of testing components under the combination of conditions encountered in large fusion devices.

These tests will help inform future fusion experiments, including the international experiment ITER in the south of France, and UKAEA’s plans for the STEP fusion prototype.

Extensive shielding from the magnetic fields is provided by the hefty wall – which was installed by Barnsley-based engineering company Qualter Hall.

Russell Gibson, UKAEA operations manager at the Rotherham site, said: “This really signals the start of our world-first CHIMERA installation, a major stepping stone to proving the next generations of components that are fit for fusion energy machines.

“It was a wonderful milestone with UKAEA, Qualter Hall, and Jacobs working together to install our first major components.”