The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)

The UKAEA is a major partner for the University of Sheffield and together we are driving the international development of fusion energy technology to help realise its enormous potential for generating low-carbon electricity.

A graphic depicting atoms

By harnessing the University’s world-leading research across a multitude of disciplines, the collaboration demonstrates our position in the UK as a global leader in sustainable energy.

What is fusion, and why is it important? 

Put simply, fusion is the reaction that powers the Sun. It refers to the process that takes place at the heart of stars, releasing tremendous energy as light and heat that ultimately sustains life on earth. 

The successful development of commercially viable fusion technology could offer a sustainable and virtually limitless supply of energy. Investment in fusion research and technology enables new materials and technologies to be developed that can benefit not just fusion energy, but a wide range of industries including aerospace, healthcare, transportation, decommissioning and many others.

Why now?

Driven by the urgency of climate change, recent advances in fusion research have brought the possibility of achieving commercial viability closer than ever. International collaborations like ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) are pushing the boundaries of fusion technology, alongside significant domestic investment in programmes like STEP (Spherical Tokomak for Energy Production). The ambitious STEP programme will see the development of a prototype fusion energy plant at the former coal-fired power station West Burton in nearby Nottinghamshire. With the University, UKAEA’s Fusion Technology Facility in Rotherham and the STEP site all in relatively close proximity to one another, the partnership is developing a strong regional focus on fusion excellence in South Yorkshire and the surrounding regions.

The University of Sheffield’s world-leading research 

The UKAEA has chosen to work with the University because of our world-leading expertise and impact in areas including materials science, engineering and manufacturing research. Sheffield is one of the strongest universities in the UK in these disciplines, which are fundamental in advancing fusion technologies. 

A leading partner of the Henry Royce Institute, Sheffield also boasts state-of-the-art facilities, a proven record of translational research with industry, and a strong collaborative culture across faculties and disciplines.

Find out more about Fusion research at Sheffield

Collaborating to make fusion a reality

A £3 million co-investment by the University of Sheffield and UKAEA will establish new research programs to address global fusion challenges. The collaboration has seen the appointment of a Chair in Fusion research and development, laying a strong foundation for future advances. Professor Chris Race joins the University as UKAEA Chair in Fusion Materials to focus on materials design and processing.

Sheffield is also a partner in the newly-announced £9 million EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Fusion Power, where the experts who will design, build and operate fusion reactors will receive their training.

The partnership will also deliver significant and long-lasting benefits to the UKAEA, the University, industry and wider society, including:

  • Advancing transformative fusion research, innovation, and education to deliver a more sustainable future.
  • Establishing and growing the intellectual leadership and research excellence required to create and translate new knowledge in fusion materials, manufacturing, qualification, thermal hydraulics and supply chain development.
  • Capitalise on the UKAEA’s Fusion Technology Facility investment in Rotherham and links with the University and its Nuclear AMRC with CHIMERA, STEP and future UKAEA projects.
  • Supporting regional and national companies to develop and grow their capabilities to supply the high tech services and components required for STEP.
  • Leading the development of the skills and knowledge required to grow the future workforce for fusion energy production.
  • Expanding the UK talent pool through focused skills development and training (CPD) programmes.
Representatives from UKAEA and the University of Sheffield stood outside UKAEA's facility in Rotherham
Representatives from the UKAEA and the University of Sheffield at UKAEA's facility in Rotherham

Work with us

To find out more about collaborating with the University on fusion research and development, please contact Industry Account Manager Eleanor Edey

Centres of excellence

The University's cross-faculty research centres harness our interdisciplinary expertise to solve the world's most pressing challenges.