3 December 2020

Expert comment: Future of nuclear fusion

Following the annoucement that the UK Government is looking for a site for a prototype nuclear fusion power plant, Dr Amy Gandy helps to allay fears of communities concerned about the technology.

Arc melting of a new alloy composition

The Government annoucement was reported in The Guardian this week, with communities being invited to bid to host the prototype plant with the Government planning to have it up and running by 2040.

Dr Amy Gandy, an expert in nuclear fusion in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: 

The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) programme is not only an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the feasibility of using nuclear fusion to produce electricity, but will also enable new materials and technologies to be developed that could benefit a wide range of industries, not just fusion.

“There is often resistance from communities to building new nuclear reactors, but because of how nuclear fusion works, it’s not possible for a runaway fusion reaction to occur, and the waste produced will not be radioactive for the same long timescales as from current nuclear fission reactors. Given the advances in technology and the jobs that will be created, and, ultimately, the safe production of electricity from abundant fuel sources that STEP is setting out to achieve, hopefully people will feel that building a prototype fusion reactor in their community is positive, and an opportunity to really help make a difference in achieving global energy security.”

Details of Amy's research was featured in the Department Newsletter in May 2020.