Magnetic Confinement Fusion

Plasma in the MAST facility.

In magnetic confinement fusion (MCF), the plasma fuel (deuterium and tritium) is heated to a temperature which is ten times that at the centre of the Sun.  We confine this plasma, holding it away from material surfaces (which would otherwise suffer serious damage) by a combination of magnetic fields in a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) geometry. The device we are particularly interested in, and that which shows most promise for fusion, is the tokamak.

Our research is strongly linked to the UK’s national fusion research programme at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) and, indeed, several of our MCF Fusion CDT students are based at Culham Science Centre. We place a particular emphasis on topics which are both relevant for fusion energy production and involve interesting, novel basic plasma science. In particular, our work is very much focussed on the key issues that need to be addressed for the international ITER tokamak, presently under construction in the South of France, as well as for the national programme towards a demonstration power plant, led by the UK Atomic Energy Authority, called STEP.

Private fusion companies are driving ambitious programmes to deliver fusion early, and we work closely with them. These include Tokamak Energy in the UK, but we also have connections with international companies, such as Commonwealth Fusion Systems and General Fusion.