LEADING research which takes place in Oxfordshire has found the clearest demonstration yet of copying the process which powers the sun.

Fusion research aims to create a new large-scale source of low carbon energy.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) – based at Culham Science Centre – carries out fusion energy research on behalf of the Government.

Landmark results announced today, from EUROfusion scientists and engineers at the Joint European Torus (JET) facility, highlight the potential for fusion energy.

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Fifty-nine megajoules of sustained fusion energy was achieved over a five-second period, demonstrating power plant potential, more than doubling previous records from 1997.

Professor Ian Chapman, UKAEA’s chief executive officer, said: “These landmark results have taken us a huge step closer to conquering one of the biggest scientific and engineering challenges of them all.

“It is reward for over 20 years of research and experiments with our partners from across Europe.

“It’s clear we must make significant changes to address the effects of climate change, and fusion offers so much potential.

“We’re building the knowledge and developing the new technology required to deliver a low carbon, sustainable source of baseload energy that helps protect the planet for future generations.

“Our world needs fusion energy.”

Oxford Mail: The interior of the Joint European Torus (JET) at Culham Science Centre. Picture provided by UKAEAThe interior of the Joint European Torus (JET) at Culham Science Centre. Picture provided by UKAEA

The previous energy record from a fusion experiment was 22 megajoules, achieved by JET.

The new record is a major boost for ITER, a larger and more advanced version of JET.

Tony Donné, EUROfusion programme manager, said: “This achievement is the result of years long preparation by the EUROfusion team of researchers across Europe.

“The record, and more importantly the things we’ve learned about fusion under these conditions and how it fully confirms our predictions, show that we are on the right path to a future world of fusion energy.

“If we can maintain fusion for five seconds, we can do it for five minutes and then five hours as we scale up our operations in future machines.

“This is a big moment for every one of us and the entire fusion community.

“Crucially, the operational experience we’ve gained under realistic conditions gives us great confidence for the next stage of experiments at ITER and Europe’s demonstration power plant EU DEMO, which is being designed to put electricity on the grid.”

MP George Freeman, minister for science, research and innovation, added: “These milestone results are testament to the UK’s role as a global leader in fusion energy research.

“They are evidence that the groundbreaking research and innovation being done here in the UK, and via collaboration with our partners across Europe, is making fusion power a reality.”

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