The University of Oxford has joined Imperial College London and the University of York in a £12 million industry partnership to explore a new method for creating fusion power.
The project, funded by First Light Fusion, a company behind the new approach, and UK Research and Innovation’s Prosperity Partnership scheme, will see researchers from the three universities work together to develop a new type of fusion reactor.
Fusion power is a promising source of clean, safe, and abundant energy. However, it has been difficult to achieve fusion reactions that produce more energy than they consume.
First Light Fusion’s approach to fusion is based on using high-power lasers to compress small pellets of hydrogen to the point where they fuse. The company believes that this approach could be more efficient and cost-effective than traditional fusion methods.
The Oxford team will contribute expertise in areas such as materials science, computational modeling, and experimental physics. The team will also work to develop new methods for measuring the performance of fusion reactions.
“This partnership brings together the expertise needed to address this grand challenge,” said Dr. Nick Hawker, Engineering Science alumni and co-founder and CEO of First Light Fusion. “We are excited to work with the world-class researchers at Oxford and York to develop a new type of fusion reactor that could one day provide clean, safe, and abundant energy for the world.”
The project is expected to last for three years. If successful, it could lead to the development of a new generation of fusion reactors that could be deployed to generate electricity on a commercial scale.
The project is one of a number of initiatives that are underway in the UK to develop fusion power. In 2022, the UK government announced a £222 million investment in fusion research and development. This investment is part of the government’s commitment to making the UK a global leader in fusion power.
The development of fusion power has the potential to revolutionize the global energy landscape. Fusion could help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, especially in light of the Ukraine war which saw a blockade on Russian gas raising household energy prices in Europe. If successful, this could be a major step towards making fusion power a reality.