News & events
Minister sees an exciting future for Culham | 23/01/2015
Greg Clark MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science & Cities, visited JET yesterday to find out how researchers and engineers are bringing fusion power closer to reality.
Mr Clark met staff from EUROfusion – the European consortium that co-ordinates the research on JET – and CCFE, which operates the experiment on their behalf.
He heard about how JET, as the world's largest magnetic fusion device, has a unique role in preparing for the ITER international research project, which when constructed will aim to prove that fusion can be a viable commercial-scale energy source.
During his tour he met CCFE engineer Chris Fowler (pictured) in the JET Remote Handling Unit. Chris gave the Minister a demonstration of the advanced remote handling technology that allows operators to maintain and upgrade JET without the need to send people into the device.
Remote handling and robotics was the main theme of the day, as Mr Clark officially started construction of Culham's new RACE centre with a groundbreaking ceremony.
The RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments) facility will capitalise on the remote handling systems developed at JET so customers can apply this knowledge to their own fields. It will give access to test facilities, robotic equipment and expertise to SMEs, multinationals, research laboratories and academia from areas such as space applications, deep sea exploration, fusion research and the advanced nuclear fission industry.
When fully operational in late 2015, it will be a key centre for implementing the Government’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems strategy, which is designed to equip the UK to compete in this emerging global industry.
Greg Clark explained how RACE would fit in with this strategy: “Robotics is an emerging industry in which the UK has a solid foundation and can take the lead," he said. "That is why we have identified robotics as one of our ‘eight great technologies', and why we are committed to supporting the construction of world-leading facilities like RACE. Oxfordshire is a leading light in the robotics industry and this new centre will only go further to highlight the depth and breadth of scientific and research talent in the region.”
RACE photo (left to right): Culham apprentices Tom Cox and George Hall; UK Atomic Energy Authority Chairman Roger Cashmore; RACE Director Rob Buckingham; Greg Clark MP; UK Atomic Energy Authority/CCFE CEO Steve Cowley.