Fusion Doctoral Training Network

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Physics


Fusion energy is likely to become a major contributor to world electricity generation capacity. The extent to which this will occur will become clear over the next 10-15 years with the construction and operation of ITER (the second largest international science project after the International Space Station). In parallel, the HiPER proposal, for example, will explore the potential for inertial confinement fusion. In this timescale the UK must develop a cadre of trained personnel who have the ability to contribute to the decisions the UK will have to make and, if the decision is to take this route, to train the generation of scientists and engineers who will license and build fusion power plants in the UK. In the nearer term, JET (sited at Culham) is undergoing a ~100M upgrade programme and there are also advanced plans for the UK's domestic tokamak, MAST, to be significantly upgraded. With inertial fusion, the Orion laser facility is just coming on line at AWE Aldermaston. These offer exciting opportunities for young scientists: a fact reflected by the high popularity of fusion amongst students. For the UK to maximise the benefits from these facilities and be in a position to contribute to and exploit the spin-offs of fusion science and technology, it is essential that there is a coordinated training programme to provide a critical mass of manpower, the quality of which is recognised internationally. There is no such programme in the UK at present and the core aim of this proposal is to take the first steps towards addressing this need. Specifically it will establish some of the infrastructure and the collaborative network to prepare the way for a full Doctoral Training Centre in the future.To address the breadth of research needs for fusion as it enters the ITER era, a strategic objective of the proposed Fusion Training Network is to initiate a programme of cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional, collaborative doctoral training, including strong support from UKAEA Culham and the Central Laser Facility. Students will register with one of the four partner universities. They will receive 6 months of formal courses in a broad range of fusion topics from plasma physics to fusion technology, gaining an appreciation of both experimental and computational techniques employed in fusion research. Students will also identify opportunities for collaboration with each other during this time; opportunities that they will exploit during their reseach projects. Thus, a student working on the plasma physics associated with plasma-surface interactions at Liverpool might work in collaboration with a materials scientist at Manchester designing the tokamak exhaust components. Another example is that an inertial fusion specialist measuring opacities at York might work with a spectroscopy specialist at Durham working on tokamaks to understand how the opacity of the plasma edge region affects interpretation of spectroscopic plasma diagnostics. Students will benefit from access to a wider range of experience than a single institute can offer. They learn how to work collaboratively and broaden their experiences, gaining appreciation of other fields.The training network will combine basic science, technology and engineering to create the foundations for a multi-disciplinary training and research environment that is not currently achievable at UK national laboratories or at a single university. The main objective is to establish the environment and procedures to train cohorts of highly skilled researchers who will ultimately lead research programmes for the UK at an international level. Furthermore, although fusion is the main drive for the training network, the ultimate goal is to produce students with a breadth of expertise that will qualify them to take posts in other areas of strategic importance, such as the fission industry and the rapidly growing industry associated with technological plasmas.


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