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Mast Upgrade Switched On

Eleanor Hubble
9 November 2020

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A £55m machine which has taken seven years to build and could be a game changer in the race for clean energy has just been switched on.

Mast Upgrade is a pioneering nuclear fusion experiment which is based at The Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, Oxfordshire.

Unlike fission, nuclear fusion can produce large amounts of energy with low amounts of associated radioactivity.

Mast or Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak Upgrade uses a pioneering design – the spherical tokamak.

Generally tokamaks are doughnut shaped, however Mast Upgrade the central hole has been reduced size as much as possible.

Inside the device magnetic fields are used to confine hot, ionised gas, known as plasma, inside a vessel. The plasma allows the light elements to fuse and yield energy.

Prof Ian Chapman, chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), stated that the switch-on on the Mast Upgrade is "a really momentous occasion".

UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway stated: "We want the UK to be a world leader in fusion energy and to capitalise on its amazing potential as a clean energy source that could last for hundreds of years.

"Backed by £55m of government funding, powering up the Mast Upgrade Device is a landmark moment for this national fusion experiment and takes us another step closer towards our goal of building the UK's first fusion power plant by 2040."

Read more here.

This story is adapted from a BBC news article, with editorial changes made by the METaL Project.

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