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Oxfordshire Start-up Hopes to Transform Nuclear Fusion Production

A start-up business is hopeful it could revolutionise the production of energy.

First Light Fusion in Yarnton, Oxfordshire has been investigating how nuclear fusion could be generated on a large scale.

Physicists have pursued the technology for decades as it could offer a source of near-limitless clean energy to power homes across the globe.

The company is planning a new bigger testing site and is looking to treble its workforce.

a woman in a navy polo standing by a large metal tube

First Light Fusion is one of several organisations in Oxfordshire developing fusion and attracting high-profile interest.

Researchers there have been using gunpowder to develop fusion energy.

Rosie Barker, a scientist at the company, said she is hopeful that the energy “can be harnessed and used to power our homes”.

What is nuclear fusion?

In nuclear fusion, pairs of tiny particles called atoms are heated and forced together to make one heavier one.

It is the process that gives the Sun its energy and scientists have been trying to recreate it on earth since the 1960s.

Unlike the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, it doesn’t produce climate harming greenhouse gases, making it more sustainable.

A man in a blue shirt and short brown hair

CEO of First Light Fusion, Dr Nick Hawker, believes that it is important to work not only on the physics but the engineering challenges too.

“That’s where we need to build the technology up,” he said.

“There are people with more money than us, that’s for sure, but it’s not necessarily always the people with the most money that win,” Dr Hawker added.

a nuclear fusion structure, consisting of lots of scaffolding-like metal

First Light has plans for a new, larger base at Culham Centre for Fusion and Energy, with construction expected to begin in 2024.

But it is likely to take decades before fusion energy could create power on a global scale.

Source : BBC