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Year 12 Physicists visit Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE)

On Wednesday 7th June, Year 12 Physics students went on a trip to Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in Oxfordshire.

CCFE is home to JET, a nuclear fusion experiment which aims to release large amounts of energy without producing long-lived radioactive waste or greenhouse gases.  JET is fuelled by two isotopes of hydrogen - deuterium (commonly found in seawater) and tritium (much rarer), and reaches temperatures of 150 million oC (10 times hotter than the sun), making this the hottest place in the solar system.  To achieve this, JET consumes an astonishing amount of power (2% of the UK’s entire power reserve when switched on). The “neutral particle beams” used for heating could boil a bath full of water in 0.48 seconds.

To protect researchers from the heat and radiation released, JET is housed in a hanger protected by the second largest doors in the world (after those at NASA), weighing 400 tonnes each.  We were utterly fascinated by JET and had a wonderful experience with the staff, who gave us a personal tour of the facility and a short talk about the faculty.

Two of us will be returning in July to take part in a women in STEM scheme run by the UK Atomic Energy Authority which is definitely something to look forward to.

- By Louisa, Simren, Hannah & Hafsa in Year 12