About Culham Centre for Fusion Energy
Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) is the UK’s national nuclear fusion laboratory. CCFE works with research partners and industry around the globe to realise the enormous potential of fusion for generating low-carbon electricity.
Increasing demand for energy, concerns over climate change, and limited supplies of fossil fuels mean we need to find new, cleaner ways to power the planet. Nuclear fusion – the process that drives the Sun – could offer a virtually limitless supply of energy if mastered on Earth. Bringing it to the electricity grid is one of the toughest challenges in science but potentially one of the most rewarding.
CCFE is part of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and is based at Culham Science Centre in Abingdon, near Oxford – a major international fusion research site since the early 1960s. Today we continue to advance fusion science and engineering as the world comes together to build the first reactor-scale experiment, ITER, in France. Looking a step beyond ITER, we are developing technology and designs for the first fusion power plants.
CCFE manages the UK fusion programme, whose centrepiece is the new MAST Upgrade experiment. CCFE research focuses on ‘magnetic confinement’ fusion, in which a hot gas – or ‘plasma’ – is controlled with magnets inside a ring-shaped chamber known as a tokamak. The programme covers all the key areas of study in magnetic confinement fusion research – from theoretical and experimental physics to materials science and engineering technology.
CCFE operates the world’s largest tokamak experiment, the Joint European Torus (JET), at Culham for fusion scientists around Europe. CCFE is a member of the EUROfusion consortium, which comprises 30 fusion research organisations and universities from 25 European member states plus Switzerland, the UK and Ukraine. Our scientists play a full part in the coordinated European research programme run by EUROfusion, including tests at JET.
Fusion research at CCFE is funded jointly by Euratom and by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.