Commercially viable electricity from nuclear fusion a step closer thanks to British breakthrough – Sky News

The dream of pollution and radiation-free electricity derived from nuclear fusion could be a step closer to reality thanks to a breakthrough by British scientists.

They have developed an exhaust system that can deal with the immense temperatures created during the fusion process and which so far have limited the viability of commercial fusion power plants.

Initial results from the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s MAST Upgrade experiment suggest that the world-first could mean developing fusion energy becomes easier.

Producing electricity using a fusion reactor is still in the experimental stage but experts have said fusion energy – based on the same principle by which stars create heat and light – could be a safe and sustainable part of our energy supply in the future.

A fusion power station uses a machine called a tokamak to enable hydrogen atoms to fuse together, releasing energy that can make electricity.

But fusion reactions can produce a lot of heat and, without an exhaust system to handle this, materials need to be replaced more often.

This limits the operating ability of the power plant and makes energy cost more.

The system used by the MAST Upgrade experiment – the Super-X divertor – helped tokamak parts to last longer, however.

Tests showed at least a 10-fold reduction in heat, a result that could make the power plants more economically viable to run, in turn reducing the cost of fusion electricity.

UKAEA’s lead scientist at MAST Upgrade, Dr Andrew Kirk, said the results were “fantastic”, adding: “They are the moment our team at UKAEA has been working towards for almost a decade.

“We built MAST Upgrade to solve the exhaust problem for compact fusion power plants, and the signs are that we’ve succeeded.

“Super-X reduces the heat on the exhaust system from a blowtorch level down to more like you’d find in a car engine.

“This could mean it would only have to be replaced once during the lifetime of a power plant.

“It’s a pivotal development for the UK’s plan to put a fusion power plant on the grid by the early 2040s – and for bringing low-carbon energy from fusion to the world.”

Deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth and Carrier Strike Group will ‘fly flag for Global Britain’ – Sky News

HMS Queen Elizabeth will depart for its first operational deployment next month in a mission that will “fly the flag for Global Britain”.

The £3bn aircraft carrier will head for Asia, with eight RAF F35B stealth fighter jets on board and accompanied by six Royal Navy ships, a submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “When our Carrier Strike Group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain – projecting our influence, signalling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow.

“The entire nation can be proud of the dedicated men and women who for more than six months will demonstrate to the world that the UK is not stepping back but sailing forth to play an active role in shaping the international system of the 21st century.”

During the 28-week deployment, ships from the group will visit more than 40 countries for more than 70 engagements, including an exercise marking the 50th anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements with Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

Sturgeon ‘misled parliament’ over role in Salmond investigation, committee finds – Sky News, 18/03/21

A Scottish parliamentary committee has concluded that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon misled parliament.

Sky News understands that Holyrood’s harassment committee has reached the conclusion by a majority vote ahead of the publication of its final report.

Members have decided that Ms Sturgeon misled the committee itself and, as such, misled parliament and potentially breached the ministerial code of conduct.

Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon accused of damaging Scotland’s institutions to ‘save her own skin’