Dr Michael Porton CEng, a Technology Programme Manager at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), last night received the Royal Academy of Engineering Sir George Macfarlane award for his development of safety and materials technology that is key to the international effort to harness nuclear fusion – the power source of the Sun – on earth. The Award recognises an outstanding engineer who has demonstrated excellence in the early stages of their career.

Michael and his colleagues have placed the UK at the forefront of international research to develop technology for a commercial scale fusion reactor known as DEMO, being planned to follow ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. Within these devices, the core temperature will reach 150 million°C, or ten times the temperature at the centre of the Sun. ITER, which is just entering its construction phase in the South of France, aims to generate up to ten times as much power as it consumes, starting operation in the 2020s. DEMO will demonstrate the next step to commercial fusion power plants by exporting net electric power to the grid.

Michael has sought to connect different disciplines and experts from across UK research and industry to target strategic areas of research and evolve proposals for new UK facilities to deliver world-leading R&D. An example is the creation of the Facility for Fusion Neutron Irradiation Research (FAFNIR) - a fusion neutron source concept that would offer vital materials knowledge for power plant design at much reduced risk, cost and schedule when compared to previous international proposals. Assembling a team of UK experts in accelerator design and material irradiation damage from universities, CCFE and other public sector research establishments, he developed the proposal to maturity.Dissemination within the fusion research community influenced European policy and the recently released fusion roadmap. The FAFNIR partners are now actively seeking funds to realise the facility.

Michael graduated in Mathematics from the University of Bath, after which he completed an MSc degree in Physics & Technology of Nuclear Reactors atthe University of Birmingham. For his Ph.D Michael undertook cutting-edge researchat CCFEand Cranfield University, to address knowledge shortfalls forfusion experimental heating systems. Michaelthen joined CCFE's Engineering Design Unit in 2010 before taking a leadershipposition in the Technology Programme, part of the newly formed Technology & Future Projects Division in 2012. Michaelnow occupies a diverse role at CCFE developing demonstration power plant technologies within both the UK and European programmes.

Academy President Sir John Parker GBE FREng says: ‘We are delighted to award this year’s Sir George Macfarlane Award to Michael Porton for his outstanding work on fusion technology, Michael’s work is extremely important in the global collaboration to develop a credible source of fusion power, which presents many scientific and engineering challenges.”

Dr Porton said: "I am very honoured to receive the Sir George Macfarlane Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering. This represents the highest recognition for a young engineer in the UK and I would like to thank the Royal Academy of Engineering for this prestigious award. I hope this can serve to inspire other engineers and scientists to become involved in fusion research as it enters a landmark era with the construction of the ITER experimental device andtheprogression of excitingdesign development activities around the worldintended to deliver demonstration power plants as soon as possible.

Commenting on the award, Michael’s mentor Chris Waldon CEng FIMechE and Head of Department Dr Elizabeth Surrey FInstP, said “Michael possesses a rare combination of talents that he has employed to the benefit of CCFE, improving extramural interactions and widening its fields of research. As a result he has enriched the organisation's contribution to the European fusion programme and increased its influence in the wider fusion community. His infectious enthusiasm makes Michael a laudable role model to which developing engineers can aspire”.

Notes for editors

The Sir George Macfarlane Award
The Award is in memory of Sir George Macfarlane (1916-2007), one of the founding Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering. It recognises the potential of younger UK engineers, who have demonstrated excellence in the early stage of their career (fewer than eight years since graduation from a first degree in engineering). This excellence is marked by a quality of leadership and/or technical and scientific attainment that is clearly seen to be outstanding by their employers and organisation.

The Royal Academy of Engineering
Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.

Culham Centre for Fusion Energy

Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) is home to the UK’s fusion research programme, most notably the MAST (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak) experiment. It also hosts the world’s largest fusion facility, JET (Joint European Torus), which is operated for CCFE’s European partners under the European Fusion Development Agreement.

- The work is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC –www.epsrc.ac.uk) and by the European Union under the EURATOM treaty.

- Further information is available at  www.ccfe.ac.uk  and  www.jet.efda.org

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton