Science in Action: Fusion steel

Flora reported from the UK Atomic Energy Authority in Culham, near Oxford—visiting a 200-year-old iron forge on the way!

One of the properties of iron and steel that have made than so good for building materials is that they are pliable at temperatures much lower than their melting point—making them easy to mould and work. But this property makes them fail at very high temperatures—this is what happened during the fires at the World Trade Centre.

Scientists working at the UK’s Atomic Energy Authority are hoping to develop a super-strong steel to withstand the million degree temperatures of their fusion reactors. But first they have to find out why steel goes weak when it gets hot—it’s all to do with magnetism.

Flora Graham reports.