As an acronym it’s a bit of a mouthful, but IFMIF-DONES has a lot to say: the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility: Demo Oriented NEutron Source is the world’s only scientific infrastructure where materials for future fusion power plants can be tested and qualified for the demonstration fusion power plant DEMO. On 16 March the official DONES Steering Committee met for its first meeting in Granada, and to celebrate the formal start of construction of the facility in Granada, Spain.
EUROfusion Programme Manager (CEO) Tony Donné says:
“One of the elements on the critical path towards creating electricity from fusion is to develop and test materials that can withstand the harsh conditions in a fusion reactor, in which the materials are continuously bombarded by energetic neutrons.
“IFMIF-DONES will be the first source that can create a total yield of fast neutrons similar to that in a fusion reactor. I am very pleased to witness today the start of its construction as it is an essential facility on the path towards fusion electricity.”
Unique materials research for fusion
Fusion energy promises safe, sustainable and large-scale energy based on a practically inexhaustible fuel distributed throughout the planet, which could meet the energy needs in the second half of this century.
To develop the future European demonstration fusion power plant DEMO, researchers want to study and test materials for the device by exposing them to harsh conditions expected in DEMO.
A key materials challenge is the development of materials that can withstand the impact of fast neutron particles with an energy of 14 MeV from the fusion reaction. Those energies cannot easily be mimicked in fission-based experiments, leading to the dedicated materials facility IFMIF-DONES to reproduce the conditions inside future fusion devices.
Richard Kamendje, Senior Manager for International Collaboration at EUROfusion says:
IFMIF-DONES will benefit the world fusion programme through a database of the effects of neutron irradiation on materials, and by giving critical information for the design and construction of future fusion devices. This will be instrumental in Europe in particular, where we are taking steps to accelerate our programme. The IFMIF-DONES infrastructure is instrumental in maintaining and strengthening our leadership in the field.
IFMIF-DONES is a single-sited novel research infrastructure for testing, validation and qualification of the materials to be used in future fusion power plants like DEMO (a demonstration fusion reactor prototype). The facility was recognized as a critical European research infrastructure in 2018 by ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures.
The engineering design and the safety report of IFMIF-DONES were completed in a EUROfusion work package. EUROfusion is still involved in engineering support, in the testing and commissioning of the prototype Linear Particle Accelerator that has been built in Japan (Rokkasho) as part of the Broader Approach agreement. EUROfusion also aims to be involved in the scientific exploitation of IFMIF-DONES.
At the host site in Granada, Spain, the consortium will develop the central facility of the programme for neutron materials studies, a particle accelerator capable of producing neutrons with the same energy spread as expected in future fusion devices.
In IFMIF-DONES, a particle accelerator will produce a deuteron beam (D+) of 125 mA current and 40 MeV energy, impacting a 25 mm thick liquid lithium curtain flowing at 15 m/s. The reactions in the lithium target, upon the impact of the deuteron beam, will generate a stream of high-energy neutrons. This beam will have sufficient intensity to simulate, in an accelerated manner, the damage that neutrons would produce in a fusion reactor. The neutrons will be used to irradiate material samples located immediately behind the lithium curtain in the test modules of the irradiation area.
In addition to its relevance for the development of fusion as an energy source, IFMIF-DONES aims to be relevant in other areas of research and knowledge that will benefit from its technology, such as medicine, particle physics, fundamental physics studies, and industry.