why this project is crucial for nuclear fusion (and for Spain)

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Granada is ready to welcome the IFMIF-DONES facilities with open arms. And it is that the scientific relevance of this project on the road to DEMO is indisputable. In addition, there is no doubt that you will have profound economic and social impact not only in the vicinity of Escúzar, which is the town in Granada where he will most likely reside, but throughout Spain.

During the conversation we had with him in the middle of last April, Carlos Alejaldre, who at that time was the general director of the CIEMAT, confirmed that we are in the final stages of the process of choosing the location of IFMIF-DONES. And Granada’s candidacy is enormously solid. So much so, in fact, that there is a general consensus that this project will finally reside in this Andalusian city.

IFMIF-DONES is one of the three fundamental pillars of the nuclear fusion edifice in whose construction the European Union is involved. The other two are ITER and DEMO. The experimental nuclear fusion reactor currently being built in the French town of Cadarache aims to demonstrate that fusion on a scale that man can handle works, and also that it is profitable from an energy point of view.

However, ITER does not aspire to produce electricity. That will be the task of DEMO (Demonstration Power Plant), a facility that will take the technological advances that have proven to work well at ITER and take them one step further to establish itself as the true forerunner of commercial nuclear fusion reactors. However, without IFMIF-DONES there will be no DEMO, so right now Granada is the center of attention.

The purpose of IFMIF-DONES is to develop the materials that DEMO requires

To fully understand the role of the IFMIF-DONES project, we need to briefly review the fundamentals of nuclear fusion. One of the greatest challenges faced by technicians involved in fine-tuning nuclear fusion reactors using magnetic confinement, such as ITER, is to recreate, inside the vacuum chamber of these sophisticated machines, the conditions necessary so that deuterium and tritium nuclei fuse.

It is impossible to resist the physics that this science fiction series offers us.  It will take a long time to be overcome

However, this is by no means all. When this reaction takes place, the fusion of a deuterium nucleus and a tritium nucleus triggers the production of a helium nucleus and a neutron that is fired with an energy of about 14 MeV (megaelectronvolts). The problem is that the neutron lacks a net electric charge, so it cannot be confined within the magnetic field, which, however, manages to retain the nuclei of deuterium and tritium, which have a positive electric charge.

The fusion of a deuterium nucleus and a tritium nucleus triggers the production of a helium nucleus and a neutron that is ejected with an energy of about 14 MeV

This is the reason why when it originates as a result of the nuclear fusion reaction, this neutron is fired towards the walls of the vacuum chamber with enormous energy. This particle is very important because in practice it will be closely linked to the production of electrical energy in nuclear fusion reactors, but, at the same time, it represents a very aggressive form of radiation which can significantly degrade the materials used in the reactor.

Acceleratorifmif Gifts

The linear particle accelerator that will be operated by IFMIF-DONES technicians will be capable of accelerating a deuteron beam of 125 mA so that it acquires an energy of 40 MeV. This recreation belongs to IFMIF-DONES Spain.

The components that will be most affected by the direct impact of the high-energy neutrons and the most intense heat flux are the inner wall of the vacuum chamber and the blanketwhich is a mantle that covers it and whose purpose is regenerate tritium which is necessary to use as fuel in the nuclear fusion reaction. This is why it is crucial to develop new materials that are able to withstand the neutron flux and thus ensure that the reactor will have a long operational lifetime.

It is crucial to develop new materials capable of withstanding the neutron flux and ensure that the reactor will have a long operational lifetime.

This is, neither more nor less, the purpose of IFMIF-DONES. And to carry it out, it is necessary to set up facilities designed to allow the technicians involved in the project evaluate material properties candidates to intervene not only in DEMO, but also in future commercial nuclear fusion reactors.

The mission of this project invites us to intuit what the heart of IFMIF-DONES will be: a source capable of produce high energy neutrons with the intensity and volume of irradiation necessary to test the candidate materials. And this source of neutrons will be nothing more than a linear particle accelerator that will help the IFMIF-DONES scientists to test, validate and qualify the materials that in the medium term should reach future plants for the production of electrical energy through fusion.

Granada is ready to lay the first stone of IFMIF-DONES

Everything is running. IFMIF-DONES Spainwhich is the Spanish public consortium that seeks to contribute to the European fusion program by participating in the design, construction and operation of the scientific and technical facilities that will constitute IFMIF-DONES, has already taken the first steps. And it is that the bidding for the construction works of some of the buildings of these facilities has already been done. This tweet published by this consortium at the beginning of last August confirms it:

The building that this tweet tells us about will be a research center linked to the University of Granada and will be housed in the Escúzar Metropolitan Park, in front of the linear particle accelerator in which they will be carried out. irradiation tests of the materials. The itinerary proposed by IFMIF-DONES Spain anticipates that this particular building will be completed by the second half of 2023, which puts on the table the need to speed up the start-up of this project so that its contribution to the merger commercial nuclear arrives on time.

IFMIF-DONES will generate highly qualified jobs with high added value

There is one thing we can be sure of: the effort being made to carry out this project is worth it. As we have seen, its contribution to the commercial application of nuclear fusion will be fundamental, but, in addition, IFMIF-DONES will have a very positive impact in the technological development of the Spanish industry. Of that there is no doubt.

And it is that it will not only generate highly qualified jobs and high added value; it will also allow the Spanish business ecosystem directly or indirectly involved in the execution of this project position yourself in an industrythat of the generation of electricity through nuclear fusion, which is postulated as a firm candidate to coexist with renewable energies in the energy model to which we currently aspire.

Images: IFMIF-DONES Grenada | POT

More information: IFMIF-DONES Grenada

Granada is ready to welcome the IFMIF-DONES facilities with open arms. And it is that the scientific relevance of this…

Granada is ready to welcome the IFMIF-DONES facilities with open arms. And it is that the scientific relevance of this…

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