The series of conferences “Energy: Where are the keys? Towards energy sustainability”, organised by the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Granada (UGR) during the month of April, held a talk followed by a debate on the technological challenges related to the production of fusion energy. The talk was given by Ángel Ibarra, Director of IFMIF-DONES España.
Ibarra summarised the main characteristics of nuclear fusion as a source of energy; he presented the major lines of development of the different experiments being carried out by the scientific community with this objective. The Director also explained the current technological challenges, such as the matter regarding the materials of future fusion reactors, an area in which the IFMIF-DONES accelerator project will play an essential role.
On the basis that the world’s population is set to grow, with energy consumption expected to multiply by 2, 3 or 4 percent globally over the course of the 21st century, Ibarra noted that “within a reasonable timeframe, energy must develop alternative energy sources that are also capable of producing more energy. This will determine the future of humanity, so we need to find radically different methods of producing energy”.
Although fusion as an energy source can solve many problems, “there is still a lot of work to be done”, Ibarra continued, before focusing on the challenge of the research related to the materials needed to produce this type of energy and their availability. It is crucial to develop materials that are able to withstand long periods of irradiation, and it is precisely in this respect that the accelerator to be constructed in Granada will play a “critical role in demonstrating that fusion is viable both from a technological and an economic point of view”.
The talk was followed by an engaging debate in which attendees asked several questions and discussed different points of view about possible ways of achieving a sustainable energy future, as well as clarifying doubts about the potential residues that fusion energy can generate and the safety with which these residues will be handled.
The series of conferences organised by the UGR was also attended by Jorge Riechmann, Lecturer in the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature at the Autonoma University of Madrid, and Ángel Delgado, Professor in the Faculty of Science at the University of Granada.