Granada will host the first meeting of the highest governing body of the DONES Programme, also known as the DONES Steering Committee, on 16th March. The meeting will be attended by representatives from Spain, Croatia, Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Japan, as well as from the international organisations EURATOM, EUROfusion and Fusion for Energy (F4E).
The mission of the DONES programme is to develop a database on the effects of neutron irradiation on materials and critical information for the design and construction of future fusion reactors.
The IFMIF-DONES scientific infrastructure will be the central element of the programme, and its construction will officially start in Grenada. The DONES Steering Committee will be responsible for overseeing and steering the implementation of the programme. It will be represented by all partner countries and institutions or those interested in participating.
About the DONES Programme
Fusion energy has been one of humanity’s most significant scientific challenges since the 1950s. It is a safe, sustainable and massive energy source based on an inexhaustible fuel distributed throughout the planet, which could meet the energy needs in the second half of this century. This objective will materialise in the future European demonstration power plant, DEMO (DEMOnstration power plant). This plant will confirm the technological and economic feasibility of fusion energy, with continuous operation and injection of energy into the electricity grid. To do this, DEMO needs to build on all the development acquired in ITER and the Fusion Programme, but it also requires the most critical materials of its internal structure to be tested.
One of the key challenges in realising fusion energy is the development of neutron-tolerant materials that can withstand a neutron flux of up to 14 MeV while maintaining good physical and structural properties for extended periods. Currently, engineering materials data, properties and rules are based on fission neutron irradiation campaigns and do not fully cover neutron energies, temperature and other operating conditions.
The mission of the DONES programme will be to develop a database of the effects on materials of neutron irradiation similar to those produced in fusion reactions, which is essential for the design and construction of future fusion reactors. Therefore, to test materials and grow this knowledge, it is necessary to develop a neutron source with a spectrum similar to that of fusion; this neutron source will be able to reproduce the irradiation conditions of future fusion reactors, is IFMIF-DONES.
The IFMIF-DONES scientific infrastructure is the central element of the DONES Programme, which aims to establish a comprehensive database on fusion materials.
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 high-energy neutron flux of sufficient intensity to simulate, in an accelerated manner, the damage that neutrons would produce in a fusion reactor. This neutron flux will be used to irradiate material samples located immediately behind the lithium curtain in the test modules of the irradiation area.
The International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility: Demo Oriented NEutron Source (IFMIF-DONES) is a unique scientific infrastructure in the world where materials for future fusion power plants will be tested, validated and qualified as DEMO (a prototype demonstration fusion reactor).
About this international project, in December 2017, Fusion for Energy (F4E) positively assessed the joint Spanish and Croatian proposal to locate IFMIF-DONES in Granada.
The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) included IFMIF-DONES in its 2018 Roadmap as a project within the energy area, and it currently appears in the 2021 Roadmap. IFMIF-DONES thus becomes one of ESFRI’s critical infrastructures, positioning itself as a relevant strategic infrastructure for European scientists in energy research and innovation.
IFMIF-DONES will therefore be a unique international facility. In addition to its relevance for the development of fusion as an energy source, it will also be very relevant in other areas of research and knowledge that will benefit from its technology, such as medicine, particle physics, fundamental physics studies, and industry… All this is on a planet that is increasingly committed to sustainable development and using clean, safe and efficient energy.
The IFMIF-DONES project is an initiative of the National Fusion Laboratory of the Energy, Environmental and Technological Research Centre (CIEMAT), which the IFMIF-DONES España Consortium is currently developing.
The IFMIF-DONES España Consortium is a research entity shared equally between the General State Administration and the Autonomous Community of Andalusia.