European fusion researchers are laying the groundwork for building a frontier science facility: the DEMO Oriented Neutron Source or DONES in Granada, Spain. And, DONES is slated to be an important next step towards the first fusion power plant. So what is DONES? Why do researchers think it’ll play a crucial role in the world where DEMO becomes a reality?
One main goal of DONES is to create an environment in which materials can be tested under realistic fusion irradiation conditions. In fusion reactions, plasma-facing materials must withstand large amounts of energy. This energy comes from high-energy neutrons that are created exclusively during nuclear fusion operations. But what kind of impact will such energy fluxes have on materials after years of exposure in future fusion reactors? This is what DONES will be used to investigate. Its outcomes will serve the proper preparation of the first Demonstration fusion power plant, DEMO.
EUROfusion’s roadmap has identified DONES as one of the three main pillars of its unique research programme. The materials testing facility is the step that comes in parallel to ITER. ITER’s outcome as well as the materials qualified in DONES will feed into the design of DEMO.
The March 2018 Fusion In Europe carries more details about DONES.
It is like testing a new motorway to get the official licence to run it. What we achieved so far is testing our road with one regular car driving on it every half an hour. But in the long-pulsed fusion operations in DEMO, we will see a constant flow of heavy trucks on the highway’s surface. Hence, we need to figure out what the material will be like after two years of intense traffic.