Thus, ITER will come to answer the question of “how” DEMO should be built and operated, but, since ITER will not operate under such an intensive duty cycle, nor at such high power, ITER will not answer the question of “which” materials the critical elements should be built, to guarantee their durability and a low level of activation throughout the lifetime of the plant.
At present, there is no test bench, capable of reproducing the damage conditions that will occur in the most exposed materials of DEMO and future fusion plants.
IFMIF-DONES (International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility-DEMO Oriented NEutron Source) is the scientific infrastructure that meets this need. At IFMIF-DONES, a particle accelerator will produce a deuteron beam (D+) of 125 mA and 40 MeV, which will impact on a 25 mm thick liquid lithium curtain flowing at 15 m/s. The reactions produced in the lithium target, upon impact of the deuteron beam, will generate a high energy neutron flux with 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.
As part of the activities to support the start of the construction of this infrastructure of the European fusion program, which is included since 2018 in the roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), several programs have been launched whose purpose is to advance the activities to support the project, including the construction of its first buildings and laboratories. Among the programs, with direct actions at the site, DONES-PRIME, managed by CIEMAT and DONES-UGR, managed by the University of Granada, stand out. Among the programs with direct actions at the site are DONES-PRIME, managed by CIEMAT and the Ministry of Science and Innovation, and DONES-UGR, managed by the University of Granada and the Regional Government of Andalusia, both co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
In addition, in June 2021, through a collaboration agreement between the Spanish Government and the Regional Government of Andalusia, IFMIF-DONES España, the consortium for the promotion of the construction in Spain of the IFMIF-DONES was set up, devoted to manage and promote the scientific, economic, technical and administrative collaboration and to hold the ownership of the infrastructure.