Home SCIENCE A groundbreaking experiment towards fusion has been launched in Granada with 200 scientists

A groundbreaking experiment towards fusion has been launched in Granada with 200 scientists

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With an initial investment of 750 million euros (700 for infrastructure creation and 50 for start-ups) and another 50 million euros in annual operations, 16 countries have launched this Thursday in Granada, according to Diana Morant, Spanish The science minister has said, “the largest international investment in science infrastructure in our country”. it’s about the project IFMIF Gifts, is one of the phases of the international ITER programme, which investigates how to produce clean, inexhaustible and cheap energy from nuclear fusion. A type of energy that originates in the center of the Sun and stars.

Almost a decade has passed since the project was first discussed and five since the government and the Junta de Andalucia agreed to contribute 50% of the investment in equal parts. The ITER project seeks to develop economical, safe and reproducible fusion reactors that provide a continuous supply of clean energy. However, before that, given the high temperatures generated in these reactors, it is necessary to investigate new materials capable of withstanding these temperatures. This is what IFMIF DOES include (for English International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility – Demo Oriented Neutron Source), an infrastructure that will be established in Escújar (Granada), and will be a large research center in materials for nuclear fusion, which will be tested, validated and certified at the facility in Granada.

Five years ago, figures for the project spoke of a construction cost of 400 million, something that is now estimated at 700. Half are already insured by the commitment of the government and the Junta de Andalucia. Croatia has already signed on to its commitment to take over 5%. The European Union, through its organizations Future for Energy, EURATOM and EUROfusion, will announce its contribution from May or July. For now, it has been decided that a representative from Fusion for Energy (the European Union body in charge of nuclear fusion research) will be the person in charge of the working group that will organize the next steps that will bring Grenada’s infrastructure into operation. ,

Another relevant investor appears to be Japan, which is currently in talks with Spain for its own participation. Sources familiar with the talks say he has been presented with a variety of options to join, one with low financial implications, two intermediate and one with strong investment. The same sources believe that he will choose to be heavily involved in the project with “around 20% of the budget”.

The aspect that will take place in the Granada installation.
aspect that the Granada facility will have.

The rest of the countries attending the Grenada meeting will confirm their investments in the coming months. In most cases, the investment method will be in the form of a contribution of goods and technology to the infrastructure, explains Ángel Ibarra, director of the IFMIF DONES Spain consortium, which controls the project on the Spanish side. Most of the investment in cash will come from Spain. Science Minister Diana Morant has previously laid out the exact figure for the government contribution. The government has already made a reserve of 93 million euros from the Fed Fund to start the infrastructure, whose construction will start in 2025, as confirmed by the minister. In parallel, the minister of the board’s universities has clarified that the Andalusian body will put into the project “one euro for each imposed by the government”. This means adding another 93 million and thus guaranteeing 186 for these first years of the project. The Spanish space agency to be set up in Seville will have an initial budget of more than 700 million euros this year.

Morant has also announced that he will present in a few weeks a strategic human resources plan that will allow for the “direct recruitment of 200 highly qualified scientists, engineers and professionals for the next three years of the consortium”. The minister assured that the innovative technology for this area of ​​merger would be procured by CDTI at a value of 30 million Euros this summer. On the other hand, the employment generation forecast for the project is 1,000 jobs per year, of which the facility will employ 300 to 400, depending on the current needs.

The ITER project seeks to develop affordable, safe and reproducible fusion reactors that provide a continuous supply of clean energy.

Angel Ibarra reported that the objectives of the program in Granada have been met. First, to determine the program’s mission, which they defined as “the creation of a database on the effects of radiation on materials to solve the problems they would encounter in a fusion reactor”.

They have not only agreed on an infrastructure-building programme, but have also agreed on how it will be harnessed and what will be done with the results. Ibarra explains it this way: “We will build an infrastructure that will allow us to experiment and then we will interpret the results that come from there and turn them into a proprietary database, which in turn will allow us to return the money. will allow.” Project.” Various management issues have been approved, among others, giving the chairmanship of the steering committee of the DONES program to Croatian Staša Skanjić.

The Minister of Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, lies next to the land where the infrastructure of the particle accelerator (IFMIF-DONES) will be located.
The Minister of Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, lies next to the land where the infrastructure of the particle accelerator (IFMIF-DONES) will be located.
Miguel Angel Molina (EFE)

With regard to the timeline of the project, it is estimated that a tender will be published at the end of 2024 to determine the construction company, which will start work a year later. From there, it would be 10 years of manufacture and 30 years of use. According to this forecast, in the mid-sixties of this century, the facility will undergo a major upgrade to remain operational. Ibarra put a date on the results: “The merger is relevant in the power system means the merger is able to supply 10% of the electricity. This would force us to build 200 or 300 reactors around the world. These are several generations of fusion reactors. So, to say the least, fusion is 100 years away for it to be a significant energy source. We have a machine capable of producing electricity from fusion reactions, something that could be done, depending on investment, in 20 years or so.

While the main infrastructure of the project is being built, concrete steps are already in place at the Escúzar Technical Park that will host it. A few weeks ago, the University of Granada and the Andalusian government started the construction of a building that will house a hundred university researchers in the region. The UGR-IFMIF DONES program will include not only scientific and technological research, but also pre-doctoral training and the organization of scientific conferences.

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