Researchers at CEIT-IK4 have created a new material, key in the development of future reactors that reproduce energy from the sun.
The exploitation of nuclear fusion to produce energy has been a dream for many years, holding out a future for energy utilities of a new type of supply that is almost inexhaustible, which is safe, cheap and respectful of the environment. In fact, the interest shown by the international scientific community is growing and building has started on an installation known as ITER in Cadarache (south of France), which will be employed to study scientific and technological viability of future commercial fusion reactors.
Within this R+D process, a research team from the CEIT technological centre, together with TECNUN-School of Engineering at the University of Navarra, has managed to develop a key part for the most critical zone of ITER and of future reactors. This is a new material based on graphite with titanium additions, and whose properties are such that it can resist the extreme conditions to which it is subjected during the production of energy from nuclear fusion – having to be exposed to a plasma of hydrogen at temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees.
This new material thus resolves one of the principal problems of the operation of future reactors, enabling high thermal conductivity, high resistance to erosion due to the bombardment of particles from the fusion plasma, and is capable of withstanding very strong thermal loads. The research, led by scientists from the Department of Materials at CEIT, forms part of the European EXTREMAT project which incorporates 37 research centres from 13 different countries.
The eventual advantages fusion power stations will provide are greater safety (given that there will not be catastrophes such as that of Chernobil in 1986), the disappearance of high radioactivity waste, the fact that no greenhouse effect gases are emitted and the production of practically unlimited quantities of fuel.English translation by: WORDLAN firstname.lastname@example.org; 615740862.