The facility was installed with IAEA support at the Ruđer Bošković Institute. It will help scientists test and develop new structural materials indispensable for fusion energy to become a reality. Only very few facilities of this kind exist worldwide.
The IAEA said fusion researchers and engineers work to develop methods to harness the power generated by the fusion of light nuclei, a process comparable to the energy production of stars. It holds the promise of abundant, safe and carbon free energy.
However, fusion reactions generate highly energetic neutrons and alpha particles which, after some time of exposure, can damage reactor walls. Ion beam technology like the dual-beam facility in Croatia can simulate these extreme conditions and help to develop new materials sturdy enough to sustain them.
Milko Jasic, senior scientist at the Ruđer Bošković Institute’s laboratory for ion beam interactions, said the facility will now be capable of performing the most realistic simulation of the fusion environment. “This investment will also enable increased use of ion beam analysis techniques for a wide range of other applications.”
Danas Ridikas, head of the physics section at the IAEA, said the facility will allow researchers and engineers to test that materials are robust enough to contain a fusion reaction.