In the DEMO-Oriented NEutron Source (DONES) facility, it is expected to use a considerable amount of lithium at
an average temperature higher than 300 ◦C. It is well known that lithium can produce exothermic reactions with
several media, generating corrosive and toxic (upon burning) reaction products and with the potential risk of
mobilizing radionuclides in little amounts. As a result, lithium represents a hazardous material which must be
safely handled under normal operation and, especially, potential accident conditions which involve lithium spills
and radioactive releases.
Although the burning behavior of lithium has been studied for several decades, there is still a wide dispersion
of data regarding its actual ignition temperature. Generally, measurements of the spontaneous or induced
ignition temperature of a leakage of molten lithium, pool/spray type, depend on several factors such as metal
purity, gas atmosphere composition and relative humidity, sample size or geometrical aspects, and even different
treatments, apparatus, and techniques used.
A dedicated experimental facility, called “LiFIRE”, is currently under development at the National Fusion
Laboratory of CIEMAT with the purpose to quantitatively support the DONES safety analysis on the fire risk in
case of lithium leakages, based on the Defense-in-Depth principle, i.e. prevention, detection and mitigation.