Energy: The new international fusion-lab DTT to be built near Rome. EU and China among the investors


ENEA, the Italian national Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development, approved the shortlist of the nine Italian areas eligible for hosting the Divertor Tokamak Test Facility (DTT), the international center of excellence for nuclear fusion research. According to the compliance with  the  technical, economic and environmental conditions required, the highest score was assigned by a Commission[1] to Frascati, a research district nearby Rome, followed by “Citta della della Ricerca” (Brindisi, in southern Italy), and Manoppello (Pescara, in Center East of Italy). The final report with the complete shortlist of the proposals submitted by Abruzzo, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio, Liguria (two-sites), Piedmont, Apulia and Veneto is available on the ENEA website.

“Based on the surveys conducted in the 60 days of preliminary inquiry and the information provided by the proposals submitted, the sites were evaluated and assigned a score – Alessandro Ortis, former president of the Authority for Energy, said. It required a great deal of commitment and hard work, made easier by the excellent cooperation with the regional and local administrations, which provided a valuable contribution to the work of the Commission”.

“The broad participation of such qualified actors showed capacity to take action, great expertise and a focus on research, and for that I’d like to thank all the regional institutions involved- Federico Testa, President of ENEA, said.  Today, Italy wins by investing on knowledge and sustainable energy, with a project offering scientific and employement prospectives, particularly for young people”.

“Now  -he went on– the operational phase is about to start, which will require a great commitment in order to meet the deadlines set, starting with the signing of an agreement with the Region. “ Furthermore – Testa concluded – the strict and transparent procedure adopted by the Commission and the excellent cooperation of the single Regions, have showed the existence of other sites worthy of being considered for future scientific initiatives”.

Works are expected to start by 30 November 2018 and be completed in seven years, with the involvement of over 1500 personnel, of which 500 directly and 1000 in the supply chain, with a 500 million euro investment and an estimated return of 2 billion euro.

Funding is both private and public, with 60 million euro by EUROfusion, the European Consortium managing fusion research activities on behalf of the European Union, 40 million euro by the MIUR , 40 million euro committed by the MiSE at 2019, 30 million euro by the People’s Republic of China, 25 million euro by the Lazio Region, 50 million euro by ENEA and partners and a 250 million euro loan by BEI.

The DTT and nuclear fusion

Nuclear fusion is the exact opposite of nuclear fission, and it has the objective of producing safe, clean, inexhaustible and cheap energy capable of replacing fossil fuels,  mimicking the physics process that powers the stars, contributing to meeting the decarbonisation goals.

The DTT aims at meeting some of the greatest challenges posed by fusion, (such as managing extremely high temperatures), with the objective of creating a connecting link between the international nuclear fusion project ITER[2] (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) and the reactor DEMO, expected to generate electricity from fusion energy by 2050,

Conceived by ENEA in collaboration with the CNR, INFN, Consorzio RFX, CREATE and some of the most prestigious Italian Universities,  the DTT will be  a hyper-technological cylinder, ten meter high with a 5 meter radius, inside which 33 m3 of plasma are brought to a temperature of 100million degrees, with a current intensity of 6 million amperes (equal to the current of six million lamps) and a thermal load on materials up to 50 million watts per square meter (over double the power of a rocket taking off).

The “heated” plasma will work at a  temperature of over 100million degrees, while the 26 km of niobium and tin  and the 16 in niobium and titanium superconductors cables just a few centimeters away, will be at a temperature of 269° below zero. The target of the power source is the divertor, key element of the tokamak, made of tungsten or liquid metals, removable only by means of advanced remote handling systems.

Italy leads the way in fusion research

Italy is leader in fusion research; our Country is among the main partners of the European Agiencies  EUROfusion and Fusion for Energy (F4E) and is part of the major  international research programmes DEMO, Broader Approach and ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor under construction in Cadarache, France.

At the industrial level over 500 companies are involved, including  Ansaldo Nucleare, ASG superconductors  (Malacalza Group), SIMIC, Mangiarotti, Walter Tosto, Delata TI, OCEM Energy Technology, Angelantoni Test Technologies, Zanon, CECOM and the consortium ICAS among ENEA, Criotec and Tratos, which won tenders worth almost a billion euro, about 60% of the value of the european orders for high-tech components.

ENEA is currently coordinator of the national research programme on fusion and the ICAS Consortium (Italian Consortium for Applied Superconductivity) which plays an active role in the manufacturing of components within Broader Approach and ITER.

The ENEA Fusion and Technologies Department with its Frascati and Brasimone research centers is an internationally recognized reference point of excellence. Researchers at the Department were among the first to set up facilities for the study of magnetic confinement plasmas, fusion machines such as the Frascati Tokamak (FT) and the Frascati Tokamak Upgrade (FTU).

Significant contributions are provided in the fields of superconductivity, plasma interface components, neutronics, safety, remote handling and plasma physics.

Over the last two decades, over 50 nuclear fusion patents have been registered, with significant positive impacts in terms of development and competitivity of national companies.


For more information:

The report can be downloaded  at:

Video of the interview to Federico Testa, President of ENEA:

Video of the interview to Alessandro Ortis, Chairman of the Technical Commission:

Video on the DTT and nuclear fusion:

Scheda tecnica


[1] The Commission was established on 1 February 2018 and includes Aldo Pizzuto, Head of the ENEA Fusion Department, Marco Citterio, Head of the ENEA Infrastructures Department, Giuseppe Pica, Head of the ENEA Administration Office, Flavio Crisanti, scientific coordinator of the DTT, Giuseppe Mazzitelli,  Head of the ENEA Fusion Technologies Division, Roberto Piovan,  Head of the Consortium RFX Development and Engineering  and  Antonella Migliore as Secretary

[2] ITER is a 20 billion euro international project involving China, Japan, India, South Korea, Russia, the USA e the EU, conceived to prove the feasibility of fusion energy production, with the implementation of an experimental reactor in Cadarache, France.