HPC tool development for the design of HTS superconducting components for tokamak fusion systems

The development of new Tokamak concepts based on a very high magnetic field gives rise to the possibility of a new generation of compact systems and creates the opportunity to approach a family of fusion systems beyond the state of the art and thereby initiate the transition from huge machines to smaller systems compatible with concepts such as distributed generation, with less impact on the environment.

In the development of fusion systems, in addition to the conceptual evolution of elements towards new options, such as the “liquid blanket” for example, it is necessary to introduce new materials and new technologies for the construction of suitable magnets to obtain sufficiently intense magnetic fields, since low-temperature superconducting (LTS) materials are not valid for operating at the 20T [1] level required for the new designs. The quality of cables based on LTS superconducting materials is very high, as are the coils based on them [2], but LTS materials are one of the limiting factors in achieving the field values required for the new generations of compact reactors with lower cost and lower impact.

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Fusion likes breaking records!

Images of the different experimental fusion devices, from left to right: KSTAR, NIF, EAST.

On a previous post, we commented about the recent record achieved by the Joint European Torus (JET), in a unique set of D-T experiments. In this post, we would like to add several other records set by other fusion devices. In particular, we will be talking about the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR), the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) and the National Ignition Facility (NIF). By all means, we can say that the period from 2020 up to the near future, will be remembered as a period of success and milestone fulfillment in the fusion field.

A distinction should be made between KSTAR, EAST and NIF as the physical mechanism to reach nuclear fusion is different. While KSTAR and EAST are two superconducting tokamaks, i.e. they rely on superconducting magnets which constraint the plasma shape and dynamics, NIF is a fusion device consisting of several lasers which heat and compress a small amount of a hydrogen (or an isotope as deuterium) pellet. Both mechanisms are known in the fusion field as, magnetic confinement fusion and intertial confinement fusion, respectively. Let’s now have a look at their respective records.

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PRACE Advanced Training Centres’ (PATC) courses and events

The PRACE (the Partnership for Advanced Computing) is a cooperation between supercomputing centres in Europe, with the membership of

The PRACE organises educational and training events targeting both the scientific and industrial communities, with the cooperation of further institutes. Our research centre is one of the PRACE Advanced Training Centres (PATC), which offers and coordinates training and educational activities.

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JET brings the power of the Sun closer to Earth

News on the JET record (credit: EUROfusion).

We have been talking in our earlier blog posts (here and here) about the relevance of the deuterium-tritium (D-T) fuel mixture in a magnetic confinement fusion device, such as a tokamak. The intrinsic property that makes this mixture so interesting is the higher fusion cross section as compared to other ion combinations at a relatively “low” energy (around 100 keV which is already 10 times the temperature of the centre of the Sun). In other words, D-T maximizes the number of fusion reactions, which is after all, what we are looking for.

The Joint European Torus (JET) has recently finished its second D-T campaign (DTE2 as we refer to it in more technical contexts), and the results could not have been better. This culminates a huge effort from the nuclear fusion community which makes the way towards the success of ITER smoother.

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Disentangling the electronic structure of tungsten metal

Projected Density of States (PDOS) spectra of bcc tungsten structure with 3456 atoms calculated using Linear-Scaling BigDFT, compared to hard x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (HAXPES) valence band spectra. Image adapted from arXiv:2109.04761v1

Tungsten is one of the reference plasma-facing materials in fusion power devices due to its excellent temperature resistance and low tritium retention. The investigation of the electronic structure is key for implementing tungsten-based technologies as it is strongly related to the stability and properties of the material. However, despite the large efforts in studying the electronic properties of tungsten metal, some complex features are still not properly characterised.

The combination of state-of-the-art experimental and theoretical approaches is key to describing the electronic structure of tungsten, as presented in a recent publication in Physical Review B, entitled Lifetime effects and satellites in the photoelectron spectrum of tungsten metal“.

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Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022

Celebrating women in fusion: (top, from left to right) Meera Venkatesh, Gabriele Voigt, Najat Mokhtar, Elena Buglova, (bottom, from left to right) Sibylle Günter, Min Liao, Tammy Ma, Katherine Weimer

Declared in 2015 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, International Day of Women and Girls in Science (IDWGS), celebrated every year on the 11th of February, highlights the contributions of women and girl scientists and promotes gender equality across all scientific fields.

In honor of IDWGS we have selected four outstanding women fusioneers from across the world, each of whom work to push the boundaries of fusion research and bring us closer to viable fusion energy.

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