LLNL-led project to advance understanding of plasma dynamics for future fusion power plants

The logo for ABOUND (Download Image)

The four-year, multi-institutional Advanced Boundary Plasma Dynamics (ABOUND) project will receive $9.25 million from the Department of Energy’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing program. Shown is a the geometry of a tokamak with a single-null divertor, which will be addressed as part of the ABOUND project. (Image courtesy of Xu Xueqiao.)

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory-led project aimed at using computing tools to improve understanding of fusion plasma dynamics was among 12 projects recently awarded funding by the Department of Energy (DOE) to accelerate fusion power plant development.

The four-year, multi-institutional Advanced Boundary Plasma Dynamics (ABOUND) project will receive $9.25 million from the Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program, which combines the DOE Office of Science’s Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) and Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) programs to support research on computational projects in fusion energy science.

Researchers said the funding will enable the multidisciplinary team, which includes scientists from LLNL’s Fusion Energy Sciences Program and Center for Advanced Scientific Computing (CASC), as well as seven other institutions, to develop innovative multi-scale, multi-physics simulations that could revolutionize tokamak plasma exhaust management while maintaining high confinement (H-mode) — a key aspect of fusion research.

“We are truly excited about this funding award, as it signifies a pivotal moment for both our team and the realm of nuclear fusion,” said principal investigator and LLNL theoretical/computational plasma physicist Xueqiao Xu. “By harnessing state-of-art computational techniques across disciplines, we are not only expanding our knowledge, but also contributing vital insights that have the potential to shape the future of fusion devices. Through these efforts, we aspire to make a lasting impact on the field and pave the way for successful ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) operation and the design of Fusion Pilot Plants.”

The team includes collaborators at the University of Colorado Boulder; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; the University of California, San Diego; Southern Methodist University; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Los Alamos National Laboratory and General Atomics.

Xu said that the team is “eager to unravel the complexities” of advanced boundary plasma dynamics throughout the project’s four-year duration, including aspects like pedestal turbulence, small edge-localized modes, pedestal scrape-off-layer coupling and divertor heat load control.

The project partners with researchers in the FASTMath and RAPIDS2 SciDAC institutes (funded by ASCR) to apply leading-edge mathematics and computer science algorithms, techniques and software to the tokamak fusion application.

“Institute expertise and technologies have the potential to significantly improve the speed and fidelity of the project’s fusion simulations and enhance the science research,” said Rob Falgout, a CASC researcher and co-investigator for ASCR on the project.

The endeavor marks the first time LLNL has led a DOE FES SciDAC project — which includes managing 20 contributors across nine organizations, overseeing a budget of $6 million for LLNL and ensuring the success and efficient execution of the project.