Particle-in-Cell Simulations of Beam-Driven, Field-Reversed Configuration Plasmas

PI Jaeyoung Park , TAE Technologies, Inc.
Co-PI Giovanni Lapenta, KU Leuven
Calvin Lau, TAE Technologies
Richard Magee, TAE Technologies, Inc.
Project Summary

TAE Technologies combines accelerator physics and plasma physics to solve the challenge of fusion. As part of an ongoing investigation, this team will utilize ALCF HPC resources to conduct first principles particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations to develop an understanding of this newly identified and highly impactful regime

Project Description

TAE Technologies has been developing an advanced, beam-driven Field-Reversed Configuration (FRC) for superior plasma confinement since 1998 and has been making significant strides toward net fusion power. The fifth-generation device, called C-2W, is currently in operation and has met its performance targets of total temperature greater than 3 keV, electron temperature greater than 500 eV and steady-state FRC operation. At present, TAE is in the design phase of the next device, called “Copernicus,” which will achieve the plasma parameters necessary for net power production for deuterium-tritium fuel while running on hydrogen.

One of the critical questions currently facing the design of Copernicus is the global FRC stability of the plasma in the high density reactor regime. Since the fusion power output is proportional to the square of the density, high density operation is a major R&D focus towards developing compact, economical fusion power. Recent data from C-2W experiments indicate that there may have been a major breakthrough to overcome the long-standing FRC global stability limit with the use of neutral beam injection (NBI).  TAE will collaborate with Prof. Lapenta at KU Leuven to apply the ECsim (Energy Conserving semi-implicit model) code to the NBI-stabilized FRC. ECsim is a massively parallel (tested up to 32,000 CPU cores) first-principles PIC code that has been successfully utilized for many challenging plasma physics problems such as magnetic reconnections in the Earth’s magnetosphere and high-beta plasma systems for magnetic fusion.

We expect that successful ECsim simulations of high-density C-2W FRC plasmas will shed light on the role of energetic ions from NBI in global stabilization of the FRC. Knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of FRC stabilization in the current C-2W device will be applied to the next generation Copernicus device that is aimed at achieving a net power producing plasma condition. In addition, the project will demonstrate the use of public HPC resources to accelerate R&D in the private fusion sector, fostering future private-public ventures in the fusion industry.