Following the completion of my MEng in Mechanical Engineering at Brunel University, I spent five years as a combustion computational fluid dynamics specialist in the energy industry. I have joined the CDT to fulfil my long-standing dream of switching to nuclear fusion and to contribute towards its future commercialisation.
My project is titled “Modelling Kinetic Effects on the Heat Exhaust in High Power Tokamaks” and will be supervised by Dr Chris Ridgers and Dr Ben Dudson based in York. It concerns the simulations of the plasma edge – a region where the plasma exhaust is directed towards the divertor by the tokamak’s magnetic fields. In more powerful reactors, this can expose the divertor to heat fluxes beyond what known materials can withstand. Minimising the heat loading to manageable levels poses several yet-unsolved challenges, and is key to ensuring performance in high power output reactors such as ITER, DEMO and STEP.
Current state-of-the-art models of the plasma edge assume local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE). This project will challenge this assumption by using new, pioneering non-LTE models, which have shown significant departures from previous results obtained for ITER. This work will explore the impact of using this new approach on furthering our understanding of plasma exhaust and divertor phenomena, with a focus on assessing strategies for mitigating divertor heat loading.