The ITER tokamak in France will be the first ever fusion device to deliver more power out than in! Quite like wood which continues to burn after we stop holding a match to it, we do this by creating a “burning” plasma – a regime in which the fuel is self-heated by the alpha particles that are released from the fusion reactions. To help the reaction along we also use other sources of external heating, such as neutral beam injectors.
These alpha and neutral beam particles carry a lot of energy and are considered ‘fast particles’. Like heat in a fire, these particles must be confined for long enough to ensure that their energy does not escape the plasma. Otherwise the reaction stops and we risk damaging the machine which, in this case especially, would not be good!
Not only does this include novel physics, but the approach to computationally modelling fast particles in ITER is also a challenge in itself. This project therefore aims to develop and use new high performance computing algorithms and architectures to study the fast ion dynamics in various ITER operating scenarios.