DOE invests $112 million in computational fusion energy research

August 15, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science announced $112 million in funding on August 14 for 12 projects designed by fusion scientists, applied mathematicians, and computer scientists to apply high-performance computing and exascale computers to complex fusion energy problems.

The list of projects and more information can be found on the Fusion Energy Sciences homepage.

The scope: The Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) awards pair two programs that both fall under DOE-SC’s purview—the Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program and the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program—for projects that include the simulation of confined plasma dynamics, materials science, whole facility modeling, and computational frameworks for fusion energy. Projects will use computing resources to model plasmas, study turbulence, and use artificial intelligence to predict and solve problems like energy losses, according to DOE-SC.

“This collaborative effort will advance our understanding of fusion as an energy source while utilizing the most powerful supercomputers in the world,” said Jean Paul Allain, DOE associate director of science for FES. “The modeling and simulation work of these partnerships will offer insight into the multitude of physical processes that plasmas experience under extreme conditions and will also guide the design of fusion pilot plants. We are also looking forward to including efforts from inertial confinement devices and stellarators in this program.”

The specifics: The projects were selected by competitive peer review under a DOE funding opportunity announcement for Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing—FES Partnerships, issued in March. The total funding is $112 million for projects lasting up to four years in duration, with $28.15 million for fiscal year 2023 and outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.

The 12 awards went to principal investigators from nine universities, national laboratories, and private companies: General Atomics, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (two awards), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (three awards), Princeton University, University of California–Los Angeles, and University of California–San Diego.

“The SciDAC program and the FES-ASCR SciDAC partnerships have advanced scientific discovery in fusion and plasma sciences over the last two decades,” said Ceren Susut, DOE acting associate director of science for ASCR. “The current awards leverage this past research as well as codes developed on the ASCR Exascale Computing Project to address the new and broader 2023 portfolio.”

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