Heavy ion fusion is the process by which intense, short bursts of high-powered ion beams are focused on a target containing thermonuclear fuel, causing fusion and producing a net gain of energy. Instead of using enormous lasers (as in laser fusion) or magnets (as in ITER) to cause the fuel pellet to compress, the idea is to use a very high-current particle accelerator to produce an ion beam that compresses and ignites the fuel. The beams may be composed of ions such as xenon, mercury, or lead.
The realization of heavy ion driven inertial fusion requires a detailed quantitative understanding of the behavior of high-current ion beams. Berkeley Lab researchers David Grote, Alex Friedman, and Jean-Luc Vay used the WARP3d code on the NERSC Franklin and Hopper systems to study the transport and acceleration of ion beams in NDCX-II. WARP3d combines aspects of a multi-dimensional, multi-species, electrostatic and electromagnetic particle-in-cell (PIC) simulation code and an accelerator code. Both capabilities are required to study the “space-charge” effects that dominate ion beams and arise from excess electric charge that is treated as a continuum of charge distributed over a region of space rather than distinct point-like charges. WARP3d “ensemble” calculations – meaning hundreds of runs carried out in parallel - were used to assess NDCX-II performance in the presence of component imperfections and to set and design tolerances for various accelerator elements. For example, WARP3d runs revealed the important effects of solenoid alignment errors. A solenoid is a compact coil that operates at extremely high magnetic fields and is used to focus the ion beam in the horizontal and vertical plane. So overall the NERSC simulations were vital in allowing NDCX researchers to arrive at a robust, optimal operating point for the beam. Grote and Vay used up to 6,000 processors and over a million hours of machine time to do the work.
Roy Webb and Gregory Ladner have long appreciated the exciting technology and significance of plasma fusion as a carbon free, power source that has a potential to economically supply an limitless energy source. This directory is their first investment into exploiting this new and exciting technology for the advantage of mankind.. The two partners have long understood the importance to the environment that nuclear fusion brings and by investing into this directory, have demonstrated their committment toward a carbon free, radiation free world.
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