The performance of a fusion plasma, which should in the end deliver energy, depends on many factors. To understand the origins, fusion scientists have to dive deeper into the turbulent phenomena that cause energy and particle losses. Recently, European, Asian and American researchers met to discuss the latest findings.

Joining efforts

“We have conducted experiments and collected computer codes which simulate transport processes, we compare them and validate the results”, says Paola. The rise of supercomputers has accelerated the studies of transport in fusion plasmas. “Nevertheless, those simulations are complicated, they may take months of calculating time, even on a supercomputer”, says the transport expert.

Visualization of turbulent fluctuations in the tokamak electrostatic potential from simulations by the GYRO code, developed by General Atomics.

Visualization of turbulent fluctuations in the tokamak electrostatic potential from simulations by the GYRO code, developed by General Atomics.

Small but important steps

Felipe Nathan Lopes can surely confirm that. He took part in this year’s meeting. “I enjoyed the buzzing scientific environment there. It allowed me to learn a lot in a short time”, says the master candidate in Theoretical Plasma Physics at the University of Brasilia (Brazil) who is currently pursuing an internship at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. He also has a scholarship from the Universidad Politècnica de Catalunya where he is doing a second master in Nuclear Engineering.
Nathan presented a poster on the on-going research about the nonlinear electromagnetic stabilisation of microturbulence enhanced by suprathermal ion gradient pressures. “I received positive and constructive feedback during those four days. I am realising that I am indeed contributing another small but significant step towards fusion energy.”

Europe is not enough

EUROfusion strongly supports transport research in order to understand what lies behind turbulence and energy losses in fusion plasmas and, ultimately, in future fusion reactors. The European fusion roadmap has prioritised the field of thermonuclear plasma transport in Mission 1 “Plasma regimes of operation”.
But for Paola Mantica, Europe is not enough: “The joint data and codes of American, Asian and European research will surely provide more comprehensive information for us than just the European. Getting this together will help us to improve.”
She hopes that Asia will increase its participation in this special meeting, as already happened in Leysin, thus making it a trilateral event.

Paola Mantica is one of many scientists who have dedicated their scientific careers to understanding the turbulent transport of energy and particles. Paola Mantica has dedicated their scientific careers to understanding the turbulent transport of energy and particles. More than 30 years ago, she started her career in plasma physics at the “Instituto di Fisica del Plasma” in Milano. Mantica recently arranged for 97 international experts to meet at the top of the Swiss mountains. She, and her colleague Clarisse Bourdelle, chaired the European Transport Task Force (TTF) Meeting and organised the 21st Joint EU-US TTF conference in Leysin (Switzerland) along with John Rice and Gary Staebler (Chairs of the US TTF) and the Asian Pacific TTF Chair Hogun Jhang. The conference began in 1994 as a spontaneous initiative of European transport scientists following the example of the recently established US initiative. Since then, it has continued as an annual joint meeting of Europe and America, with the venue alternating between the two continents. This time, EUROfusion’s Swiss Plasma Center (SPC) played host. Picture: private