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Project Acronym GYROKINETICS
Scientific Discipline Plasma Turbulence
Principal Investigator(s) Prof. Dr. Karl Lackner
Leading Institution Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Germany
Partner Institution(s)
  • CRPP-EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland


Thermonuclear fusion holds the promise to make a major contri­bution to the solution of the world's energy problem. Its reali­sation has been hampered by the complexities of the confinement of hot - and therefore nearly collisionless - plasmas. Such plasmas are subject to temperature and density gradient driven micro­turbulence which determines the energy and particle transport across flux surfaces and hence the minimum size of a burning plas­ma. So far, attempts to predict this turbulent transport have been based mainly on empirical scaling laws or on simplified the­o­retical models. Only more recently, super­computers have become powerful enough to solve the underlying nonlinear gyrokinetic equations in five-dimensional phase space directly. Such simulations are necessary to understand and control plasma microturbulence, thus improving the performance of magnetic confinement devices.

The present project will involve two independently developed codes which are based on complementary numerical approaches. The particle-in-cell code ORB5 computes the trajectories of a large ensemble of test particles, whereas the continuum code GENE represents the particle distribution functions on a fixed grid in phase space. Since the simulation of turbulence in magnetized plasmas is a grand challenge at the forefront of computational plasma physics, a dual approach like this seems quite appropriate. By benchmarking the results of both codes we expect to gain more insight into the behaviour of these different numerical methods and maximize the reliability of the physical results that are obtained. The ultimate goal of this effort is to create a 'virtual fusion plasma' which can be used to predict and optimize the performance of future tokamaks and stellarators.


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