Argonne and TAE Technologies Collaborate on Plasma Energy Research

November 27, 2019

Nov. 27, 2019 — “So that’s our problem,” notes Sean Dettrick, director of computational sciences at TAE Technologies. ​How do we get plasma hot enough to enable a fusion reaction to occur?”

If you’re the sun, you do it with immense gravitational pressure and a thermal engine that can generate temperatures of 27 million degrees F.

CAD rendering of TAE Technologies’ magnetic fusion plasma confinement device “Norman,” named for TAE co-founder Norman Rostoker. ALCF simulations help describe the dynamics of plasma inside the magnetic field and the way in which heat is confined in the system. Image courtesy of TAE Technologies.

If you’re TAE, you develop a succession of magnetic fusion plasma confinement devices as a means to generate unlimited electricity; a technology that could have far-reaching implications for the nation’s energy security.

But the process requires a continual and stable source of heat, the primary research challenge that brought TAE to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

Taking advantage of the high-performance computing resources at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, Dettrick and his colleagues are conducting large-scale simulations to understand how plasma loses heat to turbulent fluctuations in the confinement space, and inform the design of a future prototype reactor.

As we develop each prototype, we learn some new physics and then build enhanced machines that allow us to explore the physics better,” says Dettrick.

3D simulations of micro-turbulence in the field-reversed configuration performed using the ANC code on Theta. Electrostatic fluctuation after saturation is shown from two different perspectives (c, d). Image courtesy of Daniel Fulton, Kevin Hubbard, and Calvin Lau, TAE Technologies.

After performing computational studies at several other supercomputing facilities, the TAE team found that the memory hierarchy and threading multi-core architecture of ALCF’s supercomputer Theta was better suited to its algorithms, notes Calvin Lau, a computational plasma physicist at TAE.

Dettrick and Lau are applying those benefits to simulations that describe both the dynamics of the plasma inside the magnetic field, and the way in which heat is confined — and potentially lost — in the system.

This is a multiscale physics problem and this group is tackling it with a hierarchy of codes,” says Elise Jennings, an ALCF computational scientist. ​We helped them realize the code enhancements and optimizations that are needed to resolve very small-scale turbulent fluctuations in the plasma and ensure it agrees with results from the global stability code.”

Global stability describes how the plasma moves around inside the magnetic field and how that movement can be influenced by external actuators, like the neutral particle beams, and can change the shape of the magnetic fields.

These simulations help the researchers create control algorithms in an effort to better maintain the plasma in optimal operating conditions within TAE’s fifth-generation experimental reactor called ​Norman.”

Norman” works by generating a magnetic field that confines a hydrogen plasma. Beams made of neutral high-energy particles are injected into that plasma to begin a heating process that will eventually take the plasma to billions of degrees Fahrenheit.

If it gets hot enough and dense enough, the fusion reaction releases about 10 MeV of energy in the process — energy that can be extracted and used for larger-scale energy production.

But, the stability of the plasma and the ability to maintain the intense heat required to keep the thermal engine revving are issues that TAE must overcome.

For another set of simulations on Theta, Lau is using large-scale, first principles codes that he developed in collaboration with researchers at the University of California, Irvine, to understand the microscopic turbulence that leads to heat losses.

Essentially, we are investigating waves produced in the plasma that give you turbulence, which can knock out particles or heat and energy,” says Lau. ​Not only do you want to understand how well heat and particles are confined, but how to mitigate any loss.”

Experiments with previous generations of devices showed that plasma confinement actually improves as the temperature increases, which, researchers note, is advantageous for planning a fusion reactor.

Lau has been working to find out why this happens, publishing results in a recent issue of the journal Nuclear Fusion. The article, ​Cross-separatrix simulations of turbulent transport in the field-reversed configuration,” is an extension of earlier work that found that the mechanisms for driving turbulence exist largely outside of the core plasma.

The core itself does not have the mechanism that produces the turbulence, so that’s the reason for the better performance inside the core plasma,” said Lau. ​If we understand the physics behind those measurements, then we can extrapolate to a future machine.”

To get a better handle on the physics, the group may need more computational fire power. Currently, they are only able to simulate the confinement vessel region, which measures nearly 80 feet long and stands two stories high.

With the promise of exascale computing right around the corner and the delivery of one of the nation’s first exascale systems, Aurora, to Argonne in 2021, there is the potential for TAE to dramatically increase the domain size of the simulation.

The sort of multiscale problems that TAE is addressing will require DOE leadership computing facilities and advanced resources, like Aurora, as the simulations scale up. The potential for scientific discovery and innovation with exascale capabilities is enormous,” says Jennings.

To keep apprised of and provide input on the latest developments in exascale, TAE maintains a strong presence on the industry council of DOE’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP), a collaboration between DOE’s Office of Science and its National Nuclear Security Administration, to deliver a capable exascale computing ecosystem. Serving as an external advisory board, the council is made up of industry leaders interested in using exascale computing capabilities to inform and accelerate their research and development efforts.

The promise of exascale is that we can look at whole systems,” says David Martin, manager of Industry Partnerships and Outreach at the ALCF and co-executive director of the ECP Industry Council. ​Instead of just modeling a cylinder, we model the whole engine. Instead of modeling a jet engine, we model the whole airplane. For TAE, it’s modeling the whole confinement system, bringing us another step closer to clean, unlimited energy.”

TAE received ALCF computing time and resources through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program.

About Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

About The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science


Source: John Spizzirri, Argonne National Laboratory

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

AMD Epyc CPUs Now on Bare Metal IBM Cloud Servers

April 1, 2020

AMD’s expanding presence in the datacenter and cloud computing markets took a step forward with today’s announcement that its 7nm 2nd Gen Epyc 7642 CPUs are now available on IBM Cloud bare metal servers. AMD, whose Read more…

By Doug Black

Supercomputer Testing Probes Viral Transmission in Airplanes

April 1, 2020

It might be a long time before the general public is flying again, but the question remains: how high-risk is air travel in terms of viral infection? In an article for the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), Faith Si Read more…

By Staff report

ECP Milestone Report Details Progress and Directions

April 1, 2020

The Exascale Computing Project (ECP) milestone report issued last week presents a good snapshot of progress in preparing applications for exascale computing. There are roughly 30 ECP application development (AD) subproj Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Supercomputer Employed to Develop COVID-19 Treatment

March 31, 2020

From Summit to [email protected], global supercomputing is continuing to mobilize against the coronavirus pandemic by crunching massive problems like epidemiology, therapeutic development and vaccine development. The latest a Read more…

By Staff report

What’s New in HPC Research: Supersonic Jets, Skin Modeling, Astrophysics & More

March 31, 2020

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Amazon FSx for Lustre Update: Persistent Storage for Long-Term, High-Performance Workloads

Last year I wrote about Amazon FSx for Lustre and told you how our customers can use it to create pebibyte-scale, highly parallel POSIX-compliant file systems that serve thousands of simultaneous clients driving millions of IOPS (Input/Output Operations per Second) with sub-millisecond latency. Read more…

Pandemic ‘Wipes Out’ 2020 HPC Market Growth, Flat to 12% Drop Expected

March 31, 2020

As the world battles the still accelerating novel coronavirus, the HPC community has mounted a forceful response to the pandemic on many fronts. But these efforts won't inoculate the HPC industry from the economic effects of COVID-19. Market watcher Intersect360 Research has revised its 2020 forecast for HPC products and services, projecting... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Pandemic ‘Wipes Out’ 2020 HPC Market Growth, Flat to 12% Drop Expected

March 31, 2020

As the world battles the still accelerating novel coronavirus, the HPC community has mounted a forceful response to the pandemic on many fronts. But these efforts won't inoculate the HPC industry from the economic effects of COVID-19. Market watcher Intersect360 Research has revised its 2020 forecast for HPC products and services, projecting... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Weather at Exascale: Load Balancing for Heterogeneous Systems

March 30, 2020

The first months of 2020 were dominated by weather and climate supercomputing news, with major announcements coming from the UK, the European Centre for Medium- Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Q&A Part Two: ORNL’s Pooser on Progress in Quantum Communication

March 30, 2020

Quantum computing seems to get more than its fair share of attention compared to quantum communication. That’s despite the fact that quantum networking may be Read more…

By John Russell

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Conversation: ANL’s Rick Stevens on DoE’s AI for Science Project

March 23, 2020

With release of the Department of Energy’s AI for Science report in late February, the effort to build a national AI program, modeled loosely on the U.S. Exascale Initiative, enters a new phase. Project leaders have already had early discussions with Congress... Read more…

By John Russell

Servers Headed to Junkyard Find 2nd Life Fighting Cancer in Clusters

March 20, 2020

Ottawa-based charitable organization Cancer Computer is on a mission to stamp out cancer and other life-threatening diseases, including coronavirus, by putting Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Kubernetes and HPC Applications in Hybrid Cloud Environments – Part II

March 19, 2020

With the rise of cloud services, CIOs are recognizing that applications, middleware, and infrastructure running in various compute environments need a common management and operating model. Maintaining different application and middleware stacks on-premises and in cloud environments, by possibly using different specialized infrastructure and application... Read more…

By Daniel Gruber,Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tech Conferences Are Being Canceled Due to Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Several conferences scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, including Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) and the Strata Data + AI conference, have Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Cray to Provide NOAA with Two AMD-Powered Supercomputers

February 24, 2020

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week announced plans for a major refresh of its operational weather forecasting supercomputers, part of a 10-year, $505.2 million program, which will secure two HPE-Cray systems for NOAA’s National Weather Service to be fielded later this year and put into production in early 2022. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Exascale Watch: El Capitan Will Use AMD CPUs & GPUs to Reach 2 Exaflops

March 4, 2020

HPE and its collaborators reported today that El Capitan, the forthcoming exascale supercomputer to be sited at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and serve Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

IBM Debuts IC922 Power Server for AI Inferencing and Data Management

January 28, 2020

IBM today launched a Power9-based inference server – the IC922 – that features up to six Nvidia T4 GPUs, PCIe Gen 4 and OpenCAPI connectivity, and can accom Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Joins the Fight Against the Coronavirus

March 6, 2020

With the coronavirus sweeping the globe, tech conferences and supply chains are being hit hard – but now, tech is hitting back. Oak Ridge National Laboratory Read more…

By Staff report

University of Stuttgart Inaugurates ‘Hawk’ Supercomputer

February 20, 2020

This week, the new “Hawk” supercomputer was inaugurated in a ceremony at the High-Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart (HLRS). Offici Read more…

By Staff report

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This