News and Events

U.S. Burning Plasma Organization eNews
February 28, 2015 (Issue 93)


USBPO Mission Statement: Advance the scientific understanding of burning plasmas and ensure the greatest benefit from a burning plasma experiment by coordinating relevant U.S. fusion research with broad community participation.



Director’s Corner
C.M. Greenfield
Schedule of Burning Plasma Events  
Image of the Month
Under Pressure
Contact and Contribution Information


Global Plasma Month

A group of young plasma physicists have organized an event, Global Plasma Month, in an effort to engage and educate the public about the importance of plasma physics while demonstrating that a vibrant group of researchers are enthusiastic and available to discuss their field. Discussions include topics ranging from the quest for fusion power to the exploration of the heliosphere. Recently formed, the Young APS–DPP Community is a coalition of plasma researchers, post-docs, graduate students, and undergrads who are seeking to develop cohesion and community within the next generation of plasma scientists. Part of that effort is a recognition of the need for outreach beyond the plasma physics world. Global Plasma Month represents an initial foray into these outreach efforts. The Young APS–DPP Community has collaborated with a science-café organization called Nerd Nite to hold plasma physics talks during Nerd Nite events at cities around the world. These events feature scientists presenting entertaining, and educational, presentations to a crowd of non-scientists in the casual setting of local bars and restaurants.

Talks began in Honolulu earlier this month, and have also been held in London, Madison, Atlanta and New York. Not limited to a single month, more talks are planned in March and April in Philadelphia and Los Angeles (see below) with scheduling underway for Ann Arbor, Berlin, Boston, Brighton, Chicago, Munich and Washington D.C.

Schedule updates, location information, and pictures/videos of the events can all be found on the Facebook page:

Philadelphia March 4: “It’s 2015. Where is my Mr. Fusion? (and other questions that only plasma physics can answer)” by David Schaffner, postdoc at Swarthmore College.

Los Angeles April 14: “What the Flux?! How to fix a leaky bucket full of plasma” by Giovanni Rossi, grad student at UCLA.

BaPSF Users Meeting

The users committee of the Basic Plasma Science Facility (BaPSF), operated at UCLA under joint sponsorship of DOE and NSF, is holding a meeting for current and potential new users of the facility. The purpose is to become acquainted with the latest experimental infrastructure available, to identify issues that would enhance the operation of the facility, and to discuss frontier research topics that could be explored at BaPSF over the next few years. The meeting is to take place at UCLA over one and a half days on April 20–21, 2015, and will also be attended by DOE and NSF representatives.

User Meeting Webpage:

Call for Papers

Special Issue of the Journal of Fusion Energy on Strategic Opportunities

Submission Deadline: May 20, 2015

The purpose of this Special Issue is to gather and record technical viewpoints and clear statements of the challenges and opportunities that can drive advancements in fusion energy research. Fusion scientists and engineers have participated in several planning activities, worldwide, giving expert advice regarding the scientific and technical opportunities in fusion energy research. They have prepared white papers and made presentations describing a wide range of well-considered technical approaches and fusion development strategies. A particular challenge facing the field is how best to combine targeted development of fusion energy technology with broader research to simplify and improve the fusion energy concepts as an attractive energy source.

Submission to the Special Issue must be through Editorial Manager at and by selecting “Special Issue: Strategic Opportunities” from the drop-down menu list under “Article Types” after logging in as a previously registered author or by registering as a new author. Questions related to the Special Issue should be directed to Guest Editor Mike Mauel (

Director’s Corner

by C.M. Greenfield

DOE Technical Workshops

On February 9, Ed Synakowski (DOE Associate Director of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences) announced a series of technical workshops to seek community engagement and input for future program planning activities. These workshops are a follow-on to last year’s FESAC Strategic Planning Panel, and will be patterned after the 2009 Research Needs Workshop (ReNeW). They also directly address language inserted by Congress in the FY2015 budget:

The Office of Science is further directed to seek community engagement on the strategic planning and priorities report through a series of scientific workshops on research topics that would benefit from a review of recent progress, would have potential for broadening connections between the fusion energy sciences portfolio and related fields, and would identify scientific research opportunities. The Department is directed to submit to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act a report on its comunity engagement efforts.

This language also places constraints on the timing of the workshop, with reports on the first three due by the end of June. The four sets of workshops are as follows:

Figure 1

Each workshop is charged to review recent progress, identify the associated science and technology challenges, and identify specific research opportunities to address these challenges in the next decade.

Once again, the US Burning Plasma Organization will provide communications services to these activities. You will be able to find information on all four workshops at

The following sections of this month’s eNews will provide some information about the workshops.

Technical Workshops Held by the Fusion Energy Sciences Program

Plasma-Materials Interactions (PMI), May 4–6 at PPPL in Princeton, NJ

There will be a community workshop to identify the leading challenges in plasma-materials interactions (PMI), and options to address those challenges. The chair and co-chair for the PMI evaluation are Rajesh Maingi (PPPL, and Steve Zinkle (Univ. Tennessee, To fulfill the goals, the community will re-evaluate the thrusts developed in the 2009 Research Needs for Magnetic Fusion Energy Sciences Workshop (ReNeW) report. Specifically, this includes thrusts #9 (SOL/divertor physics), #10 (plasma-surface interactions), #11 (engineering science innovations), #12 (core-edge integration), and #14 (fusion materials, here narrowed to materials for plasma-facing components, including potential synergistic effects of fusion neutron damage). Each thrust will be evaluated by a sub-panel, with a leader and deputy, and a number of sub-panel members. Community input will be accepted via several methods: 1) talks given at the workshop, and 2) two-page white papers. Submission of the white papers will be facilitated by the US Burning Plasma Organization and instructions will be disseminated to the community. The panels will also examine the longer white papers submitted to the FESAC Strategic Priorities panel in 2014. A report on the community input and workshop will be submitted to DOE by June 30, 2015.

Integrated Simulations for Magnetic Fusion Energy Sciences, June 2–4 in Washington, D.C.

The offices of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) and Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) will jointly sponsor a Workshop on Integrated Simulations for Magnetic Fusion Sciences. The workshop chair is Paul Bonoli (MIT) and the co-chair is Lois Curfman McInnes (ANL). The goals of this workshop are to review recent progress and identify gaps and challenges in fusion theory and computation directly relevant to the areas of disruption prevention, avoidance, and mitigation, and the area of plasma boundary physics, with whole device modeling as the long-term goal. In addition, the workshop will reassess these opportunities and adjust or broaden them appropriately, taking into consideration recent progress and using the criteria of urgency, extreme-scale computing benefit, readiness for progress within a ten-year time frame, and world-leading potential.

The workshop will be organized into panels that will cover disruption physics, boundary physics, and whole device modeling, with cross-cutting panels on multiphysics and multiscale coupling, challenges for moving beyond interpretive simulations, data analysis and management issues, and software integration and performance. Community wide input will be obtained through a two-page whitepaper solicitation and panel members will convene to produce a report during the workshop.

Transients, June 8–10 at General Atomics in San Diego, CA

The community workshop on Transients will work to identify the leading challenges to preventing device damage arising from ELMs and disruptions in future tokamaks. This workshop, led by Chuck Greenfield (GA, and Raffi Nazikian (PPPL, is organized in two panels and six subpanels as shown below.

Figure 2

The goal of the workshop will be to identify scientific questions in each of the sub-panel areas and propose research to address these questions. In each case, we will consider both the needs and time-line of ITER and the longer-term needs of future devices.

Opportunities for input to the panels will be closely modeled after the 2009 ReNeW process. Input can be given in the form of two-page white papers and short presentations to be given during a virtual workshop (via video) the week of March 30. The panels will also consider the 2009 ReNeW Thrust 2 and the white papers submitted to the 2014 FESAC Strategic Planning Panel. A report on the community input and workshop conclusions will be submitted to DOE by June 30, 2015.

Schedule of Burning Plasma Events

USBPO Public Calendar: View Online or Subscribe

NSTX-U First Plasma —
W7-X First Plasma —
March 4–6, 7th IAEA Technical Meeting on Theory of Plasma Instabilities, Frascati, Italy
March 10–12, ITPA: Joint meeting of the Transport & Confinement and Pedestal & Edge Physics Topical Groups, Ahmedabad, India
March 12–13, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) Meeting, Gaithersburg, MD, United States
March 16–18, Sherwood Fusion Theory Conference, New York, NY, United States
March 16–27, Joint ICTP–IAEA Advanced School and Workshop on Modern Methods in Plasma Spectroscopy, ICTP — Miramare, Trieste, Italy
March 23 – April 3, Winter School on Turbulence, Magnetic Fields and Self Organization in Laboratory and Astrophysical Plasmas, Les Houches, France
March 25–27, ITPA: Energetic Particles Topical Group Meeting, ITER Headquarters, France
April 14, DEADLINE to apply for the DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program
April 14–17, 1st European Conference on Plasma Diagnostics, Frascati, Italy
April 14–17, ITPA: MHD Topical Group Meeting, ITER Headquarters, France
April 20–23, ITPA: Integrated Operating Scenarios Topical Group Meeting, Barcelona, Spain
April 27–29, 21st Topical Conference on Radiofrequency Power in Plasmas, Lake Arrowhead, CA, United States
April 28 – May 1, US/EU Transport Task Force Workshop, Salem, MA, United States
May 4–6, FES Workshop: Plasma-Materials Interactions, Princeton, NJ, United States
May 18–22, 15th International Conference on Plasma-facing Materials and Components for Fusion Applications, Aix-en-Provence, France
May 19–23, ITPA Diagnostics Topical Group Meeting, NIFS, Japan
May 20, DEADLINE for submission of manuscripts to the Journal of Fusion Energy Special Issue on Strategic Opportunities
May 24–28, 42nd IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science (ICOPS), Belek, Antalya, Turkey
June 2–4, FES Workshop: Integrated Simulations for Magnetic Fusion Energy Sciences, Washington, D.C.
June 22–26, 42nd EPS Conference on Plasma Physics, Lisbon, Portugal
August 24 – September 4, 2th Carolus Magnus Summer School on Plasma and Fusion Energy Physics
September 14–18, 12th International Symposium on Fusion Nuclear Technology, Jeju Island, South Korea
November 16–20, 57th APS Division of Plasma Physics Meeting, Savannah, GA, United States

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Image of the Month

Image of the Month

Under Pressure

Modern tokamaks typically operate with pressures close to that of one atmosphere (i.e., 105 Pa). The concept of pressure received considerable media attention [1], including physics analysis [2], leading up to the National Football League’s (NFL) 49th Super Bowl that took place at the beginning of this month. This provides the backdrop for this month’s Image, in which the high-end of the NFL’s regulated pressure for game-used footballs, 1.92 atm, is compared with the volume average pressures of three tokamaks. The ITER, Alcator C-Mod, and DIII-D values are taken from the recent 20 year overview of C-Mod’s fusion research [3] as compiled using data from [4]. In addition to its many planned fusion energy accomplishments, ITER will be the first tokamak to achieve a volume averaged pressure significantly greater than that of a regulation NFL football.

With Grateful Acknowledgments to M. Greenwald, A. Hubbard, T. Luce, and E. Marmar

[1] Rachel G. Bowers, “What is the Deflategate controversy?” Boston Globe, January 20, 2015

[2] Robert F. Sekerka, “Can physics explain the deflation of NFL footballs (aka #DeflateGate)?” Elsevier Connect, January 31, 2015

[3] M. Greenwald, et al., Phys. Plasmas 21, 110501 (2014)

[4] ITER Physics Expert Group on Confinement and Transport, ITER Physics Expert Group on Confinement Modelling and Database, and ITER Physics Basis Editors, Nucl. Fusion 39, 2175 (1999)

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