News and Events

U.S. Burning Plasma Organization eNews
January 31, 2017 (Issue 116)


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  
Contact and Contribution Information


Fusion Energy Postdoctoral program

The Fusion Energy Sciences Postdoctoral Research Program offers recent doctoral degree recipients the opportunity to conduct research in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) fusion energy research and development programs. Participants acq uire experience and training in areas of fusion energy science, interact with ou tstanding scientists and engineers, and have access to advanced equipment and fa cilities at designated DOE laboratories, universities, and contractor fusion ene rgy centers. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, or have lawful permanent residen t status, and must have received a doctoral degree in an appropriate science or engineering discipline within three years of the anticipated/expected start date , or expect to complete all requirements for such a degree prior to the desired start date. Further information is available at Completed app lications must be submitted by April 7, 2017 with Letters of recommendation rece ived by April 14.

Director’s Corner

C.M. Greenfield

Preparing for a National Academies study

By now, those of you who are members of one or more USBPO Topical Groups have probably received a request from your Topical Group leadership soliciting your input on the present state and future of burning plasma science. This is an important effort, and I hope you'll take this opportunity to have your opinions considered. But I know many of you have questions, and so I'd like to give you some background.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was recently awarded a grant from the Office of Science Fusion Energy Sciences program, to conduct a two-year study on magnetic confinement-based burning plasma research entitled Ä Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research." We do not yet have information on the makeup of the committee that will carry out this study or how they will gather input from the community. However, due to the strong alignment of the emphases of the U.S. Burning Plasma Organization with their task, I believe it is likely that we should have an opportunity to provide our perspective..

The study is tasked with producing an interim report by October, 2017, and a final report about a year later. Because their deadlines are so soon, I would expect opportunities for community input to happen sooner rather than later, and so we need to be prepared. However, until we have guidance from the committee, we can't say with certainty what form our input will take. It seems likely that there might be some combination of one or more white papers and/or a presentation to the study committee. What we are looking for now is raw material that might make up the content of our input.

For the interim report, the committee is being asked to report on the present state of research supporting burning plasma science (domestic and international) and the importance of this research to the development of fusion energy as well as its own scientific value. I think this is all fair game for our topical groups to comment on.

At this time it is probably more important to collect input for the interim report, but since we don't know how and when the study will take input (and whether there will be a second round of input for the final report), I would prefer to receive input for that as well. The final report adds to the previous a request for guidance on a pair of long-term strategic plans, one including and the other excluding ITER. I think the USBPO membership is well positioned to comment on:

  1. The present state of research supporting burning plasma science (domestic and international).

  2. The importance of this research to the development of fusion energy as well as its own scientific value.

  3. Research that could be done in a burning plasma environment, including its value both for fusion energy and for advancing science and technology.

  4. What opportunities does ITER provide for carrying out this research?

  5. What major gaps open up if we are not participants in an ITER research program?

Since we are the U.S. Burning Plasma Organization, I would expect our input to convey a sense of excitement about burning plasma science. As you think about this, you might find it useful to peruse the following:

I am aware that there will be other institutional and community ef priate given the importance of the study. I believe the USBPO has burning plasma science. Your providing input to the USBPO effort does not preclude your participating in any of these other efforts.

ITPA Update

More information concerning the ITPA may be found at the Official ITPA Website.

Integrated Operation Scenarios Topical Group

The ITPA-IOS group met at QST, Naka, Japan, on October 24-27.

This meeting focused on experiments on advanced scenarios and modeling of the ITER baseline demonstration discharges, with additional emphasis on control strategies for ITER and use of IMAS for sharing of experimental data and simulations. Two joint sessions have been held respectively with the PEDELM group and with the T&C group. With increasing emphasis on development of neural networks for control purposes and fast simulations with application to Whole Device Modeling, a presentation was given by the T&C group on QuaLiKiz, a neural network for thermal transport predictions and one by the IOS group on EPED-NN, a neural network based on EPED1 calculations for pedestal predictions.

Reports on plasma control included combined applications (sawtooth and NTM control, density and beta) as well as control of transient phases like the current ramp-up and the ramp-down. The latter combines disruption detection techniques to select trajectories for a safe plasma termination. An application to the ITER termination with RAPTOR has been reported, although missing some of the ITER constraints. A report on a joint activity dedicated to comparing plasma termination in present day experiments has been given by P. DeVries.

Experiments in helium plasmas are high priority to ITER, which needs to be informed on how the pedestal structure, L-H transition threshold and ELM behavior do compare to deuterium experiments. Reports have been given at this meeting from C-Mod and ASDEX-U. Preliminary analysis indicates that the edge structure is similar in helium and deuterium. Collection of data from these and other experiments will continue, with contributions in the near future from KSTAR.

J. Snipes gave an update on the ITER project and the staged approach to the research plan. According to the staged approach, the first plasma is scheduled for 2025 and it is followed by a campaign in helium and hydrogen plasmas, at reduced magnetic field. Operation at 1.8T is being seriously considered by ITER as a way to demonstrate H-mode access in the non-active phase with reduced availability of heating power.

The next meeting will be held at the ITER Headquarters, in April 03-06.

Schedule of Burning Plasma Events

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