Scientist receives massive computing project award to develop magnetic fusion energy

January 16, 2009

Choong-Seock Chang, a research professor at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, has received a Department of Energy (DOE) award to carry out ultra large-scale computation using the Cray XT supercomputer at the department's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The awarded 20 million hours of computing time—roughly equivalent to running a single-processor desktop computer for more than 2,280 years—is among the largest awards given to a single project. The computation will be using more than 100,000 processors at a time.

Chang, who is also a professor of physics at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, heads the multi-institutional Center for Plasma Edge Simulation (CPES), which is supported by DOE's SciDAC program and housed at Courant. He and his research collaborators are conducting work in plasma fusion, which seeks to harness energy from the sun to produce environmentally safe electricity.

"If successful, the plasma fusion energy can provide the carbon-free energy to humankind for over a million years," explained Chang.

The most advanced plasma fusion device in existence is called "tokamak," a doughnut- shaped magnetized device that confines hot charged particles (plasma) at the energy over 100 million degrees. The international political and research community joined together, under an umbrella organization, ITER, to build an experimental tokamak reactor in 2001.

But in order to maximize tokamak's capability, scientists must first have a greater understanding of the plasma fusion process. This necessity brought about the establishment of CPES.

Chang and his colleagues have been simulating plasma behavior in an effort to shed light on plasma fusion. The DOE's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) award will allow the research team to simulate an aspect of plasma behavior on one of the world's most powerful computers.

Chang's is one of 66 projects, announced by DOE's Office of Science, that seek to address some of the greatest scientific challenges by using some of the world's most powerful supercomputers at DOE national laboratories. The projects—-competitively selected for their technical readiness and scientific merit—-aim to advance research in a range of areas: astrophysics, climate change, new materials, energy production, and biology.

"From understanding the makeup of our universe to protecting the quality of life here on earth, the computational science now possible using DOE's supercomputers touches all of our lives," said DOE Under Secretary for Science Raymond Orbach, who launched INCITE in 2003. "By dedicating time on these supercomputers to carefully selected projects, we are advancing scientific research in ways we could barely envision 10 years ago, improving our national competitiveness."

Source: New York University

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3 / 5 (4) Jan 16, 2009
One would think that a 'Manhattan Project' for a practical fusion reactor, would be easier to justify than the original. A supercomputer should exist exclusively for this, not just awarded 'time'.
not rated yet Jan 16, 2009
Did someone attempted to reproduce prof. Arata few dollars experiments already?

5 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2009
"A supercomputer should exist exclusively for this, not just awarded 'time'"

1. Sounds pathetic how do they 'award' scientists.
1 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2009
It's funny they use the term award, i guess to get DOE system time it's like winning something.
not rated yet Jan 17, 2009
"By dedicating time on these supercomputers to carefully selected projects,"

Who selects these projects??
not rated yet Jan 19, 2009
come on guys it could be worth it.but it should also have an exclusive sc.
not rated yet Jan 19, 2009
Should someone tell Michel Laberge?

1 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2009
i think were spending too much time running plasma in rings, when we should be magentically forcing it to become spherical..introduce some hydrogen into the mix for it to compress...a sun on earth, a power source of infinite possibilities nearly.
not rated yet Jan 30, 2009
I'm surprised nobody knows what the real use of the computer is, figuring out how well aging atomic bombs will work as they deteriorate, calculating it out instead of blowing them up every 30 years. So the fusion dudes probably garners about 10 % of that time. I don't know why the US government doesn't think this is a problem that needs the biggest computer that can be put together rather than worrying about aging A bombs.

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