May 12, 2022 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. EDT

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COMSOL Day: Nuclear Fusion

See what is possible with multiphysics simulation

There has recently been a focus on solving short-term energy supply problems in the most expedient and efficient way using modern technologies and immediate research resources. However, when it comes to long-term plans for improving energy sustainability in light of climate change, it is important to consider new ways of generating energy, such as using nuclear fusion. While long researched in large government projects, nuclear fusion technology is now also becoming prominent among smaller companies. COMSOL Day: Nuclear Fusion will offer a look at how nuclear fusion is being used and studied in both settings.

Join us to learn from keynote speakers representing both government and industry as well as sessions held by COMSOL staff covering areas where simulation and multiphysics modeling are highly important. Topics include electromagnetic coils (tokamaks), system heat transfer control and effects, superconductors, and magnetohydrodynamics (liquid metal). Plus, you will see the capabilities of COMSOL Multiphysics® for equation-based modeling and get a closer look at the Model Builder and Application Builder. Register for this free, 1-day online event below.


11:00 a.m.

To start, we will briefly discuss the format of the day and go over the logistics for using GoToWebinar.

11:15 a.m.
Trends in Nuclear Fusion
11:45 a.m.
12:00 p.m.
Keynote Speaker
Testing and Development of RF Components for ITER

Testing and Development of RF Components for ITER

Humberto Torreblanca, EPFL

A tokamak is a donut-shaped device where hot plasma (~100 million K) is confined by strong magnetic fields. One of the ways to achieve this high temperature is by using RF waves generated in a device called a gyrotron. In a gyrotron, electrons from a hot cathode are accelerated through a magnetic field produced by a set of superconducting magnets. These electrons then produce an electromagnetic wave (through a resonant interaction in a cavity immersed in the strong magnetic field) that exits the gyrotron through a diamond window. The EM radiation propagates through a set of RF components to reach a dummy load or the tokamak located tens to hundreds of meters away.

The Falcon facility at the Swiss Plasma Center is where the testing and development of RF components are being done for ITER. For ITER, the gyrotrons need to produce hour-long pulses at 170 GHz and 1 MW power levels. In this keynote presentation, we will show the challenges and results of modeling a gyrotron, RF wave propagation, and the heating and cooling of RF components; and discuss the roles that different materials play in the components.

12:20 p.m.
12:30 p.m.
Keynote Speaker
Modeling RF Heating of Hydrogen Plasmas for Nuclear Fusion

Björn Zaar, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

In nuclear fusion, the tokamak is currently the leading candidate for becoming a hydrogen fusion reactor. The operating temperature of the tokamak is of the order of ~100 million K. At these temperatures, the hydrogen becomes a fully ionized plasma, and tokamaks confine such hot plasmas by applying strong magnetic fields. Several heating systems are used in order to reach these temperatures. One of these systems is based on RF heating, where RF waves are injected into the plasma from an antenna located close to the plasma. The focus of this work is the modeling of RF wave propagation and damping in tokamak plasmas. One of the main challenges of this type of modeling is that plasmas exhibit spatial dispersive effects, which make the wave equation an integro-differential equation that is difficult to solve using FEM. For example, spatial dispersion becomes important when the RF wavelength becomes comparable to the ion Larmor radius. In this keynote presentation, we will describe the effects of spatial dispersion and how to treat them using COMSOL Multiphysics® and LiveLink™ for MATLAB® to model RF heating of tokamak plasmas.

12:50 p.m.
1:00 p.m.
Parallel Session
Magnets, Coils, and Superconductors

The behavior of nuclear fusion reactors involves highly extreme and difficult-to-model physical phenomena. Large electromagnetic fields are created by the reactor coils and by currents in the plasma. These fields directly affect the plasma dynamics while influences from reactor walls can also affect the fusion process. Modeling and simulating all of these phenomena is crucial in nuclear fusion reactor design.

COMSOL Multiphysics® is highly effective for modeling such phenomena because it allows you to control the underlying theoretical equations to suit your application. In particular, superconducting coils — which are strongly nonlinear and often made out of thin metal sheets — can be modeled as embedded boundary equations.

In this session, we will present and discuss the basic functionality within the COMSOL® software for modeling coils and other magnetic devices as well as touch upon more advanced topics as well.

Magnetohydrodynamics and Heat Transfer

A liquid metal blanket is crucial for cooling and energy extraction in a nuclear fusion reactor. Multiple physical phenomena are involved in these processes: not only heat transfer and liquid metal flow but also Lorentz forces that affect the magnetic field from the coils. Motion-induced electric currents in the metal will, in turn, affect the magnetic fields, calling for a self-consistent magnetohydrodynamic approach.

With its advanced multiphysics and equation-based modeling capabilities, COMSOL Multiphysics® is ideally suited for simulating such phenomena. You can make use of these advanced capabilities to freely couple the participating physics and manipulate the underlying equations.

In this session, we will present and discuss the functionality of the COMSOL® software for modeling magnetohydrodynamics and heat transfer. We will demonstrate with examples of the pumping and general fluid flow of liquid alkali metals, their heat transfer abilities, and the effects from other physics.

1:30 p.m.
1:45 p.m.

Tech Lunches are informal sessions where you can interact with COMSOL staff and other attendees. You will be able to discuss any modeling-related topic that you like and have the opportunity to ask COMSOL technology product managers and applications engineers your questions. Join us!

2:20 p.m.
Keynote Speaker
Designing a Nuclear Fusion Reactor Using Multiphysics

Fusion has the potential to revolutionize clean energy generation. Yet, due to limits in previous generations of superconductor and resistive magnet technologies, it has not lived up to this promise. Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), in collaboration with MIT, has used a new generation of superconductors to develop large-bore, high-field magnets that will drastically reduce the scale of and timeline for generating fusion energy. CFS is using these new superconducting magnets for a demonstration of net fusion energy by the mid-2020s in the SPARC tokamak.

Designing such a system involves working at the extremes of engineering: temperatures ranging from the extreme cold of the cryogenic superconducting magnets to the extreme hot of the plasma-facing components; highly nonlinear electromagnetic characteristics of the superconductors and fluid dynamics of the cryogenic fluid; and elastoplastic structures. This talk will present an overview of fusion and of the systems in a fusion reactor. It will include examinations of how multiphysics simulations are critical for achieving a robust design.

Daniel Brunner, Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS)

2:40 p.m.
2:50 p.m.
Keynote Speaker
Diagnostic Models for Nuclear Fusion

Diagnostic Models for Nuclear Fusion

Cornwall Lau, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

A working fusion reactor requires many components, such as: heating and current drive systems to heat the plasma to thermonuclear temperatures and sustain it for long periods of time; first wall components to withstand the plasma and neutron fluxes; and blankets to breed tritium and transform kinetic energy into thermal energy for electricity production. Monitoring and safely controlling all of these fusion components requires diagnostics and diagnostic models that can reliably measure signals and convert them to physically meaningful values. In current research, diagnostics and diagnostic models also provide a better understanding of fusion energy and fusion reactor components.

This talk briefly discusses three examples of diagnostic models to: better understand plasma heating and current drive schemes and compare with a visible spectrometer, understand heat flux on potential first wall components and compare with an infrared camera, and understand flows in a liquid metal loop and compare with an eddy current flow meter.

3:10 p.m.
3:20 p.m.
Keynote Speaker
From Densification to Marangoni Flow: Optics Processing in Support of High-Power Laser Systems

From Densification to Marangoni Flow: Optics Processing in Support of High-Power Laser Systems

Nathan Ray, LLNL

The utilization of laser-induced surface modifications for glass has been emerging as a supportive polishing technique, having been shown to decrease subaperture surface roughness by taking advantage of laser-induced glass reflow. Using even higher temperatures, laser melting and ablation can be used to further modify the glass surface. However, the ability to deterministically implement such processes requires understanding of the physics involved, from densification-induced structural changes to vigorous material removal in the evaporation/ablation regime.

In this presentation, I will outline some of the ways in which COMSOL Multiphysics® assists with light–matter interactions as well as how the software can be used both within the broader optics processing community and for the minimization or mitigation of damage sites on glass optics. Optic processing in this way can be used to support high-power laser optics, such as the optics used on the National Ignition Facility’s 192 high-energy laser beams. This work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344. LLNL-ABS- 834455.

3:40 p.m.
3:50 p.m.
Parallel Session
Charged Particle Tracing in Magnetic Fields

High-energy ions like hydrogen and deuterium nuclei as well as alpha particles all interact with the magnetic field in a nuclear fusion reactor to exhibit intricate particle orbits. Being able to model and simulate such phenomena is crucial to understanding the processes and operation of a nuclear fusion reactor.

COMSOL Multiphysics® supports relativistic and classical charged particle tracing in the electromagnetic fields created by coils and plasma currents. From this, phenomena such as focusing, confining, and removing charged particles from the reactor can be modeled and simulated.

In this session, we will present the particle tracing functionality in the COMSOL® software and show how it is used to compute charged particle orbits in a generic fusion device.

Magnetomechanics and Lorentz Forces

Strong magnetic fields from the coils of a nuclear fusion reactor affect the structural properties of all equipment used to build the reactor, as well auxiliary structures, instruments, and other units outside of the reactor walls, through Lorentz forces. These pose formidable design challenges involving the multiphysics behavior of magnetics and solid mechanics.

COMSOL Multiphysics® offers advanced capabilities for modeling and simulating magnetomechanical materials and behavior that go beyond traditional magnetics and rigid body mechanics. The strongly coupled and nonlinear characteristics inherent to such modeling can be set up and solved in a flexible and intuitive way.

In this session, we will present and discuss the magnetomechanics modeling capabilities within the COMSOL® software, where Lorentz and plasma-induced forces on the ferromagnetic strain on design components are considered.

4:20 p.m.
4:35 p.m.
Closing Remarks

COMSOL Speakers

David Kan
Vice President of Sales

David Kan is COMSOL's vice president of sales for the southwestern region of the US. He set up the Los Angeles branch office of COMSOL in 2001 and received a PhD in applied mathematics from UCLA in 1999.

Lauren Sansone
Senior Sales Events Manager

Lauren Sansone is the senior sales events manager at COMSOL, Inc. and has been with COMSOL since 2006. She is responsible for the global event marketing of COMSOL Days, the COMSOL Conference, exhibitions, and training.

Andy Cai
Senior Applications Engineer

Andy Cai currently works as an applications manager leading the structural and acoustics team in the U.S. office. He joined COMSOL in 2015. Previously, he received his PhD in geophysics from Yale University in 2014 and spent a year at the University of Maryland, College Park for postdoctoral work.

Siva Sashank Tholeti
Senior Applications Engineer

Siva Sashank Tholeti is an applications engineer at COMSOL. He received his PhD in aeronautics and astronautics from Purdue University. His areas of interest include CFD, plasma-enhanced aerodynamics, plasma physics, propulsion, and multiphysics problems.

Andrew Strikwerda
Lead Application Engineer

Andrew Strikwerda is a lead application engineer at COMSOL specializing in electromagnetics. He received his PhD in physics from Boston University and conducted postgraduate research at the Technical University of Denmark. He was a senior staff scientist at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Applied Physics Laboratory and taught in the JHU Whiting School of Engineering.

Anna Juhasz
Technical Support Engineer

Anna Juhasz works with global technical support at COMSOL's Swedish office, where she specializes in Electromagnetics. Before joining COMSOL in 2004 she received her masters in engineering physics from Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

Magnus Olsson
Technology Director, Electromagnetics

Magnus Olsson joined COMSOL in 1996 and currently leads development for the electromagnetic design products. He holds an MSc in engineering physics and a PhD in plasma physics and fusion research. Prior to joining COMSOL, he worked as a consulting specialist in electromagnetic computations for the Swedish armed forces.

Register for COMSOL Day: Nuclear Fusion

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COMSOL Day Details

Local Start Time:
May 12, 2022 | 11:00 a.m. EDT (UTC-04:00)
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Invited Speakers

Humberto Torreblanca Swiss Plasma Center (SPC)

Dr. Humberto Torreblanca currently works at the Swiss Plasma Center (SPC) in the R&D of RF components for the TCV tokamak and the international fusion devices ITER and DEMO. Previously, he worked developing plasma processes at Intel Corporation and then joined Tribogenics to work on the development of a portable x-ray machine based on tribological effects. Later, he joined the operations group and the RF group at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego.

In addition to using COMSOL Multiphysics® for R&D, Torreblanca has also developed simulation apps using the Application Builder and deployed them using COMSOL Server™ for teaching at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Additionally, he has implemented the SPC laboratories’ virtual tours and virtual reality experiences. He has also built and deployed interactive platforms for the communication of sciences, continuously mentors students from all over the world, and actively participates in STEM activities.

Dan Brunner Commonwealth Fusion Systems

Dan Brunner is a cofounder and chief technology officer of Commonwealth Fusion Systems, where he manages the company's technology portfolio, including the technology roadmap for fusion energy as well as intellectual property.

Nathan J. Ray Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Nathan J. Ray received a BS degree in mathematics and a BS degree in physics from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2012 and his PhD in materials engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2017. His research interests include dewetting behavior of thin films, generation of metasurfaces and characterization of their optomechanical properties, thermally induced glass reflow and removal, fracture behavior in glasses and ceramics, plasma electrolytic oxidation, and charge transport across barrier layer systems.

Björn Zaar KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Björn Zaar has a BSc in engineering physics and an MSc in electrophysics from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. He is currently a PhD student in the Division for Fusion Plasma Physics at the same university, where he is researching the modeling of RF heating in fusion plasmas. In particular, his research focuses on how to treat spatially dispersive effects in the ion cyclotron range of frequencies.

Cornwall Lau Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Cornwall Lau is currently a R&D staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He works on heating and current drive as well as plasma material interactions for many fusion experiments worldwide. He has been a COMSOL Multiphysics® user since 2008 and has used a wide range of COMSOL products for the R&D of fusion energy applications.