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SC13 simulations shed light on sustainable energy

Made possible by Sequoia, the simulation reveals the interaction of a fast-ignition-scale laser with a compressed deuterium and tritium fuel. The laser field is shown in green, with blue arrows illustrating the magnetic field lines at the plasma interface, and red and yellow spheres showing laser-accelerated electrons that will heat and ignite the fuel. Image courtesy Frederico Fiuza of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Warren Mori of the University of California, and Luis Silva and Ricardo Fonseca of Instituto Superior Técnico in Portugal.

Frederico Fiuza, a physicist and Lawrence fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) in California, US, performs simulations to study how ultra-powerful lasers interact with dense plasmas to produce fusion energy – the energy that powers the sun – in a laboratory setting.

The method, known as ‘fast ignition’, uses lasers capable of delivering more than a petawatt of power (a million billion watts) in a fraction of a billionth of a second. This heats compressed deuterium and tritium (DT) fuel to temperatures exceeding the 50 million degrees Celsius needed to initiate fusion reactions and release net energy. The project is part of the Fusion Energy Sciences program funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

Sequoia, located at LLNL, is the first supercomputer in the world to exceed one million computational cores – and it’s also number three on the Top500 list, operating at 17.5 petaflops (17.5 quadrillion floating point operations per second). Researchers at LLNL have performed record simulations (like the one above) on Sequoia using all 1,572,864 cores.

After being absent from last year’s International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking Storage and Analysis (SC12), LLNL and other DOE labs will return to exhibit at SC13 from November 17 to 22 in Denver, Colorado, US.

In their shared booth (#1327), the labs will feature presentations, electronic posters, roundtable discussions, and 3D simulations and modeling including fast ignition. Organized under the collaborative theme DOE: HPC for a Greener, Smarter, Safer World, 15 different laboratories will participate.


- Amber Harmon

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