Washington, District of Columbia 2021-07-22 11:31:14 –
July 22, 2021
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a method for controlling plasma formation in a prototype fusion reactor using gaming graphics cards. Shown here is a view from the inside of the reactor. The plasma (bright stream) enters through the injector at the top of the device and is organized into a ring around the two cones visible in the center (the view here is from the side of the ring). These plasma streams move very fast — this video is only 1 / 3000th of a second long. Credit: University of Washington
Fusion offers the potential for a safe, clean and abundant source of energy.
This process also occurs in the sun, where plasma, a fluid made up of charged particles, is heated to a very high temperature and the atoms fuse to release abundant energy.
One challenge in carrying out this reaction on Earth is the dynamic nature of the plasma. The plasma must be controlled to reach the temperature required for fusion to occur. Researchers at the University of Washington are now developing ways to take advantage of advances in the computer gaming industry. A game graphics card (GPU) is used to run the control system for the prototype fusion reactor.
team Publish these results May 11th in a review of scientific instruments.
“Plasmas need this level of speed and accuracy because they have very complex dynamics that evolve very fast. If you can’t keep up with them, or how the plasma reacts. If you mispredict, they have the nasty habit of going very fast in the completely wrong direction, “says the co-author. Chris Hansen, UW Senior Research Scientist in Aerospace Engineering.
“Most applications try to run the system in a fairly static area. At best, all you have to do is” fine-tune “things back in place,” Hansen said. It was. “Our lab is working on developing ways to actively keep the plasma where it is needed in a more dynamic system.”
UW team experiment The reactor self-generates a magnetic field Being completely in the plasma, it can be smaller and cheaper than other reactors that use an external magnetic field.
“By applying a magnetic field to the plasma, we can move and control the plasma without having to“ touch ”the plasma,” Hansen said. “For example, an aurora is generated when a plasma moving from the sun hits the earth’s magnetic field, which traps the aurora and causes it to flow down toward the poles. When it hits the atmosphere, charged particles emit light.”
The UW team’s prototype reactor heats the plasma to about 1 million degrees Celsius (1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit). This is well below the 150 million degrees Celsius required for fusion, but hot enough to study the concept.
Here, the plasma is formed by three injectors on the device, which combine to naturally organize into a donut-shaped object, such as a smoke ring. These plasmas last only a few thousandths of a second, so the team needed to have a fast way to control what was happening.
Previously, researchers used slower or less user-friendly techniques to program control systems. So the team turned to NVIDIA Tesla GPUs designed for machine learning applications.
“GPUs give us a huge amount of computing power,” said the lead author. Kyle Morgan, UW Research Scientist in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. “While this level of performance was driven by the computer gaming industry and, more recently, machine learning, this graphics card also provides a very good platform for controlling plasma.”
The team can use graphics cards to fine-tune how the plasma enters the reactor and show researchers more accurately what is happening when the plasma is formed. Ultimately, teams will be able to create long-lived plasmas that operate in close-to-condition conditions. Required for controlled fusion power.
“The biggest difference is for the future,” Hansen said. “This new system allows us to experiment with newer, more sophisticated algorithms that allow for significantly better control, opening up a world of new applications for plasma and fusion technologies. “
Additional co-authors of this treatise Aaron Hossack, UW Research Scientist in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. Bryant Nelson, Professor of UW-related research in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.And Derek SutherlandHe received his PhD from the University of Washington, but is now CTFusion, Inc. I’m the CEO of. This study was conducted by the US Department of Energy and CT Fusion, Inc. Funded through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Award.
Grant number: SC-0018844, DE-AR0001098
Gaming graphics card allows faster, more precise control of fusion energy experiments Source link Gaming graphics card allows faster, more precise control of fusion energy experiments