The Center for Edge Physics Simulation (EPSI), based at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory on the Forrestal Campus, has won a $12.25 million federal grant for the development of software to simulate a key component of plasma, the substance used to fuel fusion energy.

The scientists hope to develop a computer model of the harsh pressure, temperature, density, and flow conditions that occur at the edge of intensely hot fusion plasmas. Plasma is the gas confined inside magnetic fields in fusion reactors called tokamaks.

Controlling the plasma edge is crucial for maintaining confinement so fusion can take place and energy can be produced. Failure to do so causes the plasma to grow unstable, leak from magnetic confinement, and damage tokamak reactor walls.

C.S. Chang, the PPPL principal research physicist who heads the ESPI, offered an everyday example to explain the concept of confinement. “If you want to confine soup, the bowl should not leak, wobble, or be broken by the heat.”

“The DOE grant is terrific for the laboratory because it allows us to work in the forefront of the simulation of the edge region of fusion plasmas,” said Stewart Prager, PPPL director. “This code could go a long way toward modeling and understanding this pivotal region.”

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University, James Forrestal Campus, Box 451, Princeton 08543-0451; 609-243-2000; fax, 609-243-2751. Stewart Prager, director.

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