Software upgrade helping to answer DEMO questions

CCFE 27/02/2018

CCFE’s fusion power plant studies are set to benefit from an upgrade to key software code PROCESS.

The project to modernise PROCESS is driving greater partnership with fusion researchers abroad as well as making it easier to navigate for key users.

Culham researchers use the code to answer complex questions about the design of DEMO – the demonstration fusion power plant expected to follow the ITER experiment. PROCESS contains a range of methods detailing a fusion plant combined with a constrained optimisation solver. The solver assures a design will fulfil physical laws and engineering constraints and can answer questions like “What is the smallest power plant that achieves 500 MW of net electricity and a pulse length of two hours?”

The system modernisation offers better user experience and enhanced integration within both Culham’s work and that of EUROfusion, while it will widen the user base as staff build international collaborations to help in the design of a variety of fusion reactors. This includes CFETR (Chinese Fusion Engineering Test Reactor), FNSF (Fusion Nuclear Science facility – a US concept), and Indian device SST-2.

Senior software developer Manoj Kumar implemented a system aiding faster software development while colleague Stuart Muldrew, a systems modeller, is working on the widening of customers and collaborating with the Indian DEMO design team.

Hanni Lux, PROCESS Workstream Leader, said: “Manoj is working on code modernisation and has already successfully implemented a system which is assuring both safer and faster software development. In addition, he has written a context sensitive GUI (graphical user interface) which offers a significant improvement to the user experience of PROCESS.

“As a next step, he will start modularising our existing code to allow us to reap synergies between different design options (for example, tokamak and stellarator) and help with further software development.”

Hanni added: “Stuart is building and strengthening our international collaborations as well as our internal workflows regarding design integration. In this context he is currently restarting an old collaboration with the Indian DEMO design team and is confirming and analysing the latest SST-2 designs.” The SST-2 reactor is foreseen as a medium-sized device with a low fusion gain capable of producing fusion power from 100 to 300 MW.

The PROCESS Development project started in October 2016. The initial version of PROCESS was written by personnel at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA and has been significantly modified by CCFE since it arrived in Culham in the early 1990s.

(Above) The CCFE PROCESS team: Katy Ellis, Michael Kovari, Hanni Lux, James Morris, Stuart Muldrew, Manoj Kumar.