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Tuesday, March 1 • 11:50am - 12:20pm
Modeling Plasma Physics in the Z-pinch Fusion Concept

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Fusion energy has the potential to invigorate the atomic age and lead the way to a climate-friendly energy landscape. The technology required to generate hot, dense plasma, has been under development since WWII, and taming a zoo of plasma instabilities has proven difficult, leading to the construction of large, complicated fusion devices that employ strong external magnetic fields generated by superconducting coils. At Zap Energy, an alternative fusion concept called the sheared-flow-stabilized Z pinch is under development as a smaller, simpler, commercially viable platform requiring no external magnetic field.

A comprehensive, predictive modeling capability for Zap Energy’s Z-pinch technology is being developed in tandem with the experimental program. The WARPXM high-order discontinuous Galerkin framework developed at the University of Washington is the primary modeling tool. The framework uses unstructured triangular and tetrahedral grids for geometric flexibility. The high-order approach is arithmetically intensive and suitable for GPU acceleration, which is in progress. Standard fluid modeling of plasmas is insightful, and relatively computationally tractable, but some regions of the plasma demand kinetic modeling for high physical fidelity. Kinetic modeling entails capturing the Maxwell–Boltzmann velocity distribution with up to three dimensions of velocity space in addition to the physical space representation. Independent fluid and kinetic modeling of the core Z-pinch plasma has shown that sheared flows in the Z-pinch plasma mitigate instabilities that threaten to spring leaks in the magnetic confinement “bottle” of the Z pinch. Nonlinear relaxation can lead to a quasi-stable state, consistent with experimental findings. Plans will be discussed for simulating entire Z-pinch

avatar for Eric Meier, PhD

Eric Meier, PhD

Principal Computational Scientist, Zap Energy Inc.
Dr. Eric Meier is the Principal Computational Scientist at Zap Energy Inc., a company developing the Z-pinch plasma configuration as a compact, scalable fusion energy technology. Eric leads the theory and modeling program aimed at maximizing plasma performance and accelerating progress... Read More →

Tuesday March 1, 2022 11:50am - 12:20pm CST
Auditorium The BioScience Research Collaborative