As we get closer to the realization of fusion energy, engineering considerations will play larger and larger roles in the reality of fusion power plant design and operation. One of the major challenges in this space is the design and optimization of a fully-integrated demonstration device, which must be able to maintain hot, fusion-relevant core plasmas while simultaneously obeying the colder engineering constraints enforced by the plasma-material interface. In the magnetic fusion field, this issue is colloquially known as the “core-edge integration” problem, and is the subject of intense ongoing research.

To better understand this problem and other engineering-integration challenges that will be faced on future machines, we are developing a suite of codes that provide reduced descriptions of various components of a fusion power plant so that self-consistent models of the entire device may be constructed. Some of these codes include the OpenFUSION Toolkit and CFSPOPCON. Together, these two codes help to form a comprehensive model of the internal plasma physics that can then be coupled with systems engineering codes (describing phenomena such as neutron fluxes, material tolerances and tritium breeding, etc.) to complete a full-device tokamak model.

Much of the ongoing work on engineering challenges for fusion devices is being pursued by private fusion companies like Commonwealth Fusion Systems. As fusion science transitions from a predominantly publicly-funded endeavor to a predominantly privately-funded endeavor, maintaining open-source tools will becoming increasingly valuable for fusion researchers. Fusion has always been a collaborative field and many companies are leveraging that fact to accelerate progress towards the first viable demonstration device.

Selected publications on this subject:

Several additional publications on this subject are currently under review and will be posted here soon. Stay tuned!

cfs-energy/cfspopcon: v4.0.0
Battaglia, D. J., Body, T., Creely, A. J., Hasse, C., Logan, J., Mumgaard, R. T., Rodriguez-Fernandez, P., Schneider, N., Sorbom, B. N., Tse, C., Vernacchia, M., & Nelson, A. O. (2023).

TokaMaker: An open-source time-dependent Grad-Shafranov tool for the design and modeling of axisymmetric fusion devices
Hansen, C., Stewart, I. G., Burgess, D., Pharr, M., Guizzo, S., Logak, F., Nelson, A. O. & Paz-Soldan, C., Computer Physics Communications, in review (2023).

Interpretative SOL modeling throughout multiple ELM cycles in DIII-D
Nelson, A. O., Xing, Z. A., Izacard, O., Laggner, F. M. & Kolemen, E., Nuclear Materials and Energy 26, 100883 (2021).