The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) leads a team of institutions that is developing a computer program that will run on the next generation of supercomputers to bring fusion energy closer to reality. The team is part of the Exascale Computing Project (ECP), a major component of President Obama’s National Strategic Computing Initiative to ensure continued U.S. leadership in high-performance computing.
Leading the initiative are the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. Within the initiative, DOE has the lead on exascale. Once developed, exascale computers will perform a billion billion operations per second, a rate about 50 times faster than the most powerful supercomputer in the U.S. today. Exascale machines are expected to be ready in the United States in the mid-2020s.
The PPPL-led program will develop the first complete simulation of the superhot gas called plasma that fuels fusion reactions. Such simulations will enable physicists to predict how the plasma will behave in fusion facilities and could lead to well-engineered reactors that “put a star in a jar” to produce safe, clean and abundant energy for generating electricity. Plasma, made up of free-floating electrons and atomic nuclei, comprises 99 percent of the visible universe and often is called the fourth state of matter.
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