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June 9, 2004

U-M scientists part of new DOE-funded fusion science center

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Scientists at the University of Michigan are part of a newly funded Department of Energy Fusion Science Center.

Research by scientists in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences (AOSS) will be an integral part of the research activity at the new Center for Multiscale Plasma Dynamics, to be hosted by the University of Maryland and the University of California-Los Angeles.

The center will focus on fundamental issues in fusion plasma science and will perform research in areas of such wide scope and complexity that it would not be feasible for individual or small groups of researchers to make progress.

Professor Tamas Gombosi, AOSS chair, leads the U-M effort, funded for $500,000. The work by the U-M team, which includes Igor Sokolov and Gabor Toth, both AOSS associate research scientists, involves extending the "Block Adaptive-Tree, Solar-wind Roe-type Upwind Scheme” (BATS-R-US) code—a research tool unique in the world of computational physics.

"In essence, the computational technology incorporated in BATS-R-US allows us to efficiently simulate physical processes taking place in complex magnetic confinement plasma devices," Gombosi said. "This will help us to better understand the multiscale plasma processes inside fusion devices."

The new DOE center joins scientists with expertise in applied mathematics, theoretical and computational plasma physics and basic and performance-dominated plasma experiments. The researchers will study the interaction of microscale and macroscale dynamics in key plasma physics problems. Other participating institutions include Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The DOE Office of Science’s fusion energy sciences program is the national basic research effort to advance plasma science, fusion science and fusion technology – the knowledge base needed for an economically and environmentally attractive fusion energy source. The program supports research to understand the physics of plasmas; to identify and explore innovative and cost-effective development paths to fusion energy; and as a partner in international efforts, to advance the science and technology of energy-producing plasmas. 

The fusion energy sciences program is pursuing these goals through an integrated program of research based in U.S. universities, industry, and national laboratories, augmented by a broad program of international collaboration.

More information about the CMPD and U-M’s role in the project is available at: http://www.cscamm.umd.edu/cmpd/michigan.htm.

Contact: Mary Nehls-Frumkin
Phone: (734) 763-7305
E-mail: maryln@umich.edu