CASTOR Research team
In order to fulfill the increasing demand, alternative energy sources have to be developed. Indeed, the current rate of fossil fuel usage and its serious adverse environmental impacts (pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, ...) lead to an energy crisis accompanied by potentially disastrous global climate changes.
Controlled fusion power is one of the most promising alternatives to the use of fossil resources, potentially with a unlimited source of fuel. France with the ITER (http://www.iter.org/default.aspx) and Laser Megajoule (http://www-lmj.cea.fr/) facilities is strongly involved in the development of these two parallel approaches to master fusion that are magnetic and inertial confinement. Although the principles of fusion reaction are well understood from nearly sixty years, (the design of tokamak dates back from studies done in the '50 by Igor Tamm and Andreï Sakharov in the former Soviet Union), the route to an industrial reactor is still long and the application of controlled fusion for energy production is beyond our present knowledge of related physical processes. In magnetic confinement, beside technological constraints involving for instance the design of plasma-facing component, one of the main difficulties in the building of a controlled fusion reactor is the poor confinement time reached so far. This confinement time is actually governed by turbulent transport that therefore determines the performance of fusion plasmas. The prediction of the level of turbulent transport in large machines such as ITER is therefore of paramount importance for the success of the researches on controlled magnetic fusion.
The other route for fusion plasma is inertial confinement. In this latter case, large scale hydrodynamical instabilities prevent a sufficiently large energy deposit and lower the return of the target. Therefore, for both magnetic and inertial confinement technologies, the success of the projects is deeply linked to the theoretical understanding of plasma turbulence and flow instabilities as well as to mathematical and numerical improvements enabling the development of predictive simulation tools.
Castor gathers the activities in numerical simulation of fusion plasmas with the activities in control and optimisation done in the laboratory Jean-Alexandre Dieudonné of the University of Nice. The main objective of the Castor team is to contribute to the development of innovative numerical tools to improve the computer simulations of complex turbulent or unstable flows in plasma physics and to develop methods allowing the real-time control of these flows or the optimisation of scenarios of plasma discharges in tokamaks. Castor is a common project between Inria (http://www.inria.fr/centre/sophia) and the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis and CNRS through the laboratory Jean-Alexandre Dieudonné, UMR UNS-CNRS 7351, (http://math.unice.fr).