Kinetic Simulations of Plasma Turbulence Using the Discontinuous Galerkin Finite Element Method
Authors: Tess Bernard (University of Texas)
Abstract: We use an advanced computational framework called Gkeyll to simulate plasma turbulence in the edge of magnetic confinement fusion experiments. In these experiments, charged particles gyrate quickly around magnetic field lines. When time scales of interest are much greater than the gyration period and the wavelengths of disturbances parallel to field lines are much larger than the gyro-radius, one can average over the gyro-period of the plasma particles and effectively model them as rings. This gyrokinetic formulation reduces the particles’ probability density function from six dimensions (three spatial and three velocity) to five (three spatial and three velocity) and is the model we use in our research. Gkeyll uses the discontinuous Galerkin (DG) finite element method, which combines the benefits of finite element methods, such as high-order accuracy, with those of finite volume methods, including locality of data. DG also allows for conservative schemes. We have benchmarked the code by modeling the Texas Heliamk, a basic plasma physics experiment, and comparing with experimental data. We have also developed a new and faster version of the code with improved conservation properties. This research demonstrates Gkeyll's progress toward 5D simulations of the edge region of fusion devices.
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