EUROfusion entrusts the BSC with the creation of an Advanced Computing Hub to accelerate the development of fusion energy

14 June 2021

Five Advanced Computing Hubs will help experimental scientists accelerate the arrival of fusion energy, to become a reality by the middle of this century.

EUROfusion, the consortium formed by 28 countries to make fusion energy a reality, has entrusted the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) to create and manage one of the five Advanced Computing Hubs that will support experimental scientists working in the development of this new source of electricity generation.

Fusion energy, a clean and risk-free energy based on the processes that drive the production of energy in stars, such as the sun, is one of the main bets of the scientific community to drastically reduce the CO2 emissions associated with the generation of electricity. EUROfusion is a consortium that brings together 28 countries to make this energy a reality in the middle of this century. Its next major breakthrough is expected when the ITER reactor (in Cadarache, France) will start operation. ITER has to demonstrate that fusion energy is viable and be the preliminary step to the construction of the first EUROfusion power plant based on this technology, DEMO.

Currently, more than 150 research centers and companies are working on EUROfusion experiments prior to the launch of ITER. Plasma physicists reproduce in experimental reactors the reactions between hydrogen isotopes that occur in the core of the sun, with the aim of being able to recreate on earth the conditions for the generation of this energy to be self-sustaining (do not depend on external heat elements) and stable.

The research to create these conditions combines experiments in reactors with experiments based on computer models that reproduce at different levels the processes that take place in the reactors and the characteristics that these reactors must have. As these computer models need to have a higher level of detail, the complexity of the hardware and software to be used increases. It is this complexity that has motivated EUROfusion's decision to create Advanced Computing Hubs to support the research.

The BSC Advanced Computing Hub for EUROfusion will be led by Mervi Mantsinen, ICREA research professor and leader of the BSC Fusion Group. Mantsinen is member of the board of the Plasma Physics division of the European Physics Society and leader of various experiments carried out within the framework of the Eurofusion program in recent years.

“Being entrusted with creating and managing an Advanced Computing Hub in fusion is a great achievement for BSC. I look forward to all the advances we will make in the field in order to bring us one step closer to making fusion energy a reality”, Mantsinen notes.

EUROfusion's commission to BSC to create this Advanced Computing Hub has been carried out through CIEMAT (Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research), one of whose departments, the National Fusion Laboratory, is the Spanish partner within the EUROfusion consortium. From the new hub, Mantsinen and her team will continue to work closely with the European fusion research community in close collaboration with CIEMAT's National Fusion Laboratory.

BSC already has two High Performance Computing (HPC) performance analysis and optimization European projects: the PRACE High Level Support team and the Performance Optimization and Productivity Center of Excellence (POP CoE). The new BSC - EUROfusion Advanced Computing Hub (ACH) will become the third one. Together with the BSC fusion group, members from the PRACE HLST and Best Practices for Performance and Programmability (BePPP) groups contributed to building a winning proposal to make BSC one of the European benchmark HPC performance teams for fusion.

The BSC EUROfusion - Advanced Computing Hub will come into operation on July 1 2021 and will progressively grow until it is made up of 8 members. Its financing is assured until 2025.

The five Advanced Computing Hubs to be created within the framework of the EUROfusion program will receive a total investment of 15.4 million euros. In addition to the hub that the BSC will create, another four will be led by EPFL (Switzerland), Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (Poland), the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (Germany) and the University of Helsinki (Finland).