On the roadmap to fusion energy the development and the operation of a demonstration power plant (DEMO) is the next step after ITER, a key facility currently devoted to the exploration of the physics aspects for self-sustained fusion plasmas with sizes and fusion power comparable to those attended in fusion power plants (FPP). Fusion systems codes are essential computational tools aimed to simulate the physics and the engineering features of a FPP. The main objective of a system code is to find one (or more) reactor configurations which simultaneously comply with physics operational limits, engineering constraints and net electric output requirements. As such simulation tools need to scope many design solutions over a large parameter phase space, they rely on rather basic physics and engineering models (mostly at zero or one-dimensional level) and on a relatively large number of input specifications. Within the conceptual design of a FPP, systems codes are interfaced to the detailed transport codes and engineering platforms, which operate in much larger time scales.
To fill the gap between systems and the detailed transport and engineering codes the high-fidelity system/design tool MIRA (Modular Integrated Reactor Analysis) has been developed. ... mehrMIRA relies on a modular structure and provides a refined FPP system analysis, with the primary goal of generating a more robust plant baseline. It incorporates into a unique computing environment a mathematical algorithm for the utmost tokamak fusion problems, including two-dimensional plasma magnetic equilibrium and core physics, transport of neutron and photon radiations emitted from the plasma and electromagnetic and engineering characterization of the toroidal field (TF) and poloidal field (PF) field coil systems. Most of the implemented modules rely on higher spatial resolution compared to presently available system codes, such as PROCESS.
The multiphysics MIRA approach has been applied to the DEMO 2015 baseline, generated by means of the PROCESS system code. The analysis has been carried out by taking an identical set of input assumptions and requirements (e.g. same fusion power, major radius and aspect ratio) and observing the response on certain figures of merit. This verification study has featured the violation of some constraining conditions imposed on plasma safety factor, TF ripple and plasma burn time.
The DEMO 2015 baseline has been found not in line with all the imposed requirements and constraints, hence necessitates a set of active measures on some of the input parameters. Such measures have been reported in form of parameter scans, where three variables have been identified, such as plasma internal inductance, blanket breeding zone inboard thickness and vacuum vessel/TF coil gap radial outboard width. The addressed sensitivity analyses have shown non-trivial inter-parametric dependencies, never explored in fusion system analyses. For instance, large influences of the plasma internal inductance on safety factor, plasma shape, density and temperature features, peak divertor flux and plasma burn time have been observed. Moreover, an optimal overall breeding blanket + TF coil inboard width has been observed with respect to the maximization of the plasma burn time, representing a meeting point between neutronic tritium breeding and technological limits in central solenoid and TF coils superconducting cables. These outcomes have inspired important changes in the way of designing a tokamak reactor like DEMO, where more extended analyses of the key physics and engineering aspects of the reactor can speed up and improve the design process of a FPP.