SOURCE: General Atomics

General Atomics

October 14, 2014 10:30 ET

GA Physicist Wins International Energy Research Award

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA--(Marketwired - Oct 14, 2014) - A General Atomics physicist has won one of the most prestigious awards in fusion energy research, it was announced this week at a major international scientific conference in Russia.

Dr. Philip Snyder, who works in General Atomics' San Diego headquarters, received the 2014 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Nuclear Fusion Prize. The award was announced at the biennial conference during the opening ceremony of the 25th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference being held Oct. 13-18 in St. Petersburg.

Dr. Snyder won the prize for his published scientific paper judged to provide the most impact in nuclear fusion over the last two years. Dr. Snyder has spent the last 15 years working in fusion research at General Atomics (GA), where he serves as Director of Theory and Computational Science for the Energy and Advanced Concepts Group.

He is part of an international effort by fusion scientists to harness the power of the Sun to create a clean and virtually unlimited energy supply on Earth. Under the U.S. Department of Energy, GA runs the largest U.S. magnetic fusion energy program.

This award recognized a scientific paper Dr. Snyder wrote and published in the journal Nuclear Fusion. (All of the more than 350 papers considered for the award were published in 2011.) His prize-winning paper was entitled, "A first-principles predictive model of the pedestal height and width: development, testing and ITER optimization with the EPED model," P.B. Snyder, R.J. Groebner, J.W. Hughes, T.H. Osborne, M. Beurskens, A.W. Leonard, H.R. Wilson and X.Q. Xu 2011 Nucl. Fusion 51 103016.

His research has led to a more accurate way to predict the generation of energy-making plasma in a tokamak, a fusion machine. Pedestal height is expected to have a dramatic impact on overall fusion performance in future fusion devices such as ITER, the massive fusion machine now being built in France by a consortium of 35 nations including the U.S.

In announcing the prize, IAEA officials said, "This outstanding paper presents a compelling model to predict pedestal parameters, and provides validation through experimental observations across a number of machines. The work has the potential to significantly focus the predictions of performance in future devices."

Since 2006, the IAEA has celebrated excellence in its journal, Nuclear Fusion, with its annual prize. The award is based on papers considered to have made the greatest impact in the fusion community in the two years following publication. The selection is made by the journal's Board of Editors by confidential balloting. This is the third such prize won by a GA scientist, out of the nine prizes awarded in the world to date.

This year's award was presented Oct. 13 at the opening ceremony of the 25th Fusion Energy Conference by IAEA Deputy Director General Alexander Bychkov.

Dr. Snyder earned his Ph.D. in astrophysical sciences (plasma physics) from Princeton University, supported by a National Science Foundation Fellowship, and his undergraduate degree in computational physics at Yale University. 

A key element of the research described in the award-winning paper, said Dr. Snyder, is the strong collaboration between theoretical and experimental physicists, both between the GA theory group and the on-site DIII-D experiment as well as collaboration with researchers around the world, including at the MIT Alcator C-Mod experiment and Lawrence Livermore National Lab and the JET tokamak and York Plasma Institute, both in the UK.

"The results of this research allow us to predict and optimize the performance of future fusion devices with greater confidence," said Dr. Snyder.

The collaboration experience has also enabled what he called an exciting series of experiments on the DIII-D tokamak, including the discovery of the high performance "Super H-Mode" regime. That is the next step in experimentation for him on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility at GA.

This is the ninth year that the IAEA has awarded an annual prize to honor exceptional work published in Nuclear Fusion, and IOP Publishing has contributed $2,500 towards the award. Winning papers will be available to read be accessed online until March 2015. The 11 shortlisted papers can be read here until December 2014.

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About General Atomics
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