First Grant

September 26, 2012
categories: research

It's been quite a while since the last post... summers can be surprisingly busy at university, despite (or maybe because of) there being no undergraduate students around.

One of the things I'm finding is that a lot of research time is spent writing applications to get the funding to be able to do the research. The rest of the time is spent talking about the research you would be doing if there was any time left. That's why I'm really pleased (and a little smug) that I've finally been awarded my first EPSRC grant and can now hopefully concentrate on doing some research done. The grant also comes with funding for a 2-year post-doc (thanks CCFE!) who will be able to spend some quality time on research.

So what is this grant? Like all other EPSRC grants, there's a short description on their Grants On the Web page here. If you want to see what EPSRC is spending your money on, it's all there. The aim of this project is to improve our ability to predict what will happen in future fusion reactors (see earlier post), by combining my plasma turbulence code BOUT++ with a code to calculate neutral gas dynamics EIRENE, developed at Juelich by Detlev Reiter. Combining these two is important because in a reactor the walls of the machine need to be protected from the hot plasma by a layer of gas. The plasma in this region is turbulent, but there has been surprisingly little done on understanding how this affects the interaction. This may be because it's really really hard... guess I'll find out!

It turns out that plasma and neutral gas is a problem in other areas: industrial plasma etching to make things like coatings and silicon chips also worry about turbulence in plasma-gas mixtures. I'm hoping to work with some researchers in our group who work with Intel. It's always nice if your work has some application in under 20 years.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to write more applications for computing time so I can do all the things I promised in the last grant!