The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) has undergone a major upgrade, and the NSTX Upgrade (NSTX-U) Project was completed in the summer of 2015. NSTX-U first plasma was subsequently achieved, diagnostic and control systems have been commissioned, H-Mode accessed, magnetic error fields identified and mitigated, and the first physics research campaign carried out. During 10 run weeks of operation, NSTX-U surpassed NSTX-record pulse-durations and toroidal fields, and high-performance ~1MA H-mode plasmas comparable to the best of NSTX have been sustained near and slightly above the n=1 no-wall stability limit and with H-mode confinement multiplier H98y2 above 1. Transport and turbulence studies in L-mode plasmas have identified the coexistence of at least two ion-gyro-scale turbulent micro-instabilities near the same radial location but propagating in opposite (i.e. ion and electron diamagnetic) directions. These modes have the characteristics of ion-temperature gradient and micro-tearing modes, respectively, and the role of these modes in contributing to thermal transport is under active investigation. The new second more tangential neutral beam injection was observed to significantly modify the stability of two types of Alfven Eigenmodes. Improvements in offline disruption forecasting were made in the areas of identification of rotating MHD modes and other macroscopic instabilities using the Disruption Event Characterization and Forecasting (DECAF) code. Lastly, the Materials Analysis and Particle Probe (MAPP) was utilized on NSTX-U for the first time and enabled assessments of the correlation between boronized wall conditions and plasma performance. These and other highlights from the first run campaign of NSTX-U are described.
Kaita, R.; Lucia, M.; Allain, J. P.; Bedoya, F.; Capece, A.; Jaworski, M.; Koel, B. E.; Majeski, R.; Roszell, J.; Schmitt, J.; Scotti, F.; Skinner, C. H.; Soukhanovskii, V.
The application of lithium to plasma-facing components (PFCs) has long been used as a technique for wall conditioning in magnetic confinement devices to improve plasma performance. Determining the characteristics of PFCs at the time of exposure to the plasma, however, is difficult because they can only be analyzed after venting the vacuum vessel and removing them at the end of an operational period. The Materials Analysis and Particle Probe (MAPP) addresses this problem by enabling PFC samples to be exposed to plasmas, and then withdrawn into an analysis chamber without breaking vacuum. The MAPP system was used to introduce samples that matched the metallic PFCs of the Lithium Tokamak Experiment (LTX). Lithium that was subsequently evaporated onto the walls also covered the MAPP samples, which were then subject to LTX discharges. In vacuo extraction and analysis of the samples indicated that lithium oxide formed on the PFCs, but improved plasma performance persisted in LTX. The reduced recycling this suggests is consistent with separate surface science experiments that demonstrated deuterium retention in the presence of lithium oxide films. Since oxygen decreases the thermal stability of the deuterium in the film, the release of deuterium was observed below the lithium deuteride dissociation temperature. This may explain what occurred when lithium was applied to the surface of the NSTX Liquid Lithium Divertor (LLD). The LLD had segments with individual heaters, and the deuterium-alpha emission was clearly lower in the cooler regions. The plan for NSTX-U is to replace the graphite tiles with high-Z PFCs, and apply lithium to their surfaces with lithium evaporation. Experiments with lithium coatings on such PFCs suggest that deuterium could still be retained if lithium compounds form, but limiting their surface temperatures may be necessary.
Skinner, C.H.; Bedoya, F.; Scotti, F.; Allain, J.P.; Blanchard, W.; Cai, D.; Jaworski, M.; Koel, B.E.
Boronization has been effective in reducing plasma impurities and enabling access to higher density, higher confinement plasmas in many magnetic fusion devices. The National Spherical Torus eXperiment, NSTX, has recently undergone a major upgrade to NSTX-U in order to develop the physics basis for a ST-based Fusion Nuclear Science Facility (FNSF) with capability for double the toroidal field, plasma current, and NBI heating power and increased pulse duration from 1–1.5 s to 5–8 s. A new deuterated tri-methyl boron conditioning system was implemented together with a novel surface analysis diagnostic. We report on the spatial distribution of the boron deposition versus discharge pressure, gas injection and electrode location. The oxygen concentration of the plasma facing surface was measured by in-vacuo XPS and increased both with plasma exposure and with exposure to trace residual gases. This increase correlated with the rise of oxygen emission from the plasma.
Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are some of the most energetic and violent events in our solar system. The prediction and understanding of CMEs is of particular importance due to the impact that they can have on Earth-based satellite systems, and in extreme cases, ground-based electronics. CMEs often occur when long-lived magnetic flux ropes (MFRs) anchored to the solar surface destabilize and erupt away from the Sun. One potential cause for these eruptions is an ideal magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) instability such as the kink or torus instability. Previous experiments on the Magnetic Reconnection eXperiment (MRX) revealed a class of MFRs that were torus-unstable but kink-stable, which failed to erupt. These “failed-tori” went through a process similar to Taylor relaxation where the toroidal current was redistributed before the eruption ultimately failed. We have investigated this behavior through additional diagnostics that measure the current distribution at the foot points and the energy distribution before and after an event. These measurements indicate that ideal MHD effects are sufficient to explain the energy distribution changes during failed torus events. This excludes Taylor relaxation as a possible mechanism of current redistribution during an event. A new model that only requires non-ideal effects in a thin layer above the electrodes is presented to explain the observed phenomena. This work broadens our understanding of the stability of MFRs and the mechanism behind the failed torus through the improved prediction of the torus instability and through new diagnostics to measure the energy inventory and current profile at the foot points.
Rafiq T; Kaye S; Guttenfelder W; Weiland J; Schuster E; Anderson J; Luo L;
Microtearing mode (MTM) real frequency, growth rate, magnetic fluctuation amplitude and resulting electron thermal transport are studied in systematic NSTX scans of relevant plasma parameters. The dependency of the MTM real frequency and growth rate on plasma parameters, suitable for low and high collision NSTX discharges, is obtained by using the reduced MTM transport model [T. Rafiq, et al., Phys. Plasmas 23, 062507 (2016)]. The plasma parameter dependencies are compared and found to be consistent with the results obtained from MTM using the Gyrokinetic GYRO code. The scaling trend of collision frequency and plasma beta is found to be consistent with the global energy confinement trend observed in the NSTX experiment. The strength of the magnetic fluctuation is found to be consistent with the gyrokinetic estimate.In earlier studies, it was found that the version of the Multi-Mode (MM) anomalous transport model, which did not contain the effect of MTMs, provided an appropriate description of the electron temperature profiles in standard tokamak discharges and not in spherical tokamaks. When the MM model, which involves transport associated with MTMs, is incorporated in the TRANSP code and is used in the study of electron thermal transport in NSTX discharges, it is observed that the agreement with the experimental electron temperature profile is substantially improved.
This paper examines a method for real-time control of non-inductively sustained scenarios in NSTX-U by using TRANSP,
a time-dependent integrated modeling code for prediction and interpretive analysis of tokamak experimental data, as a
simulator. The actuators considered for control in this work are the six neutral beam sources and the plasma boundary
shape. To understand the response of the plasma current, stored energy, and central safety factor to these actuators
and to enable systematic design of control algorithms, simulations were run in which the actuators were modulated and
a linearized dynamic response model was generated. A multi-variable model-based control scheme that accounts for the
coupling and slow dynamics of the system while mitigating the effect of actuator limitations was designed and
simulated. Simulations show that modest changes in the outer gap and heating power can improve the response time of
the system, reject perturbations, and track target values of the controlled values.
Verdoolaege, G.; Kaye, S.M.; Angioni, C.; Kardaunn, O.W.J.F.; Maslov, M.; Romanelli, M.; Ryter, F.; Thomsen, K.
The multi-machine ITPA Global H-mode Confinement Database has been upgraded with new data from JET with the ITER-like wall and ASDEX Upgrade with the full tungsten wall. This paper describes the new database and presents results of regression analysis to estimate the global energy confinement scaling in H-mode plasmas using a standard power law. Various subsets of the database are considered, focusing on type of wall and divertor materials, confinement regime (all H-modes, ELMy H or ELM-free) and ITER-like constraints. Apart from ordinary least squares, two other, robust regression techniques are applied, which take into account uncertainty on all variables. Regression on data from individual devices shows that, generally, the confinement dependence on density and the power degradation are weakest in the fully metallic devices. Using the multi-machine scalings, predictions are made of the confinement time in a standard ELMy H-mode scenario in ITER. The uncertainty on the scaling parameters is discussed with a view to practically useful error bars on the parameters and predictions. One of the derived scalings for ELMy H-modes on an ITER-like subset is studied in particular and compared to the IPB98(y,2) confinement scaling in engineering and dimensionless form. Transformation of this new scaling from engineering variables to dimensionless quantities is shown to result in large error bars on the dimensionless scaling. Regression analysis in the space of dimensionless variables is therefore proposed as an alternative, yielding acceptable estimates for the dimensionless scaling. The new scaling, which is dimensionally correct within the uncertainties, suggests that some dependencies of confinement in the multi- machine database can be reconciled with parameter scans in individual devices. This includes vanishingly small dependence of confinement on line-averaged density and normalized plasma pressure (β), as well as a noticeable, positive dependence on effective atomic mass and plasma triangularity. Extrapolation of this scaling to ITER yields a somewhat lower confinement time compared to the IPB98(y, 2) prediction, possibly related to the considerably weaker dependence on major radius in the new scaling (slightly above linear). Further studies are needed to compare more flexible regression models with the power law used here. In addition, data from more devices concerning possible ‘hidden variables’ could help to determine their influence on confinement, while adding data in sparsely populated areas of the parameter space may contribute to further disentangling some of the global confinement dependencies in tokamak plasmas.
Yoo, Jongsoo; Na, Byungkeun; Jara-Almonte, Jonathan; Yamada, Maasaki; Ji, Hantao; Roytershteyn, V.; Argall, M. R.; Fox, W.; Chen, Li-Jen
Electron heating and the energy inventory during asymmetric reconnection are studied in the laboratory plasma with a density ratio of about 8 across the current sheet. Features of asymmetric reconnection such as the large density gradients near the low-density-side separatrices, asymmetric in-plane electric field, and bipolar out-of-plane magnetic field are observed. Unlike the symmetric case, electrons are also heated near the low-density-side separatrices. The measured parallel electric field may explain the observed electron heating. Although large fluctuations driven by lower-hybrid drift instabilities are also observed near the low-density-side separatrices, laboratory measurements and numerical simulations reported here suggest that they do not play a major role in electron energization. The average electron temperature increase in the exhaust region is proportional to the incoming magnetic energy per an electron/ion pair but exceeds scalings of the previous space observations. This discrepancy is explained by differences in the boundary condition and system size. The profile of electron energy gain from the electric field shows that there is additional electron energy gain associated with the electron diamagnetic current besides a large energy gain near the X-line. This additional energy gain increases electron enthalpy, not the electron temperature. Finally, a quantitative analysis of the energy inventory during asymmetric reconnection is conducted. Unlike the symmetric case where the ion energy gain is about twice more than the electron energy gain, electrons and ions obtain a similar amount of energy during asymmetric reconnection.