A reduced semi-empirical model using time-dependent axisymmetric vacuum field calculations is used to develop the prefill and feed-forward coil current targets required for reliable direct induction (DI) startup on the new MA-class spherical tokamaks, MAST-U and NSTX-U. The calculations are constrained by operational limits unique to each device, such as the geometry of the conductive elements and active coils, power supply specifications and coil heating and stress limits. The calculations are also constrained by semi-empirical models for sufficient breakdown, current drive, equilibrium and stability of the plasma developed from a shared database. A large database of DI startup on NSTX and NSTX-U is leveraged to quantify the requirements for achieving a reliable breakdown (Ip ~ 20 kA). It is observed that without pre-ionization, STs access the large E/P regime at modest loop voltage (Vloop) where the electrons in the weakly ionized plasma are continually accelerating along the open field lines. This ensures a rapid (order millisecond) breakdown of the neutral gas, even without pre-ionization or high-quality field nulls. The timescale of the initial increase in Ip on NSTX is reproduced in the reduced model provided a mechanism for impeding the applied electric field is included. Most discharges that fail in the startup phase are due to an inconsistency in the evolution of the plasma current (Ip) and equilibrium field or loss of vertical stability during the burn-through phase. The requirements for the self-consistent evolution of the fields in the weakly and full-ionized plasma states are derived from demonstrated DI startup on NSTX, NSTX-U and MAST. The predictive calculations completed for MAST-U and NSTX-U illustrate that the maximum Ip ramp rate (dIp/dt) in the early startup phase is limited by the voltage limits on the poloidal field coils on MAST-U and passive vertical stability on NSTX-U.
Experiments and predictions of surface wave damping in liquid metal due to a surface aligned magnetic field and externally regulated j × B force are presented. Fast-flowing, liquid-metal plasma facing components (LM-PFCs) are a proposed alternative to solid PFCs that are unable to handle the high heat flux, thermal stresses, and radiation damage in a tokamak. The significant technical challenges associated with LM-PFCs compared to solid PFCs are justified by greater heat flux management, self-healing properties, and reduced particle recycling. However, undesirable engineering challenges such as evaporation and splashing of the liquid metal introduce excessive impurities into the plasma and degrade plasma performance. Evaporation may be avoided through high-speed flow that limits temperature rise of the liquid metal by reducing heat flux exposure time, but as flow speed increases the surface may become more turbulent and prone to splashing and uneven surfaces. Wave damping is one mechanism that reduces surface disturbance and thus the chances of liquid metal impurity introduction into the plasma. Experiments on the Liquid Metal eXperiment Upgrade (LMX-U) examined damping under the influence of transverse magnetic fields and vertically directed Lorentz force.
The efficiency of two lithium (Li) injection methods used on the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) are compared in terms of the amount of Li used to produce equivalent plasma performance improvements, namely Li evaporation over the divertor plates, prior to the initiation of the discharge, and real-time Li injection directly into the plasma scrape-off layer during the discharge. The measurements show that the real-time method can affect the energy confinement and edge stability of NSTX plasmas in a more efficient way than the Li evaporation method as it requires only a fraction of the amount of Li used by the evaporation method to produce similar improvements.
An optimization approach that incorporates the predictive transport code TRANSP is proposed for tokamak scenario development. Optimization methods are often employed to develop open-loop control strategies to aid access to high performance tokamak scenarios. In general, the optimization approaches use control-oriented models, i.e. models that are reduced in complexity and prediction accuracy as compared to physics-oriented transport codes such as TRANSP. In the presented approach, an optimization procedure using the TRANSP code to simulate the tokamak plasma is considered for improved predictive capabilities. As a test case, the neutral beam injection (NBI) power is optimized to develop a control strategy that maximizes the non-inductive current fraction during the ramp-up phase for NSTX-U. Simulation studies towards the achievement of non-inductive ramp up in NSTX-U have already been carried out with the TRANSP code. The optimization-based approach proposed in this work is used to maximize the non-inductive current fraction during ramp-up in NSTX-U, demonstrating that the scenario development task can be automated. An additional test case considers optimization of the current ramp rate in DIII-D for obtaining a stationary plasma characterized by
a flat loop voltage profile in the flattop phase.
Active control of the toroidal current density profile is critical for the upgraded National Spherical Torus eXperiment device (NSTX-U) to maintain operation at the desired high-performance, MHD-stable, plasma regime. Initial efforts towards current density profile control have led to the development of a control-oriented, physics-based, plasma-response model, which combines the magnetic diffusion equation with empirical correlations for the kinetic profiles and the non-inductive current sources. The developed control-oriented model has been successfully tailored to the NSTX-U geometry and actuators. Moreover, a series of efforts have been made towards the design of model-based controllers, including a linear-quadratic-integral optimal control strategy that can regulate the current density profile around a prescribed target profile while rejecting disturbances. In this work, the tracking performance of the proposed current-profile optimal controller is tested in numerical simulations based on the physics-oriented code TRANSP. These high-fidelity closed-loop simulations, which are a critical step before experimental implementation and testing, are enabled by a flexible framework recently
developed to perform feedback control design and simulation in TRANSP.
Gas puff imaging (GPI) observations made in NSTX [Zweben S J, et al., 2017 Phys. Plasmas 24 102509] have revealed two-point spatial correlations of edge and scrape-off layer turbulence in the plane perpendicular to the magnetic field. A common feature is the occurrence of dipole-like patterns with significant regions of negative correlation. In this paper, we explore the possibility that these dipole patterns may be due to blob-hole pairs. Statistical methods are applied to determine the two-point spatial correlation that results from a model of blob-hole pair formation. It is shown that the model produces dipole correlation patterns that are qualitatively similar to the GPI data in several respects. Effects of the reference location (confined surfaces or scrape-off layer), a superimposed random background, hole velocity and lifetime, and background sheared flows are explored and discussed with respect to experimental observations. Additional analysis of the experimental GPI dataset is performed to further test this blob-hole correlation model. A time delay two-point spatial correlation study did not reveal inward propagation of the negative correlation structures that were postulated to correspond to holes in the data nor did it suggest that the negative correlation structures are due to neutral shadowing. However, tracing of the highest and lowest values (extrema) of the normalized GPI fluctuations shows strong evidence for mean inward propagation of minima and outward propagation of maxima, in qualitative agreement with theoretical expectations. Other properties of the experimentally observed extrema are discussed.
Compact tokamak fusion reactors utilizing advanced high-temperature superconducting magnets for the toroidal field coils have received considerable recent attention due to the promise of more compact devices and more economical fusion energy development. Facilities with combined Fusion Nuclear Science (FNS) and Pilot Plant missions to provide both the nuclear environment needed to develop fusion materials and components while also potentially achieving sufficient fusion performance to generate modest net electrical power are considered. The performance of the tokamak fusion system is assessed using a range of core physics and toroidal field magnet performance constraints to better understand which parameters most strongly influence the achievable fusion performance.
The injection of impurity granules into fusion research discharges can serve
as a catalyst for ELM events. For sufficiently low ELM frequencies, and granule
sizes above a threshold, this can result in full control of the ELM cycle,
referred to as ELM pacing. For this research, we extend the investigation
to conditions where the natural ELM frequency is too high for ELM pacing to
be realized. Utilizing multiple sizes of lithium granules and classifying their
effects by granule size, we demonstrate that ELM mitigation through frequency
multiplication can be used at ELM triggering rates that nominally make ELM pacing
unrealizable. We find that above a size threshold, injected granules promptly
trigger ELMs and commensurately enhance the ELM frequency . Below this threshold
size, injection of an individual granule does not always lead to the prompt
triggering of an ELM; however, collective ablation in the edge pedestal region
does enhance the ELM frequency. Specifically, Li granules too small to individually
trigger ELMs were injected into EAST H-mode discharges at frequencies up to 2.3 kHz;
collectively the granules were observed to enhance the natural ELM frequency up to
620 Hz, resulting in a ~2.4x multiplication of the natural ELM frequency and a 50%
decrease of the ELM size.
A new n=1 dominated Edge Harmonic Oscillation (EHO) has been found in NSTX. The new EHO, rotating toroidally in the counter-current direction and the opposite direction of the neutral beam, was observed during certain inter-ELM and ELM-free periods of H-mode operation. This EHO is associated with a significant broadening of the integral heat flux width (?_int) by up to 150%, and a decrease in the divertor peak heat flux by >60%. An EHO induced filament was also observed by the gas puff imaging diagnostic. The toroidal rotating filaments could change the edge magnetic topology resulting in toroidal rotating strike point splitting and heat flux broadening. Experimental result of the counter current rotation of strike points splitting is consistent with the counter-current EHO.
Raman, R.; Lay, W.-S.; Jarboe, T.R.; Menard, J.E.; Ono, M.
A novel, rapid time-response, disruption mitigation system referred to as the Electromagnetic Particle Injector (EPI) is described. This method can accurately deliver the radiative payload to the plasma center on a <10 ms time scale, much faster, and deeper, than what can be achieved using conventional methods. The EPI system accelerates a sabot electromagnetically. The sabot is a metallic capsule that can be accelerated to desired velocities by an electromagnetic impeller. At the end of its acceleration, within 2 ms, the sabot will release a radiative payload, which is composed of low-z granules, or a shell pellet containing smaller pellets. The primary advantage of the EPI concept over gas propelled systems is its potential to meet short warning time scales, while accurately delivering the required particle size and materials at the velocities needed for achieving the required penetration depth in high power ITER-scale discharges for thermal and runaway current disruption mitigation. The present experimental tests from a prototype system have demonstrated the acceleration of a 3.2 g sabot to over 150 m/s within 1.5 ms, consistent with the calculations, giving some degree of confidence that larger ITER-scale injector can be developed.