Transport analysis, ion-scale turbulence measurements, and initial linear and nonlinear gyrokinetic simulations are reported for a transport validation study based on low aspect ratio NSTX-U L-mode discharges. The relatively long, stationary L-modes enabled by the upgraded centerstack provide a more ideal target for transport validation studies that were not available during NSTX operation. Transport analysis shows that anomalous electron transport dominates energy loss while ion thermal transport is well described by neoclassical theory. Linear gyrokinetic GYRO analysis predicts that ion temperature gradient (ITG) modes are unstable around normalized radii $\rho$=0.6-0.8, although $E\timesB$ shearing rates are larger than the linear growth rates over much of that region. Deeper in the core ($\rho$=0.4-0.6), electromagnetic microtearing modes (MTM) are unstable as a consequence of the relatively high beta and collisionality in these particular discharges. Consistent with the linear analysis, local, nonlinear ion-scale GYRO simulations predict strong ITG transport at $\rho$=0.76, whereas electromagnetic MTM transport is important at $\rho$=0.47. The prediction of ion-scale turbulence is consistent with 2D beam emission spectroscopy (BES) that measures the presence of broadband ion-scale fluctuations. Interestingly, the BES measurements also indicate the presence of bi-modal poloidal phase velocity propagation that could be indicative of two different turbulence types. However, in the region between ($\rho$=0.56, 0.66), ion-scale simulations are strongly suppressed by the locally large $E\timesB$ shear. Instead, electron temperature gradient (ETG) turbulence simulations predict substantial transport, illustrating electron-scale contributions can be important in low aspect ratio L-modes, similar to recent analysis at conventional aspect ratio. However, agreement within experimental uncertainties has not been demonstrated, which requires additional simulations to test parametric sensitivities. The potential need to include profile-variation effects (due to the relatively large value of $\rho_*$=$\rho_i$/a at low aspect ratio), including electromagnetic and possibly multi-scale effects, is also discussed.
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.
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.
Battaglia, D. J.; Boyer, M. D.; Gerhardt, S.; Mueller, D.; Myers, C. E.; Guttenfelder, W.; Menard, J. E.; Sabbagh, S. A.; Scotti, F.; Bedoya, F.; Bell, R. E.; Berkery, J. W.; Diallo, A.; Ferraro, N.; Jaworski, M. A.; Kaye, S. M.; LeBlanc, B. P.; Ono, M.; Park, J. -K.; Podesta, M.; Raman, R.; Soukhanovskii, V.