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Analysis and Particle Probe (MAPP) addresses this problem by enabling PFC samples to be exposed to plasmas, and then withdrawn into an analysis chamber without breaking vacuum.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.
A real-time velocity (RTV) diagnostic based on active charge-exchange recombination spectroscopy is now operational on the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) spherical torus (Menard et al 2012 Nucl. Fusion 52 083015). The system has been designed to supply plasma velocity data in real time to the NSTX-U plasma control system, as required for the implementation of toroidal rotation control. Measurements are available from four radii at a maximum sampling frequency of 5 kHz. Post-discharge analysis of RTV data provides additional information on ion temperature, toroidal velocity and density of carbon impurities. Examples of physics studies enabled by RTV measurements from initial operations of NSTX-U are discussed.
Myers, Clayton; Yamada, Masaaki; Ji, Hantao; Yoo, Jongsoo; Jara-Almonte, Jonathan; Fox, William
The loss-of-equilibrium is a solar eruption mechanism whereby a sudden breakdown of the magnetohydrodynamic force balance in the Sun's corona ejects a massive burst of particles and energy into the heliosphere. Predicting a loss-of-equilibrium, which has more recently been formulated as the torus instability, relies on a detailed understanding of the various forces that hold the pre-eruption magnetic flux rope in equilibrium. Traditionally, idealized analytical force expressions are used to derive simplified eruption criteria that can be compared to solar observations and modeling. What is missing, however, is a validation that these idealized analytical force expressions can be applied to the line-tied, low-aspect-ratio conditions of the corona. In this paper, we address this shortcoming by using a laboratory experiment to study the forces that act on long-lived, arched, line-tied magnetic flux ropes. Three key force terms are evaluated over a wide range of experimental conditions: (1) the upward hoop force; (2) the downward strapping force; and (3) the downward toroidal field tension force. First, the laboratory force measurements show that, on average, the three aforementioned force terms cancel to produce a balanced line-tied equilibrium. This finding validates the laboratory force measurement techniques developed here, which were recently used to identify a dynamic toroidal field tension force that can prevent flux rope eruptions [Myers et al., Nature 528, 526 (2015)]. The verification of magnetic force balance also confirms the low-beta assumption that the plasma thermal pressure is negligible in these experiments. Next, the measured force terms are directly compared to their corresponding analytical expressions. While the measured and analytical forces are found to be well correlated, the low-aspect-ratio, line-tied conditions in the experiment are found to both reduce the measured hoop force and increase the measured tension force with respect to analytical expectations. These two co-directed effects combine to generate laboratory flux rope equilibria at lower altitudes than are predicted analytically. Such considerations are expected to modify the loss-of-equilibrium eruption criteria for analogous flux ropes in the solar corona.
A large-volume flux closure during transient coaxial helicity injection (CHI) in NSTX-U
is demonstrated through resistive magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) simulations. Several
major improvements, including the improved positioning of the divertor poloidal field coils, are projected to improve the CHI start-up phase in NSTX-U. Simulations in the NSTX-U configuration with constant in time coil currents show that with strong flux shaping the injected open field lines (injector flux) rapidly reconnect and form large volume of closed flux surfaces. This is achieved by driving parallel current in the injector flux coil and oppositely directed currents in the flux shaping coils to form a narrow injector flux footprint and push the injector flux into the vessel. As the helicity and plasma are injected into the device, the oppositely directed field lines in the injector region are forced to reconnect through a local Sweet–Parker type reconnection, or to spontaneously reconnect when the elongated current sheet becomes MHD unstable to form plasmoids. In these simulations for the first time, it is found that the closed flux is over 70% of the initial injector flux used to initiate the discharge. These results could work well for the application of transient CHI in devices that employ super conducting coils to generate and sustain the plasma equilibrium.
NSTX-U research will offer new insight by studying gas assimilation efficiencies for MGI injection from different poloidal locations using identical gas injection systems. In support of this activity, an electromagnetic MGI valve has been built and tested. The valve operates by repelling two conductive disks due to eddy currents induced on them by a rapidly changing magnetic field created by a pancake disk solenoid positioned beneath the circular disk attached to a piston. The current is driven in opposite directions in the two solenoids, which creates a cancelling torque when the valve is operated in an ambient magnetic field, as would be required in a tokamak installation. The valve does not use ferromagnetic materials. Results from the operation of the valve, including tests conducted in 1 T external magnetic fields, are described. The pressure rise in the test chamber is measured directly using a fast time response baratron gauge. At a plenum pressure of just 1.38 MPa (~200 psig), the valve injects 27 Pa.m^3 (~200 Torr.L) of nitrogen with a pressure rise time of 3 ms.
What mechanisms support our ability to estimate durations on the order of minutes? Behavioral studies in humans have shown that changes in contextual features lead to overestimation of past durations. Based on evidence that the medial temporal lobes and prefrontal cortex represent contextual features, we related the degree of fMRI pattern change in these regions with people's subsequent duration estimates. After listening to a radio story in the scanner, participants were asked how much time had elapsed between pairs of clips from the story. Our ROI analysis found that the neural pattern distance between two clips at encoding was correlated with duration estimates in the right entorhinal cortex and right pars orbitalis. Moreover, a whole-brain searchlight analysis revealed a cluster spanning the right anterior temporal lobe. Our findings provide convergent support for the hypothesis that retrospective time judgments are driven by 'drift' in contextual representations supported by these regions.
In one popular description of the L-H transition, energy transfer to the mean flows directly depletes turbulence fluctuation energy, resulting in suppression of the turbulence and a corresponding transport bifurcation. However, electron parallel force balance couples nonzonal velocity fluctuations with electron pressure fluctuations on rapid timescales, comparable with the electron transit time. For this reason, energy in the nonzonal velocity stays in a fairly fixed ratio to the free energy in electron density fluctuations, at least for frequency scales much slower than electron transit. In order for direct depletion of the energy in turbulent fluctuations to cause the L-H transition, energy transfer via Reynolds stress must therefore drain enough energy to significantly reduce the sum of the free energy in nonzonal velocities and electron pressure fluctuations. At low k, the electron thermal free energy is much larger than the energy in nonzonal velocities, posing a stark challenge for this model of the L-H transition.
Myers, Clayton; Yamada, Masaaki; Ji, Hantao; Yoo, Jongsoo; Jara-Almonte, Jonathan; Fox, William
Solar eruptions are often driven by magnetohydrodynamic instabilities such as the torus and kink instabilities that act on line-tied magnetic flux ropes. Recent laboratory experiments designed to study these eruptive instabilities have demonstrated the key role of both dynamic (Myers et al 2015 Nature 528, 526) and quasi-static (Myers et al 2016 Phys. Plasmas, in press) magnetic tension forces in contributing to the equilibrium and stability of line-tied magnetic flux ropes. In this paper, we synthesize these laboratory results and explore the relationship between the dynamic and quasi-static tension forces. While the quasi-static tension force is found to contribute to the flux rope equilibrium in a number of regimes, the dynamic tension force is substantial mostly in the so-called failed torus regime where magnetic self-organization events prevent the flux rope from erupting.